Tigers in Italy 1944-45

The 508th and 504th Heavy Panzer Battalions (German: “schwere Panzerabteilung” or “s.Pz.Abt.”) were two German independent battalion-sized armor units during WWII, equipped with the Pz.Kpfw. VI Tiger I (Sd.Kfz. 181) armed with a 88mm L/56 gun. They fought against the US and Commonwealth forces in the Italian Campaign. The 508th first fought against the Anzio landings in February 1944. After the liberation of Rome, the refitted s.Pz.Abt. 504 arrived in Italy. Both the s.Pz.Abt. 508 and s.Pz.Abt. 504 supported defending German-held northern Italy until the Germans surrendered in May 1945.

s.Pz.Abt. 508 was partially formed on 11 May 1943 in France using personnel from the 29. Panzer-Regiment. In December 1943, 3. Kompanie was attached to the abteilung from 313. Panzer-Kompanie (Funklenk) – a Tiger kompanie equipped with Borgward B IV remotely controlled demolition vehicles. By 24 January 1944, s.Pz.Abt. 508 was at full strength with 45 Tigers Is under the command of Major Helmut Hudel.

The Tiger I was introduced as the control vehicle for the Borgward B IV in 1943-44. The Tiger Is had modifications for its control vehicle role. A new antenna and base was mounted on the right side of the turret which was used to control the Borgward B IVs. Two Borgward IVs are waiting beside their control Tiger at Aprilia.

Organization Structure

Unit StabsVehiclesZugVehicles
s.Pz.Abt. 5083 x Tiger Is
1. Kompanie2 x Tiger Is 1.4 x Tiger Is
2.4 x Tiger Is
3. 4 x Tiger Is
2. Kompanie2 x Tiger Is 1. 4 x Tiger Is
2. 4 x Tiger Is
3. 4 x Tiger Is
3. Kompanie2 x Tiger Is
9 x Borgward IVs
(Reserve)
1.4 x Tiger Is
9 x Borgward IVs
1 x Sd.Kfz. 251
2.4 x Tiger Is
9 x Borgward IVs
1 x Sd.Kfz. 251
3.4 x Tiger Is
9 x Borgward IVs
1 x Sd.Kfz. 251

s.Pz.Abt. 508 Tactical Numbers

Each of the Tigers of s.Pz.Abt. 508 in Italy only carried a large single number painted in white outline on the turret sides and rear indicating the kompanie which the Tiger belonged to. All the Tigers of the abteilung also employed a three color mottled camouflage scheme. For a short period of time, a more standardized unit identification system was employed by 1. Kompanie where the large kompanie number was followed by two smaller numbers representing the zug (platoon) and the individual vehicle. It is believed that this mixed height number system was eliminate after the employment to the Anzio-Nettuno beachhead and 1. kompanie began using the single digit system which was already employed by the 2. and 3. Kompanies. There were some exceptions. One Tiger had an unusual alphanumeric turret code “A2” which believed to have belonged to 2. Kompanie. Some Tigers (probably replacements) had no kompanie markings at all.

At the top and the bottom are Tigers of 1. and 3. Kompanies with the single digit kompanie number used for most of 1944 to the end of the war. In the center, is an early Tiger of 1. Kompanie with the 3 digit system indicating the second Tiger of 1. Zug.


Anzio-Nettuno Beachhead

On 22 January 1944, the Allies launched Operation Shingle, an amphibious landing in the area of Anzio and Nettuno. The initial landings were essentially unopposed, with the exception of some random Luftwaffe strafing runs. The British 1st Infantry Division penetrated 2 miles (3 km) inland, US Rangers captured the port of Anzio, US 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion captured Nettuno, and the US 3rd Infantry Division penetrated 3 miles (5 km) inland. Three days after the landings, the beachhead was surrounded by a German defense line consisting of three divisions: the 4th Parachute Division to the west, the 3rd Panzergrenadier-Division in the center in front of the Alban Hills, and the Hermann Göring Panzer-Division to the east. Further Allied troop movements included the landing of the US 45th Infantry Division and elements of the US 1st Armored Division.

In early February, s.Pz.Abt. 508 was ordered to rush to Anzio to oppose the Allied landings. On February 6, the abteilung entrained in Marilly (east of Paris) and departed on February 7 at 0605 hours. The trains traveled east through Nancy, Luneville and entered Germany at Karsruhe on the 8th proceeding through Stuttgart, Ulm, Augsburg, München, and then Rosenheim. After entering northern Italy at Brenner Pass, the trains continued southward through Bozen, Trento, Verona, Bologna, Florence then reached Ficulle station, Italy on February 10. It was a long distance from the Anzio beachhead, 150 km (93 miles), but that was the end of the line because south of that point sections of tracks were rendered unusable from US bombing (B-25s). While s.Pz.Abt. 508 was traveling to the battle front, the German 65th, 362nd and 715th Infanterie-Divisions were rushed to the German defense line around the Allied beachhead supported by the 29th Panzergrenadier-Division and the 26th Panzer-Division. Also included was the 114th Jäger Division which was a Light infanterie-division trained to fight in adverse terrain.

The Tigers had to drive the remaining distance to Rome. While en-route, one Tiger caught fire and an explosion destroyed it. Sixty percent of the Tigers suffered mechanical breakdowns on the long hard road march through the narrow, winding, mountainous roads. This Tiger of 1./s.Pz.Abt. 508 is motoring down a road towards Aprilia (known as The Factory) carrying a number of riders, some are wearing overcoats.

Between February 11-12, the first s.Pz.Abt. 508 Tigers reached Forte Tiburtina in Rome. By February 14, the 1. Kompanie was deployed piecemeal in the Anzio region near Aprilia, as 2. Kompanie was arriving in Rome.

A Tiger I Ausf H of s.Pz.Abt. 508 in Rome. Note the motorcycle carried on the Tiger’s engine deck behind the turret.

A Tiger I of s.Pz.Abt. 508 passes through the “Altare della Patria” (“Altar of the Fatherland”) in Rome. Today, its named the “Porta del Popolo” (“People’s Gate”).

A Tiger I of 3./s.Pz.Abt. 508 in Rome while traveling to the front pauses on the Piazza de Venezia in front of the National Monument of Victor Emmanuel, now known as the Altare della Patria (“Altar of the Nation”).

Today, the location of the Tiger was on the Piazza della Madonna di Loreto (Square of “Our Lady of Loreto”). The statue immediately in front is named “Il Pensiero” (“The thought”) which was sculpted by 19th century naturalist sculptor Giulio Monteverde.


Panzer-Kompanie Meyer

The schwere Panzer-Kompanie Meyer was formed as an alarm unit (Allarmeinheit) on 28 July 1943 under the command of Oberleutnant Hans-Gery Meyer. It was equipped with eight Pz.Kpfw. VI Ausf. E Tigers obtained from s.Pz.Abt. 500 (the Tiger training battalion). The tactical markings on the Tigers were a single solid black digit (numbers 1 to 8). The kompanie was supposed to be sent to Innsbruck, Austria, for its training, however, as a result of the adverse developments in Italy, it received orders to relocate to the Apennine peninsula and participate in the disarmament of the Italian Army (Operation Achse). After transported by rail to Brenner pass, Italy, the kompanie continued by road to Milan, later to Modena, and then to Rome. From August to November 1943, the kompanie was attached to Pz.Jg.Abt. 46. On 2 December 1943, Hauptmann Schwebbach took command of the unit and it was renamed Tigergruppe Schwebbach. It was then attached to the LXXVI Panzer-Korps.

From December 1943 to 22 January 1944, the tigergruppe scouted the Italian coast from Fiumicino and Ostia to Terracina and Gaeta in preparation for any possible enemy landings. Approach routes in the Pontine Marshes and positions with fields of fire against possible land or sea targets were recorded on maps. The Tigers were mainly restricted to the roads, which in some places were insufficiently firm. There were also insufficient opportunities for concealment or camouflage.

When the Allies landed at Anzio on January 22, the tigergruppe was not allowed to attack the enemy beachhead without infanterie support. Four days later on January 26, Tigergruppe Schwebbach launched a successful limited attack at Aprilia where the tigergruppe commander’s gunner knocked out British tanks (probably Shermans) at a range of 2400 meters (1.49 miles). Hauptmann Schwebbach, who had recently arrived from Panzer-Ersatz- und Ausbildungs-Abteilung 500 (new to combat), was fatally wounded while in the turret hatch of his Tiger coded number 1. Meyer took over command of the unit and it was renamed back to Panzer-Kompanie Meyer.

The kompanie fought against the Allied forces at the Anzio beachhead until 3 March 1944 when the kompanie was incorporated into s.Pz.Abt.508 where Oberleutnant Meyer became an adjutant. Most of the Tigers and crews went to 1./s.Pz.Abt.508, the rest were divided among the remaining kompanies and from that point on Panzer-Kompanie Meyer no longer existed.


Operation Fischfang

On February 16, the Germans launched Operation Fischfang (“Fishing”) where the objective was to break through the Allied line, cut the US VI Corps in half and push forward towards Nettuno and Anzio. The German forces attacked down the line of the Via Anziate, supported by the Tigers. The US 45th Infantry Division supported by M4/M4A1s of the 191st Tank Battalion and M10s of the 645th Tank Destroyer Battalion took the brunt of the attack. On the left flank, the British 167th Brigade, of the recently arrived 56th (London) Infantry Division was overrun, and X and Y Companies of the 8th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers were virtually destroyed, each of which was reduced from around 125 men down to one officer and around 10 other ranks.

One of the British soldiers KIA on 18 February 1944 was Second Lieutenant Eric Waters of Z Company, 8th Battalion who was commissioned on 11 September 1943. His son, George Roger Waters was born on 6 September 1943 and grew up in London fatherless. In 1965, Roger Waters co-founded the rock band Pink Floyd and later wrote the song “When the Tigers Broke Free” for the band’s 1982 film, “Pink Floyd – The Wall”, in memory of his father and it described his death at Anzio. The lyrics to the song can be found on the internet.

Video: When The Tigers Broke Free

Further attacks were aimed around the beachhead but by February 19, Allied air and artillery superiority had halted the German assault and the Germans failed to break through. There were heavy German casualties but they did managed to create a 1 mile (1.6 km) deep gap in the Allies line.

This is one of three Shermans knocked out by 2./s.Pz.Abt. 508 on February 21. Across the road from the Sherman appears to be a Bren carrier indicating it probably belonged to the 46th (Liverpool Welsh) Royal Tank Regiment (46 RTR). Note the long gun barrel on the Sherman which probably is the 17 pounder of a Firefly.

A disabled Tiger of 3./s.Pz.Abt. 508 awaits evacuation. It appears the Tiger has foliage attached to the turret probably an effort to camouflage the Tiger from roaming Allied aircraft but the long gun barrel gives it away. Note the motorcycle with sidecar passed the Tiger on the left.

A Sturmpanzer 43 (Sd.Kfz. 166) Brummbär of Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 216 passes by the disabled Tiger. The Sturmpanzer IV Brummbär was a self propelled gun which mounted a massive 15cm (5.9 in) Sturmhaubitze (StuH) 43 L/12 howitzer on a Pz.Kpfw. IV chassis.

A Sd.Kfz. 9 “Famo” half-track has arrived and preparing to tow the disabled Tiger. The tow cable on the front bumper would indicate another Sd.Kfz. 9 is in front of it. Other vehicles are passing by on the road including a Pz.Kpfw. II which is also covered with foliage.

The Pz.Kpfw. II is passing along side the disabled Tiger. At a certain angle, the Pz.Kpfw. II would appear to be mounting a 88mm gun.


Operation Seitensprung

Hitler personally ordered a second large assault on the Anzio bridgehead which became known as Operation Seitensprung (“Fling”). After February 26, the weather deteriorated drastically where heavy rain showers, low clouds and fog kept the Allied air forces grounded. However, the heavy rain soaked the roads which became muddy lanes making some unsuitable for armored vehicles. As of February 27, the 27 operational Tigers of s.Pz.Abt. 508 and Elefants of 1./schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilung 653 were attached to the Hermann Göring Panzer-Division. On February 28, s.Pz.Abt. 508 moved through Velletri into an assembly area in and around Cisterna. An ammunition and fuel dump was established at Cori (northeast of Cisterna).

Early morning on February 29th from the southern edge of Cisterna, Tiger number 34 of 1./s.Pz.Abt. 508 passes through the intersection heading down the Cisterna-Nettuno road towards Isola bella. Note the thick muddy road.

Grenadiers of the 26. Panzer-Division had turned onto the Cisterna-Aprilia road (northwest of the Cisterna-Netunno road). The 26. Panzer-Division and Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 216 supported the 715th Infanterie-Division attack towards Ponte Rotte (“Broken Bridge”) on the Cisterna-Aprilia road.

After a preparatory artillery barrage, which began at 0500 hours, s.Pz.Abt. 508 with 32 Tigers, plus attached Elefants (Panzerjäger Tiger P) and a kompanie of Brummbärs of Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 216, advanced towards the northeast corner of the Allied beachhead. On the heels of the artillery barrage, 2./s.Pz.Abt. 508 moved out from Cisterna and, remaining west of the Cisterna-Netunno road, headed southwest toward the town of Isola Bella (“beautiful island”) which was occupied by G Company, 15th Infantry Regiment, US 3rd Infantry Division supported by M10s of B company, US 601st TD battalion. While still 1.5 km (0.93 miles) from the forward German lines, a Tiger and a Brummbär were disabled after running over mines. Then, just 1000 meters (0.62 miles) inside US held territory, another Brummbär ran over a mine in a mine field, blocking all the following panzers. The attack had stalled, and it was not long before US artillery and AT fire began ranging in on the Tigers. Four of the 2./s.Pz.Abt. 508 Tigers were lost during the day. That night and those that followed, the repair echelon, with the assistance of other Tigers, towed the disabled panzers to safety. One Tiger was lost during the recovery effort.

The 1. Kompanie attacked southward along the Cisterna-Netunno road toward Isola Bella without difficultly, but there it encountered fierce resistance. The Tigers subsequently encircled Isola Bella while the infanterie assaulted the small town, however US barrage fire prevented any further advance. During the night of March 1st, 1. Kompanie was forced to pull back to its starting position.

The 3. Kompanie, also deployed at the southeast corner of Cisterna, used Borgward IVs in its attack on the morning of February 29 which was not a success in an area where movements were restricted to roads. Whenever visibility was restricted by olive trees or the road became twisting, the radio-controlled vehicles ended up in a ditch or a marsh. The attack was also quickly halted by US artillery fire and the 3. Kompanie Tigers had no option but to withdraw.

This assault was unsuccessful for the German forces which resulted in heavy losses. The US 3rd Infantry Division with armor and artillery support repelled three German divisions forcing the German units to return to their starting positions. Only 12 out of 45 s.Pz.Abt. 508 Tigers remained in operation by March 1st.

This Tiger was abandoned on the side of the Cisterna-Netunno road north of Isola Bella after a failed attempt to recover an Elefant of 1./s.Pz.Jg.Abt. 653 during the night of March 1st. The Elefant (overturned) is on the opposites side of the road on the left. Note the missing forward fender section on the Tiger and the Jerry can on the rear hull side.

For more information about the Elefant, see my post “Elefants in Italy 1944“.

This is a closer view of the abandoned Tiger. The solid number 1 code indicate it is the commander’s panzer of Panzer-Kompanie Meyer. Note the missing forward fender section and the Jerry can.

This is a front view of the Tiger along the Cisterna-Netunno road. Before abandoning it, the Germans appeared to have removed the gun muzzle break.

US signals troops are stringing communication wire over the Tiger and examining it. One source state that this is the Tiger of Hauptmann Schwebbach, commander of Panzer-Kompanie Meyer which is incorrect because Schwebbach was KIA on January 26.

From March to mid May, the front line around the Anzio beachhead became a stalemate. Allied and German small scale assaults were repelled along the lines with little ground gained by either side. German troop movements and supply movements were interdicted by Allied artillery and aerial bombing.

This is Tiger I #8 named “Strolch” of Panzer-Kompanie Meyer which now was merged with s.Pz.Abt. 508, is near Aprilia in early March 1944. On the front hull is the Baltic Cross which was the unit insignia for Panzer-Kompanie Meyer since Meyer was a Baltic German. The name “Strolch” translates to “Hoodlum” (Microsoft Translator) or “Tramp, Rascal, Rogue” (Google Translator).

In March-April 1944, a Tiger undergoing repairs in the Workshop Kompanie area in front of the buildings of the former Acro bomb factory near Forte Tiburtina, Rome. In the mid 1970’s, these buildings were torn down.

A Tiger of 2./s.Pz.Abt. 508 received running gear damage from mines near Aprilia in May 1944. Note the kompanie number on the turret.

This is the rear view of the same Tiger showing the kompanie number on the storage bin on the rear of the turret. To the left is the front of a Demag Sd.Kfz. 10 half-track.

The tremendous amount of work required to repair such damage in the field is illustrated here. In the foreground appears to be a piece of damaged torsion bar tossed aside. Note the jack is used to support the hull.

Film: Wehrmacht Combat Operations in the Cisterna area, 1944


Allies Breakout

The Allied forces in the Anzio-Nettuno beachhead had been waiting for the moment to launch an offensive northward driving into the rear of the German 10. Armee and sever its supply lines. The breakout came on the morning of May 23 after a heavy bombardment by land and naval artillery. The Cisterna area was the main focal point of the attack by 5 US Divisions and 2 British Divisions under the command of the US 5th Army and the US VI Corps. The German units were also subjected to continuous air attacks by Allied fighters and bombers, which made movement by day all but impossible. The German front line southeast of Cisterna was quickly breached. By the evening of the first day, the US 1st Armored Division had reached the Cisterna-Campoleone Rail line.

The 3. Kompanie of s.Pz.Abt. 508 was sent from the Latina area north along the Via Appia (Highway 7) towards the Allied breach in front of Cisterna. This flanking attack resulted in heavy fighting southeast of Cisterna in where 16 US Shermans (probably of the US 751st Tank Battalion) were knocked out. The 1. and 2. Kompanies of s.Pz.Abt. 508 tried to hold positions along the railway embankment northwest of Cisterna. After a brief battle, extremely heavy Allied artillery fire forced the Tigers to pull back. The remaining operational Tigers of 1./s.Pz.Abt. 508 were withdrawn near Velletri along with remnants of 2. and 3. Kompanies.

On May 25, Allied units from the beachhead linked up with Allied forces advancing north from the Gustav Line. For more information, see my post “Anzio Link-up Italy 1944“.

During the withdrawal, Tigers of 3. Kompanie tried to fight their way northwest towards Velletri. Nine surviving Tigers of 3./s.Pz.Abt. 508 withdrew northeast along the Cisterna-Cori Road towards Cori. There were 8 unserviceable Tigers close to or in Cori. With Allied forces rapidly drawing near, the crews destroyed their Tigers late on the afternoon of May 25 and withdrew northwest towards Giulianello.

Film: Destroyed Tiger tanks from sPzAbt. 508 in Cori, Italy

This blown up Tiger in Cori was pushed off the bridge into a shell crater.

The white paint haphazardly applied to the turret and hull reportedly was a measure to mark the Tiger as a safety hazard, especially at night. The fountain in the background to the left still exist today but the area is built up.

Film: AMERICAN TROOPS ADVANCE, SHELL CISTERNA, ITALY

An aerial view of an abandoned Tiger I of s.Pz.Abt. 508 south of Giulianello (northwest of Cori and east of Velletri). On the side of the road probably is a captured US Dodge WC-56 3⁄4-ton command car strafed by Allied aircraft and ran off the road turning over onto its side.

This photo is a side view of the same Tiger above taken on May 27. The soldiers inspecting the Tiger appear to be British.

IWM NA 15566

This is the front view of the same Tiger above showing the tow bars.

Around 11 Tigers were destroyed and abandoned around Giulianello. This is a photo of another one taken on May 27.

IWM NA 15568

Film: Tiger I Wrecks – sPzAbt 508

In early June, s.Pz.Abt. 508 left Rome and moved to Viterbo in the direction of Siena. There followed fighting withdrawals in the direction of Empoli and Florence, where the abteilung arrived at the end of June.

Two GIs are examining a destroyed Tiger in Lanuvio (northeast of Aprilia and west of Velletri).

A US medic posing by an abandoned disabled Tiger in Lanuvio.

This is the rear view of the same Tiger above. Note the sign “DUST BRINGS – SHELL FIRE”.

A Tiger I of 3./s.Pz.Abt. 508 overturned on Highway 6 southeast of Rome. A soldier is leaning against the belly of the massive beast smoking a cigarette (fag). Today, Highway 6 is Strada Regionale 6 (Italian for regional road) or SR6.

A US GMC CCKW-353 truck passes by the same Tiger on Sunday, 18 June 1944. On that date, Allied forces were approaching the Trasimene Line (so-named for Lake Trasimene and sometimes known as the Albert Line) north of Rome. On June 18, s.Pz.Abt. 508 was at Poggibonsi along Highway 2, 20 miles (32 km) south of Florence receiving replacement Tigers.

IWM TR 1920

A US Ward La France/Kenworth M1/M1A1 heavy wrecker is passing by the same Tiger.

In July 1944, the s.Pz.Abt. 508 panzer kompanies took part in the defensive fighting near Colle Val d’Elsa, Poggiboni, Merkatale and Ciaciano. There was a major armor engagement there on July 25 which resulted in more Tiger losses. This was followed by a further withdrawal through Florence and Pisa to Viareggio.

The 4th New Zealand Armoured Brigade was part of the 2nd New Zealand Infantry Division and it was also often used to support other Allied units. This Sherman tank of the New Zealand 20th Armoured Regiment is next to an abandoned Tiger which was blocking the road, south of Florence, July 1944. While trying to navigate around the Tiger, it appears the Sherman had ran over a mine on the side of the road which damaged the right track.

This is a closer view of the above Sherman and the Tiger.

This is the view of the Tiger on the other side with the disabled Sherman behind it. The Tiger appears to have been push forward off the road allowing the carrier on the left to maneuver around both of them.

This is the side view of a 3./s.Pz.Abt. 508 Tiger I captured intact by 22nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 2nd New Zealand Infantry Division at La Romola (southwest of Florence), 2 August 1944. Note the steel road wheels. Note the kompanie number on the storage bin on the rear of the turret.

IWM NA 17525

This is the front view of the Tiger above.

IWM NA 17526

This is another Tiger I of 3./s.Pz.Abt. 508. at La Romola.

A New Zealand soldier takes a smoke break next to the Tiger measuring the track width with his arm.

IWM NA 17527

On 3 September 1944, the train transporting the Tigers of 1./s.Pz.Abt. 508 arrived at Forlimpopoli Rail Station, about 20 km (12.4 miles) from the coast of the Adriatic Sea. After unloading and changed their tracks, several Tigers had driven south down a tree lined street (Today Via Roma) to conceal themselves from Allied aircraft. That same day, the Tigers proceeded southeast by road passing through Cesena to the Rimini area. This Tiger I Ausf. E was commanded by Hans Kraft.

In September 1944, small numbers of Borgward IVs of 3./s.Pz.Abt. 508 were employed in combat operations in the Imola, Forli, Cesena, Forlimpopoli and Padua areas. After the removal of the radio-command transmitters from the command Tigers, the remaining Borgward IVs were loaded aboard trains in Padua, and with their drivers were transported to Panzer-Versuchs- und Ersatz-Abteilung 300 (FL) in Eisenach, Germany on 20 October 1944. From that day on, 3./s.Pz.Abt. 508 was employed as a conventional panzer kompanie with no radio-control equipment.


s.Pz.Abt. 504

The schwere Panzer-Abteilung 504 was formed in February 1943 and the first kompanie was sent to North Africa in March 1943 and it surrendered in Tunisia in May 1943. The second kompanie was attached to Fallschirm-Panzer-Division Hermann Göring and fought the Allies on Sicily in July 1943. It was evacuated across the Messina Strait to Italy and was sent to Holland for refitting. s.Pz.Abt.504 was rebuilt as a full Tiger Abteilung (45 Tigers) in November 1943 and was first deployed near Massa Marittima, Italy, on 20 June 1944 (after Rome was liberated). It was attached to SS Panzergrenadier Division Götz von Berlichingen and it supported the 362. Infanterie-Division.

Engagements with Allied units ensued. During a 100 km (62 miles) retreat north, about one half of the s.Pz.Abt. 504 Tigers broke down and had to be destroyed. Fighting in the Cecina-Pisa area was followed by retreats to Parma then to the area north of Genoa. In September, they were moved to fight near Cesena and Rimini on the eastern side of the peninsula. There were many moves and actions during the following months, with few Tiger losses, often due to terrain. The abteilung was gradually pushed 50 km (31 miles) north to the Lugo area. A series of retreats in April 1945 caused the loss of the remaining Tigers.

Tiger number 334 of s.Pz.Abt. 504 destroyed by its crew after breaking down north of Pomarance, Italy, June 1944. It was apparently left in a field midway between Pomarance and Saline.

This is the damage on the opposite side of the Tiger 334. The film below shows the result of the internal explosion better.

Film: Tiger 334 of s.Pz.Abt. 504 sabotaged after breaking down.

Tiger number 222 of s.Pz.Abt. 504 knocked out near Potassa (northwest of Giuncarico) in June 1944. The film below was labeled as “Wrecked Enemy Equipment near Giuncarico”, Highway 1, 6/23/44, 163 Signal Photo Co., Sgt. Dieves.

Film: Tiger Tank of sPzAbt 504 Destroyed in Italy during WWII

Tiger number 221 of s.Pz.Abt. 504 knocked out in Cecina on 1 July 1944. GIs of the US 34th Infantry Division are examining Tiger 221 the next day. See the film below.

Film: Tiger 221 of s.PzAbt.504 knocked out in Cecina Italy on July 1st 1944

A GI examining the shell penetration in the side hull of the Tiger above.

Tiger number 312 of s.Pz.Abt. 504 appear to had driven into a deep wide shell crater and when the Tiger was not able to reverse itself out of it, the crew destroyed and abandoned it.

African-American GIs of the US 92nd Infantry Division, the “Buffalo Soldiers”, march pass a disabled/abandoned Tiger. The date and location of this photo are unknown. The Tiger is short-tracked, indicating that the crew attempted to tow it after encountering a final drive failure, but was unable to.


1945

On February 12, the remaining 17 Tigers of s.Pz.Abt 508 were transferred to s.Pz.Abt 504 commanded by Major Nill at San Philippo.

On February 20, the combat elements (panzer crews and maintenance section) of s.Pz.Abt 508 entrained for rail transport to Villach, Austria. The HQ kompanie and maintenance kompanies remained in the Padua area where they performed well during the retreat, the Flak and combat engineer platoons particularly so during the crossings of the Po and other rivers in northern Italy where they made it possible for many other units to cross.

Tiger number 332 of s.Pz.Abt. 504 abandoned at Massa Lombarda, about 40 km (24.85 miles) east of Bologna and about 30 km (18.64 miles ) west of Ravenna on the east coast in April 1945. New Zealand soldiers are examining it.

Front view of Tiger number 332 above.

Film: Destroyed Tiger I Ausf.E. Po Valley, Italy, 1945.


Books

  • The Combat History of Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 508, J.J Fedorowicz Publishing, 2001
  • Als Panzermann in Afrika und Italien 1942-45: Panzer Regiment 8 und Schwere Panzer-Abt. 508, Luftfahrtverlag-Start, 2013

Model Kits and Decals

1/35:
Cyber Hobby 6660 Sd.Kfz.181 Pz.Kpfw VI Ausf.E Tiger I Mid Production Command Version – 2010
Cyber Hobby 6650 Sd.Kfz.181 Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf.E Tiger I Feb. 1944 Production – 2011
Dragon 6866 s.Pz.Abt.508, Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf.E Tiger I Mid Production w/Zimmerit mit Borgward Ausf. A – 2017
Italeri 6507 Pz.Kpfw. VI Tiger I Ausf. E mid production – 2012

Star Decals 35-870 German Tanks in Italy #1. Early and Mid production. s.Pz.Kp. Meyer, s.Pz.Abt. 508.
Techmod 35006 Pz.Kpfw.VI Tiger Ausf.E (Mid Production Model) Decalset – 200?

1/48:
Tamiya 32575 Tiger I German Tiger I Late Production – 2013
Tamiya 32603 German Heavy Tank Tiger I Early Production – 2022
Gaso.line GAS50072K Borgward IV Demoliton Tank (resin kit)

Peddinghaus-Decals 1611 Tiger tanks in Italy

1/72:
Dragon 7251 Sd.Kfz. 181 Ausf.E Tiger I Mid Production w/Zimmerit – 2006
Abteilung ’46 AB72047 Sd.Kfz 301 – Borgward B.IV Ausf.B

Star Decals 72-A1022 German tanks in Italy # 2. Tigers. Early prod., Mid prod., Late prod. and Funklenk (Fkl).
Techmod 72806 Pz.Kpfw.VI Tiger Ausf.E (Mid Production Model) Decalset – 200?

2 thoughts on “Tigers in Italy 1944-45

  1. Terrific stuff-but do note the 22nd Battalion of the NZ Div captured an intact Tiger 1 and its crew (they were having breakfast) on the morning of 2 August 1944 at La Romola.
    This vehicle is often mistakenly labeled as the one knocked out by NZ artillery at a later date- (the terrain and vegetation are completely different from each photograph).

    Like

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