Tiger 131: A Twist in the Tale | The Tank Museum


Tiger 131 is perhaps the most well known
vehicle in the tank museum’s collection it was the first Tiger to be captured
intact and the only one that still runs it’s been the subject of books articles
and documentaries thanks to its appearance in the 2014 movie fury it’s
now arguably one of the most famous museum artifacts in the world you can
even play it in a videogame but if you thought there was nothing new to add to
the story of Tiger 131 you’d be wrong this is because new information has come
to light which has caused us to reevaluate the evidence I’m Kate Adie
former BBC chief news correspondent and in this video we’ll explain how an
ordinary visitor changed what we know about the capture of Tiger 131 I just have the utmost respect for him
than these four colleagues I just I just don’t know how they could’ve done it it’s
well-known that British forces disabled the infamous tank in Tunisia in 1943 it
was the first example of the fearsome new German machine to be taken in tact
by the Western Allies a lucky shot had wedged itself in the turret mechanism
causing it to Jam the crew was said to have panicked and fled leaving the
largely undamaged tank to be recovered from the battlefield Tiger 131 was
recovered and shipped to the UK and underwent extensive evaluation led by
lieutenant Peter Gudgin at the school of tank technology his work went on to
inform future tank design Gudgin had himself been recently fighting Tigers in
Tunisia as a troop leader with 48 royal Tank Regiment on the 21st of April 1943
he was knocked out of his Churchill tank whilst taking part in an attack on jebel
Jaffa an 88 millimeter shell probably fired by a tiger penetrated the frontal
armor of his Churchill but he was able to bail out with only minor injuries the
regimental war Diary is held in the tank museum archive it reports that later
inspection of the battlefield revealed that a total of five enemy tanks were
disabled in the fighting 3 of which it states were not damaged at all seriously
among these was a Panzerkampfwagen Mk 6
now generally referred to as a Tiger 1 throughout the rest of his life Gudgin
believed that the Tiger tank abandoned on his objective at jebel Jaffa was
Tiger 131 he was certain that the tank that knocked him out was the same tank
that he spent the rest of his war evaluating we now believe that he was
mistaken Peter Gudgin’s account gained widespread circulation during the 1980s
through his published work it had been adopted as fact by the Tank Museum until
a retired civil servant made his first visit
the museum there on Dale Oscroft and I come from sunny Nashville in
Nottinghamshire the first visited the Tank Museum in 2012 my wife and I were
on holiday and decided to pay a visit coming face-to-face with Tiger 131 he
was struck by the similarity of its story with something he’d been told
years before by his father and the father was John Oscroft they served
with the 2nd Battalion Sherwood Foresters in the Second World War one story that remained
with Dale was his father’s first encounter with a Tiger tank John had
told him that this was the first Tiger to be captured intact
my father didn’t say very much about his war service he kept his war
experiences to himself so as a teenager I’ve quite often prompt him to talk
about it the hilltop that the Foresters had been
told to attack had been attacked the previous day by another battalion so my
father was naturally a little apprehensive about the coming attack
particularly as it would be his first time in action but he was reassured by
the news that the attack would be supported by tanks but the tanks failed
to arrive and the Foresters had to attack without them John described it as
a terrible baptism of fire as soon as the Foresters came into view of the
Germans they were shelled mortared and machined gunned and
despite suffering very serious casualties they managed to take the top
of the hill the foresters dug in to await the inevitable counter-attack when
it came the German infantry was supported by a number of tanks including
Tiger tanks as my father carried his platoons PIAT he was ordered forward
to engage the nearest one after creeping forward as close as he dared to the
thing he took aim and fired only to see his bomb strike a glancing blow on the
turret and bounce off but fortunately for him at that point
the Tiger was hit by what my father was later told was a French 75 that was captured
from the Germans by the Foresters and the crew bailed out and it later
transpired that the turret had been jammed the Germans had withdrawn but the
position was still contested meanwhile a Tiger tank sat just yards away from
their foxholes my father and the Foresters were on the position for the next few days during which time he saw a lot of excited technical
experts crawling all over the thing clearly amazed at the size and power of
it Dale’s father had died in 1982 but the similarity between the story of
Tiger 131 and the story he’d been told as a teenager inspired him to find out
more Dale’s research identified that the
action with the Sherwood Foresters took place near Gueriat el Atach on the
24th of April 1943 he discovered that the military knew the hill where the
fighting took place as Point 174, Point 174 was about 10 miles away from Jebel Jaffa
this was the location of the 48th Royal Tank Regiment action in which Peter
Gudgin participated three days earlier on the 21st of April 1943 Dale also tracked down this footage in
the Imperial War Museum’s online film catalogue a piece of film shot by the War
Office film unit on the 26th of April in 1943 the final sequence shown here is
described as a Tiger tank captured by the 2nd battalion Sherwood Foresters we
know that this tank is Tiger 131 the damage to the loaders hatch the missing
smoke discharger and the step are all consistent with the other photographs
and descriptions of the tank on its recovery
one of the really interesting things that I discovered I found two press
cuttings from the 11th of May 1943 one was in the daily sketch and another one
was in an Aberdeen paper Dale tracked down this original
photograph in the archives of the Imperial War Museum the caption reads
after a sharp engagement by the second Battalion Sherwood Foresters in the
advanced towards Tunis the Forrest has gained an important rich after gaining
this height our men held a strong counter attack by the enemy which was
supported by tanks included in the attack was one of the German Tiger Mk
6 tanks which advanced within five yards of our lines before being disabled the
crews surrendering to our troops during the original attack musician by our
troops a German anti-tank gun was captured and it was with this gun that
the Mk 6 was knocked out this remarkable story backed up by evidence
showing the Foresters were credited with the capture at the time is the stuff of
movies so how was it that this much more thrilling story was lost and replaced by
a much more mundane account apart from the father’s memory that it happened it
didn’t bear any great significance for this for the Foresters the whole battle for Point 174 only occupies three lines of the war diary what of the evidence in
The Tank Museum archive the earliest documentary evidence here tells us that
the tank was recovered on the 7th of May 1943 by Major Douglas Lidderdale
of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Lidderdale was responsible
for getting Tiger 131 from the battlefield in Tunisia via Horse Guards
Parade to The School of Tank Technology in Surrey where Gudgin would later
complete his technical evaluation of it back in 1943 Lidderdale clearly and
carefully recorded in his papers the exact location from where the tank was
recovered Point 174 and yet Peter gudgeon a frequent visitor to the museum archive
in his lifetime still believed Tiger 131 was the tank that nearly killed him why
what may surprise many is that Lidderdale and gudgeon knew each other both in
wartime at the School of Tank Technology and in peacetime when they exchanged
letters on the subject of Tiger 131 on recovering Tiger 131 from the
battlefield Lidderdale had been told that 142 Royal Armoured Corps of
25 Tank Brigade had knocked it out but Gudgin was adamant that it was his unit
48 Royal Tank Regiment of 21 Tank Brigade Lidderdale’s willingness to
accept this is summarised in a letter to the museum curator in 1987 where he
wrote that he was there at the time I only later
intriguingly they didn’t discuss the matter of location in their
correspondence we suspect they didn’t realise they were talking about events
at two different locations as a result they couldn’t challenge each other they
didn’t disagree but further examination of the movements of 48 Royal Tank
Regiment in April 1943 revealed something intriguing three days after
the attack on Jebel Jaffa B squadron of 48 RTR was detached from 21 Tank Brigade
and sent north we understand that Peter Gudgin may have been among them as an
infantry liaison officer the squadron was allocated to 142 Royal Armoured
Corps under command of 25 Tank Brigade who’d been assigned to support the show
at Foresters for their assault on Point 174 this was the unit Lidderdale had been
told were responsible for knocking out Tiger 131 as John Oscroft recalled the
tank support arrived late and the infantry took the hill without them but
nine tanks arrived just in time to support them during the German
counter-attack taking up positions on a ridge behind the Foresters positions we
know that B squadron 48 RTR engaged the enemy tanks attacking Point 174 Captain
Rance saw an aerial mast moving along the ridge of 174 he put his gun on to it and
inform the rest of nine troop the tracks appeared and the tank was identified as
a Mk 6 he told his troops to hold their fire as there was one of our
infantry carriers just below the Mk 6 and he thought an under might hit the
carrier this unfortunately happened but the Mk 6 disappeared he came up again
at a different position and was hit the crew bailed out and was shot by our
infantry by the time the 48 RTR withdrew from
Point 174 they were able to record in their war diary that five enemy tanks had been
destroyed a Panzerkampfwagen Mk 6 a Tiger was damaged this must have been
Tiger 131 for the first time over 75 years on we now have an accurate picture
of how Tiger 131 fell into British hands the Foresters taking part in their first
battle assaulted and took Point 174 without support they dug in and under
heavy shell and machine-gun fire they beat off a number of infantry
counter-attacks then German armour appeared and Tiger 131 made its way up
the slope and into the Foresters positions meanwhile nine Churchill tanks
from 48 Royal Tank Regiment and 142 Royal Armoured Corps had just arrived on
a ridge 500 yards to the rear as Tiger 131 came into view the Foresters fired
at Tiger 131 with everything they have even small arms John Oscroft was
ordered forward with a PIAT but some quick thinking foresters turned around a
75 millimetre anti-tank gun left behind by the Germans
the Churchill tanks opened fire mistakenly hitting an
infantry carrier now alerted to the presence of enemy armour Tiger 131 reversed beneath
the ridge and the maneuvered up into a new firing position it fired up and
destroyed one of the Churchill tanks John Oscroft got as close as he dared to
Tiger 131 and fired his PIAT Hood could only watch as the round struck a glancing blow
the Churchill tanks opened fire and at the same time the Foresters fired their
captured anti-tank gun at Tiger 131 at close range the tank was stopped and
within moments that crew emerged from inside although the sources disagree as
to whether they surrendered or shot down as they fled it’s an enormously
tantalising prospect that Tiger 131 the first Tiger captured intact was
disabled by infantry using a captured anti-tank gun rather than by a Churchill
tank measurement of the scars left by the disabling round suggester 6 pounder
as fired by a Churchill tank but the angle of the hit and its accuracy
equally suggests that it could have come from closer or from a lower angle but we
have to accept that the only trained anti-tank Gunners present that day were
sat in Churchill tanks I’ve learned that old soldiers recollections can’t
necessarily be taken at face value and that’s an approach I had with my
father’s story I didn’t assume that it was correct because I know from reading
about these things that actually being in action obviously affects people’s
perception of the events that take place around them Peter Gudgin who died in
2011 may have been incorrect in his belief that he faced and was knocked out
of his tank by Tiger 131 at Jebel Jaffa but we have to remember that he never
claimed to have knocked out Tiger 131 just to have been there and perhaps he
was the Foresters held on to Point 174 and they
remained on the ridge for several days under heavy fire
in doing so they sustained heavy casualties but their dogged defense
enabled the recovery of Tiger 131 by Major Lidderdale and the importance of
that recovery and the part it played in the education of Allied tank crews and
designers in the next few months cannot be understated nor can its importance to
our ability to appreciate the vehicle and its history if my father were here
today to see Tiger 131 he would be amazed to know that it is now the most
famous tank in the world and I think he would be proud to tell people with part
that the Foresters played in its capture but at the same time I think we would
want people to understand its proper historical context he would want people
to know and to understand that although we can appreciate it as a fine piece of
engineering it was in fact a killing machine invented by the most heinous
regime and I think we should always remember that

100 thoughts on “Tiger 131: A Twist in the Tale | The Tank Museum

  1. I don’t think of that tank being built by Hitlers regime but more built by Germans. It’s like:calling Hitler a nationalist. He wasn’t A nationalist but a homicidal maniac.

  2. Prob dressed in German uniforms firing a German gun, and definitely would've cowardly mowed down the crew as they bailed out. But hey long as they're happy with the ''Win'' while they're beaten by Immigrants in a nursing home. Totally worth it. More than the hate from this comment will be worth it!

  3. I like how it seems that the only thing that was able to take down the tiger was another piece of German equipment

  4. Wow, a captured French 75mm anti tank gun is the cause of the jamming 131 turret, didn’t know that, good infos! Thx

  5. Let's put all WW2 tanks at a 2000 meter firing distance and have them fight. Wonder who would win?😏
    PS I'm of the opinion that 131 just ran outta petrol.

  6. KATE WAS SHOT IN THE ELBOW ON TIANANMEN SQUARE DURING THE 1989 MASSACRE , A 30 YEAR 'D' NOTICE (PRESS GAGGING ORDER) WAS PUT ON IT . (FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND A FREE PRESS BRITISH STYLE) , THE ESCAPING CREW HAD PULLED A WOMAN INTO THE VEHICLE WHO PROMPTLY DIED AS A LARGE PART OF SKULL WAS MISSING WITH BRAIN EXPOSED . READ HER BOOK 'A KINDNESS OF STRANGERS' . IT'S ALL IN THERE , A HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READ . BY THE WAY , TIANANMEN MEANS 'GATEWAY TO HEAVEN' , OH THE IRONY .

  7. Can't fault history as those German's did bail out. What I don't understand is why they bailed out. It was the turret that was jammed, not the tracks. Shouldn't they have simply reversed and gotten out of the line of fire?

  8. I wish the Tiger P 150013 was intact! Anyways, a beautiful beast like this should be preserved forever. I respect all those who held this tank and spoke about it then and now!

  9. 1) Would there be any records on the German side of this incident? it would also shed light on what happened to the crew. if any survived they may be able to tell exactly wtf happened that day.
    2) Well done to the UK for capping this Tiger and beating the Germans. Now you've finished rooting round with it. Could you please return it to Germany, they need a bit of extra border protection right now. I'm sure they'll send Merkel in trade.

  10. The men that abandoned Tiger 131 were not shot or else the Tank Museum had interviewed imposters. Like he says though, an old soldier's memory is not always something that can be taken at face value and in the heat of battle I'm sure he could have mistaken that they had been shot. Thank you for this!

    I was fortunate enough to take a ride in 131and it remains one of the coolest experiences I've had.

  11. Great story, I'm loving all the different angles you're taking on this channel. Was watching the Leopard in the workshop yesterday, now I'm getting some great war history, and personal stories.

  12. Surely their has to be some documentation of the crew assigned to the tank or Records of their capture? or is there a dark side of the story of what happened to them? Hope that’s the next part of the story to be uncovered I have a feeling they where shot attempting to surrender😔 but who knows

  13. What an amazing story! It's amazing that this man was able to put together the memories of a war story his father told him with the history of a tank he came across in a museum, and then uncover the truth about it through his intensive research. He opened the eyes of future generations to a piece of history they can touch and experience for themselves.

  14. The sovjets allready capured one in Jan. 1943 and shared their analysis and fire tests with the western allies before 131 was captured. I know english and american historians like to ignore the eastern front completely for political reasons, but I think it should at least be mentioned.

  15. The last bit when the son of the soilder from the forrester regiment saying we must remember it was a killing machine was just stupid and unfortunately lowered my reapect for him. Did the Allies fight with fluffy toys? Spit fighter was not a killing machine? Yet we all love it too. Why people always need to bring something about the german nazi party. Plenty of german soilders were fighting not because
    they loved their horrible leader. I love the tiger tank with all its faults. The tiger 2 is an even more amazing machine.

  16. Where can I get a hold of that book from Haines formatted in the car repair format for the Tiger tank I've absolutely got to acquire one this is the dream of my life I really want to get that book anyone that knows how and where I can get my hands on one and how much it'll cost me please reply

  17. Greates respect for the men who got the tank and saved it for the furure. The motor bovingtong is using in 131 is a tiger 2 motor. They renovated by borowing the tiger 2 motor from the Swedish army musem but striped the Swedish motor who was not destroyed but original. The Man in sweden was convicted in Swedish Court. But the English never returned the parts….. Why???????? Can bovingting explain this?

  18. But I dont understand why they didnt saw Germans panzer divisions war diary?I am historian and my master was from modern German history and I must say that Germans and Austrians archives no meter is it Bundeswehr,Ministry of defence or foreign affairs are really best.For example-if you wanna see whole Michael Wittmans(biggest tank ace in WW2) "battle life"-every T-34 he destroyed on Russian front,every Shermans in Normandy….You can go in Bundeswehr archive and look for a 1st Waffen SS Panzer-Grenadier division Leibstrandarte A.H. war diary and you can see everything there.Same is for Kurt Panzer Meyer,Joachim Peiper,Max Wunsche,Fritz Witt…

  19. I just bought an 1/16 scale tiger tank… idk what the history behind this one is, this is the 2nd driving tiger1…

  20. The nazis the most heinous regime ever? Oh I don't think so dude! The commies took that spot by ease! Just a quick check on numbers killed by red terror in Russia and China makes Hitler look like a amateur!

  21. With only 10 miles and three days apart, there is no reason Tiger 131 could not have taken part in both battles.

  22. A very good family friend was a Tiger I driver during the war… How cool would that have been, power steering and all.

  23. Are tourists like me [I'm from North America] allowed to ride on Tiger 131? I've always been a fan of World War 2 German tanks and I've always wanted to ride on one.

  24. The Wikipedia article on the PIAT has a caption that says "A PIAT team at a firing range in Tunisia, 19 February 1943; prior to the weapon's first combat use during the Invasion of Sicily. Note the three-round ammunition case".   It also says "The PIAT entered service with British and Commonwealth units in mid-1943, and was first used in action by Canadian troops during the Allied invasion of Sicily" Was it really a PIAT that was fired at the Tiger before then, in Africa?

  25. *I have a different recollection as to how Tiger 131 was captured…. You see, I am an American. I was 34 years old in 1943, when I decided to help the allied war effort. But I was right in the middle of delivering a yacht to a wealthy Arab prince. I was cruising it through the Mediterranean sea, when I decided to temporarily quit my job, make a detour, and cruise the yacht to North Africa instead, and go fight the Germans!*

    I came ashore, bought weapons, and began hiking across the desert, alone, to locate the enemy forces. It was then that I stumbled up a hill, and discovered a Tiger tank at the top of it, surrounded by German infantry. I could see English forces off in the distance, who seemed to be headed my way. But time was of the essence, so I attacked single handedly…. Shortly afterwards, I had captured the German infantrymen, stolen a 75mm anti tank cannon from them, and fired at the Tiger, disabling it. I captured its crew, and herded them together with the other 68 soldiers I'd taken prisoner.

    I sat down to take a cigar break, when the British infantry arrived on the scene. Being an incredibly humble and selfless person, I decided to let them take credit for the battle and the capture of the tank. Then I hiked back to the sea, re-boarded the yacht, and delivered it to Saudi Arabia. Later on I volunteered to fight in Italy, where I captured Mussolini, but that's a different story…

  26. 1. Absolutely awful to have Bloody Kate Adie doing this. It isn't all a jolly jape with her badly reading the autocue etc etc, pathetic intonations as she goes along grimacing inanely, doing fake detective work in documents etc etc.
    2. So in late 1943 we had a Tiger did we to study. German engineering was streets ahead of us and we should have got it home asap, taken it apart and studied it down to the last nut and bolt to try and then learn how to design one and then go on to build a tank of equal or hopefully better fighting ability. I fear we didn't do this and missed a big trick there.
    3. And then design and build guns etc knowing how best to destroy it.

  27. ".. all the volunteer soldiers of the Second World War" – why not the majority who weren't given a choice?

  28. So is she saying it was knocked out by a 6 pounder then a churchell knocked it out not the German anti tank fun correct?

  29. To bad the nazi's burned the plans to make the tiger tank , just imagine some creating a tiger tank ….

  30. This is a similar story to that of who actually shot down the Red Baron in WW1. Regardless, every warrior who has ever fought honourably in any war deserves our respect. Thank you, Tank Museum, for being part of the effort to honour them.

  31. "The Crew surrendered to our troops"…………"The crew bailed and were shot by our troops" ???? so what happened to the crew.

  32. Still don’t get the rationale for bailing out. If only the turret was unable to rotate they could still retreat or turn the tank towards enemy and elevate the gun accordingly.

  33. I'm impressed by this Old School British reporter…BBC like it used to by before they became professional propagandist of the highest order. Those Tiger tanks must have spread fear in the Allied lines…the size is immense. The power of the 88 mm gun was described best by Belton Cooper…the power of the gun was unbelievable, the shot went through two Sherman's and also a 6" driver driver line of one of the tanks.

  34. Apparently, the Brits stole that tank from the Germans. Ya think they should return it to the rightful owners??? LOL I bet it's worth a lot of money.

  35. Damn Germans are demanding their tank, Tiger 131, back as one of the conditions of Brexit…Hell, that is not too far fetched…LOL

  36. Lucky shot WTF the boys were trained to shoot turret mechs …… if they can't point their gun at you they can't shoot you! tank 101

  37. What I cant understand is why once turret was hit and jammed in position why the crew didnt just back away from the frontline conflict ? It appears to have not had any propulsion issues that would hinder its retreat.. certainly if I was a crew member why would I want to evacuate a very heavily armoured tank to stand outside with nothing more than a Luger

  38. Make a huge over engineered tank that can't cross a bridge and can't move about in urban environments, that breaks down constantly and is impossible to maintain, yup.

  39. So let me get this straight a French 75 mm gun (presumably captured by the Germans) was captured by the Sherwood Foresters then used to capture Tiger 131? Now that's some #karma Robin Hood would be proud of.

  40. Not every father would be "proud", because of this. Maybe he didn't care for a stupid captured tank, but for all his friends and comrades who died close to him, the screams, fear and shelling during that day and that they were send into certain death without the promised support. Yes, it's a fascinating story, but not when you were an infanteryman at the front at that time.

  41. When I see historical articles like this it just gives me shivers knowing how close the Germans and Japs came to conquer the world thank you all you people that sacrificed your life and fought against these hideous evil demons and I hope the world has learned about Japan and Germany and won't forget them and make sure this never happens again keep an eye on him at all times they growing huge military is again with nuclear weapons and it's kind of off the hook to me we're going to let these people do it

  42. I don't think fury made the tank popular because it was already in media such as saving Private Ryan. If anything, fury disgraces it's reputation and it's crew as blundering idiots which really wasn't the case.

  43. Read the book .catch that tiger by noel botham and bruce montague . tells the story of 131's capture .

  44. The only problem I see is that they claim the crew were captured, but we know from German records that the crew were not captured.

  45. This video was spoilt for me by the way its being read,by the lady, she hasnt got a kind of voice that keeps you interested, she sounds like she is badly reading stuff from a blackboard, would have been great done by Lindybeige, the Chieftain and Mark Felton

  46. Only recently found out my great grandfather was in the 2nd battalion of the Sherwood Forresters, my father used to ask him how many Germans he killed and he would reply "Bloody hundreds" but my father assumed he was joking…looking back on his war diary now I don't think my great grandfather was….

  47. British military in ww2 had to pray to get their hands on German armament because the British armament was crap had it still is today

  48. A skilfull kob of research and reporting but I do believe the presentation could have been cut by about a good 5 minutes. Just too much intormation overload, he said with glazed eyes and partially paralyzed cerebrum.

  49. I'm not complaining as we are left with a seriously impressive vehicle, but you have to wonder what caused the crew to bail out? I mean if it was simply a turret jam couldn't they have reversed out of trouble? The tigers were also supposed to be commanded by the most experienced crews so the whole situation strikes me as odd.

  50. They say Gudgins tale was accepted as fact…but I remember a school trip to the museum when 131 was just a hull and a seperate turret (mid 90s) and the guy giving the tour told that tale..but also added that they had had difficulty in placing Gudgins unit in the vicinity of 131 on that day…and used it as an example of not taking the genrally accepted story as absolute fact..and made a point of telling us there was more to come regards the full story of how 131 was disabled and captured.
    So even this video doesnt tell the whole story totally correctly! The historians at any museum would never take the recollections of a single person as absolute fact, especially if his units war diary put him 10 miles away on that day!
    Even in memoirs..its suprising how many soldiers came face to face with Tigers in Africa or Normandy..considering how scarce they were..and It just comes down to any german tank becoming a Tiger in peoples memory. A similar phenomenon was how many German pilots were certain they were shot down by a spitfire..even though in all liklihood it was a Hurrican or other type entirely…its just that machine happened to be the scourge at the time..and memory fades..or…it just soundw better in the telling..that it was a spitfire or a tiger that they got/got them..over a panzer 4 or Fairey Fulmar!

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