You probably already knew that the British love their tea, but did you know some soldiers literally died for a cup in World War II?
On the morning of June 13, 1944, the vanguard of the British 22nd Armoured Brigade stopped near the crossroads town of Villers-Bocage in Normandy. The officers held a short meeting in a nearby house, while the crewmen dismounted for a bit of maintenance – and, naturally, for a morning cup of tea. It was during this break that German tank commander Michael Wittman attacked the tea party with his armored unit led by Wittman’s Tiger tank. The British lost 14 tanks, 9 half-tracks, four gun carriers and two anti-tank guns in just 15 minutes of frenzied fighting. During the battle, one Sherman Firefly, equipped with a 17-pounder gun capable of knocking out the Tiger, drew a bead on the German tank… only to realize that the gunner was not present, having been left outside and forgotten in the scramble.
The ambush, as well as other similar experiences in North Africa and Europe, prompted the British to seek a solution, and they found one. The Centurion tank, introduced at the very end of World War II, came equipped with the Boiling Vessel, a cube-shaped electric boiler that allowed the crew to "brew-up" without leaving the safety of the tank's interior. The Boiling Vessel became standard equipment on all British tanks and many other fighting vehicles ever since, and is even available for the American Abrams tank and the Bradley fighting vehicle.
If you want to see tanks such as the Tiger, the Sherman Firefly or the Centurion, join us on our Britain at War Tour starting in 2023 and visit with us the Tank Museum in Bovington.