Monday, 7 September 2015

Cheating at Statistics 11: Bix and his Tricks

I will be the first to admit that I'm very unfair on Tiger battalions when it comes to challenging kill claims, mostly because of how easy it is. However, today let's pick on a different target, a tank ace named Hermann Bix, specifically his brief period of time fighting in a Jagdpanther in 1945. The book Jagdpanther vs. SU-100: Eastern Front describes many of his alleged feats in the region, but only one has a date associated with it: he knocked out 16 tanks on February 25th, 1945 "near Stargard in Pomerania". However, you all know what we think of claims around these parts, so let's take a closer look.

"Pomerania" and "1945" are enough to get a sense of where the action was happening. Here is a fragment of the map of the creatively named "East Pomerania and Silesia Offensive, February 8th to April 4th 1945", showing off the northern action. Stargard Szczeciński appears on the map as Штаргард (Shtargard), outlined with a yellow rectangle, in the path of the 61st Army.

Let's take a look at what the 61st Army was doing on this day.

"Forces of the Army reinforced fortifications on the line from the previous day, performed reconnaissance and had shootouts with the enemy. Forces on the left flank regrouped, replacing elements of the 2nd Guards Tank Army."

Oh, what's this? I wonder what happened to all of their tanks. Perhaps the records of the 2nd GTA will tell us more.

"On February 25th, elements of the 2nd GTA transferred their positions to elements of the 61st Army, motorized infantry was marching to new locations, the other part was fighting over Piritz."

Let's dig a little deeper into the situation. The book claims that Bix destroyed 4 "American Lend-Lease tanks". The only Lend-Lease tanks around at the time were the Shermans of the 1st Mechanized Corps so, let's check up on them too.

"Acting under directive #00346/OP from the 1st Baltic Front HQ issued on February 23rd, 1945, the 1st Mechanized Corps of the 2nd Guards Tank Army was transferred under the operative subordination to the 47th Army as of 6:00 on February 25th, 1945, and was concentrated in the regions of Kerkov, Linde, (particularly) Rufen."

That's it. No glorious battle, nothing, just concentration in reserve. Naturally, no tanks are recorded in the "losses" section for that day. The next day, the tanks remain in the forest, with the HQ established at Kerkov. 

It would appear that the tanks Bix claimed to have destroyed indeed disappeared, but he had nothing to do with it. Perhaps the presence follows by the absence of tanks was good enough for his commanders to record these kills, perhaps they were desperate to write down some victories and didn't particularly care. Either way, that's another reason why blindly trusting unverified claims is a good way to make a fool of yourself.


  1. The encounter took place south of Starogard Gdanski, West Prussia, which between 1939 and 1945 was part of the Third Reich and was known as Preussisch Stargard. (Bix was with 4. PzD that had nothing to do with the other Stargard!) From 21 to 26 February 1945 the Soviet 8th Guards Tank Corps tried in vain to crush that German position, sustaining heavy losses in the process, namely:

    - 21 T-34's (including 13 total write-offs)
    - 16 M4A2's (including 8 total write-offs)
    - 1 SU-85
    - about 350 killed and wounded

    I have nothing more to say about this "cheating statistics" joke.

    Kamen Nevenkin

    1. So you want to say that Bix was in that spot marked Старогард, close to 2nd Shock Army's direction of advance? A quick check would suggest that it did have Shermans (at least in August last year)

    2. That's right, Starograd. Bix's own account can be found in Hans Schäufler's book "Panzer an der Weichsel", which is also available in English and Russian. Bix says that on 25 Feb 45 his unit, I./PzR 35, was deployed "south of Preussisch Stargard". There is no doubt of that, because the entire 4. PzD was deployed in that area, anyway. The opponent was definitely the 8 GTC, which had mixed inventory (T-34's and Shermans). The event in question took place either on 25th or on the next day, when the 8th GTC was finally pulled out. For me, this case is closed.


    3. If you take the losses from ONLY February 25th when you claim this happened instead of an entire week, you get:
      Burned: 2 T-34, 1 M4A2
      Knocked out: 1 T-34, 2 M4A2
      One T-34 was stuck in a trench.

      And February 26th, the documents state that the 8th GTC did not perform any combat actions. So much for 16 knocked out tanks.

    4. Oh, and the SU-85 you included was knocked out by mortar fire. Remind me again, how many mortars was the Jagdpanther equipped with?

    5. Finally, these losses are from the entire breadth of the front of the 8th GTC, from the Vistula to Skórcz. Unless Bix was zooming back and forth along a 25 km front and was responsible for every single kill not only on February 25th but also the surrounding days, his claims are impossible.

  2. Let´s observe only official german claims for 25th feb. 1945
    (all of Hgr. Weichsel, all combat causes)

    enemy tanks destroyed (claimed): 14, and

    26th of feb. 1945: tanks destroyed (claimed): 38

    1. And? The amount of tanks the Soviets write off as lost or damaged is still much, much less than that.

  3. No. You compared his claims (again) with the wrong soviet units. Why not checking the units involved? Your interpretation of Stargard as the area of battle is entirely incorrect. The accuation articulated therefore completely evaporated in air.