British sources give recent information on the methods employed by the
recovery platoon of (tank) workshop companies. This information was obtained
from prisoners of war.
The towing vehicles and trailers of the platoon are sent forward to regimental
headquarters and operate under its direction.
The principle now used is to have two or three recovery vehicles forward with the
fighting units. These vehicles advance in the line of attack and cruise across the
width of the battle front. The Germans believe that hostile forces will be preoccupied
with the German tanks and will not bother with the recovery vehicles, no matter how
close they are.
If a member of a tank crew orders the driver of a recovery vehicle to tow his tank
to the rear, the former assumes responsibility for the action--in case it later proves
that the damage is negligible and could have been fixed on the spot by the repair
sections. However, asking that a damaged vehicle be towed away is always permissible
if it is in danger of being shot up.
The towing vehicle usually goes forward alone and tows a disabled tank away by
tow ropes. Towing is used in preference to loading on the trailer, as this latter
operation may take 20 minutes (regarded by a prisoner as good time under battle
The recovered tanks are towed to an assembly point behind the combat area, where
they are lined up so as to protect themselves as far as possible. Trailers may be
used to take back the disabled tanks from this point to the workshop company.
According to this report, however, trailers are being used less and less, and their
use is confined mainly to roads. On roads, they enable a higher speed to be maintained, do
not weave as much as a towed tank, and do not cut up the road surface. On the
desert, trailers would be used on bad ground rather than where there is good going.
The PW's reported that drivers of recovery vehicles did front-line duty for
about 8 days at a time; then they worked at the rear, between assembly point