What is a "prime mover"
Could one of the experts in this forum please explain what is meant with the words "prime mover" in the following quote from a story by Billy Melander (29th Inf Div):
I would like to understand (sorry, I'm not a native English speaker)in this story :
if the tank was carried on a flatbed truck, or if it was moving on it's own tracks, under it's own power. Please note that the tanks were not in a tactical operation, they were moving, or being moved, down from the frontline in Jülich to Heerlen, in order to protect HQ 9th Army at Heerlen, during the first confused days of the Battle of the Bulge. The importance of this is that we are trying to do a full reconstruction of the events in support of a request for posthumously citizenship for the soldier Michel Ernst (Jewish Polish refugee, serving in 29th Div)
Place is Alsdorf in Germany, near Aachen, date is December 11 or 17, 1944, midnight:
[quote] All week we had noticed the long convoys of the 2nd. Armored Group passing by. They where moving up on the main road, in the direction of Jülich and the Roer River crossings. These tanks of the 2nd Armored, all had the new long tube 90MM guns. They would be displacing the other units with the cider 75MM. In addition, some 240MM batteries moved in along with them. We were impressed with all this new firepower and thought it might mean, we soon would be moving across the river.
Everything was very quite on our front, until about Dec. 14th. Then a heavy fog settled in along with sleet. This weather remained with us over the next two weeks. Making our guard duty very uncomfortable for those outside without shelter. On the night of Dec.17th, something was happening out there and we noticed a large movement of the 2nd Armored returning back from the front, with all their equipment. They where moving very fast and they had their lights on. This was strange because they always observed strict blackouts.
I had moved from my post on the main gate to get a better view from the roadside, while Michel remained at his post. It was then that one of the new tanks with the long tube 90MM came down the road on its prime mover. The gun had worked loose from its cradle and was tilting up. The communication wires and power lines strung across the road where weighted down with ice and were hanging dangerously low.
As the carrier moved forward, the gun tube caught the lines between the gun and mantel. This caused the tragic accident that took the life of Michel that night.
To better explain the problem that unfolded. All the lines came together just across the road and where wrapped around the large concrete balls, embedded on the concrete slabs that rested on top of the brick wall entrance where Michel was standing guard.
When the gun barrel snared the hanging wires, it pulled them all together. Forming one strong cable. There was a lot of snapping wires whipping about, causing me to duck to get away. Then came that terrifying sound of cracking walls as the concrete slabs and balls came down.
Michel caught the full impact of the slab and balls as they tumbled down on top of him. Covering him with concrete, bricks and wire. I was stunned, first he was standing there against the wall and then he was gone. He never uttered a sound. I yelled for help and fired my rifle to get the attention of the other guards. It took a number of us to lift the slab from Michel's body. It was all too late, he never had a chance. There was nothing we could do; this fallen slab crushed his life out. I thought, there but for the grace of God it could have been me. [endquote]
Mail if you want the full story.
Thanks, Joost, The Netherlands