22 December Turnhout to Geel

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22 December Turnhout to Geel

Post  Moortz on Thu Dec 23, 2010 10:46 am

Reports were coming in that Axis forces had surrounded Geel and were pushing in. Allied defenders were worried this was an attack by hardened veterans of the 'Kampfgruppe Wiking' division, and it was imperative Geel must not fall. Barracked up in Turnhout, 9RTR were a good 15 minute drive from the town but a platoon of 2 Matildas, 1 A15 Crusader and a Daimler AC were sent to interdict enemy armour approaching Geel from the German held town of Mol.

The forward recon unit met little resistance to the north of the town, but were soon engaged to the south of the town taking 2 enemy panzers before falling back. Myself and another Matilda (commanded by mile1979) took up a position to the NE of the town overwatching the east road to Mol.

As I moved into my position it was clear a better position would be inside the road loop, which meant crossing this dangerous road in the rather slow Matilda. As we stopped in a hedgerow to scout the road, a Panzer IVD lurched out of the bushes in front of us at about 200 yards. An AP shot in his rear quarter destroyed his engine, and two more shots to the centre of his hull caused the panzer to catch fire and finally explode. If we had not stopped when we did, the situation would have been completely reversed!

We stopped and had a brew to regain our composure, then moved on across the road. no more enemy tanks were reported so we moved further south where it was believed Jerry had a staging post on the north bank of the river. Soon enough conflicting reports came in of several enemy tanks approaching the town south of our position - luckily, that turned out to be a single enemy Pz IIIH which came directly at us without spotting us, hull down in some bushes. As he came closer, we fired several rounds into his track area to try and turn him broadside, but the Pz shrugged off those hits and luckily found some cover between us. He stopped, and I called for back up from my other Mattie as I could sense the enemy tank commander frantically calculating his options. Finally he decided to make a break for it directly at us, and the Panzer broke cover, firing and moving towards our position. The strong Matilda armour stood up to the high powered 47mm gun, even at this close range and we returned fire into his mantlet. He 'blinked first', veering off to our left presenting his exposed flank, and as the second Matilda finally appeared I peppered his side with AP shots, resulting in a satisfying explosion.

No more enemy tanks were reported in our sector, and Mile had suffered some engine trouble and RTB'd. I moved into the town, spotting two Jerry soldiers furtling about in the hedgerows. They were summarily despatched with the co-ax, and I moved up further calling for assistance from the infantry in the houses surrounding my position.

Suddenly the left clutch slipped and the tank lurched round to the right. We killed the engine to restart and fix the issue, when a french 'squishie' stood up and started firing at our tank! The cheek! Then there was a dull explosion, and smoke poured out of the rear of our tank. I ordered everyone out, and as we left the tank we saw the dead body of a German Sapper lying next to our now disabled Matilda II.

2 et kills (Pz IVD and PzIIIH)
2 sapper kills.

Moortz
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