Sherman-Titel

THE SHERMAN-STORY

by Jozef GEBOERS

Sherman01

IDuring the springtime of 1984 the president of the tradespeople, Ray Verpoorten, was attedning the farewell parade of Lt Gen Dewandre of the Group Leopard (Groep Leopard). The general will become the president of the division tanks at the Royal Museum in Brussels. During the reception Verpoorten told the general that a village as Leopoldsburg should have a Sherman tank as a monument. The general agreed and promised a Sherman tank.
Later that year, Lt Col Van Thienen, than commander of Group Leopard, his successor Lt Col Pauwels W. and Cdt Geboers visited the Dutch driving-school and tractionschool. Lt Col Van Thienen remembered the promise of the general and told this to Lt Col Pauwels. Pauwels assigned Cdt Geboers to fulfil that promise.
At that time Cdt Geboers was the commander of the Pl maintenance of Group Leopard and had all the necessary means for hoisting and renovating at his disposal.
Transport neede to be requested.
General Dewandre was reminded of his promise and he send a photo catalogue with all known tankwrecks in Belgium. In this catalogue a tank, which was on the shooting range of Brasschaat, was appointed to be renovated and to become a monument in Leopoldsburg.

Sherman02

Arrival in Leopoldsburg.

During a visit to the shooting range Cdt Geboers noticed that the appointed Sherman, which stood at the entrance, had been used as a target for ‘Energa’ and ‘Blindicide’, portable anti-tankweapons. They had perforated the Sherman on more than 100 places with their hollow charge. After a consultation with the responsible of the range, they decided to recuperate an other Sherman. Deep in the square, in the swamp, there was another Sherman which hadn’t been catalogued. This Sherman had been used as a artillery target for 15 years, but was still usable as a future monument. One weekend later a first attempt was taken with personel and a Recovery Leopard of the 18th RA . They didn’t have much experience with the Recovery Leopard and the Sherman remained stuck in the swamp.

The next weekend a second attempt with personnel of Group Leopard was more successful. The Sherman was pulled out of the mud onto a sand track. The tracks, which were bend as an accordion between the track idlers, were cut in pieces by using the Sherman’s alternator. Now the Sherman could be pulled onto a flatbed trailer of the 1st Cie Mat and be transported to the Group Leopard in Leopoldsburg.

Sherman03

One track is missing. The mouthbrake of the canon is missing. There is no engine cover.

Sherman04

Of each main drive sprockets a crown is missing.

Sherman05

One suspension bogie is destroyed.

Sherman05

The track idlers are riddled.

Sherman07

Shell-splinters of the artillery hits left alot of traces on the armour-plating.

The list with needed parts wasn’t long but was heavy: half a canon, 2 main drive sprockets, 2 track idlers, 1 complete suspension bogie and 1 track.
On the shooting range of Leopoldsburg a nother heavily damaged Sherman had to make room for nonmetal targets. Luckily this one could provide the necessary parts, but all had to be done in one afternoon. The powerful Leopard Recovery pulled the turret of the Sherman of its body and turned it over. Since the bolts were in a rut, their heads were removed by using a welding torch. All necessary parts were detached and brought to the Group Leopard. This was at the beginning of August 1984.

Sherman08

First recuperate a track…

Sherman09

…then 2 track idlers.

Sherman10

Sherman11

The Sherman gets turned over to recuperate a suspension bogie.

Sherman12

 In the workplace the turret is placed next to the body. The damaged part of the barrel is burned off and replaced by a part of the recuperated barrel.
The engine, 5 x 6 cylinders, and all unnecessary parts are removed out of the body and sold to a merchant in old iron parts. With the profit the means for the restauration were bought, mainly grinding discs, and wired brushes for angle grinders and filler paste to mend the holes.
With the wire brushes all rust was removed, bulges were grinded.
Particular parts were imitated and welded. The welder performerd miracles. He painted the turret and body with a firm priming coat and put three layers with zinc-bearing paint over it.
The turret was put back and was solidly anchored.

Sherman13

After two months of hard labour, the members of the Pl Maintenance of Group Leopard pose in front of “their Sherman”
Cdt Geboers (1), the welder CC Jadot (2), and the driver/operator of the Recovery Leopard CC Van Steenwinkel performerd the biggest part of the work, mainly after working hours.

In the meanwhile Cdt Geboers had drawn the pedestal, which was created perfectly by the village. The slope, backstop, direction and space for the flatbed trailer and Recovery Leopard were taken in account. On October 2 1984 the 1st Cie Mat drove their flatbed trailer in front of the pedestal. While the Recovery Leopard was pulling the Sherman on the pedestal, the men of the 1st Cie Mat were vering independant cables from the flatbed trailer and managed to put the Sherman with high precision on its place.

Sherman14

Sherman15

 Three days later, on October 5 1984, at 18.00Hr, the Sherman was inaugurated by the Minister of Defence Vreven. Lt Col Pauwels W. received the honour of firing a final shot above the building, in which 40 years before that the English General Horrock had given the briefing for operation Market Garden.

Sherman16

The welder who was sitting in the Sherman, brought the barrel back into a horizontal position and screwed it down.
He closed the turret hatch with a padlock and said good-bye to his Sherman.

Leopoldsburg was enriched by one monument.

Sherman17

Verpoorten

For the president of the tradespeople, Ray Verpoorten, this was the beginning of fulfilling his dream.

His dream would go much, much further and would be named:

M.K.O.K

translation: Patrick Marquenie

 

This post is also available in: Dutch