I thought I would start a history thread on the famous ‘Vitmoutiers Tiger’. Searching through the forum ( and the web ) I see that many have written snippets on it and there are several YouTube videos of it taken by tourists and historians alike ( including Martin Bull who was /is a member here – but as we have no searchable membership list anymore I can’t check ) but no-one seems to have collated all that into ONE thread.
So, what I want to do it to draw on the info & photos I have found on the web ( and concede that while these WERE on the public domain, ownership of these images is not mine and I will remove them if asked to ) and try to compile the complete history of the beast. Any member who can add to it please do.
This has also been prompted by the fact that I read it was to have a restoration or a makeover for the 70th anniversary …. now only days away I wonder if it was done??? And if so was it painted once more in gaudy camouflage??
So here is its history to date.
19 August 1944
several German tanks that had escaped from the Falaise Gap were making their way to a fuel dump which had been set up in the nearby Château de l’Horloge. They were forced to detour along the Vimoutiers-Gacé road and several ran out of fuel. Others were simply abandoned, and eventually about sixty Panzers, including three Tigers, were left scattered around Vimoutiers. The crew of this one left it sitting in the middle of the road and attempted to destroy it by setting off two charges which immobilized and cracked the turret and damaged the engine decking.
Sometime later, advancing units of the 2nd Canadian Division (the Black Watch) bulldozed the tank off the road and down an embankment.
After the war Normandy was littered with discarded military hardware and with scrap prices high, a local scrap dealer named Morat removed easily accessible parts of the tank - such as the gear box, hatches, torsion bars, interior fittings, exhaust parts etc. Over time souvenir hunters removed other items off the gutted tank as it slowly slid down the ditch and rusted.
After Morat died in the mid 1960’s, a Caen scrap dealer attempted scrapping the tank properly with cutting equipment but the people оf Vimoutiers decided tо purchase the tank аs а historical monument fоr 6,000 Francs.
The tank featured prominently іn the May 1975 issue оf After the Battle magazine. Stemming from the publicity and public pressure, the local authorities in October of that year contracted local Alain Roudeix to remove the Tiger frоm the side оf the road. The turret wаs lifted off to reduce weight аnd the chassis then pulled out оf the ditch by а bulldozer. The turret wаs replaced аnd the tank wаs placed оn а concrete plinth just down the road from where іt wаs originally abandoned іn 1944.