Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

14 British Tanks Fight 14 Iraqi Tanks and Destroy Every One

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

14 British Tanks Fight 14 Iraqi Tanks and Destroy Every One

Article excerpt

Byline: HUGH DOUGHERTY

THE biggest British tank battle since the Second World War took place today when the Desert Rats destroyed a column of Iraqi armour.

A squadron of 14 British Challengers blasted the same number of Iraqi T-55s with depleted-uranium shells, leaving every one destroyed in a few short minutes.

The dramatic confrontation happened just south of Basra at 11am local time (8am GMT) after the Iraqi column emerged from the besieged city. The Challengers, from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, stumbled across the tanks as the British formation moved west from Zubayr to reinforce the Royal Marines on the Al Faw peninsula.

The Iraqis had slipped out of Basra and were apparently moving towards Umm Qasr to attack British forces there, possibly acting as decoys for a convoy of Iraqi vehicles that had also emerged from the city.

That was completely destroyed.

The action was the biggest British tank battle since the Second World War - every other war has involved armour being destroyed from the air or by artillery.

One British military source described the Iraqi decision to move out of Basra as "suicidal". "It was an irrational act," added the source.

"The Iraqis were apparently on a suicide mission."

The Iraqi column of the outdated Soviet-built tanks was first spotted by the commander of the lead tank in the Challenger formation as they travelled across country at more than 20mph.

It was about a mile off - well within the range of the 120mm guns of the Challengers. The commander, a junior officer, immediately alerted the squadron leader, a major, and seconds later every tank in the formation heard over their radios that the Iraqis had been seen.

As their gun turrets swung towards the targets, they kept up their rapid pace, and fired the armour-piercing shells on the move.

The Challengers then continued on their mission. …

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