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Which "First Tank Vs. Tank Engagement" is true??

March 15 2004 at 2:29 PM
  (Login Vil_Elliott)
from IP address

On Peter Kempfs site, there is a great article on the first Tank Vs. Tank engagement, involving the male Mk. IV Tank No. 4066 commanded by 2nd Lieutenant Francis Mitchell, Vs. The German A7V Nixe.

After Nixe defeated two Female Mk.IVs, Mitchell's tank succeeded in temporarily disabling Nixe with multiple 6 Pounder hits, causing the crew of Nixe to evacuate. 3 Nixe crewmembers were killed. But, the crew of Nixe later returned, and found their tank still functional, so they drove the battered machine back to their own lines to fight again another day.

But.. I have read more than one book that say it went this way...

The A7V Elfriede, defeated the two Female Mk.IVs, and then engaged Mitchells tank. Eventually, Elfriede was hit with 6 pounder rounds so many times, it fell into a shell hole and toppled over. Elfriede was then captured and paraded around as a war trophy. The Mk.IV defeating it soundly, and exploiting its top heavy weakness against it. There is even a picture of "Elfriede" on its side, with the caption "The result of the first Tank Vs. Tank engagement, Elfriede on its side disabled."

So... It seems someone would like us to believe a very different story than what actually happeend. Which story is true??? I certaintly havent been able to figure it out.


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It was Nixe

March 16 2004, 12:38 AM 

No doubt about it.

Elfriede was salvaged from its sandpit by the 1st Battalion Tank Corps (and this fact was chalked on the rear of Elfriede) which has led to confusion with the tank actually knocked out by Mitchell and his crew.

This confusion is evident as early as 1919 when Clough Williams-Ellis' history of the Tank Corps describes the Mitchell's victim as falling on its side with its tracks whirring like a mechanical toy.

By the time Mitchell wrote his autobiography 'Tank Warfare' he had read Volckheim's account of the German side of the action and is quite clear that his kill was not Elfriede, though he doesn't mention Nixe by name.

The link between Mitchell and Elfriede is a product of lazy research.

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(Login Vil_Elliott)

Hmmm. So the names were mixed up.

March 16 2004, 12:44 AM 

But.. Did the A7V Mitchells tank engage get overturned? Or was it temporarily disabled, and the evacuated crew later returned and drove it back home?

It seems odd that the story could be this contorted.


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Mitchell's account in 'Tank Warfare'

March 16 2004, 1:07 AM 

Says the tank he hit 'heeled over' and the crew abandoned it. He doesn't say 'overturned'.

Nixe's crew bailed out as they thought the ammunition was going to detonate. Later on they saw the engines were still running and reboarded and drove the tank to the rear where it suffered a total breakdown which wrote it off.

So Mitchell (correctly) claimed a kill and a dead tank was recovered from the battlefield. Someone afterwards put 2 and 2 together and made 5.

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(Login Vil_Elliott)

Thats very interesting!

March 16 2004, 1:37 AM 

So, Nixe busted up two femake Mk.IVs, raked the armor of Mitchells tank with armor piercing bullets, wounding one of his crew members.. and was in turn hit by multiple direct 6 pounder hits.

So.. On top of defeating two tanks, and busting up a third, it also survived incredible dammage to its hull, and still managed to get its crew out of the battlezone, only to have a severe breakdown.

While not 100% victorious.. I think thats one hell of a record.

And I'm glad we've cleared this up. So many books write it down wrongly, that I was beginning to get quite confused.


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Very complicated situation

March 16 2004, 2:28 AM 

Elfriede and Nixe were part of a group of four (I think tanks)involved in supporting the German attack which also had extensive artillery and MG support. So any, all or none of the German tanks could have hit the female tanks accompanying Mitchell.

Villers Bretonneaux was a complicated stand-up battle, not a simple one-on-one duel with no distractions. Mitchell's account is inevitably only what he saw, and as he was concentrating on Nixe, we can be reasonably sure that what he wrote reflects what he saw.

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