Home Forums WWII 76mm Sherman in Commonwealth service in Italy?

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    Ivan Sorensen

    While reading something, I saw a throw-away comment about some 76mm armed Shermans being used by Commonwealth forces in Italy towards the end of the war.

    Does anyone have any info on whether this is correct?

    Nordic Weasel Games


    They did, I don’t have numbers and specific units offhand but here are a couple of pointers:

    https://www.flamesofwar.com/hobby.aspx?art_id=325 has a picture of one, along with a list of ‘Commonwealth’  armoured units in Italy.

    https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/missinglynx/sherman-iia-s-in-italy-t85950.html for some discussion.


    Here we go http://www.fireandfury.com/orbats/15thagitaly.pdf I thought Mark had covered it somewhere!

    Oh no….


    The Brits, at least, also used the 105mm Jumbo Shermans in HQ’s. Ospreys “Shermans in British Service” refers to them.

    Jemima Fawr

    Sherman IIa (M4A1 76mm) began arriving with Commonwealth units in Italy during July 1944.  Sherman Ib (M4 105mm) began arriving at around the same time.  They first went to the 1st Armoured Division and by the Autumn had also been received by 6th and 6th South African Armoured Divisions, but not by Canadian 5th Armoured Division.

    By the end of 1944, the 2nd Armoured Brigade (which had been split off as an independent armoured brigade when the 1st Armoured Division was disbanded) was pretty-much 100% Sherman IIa, with the 6th South African Armoured Division having a ratio of approx. 2:1 76mm to 75mm and the 6th Armoured Division having a roughly equal split.  The independent 7th Armoured Brigade had also received enough to have at least one in every Troop.

    In the Spring of 1945 the ratios changed slightly, with 2nd Armoured Brigade losing some 76mm tanks to make way for Firefly (2x 76mm & 1x Firefly per Troop) and 6th South African Armoured Division having almost 100% 76mm.  The 6th Armoured Division still had around 50% 76mm, though had received a small number of Firefly (enough for roughly 2 Fireflies per squadron) – the remainder were mostly still 75mm.

    The 1st Canadian, 5th Canadian, 2nd New Zealand, 2nd Polish and British 9th Armoured Brigades do not appear to have received any 76mm tanks.

    Sherman 1b (M4 105mm) in Italy:

    Starting again with 1st Armoured Division (2nd Armoured Brigade) in July 1944, each Sherman-equipped Armoured Squadron received a pair of these, replacing two tanks of the Squadron HQ.  6th and 6th South African Armoured Divisions also received them during the Autumn and every other Armoured Brigade received them during the Winter, except for 2nd Polish Armoured Brigade.  The Poles got their 105mm tanks during the Spring of 1945.  The 1st and 5th Canadian Armoured Brigades took theirs with them to NW Europe during the Winter and were then the only Commonwealth units to have Sherman Ib in 21st Army Group.

    Firefly in Italy:

    Firefly began arriving in October 1944, going first to the 1st and 5th Canadian Armoured Brigades, which hadn’t received any 76mm tanks.  During early 1945, 6th Armoured Division also got a few (as mentioned above), giving it enough for roughly 1 or 2 Fireflies per Squadron.  Sources disagree re 6th South African Armoured Division – they either got none at all, or a very small number indeed (the Army Group strength returns say none, but there are photos labelled as 6th SA Armd Div and the South African Armour Museum has a Firefly which was purportedly retired from the 6th Armd Div).  All other Armoured Brigades got a good helping of Firefly at this time, with enough for 1 Firefly per Troop of three tanks (no units in Italy appear to have used the four-tank Troop structure).  7th Armoured Brigade even had a fruity mix of 75mm, 76mm and Firefly in every Troop, plus a couple of 105mm in the Squadron HQ!

    The majority (possibly all?) of Fireflies in Italy were of the Mk Ic Hybrid type rather than the Mk Vc.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by Jemima Fawr.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by Jemima Fawr.

    My wargames blog: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/


    AFV returns for 15th Army in Italy can be found here


    76mm Shermans are first listed in the September 44 returns.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by NTM.
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