... a rare, genuine battlefield memorial in France.
Thought to have been on the strength of schwere Panzer Abteilung 503 in August 1944, this Tiger was one several on their way to a fuel dump while making their way out of the Falaise Pocket. However, it ran out of fuel before it got there and was abandoned by its' crew on the road from Lisieux to Alencon (the Route Nationale 179), just outside Vimoutiers. The crew made an attempt to set demolition charges which buckled the engine deck and jammed the turret, leaving it in the middle of the road.
It was later bulldozed into the roadside by US troops, where it sat for 30 years or so. Sold after the war to a scrap merchant who did little more than remove the gearbox, there it sat to rust away. When the scrap company owner died it was sold to another, yet when they started to try and remove it, the townspeople of Vimoutiers protested, and in the end the Tiger was purchased by the town. It came to prominence thanks to the story being featured in 'After the Battle' magazine in 1975, and the Tiger was recovered to find a permanent home, supported on a concrete plinth, at the side of the road very near to where it was actually abandoned by its' crew all those years ago.
There is a lay-by and parking alongside, so easy to stop for a picnic, or just to look at the Tiger. The Tiger has late steel roadwheels, and the smaller style muzzle brake on the 88mm gun. Some parts were removed by the scrap men, such as the hatches which were easy to remove, and part of the engine deck, external exhaust parts and all the smaller fittings. The damage from the demolition charges, where the armour has been split from internal explosion(s) is still there for all to see. It is a very interesting roadside memorial, being very much an 'original' to the site.
I took the photos in 2008, having detoured from the Autoroute on our way home from Saumur especially to see it. Well, if you are going to pass that close, you just had to!