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Damage - What Size Shell.

Discussion in 'Artillery' started by Ilhawk, Feb 20, 2016.

  1. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

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    On Sept 22, 1944, the 327 marched from Son/Best south landing zone area to Veghel. 401 (3 BN) arrived first and was fighting tanks on the SE side. 2nd BN got into town late in the day and after crossing the bridge headed toward St Lambertus and set up in the yard to the west. They marched about 8 miles under shelling and small arms fire. While digging in, the enemy began shelling them from Erp (about 2.75 miles away). The shells came over the church, sometimes hit the church and as the guy said some of the shell seemed to skip off. The shelling lasted 30 minutes to 45 minutes and was very methodical in burst of three up and down the field. The yard was surrounded by the Aa River (the path is different in modern times) and ditches which were filled with water, so many guys couldn't escape. 2nd BN took 80 casualties.

    The guys say that a woman was shot in the back of the head after leaving the church by the underground, but local historians dispute this. This is also in some reports. The guys did say a they saw a couple acting strangely and identified them as sighting the artillery. The reports and the guys also say there was a sniper in the Church tower.

    Anyway, I have several questions.

    1. The reports are conflicted as to whether this was 150mm or 105mm. I'm thinking it was maybe smaller (see damage to the Church). Wouldn't 105 or 150 leave more damage?

    2. Does anyone know if the white building west of the Church was there in 1944? The guys don't remember it. Don was sure he was right near the Church as on the map. Some locals say it was there.

    3. Does anyone know of other pictures.

    Company G took 2/3 casualties in Normandy out of about 150 men. In Holland they went in with near 200 and came out with 105. To them, the shelling in he Church yard was the single worst experience of the war. At Bastogne they marched out with 42 men after taking on 75 replacements in January. Some of the guys were gone due to frost bite.

    Having trouble loading pictures. Will use facebook links. Not sure why this systems seems to change from time to time.

    https://www.facebook.com/109600119062869/photos/a.659286154094260.1073741826.109600119062869/1088829487806589/?type=3&theater

    https://www.facebook.com/109600119062869/photos/a.659286154094260.1073741826.109600119062869/1088830371139834/?type=3&theater

    https://www.facebook.com/109600119062869/photos/a.659286154094260.1073741826.109600119062869/1088334747856063/?type=3&theater

    https://www.facebook.com/109600119062869/photos/a.659286154094260.1073741826.109600119062869/1088334781189393/?type=3&theater
     
  2. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

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  3. bronk7

    bronk7 New Member

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    nicely done...thank you for the maps, information, etc...I wish more books and websites were like that.......I would think damage area would depend on what it hit, angle, etc.........I see much shrapnel, if it is shrapnel, damage above and to the right of the main impact area of the lower hit???? and some of that looks elongated.......appears it splashed into those right side roofs.......we had very slight delay on our mortars, ..did they have that on WW2 arty shells?? with delay, I would think not much damage to a roof..it would go through most roofs...?
    the roof is not as solid as the sides........I don't see why it couldn't be 150mm....I thought Sheldrake was an arty man....someone can give us some interesting insight...
    would just have to find what arty units were in the area??
     
  4. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    2.75 miles wold be pretty close for 150mm arty but not for a SiG 33 if the Germans had some of those, but would still have a significant blind zone if firing over such a tall building, shells that "skip off" makes me think low velocity so why are we ruling out mortars? 81mm or 120 mm mortars can do a lot of damage, the Germans used the 120mm mortar to replace the 150mm SIG infantry gun when it became available.
     
  5. bronk7

    bronk7 New Member

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    good call on range...fire is coming from right of picture?? if so that is very high angle as you state..... .......appears to be too much damage for 81mm mortars.. ...81mm more of anti infantry......but 120 and above, yes.......looks like that lower impact has mucho damage to the stone structure......Sig 33 is 150mm......big mo.....what about nebelwerfers?
    quick research showing German 105 and 150s in the area
    http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/Siegfried/Siegfried%20Line/siegfried-ch08.htm
    pages 187 to 191
     
  6. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I would think the GIs would know the difference between mortars and artillery. I suppose it would be guesswork between various artillery shells.

    How about PAK 40s? They were often used as artillery and because they could be moved quickly I suspect the Germans would be more likely to use those at such close range rather than risking losing bigger guns that were more static.
     
  7. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

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    I was wondering about the angle. Would the Germans have systematically walked the field in series of three with mortars?

    Also what about the Captain and S2 all misidentifying it?

    Not arguing just wondering.

    The next morning they moved on E r p and the enemy left under pressure.

    Wish I could find out about the building to the west of the Church. These guys were so detailed in their memories. Only one said maybe but he was not next to the Church.

    I interviewed the before getting the records and it was amazing how the memory matched the records nearly 100 percent. Most errors were on dates only.
     
  8. bronk7

    bronk7 New Member

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    yes Kody...they defintely know the difference.........I doubt those are 81mm......I've seen 81mm mortar strikes...many times....not that 'big'...is it determined fire coming from right of picture??..if not, that changes everything...
    specifically, appears to be Kampfgruppe Walther and Heinke attacking...no?
    aren't we talking about the hits at church??
    I would think they used 81s somewhere......those are battalion weapons, no?? , but the hits at church do not appear like 81 hits
    also, the heavy 105 guns would know where to set up ....if necessary, they would not be so close that they couldn't be effective to be able to target the enemy

     
  9. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Quite a hodgepodge in that kampfgruppe. I'd still bet on 75s of some kind, either from PAK40s or SPs of some kind. I just can't imagine them setting up 105s only 2.7 miles away. They're too static and prone to getting knocked out by counterfire. It could be that they were just wrong about where those guns were. The bulk of the Kampfgruppe might have been 2.7 miles away, with those artillery pieces well behind that concentration.
     
  10. bronk7

    bronk7 New Member

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    yes......could've been light mortars hitting from Erp and heavy guns from farther back.....
     
  11. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Yes, that is a common tactic with all indirect fire weapons from the mortar on up. You fire in adjust, single rounds, then when on target fire for effect. I'd think it's a three gun battery or section because they specify three rounds. You can walk the barrage up and down, left and right to get good effect on your target.

    Possibly on the lower hit but the roof hit does appear to be indirect fire. Mortars have the most arched trajectory, followed by howitzers and high velocity guns like the PAK 40 had a relatively flat trajectory. I doubt the hole in the roof was from a direct fire weapon.

    Plus the OP stated, "The shells came over the church," which would indicated indirect fire and rule out high velocity guns.
     
  12. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    The various 75s were capable of medium range indirect fire. The US' 3" guns, both towed and SP actually trained that way in England as back-up artillery, but weren't often used that way. I'm certainly no expert, but I'd expect more damage from a 105 than those photos show.
     
  13. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    It is quite difficult to determien what caused the shelling from the pictures. Unfortunately we do not seem to have any photos of the craters on the ground.
    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/6-121/fm612_9.htm

    The holes in the church look as if they have been made from the East - If I understand the orientation correctly, which implies they were made by a heavy mortar - maybe a 120mm. I can't see any artillery attached to the KG attacking Vehgel from the East. There was 105mm artillery attached to the units attacking from the West.

    It is possible the indirect fire was from the 75mm guns on the tanks and panzer jaeger, but why used a tank for a job better suited to a mortar?
     
  14. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

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  15. bronk7

    bronk7 New Member

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    came from about the left of picture, you mean?? what about the splinters/splashing to the right and above the lower impact in link labeled ''Church Damage""?? anything?
    there are many orders of battle to check on...what I posted is just one of many...I'm sure our statistics experts can come up with better information

    my picture labeled ''impact'' definitely does not look like high angle fire.....that is a vertical wall?? doesn't look near very top of church....same church? 2 different churches..? thoughts?

    pic labeled STL is St Lambertus....what is the building in original ''Church Damage'' link? here is a sat map you can zoom in or out

    http://www.panoramio.com/photo/22406589
     

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  16. bronk7

    bronk7 New Member

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  17. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

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    Several observations.

    1. The color picture Bronk posted is close to where Don Rich was during the shelling. He was about 75 feet directly west of the part of the Church that come out toward the west.

    2. I did come across a report that I'd never read before. All other reports indicate the shelling last 30 to 45 minutes and were frequent enough that the guys couldn't run. This report from Battalion said it was 150mm (which is consistent), but only 4 barrages. Keep in mind there were only about 4 ways to leave the field. One was on a foot bridge on the west over the Aa. Another on the NE with a foot bridge, but Don was fairly close to that and he knew he couldn't make it. Several guys died real close to him. The other was near the Church front. The shells came in very systematically in burst of 3, walking up and down the field. The guys said it was very German...orderly.

    3. All reports but one call it 150 mm. Capt Evans said 105.

    4. If you look to the NW on the aerial, the area is wide open and a clear view. There was fighting going on up by the tracks by paratroopers. The 401 as 3 BN was fighting SS on the SE (including tanks).

    5. There is never a mention of mortars.

    6. Skipping shells off the roof could only be mortars unless it just looked that way.

    7. The guys never said the shelling was anything but systematic. Never sporadic.

    8. This is was the worst point of the war for all who saw most of the action all the way through.

    9. Guys were so terrified and shocked that many didn't move until daylight though ordered out.

    10. The site was the most grisly they saw (2nd BN), including the enemy carnage at Opheusden on the west flank where the Germans threw 3 or 4 companies at them that were basically destroyed over 2 different fights. They stopped letting the Germans pick up dead as they'd bring in mortars while picking up dead. They piled up. Bastogne, they they took more casualties was not as traumatic as this.

    Conclusion thus far:

    They possibly were hit from both directions with different weapons?
     
  18. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

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  19. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    I agree with Shelldrake it is near impossible to tell what hit the church with the hole in the roof from looking at it. Not a lot of damage and roof structures on such churches were usually slate or tiles over a wooden truss, that sat on masonry walls. easy to penetrate.

    There are clearly two churches involved. St Lambertus was listed as having damage but it is obviously not the church whose roof was shown as being holed. St Lambertus is a Gothic revival church, mid 19th century with flying buttresses added to make it appear Gothic. It is quite tall in proportion to width. The curuch that was shown with holes in it;s exteruior roof as well as inside is the same period but a smaller lower church with attached buttresses.
    It is lower in proportion and looks quite different inside and out. It is a bastard in style, mixed gothic-Romanesque revival.

    Neither is a miedevil church which can be fragile , They being built much later ( roughly 500 years ) used more modern techniques . I think it quite possible a shell could pass through the roof without exploding until it hit the more solid floor but impossible to see or tell that. Their is a shell hit on small chapel or appendage on the holed church, just below the roof that would indicate a projectile of modest power, I would guess a 75 HE that would dissipate it's force on the stone wall but would easily penetrate the roof.

    Artillery forensics is fun ! I am speculating on my conjectures here.......Clearly or perhaps no so clearly. Great thread and Google really is our friend !
     
  20. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

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