THE story of the world’s most famous tank has had a new chapter added following research revealing exactly how the fearsome Tiger 131 was captured intact by the allies during fierce fighting in the Tunisian desert in 1943.

A lucky shot had wedged itself in the turret mechanism so it couldn’t turn, and the crew had bailed out and run.

Such was the importance of the capture that, when visiting North Africa, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and King George VI went to be pictured with it.

After the German tank was taken to the UK, Lt Peter Gudgin who had been fighting Tigers with the 48 Royal Tank Regiment in Tunisia and had been invalided back home, wrote up the account of the tank’s capture believing the Tiger tank was the same one that had hit his Churchill tank at Djebel Djaffa and that his comrades had stopped it with a lucky shot. And that has always been the official story.

Bovington Tank Museum is home to Tiger 131 which is the only working example in the world, and is currently part of a world-first exhibition, The Tiger Collection, which showcase the entire Tiger family side-by-side.

Dale Oscroft, whose father John Oscroft served with the Sherwood Forester in Tunisia, visited the Tank Museum in 2012, 30 years after his death, and saw the story of the Tiger 131 capture. It was so similar to his father’s version that he began to do some research which revealed that the Tiger was not hit at Djebel Djaffa but 15 miles away at Gueriat el Atah; known as Point 174.

“My father was carrying a PIAT anti-tank weapon and was ordered to creep forward and engage the nearest Tiger,” said Dale.

“After getting as close as he dared he took aim and fired, only to see the bomb strike a glancing blow on the turret and bounce off. He saw the turret begin to traverse in his direction and got his head down.

“The tank was then fired on by an old French ‘75’ which the Foresters had taken from the Germans, as well as by Churchill tanks which were some distance behind him.

“Much to his relief the tank crew bailed out and made off. An inspection showed the Tiger to have sustained a lucky hit on the turret ring.”

Dale speculated that the crew must have thought the Foresters had something more potent than they actually did.

Tiger 131 can be seen in action during Tiger Day this Saturday at the Tank Museum. For more information visit