This M4A1(76) Sherman Tank is part of a Memorial to the Soldiers under the command of General George S Patton. He used this Apple Orchard clearing as as his 3rd Army command post from 7th July to 2nd August 1944, where he enjoyed complete secrecy and was able to plan, prepare and then command the Avranches Breakthrough and later operation Cobra.
M4A1(76) Sherman Tank Camp Patton Nehou Normandy 1944 D-Day Memorial
Camp Patton Nehou is not in Nehou so do not set your Sat-Nav to Nehou town centre. Camp Patton is in the middle of the country down a country lane surrounded by trees. The nearest settlement is Les Forges de Vardon and it is on a crossroads on the D900 with a few houses.
There is a big sign at this junction that points down the D900 to Camp Patton 1.5km. Further down the D900 there is another similar sign that points down a country lane, the D187, on the right that says Camp Patton 0.2km. As you go down this lane you will see the large M4A1(76) Sherman on the right around 200yards, by a sign that says Camp Patton Nehou.
Camp Patton M4A1(76) Sherman Tank had a cast hull and turret.
The M4A1 Sherman Tank armour thickness ranged for 25 mm to 75 mm. It was armed with the standard 75 mm M3 L/40 gun and two 30-06 Browning machine guns, one in the hull and the other next to the main gun in the turret.
It was powered by a petrol Continental R975 C1 9 cylinder radial engine that produced 400 hp. It had a top road speed of 30 mph (48 km/h). It had an operational range of around 120 miles (193 km) The tank had a crew of five, commander, driver, gunner, loader and co-driver/machine gunner.
Camp Patton M4A1(76) Sherman Tank was armed with a long barrel high velocity 76mm gun.
The apple orchard belonged to a nearby nunnery. Patton secretly set up his HQ here to help continue the deceit that he was still in England and was going to command the real invasion of France by landing troops at Calais. The German high command believed that Patton was the Allies best commander. Where ever Patton was that would be the main invasion. The Allies had used Patton's high profile in the Press as a weapon of war to deceive the Germans as to the real location of the Invasion. It had worked. Hitler and the Germany Army failed to release tanks and men on reserve near Calais to meet the invasion that had already occurred in Normandy, until it was too late.
Patton lived in a truck trailer in the orchard along with his chief of staff, General Gaffey and General Gay who all had their own trailer. Near these three trailers was a large tent used for meetings. This was Patton's Command Post. Another tent was used for meals. Other officers and headquarters staff were housed in tents pitched along the perimeter of the orchard. Electrical generators were installed nearby to provide power. Latrines were dug. Troops were stationed in neighbouring fields, particularly in the Hauts Buissons Area. Military Police guarded the approaches to the orchard to stop any civilians getting close and discovering who was in command. The orchard was chosen as the trees hid the tents and buildings from German aircraft. The ground was dry and the approach was along a narrow grass-covered hedged lane. It was only ten miles behind the front line.
Camp Patton M4A1(76) Sherman Tank 76mm gun was fitted with a muzzle brake to reduce recoil and extend the life of the gun barrel.