Big Game Hunter: PIAT Edition

Production of the Jefferis Shoulder Gun, termed in official use the “Projector, Infantry, Anti Tank” (PIAT) Mk I, would begin on 30 August 1942– 80 years ago today.

Anti-tank grenade projector – PIAT Mk.I (about 1942) in the RA collections

At some 32 pounds, it was not light but it could give a single man the ability to zap through 100mm of tank armor out past 100 yards– should you find a hardy young man willing to get that close to enemy armor. In short, someone with the soul of a big game hunter, except the Tigers were clad in steel.
For instance: 

All he is missing is a few porters and a pith helmet!

Fusilier Francis Arthur Jefferson of “C” Company, 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers in front of a German Sturmgeschütz III (StuG III) assault gun which he single-handedly knocked out with a PIAT, 16 May 1944. Jefferson stood 5′ 5″ and weighed around 130 pounds according to Army records. The StuG on the other hand stood just over 7 feet high and weighed 52,690 pounds, empty.

Photo by Menzies (Sgt), No 2 Army Film & Photographic Unit, # NA 15430 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.

Enlisting in the South Lancashire Regiment on 19 February 1942, Jefferson shipped out for North Africa where he was assigned to the 2nd Lancs on 14 June 1943 and posted to No. 13 Platoon, 2nd Battalion.

Just 22 years old when he found himself fighting on the Gustav Line at Monte Cassino, Italy, his knocking out of the above sticky StuG would earn him a VC.

Jefferson would live to age 61, passing in 1982.

Surviving the war, LCPL Jefferson was mustered out in 1946 and then, apparently missing “the life,” would enlist in 1950 in the Northamptonshire Regiment of the Territorials.

More on the very imperfect PIAT, from the Tank Museum at Bovington, below, including a mention of Jefferson.

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