Tag Archives: Sturmgeschütz III

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.

Not bad shape for chilling at the bottom of the Don for 75 years

Specialists from the Russian Defence Ministry recently pulled a U.S. tank from the bottom of the Don River where has been since the summer of 1942.

The Russian Defense Ministry on April 29 announced the recovery of the tank, an M3 Stuart, along with a host of unexploded munitions. While the tank’s turret was missing, its hull was still filled with live 37mm shells for its M6 main gun and several intact M1919A4 light machine guns.

From the markings on the vehicle, it appears the tank was part of the Soviet Red Army’s famous 24th Tank Corps, which at the time was fighting the Germans near the town of Ostrogozhsk during World War II.

It is believed the tank went into the water during a withdrawal when a bridge was destroyed by the Germans.

While the Stuart, a 16 ton light tank, was outclassed by the Soviets’ own T-34 designs as well as most of the German tanks it would be pitted against, Stalin accepted no less than 1,676 M3s as part of Lend-Lease from the U.S. — though many were lost in German U-boat attacks on convoys at sea.

Some fought in the Stalingrad campaign and at least one, an improved M5A1 version, is at the Russian Tank Museum in Kubinka in restored condition.

Besides the Stuart, which will eventually go on public display, a ChTZ S-65 Stalinets tractor and the fighting compartment of a German Sturmgeschütz III (StuG III) assault gun was recovered as well.

Because this is just what you have in the river in Russia, that’s why