Normandy Landings, June 6th, 1944. The Allied invasion France.

In remembrance of the brave soldiers who gave their lives during this historic day, I shall be looking at some of the Allied tanks on display at the Bovington Tank Museum.

The Royal Tank Regiment Memorial Statue, Bovington Tank Museum.

The above exhibit is the fibreglass model used to create the bronze statue that stands in Whitehall Place, London.

The Normandy landings, codenamed Operation Neptune, commenced on the 6th June, 1944 (D-Day).

The first phase, just after midnight, consisted of 24,000 British, American, Canadian and free French airborne troops landing behind enemy lines. There were also two decoy operations, Operation Glimmer and Operation Taxable, used to distract the German forces from the real Normandy landings.

Armour played a key role in helping secure the beaches, particularly Hobart’s Funnies. Below are pictures of some of the tanks displayed at the Bovington tank Museum and a few of the specialist tanks used on the day.

The Mark II’s were used as training tanks at Bovington camp. Due to a shortage of armour, they were sent to the front.This is the last surviving Mark II.

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The Medium Mark A, the fastest tank of its time. A top speed of 8mph.

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Crew of 3, 12mm armour.

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14 tons. three -303in machine guns.

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Medium tank Mark II. New sprung suspension

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3 pounder gun. Serving in Egypt when WW2 broke out. Too slow at 15mph, so were buried with only their turrets showing and used as static defence.

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Light Mark VIB. 35mph carrying a .50in machine gun.

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Crew of 3, Reconnaissance tank weighing 5.2 tons.

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The Cromwell Cruiser Tank. Powered by a Rolls-Royce V12, fighter engine.

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76mm main gun.

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56mm of armour and a top speed of 35mph.

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Churchill Crocodile. Modified by fitting of a flame-thrower. The flame-thrower had a range of 120 yards.

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Churchill Crocodile with trailer, which held 400 gallons of fuel for the flame-thrower.

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Sherman Firefly. The first tank to match the Tiger.

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 76.2mm gun, 22mph, 75mm of armour.

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The Bobbin. A reel of 10-foot wide canvas cloth reinforced with shell poles. Unrolled onto the ground to allow tanks to move across the soft sand.

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Sherman Crab mine-clearing tank.

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A real Mark IV tank?

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Well?

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No. It is in fact a prop that was made for the Steven Spielberg film ‘War Horse’.

My intention is not to portray a particular message, but just share some of my photographs and information with you and help set the scene for some of my novels.

Photographs and Blog are copyrighted to Harvey Black

Devil’s with Wings_Silk Drop_Book Review.

Devils with Wings:Frozen Sun by Harvey Black.

Bundeswehr – Fallschirmjäger.

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The Fallschirmjager qualification badge, WW2.

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I have just finished writing my third novel in the Devils with Wings series, Devils with Wings: Frozen Sun. The Fallschirmjager, after their successful battle taking Crete in only 10 days, are shipped to Poland to partake in Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union.

Leaving temperatures in excess of forty degrees to be used, not in an airborne operation, but as a fire brigade, plugging gaps in the line around Leningrad, particularly along the banks of the River Neva. They were Army Group North’s strategic reserve.  They were quickly placed into the fray, fighting along the River Neva, where temperatures dropped to below -30 degrees, sometimes as low as -40. They were successful at plugging the gaps and preventing the Soviet Union from exploiting their bridgeheads over the River Neva, but at a price. Some units suffered up to 75% casualties. Many who had survived the assault on the Fortress Eben Emael, (Devils with Wings) and the fierce fighting on the Island of Crete (Devils with Wings: Silk Drop) met their fate in this bitter struggle with the atrocious weather and the never ending Soviet hordes.

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The Fallschirmjager’s distinctive WW2 parachute helmet.

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The Fallschirmjager were formed under the command of General Student before the start of the second world war.

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Junkers Ju-52, one of their modes of transport. Known affectionately as Tante Ju – Auntie June.

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The Fallschirmjager were reinstated after the end of the second world war, and during the Cold War Years were a key part of NATOs strategic assault force.


Paratroopers beret badge of the Bundeswehr Fallschirmjager. The present day German army paratroopers. 

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T.10. Round cap Parachute.

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Close up of a Fallschirmjager gliding with a round parachute.

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Paratroopers of the Division Spezielle Operationen – Special Operations Division, jumping off a CH-53.

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The German Fallschirmjager using modern canopies.

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Bundeswehr – Fallschirmjäger.

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Fallschirmjager of the 26th Air Assault Battalion at the Bastille Day military parade, 2007.

Back to the original Fallschirmjager, who conducted the first ever glider landing assault, when they attacked the impregnable fortress of  Eben Emael.

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An aerial photograph which shows Fort Eben Emael alongside the Canal west of Maastricht.

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A DFS-230, the type of assault glider used by the WW2 Fallschirmjager to land the 79 paratroopers on top of the fort.

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The main entrance of Fort Eben Emael as it stands today. Well worth a visit.

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One of the retractable turrets that were put out of action.

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One of the Maastricht casemates, that housed three, 75mm Guns.

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Re-enactors re-living the Fallschirmjager assault on the fort.

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The first novel in my Devils with Wings Series.

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The qualification phase to become a paratrooper consisted of 6 jumps. The first would be a t height of around 200 metres, the next two at 150 metres, but in a stick of six trainees. Their fourth jump would be from the same height, but at dusk or dawn and as part of a much larger stick, of perhaps 10 men. For the fifth jump they would be part of a Kette formation, a V-formation, a Chain of three Junkers JU-52. The final jump would be made under simulated combat conditions, up to nine aircraft flying at little over 125 metres in height.

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Fallschirmschutzenabzeichen, parachutist badge.

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Devils with Wings

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The Parachutist’s “Ten Commandments”

The Fallschirmjager had ten commandments that they lived by as elite soldiers.

Number 5.  The most precious thing in the presence of the foe is ammunition. He who shoots uselessly, merely to comfort himself, is a man of straw who merits not the title of Parachutist.

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Devils with Wings- Clip by Nick Britten

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My intention is not to portray a particular message, but just share some of my photographs and information with you and help set the scene for my series of novels.

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Blog is copyrighted to Harvey Black