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The 'Ronson' Legend

Discussion in 'The Tanks of World War 2' started by Ricky, Jun 1, 2006.

  1. Kilroy phpbb3

    Kilroy phpbb3 New Member

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    I did find first hand accounts from BBC war stories:

    Of course this was written long after the fact but I see no reason for 80+ year old men to lie about a tank's nickname.

    If it were my turn to be in a “Tommy cooker” as the Germans called our tanks...
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stor ... 4111.shtml

    Another:
    We lost a lot of our tanks to anti-tank guns, one being the 88mm. We used Sherman tanks, which were called Tommy Cookers because, fuelled by petrol, they would blow up after being hit, killing the crew inside.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stor ... 4298.shtml

    I was helping the Count get out when the tank started to burn and once a Sherman started to go it would be an inferno in seconds. The German anti-tank gunners used to call them “Tommy Cookers”.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stor ... 1851.shtml

    And Ronson

    The Sherman was nicknamed ‘Ronson’ because it would go up like a lighter if hit by an enemy shell. It was fast and versatile, but poorly armoured, so we learnt to get our shots in first. Later, in France, I lost good friends who were unable to get out of blazing Shermans.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stor ... 2037.shtml

    The ‘Sherman’ tank was renowned for bursting into flames and had the nickname ‘Ronson Lighter’. The Germans called it ‘Tommy Cooker’. When they burnt, they burnt fiercely and it was unbelievable that a vehicle which was mostly of metal could be so inflammable.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stor ... 0940.shtml

    Well I'm done with this one. May not be proof but I think it is beyond a resonable doubt. Ronson and Tommy Cooker where names used during the war to discribe the Sherman.
     
  2. Christian Ankerstjerne

    Christian Ankerstjerne Member

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    Not lie - but forget. Veterans' accounts can't be trusted, because they were written after the events actually took place, and after they would have had ample opportunity to be influenced by post-war literature. Veterans' accounts are interesting as stories, but worthless for determining historical events. Diaries are somewhat better, since they are period texts, but only insofar as they are unabridged.

    The only reliable evidence for war-time nicknames is texts written during the war.
     
  3. Simonr1978

    Simonr1978 New Member

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    I disagree, if this were true surely it would be mentioned in contemporary sources, yet at no time when this has come up has anyone been able to come up with a reference to a single document written during WWII that makes this reference. Not one.

    I would not suggest the Veterans were lying however as Christian said, their accounts come from memories that will be tarnished by time.
     
  4. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    So the vetrans (on both sides) called them "Tommy Cookers" and "Ronsons". It proves nothing about the tank.
    The early Panthers caught fire without even being hit. There are stories taht German gunners would laugh about Ivan "flipping his lid" because T-34 turrets would blow into the air when they were hit.
    I personnally believe the "Tommy Cooker" and "Ronson" stories, they just fit the black humor of young men facing horrible deaths too well, but at the end of the day, so what?
     
  5. Roel

    Roel New Member

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    Canambridge's point is illustrated by the fact that one of the veterans in Kilroy's post brings up the old "fuelled by petrol" argument. Only Russian tanks were fuelled by diesel. Why would the Sherman be singled out as vulnerable because it was fuelled by petrol?

    The German tanks that faced the Sherman in North Africa were also fuelled by petrol, and had no more than the Sherman's 30mm of armour covering the engine.
     
  6. wozwasnt

    wozwasnt New Member

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    Ronson manufactured cigarette lighters with the advertising slogan,
    "Lights the first time, every time"

    The Sherman got the nick name Ronson because it brewed up easily, often with the first hit.

    The main problem was that the Sherman had thin side armour and the ammo was stored in the side sponsons, so any penatrating hit to the side would ignite the ammo.

    This problem was later resolved by the use of wet stowage and by storing more ammo on the floor.
     
  7. FNG phpbb3

    FNG phpbb3 New Member

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    there is no evidence from the time that this name was ever applied to the sherman by troops

    Obviously the germans would never use such an American catchphrase, but is there any evidence of allied troops giving such a derogatory term to any other rubbish pieces of equipment that they were supplied with?

    Especially one which is very much gallows humour.

    FNG
     
  8. merlin phpbb3

    merlin phpbb3 New Member

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    Ronson

    Oh Dear! the old Ronson/Tommy Cooker legend rears it's head again.
    None of the WW2 Regimental War Diaries that I have refer to this; just another Army Myth! I never heard this untill years after WW2, probably down to 'Sven Hassel'!!!
    Every Diary reads how pleased they were to get Shermans, especially the Firefly.
    Mind you every one thought it extremely funny and original when playing Bingo to shout out "Bail out" when 88 was called! :grin:
     
  9. wozwasnt

    wozwasnt New Member

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    Re: Ronson

     
  10. merlin phpbb3

    merlin phpbb3 New Member

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    sherman

    Errrrrrr! I did know that, where do you get this 'we' from Kimo Sabe?
    If you'd like to read what it was like fighting in Shermans see if you can get a book 'To War with the Bays' by Jack Merewood MM.(Jack died last week) you can get this from Home HQ of the 1st.Queens Dragoon Guards,
    not a mention of Ronsons or Tommy Cookers.
    (Amalgamated Queens Bays and 1st.Kings Dragoon Guards.)
    Read what it was really like for the ordinary Trooper, not written years later by someone not even born at the time.
    Sorry..Rant over!
     
  11. wozwasnt

    wozwasnt New Member

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    Re: sherman


    ??????????????

    Not sure what you mean.
     
  12. Simonr1978

    Simonr1978 New Member

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    Quoted from the other thread.

    With all due respect and...? A quick check shows that Wiki also refers to the P-47 as being nicknamed the "Jug" in common with any number of books and other articles that will tell you that's what the pilot's called it, and again it's a shame that this wasn't actually true until long after the P-47 was retired from the USAAF.

    If this is true how come there's not one reference that anyone's been able to produce so far to a contemporary source, be it a letter, diary or document that uses this nickname? Not something written years later, but something written at the time by one of the thousands if not millions of people who apparently regularly referred to it as such?

    Yet despite all these people using it regularly there's not one record that anyone's been able to point to so far of this nickname actually being used at the time. Even Cooper, writing fairly close after the war and seeming to outright hate the Sherman makes no reference to this nickname in "Death Traps". Why would he miss out on yet another chance to slate the Sherman? Given the content of the book it seems unlikely that if this was used that he wouldn't have mentioned it.

    I similarly cannot imagine the Reich Propaganda Ministry missing out on this catchy little gem again though no-one has yet provided a reference to a single publication or broadcast mentioning "Ronsons" or "Tommy Cookers".

    Every time previously that this has come up no-one has yet been able to provide a single reference to a primary source on this and the basic line of argument seems to be that since so many other books mention it it must be true.
     
  13. Lone Wolf

    Lone Wolf New Member

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    The problem I can see with this thread is that the poster is asking for evidence and some contributors are answering by just regurgitating the hearsay (which is what the question was about in the first place) as "proof" without any genuine attempt at verification. Ain't the internet great.

    PS. There's a reference to it in The World At War which I'll try to dig out - can't remember right now who said it though.
     
  14. merlin phpbb3

    merlin phpbb3 New Member

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    sherman

    Oh Dear Wozzy, don't tell me that you are too young to have heard of the conversation between the 'Loan Ranger' and 'Tonto' where "Where do you get the 'we' from 'Kimo Sabe'" comes into it?
    Regarding the tanks 'we' had previously if of any interest, in North Africa the Bays had these,
    1941 Crusader.
    Honey.
    1942 Grant.
    General Lee.
    'A'Sqd. Crusader.
    1942 Sherman Mk1.
    1943 Sherman.Mk111.
    1944. Italy. Sherman MkV1.
    Stuart.
    Sherman.Mk1A
    Sherman Mk1B
    1945.Italy. Sherman.Mk1C. 17pounder.
     
  15. Commando

    Commando recruit

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    Why did the Germans refer to the Sherman as a "Tommy Cooker". I thought the Sherman was an American tank. In that case it should be called the "Yankee Cooker"
     
  16. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    That is another very good question, one that I have wondered.

    Presumably because the first troops they encountered using the tank were British.
     
  17. merlin phpbb3

    merlin phpbb3 New Member

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    TEDS

    Here's another nick-name for you, true not a 'myth',
    we, in Italy, used to refer to the Germans as 'Teds', do you know why?
     
  18. FNG phpbb3

    FNG phpbb3 New Member

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    but did the germans refer to the brits as Tommy's?

    FNG
     
  19. merlin phpbb3

    merlin phpbb3 New Member

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    Tommy

    Yes. "For you Tommy the war is over".
    Germans...singly = Fritz.
    Collectively = Krauts.
     
  20. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    Re: TEDS

    Yes I do - it is a shortened version of the Italian word for 'German'

    (I'm a smart-arse :grin: )
     

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