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The 'Ronson' Legend

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

  1. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    Re: Ronsons???

    There you go. I posted a figure, you assume it was in a book (as if that was a problem) and then you attack your own straw man!

    I think you 'believe' something and thus disparage all that contradicts your belief.

    How about posting some facts that support or challenge the figures I supplied?
    Perhaps you have a book on the subject?
     
  2. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    Before this gets silly... m_kenny, would you mind posting the source of your stats. That would seem to be a more useful and productive method of settling the debate than arging over unknowns.
     
  3. Ome_Joop

    Ome_Joop New Member

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    Ricky would you also explain Mr. Merlin here that we are getting in to a stalemate because we can't trust books (or any other written reports) as sources and veteran acounts can't be trusted as well what sources can be trusted?
     
  4. merlin phpbb3

    merlin phpbb3 New Member

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    post subject

    Regimental War Diaries.
    and that's me over and out on this Ronson Myth and I wish I'd never entered it!
    Bye Bye.
     
  5. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    As Merlin (and others) has stated, anything written actually during the war would be nice. Regimental diaries, Intelligence Reports, personal letters/diaries from the troops, whatever. There is a lot of that out there, and none seems to mention the nicknames.

    Out of interest, when is the earliest mention we can find of these nicknames?
     
  6. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    Re: post subject

    I know all about War Diaries. Perhaps you could post an extract that refers directly to this subject?
     
  7. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    Re: post subject

    I think Merlin was responding to Ome_Joop's request for a type of source that would be relevant in the quest for proof of this nickname.


    m kenny, the impression I have gained of you from this forum is somebody who a) knows a hell of a lot, and b) has done much research. Can you add anything to the quest for the validity of these nicknames?
     
  8. Simonr1978

    Simonr1978 New Member

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    Speaking for myself I've never said that books can't be trusted as sources, what I have said regarding books is that no-one in this debate has yet been able to provide a reference in a book at all nevermind by a reputable author to a contemporary source. There may be plenty of comments written by authors after the event (In some cases many decades after) saying that Shermans were called Ronsons, but no-one yet has yet quoted any printed material that references their source, it just seems an assumption that this was the case.

    As for Veteran accounts, again I at least have never said they can't be trusted as such, but human memory certainly can't. As an example, I've recently met a friend I haven't seen since 1996. I can clearly remember him having short curly hair, infact I am so certain of this that asked to describe his appearance I would include this in the description. He never had curly hair at all, ever. The point of this little example is that my memory has proven so faulty over this detail after only a little over ten years despite my absolute certainty over this (To the point of actually disagreeing with the individual concerned over what his hair was like), memories over sixty years old are, without intending any disrespect to the veterans concerned, not the most reliable source. After a number of decades of being told that everyone called Sherman's Ronsons and I wouldn't be surprised to find people "remembering" that they did too.

    As to what sources can be trusted, I have repeatedly said, for me a reference to a contemporary source would help put this matter to bed. At the very least a quote from a book or magazine referring to a War diary, personal diary or personal correspondence or to a lesser extent a newspaper or magazine piece or propaganda broadcast would pretty much settle this. Not even the extract itself, just a reference to one.

    Without at the very least a reference to such a source, we can't say with any certainty that this nickname existed and was used within the time frame of WWII, and the point that I have made on a number of occasions is that considering the widespread use of this tank in all theatres by most if not all of the Allied nations it seems suprising that no-one amongst the thousands if not millions of people who have had some contact with this tank in one form or another seems to have committed this apparently widespread nickname to paper.
     
  9. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    During the war a number of studies were done on tank losses and their causes. Wrecks were examined and cause of loss/damaged was logged. It was found that 6 of every 10 Panthers examined were burnt out.
    8 out of every 10 Shermans were burnt out.
    Not every burnt out tank was a total loss as some of the Shermans were repaired and put back in service.
    Over half of all Allied tanks destroyed by gunfire were repaired and returned to service
    Causualties were also studied and for a Sherman(or any Allied tank) 50% of a crew would be casualties. Half of the caualties were killed.

    So for 5 men the calculations are awkward but roughly it means 1 dead and 1 wounded crewman per knocked out tank.
    Thus tales of 5 dead crewmen per tank are balaced by 2 other KO'd tanks with no deaths.

    It seems that some tanks caught fire more than others and a Panther was a good burner.

    You won't find any of the above in a War Diary.
     
  10. Ome_Joop

    Ome_Joop New Member

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    That is the problem i guess...not all war diaries are known/published or whatever so it might be possible that there are diaries wich names the Sherman Ronson (altough i'm not really convinced it was called that way and actually don't care. I do know that nowadays Ronson is a nickname for the Sherman and it really doesn't matter if it was used or not during the war).
    BTW IIRC the P-38 nickname Forktailed devil/Gabelschwanz Teufel was invented by a US Journalist and not by German Pilots...
     
  11. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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  12. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    Thank you for this. Just before anybody starts running with these statistics, I would like to again point out that the Germans tended to fire on disabled Allied tanks until they caught fire. Finding a burnt-out hulk does mean that it caught fire, but not that it was the disabling shot that did it.

    m kenny - do you have any stats for survival rates of German tank crews?

    Ome_Joop - the reason I started this topic is because we would get sooooo many posts that stated 'the Sheman was so crappy it caught fire when you breathed on it and its crews called it the Ronson so it must be crappy' - I just want to be able to stamp out that kind of post. This was also the point beind the 'Mythbusters'
     
  13. Ome_Joop

    Ome_Joop New Member

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    I know Ricky but the problem with some things sound so good (Ronson or that ForkTailed Devil) that people asume that it must be the truth and with this one it's so well spread that it's probable very unlikely to bust it or atleast put it in the dustbin (where it should belong).

    An other problem is that it could very well actually be a real WWII nickname but only used by few people (getting widespread after the war, then it would be impossible to proof).

    The big question should be : where did it first appear (who invented it)?
     
  14. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    One of the speakers at the Graduation Ceremonies last week quoted an old Chinese Proverb (that's what he claimed it was :wink: ):

    "The strongest memory is weaker than the weakest ink"


    Ome_Joop - that is the question, and I asked a similar one a while back.

    A quick look through the few of my tank books that are easily on hand shows:

    1969 - no mention
    1972 - no mention
    1973 - no mention
    2004 - no mention (though it does state that "early models of the Sherman had a somewhat unfortunate reputation for 'brewing-up' when hit" and describes the measures taken to protect the ammo storage)
    2005 - both 'Ronson' and 'Tommy Cooker' mentioned.

    While it is not representative, and I'm sure that the nicknames are in books from before 2005, it does show that it tends to appear in books which are less 'serious' (like Chamberlain & Ellis) but more for a mass market (Illustrated Guide to Tanks of the World)

    I also checked my history books (some of which go back to the 1970s) and no mention there either.
     
  15. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    'Tommy Cooker' can not be a German invention. The British Army had a small field stove used to heat meals issued to the troops. It dates back to WW1 and it was called a tommy cooker. It was a well known item and every British Soldier was familiar with the term.

    http://www.firstworldwar.com/atoz/tommycooker.htm
     
  16. Simonr1978

    Simonr1978 New Member

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    So why couldn't Tommy Cooker as a German nickname for the Sherman be a German WWII invention or at the very least adaptation based on the WWI equipment?

    Example, I was called a Nazi when I moved back to the UK in 1996 because I had lived in Germany, it's like saying the locals can't have invented that because that political party ceased to exist in 1945 (And in any case I'm not German and have no German ancestry), I can assure you that I was called a Nazi though.
     
  17. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    How many Germans saw or used a tommy cooker?
    Though a WW1 (or earlier) invention it is still is use today- in an updated form -and still called a tommy cooker.
     
  18. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    If it was a WW1 thing, then any German who had British troops billeted near them during the post-war occupation would have. And as children are the most likely to mingle with the soldiers, and the children of 1919 were the young men of 1939...

    I like your thinking on this m kenny, but am not sure that it is watertight.
     
  19. merlin phpbb3

    merlin phpbb3 New Member

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    tommy cooker.

    I am posting of the stove, not the myth.
    In our Comets we had a petrol stove something like a primus, also sometimes the jelly filled Tommy Cooker, later the flat pack that used some kind of inflamable tablet, (see pics) but..........for efficiency we always used the ' Benghazi Brewer', and you floated a matchstick in the water to prevent it getting smoked.! Fact.!
    PS. one of my friends collects cigarette lighters and says that he heard that the Ronson Company produced a lighter in the late 40's that they named 'The Sherman', can anyone substantiate this? :roll:
     
  20. majorwoody10

    majorwoody10 New Member

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    ricky , my dad served in a national gaurd fighter sq outfit in the late 40s in pennsylvania , the pilots were all ww2 vets and they definately referred to their p47s as " jugs" in 1948 , wether they called them such in 1944 , i cant say for sure .

    while dad was still with them ,they re equiped with almost brand new mustangs ,which they considered a great improvement over their tired and worn out jugs < though its only fair to point out that nobody was shooting holes in their planes in 48 while skylarking arround western pa .and if they were , perhaps they wouldve demanded the return of their old juggarnought jugs .
     

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