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ww2artist
10-30-2007, 08:12 PM
I seem to remember once reading that sometimes captured allied crews from flame throwing tanks were shot if captured by Germans. Has anyone else read or heard stories of this kind:confused:?

Panzerknacker
10-31-2007, 09:34 PM
Yes I did in "The universal tank" by David Fletcher, however it give no further details.

1000ydstare
11-01-2007, 01:55 AM
Not sure on this.

Flame Thrower operators on the Eastern Front were routinely executed if caughtby both sides.

It is highly likely, however, that the Germans would do the same on the Western side. Main problem in this being how many crews were caught? Crocodiles tended to be well supported in the attack, and also had a nasty tendency to explode when hit.

ww2artist
11-01-2007, 08:54 AM
This is interesting. So it was flame-thrower handlers in general, whether mechanised or infantry that were executed by the Germans? Was this weapon not allowed by the Geneva Convention, or was it that it was just such a terrible weapon?

I pity the guy given a flame-thrower to use, or the crews chosen to man the 'crocodiles'. (as well as the guys who met it, of course)

Cuts
11-01-2007, 03:07 PM
The bloke that taught me to drive a car was a Crocodile dvr, (later an instr,) during the war.
He reckoned that it was just a 'squaddie tale,' and I guess he'd be one of those in the know.

redcoat
11-01-2007, 07:32 PM
, and also had a nasty tendency to explode when hit.
Not really, they carried the fuel in a trailor towed behind the tank.

1000ydstare
11-02-2007, 08:14 AM
Yep, it was. There was a fuel line that came in to the body to fuel the projector. Via the tanks bum.

This was made of rubber and corded (like lots of wrapped string around the tube) to allow turret and weapon movement. This was very prone to damage when the tank was hit. What is worse some of the early models had no way of turning the supply of fuel off, except at the trailer.

If the hose was cut, highly flamable fuel would immediately spew forth in to the crew compartment. The crew would have to get out, avoiding any splashes and flames, in seconds.

This method was used because an early prototype system of fixed pipes and hinged joints, limited (severely) the movement of the projector and leaked a lot.

Flame Thrower operators have never been high on many peoples christmas card list. Executions certainly happened on the Russian Front. Not too sure about the Pacific, African or Western Theatres.

Were they even used in Africa?

ww2artist
11-02-2007, 03:03 PM
I'll read up on this when I get some spare time.

redcoat
11-02-2007, 07:31 PM
.

Were they even used in Africa?
The Germans had a couple of Pz I flame thrower tanks in service with the Africa Korps for a while, but I've not any info on Allied velicles

Nickdfresh
11-03-2007, 12:01 AM
I wonder how many flamethrowing tank crewman the Germans possibly could have captured. I can't imagine the number exceeded a few dozen, leading any speculation that even a small number of Croc tankers being executed would skew things and set some sort of false a presidence of numerous massacres. I'm swilling to bet that a number of captured personnel assigned to use flame weapons survived the war after being captured...

Flammpanzer
11-03-2007, 02:59 PM
Not really, they carried the fuel in a trailor towed behind the tank.

well, they could explode. in a book about the battles around the area where I live, there is reported that 2 crocs exploded while being refuelled in the trailors. a few soldiers died and the tanks turned over while the heavy blast.

jens

1000ydstare
11-04-2007, 05:05 AM
The fuel in the trailer was a nightmare from what I have read.

Without recourse to the info. I think there was 80 seconds (continous burst) worth of fuel in the trailer. It was excedingly flammable and reletively unstable, esp when pressureised.

The Croc was actually "un-flamed" most of the time. Just before commiting to battle the crew would have to charge the trailer, to provide the neccesary pressure for operations.

Afterwards the pressure had to be relieved, as the trailer and connections were not as sealed as one would hope. This would result in fumes (oxidised fuel, which is worse than liquid state fuel) leaking through joints. The Croc would drive off to a safe distance, where the crew would carry out a depressurisation process.

IIRC the trailer going up, generally destroyed the Croc Tank. It was armoured though.

Flammpanzer
11-07-2007, 11:44 AM
flamethrowers are always a quite dangerous thing even for the user. and they always attracted at once a lot of defensive-action since no one want`s to be burnt alive - they were definitly a primary target. I have also reports that quite a few crocs got lost through mines, which was the fate of many allied tanks.

in those situations where no anti-tank devices were availabe, mostly the defenders gave up very soon. there is an episode in that book what I mentioned before where a croc crew lit up an old 30 meter high oak near a building that was defended to demonstrate the defenders the effectiveness of their weapon. afterwards the germans all came out of the building and surrendered.

jens

Panzerknacker
11-29-2007, 05:38 PM
I just adquired this book but unfortunately said nothing about this type of incidents with british flamethrowers.

Uyraell
03-07-2009, 07:03 AM
This is interesting. So it was flame-thrower handlers in general, whether mechanised or infantry that were executed by the Germans? Was this weapon not allowed by the Geneva Convention, or was it that it was just such a terrible weapon?

I pity the guy given a flame-thrower to use, or the crews chosen to man the 'crocodiles'. (as well as the guys who met it, of course)

For ANY Flame-Thrower crew, be it Armoured, or Infantry, death was a near certainty if captured.
The general principle seems to have been, Geneva Conventions or not, such troops were not to be permitted to survive, period.
From my reading, it seems the weapon itself was so fearsome that the operators "lost" rights as pows due to being associated with the weapon.
Certainly, from an operational combat perspective if a flame-thrower team was seen it was targetted damn fast. Had any flamethrower team or crew been captured, execution was almost a certainty for all of the above reasons.

Regards, Uyraell.

jopped
03-07-2009, 10:27 AM
Maybe, if captured directly by troops that had met the weapon. But I think that, if they were taken away, and interigated later, they might have been treated as regular POW's if the German's found out they were Croc crews.

Furthermore, only one Croc regiment was in action in NWE, 141 regiment, RAC. Chances of crews being captured are small, as they were only called upon to break trough German lines, in support of other unids, and they were not in the front line for a very long time, and only in an attacking phase of battle, atleast most of the time. Then, if they bailed out and were captured by Jerry, it's only questionable if they knew the crew they captured were croc crew. As far as I know, they wore normal tank crew uniforms.
And then, if some crews were shot, so got other POW's. I read ones, that 12 Canadian troops were shot by SS after captured. So if you read about a croc crew that got shot, it could be questionable if they were shot for being a croc crew, or for some other reason.

In the pacific, I think the Jap's would have killed an flame troghing crew if they got some, for the reason of flamming. But then again, Jap's executed POW's on a more regular basis. They considdered POW's as right less, so if they thought a POW comitted some kind of crime in their eyes, the POW would be executed...

Cheers,
Joppe

peopleselbow
03-08-2009, 03:03 PM
sure have dude

mkenny
03-09-2009, 10:34 PM
The stories about Crocodile crews being executed started with Andrew Wilson's book 'Flame Thrower'. Published in 1956.
Wilson relates an incident where a Crocodile from his Unit broke down and was overun whilst the crew were trying to repair it. The crew were later found dead near the tank. It was concluded they had been lined up and shot.

Deaf Smith
03-13-2009, 08:39 PM
If any of you have seen films of Japanese being hit with flamethrowers you will the see why most GIs, on all sides, would hate that weapon (at least from the receiving end.) So I can see some Germans, in the heat of battle, doing such. Just watch a few of your friends buring to a crisp and well, that might color your opinion.

We do know some snipers were also summarily shot when caught. In fact, Hitler decreed airmen caught with weapons, like a .45 Auto, would be shot to (granted this was later in the war and Hitler really really did hate losing.)

Deaf

Uyraell
03-14-2009, 06:22 AM
If any of you have seen films of Japanese being hit with flamethrowers you will the see why most GIs, on all sides, would hate that weapon (at least from the receiving end.) So I can see some Germans, in the heat of battle, doing such. Just watch a few of your friends buring to a crisp and well, that might color your opinion.

We do know some snipers were also summarily shot when caught. In fact, Hitler decreed airmen caught with weapons, like a .45 Auto, would be shot to (granted this was later in the war and Hitler really really did hate losing.)

Deaf
Not recently seen footage of deaths by flamethrower, but saw a few images of deaths by napalm when I was much younger. As the results are very similar, then I'd say "close-enough".
I think that seeing a few of your buddies cooked up would tend to make a soldier shoot a Flamethrower team on sight, or as willingly destroy a Flamethrower vehicle.

Certainly the Australians made great use of Flamethrower tanks against the Japanese in the Pacific. Usually, these were Matildas converted for the task, because their armour was in general sufficient against most Japanese antitank weapons.

Regards, Uyraell.

The Historian
10-10-2009, 08:34 PM
Originally posted by mkenny: The stories about Crocodile crews being executed started with Andrew Wilson's book 'Flame Thrower'. Published in 1956.
Wilson relates an incident where a Crocodile from his Unit broke down and was overun whilst the crew were trying to repair it. The crew were later found dead near the tank. It was concluded they had been lined up and shot.


I can see the crew being executed on the spot by a retreating or desperate enemy; in late 1944, after the Falaise pocket and the near-destruction of the Wehrmacht in France, I'm sure the Germans would be unable or unwilling to take prisoners with them on the retreat

The Malmedy Massacre in December 1944 showed how far some German officers (especially die-hard Nazis) were willing to go to stop the Allies

R Mark Davies
10-14-2009, 08:51 AM
While it's mentioned anecdotally in many books (Peter Beale's 'Tank Tracks - 9 RTR At War' being one), I can only recall Andrew Wilson's 'Flamethrower' mentioning a particular incident and even then, there was some supposition involved, as the deed was not actually witnessed. There were also instances of a number of other, non-Croc tank crews being murdered, so it's by no means proof.

In reply to one of the above comments - while 141 RAC was the only Croc regiment in Normandy, another two were formed immediately afterwards: 31st Tank Brigade (of which 141 RAC was a part, along with 7 RTR and 9 RTR) was temporarily disbanded in August 1944 and reformed in 79th Armoured Division in October 1944, with 7 RTR and 1st Fife & Forfar Yeomanry joining 141 RAC in the flamethrowing game. A couple more Crocodile squadrons were formed in 25th Armoured Engineer Brigade in Italy later that year, while the Canadians also got in on the act by forming Ram Badger flame tank troops in a number of their units (and this doesn't include the many Wasp flame carrier units formed from July 1944 onwards).

steben
10-14-2009, 11:33 AM
Reminds me of the riot gunners in WW I. The Germans made no secret there the user of that weapon was seen as an animal.

The Historian
10-14-2009, 09:23 PM
Heck, the Germans used the first flamethrowers in WWI at Verdun--most guys on their side tried to stay away from them because of the tendency for the pressurized tanks to explode