The M4A2 Sherman Fighting Corrosion at Arromanches-les-Bains - Tank Historia

The M4A2 Sherman Fighting Corrosion at Arromanches-les-Bains

High up above the town and seafront of Arromanches-les-Bains in Normandy, France is an M4A2 Sherman tank, positioned proudly on top of a large German bunker. This is one of the many Shermans and tanks in general dotted all over Normandy.

Having such a prominent and commanding position over the town, this Sherman has become a part of the scenery in Arromanches, and has featured in many thousands of photos for decades.

Read on to learn more about this tank and where to find it yourself.

Contents

This Vehicle

This tank is an M4A2, the Sherman variant powered by the 375 horsepower 6046 twin diesel engine. There are a few key indicators that this is an M4A2, the most obvious of which being the wide, cylindrical exhaust at the rear of the tank.

Arromanches Sherman exhaust pipe and rear engine area.
This type of exhaust (the cylinder with two circles halfway up the rear) is only found on diesel-powered Shermans and Sherman-based vehicles.
Tiger 1 & Normandy Bunkers
Tiger 1 & Normandy Bunkers

Another feature seen on M4A2 Shermans is the lack of engine access doors at the rear and a slightly angled rear armor plate. In addition, M4A2s were only built with welded hulls.

The Arromanches Sherman has “dry” ammunition storage (ammunition was initially stored without protection in the hull, which caught fire when hit), indicated by the applique (additional) armor plates welded to the sides of the hull.

Applique armor on the Arromanches Sherman.
The applique armor covering the ammunition storage on the Arromanches Sherman’s left side.

Fisher-built M4A2s had some distinct features that can be found on the Arromanches Sherman. The most notable of these are the flat-sided, welded hoods protruding from the front glacis plate. These types of hoods were introduced by Fisher in November 1942 when the direct vision ports were deleted from the Sherman design.

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Other manufacturers used cast drivers’ hoods, but Fisher opted for welded plates.

Drivers' hoods on the Arromanches Sherman.
The two square bulges are unique to Fisher M4A2s.

The turret is an early D50878 type produced by General Steel. Its pistol port has not been welded over, something that was introduced in spring of 1943 when the port was deleted from the design.

It also has the older M34 gun mount with the thin gun shield. In early 1943 these were updated with the wider and better protected M34A1 gun mount.

BANNER

The Arromanches Sherman is situated next to the sea, so it is exposed to harsh conditions brought on by the salty air. Its tracks show signs of significant deterioration, but the rest of the tank is in reasonably good condition in comparison to other Shermans in Normandy near the coast.

Arromanches Sherman corrosion.
The Arromanches Sherman is in surprisingly good condition considering its age, public accessibility and proximity to the sea.

The tanks name “Berry au Bac” is found on the hull sides, and there is a registration number of S1868 on the front.

History

As with many of the Shermans on the Normandy coast, little specific information is known about the Arromanches Sherman.

It is known that this tank came to Normandy while in service with the French 2nd Armoured Division, a division commanded by the famous General Leclerc. The unit did not arrive on D-Day, instead coming two months later once they were adequately equipped with tanks.

The 2nd Armoured Division came to shore at Utah beach, so that is where the Arromanches Sherman most likely hit French soil for the first time.

French 2nd Armored Division during WWII.
A Sherman tank of the French 2nd Armored Division during WWII.

The US Army did not want the M4A2 Sherman as it was diesel powered, unlike all other Sherman models in their ranks. As a result M4A2s were handed to the Marines and countries in the Lend-Lease programme.

It is named after the French town of Berry-au-Bac, and was placed in Arromanches under the direction of General Leclerc’s son. It sits on top of a German Regelbau 612 type bunker, which once contained a 105 mm gun.

Location

This tank is located in the seaside town of Arromanches-les-Bains. There is a car park immediately next to it, and is accessible by car and on foot from multiple directions.

  • Its exact coordinates are – 49.339993, -0.618582.

You can reach the Sherman on foot or by car from Arromanches by making your way to the Rue Lucien Joly road near the D-Day Museum and following it up the hill. You will see the Sherman directly ahead perched on a German bunker.

View approaching the tank.
The view approaching the Sherman from Rue Lucien Joly.

You can also find it by driving or walking up the Rue Charles Laurent road from the south. This road can be accessed from the D514 road, which is the most major route passing through Arromanches.

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Another popular way of reaching the Sherman is by parking on top of the cliffs east of Arromanches. This location contains a car park, some small bunkers, a memorial, the famous 360 degree cinema and a view over the entire of Arromanches.

From here, walk down the steep Rue du Calvaire path to reach the tank.