Panzer of the Lake

What is your wisdom?

PzKpfw3 IV Ausf. D

PzKpfw IV Ausf. D

If you've looked at the Internet in the last, oh, thirty years, you may have noticed memes. Usually, they're little particles of (questionably) funny information on a template picture, traditionally using Impact font. One of these is known as "Panzer of the Lake", which sounds rather Arthurian.

King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king!

Dennis: Listen; Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government! Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony! (Ow! Ow! I'm being repressed!)

I love that movie. "You mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!"

Anyway, we have a funny picture of a Panzer in a Lake. But: which Panzer? Which lake? Fortunately, Schwern at History Stack Exchange did extensive research and came up with what I do think is the correct answer. However, if you know better, talk to ConeOfArc on Discord for a $100 reward and we'll be equally happy.

How not to cross a river

Two days after the start of Fall Gelb, ie. on the 12th of May, the Germans were barreling their way across Belgium. Now, we have quite a bunch of rivers and those need crossing. Oberst Paul Werner, the commander of 31st Panzer Regiment was informed by Luftwaffe recon that the bridge at Yvoir was still open, so he ordered one of his guys to secure it. The guy in question was Leutnant Zobel; he took his scout cars, and his II. Panzer-Abteilung, and headed off. The bridge was mined, but civilian refugees were still using it.

However, once the shooting started, Belgian Lieutenant de Wispelaere flicked the switch to blow the bombs. No boom, though. He went for the mechanical backup switch, was killed by rifle fire, but then he did fall on top of the detonator. The bridge exploded in a cloud of dust and the Germans were massively annoyed.

(I don't know what happened to the refugees, but I like to think they all made it to comfortable safety.)

The German advance was thus blunted, and they had had enough for that day. On the next day, however, Rommel was near. He was not one to stand still. When he saw some engineers use a section of pontoon bridge to ferry some AT-guns across the Maas, ordered that two of these sections be bolted together. The intent was to ship his twenty-five ton Panzers across the river, on a ferry clowned together from floatinium and hope, rated to carry sixteen tonnes. This goes to show that Rommel, while being brilliant at tactics, did not understand physics very well.

Leutnant Zobel parked his Panzer on the float and was dragged across. As Schwern expresses it so eloquently, "approaching the shore, the ferry lifts, the load shifts, and the tank falls into the river.", leaving a German infantry pioneer (in "Drillich" uniform) to wonder how the fuck he's going to fish out this Panzer from the "Lake".