French 155mm Schneider guns – revisited

The question of where, when, where from was discussed a bit in this older post.

I have now been able to look through 7 Support Group’s war diary. The Intelligence Summaries (I.S.) of this diary are of very great value.

Intelligence Summary No.7, containing information up to 0800 hours 17 Dec 41 contains information on captured guns which is given below. This confirms that the Canon de 155 Mle.1917 was in fact used by the Germans during CRUSADER, a question that had hitherto been open to some extent.

5. ENEMY EQUIPMENT. (From 7 A.D. I.S. Nos.53 and 54)

(1) The following guns, the late property of 61 Inf. Regt. and 46 Mot. Arty. Regt.[1], have been discovered around 372432[2].

Nineteen Hotchkiss 25 mm.[3]

Eight 47/32s.[4]

Two 20 mm AA A/Tk

Four 87/27s[5]

Four 155mm FRENCH guns.

There are also four 47/32 at 465439[6] and another 155 mm gun at 364443[7], of unknown ownership.

(2). The four FRENCH 155 mm reported above were made by PUTEAUX, and had evidently been used by GERMANS, as the FRENCH directions were supplemented by GERMAN translations. One had the date 1918 on the carriage and 1925 on the breech. Of those seen one was destroyed but two at least appeared to be in working order and one of them was being salvaged.

These guns, according to P.W’s[8], came from TUNISIA where they were acquired by the Armistice Commission[9].

 

[1]Both regiments belonged to the Trento motorised division, indicating that the guns were captured at the northern end of the Gazala line, where a large part of the division was captured.

[2] In the Gazala line, on a line north-west of Acroma.

[3] These could theoretically also be the new German heavy ATR called schwere Panzerbuechse 41, a 28/20mm heavy squeeze-bore anti-tank rifle, although this is unlikely if they were really captured from the Italians. On the other hand, I have not come across Hotchkiss 25mm A/Tk guns in the Italian forces.

[4] The standard anti-tank gun of the Italian army, designed by Boehler in Austria and manufactured under license by Breda.

[5] Probably around Gazala or Tmimi.

[6] Should be 75/27.

[7] Probably a typo, since this position would be in the Mediterranean, north of Gambut. It is likely to be 439465, at Bu Amud in the former positions of Bologna division in the encirclement ring, and these guns were probably abandoned early on in the breakout.

[8] Prisoners of War

[9] The Armistice Commission was a German military commission charged with supervising the armistice arrangement with France, and to procure goods and services for the German armed forces in France. It was established as part of the Armistice of Compiegne.