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The value of the crocodile is greatly enhanced by the tremendous effect of flame on enemy morale. It combines the armour and hitting power of the Churchill tank with the additional threat of death by flame.

In the 31 actions herein described the casualties inflicted on the enemy are given as 154 killed by flame, to 5,425 who gave themselves up. In many of the actions the opening flame caused the early collapse of enemy resistance and its use must therefore have saved our troops many casualties. This is especially marked, of course, where the enemy is of poorer quality and it follows that as the strain on German man power increases the value of the flame attack will also increase. Again, the in earlier action this threat is applied, the fewer casualties will be suffered by the attacking troops.

Perhaps the main disadvantage under which the Crocodile has to work at present is that in order to apply its flame it must close to with 80 - 100 yds of the enemy. It follows therefore that longer range would be a great asset. This necessity for closing with the enemy also demands close support from Tanks and Artillery to ensure that the Crocodiles can advance to fighting range, with the Infantry right up to take immediate advantage of any break in enemy resistance.

The greatest value appears to be achieved when "combat team" technique is applied. This requires training and working together which obviously cannot be done when the few Crocodiles available have to be transferred from formation to formation. The unit whose actions are described has been used in action with every formation in the British and Canadian Armies and several times with the U.S. Army.

It would also appear that the employment of Crocodiles in small numbers does not get the full use out of the weapon. This would no doubt be obviated and improvement in training and working together be able to be made when further Crocodile units become available.

F.T. equipment in the Crocodile cones out of the report with flying colours and it is interesting to note that the trailer with light armour is seldom destroyed by penetration and the main use of the jettisoning gear is to enable the Churchill to go off and fight as a gun tank occasionally.

Apart from the question of longer range already mentioned the most urgent requirement appears to be wider traverse for the flame gun. This difficulty may be aggravated in jungle warfare where it may be more difficult to manoeuvre the Tank.

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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Archive: Analysis of operational use of Churchill Crocodile flame throwers in NW Europe, June-October 1944

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