There are those masterpieces that just command your attention, and the Comet A34 Saint is certainly one of them. What this tank has achieved, endured, and conquered is absolutely unparalleled. It's a piece of wartime history that deserves to be upheld in honor, incredibly sought after and unmistakably adored among connoisseurs. We're thrilled to take you through some of the heroic deeds accomplished with this legendary tank.
Titch's Legendary Shot
Our story begins with the introduction of the British soldier Reginald Snowling, nicknamed Titch. He fought during World War II as a gunner in various tanks, including the Comet A34 Saint. His nickname derived from his modest height of just 4ft 11in. Though physically small, his actions were nothing short of grandiose. The most legendary tales surrounding him are still shared and honored to this day.
One of these memorable moments occurred in the Falaise Pocket, as he was crossing the main road between Falaise and Argentan. While maneuvering a Sherman tank behind two already damaged tanks of his own troop, he found himself under fire from two German Panthers. Without missing a beat, he landed a victorious shot. The shell he fired pierced through the engine compartment of the first Panther, hitting the second tank. The first tank exploded instantly, and the second followed shortly after. With one single shot, two Panther tanks were annihilated. Simply legendary!
The Comet A34 Saint Ready for Battle
Replacing the Shermans, the first new tanks, the Comet A34 Saint, arrived in late January 1945. This tank was a welcome upgrade, boasting greater speed, a lower profile, and a highly accurate 77mm gun! This became evident during its first exercise in Gravelines, France.
The Comet was ready for real action. On April 11, 1945, the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment (3rd RTR) of the 11th Armored Division advanced with Comets through Norddrebber towards the Aller River. Unfortunately, two Comets were destroyed by an anti-tank gun, but a third Comet managed to obliterate the cannon. It was a first cautious victory.
A Takedown by Lieutenant Franzen
That very night, the first commando brigade audaciously forced a crossing of the river, boldly confronting the German adversary head-on. To support the infantry, a squadron of the 3rd RTR was ferried across the river on rafts. Naturally, this move was met with resistance, prompting the German Lieutenant Franzen to receive orders to attack the British forces with his Kampfgruppe Grossan, which included three Tiger tanks.
The next afternoon, the British forces, including Major Langdon's first troop, a squadron from the 3rd RTR, and the King's Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI), moved through Essel Forest. To pave the way for the Comets, the forest was set ablaze, clearing a path. All was going well until they encountered Tiger Tank F01 led by Lieutenant Franzen. During an attempt to find cover, one Comet was hit and left completely totaled. The KSLI came to the rescue, forcing the German crew to retreat with the help of PIATs.
As Lieutenant Franzen returned and decided to advance again, he lost contact with his infantry. It was perfect timing for a Comet that was lying in wait, seizing the perfect moment for an attack. The Comet fired a shell that hit the fuel tank, setting it ablaze rapidly. Lieutenant Franzen was forced to retreat on foot.
Titch in Action with the Comet
On May 4, 1945, the 11th Armored Division reached the city of Lübeck, where tank gunner Titch Snowling was fighting. Titch arrived at the coast and drove his tank onto a dike, gaining a perfect view over the bay. It was a fortunate position, as he soon spotted German soldiers running towards a kind of submarine, fleeing from the British tanks. Without hesitation, he fired. His shot was on target! The submarine sank, marking an incredible achievement. After all, how many tank gunners can tell such a tale?
Restoring the Old Glory
The Comet A34 Saint has played a monumental role in the grand deeds that have been achieved, including those by Titch. We even had the chance to speak with Titch himself! Although he has recently passed away, the spirit and experiences of him and many other veterans continue to live on through historic pieces of warfare, most notably this incomparable tank. This beautifully restored Comet by BAIV will soon be auctioned alongside over 60 other masterpieces by Tracks and Trade BV. Bidding for all these magnificent pieces will be open from November 11th, recognized as US Veterans Day and EU Armistice Day, through Saturday, December 2nd, 2023.