You would think that it would be quite hard to admit there’s a lost tank, especially one you were sitting in. Firstly they’re fucking massive. Secondly they’re very heavy. I mean they won’t blow away when you turn your back to take a piss.
This article talks about a tank that was found at the bottom of the Don River. They think it fell in the river from a temporary bridge in an area of heavy fighting during the Battle of Stalingrad.
So Can You Really Lose a Tank?
I suppose in the heat of the battle a lost tank will ruin your day. The enemy can kill or capture the crew and nobody will ever find it, not for a long time at least anyway.
Then again you could lose 200 tanks. The Russians deny they lost the tanks and said they were being guarded. This seems unlikely. What if you lose a tank in a river? A massive river like the Rhine?
I’m still reading SBS: The Inside Story of the Special Boat Service. I know this books is taking me ages. It’s a book you can dip in and out of and not lose track of.
In 1951 the SBS expanded. They recruited more men and these soldiers formed 3SBS. The British already had the BAOR (British Army on the Rhine) and the Rhine Flotilla out in Germany. The occupation forces were a training force and 3SBS headed out to train with them.
So What Did They Do Out There?
They conducted plenty of tasks to keep them busy, shooting and demolition training on top of the usual fitness. During some of the exercises they would lose equipment, including tanks. The tank drivers could drive them in to the Rhine during hours of darkness by accident and it wasn’t an easy task to locate them. You couldn’t build too many bridges across the river because they weren’t easy to construct.
That’s where the SBS divers came to the rescue. From the book SBS: The Inside Story of the Special Boat Service:
Searching for them was a hazardous task in the fast-flowing waters because the exercise called for SBS divers to “walk” the river to find the lost hardware. Len explained the procedure: a heavy-duty wire was strung across the river, which was around 200 meters wide, and seven or eight soldiers gripped each end.
Perfect Actions For a Lost Tank?
That shit sounds tough enough as it is but it gets more extreme.
Eight SBS divers then went hand over hand and positioned themselves at intervals along the submerged line, which was walked downstream by the sappers on either end of the bank until the tank was found. “You could never see it,” said Holmes, “because the water was pitch black. You made contact by running into it. Then the diver would pop up to the surface and shout: “Found One.”
They couldn’t leave markers in the water because the river was too fast-flowing. They would lose the marker before they had recovered the lost tank. Divers would enter the water again later on, attached to wires to recover the lost tank. They had to hope that other boats didn’t come past. They couldn’t stop them from passing to give themselves time to work, they had to get on with it.
“If a barge came along, the sappers just let go of one end of the line and the divers were swept into the bank in a tangle of arms and legs.”
Do We Still Lose Tanks?
It’s less likely that a lost tank will show up in your day nowadays. It could happen, I just couldn’t find anything when I was having a look so it’s not a regular occurrence. Less trained nations could lose one but with the specialist training our troops receive it would be an almighty fuck up for it to occur.
What occurred with the 200 Russian tanks is a mystery, let’s just go with the Russians knew they were there…..yes, OK.
Have you known anyone to lose a tank, either in training or in battle? Let me know in the comments. I’d like to read about it.