Saturday, August 1, 2015

"Fairness in this Merciless War" by 'Panzer Commander' Colonel Hans Von Luck; Tunisia '43

Hans Von Luck
(Photo colorized by Doug Banks)

"The Hurricanes must have seen my armored reconnaissance vehicles.  I figured we were in for a second attack.  Again, I sent off a radio message. 
          'Have been attacked by Hurricanes, flak and artillery platoon largely out of action.  Anticipate fresh attack, send Messerschmidts.''

The British bases must have been close behind the front.  After barely an hour, they were back again.  This time, is was the turn of our armored vehicles.  With dismay, I saw only a few yards away, how Hurricanes fired rockets, which went straight through our armor.  That was new to us.  
Panzer battalion; Spring '43, Tunisia
     The only one to remain in his vehicle, was my radio operator, who was sending off my messages.  Next to the vehicle, stood my intelligence officer, who passed on to the operator what I shouted across to him. 

     Then a machine-- I thought I recognized the Canadian emblem--approached for a low-flying attack on the armored radio station.  At 20 yards, I could clearly see the pilot's face under his flight helmet.  But instead of shooting, he signaled with his hand for the radio officer to clear off, and pulled his machine up into a great curve.
     'Get the operator out of the vehicle,' I shouted, 'and take cover, the pair of you.'
A pilot of No 417 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force climbing into the cockpit of his Supermarine Spitfire fighter at Goubrine, Tunisia '42-'43
     The machine had turned and now came at us out of the sun for the second time.  This time, he fired his rockets and hit the radio car, fortunately, without doing too much damage. 

     This attitude of the pilot, whether he was Canadian or British, became for me, the example of fairness in this merciless war.  I shall never forget the pilot's face or the gesture of his hand."

~~Colonel Hans Von Luck recounting a battle in Tunisia '43 in his memoir
pages 138-139

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