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Latest Guest Joe Ekins WW II English Tank Gunner

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Our Latest great guest is Tank Gunner Joe Ekins

 

 

Joe Ekins is a retired World War II British Army veteran. He gained recognition for killing the famous German tank commander, Michael Wittmann, the 4th top scoring tank ace in history, on August 8th 1944 near St. Aignan de Cramesnil, France.

 

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During Operation Totalize the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry and elements of the 51st Highland Division reached the French village of St. Aignan de Cramesnil during the early morning of August 8, 1944.

 

While B Squadron stayed around the village, A and C Squadrons moved further south into a wood called Delle de la Roque.

 

C Squadron positioned themselves on the east side of the woods and the understrength A Squadron positioned themselves in the southern portion, with '3 Troop' on the western edge of the wood.

 

From this position they overlooked a large open section of ground and was able to watch as German tanks advanced up Route nationale 158 from the town of Cintheaux. Under strict orders from the troop commander, they held their fire until the German tanks were well within range.

Joe, the gunner of Sergeant Gordon's Sherman Firefly had yet to fire his gun in action.

 

With the Tiger tanks in range, the order was given to fire. What followed was an almost 12-minute battle that saw Ekins destroying all three Tigers that '3 Troop' could see, there was actually seven Tiger tanks in the area heading north, along with some other tanks and self-propelled guns.

 

A short time later, the main German counterattack was made in the direction of C Squadron. A Squadron minus Sgt Gordon "who had been wounded and had already bailed out of the Firefly" moved over to support them and in the resulting combat, Joe destroyed a Panzer IV before his tank was hit and the crew was forced to bail out.

Following the battle and tankless, Joe was reassigned to another tank within the squadron as a radio operator and remained in this position for the rest of the war.

 

After the war, Joe Ekins returned to Rushden, Northamptonshire and went back to work in the shoe factories near his home town. He retired 34 years later, after becoming a manager of one of the factories.

He married his childhood sweetheart and together they had two children. He now also has two grandchildren.

 

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here is a bit more info on Tank Commander Michael Wittmann the German SS-Hauptsturmführer that Joe when up against.

 

Wittmann was credited with the destruction of 138 tanks and 132 anti-tank guns, along with an unknown number of other armoured vehicles. and was the 4th top scoring German Panzer ace of the war, he is considered one of the greatest tank commanders in history.

 

Iron Cross Second (1941) and First (1941) Classes

SS-Honour Ring

Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (1944)

Oak Leaves (1944)

Swords (1944)

Wound Badge in Black (1941)

Panzer Badge in Silver (1941)

Eastern Front Medal (1942)

Sudetenland Medal (1938)

Anschluss Medal (1938)

Soldier's Cross Of The Order Of Bravery 2nd Class (Tsardom Of Bulgaria) (1941)

Mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht on January 13, 1944

 

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Trooper Joe Ekins in a Sherman Firefly commanded by Sergeant Gordon of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry was responsible for ending his reign. an amazing feat

 

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Nice one, he sounds like he's got a tale to tell!

 

Well done for getting the WW2 vets in - there's only two WW1 survivors in Britain now, and in only 10-15 years time it'll be the same for the WW2 folk.

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yes that what we think to

 

so lets hope this works and we can grow this part of the show and then we can meet more guests from WWII before its to late

 

jason ^_^

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Will be getting all the WWII autographs from this event,these people are part of our history & their individual stories need to be remembered before they are lost forever.

 

Not normally got these autographs before but now realise their importance

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