Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thunder Run from Hell: Captain Billotte's "Amokfahrt" at Stonne

Stonne, France, May 16th 1940.
The Wehrmacht panzers have miraculously made it through the Ardennes and France's front door at Sedan is about to be open wide. Crucial to the hard-earned bridgehead at Sedan is the control of the ridiculously small village of Stonne ...

The fight at Stonne was brutal. The village changed hands at least 17 times in a single day.

In the end, it was one single tank that took the village practically all by itself. Captain Billote, commanding officer of the 1st Company, 41st Battalion, in his Char B “Eure”, broked through the German positions and pushed into Stonne. A German Panzer company from the 8th Panzer Regiment that had moved into positions on both sides of the village street now opened fire from all barrels. But the Char B drove smack through the column, shooting up all 13 German Panzers with its 4.7-cm and 7.5-cm guns and also wiping out two antitank guns. The Char B itself received 140 hits, but no single one of the German projectiles penetrated its armor.
The previous snippet and the map below are taken from "The Blitzkrieg Legend", by Karl-Heinz Frieser. This is one of the best military books to ever grace my bookshelf. Greatly recommended.

 Not only the text, but the quality of the maps, make "The Blitzkrieg Legend" an out of ordinary military history book.

Tank# 711, of the 8th Panzer Regiment, may have been one of the first to fall prey to Cpt. Billotte's Char B "Eure". Image courtesy of Akira Takiguchi, reproduced here with his permission.

Another view of Tank# 711. Image courtesy of Akira Takiguchi, reproduced here with his permission.

Destroyed panzers from the 8th Pz. Regt. at Stonne. Image courtesy of Akira Takiguchi, reproduced here with his permission.



Anonymous said...

Many thx for pointing out "The Blitzkrieg Legend", by Karl-Heinz Frieser !

I recently read "Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man" by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore - devoured is a better word. This book treats about the same topic, but mainly the British point-of-view.

So the Frieser-book might be quite complementary with its more German pov !

"Dunkirk" may be a bit more anecdotal as well.
More about this book: check out the review on Amazon by R. A Forczyk, my preferred reviewer there (who rated Frieser 5 stars btw).

Best regards, Koen

JC said...

Ey Koen,

Thanks for your comment and for your suggestion of "Dunkirk: Fight for the Last Man".

The book by Frieser is an incredibly well-done balance of thorough military analysis and well-placed small units actions here and there.

As for Forczyk: spot on! :) Big fan of his reviews!