We have both been thinking a lot about the experiences of tank crews recently. It seems obvious that tank crews were safer inside their armoured vehicles, but when things went wrong, they could only have a matter of seconds to escape a terrible death. On June 27, 1944, during Operation Epsom, the Scots infantry attack towards Grainville sur Odon was hit hard by fire from German Panzer IVs commanded by Obersturmführer Hans Siegel of the 2/SS-Panzer-Regiment 12 (of the 12.SS-Panzer-Division ‘Hitlerjugend’).
Their coaxial machine guns tore tremendous gaps in the ranks and the supporting Churchill tanks of 7th Royal Tank Regiment were knocked out one by one by the main guns of the panzers that were well concealed behind thick hedges. The Shermans of the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry then took up the attack, with Lieutenant William Steel Brownlie well to the fore: “We were to advance up a slope, over the skyline, and then down into the woods beyond, where the enemy positions were. We had two troops up, Freddie Craig on the right, and me behind him. As he topped the ridge, three of his tanks were brewed, and his took cover in a slight hollow. I had to take his place, so kept going.”