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From the hedgerows of Normandy, France, to the hills of Italy, the Sherman Firefly stood out among Allied tanks as a fearsome adversary for the German forces during World War II. This modified version of the Sherman Tank played a crucial role in the historic D-Day invasion and beyond.
This design of the Sherman Firefly Tank features on the brand new D-Day 80th Anniversary coin
The original M4 Sherman tank faced limitations with its basic 75 mm gun against formidable German tanks like the Panther and Tiger. The solution came in the form of the 17 Pounder, a powerful British gun capable of taking down any known German armour at the time. The challenge was to integrate this formidable weapon onto the Sherman Tank. Despite initial opposition from the Ministry of Supply, by October-November 1943, the concept gained momentum, receiving the highest priority from Winston Churchill in preparation for D-Day.
Left: A Sherman Firefly crew of 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry loading 17 pounder ammunition Right: A Sherman Firefly during the Battle of the Bulge, 1944
As the crucial day approached, the Sherman Firefly became a secret weapon in the Allied arsenal. Deployed just in time for D-Day, it filled the ranks of the 21st Army Group’s Armoured Brigades. Allied intelligence had not anticipated the presence of formidable German tanks, making the Sherman Firefly a critical asset in facing unexpected threats.
A Sherman Firefly coming ashore from an LST (Landing Ship Tank), Sword Beach, 7 June 1944.
On the Battlefield:
The Sherman Firefly quickly gained a reputation as a game-changer. In the chaos of D-Day, the Sherman Firefly’s firepower proved decisive in repelling German attacks and securing vital beachheads.
The Sherman Firefly’s effectiveness became legendary, with notable instances like Lt. G. K. Henry’s five Panthers knocked out in rapid succession with only six rounds. Even the feared German tank ace Michael Wittman is believed to have fallen to a Canadian Sherman Firefly.
Over 1,900 Sherman Fireflies served in various Allied divisions, making significant contributions in Normandy, Italy, and beyond. Post-war, Sherman Fireflies found new homes in countries like Italy, Lebanon, Argentina, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
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