Combat in the Second World War was
marked by a fluidity that was absent
from Great War battlefields. Armoured
Fighting Vehicles (AFV) had originally
been conceived as a means to defeat
the barbed-wire and machine-guns that
had robbed infantry of their mobility
and imposed the static, trench warfare
of 1914-1918. The first tanks were
used by the British Army in 1916,
but technological limitations meant
that they could not alter the fundamental
nature of the battlefield during the
First World War. During the interwar
period, the German Wehrmacht devoted
more attention to tank development
which led to significant improvements
in tank design and use in battle.
of the Fort Garry Horse
ready to leave for noon
attack from Bretteville-Le-Rabet,
Normandy, during Operation
Tractable, 14 August 1944.
by Donald I. Grant. Department
of National Defence / National
Archives of Canada, PA-113658.
British doctrine called for tanks
used in various roles. The Stuart,
a light tank, was used for reconnaissance.
Infantry Tanks such as the Churchill,
which were relatively slow and heavily
armoured, supported the infantry,
as well as faster, more lightly-armoured
"cruisers" or medium tanks
which favoured mobility over power,
of which the Sherman was an example.
The former were usually grouped into
independent army tank brigades while
the latter made up the armoured brigades.
The Sherman, meanwhile, was designed
in keeping with American armoured
doctrine, which established that the
main purpose of the tank was to disrupt
enemy infantry and communications.
This doctrine, and the tank it produced,
were to prove inadequate for the type
of tank-versus-tank combat that occurred
in Normandy. Heavy armour and a powerful
gun were needed to stand up to the
latest German tanks, and the standard
Sherman had neither.
Valentine Tank MK VIIA",
Canadian War Museum Fact Sheet
No. 5, edited by Fred Gaffen.
Tank", Canadian War Museum
Fact Sheet No. 16, edited by Fred
Ellis and Peter Chamberlain, "Ram
and Sexton", Armoured Fighting