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OSPR EY· VANGUARD I

British

7th ARMOURED DIVISION 1940-45

John Sandars

..


VANGUARD SERIES EDITOR: MARTI N WINDROW

British

7th ARMOURED DIVISION 1940-45 Text by JOHN SANDARS Colour plates by MIKE CHAPPELL

OSPREY PUBLIS HI NG LONDON

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Published in 1977 by O sprey Publishing Lid M ember company of the Geo rge Philip Group 12- 14 Long Acre, London WC2[ 9LP Š Copyright 1977 Osprey Publishing Ltd This boo k is co pyri ght ed und er the Bern e Convention . AI! ri ghls rese rved. Apart from a ny fai r d ealin g for th e purpose of private stud y, resea rch, crit icism or rev iew, as permitted und er th e Copyright Act, 1956, no pa rt of this publ ica tion may be reproduced , stored in a re tri eval sys tem, or Iransmi n cd in an y form or by a ny mea ns, clcClfonic, elec tri ca l, chemi ca l, mecha n ica l, optical , photoco pying, record ing or oth erwise, wi th ou t th e prior permiss ion of th e copyri g ht own er. En quiri es should be addressed to th e Publishers.

Filmse t a nd prin ted by BAS Printers Limit ed , O ver \'\Iallop, Hampshire

The au th or wishes to thank th e Imperial \'Var Muse um , the Kent a nd Sharpshooters Yeo manry a nd Boris Mollo, Mike Co nnirord , a nd T erry Gand er ror permission to use phorograp hs from their collections, and Dav id List for making ava ilable the result s o f research in ro vehicl e ca mou Aage and markings not yet published. The mai n sources co nsulted were: The Desert Rats by M aj Cell Vern ey, 71h AmlOllred Division by Li ndsa y an d J oh nson, The SIOry rifthe RASC 193'r45, CrajtsmeJI of lhe Army. The regimenta l hisro ries of3 rd , 7th a nd 8 th H ussa rs, I I th H ussa rs, 5th Dragoon Guards, 3rd & 4th C LY, 2nd RGH , The Royal Tank Regiment, Th e Rifl e Brigade, th e KRR C, a nd the Quee ns, a nd th e Roya l Artillery Com memoration Boo k have proved most helpful , as have British and Commonwealth Anlloured Formatiolls by Dunca n Crow, a nd Our Armoured Forces b y Ma rt el.

Cover painting by Mike Chappell shows A I 0 a nd A9 Cr ui ser tanks of 6th Roya l Tank Regime nt , willler 1940 . 2


I

U ni versal ca rrier of a motor batta lion with Italian prisoners,

lai C 1940; lypical armament of Boys ami-lan k riflc in front

spo nson and (covered ) Bren gun on AlA mou nting. These vehicles were subsequen tl y used by carrier platoons in lorried inranlfY ballal io ns, and as arlillery OP ve hicles, ambulan ces, mo rt ar and machine.gun ca rri ers in NW E.urope . ( Imperial War Muse um )

Introduction The story of 7th Armoured Di vision is one of a lmost

of old) and a small number of guns and sa ppers.

continuous front-line service throug hout six years

The laller type of formation , w hi ch was in due

of war: a record un equal led by any similar British formation. I t is told against a background of

course to become th e armoured division of World Wa r ll , was naturall y based on lessons learnt from

cOlll inuous changes in composition , equ ipm ent, and organi za tion. Units were replaced as th ey

th e previous war and the id eas of c urrent military

became depicted by casualties or were required elsewhere; better weapons were isslied as they became available, a nd the orga ni zational 'mix' of

theorists such as Fuller and Lidd ell Hart. As a result its role was envisaged as one of exploiting breakthroug hs, turn ing flank s and other 'i ndirect'

units was a ltered frequentl y in the lig ht of ex -

actions, rather tha n the assa ulting of fixed defences, whi ch task was to be left to the infantry di vision. At

perience, and to cater for different th eatres ofwar.

the sa me time, th e relative invulnerability of vVorld

The Bri tish Army started to ex periment with

War I tanks , once they had got behind the narrow defended belts into the rear areas, with at best primitive anti-tank measures a nd few if any tanks for counter-attack, led to an overestimate of the capabilities of unaccompanied tanks and a failure to understand the need for adequate infantry a nd

mechanized formati o ns ora ll arms in th e late

1 9~ws

and earl y 1930s. By 1934 it had decided o n- but not formed - two types of division: a mechanized infantry divisio n wi th its own battalion o f slow heavy tanks to support the foot soldiers in dismo un-

ted actions, and a mobile di vision with a brigade of lighter tanks : a mechanized cava lry brigade in tru cks (intended to fight dismounted like dragoons

artillery in armoured formations. Tank desig n therefore split into two streams]

with speed ta king precedence over armour a nd

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hitting power in vehicles destined to serve in th e mobile divisions, and pro tection taking precedence in those (' I ' tanks) for the infa ntry divisions. This di cho tomy, which made it difficult for the two types to opera te together, was to continue throughout th e war even after the 'I' tanks were removed fro m the actual infantry d ivisions. This was foll owed by the abso rption of the mecha nized cavalry in to the Roya l Armoured Corps a nd their re-eq uipment with tanks on the eve of the wa r. Altho ugh at th e same tim e specia l Motor In fantry battalio ns, mounted, unlike th eir mechanized counterparts, in small cross -country tru cks and carriers were added to what were by then armoured divisions, the result was a very tank-heavy organization with inadequate infantry, guns, or support services. These earl y ass umptions as to type of tank a nd orga nizatio n were to dog 7th Armoured , a mong o ther British divisions, for much of the war. As tanks were few, and the cavalry, apart from a coupl e of armoured-ca r regiments, was still mostl y horsed in ' 934, the first mobil e di visio n, which subsequentl y became First Armoured Di vision, was not in fact formed until la te ' 937. In the mea ntim e th e threat to Egy pt posed by th e I talians in Libya during the Abyssini a n crisis had led to th e mecha nization of the Cairo Cavalry Brigade in '935 , a nd this was the nucl eus arou nd which 7th Armoured Division was to be form ed some fi ve years la ter. The brigade consisted of , Ith H ussars in armou red cars, 8 th Hussa rs in trucks, and 7th Hussars in light tanks. Th ey origina lly formed th e basis of the ' Matruh M obi le Force', or ' Immobile Farce', as it came to be known. Between '935 and th e Muni ch crisis in '938, w hen it next 'stood-w' in the desert, the force had learnt mu ch a bou t operating there, and had been a ugmented by a tank regiment, a regiment of g uns, and skeleton service units. Further reinforcements followed in th e form of ano ther tank regiment and a motor in fantry battalion and th e force was renamed 'Mobile Division Egypt'; at the same time the reeq uipm ent of 8th Hussa rs with light ta nks tra nsformed th e cavalry brigade into a light armo ured brigade. I t was during this period between the M-unich crisis and the declaration of war with Cerma ny in September ' 939 th at ma ny of the drills and proced ures for o perating in the desert, which were to remain as dogma throughout the cam -

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paig n, were d evised and practised und er th e d ynamic leadership of the divisional comm a nder, Maj Cen P. C. S. Hobart. This offi cer had been in volved in th e earl y armo ured formation experiments in Eng land , and was subsequently to form 79th Armoured Divisio n, with specia li zed types of armour, for th e 'ormand y in vasion. Even after the war in Europe had sta rted there was a further period for training and reinforcement before Ita ly came in on the Cerman side in June ' 940. In Februa ry th e d ivision was renamed 7th Armo ured a nd became part of ' Western D esert Force' under Lt Cen R. N. O ' Connor. Maj C en H obart was relieved by Maj Cen M . O ' Moore Creagh as div isional commander.

2 Bofors 37m m anti ¡t ank gu n- no t a standa rd British Arm y weapo n. A batch on their way to the Sudan were com ¡ mand eered in [940 and issued to the div ision, ror lack or an alternative. Carried po n ce o n 15cwt tr ucks, th ey were rep laced ea rl y in [94 [ by regu lat ion 2pdrs, also portccd on 30cwt and 3 ton trucks. (Gander)

War with Italy The deserts of western Egypt and Libya where the d ivision was to fi ght for the next three years were ap tl y described by a Cerman genera l as a 'tacti cian's drea m and a quartermaster's nig htmare'. Much of th e area is covered by a feat ureless, level, gravel platea u on which movement at speed in any d irectio n, even by wheel ed vehicles, is usual ly possible. At two points, nca r Agheila and Alamein , salt marshes and an impassable depression form bo ttl enecks to within a few miles of the coastl ine. Th ese a rc the o nl y places where defences can be built that ca nnot be ou tfla nked throug h the o pen desert, until lhe mountains and cultivated areas of western T ripolitania ancl Tunisia are reached. Th ese gaps are not th e o nly milita ril y


Orders of Battle 1939 and 1940 MOB I LE D IV I S I O N EGY PT August ' 939 Divisiollal H Q.

-------DiV troops:

~

. j

Light Arm'd Bdt 7lh Hussars (light tanks) 8th Hussa rs (Iighl la nks) I I

HtO/!)' Arm'd Bdt lSI RTR (Iighllanks) 6lh RTR (light ta nks &

lh H ussa rs (arm'd cars)

I

RASC Coy.

I

Field Aumbul ance

Pivot Group 3rd RHA (field & A /T guns) 1St KRR C (molOr infantry)

c rui se rs)

7th A RM O

R ED D IV ISION

'ovcm ber I 940

Divisiollal HQ.

I 4th Anll'd Bdt

I

7th Hussars

7th Anll' d Bdt 1st RT R

2nd RTR 6th RTR

grd Hussa rs 8 th Hussars

I

Bty. 3rd RHA (A/T )

I

Bty. 3rd RH A (A/T )

(Mk V IB light tanks, A9 & A ,o Cru isers, 37mm Bofors A/T guns, I 8/2s pdr fi eld guns)

sig nifi ca nt fea tures, ho weve r ; in Egypt a nd C yrenaica the level inland pla teau steps down to a narrow coasta l plain in a series o f steep esca rpments, a nd the points a t which these pelcr o ut, south o fSidi Barra ni a nd west o fTo bruk, or where ga ps ena bled vehicles to pass up o r dow n th em , such as H a lfaya nea r So llu m a nd S idi R ezegh JUSt so u th o f T o bruk, were to be th e focus o f mu ch action. In the fl a t dcsen even the lo w hills a nd ri dges o f th e coasta l pla in a nd in th e A la m ein ga p achieved an imporla nce o ut o f a ll propo rti o n to th eir size. The sing le m eta lled coa st road , a lo ng wh ich a ll supp lies ha d to tra vel , was to become th e lifeline of bo th sides, linking th em to t heir bases a t

Support Group 4th RHA (field g uns) ISI KRR C 2nd RiAe Ede

Diu troops 11th Hussa rs (arm 'd cars) lo6 th RHA (A /T & AlA) I Bty. 3rd RHA (A/T ) R E : Fld. Sqn . & Pk . Tp. RASC : 6 Coys RAM C: 2 Cav Amb RAOC : Workshop, Pk & 3 It rc pa ir sees

Alexa ndria a nd Tripo li a nd limiting th eir speed of advance and depth of penetra tion into the desen 1O th e south . The o th er m a in features were th e hill y culti va ted a rea of th e Djebel Akhdar in th e Beng ha zi-Mec hili-Dern a tri a ngl e, a nd th e barbedw ire ba r ri er wh ich th e Italians had built a long Lhe Li byan-Egy ptian rro ntier. It was here 'on the wire' thatlhe divisio n first wenl inlo acuo n in mid - I940. Des pite th eir five divisio ns in Cyrena ica backed up by nine more in Tripo lita nia the Ita lians made no immed ia te a ttempt to in vad e Egypt. Instead th ey preferred to remain within th e defend ed perimelers o rlhc coasta l lOwns, a nd in 'Beau Gesle' forts behin d th e fro ntie r, esconing co nvoys be -

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~-

.'. 3 Crusade r Mk II of 3rd Cou nty of London Yeoma nry, pho tograp hed at a momenl of domestic tranquillity! The ma rkings of'A' Sqn, 4 T roop are just visi ble on the rear of lh e turret bin, beyond the lowered NO.9 set aeria l which is he re being used as a washing-line. A name (' A I LSA II '?) is dimly visible on the tu rret side , but there are no divisional or unit tactical signs. The rack of2gal water ti ns, and the use of cutdown 4gal 'Aimsics' as stoves, are typical , as is the tarpaulin bivouac slung from a side ra il origina ll y fitted to mount a hessian 'lorry' camouflage rig. (Sharpshootcrs)

..

This press ure was maintained for the next fou r

months a nd led to th e compl ete dom ination o r th e Libya n side o r the rro ntier by th e division 's patrols. Not onl y was mu ch userul intell igence gained abo ut the enem y's defences and th e nature of the desert

(th e 'going' ), bu t q uite substa ntia l rorts were captured and sacked ; even c ucumber patches

cul tivated by th e Libya n troops were not immune tween them with tanks and trying to dominate the

from sudd en ra ids by hungry riA emen or hussars in

desert by air power a lone. With 7th Armourecl Division still in the process o r re-equipping and th e

search o r a cha nge or diet I Armou red clashes a lso occurred in which th e skilrul combinatio n or the speed orth e light ta nks a nd th e hitting power orthe

onl y other trained division , 4 th In dian infantry,

short or a brigade, as well as an acute overa ll shortage or artill ery a nd motor transport, the Western D esert Force was hardly in a position to o ffer an e ffec tive defence, let a lone to mount an

cruisers, backed up by their own a ttached anti -tank guns (a combin a tion which the Ge rmans were to use most effec tively, but whi ch Bri tish com manders

seemed to rorget in later battles) led to spectac ular attack . It thererore establ ished ilSelr in dep th wi th small-scale successes. O n on e occasion the RiAe the in ran try based on the derended area or M ersa Brigade even engaged a n Ita li a n destro yer with M a tr uh whi le 7th Armoured Division lay behi nd Bren g uns. All this led th e I ta lian Commander- in-Ch ier, th e rronti er with a small rorce, usua lly consisting or th e I I th H ussars, pa rt or the support group, and M arsha l G raziani, to overestimate British strength one of the armoured regi ments, right up on the

wi re. This rorce had the tas k or ra id ing in to Libya to fi nd out the enem y d ispositions, to harass his garrisons and convo ys, and genera ll y to take and kee p the initiative in th e area, as well as giving

adva nce warn ing orany moves tha t he might make. So effecti ve was this policy th at in the first rew

grea tl y, so it was not until 13 Sep tember tha t, und er increasing pressure from Mussolini , he sent his

large bu t poorl y equipped a nd a lmost entirely unm echa ni zed arm y across the rronti er into Egy pt. The division , with an a ttached ba tta li o n of Coldstream Guards and some machine-gu nn ers,

rell back as planned towards Matruh borore a n

weeks o f hostiliti es severa l hundred prisoners were taken with little loss, some of them even unaware

e nem y who ad va nced w ith great ca ution in formations more sui ted to th e parade gro und than

that war had been decl ared.

the battlefi eld , covered by heavy arti llery ba rrages

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usuall y dirccted onto arcas of cmpt y desert. Delays

(it was seldom to coincid e exactl y with any official composition). The difference between cavalry and tank formations had disappeared , at least on paper, a nd the three regiments in each armoured brigade all had a mixture of light and cruiser tanks, achieved in some cases by swapping squadrons

were imposed by mines and hit-and-run a ttacks

where possible, and some 3,500 casualti es were inflicted for about '50 British losses in the first three days. Then, to th e surprise of the British, the advance slopped orits own accord a t S idi Ban·ani , onl y half way from the frontier to the dcfences at Matruh . Thc Italians sCllled down to improvc the road and build fortifi cd ca mps where the escarpment ended south of Sidi Barrani ; they then a nnounced to the wo rld that th ey had restorcd the tram services in that city (which was in fa ct nothing more than a coll ection of SLOne huts). Thus began another three months of sta ti c

between units.

Thc ' lights' were by then mostl y the three -man Vickers Mk Vlb, a fast, generall y reliable lillie tank which suffered from poor tracks and from being armed o nl y with mac hine guns. Although it could not compete with the gun -armed Ita lia n medium tanks M, , and M ' 3, its speed usually kcpt it out of trouble ; a nd the small number of A9 and A, 0 Cruisers, a lthoug h obsolcscent by Europcan standards, were both faster and better-armed tha n the Italian mediums, while the Italia n light tanks were no match for any of ours . The support group was up to strength, shortages in th e KRRC having been made good by Rhodesian voluntcers; butth e combined AA-A/T regim ent only had the lilli e Bofors 37 mm gun, carried ponce on the back of a 15c\vltruc k, in its two AfT batteries. Even this was ca pa ble of stopping most [talian ta nks at over 600

warfare during which th e division continued its harassing and reconnaissa nce tasks and went on

building up its streng th. It was during this pcriod that the 'J ock Column ', which was to become such a feature or the divisio n's acLivilies in quie t periods,

came into being. Named after Lt Col J ock Campbell of 4th RHA , these columns consisted of a fcw fi eld g uns, some a rmoured ca rs and usually a company of motor infantry. Their offensive mano euvres did much to foster British morale and to

upset that of the encmy, but the material damage they could inflict was small. By the cnd of November ' 940 the arrival of new troops and equipmcnt had built Western Desert Force into quite a hand y lillie corps consisting of 7th Armoured Di vision ; 4th Indian Infantry Division; two medium-gun and three ficld-gun banerics in addition to those in the divisional

artillerics; 7th RTR (a ballalion of the heavy Ma tilda infantry suppo rt tanks which were impervious to any Italian and-tank g un) and a minimum of necessary service uniLS . 7th Armo ured Division

yards however, and the presence of an ex tra

regiment of these guns, 3rd RHA, meant that ba lleries could be allached to the armoured brigades, and troops distributed to individual units. Th e ,"h Hussars had also been augmented by Rh odesian troops, and were subsequentl y to borrow a squadron of RAF armoured cars. Th ey still retained th eir ' 9'0-'4 pattern Rolls-Royces, armed only with Bren guns and A /T rifles of do ubtful va lu e, and were without wireless, but

regimental and squadron HQs and troop leaders

had at las t more or Icss ca ught up with the o ffi cial

now had th e roomier Morris cars which carried No. g seLS. Units had their own first-lin e services such as

establishment of an armou red division of that time

filters, sig na llers, medical officer, and usually two

Bizel1a 'b""\..

M~ .

A "'0 MALTA

- TUNI S

\ J Enlidavllie ~ - le Kel ~'Sousse

\

;

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l>c,..

~r."

,

/S / A

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~'fjO

EGYPT

,

'-. '/.I ....

. for.

Gabes / Medenine '

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CA'RO\~

~ i''' ~\,.\

Siax )

Gain . Aklill

M edi t erranean

· 8eda Fomm

-' .'

,j 100

LIB Y A

EI A!lhella

200

300

L-__~ , __~l ' ~~'~~

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4 Stua rt (' Honey') fo ll owed by Crusader Mk Is, late 194 1, in typical desert scrub coun try with esca rpm ent in backgro und. All appear to be finished plai n stone without added camou Aage or markings. ( Im pe rial War Mu se um )

transport and suppl y ech elons: 'A' to carry fuel and ammunition needed in ac tio n, and 'B' to link this

with th e di visional services fa rther bac k and to hold vehicles such as office trucks nOt needed in th e battle area. Divisional services were still very wea k. Two of the RAS C compa nies were borrowed from Commonwealth formation s; the divisional sig nals were a scratch unit with very little eq uipm ent, and the workshop orga ni zation was largely stati c, with less than a dozen recovery vehicles in th e whole di vision. This was the state when th e C-in-C Middl e East, Gen Sir Archiba ld Wavell , ordered Gen O 'Connor to lau nch a surprise attack on th e Italian ca mps south of Sidi Barrani. Pa trols of the division had discovered an unprotected ga p between them through which the Indian infantry and the invincible Matildas were able to pass, undetected , to attack them from the-rea r at dawn on 9 December ' 940, while 7th Armoured Division swept up through the desert to cut ul e coast road west ofSidi Ba rra ni , which fell on th e following da y. This signall ed the start of the Bri tish advance that was to drive the I talians right out of Cyrena ica, and during which the di vision was able to report the prisoners taken in acres rather than numbers. In

8

th e next two months they cut off first Bard ia and th en Tobruk prior to their assa ult and ca pture by 6th Austra li an Di vision (which had replaced the India ns). On , J a nuary ' 94' th e Wes tern D esert Force, by th en well clear of th e western desert of Egy pt, was renamed ' 3 Corps. Although the ad van ce w ~s rapid and the e nemy's tact ics were orten more suitabl e to the Na poleoni c wa rs than LO the 1940s, the di visionIs losses from e nem y ac tio n and attritio n were not insig nificant. The 3rd H ussars lost 13 light tanks in a matter of minutes when th ey bogged down in a sa lt marsh in th e face of enemy g uns cast of Sollum , and o ther isolated reargua rds and counter-attac ks took their toll . By mid-J anuary o ne regim ent in eac h armoured brigade had to be dismou nted to keep the remainder up to a reasonable ta nk stre ngth. The farth er west th ey went- before the coaSt road was cleared th roug h Bardia a nd T obruk- th e more acute the suppl y situation became. Eventua ll y the infantry truc ks had to be pressed into service to keep the di vision supplied , and water was severely rationed. Food stocks were often augmented by ca ptured Ita lian del icacies such as tinned tunn y fi sh . Petrol was the main prob lem, mad e wo rse by the high rate of leakage from the flim sy 4-gallon tins in w hich it was suppli ed - this remained a headache until th e appearance of the 'j erri can ' in '943¡ By earl y February a d epleted but hig hl y con-


fid ent 7th Armoured Division had reached Mechiii , where it became known that th e Italians were plann ing to abandon Benghazi, their last major town in Cyrenaica. At this point one of the boldest decisions of the campaig n was made, and the division was ordered to move almost 150 mil es a t full speed ac ross a ppal li ng cou ntry in ord er to cut the enemy off from escape in to Tripolitania along the road past Beda Fomm . This move sta rted o n 4 Febru a ry, bu t it soon became clear that if the division continued to move as one formation it wo uld arri ve too late. A fl ying column consisting of 2nd Bn Rifle Brigade, 11th Hussars, a battery of fiel d guns and less than a dozen anti -ta nk guns was therefore sent on a head with orders to block the road a nd hold it until th e rest of the di vision ca ught up. Despite ai r attacks and minefields, this col umn of 140 vehicles reached the road south of Beda Fomm near Sidi Saleh at 14.30 hrs on the 5 th , less than an hour before the advance g uard of loth Italian Arm y a ppeared from th e north, all un aware of th e ambush. From then until daw n two days late r the thin lin e of gunners a nd riflem en beat off frequent, bu t luckil y unco-ordinated attacks from some 20,000 bewi ldered Ita li a ns, while a solitary sq uadron of the KDGs, who had just j oi ned the d ivision, protected their rear against possible a ttack from the direction of Tripol i. At one stage a Rifle Brigade

se rgeant major even succeeded in capturing an M 13 ta nk by knocking its commander over the head with a rifle butt, and many other insta nces of close combat occurred. By nightfa ll on 5 Februa ry the two rema ining regiments of 4th Armoured Brigade, 7th Hussars and 2nd RTR, had reached the road in the vicini ty of Beda Fom m and were ab le to a ttack the massive I talian column from the fl a nk ; by early the next morni ng the 3rd Hussars a nd leading elements of 7th Armoured Brigade were also in position a little furth er north. The battle raged a ll that day bu t the Ital ia ns never managed to co-ordina te th eir efforts and break out, alth ough it was often touch-a nd-go. Their final effort came at dawn on the 7th when a column of some 30 ta nks attacking straight down the road broke through the Rifl e Brigade com panies and destroyed most of th e anti -tank gu ns at the roadblock before being stopped by field gunfire within yards of the ba tta lion HQ At th is point, Gen Bergonzol i and fi ve other generals sur rend ered, together w ith over 20,000 men and their 5 Armoured regiment breaking leag uer; tanks and softskin vehicles ope n o ut from the close formation adop ted at night. Grants and 15cWl lorries arc visible in the backgrou nd and ae ri al pe nn ons arc in evidence. Th e Crusader in the foregrou nd has a seru[ly ca mouflage finish, sugges ting the use of coloured cement applied wet with CO llon waste - a me thod used for a lime in 22nd Armoured Brigade. The turret bea rs the 'A' Sqn sign, and the number T 43739, tOge th er with th e slogan 'Avon/i .1 Avonti.1 ') the Italian fo r 'Forward!' (Sharpshooters)

9


6 Fordson WOT'2c 15 cwt 4 x '2 infantry truck ; each section in a motor infantry platoon rode o ne of these, g ivi ng greater tactical flexibilit y th an in the lorried infantry, where a whole ¡ platoon rode in asingle 3 -ton lorry. Morris, and la ter Chevrolet 15cwts were also extensively used. (Conniford )

action. Th e crisis was ca used by the arrival of the German 5th Light Di vision at Tripoli under Lt Gen Erwin Rommel. This officer, fresh from leading a Panze r Division in spectacular fashion during the Blitzkrieg in France, quickl y rea lized the weakness of the British troops in Cyrenaica and turned a 200 guns and 100 tanks, having cost 7th Armoured reconnaissance in force by his own units and the Division 9 killed and 15 wounded during the two- Italian Anele Armoured Division into a major day battle. offensive. The two und erstrength and inThus ended the division's first campaign. Shortly ex perienced British divisions, 2nd Armo ured and after the victory at Beda Fomm it was withdrawn to 9th Australian infantry, augmented by 3rd Hussars re-equip as its vehicl es were now tota ll y worn out. and 6th RTR left behind by 7th Armoured with the Before it wenl, however, it was to see om inous signs few serviceable light tanks and captured lta lian of things to come in the form of German aircraft ones, were no match for this Axis advance, which over the battlefi eld. Although th e campaign was not halted until it was across the Egyptian culminating in Beda Fomm, and the difficulties it frontier near Soli urn, with only Tobruk holding out had produced for the division , should not be behind it. belittled , the com para ti ve ease with which a wellThis sudden reversal of fortun e, which had led, highly-trained mobi le force had been abl e to includ ed the capture of Gen O ' Connor, was far defea t a badl y-led, poorly-equipped army with low from welcome to Mr C hu rc hil l, who responded by morale (many of whom were local Libyan troops), taking the bold step of di verting a tank convoy led to some tactics and practi ces which proved less thro ugh the M editerranean rather than sending it satisfactory against sterner opponents, and gave round the Cape, to enable an earl y counterundue confidence in the make-up of the armoured offensive to be launched. As a result, by mid -J un e division of that tim e. 7th Armoured Di vision was o nce again in business, but only as a 'scratch' formation, with two brigades each of two regiments and the support group. In 7th Brigade 2nd RTR had the old Cruisers while After leaving the desert in early 1941 the ' Desert 6th R T R got the first Crusaders, as yet untried in Rats' (so named by Mussolini in a gibe that battle and unfamiliar to their crews. In 4th Brigade misfired ) were virtu all y disbanded due to a lack of 4th a nd 7th RTR were given M atild a'!' tanks, as ta nks and oth er eq uipm ent fo r them. U n its found nothing else was available. themselves doing guard duties in Egypt while the Wavell 's plan for Operation Battleaxe was for the divisional commander gave lectures in Turkey, but 4th I ndian Division supported by 4th Armoured by late April first the KRRC battalion and then the Brigade (since they had all the ' I' tanks) to move up 11th Hussars, hurriedly re-equipped with South African Marmon-HerringtOn cars which offered little improvement over the Rolls, were back in

The Desert 1941-42

7 Chevrolet CooL 3¡ (on 4 x 4 CS lorry. T ogether with si milar Ca nadian Fords and Brilish 3 -tonn ers of various makes, these provided the workhorses of the divisional RASC compan ies and the unit echelons; in the desert they also carried the infantry of 131 Brigade. Desert tyres are show n, but 'trackgrip' and ' run flat' tyres were also common, even mixed on the sa me veh icl e. (Conniford ) 10


O RD ER O F BATTL E November '94'

Divisional H Q I

4th Arm'd Bd, Cp 8th HUSSarS} 3rd R T R Stuart 5 th R TR ta nks 2nd RH A (Fld. guns)

I 22nd Arm'd Bde

7th Arm'd Bd,

2nd R .G. Hussa rs

7th H ussars

3rd C. L.Yeomanry 4th C.L.Yeomanry (Crusader ta nks)

2nd RTR 6th RTR (Crusader, Alo & AI3 tan ks)

2nd Scots Guards

Support Croup 3rd RH A (2pdr A/T guns) 4th RH A 60th Fld. RA 25pdrs IStKRRC 2nd Rifl e Bde

1

DivisionaL troops

3 arm'd car regts (I I1h Hus, KDGs, 4th SAAC) A/T regt (2pdrs) A/A regt (Bofors 40mm) Di v Signals regt

R E: Field and Park Squadrons RASC : 6 Companies RAMC: 3 ligh t Field Ambulances RAOC: Div Workshop & Par k, LAA WS + J It repa ir sec, I It recove ry sec &

1

park sec

to each brigade & Supp gp the coast and capture the area where the coast lost some 90 ta nks for very little gain. Al though Battleax, was a fa iled offensive rather road made its way up th e escarpment near Soli urn. At th e same tim e 7th Armo ured Division was to th an a maj or defeat it showed the da ngers of sweep ro und to the south a nd west on the inl a nd spli tting u p the availa ble armo ur, a nd gave a clear platea u to cut off the enem y defences near the wa rning th at the Germans, despi te lack of desert frontier, be fore moving north- wes t to relieve experi ence, were formid a ble opponents. It was a lso Tobruk . U ntil the in fa ntry cou ld release 4th clear that the Bri tish ta nks no longer had the edge Armoured Brigade, however, this inla nd th rust over the enem y; the M a tilda, although superior to wou ld onl y consist of the two regim ents of 7th the Germ a n tanks of the time except in speed, was Brigade. In the event the Germa ns had placed haIf- now vulnerabl e to anti- tank fi re. M ore important, a-dozen of th ei r 88mm guns a nd had la id mine- fro m 7th Armoured 's po int of view, the Crusader, fi elds in the So llum area, a nd by 15 ]une, when the which was th e latest design a nd whi ch was to British a ttack was launched , had placed the newly- rema in with the di vision until mid- 1943, had arri ved 15th Panzer Division near Bardi a, as we ll as proved unsatisfactory on several coun ts. Th eoreti5th Light near Tobruk. 4 th Armoured Brigade lost cally superior to the Germ an pzK w III a nd IV heavi ly to the 88m ms a nd were tied dow n by ta nks until a t least mid-1 942 on a g un/armo ur counter-attacks which prevented their reverting to basis, it was found to be difficult to maintai n, and 7th Armoured Di vision as intended ; the weak 7th tria ls in Egy pt showed tha t it could be penetrated Armou red Brigade o n its own could not break more easily th an should have been possible conthrough the skilful tank a nd a nti-ta nk g un a m- sidering the thi ckness of its armo ur. Perha ps even bushes laid by th e G erma ns a mong a seri es of low more serio us in the long run was its chron ic ridges in their path, and , witho ut a thi rd regiment, unreli ability, d ue to a fa ulty waterpump a nd had difficulty in repulsing flank a ttac ks by 5 th lubricating system whi ch frequentl y immobilized Light. After two d ays Lt Gen Beresford -Pierce, the the ta nk ; inaccessibility of these mean t tha t it was Corps comm and er, ca lled off the operation, having often impossible to repair them, a nd so CrusaII


8 Wh ite -Ruxtallg22 18-ton 6 x 4 tank transpo rter o neof the early models used by the division in 194 1. The fo ll owing year they were largely replaced in recovery units by ca mmell sem itrai lers. The vehicle shown appears to have bee n sprayed with a dark coloured camouflage over the basic stone shade j the so ft edges are ulll ypi ca l, as most Middl e East theatre ca mou flage dircctivt.'S stressed the need for sharp-edged pattcrns. (Conniford )

g un ; it a lso needed special aviation -grade petrol. 22 nd Brigade no t o nl y had the unrelia ble C rusader, but was entirely composed of as-yet inexperienced Yeomanry (territoria l cavalry) regimen ts . With ders were abandoned intO enemy hands witho ut o nl y one suppOrt group, the whole organiza tion having suffered any action damage. These fau lts was very tank-heavy compared with 15th and 2 1St were never properl y cured . Panzers and Ariele, which each had their own After the fai lure of Ballieaxe many changes LOok infantry and a rtillery units. place. Gen Wavell was relieved as C-in-C by Gen Efforts to provide brigades with more direct Auchinleck, and within the division M aj Gen support by a naching baneries of fi eld guns, troops 'Strafer' GOlt, an old desert hand who had of anti-tank guns and companies of mOLOr infa ntry command ed the KRRC ballalion and later th e from the support group to them o n a semisupport group, assum ed comm and. His place in permanent basis onl y led to such a dispersal of the cha rge of th e support group was taken by Brig J ock ava il able guns and infantry that neither th e Campbell , eX-4th RHA . By November 1941 , remains of th e support group nor th e individua l when the next British offensive Operation Crusader brigades had enough to be able LO look after was launched , suffi cien t reinforcements had ar- th emselves without calling on the other formalions rived in the desert for 8th Army to be formed und er for assistance. Th e unwieldy nature of the di vision , Lt Gen Sir Alan Cunningham. This consisted of and the British policy of using extreme dispersion as tWO corps: the old 13th became a mainly infantry pro tection against air attack, mea nt th at all too formation with 4th Indian and 2nd New Zealand often the tig ht, well-balanced di visions of the much Divisions supported by a brigade of 'I' tanks, and more easil y-controll ed Afrika Korps were able to the new 30th had 7th Armoured Di vision with 1St ca tch single brigades, or the support g roup, on their South African In fantry Division and a Guards own. Another problem for Gen Go n was the fact mOLOr infantry brigade. that the corps commander, Gen Pope, was killed in 7th Armoured Division itself was made up LO the a n air crash and had to be replaced by Maj Gen unprecedented size of three armou red brigades by Norrie, himself onl y a divisional commande r a nd the addition of the 22 nd , which was really part of new to the desert. As a result, th e forthcoming 1st Armoured Division, then on its way out to th e banle was marked at times by more consultation Middle Eas t. Although this meant that with some than decision in 30 Corps, and on one occasio n Gen 500 tanks in units and as replacements th e division GOlt was left virtuall y in charge of the whole corps. had superiority over th e combined Italia n arBy 18 j ovember wh en, afte r va rious postponemoured division and the two German ones of the ments, Crusader was finall y launched , Rommel was Afrika Korps, who could onl y muster 320 between on the point of assa ulting T obruk, whi ch was still them , th e quality was very variable. 7th Armoured holding out. For this he had 15th Panzer a nd th e Brigade still had nea rl y 100 obsolete A I 0 and A 13 Germa n 90th Lig ht infantry division in that area, cruisers, some of which were so decrepit that th ey as well as the three static I ta lian divisions tha t were had to be taken inLO ballie on the few tank investing the fortress. T o cover his rear he had Ariele transporters that were in the desert a t that time. 4th at Gubi some 30 miles due south of T obruk, and Armoured Brigade was completely eq uipped with a nother J talian division backed by German g uns, the American Stuart or ~ H on ey' light tank, which plus 21St Pa nzer behind them in his frontier although reliable had a very short range and a poor defences, which had been extended some 20 miles 12


south-west from Sollum. Gen Cunn ingham 's pl a n was to send 30 Corps on a sweep round the end of this defence lin e to take up a position behind , from which it could threaten Romm el's communi ca tions in such a way that he wou ld be forced to a ttack the massed ta nks of 7th Armoured Di vision on ground of their own choosing, (using up ' his Panzer Divisions in the process. As soon as the armoured

battle was decid ed , 13 Corps was to capture the fronti er defences and move along the coast to Tobruk , where the garrison should already have broken out to link up with th e victorious 30 Corps. At first a ll went well , but such was the secrecy of the initial moves that Rommel was unawa re th at he was being threatened and fa iled to respond to 30 Corps's thrust as anticipated. The massed a rmour of the division, therefore, bega n to split up: 4th Brigade drifted east to protect the Aank of I 3 Corps, 22 nd Brigade was sent to a ttack Ariele in th e west, and 7th Brigad e went north to the real key a rea, th e airfield at Sid i R ezegh on the escarpments, just south ofT obruk, overl ooking the road leading up to the front ier. Each was individua lly too weak for its task ; 22 nd Brigade partly overran the Ita li ans a t Gubi but, owing to lack of in fantry, could not hold its gains; 7th Brigadefollowed by the support group occupi ed Sidi R ezegh, but could not ta ke the

dom in ating surrounding areas ; a nd 4th Brigade was attacked on its own by first one, a nd then both , Panzer Divisions, which then swung north in

concert a nd mau led 7th Brigade so severely that it was unable to take a ny further part in th e battle or even the campaign . D espite the switching of 22 nd Brigade, first to help 4th Brigade a nd then to Sidi R ezegh, a nd efforts by the T obruk garrison to break o ut, th e division never managed to achieve a local superiori ty, a nd on 22 November the support group was driven south off the airfield. During th e two days th ey had held it, the support group had won a ll three of the ves th a t the d ivision was to win in the desert. R fmn Beeley of the KRRC di ed wh ile charging a machin e-gun nest ; Lt Ward Gunn , RHA, was kill ed whi le firin g a 2pdr a nti-ta nk gu n from a b urning portee ; and Brig Campbell per sonally orga nized a nd led many counter-attacks in

9 Hu mbe r Mk I II armoured car. These followed th e simi lar Mk li s, wh ic h we re th e first modern ca rs to reac h the di visio n,

late in '94 1. With beller armour and a , smm BESA machinegun they could conrront Germa n rccce uni ts on more equal terms than their pred ecessors. Sand c hannels, fo r pUlling under the wheels in soft sand, can be see n secured below the spare wheel ; th e engine deck is in th e raist."<i posi ti on, enabling the dri ver to sec o ut be hind when reversing. Bedrolls, 4gal petrol 'f1imsies', '2 ga l water tins and a ca ptured water jerrica n ca n be seen stowed on the car. ( Impe ri al War Museu m)

-

.j

--

.,

>.


his open car, holding the defence toget her by his exampl e. By 24 November the first phase of the ba ttle was over ; 4th Brigade had had its HQ and 8th Hussars overrun in night leaguer, and 22nd was red uced to a single composite regiment foll owi ng ullslI ccess fu l

attempts to prevent the destruction of one of the South African in fa ntry brigades. At this point Rommel erroneously, but perhaps understandably, thought that 30 Corps was fin ished , a nd set olf east to the frontier with the Afrika Korp> to tackle 13 Corps. H ere, a lthough this example of Blil~krieg

occasio n on wh ich it foug ht as the sole armoured division in an y area. Crusader was a lso th e fastest

moving, farthest ra nging a nd most complicated battl e of the whole desert war, and despite its vicissi tud es it ended in a considerab le if tempo ra ry victory. In retrospect it is perhaps less surprisi ng that th e divisional command set-up was at times

unabl e to cope, than that the suppl y and other services did so well . Following Crusader the division was once again withdrawn to re fit , and was at the same time

radi ca ll y reorganized in to a much more balanced

unnerved Gen Cunningham to the po int where

form a ti on, not un like th e Panzer Divisions in

Auchinleck decid ed to replace him with Lt Gen Ritchie, Rommel was too late; much of the frontier had a lready fallen and the New Zealanders were well on thei r way west a long the coast as plann ed, eventua ll y recapturing Sidi R ezegh a nd linking up with the Tobruk garrison. While this was going on,

composition . The old concept of two a rmou red brigades equipped solel y with tanks, with the few guns and infantry being fo rmed into a support

the division was a ble to reorganize and coll ect new

ta nks, as well as salvaging man y from the battlefield, despite the odd brush with Ariele. As a result , when the Panzers returned to the west on 27

November in response to cries for help from the Axis troops a ro und T obru k, now themselves threatened by the New Zealande rs, 4th and 22nd Brigades with 120 tanks were able LO ca tch a

group, was abandoned in favour of two more-or- less

self-contained brigade groups. Th e armou red one retained its three regiments of tanks but had its own mOLOr infant ry battalion and a field a rtill ery regiment, to which ha lf of the divisional anti -tank regiment was usua lly attached. The second brigade consisted of three motor infantry battalions, now with lheir own anti- tank and machine guns, wi th similar arti llery supporl. The engineers, service

arms, and the light AA regiment were split up between the two brigades and the much reduced

wea kened 15th Panzer Division on its own . Once aga in, however, it had its supporting arms with it,

divisional troops, who retained the armoured ca r

including attached 88mm guns; a nd despite intervention by th e RAF it was able LO hold olfthe two brigades un til nightfa ll when, in accorda nce with long-established British desert custom , they withdrew from th e battlefield to leaguer, thus losing their best opportunity to destroy the enemy and a llowing him to link up with his troops at T obruk. In the following days the New Zealanders were eventually forced to give up Sid i R ezegh a nd the link with Tobruk was broken, whi le 30 Corps were kept to the south and prevented from com ing LO th eir aid by th e skilfu l usc of anti-tan k screens. By

from th e 'a ll tank' idea, the self-contai ned nature of

th is tim e, however, a ttrition had taken its toll , and

whereas Auchinleck still had reserves availab le, Rommel had not. H e was forced to aba ndon his rema ining frontier defences a nd pull back first to Gazala a nd fin all y to Agheila at the end of the year. Crusader was a rguably the hig h point of 7th Armoured Division's career. Never aga in was it LO command so many tanks, and this was the las t

14

regiment. Although this organization got away the two brigades led to them frequently being used separa tely rather than in mutual support, a nd the continued tendency to split the motor brigade into columns meant that the di vision was still li abl e to

find itself at a d isad vantage aga inst the better coordin ated Panzer Divisio ns.

New equ ipment was also available. Two of the Stuart squad rons in each armou red regi menl were

replaced by ones with 12 Gra nt tanks apiece. These, although slower than the Stuarts, were much more heavil y armou red and were the first in th e di vision to ou tgun the German tanks, being

fitted wi th a 75mm weapon as well as a 37mm. Th ey also proved generally reliable . Th e in crease in th e numbers of field a nd anti-tank guns was to some extent olfset by the fact th a t the new 6pdr on ly reached units in any numbers after the next battle had started, and in the meantime the field g uns still had to be used to bac k up the inadequa te 2pdrs, to


--

~

.0

th e detriment of their proper tasks. Most of the soft 10 Half-squad ron o f Gra nts on 'good goi ng', ie, Hal, hard g ravel desert. All seem to be pailllcd in light SlOne over a darker transport was now made up of Canad ian mili tary shade- probably th e US ol ive drab deli very scheme- which pattern C hevrolet a nd Ford vehicles in place of the shows around the serial nu mber and on the suspension un its. crew's steel helmets pro tect the headl igh ts; note the tripod older British designs. An increased number of The mo unt for a "gocal-machine g un stowed front left , and the large tractors a nd transporters, as well as a fu ll workshop pe trol filling funnel slowed len rcar, both typical features, as is company for each brigade in place of the previous the bracketed rai l along the top of the trackguard. A fai nt '8 ' light re pa ir and recovery sec tio ns, g reatly increased

Sqn sign (perhaps overpainted) is visib le on th e turret sid e. (Impe rial W ar Muse um )

the di vision 's ability to sa lvage and refit its own casualti es. T wo losses to th e di visio n, o ne permanent a nd

the o th er tem porary, occu rred at thi s tim e. M aj Gen 'J ock' Campbell ve, who had just ta ken over as

from Ag heila, but this time onl y as fa r as a li ne stretch ing from Gazala south to Bir H acheim. During th e spring Gen R itchi e had fortified this

divisiona l commander when 'Strafer' Gatt was

lin e as a sta rt po int for a further offensive, w ith a

promoted to comm a nd 13 Corps, was kill ed in a motor acciden t ; M aj Gen M esservy from 4th

continuous mi nefi eld belt backed by dispersed infantry brigade ' boxes' (sta tic wired -in defensive locations) . T he 1st Armoured Division was positioned behind the centre of this line and th e 7th behind the southern end. During the following month the motor brigade a nd armoured cars

Indian Di vision too k over in his place, and

I I

th

Hussars, who had been in the desert from the start, took thei r Humber armo ured cars off for a spell in Iraq , being replaced by the KDGs in th e less -well¡ armed M armo n-Herrington Mk Ills. Wh en the di vision returned to the desert in April 1942 Rommel had aga in d ri ven 8th Arm y back

operated columns round the enem y's southern Rank a nd in to his rear areas.

In the event Rommel struc k before R itchie was


read y wi th his offensive, coming round to the south Ju ly the remains of th e di vision were back at th e ofBi r H acheim a nd then swinging north and north- Ala mein position a fter a seri es of dela ying actions east with bo th Panzer Divisions and 90th Light, on near Sidi R ezegh a nd M at ruh . Tobruk had fa ll en the night of 26 M ay. Despite this move being on2 lJu ne . reported by the armo ured ca rs, the di vis ion was not This ended the second phase of the division's war warned in time to ta ke up its battle positions. Th e in the desert, which had included th e large-sca le armoured brigade was caught dispersed and on the mobile ba ttles against the Afrika Korps that are move by th e concentra ted ta nks and guns of 15th perh a ps the best-remembered feature of the whole Panzer, which made short wo rk of first 8 th Hussars campaign. AlulOugh the events of th is period read and then 3rd R T R . The motor brigade was a lso like a cha pter of disasters when treated as bri eAy as unabl e to hold its partia ll y-compl eted box east of is necessary here, it was during this year, from midBir H acheim , and the di visiona l H Q was overrun , 1941 to mid-1 942, and largely as a result of th e Gen M esservy being captured but late r escaping. effo rts of the division , that much of the 'cream ' of 30 Corps HQ, which comma nded both a rmo ured the Axis forces were d estroyed , so tha t their di visions, was also forced to pack up and move in a

effecti veness from then on was much reduced .

hurry. After this promising start th e Pa nzers Thus, a lthough 7th Armoured Division was not to continu ed to move north but were engaged by 1st play such a leading role in the victories th a t were to Armoured Division, and having suffered heavy follow, it had done much, during this period of poor losses were brought to a ha lt a nd virtually sur- equ ipm ent and unsatisfa c tory organi zation, to rounded. The Grant ta nks a nd the fi rst 6pdrs had make those victories easier. proved a nasty shock for them. The next few days were critical ; if the British could keep the Afrika Korps cut off from its supplies behind the intact Gaza la line they would win the battle. The division, in its weakened a nd d isorga- When th e di vision reached the Al amein position in nized state, was able to contribute little towards this Ju ly 1942 it was command ed by M aj Gen]. M . L. (except for the inevitable motor brigade columns) Renton, a rifl eman, and it took over the southern unti l th e end of the month , by which time Romm el end of th e rath er nebu lous defensive line. During had retri eved the situation by his tighter control th e nex t couple of months th ere were num erous and better co-ordination of all arms a nd had fa llen changes in organization as th e losses o f the retreat back onto the eastern side of the British minefi elds, were made good and the positio n was stabilized , capturing 150 Brigade box which covered th em but for most of that time the 4th, rena med 'Light' , a nd clearing suppl y ro utes through. During the Armoured Brigade consisted of a composite regi next ten da ys 8th Army made repea ted pi ecemeal ment of 4/8th Hussars a nd two a rmoured-ca r a nd un co -ordinated efforts to break into this regiments, the latter being eventua lly replaced by 'Cauldron '; these resulted in much heavier losses to the Roya l Scots Greys . As their o nl y tanks were themselves than to the Axis, who were able to beat Stuarts the y could do little more than form columns off each individua l attack with their whole re- wi th the motor brigade to watch the minefi elds. sources. By I I Jun e the Free French box at Bir Fortuna tel y the real figh ting too k place farther Hacheim had fa llen, and the Gazala line had to be north , with Cen Auchin leck now in personal aba ndoned to prevent the infantry in the northern comma nd of the a rm y. I n August, following a visit to th e desert by boxes being cut off. It was whi le a ttac king fu rth er enemy moves eastwards tha t the remaining ta nks of C hu rchill , Auchinleck was reli eved by Gen Al ex the two d ivisions were taken in rear by the Panzers a nd er as C -in-C Middle East, a nd Lt Gen Gott was from the 'Ca uldron' a nd suffered such losses tha t ap poi nted to command 8th Arm y. U nfortuna tely the initiative passed irrevocabl y to Rommel. From he was shot down a nd kill ed while fl ying to take then on the battle became a retreat. By mid-June over. This was the end of a n era as fa r as the a rm y 8th Army was down to 60 tanks g rou ped in mixed and th e di vision were concerned. The new Arm y regiments under 4th Armoured Brigade, and by I Comma nder, Lt Gen B. L. M ontgomery, was not a

Alamein and After

16


man to be overawed by the reputation of Rommel, or to be influenced by the desert ' folk-lore ' which had grown up over the years. This had spawned ad hoc formation s, with an accent o n dash, sometimes

at the expense of sound military practice; and a tendency to make hurried but ambitious plans regard less of the state of tra ining and eq uipment of the troops involved , initia lly from necessity but later almost from habit. Montgomery worked on the ass umption that the usua l principles a pplied in the desert as elsewhere, and insisted on keeping

1 I Daimler Di ngo scout car of 4lh Fi cld Sq n, R E. Combi ned di visional and uni t tacsigns can be seen on th e front plate ; a sand chann el is strapped across lh e front for usc o n 'soft going'. T he late desert camouflage scheme o f wavy¡cdged lines of a sing le dark colour (bluc.black , g reen o r brown) over light Slone o r pink is clearl y visible. ( Imperial War M useum )

subsidiary role. Wh en Rommel launched his fina l attempt to brea k through to Alexandria at the end of August they delayed his advance through th e southern mine fi elds of the Alamein line, the 6pdr guns of the motor battalion really proving their close personal control over what went all, modify- worth for the first time, before the massed ta nks of ing his plans where necessa ry to ensure that they other di visions halted the Panzers on the slopes of were within the capabi liti es of his arm y, and thus Alam-el-Halfa ridge. Between this encounter and removing the chance of defeat, even if his chances th e battl e of Al a mein in October, th e 22 nd of snatching spectacular vi ctories were reduced. He Armoured Brigade, with Grant and Crusader was fOrlunate in taking over at a time when in ta nks, rejoined th e division. The 7th M otor Brigade numbers, quality of equipment, and in air support, was replaced by 131 Quecns Brigade, which , the British had finall y achieved a lasting superiority having been pa rt of the recently arrivcd 44th Home Counties In fantry Division, was no t mo torized and over Axis forces, exhausted by previous fi ghting. In the battle of Alam ein , and its forerunner had fcwer support wea pons but morc men than a Alam-el-Halfa, 7th Armoured Division played a motor brigade. During th e battlc it was given its 17


own RASC transport a nd becam e a lo n'ied brigade, remaining with the division, like 22 nd Armoured Brigade, until the end of the war. Maj Gen J H a rding, later to becom e a Field Marshal and post-war governor of Cyprus, took over the division with the task of attacking through the enemy minefields o pposite the southern end of the Alam ein line, primarily to keep 2 1st Panzer Division tied down there while the main a ttack by the infa ntry di visions of 30 Corps went in furth er north, Gen H orrocks of 13 Corps, of whi ch the division was part, was told not to incur heavy 1'2 Mk I I 6pdr anti·tank gu n, as issued to the di visio n fro m mid-1942 j it was capable of defeating all enemy tanks at norm al fighting ranges. Like the 2pdr whi ch it replaced , the 6pd r was carried portee on the back ora lorry, in N. A frica. Later the more powerful Mk IV gun, with longer ba rrel and muzzle brake, was used by divisional infantry units un ti l th e end of the war in Europe. ( Im perial Wa r Museu m)

casualti es because his armour wo uld be needed as a reserve for 10 Corps, which contain ed the majority of the a rmo ured di visions a nd had the job of making th e fin al brea kthroug h once 30 Corps had broken into th e enemy defences, When the battle opened on the night of 23 O ctober th e di vision moved through gaps cleared in th e enemy min efield s by a specially train ed task force from 44th Divisional Reconna issance R egiment, and form ed a bridgehead 'as crowded as the car pa rk at Ch eltenham races', but was unabl e to get as far as had been hoped; it did , however, keep 21St Pa nzer in the south unti l the 28th, during a cri tical stage of the main battle, Thereafter, now without 4th Light Armoured Brigade, it moved north behind the front on 3 1 O ctober, and became part of 10 Corps ready for th e breakout planned as Operation Supercharge,

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ORD ER OF BATTLE November 1942

Divisional HQ. I

4th Lt Ann'd Bde

I 22nd Ann'd Bde

Royal Scots Greys 4/8th Hussars (both Stuart & Grant tanks) 2nd Derby Yeo. (arm'd cars) 3rd RHA ( 2 SpdI~) 1st KRRC

1st RTR Sth RTR 4th C. L.Yeo. (aU Crusader & Grant tanks) 4th & 97 th Fld Regts RA (2s pdrs) 1st Rifle Bde

I

'3'

I ( Qyems) Bde

I/Sth Queens I/6th Queens I/7th Queens (aUlorried infa ntry) S3rd Fld Regt RA (2Spdrs) 2 A/T Btys (6pdrs) I Fld Coy RE

I

Divisional troops

I I th Hussars (arm 'd cars) Isth LAA Regt RA 6Sth A/T Regt RA (6pdrs) Div. Signals 2 Fld & I Pk qns RE RA C : 7 Coys RAMC : I Fld & I L, Fld Amb. REME : In f Bde, Arm'd Bde, and

LAA Workshops RAOC : Fld Park

Altho ugh, unlike the o ther armoured di visio ns, 7th ha.d received no new ta nks, th ey had suffered less heavil y in the ba ttle a nd so took a more prominent pa rt in the pursuit tha n had been anticipa ted . On 4 N ovember, led by I I th Hussars, they fin a lly broke out to the west of the enemy positions; a ft er a shon action with th e remains o f the Ariete Division during which they destroyed six M1 3s, and a confused battl e between di visiona l HQa nd Germa n stragglers, they pushed o n to cross the Egy ptia n fronti er for th e las t time on the 9 th . A combina tion of ra instorms which bogged even the tanks inextrica bly, a nd petrol shortages, frustra ted efforts to cut off the bulk of the enemy on the coast road, a lth o ug h a tra in was shelled by 22 nd Brigade's ta nks to th e south of Bardia . The sta te of the di visio n's antiquated ta nks, many of them veterans from Ga zala, was a constant worry; but the fa ct that th ey were ad vancing, and wellsupported by the newl y formed REME, meant tha t many could be recovered a nd repa ired . In genera l the a rmo ured brigade a nd I Ith Hussars led the chase, with the Queens Brigad e moving behind a nd coming up to occupy lowns, such as T obruk, or to attack when th e tanks were held up in unfa vo urable country, as happened nea r Agheila in midDecember. The 4th Light Armo ured Brigade had

rej oined just after the division left Egy pt ; and in earl y December 8th Armoured Brigade, with the fi rs t Sherma ns to reach the di vision, tempo rarily reli eved 22 nd Brigade with its Gra nts a nd Crusad ers. A medium a rtillery regim ent of 5"sin guns was a lso a ttached at this time for a couple of months. The ad va nce progressed in fits a nd starts, oft en with th e Queens or o ne of the armoured brigades 'gro unded ' for lack of petrol while the ports of T obruk a nd then Beng hazi were hurri edl y put back into service. Casualties fro m mines and rearguard ambushes were frequent ; C en Harding was wounded by shell fire a nd had to leave th e division. Maj Gen G . W . E. J. Erskine took over a nd led it on thro ugh Tripoli a nd , in conjunction with thrusts by the New Zeala nd and Highla nd infantry di visions, into Tunisia. Here, amid increasingly rugged a nd cultivated country, a halt was made a t M edenine to a llow th e rest of th e arm y a nd supplies to catch up prior to a n assault being la unched on the heavil ydefended Ma reth line. The di vision was initia ll y somewha t out o n a limb, but was shortl y joined by 5 1st Hig hla nd Division , a nd 20 lSt Gua rds Brigade whi ch came und er comma nd . 22 nd Armoured Brigade, now with di esel-engined Sherman and 6pdr- arm ed Crusader Mk III tanks, had rejoined in place of 4th Light Armoured Brigade, which 19


13 ~\'l in e huntin g wilh electrical detectors , which ca me illlo use at the time of Alamein ; previously the usual method was to prod the grou nd with a bayonet. The NO.2 in each learn carries markers to place over the position of any mine found.

(Sharpshoolm )

weill to the New Zea la nders. It was clear that an attack was im minent, so the division took up a defensive position with the Guards and Queens Brigades in front , and the armour in reserve behi nd. Although the positions were not mined or wired th ey were well supplied with anti- ta nk g uns, even the Queens now having 6pclrs as well as a few of the old 2pdrs; thecl ivisional

a rtillery was a lso augmented b y extra fie ld and medium regiments. One aspect of the tighteningup of control at, and after, Alamein had been to in troduce high-level con trol of th e a rtillery so that regim ents su p porting ind ividua l uni ts could be q uickly co-ord inated in to an overall fi re p la n when necessary. This policy was well vindicated wh en the German armour was switched from attacks on the Am ericans (who, with the Bri tish LS t Army, had been fi gh ting in weste rn Tunisia since th ey la nded just a fter Al a m ein) to at tac k at M edeni ne on 6 M arch '943. All da y German and Italian attacks were broken up by massive artillery concentrations, sometimes by the whole divisional artillery; ma ny o f th em never even reached the British positions as a resul t, whi le those tha t did were eflectiveiy stop ped by the in fa ntry a nd d ivisiona l anti-ta nk guns. Eve n

T H E A RM OU R ED RE G I M EN T

a ) '940:

b ) '94"

RHO. HQSqn Sqns

RHO. HQSqn Sqns

c) '942-43 : RHO. HQ Sqn Sqns

d ) '944:

RHO. HQSqn Sqns

4 x Mk VIB ligh t ta nks Admin troops, A & B echelons, MO , fitters, etc. * :2 sqns with light tanks, I with cruisers. Each has HQ of 4 tanks, and 4 Troops each of 3 ta nks 4 x cruiser tanks (A 13, Crusader or Stuart ) Admi n troops, A & B echelons, MO , fi llers, etc. 3 sqns; each has HQ with :2 x cruiser and :2 x close support tanks, and 4 Troops each of3 cruisers**

4 x cruiser and 8 x ligh l A/A w nks Adm in troops, etc., and recce troop with 12 scout cars 3 sq ns ;:2 wi th Gram or Sherman, I wit h Stuan or Crusader. Each has HQ with 4 tanks and 4 Troops each with 3 tanks 4 x Cromwell, 8 x A/A tanks (latter discarded after Normand y landi ng)

Adm in troops, etc., and Recce T roop with 10 Stuans, 1:2 seoUl cars 3 sqns; each has HQ with :2 x 75 mm and :2 x 95mm Cromwells, and 4 T roops each wi th 3 x 75 mm Cromwells and I x Sherman Fire fl y or Chall enger* * *

• Unil echelons: A echelon nonnally had aboul 12 softskin transport vehicles, and B echelon up 10 100 . •• Close support tan ks were cruisers (A9, A 10, A IS or Crusader) fitted with 3in or S·7in howitzer to fire H E and smoke shell , which was nOI possible with 2pdr armament of other ta nks. 19448th H ussars sqns had 5 Troops eachorS lanks.

··· 'n

20


ORDER OF BATTLE Seplem ber 1943

Divisional HQ I

22nd Arm'd Bdt

lSI RTR } 5th RTR Shermans 4th CLY lSI RiA e Bde

I

131 ( Queens) Bdt 1/51h Queens 1/61h Queens 1/71h Quee ns (aillorried infa ntry) MG Coy (Cheshires)

Stuka attacks were driven olf by AA fire before they were a bl e to press home; over 40 enemy ta nks were destroyed , many by the Queens, for few British losses and without it being necessary to commit the armoured brigades a t a ll. A subseq uent night attack by the Guards motor brigade on 16 M a rch to clear a fea ture known as th e Horseshoe was less successful, and heavy casualties were suffered in unsuspected minefields before the attack was call ed olf. The division was not directl y involved in the next two battles a t Mareth and Wadi Aka rit, a lthough 8th Armoured Brigade and part of 22 nd went to other di visions for tha t purpose. Tiger tanks first appeared in April , and I Ith Hussars actua lly captured a disabled one. After preparing to attack Enfidaville at the end of the month the di vision was sudd enl y switched from 8th to 1st Arm y, together with 4th Indian D ivision and 201 Guards Brigade, so as to attack towa rds Tun is fro m the west. This involved a 300 -mile journey o n transporters for the tanks, which also had to be repainted green, as th e desertschemeofcamouAage was highly conspi cuo us among the oli ve groves . The attack was made from M edjez to Tunis by two infantry di visions ab reast followed by two

I

I

1

Royal Artillery 3rd RHA (25Pd,,) 51h RHA (Priest SPs) 2 Fld RegIS RA LAA R eg t RA A /T Reg t RA (17pdrs) Med Regl RA (Y5in )

Divisional troops 1 Ilh

Hussars (arm 'd

ca,,) Div Signals Fld & 1 Pk Sqns RE RAS C: 6 COl'S RAMC : 1 Fld & 1 LI Fld Amb RAOC: 3 Fld Pks REME : 4 Workshops 2

a rmoured divisions, of which one was the 7th, all under th e comm and of Gen H orrocks (now of 9 Corps), with heavy arti llery a nd a ir support. It was highly successful and a fitting example of how British methods had progressed during the campaign . Divisions from two different armies worked to a co-ord inalcd plan with intimate co-operation between tank , artillery a nd infantry units at all levels : a far cry from th e dispersed brigade groups and columns of the desert days. The attack started on 6 M ay and the l!th Hussars led the way into Tunis o n the 7th - nearl y 2,000 miles and SIX months' fi ghting from Alamein. Thus end ed the division's active service in Africa. Th e fina l phase in th e Midd le East was a brief

14 Regimental aid pOSt , the fi rst link in the cas ualt y evacuation chai n. Th e unit M edi ca l O ffi cer can be seen with stretcher-beare rs and wou nded in an open desert location. Th e ambu lance car is th e Austin K2 used by divisional Fi cld and Light Fi eld Ambulance units. In Europe armoured half-tracks and carriers were also used. ( Imperial War M useum )

21


three-month spell in Italy. During the invasion of coun tered. The sappers had to gra pple with Bailey Sicily [h e division remai ned in Africa and 2'2nd a nd tank-mounted scissors bridges for the first Lime, Brigade was fe-equipped with new Sherma n tanks

as well as ma king up inferior roads, 'w hile th e close

throughout; I Ilh H llssars reorganized on a European basis, and 5th RHA provided a self-propelled

country made even finding the enemy difficult, a nd

regiment of 'Priest' I 05mm guns to work with th e

outs. Malaria began to ta ke its toll, and even the generall y friendl y I talia ns, now on the Allied side, were not above reel ing up the di visional telephone cables for use as wash ing lines. After a fi erce fight just to the south by the Queens, the road bound

armour. On 15 September 1943 th e di vision landed in Ital y in the bay of Salerno as the follow-up division of 10 Corps, behind 46th a nd 56th Divisions. Here many new problems were en15 Lifting o ut the engine of a Stuart lank with lhe gamry of a breakdown lorry, possibly from the RAOe light repair section or the unit LAD . This task was much quicker \V"jth the aircooled Continental engine of the Stuart than with th e watercooled Libert yofthc Crusader. A Neil Robertson stretcher, for removi ng casua lties from insid e a vch icle by strapping them in a restraini ng frame of thin laths, can be seen on the side of the lank. ( Imperia l War Museum)

much ammunition was expended on likely hide-

division, covering some 50 miles on a sing le road,

reached Na ples on I O ctober. After this the country o pened

OUl

a bil a nd the armo ur was able to ta ke

th e lead , but the maize fi elds and small farms and villages kept the motor ba ttalion, 1st RB, busy. By the 5th the di vision had reached the ri ver Volturno

/

22


16 A 3i n mOrlar in acti on in h aly. MOlor battal ions received these at the time of Alamein, and [31 Brigade always had them. Firing a [olb bomb some 1 ,60oyds, they we re a welcome add it io n to the ba ttalion's fire power . In NW Europe the [31 Brigade SU PP0rl com pany had the still more powerful 4 ''2in mOrlar. ( Imperia l War M useu m)

near Capua, to find a ll the bridges blown a nd th e enem y dug in on the far ba nk. During th e follow ing week energe ti c pa trolling by th e Queens, which in volved parties swimming th e ri ver, revealed most of th e enem y positions. The main attac k was to be ma d e elsewh ere by th e in fantry di visions, bu t 7th Armoured mounted its own di version ary crossing on 12 O cto ber. The Qu eens secured a sm a ll brid geh ead in to which m achine g uns a nd a nti-ta nk guns were ferri ed, a nd behind which the sa ppers sta rted bridging th e ri ver, whil e th e a rm oured brigade fo und a ford where, by dint o f wa terproofin g their ta nks a nd mu ch use of bulldoze rs a nd inge nuity, th ey a lso crossed. After a furth er minor attack a t Mond rago ne, fa rther down the Volturno towards th e coast, the di vision was withdrawn a nd on 19 November 1943 sta rted to sail for hom e, as one of the formati ons earmarked for the Norm andy in vas ion.

Normandy During th e fi rs t six mon ths o f ' 944 mu ch reorga nization and re -equi pment took pl ace in preparati on for th e Norm and y in vas ion. Even so, 7th was not to end up as a n enti rely stand a rd armoured di vision of th e period , sin ce 22 nd Armoured Brigad e was iss ued w ith th e C rom well cruiser instead of th e Sherm an medium tank used by the o ther di visions. The C romwell was a fas t relia bl e ta nk with a du a l-purpose 75 mm g un. It did not burn as easil y as the Sh erman when hit, and it was to prove highl y successful during the more fluid phases o f th e campaign ahead; however, its gun/arm our comb ination was no match fo r th e slowe r a nd less reli a bl e G erm a n Tige rs a nd Panthers in close fi ghting, where it co uld no t use its speed. The lack of gun -powe r was to some ex tent allevia ted by th e ad d ition of a Sher ma n ' Firefl y' with a 17 pdr g un to each troop of C rom wells, a nd of two Cromwe lls armed wilh 95mm howitzers to each squ adro n headq uarters. Tn th e reconnaissance troo ps, Stu a rts ha d la rgely replaced scou t cars a nd

carri ers, but some had th eir turrets removed and '5in heavy machine guns fi tted instead, lo red uce their silhouette. The 11th Hussars, who tempora ril y left the di visio n lO become corps troops but soon retu rned in Norm andy, were now organi zed with their own a rtill ery (75 mm ha lf-trac ks) a nd infa n tr y/sap per lroops, bOlh of whi ch were to prove invaluable; the former ha d to be ' pension ed of!' before th e end of the campaign with worn-out barrels, such was the use ma d e o f th em. Th e S taghound armoured car in their HQs was no t popula r, being cumbersome a nd un abl e to reverse quickl y, and as someone put it, 'onl y good for kn ockin g down gateposts'. Th e Da imler cars in the squ adrons we re good , a nd a lso sometim es had their turrets removed , whil e th e three-m a n Humber scout cars, often equi pped with tw in Vickers 'K ' gu ns, were much liked. Another unit that rejoin ed the division as a newstyle armoured reconnaissance regiment was the 8 th Hussars, but since its equi pment of C rom wells a nd S tuarts was ide nti ca l to that of22 nd Armoured Brigade it was used as a fourth armoured regiment under di visiona l contro l, being a llocated to the armoured or th e infantry brigad e as req ui red . I ni tia ll y it ha d no Fire fl ys, bu t during th e campa ign it received instead Ch a ll engers, which a lso had I 7pdr guns. The Crusader a nd Centau r AA tan ks 23


THE ARMO a ) '94':

RHQ4 cars

RED CA R REGIMENT

HQsquadroll Admin and echelons,

Ct C

3 Squadrons each with 4 or 5 Troops of3 cars (2 Rolls & I Morris in ' 940- 2 Hum bers & I Daimler in 1943) b ) '944:

RHQ. 3 car.; (Staghounds) HQ.Squadro1/ Admin and echelons, etc 4 Squadrons each with HQ (3 Staghounds & 3 Humber scout car.;), '2 '2

I

troop of

x 75mm gun half-lracks, I SCOU l lroop in a rmoured half-lracks, and 5 Troops each of Da imler armoured ca rs a nd I Hum ber sco ul car.

ART ILL ERY REGIME NTS a ) RHA RegiInent 1941- 42:

'2

b ) Field Regintent RA:

3 Bancri es each of'2 Troops of 4 x 25 pdr

c) Light A/A Regintent:

3 Balleries each of 3 Troops of 6 x 40mm Bofor.;

d ) Anti-tank Regintent :

3 Batteries each o f 4 Troops of 4 x zpdr, 6pdr, or 17pdr gu ns ( I

Batteries each Of2 Troops of 4 or 6 x 25 pdr

ballery self-propelled in 1944- 45)

In all regim ents were found to be unnecessary owing to Allied a ir superiority, and were discarded shortly after la nding. The mOLOr infantry received armou red ha lftracks in place of th eir sectio n trucks, whil e th e Queens Brigade rema ined lorry- borne by courtesy of the RASC . Both had improved 6pdr AfT guns firing disca rding sabot a mmunition and LOwed fi rs t by Lloyd and later Windsor tracked carriers. Some considered the 6pd r a handier weapon than the more powerful but more cumbersome t7pdr in close country, where the infa ntry's PLAT, a ha ndheld close-range AfT weapon firing a hollow charge bomb, also proved use ful. In the Queens the machine-gun company of the Cheshires was replaced by a support company of th e Roya l

NOrlhumbe rl a nd Fusil ier'S with 4 02 in mortars as

well as Vickers machin e-g uns. The artillery received Sherman OP tanks, a nd reta ined one RHA regiment of towed 25pdrs, whil e the other excha nged the American 105mm PriestS for 25pdr Sextons, also sel f-propelled, LO ease ammu nition suppl y problems. The AfT regiment of Norfolk Yeoma nry had two ba lleries of SP 24

17pdrs while the other two were LOwed, first by lla lf-tracks and later by C rusaders conven ed to g un tractors. The LAA regim elll a lso had some of its Bofors mounted on trucks for mobile work . The REME now had workshops for each brigade, for the divisiona l troops, a nd for the LAA guns, as well as Centaur or Cromwell a rmoured recovery vehicles with each regiment, whil e the RE had six scissors bridges on Valentine tan ks with the armou red brigade as well as Bai ley bridging equipment. The RAMC had dental and hygiene units as well as the field a mbula nces, but th e RASe were red uced from their desen establishm ent to a mere three or four companies. "'lith improved eq uipm ent such as the No. 19 set, and shorter distances, th e di visional signa ls were to have a n easier task than in the Middl e East. The di vision sta rted lO la nd at Arromanches, to the north-east of Bayeux, in the wake of 50th (Northumbrian) Division on D + 1,7 June 1944. They formed pan of 30 Corps under Lt C en Bucknall , which was the right-ha nd corps of 2nd British Arm y commanded by Cen Dempsey. This in LOfn combined with the American 1St Army


'-t;,

THE DIVISIONAL SIGN

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ORDER OF MA l ' '~ ':hho ...

Dlvihional HQ

BATTLE

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1944~45


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furth er west to form the All ied invasion force of 2 1st Army Group und er M o ntgomery. The di vision was therefore now a fairl y sma ll cog in a fairl y big wheel, and this was not the onl y change they had to adjust to in the North-West Europe campa ig n. This was no lo nger a war of easil y defin ed battles interspersed with periods of preparation in the rear areas; it became a continuo us push over a wide front, with the emphasis shifted period ically from one area to a nother. Sometimes the di vision would be in the lead , at others it wo uld be holding the line while th e ma in effort was elsewhere, but gone were the days of leave between battles in Cairo or Alexandri a. Gone a lso was the ebb and flow of previous years; here the movement was a ll forwards, however slow. After the battles of the beachh ead during whi ch Panzer a nd infa ntry div isions were used en masse (including th e di vision 's old enemy, 2 1st Panzer) the principal opposition became small groups of tanks, or more often self-propell ed g uns; snipers

and panzerfaust teams; and small fana ti cal battlegroups. These were a change from the massed Panzer formations, the mines and the Stukas which had been the ma in problems in the desert. In a n area of field s a nd towns such as North-West Europe, where advances norma lly had to be made a long roads, such oppositio n was highl y effective, a nd as a result the ta nks often had to play second fidd le to the infa ntry within the division, being una ble to get forward un til a way had been cleared for th em. The I I th Hussars soon realized that the onl y way th at they could scout a head of the di vision was to dri ve on until the leading car was fired onoften a t point-blank range- and hope that someone survived to send back the news. Rivers were another problem ; before the campaign was over the sappers of 21st Army Group had to bui ld over 500 bridges and repair ma ny more. Th e slowness of opening up ports posed a fam ili ar headache for the d ivisional RASC, who found that ex posed centreline roads were j ust as vuln erable to par ties of by-

THE I N FA N TRY BA TTALIO N a) Motor Battalion 1940: BHQand: 4 motor compani es each orS motor platoons Or3 secti ons ( I x 15cwl lruck , 6 men, I LM G each ) and onc sco ut pl atoon of 3 secti ons (3 uni ve rsal car riers each) b) Motor Battalion 1942: B H Qand: I A fT company of 4 pl atoo ns each of 4 x 2pdr or 4 x 6pdr gu ns 3 motor co mpanies each with a mortar secti on (2 x s in mortars),

scout platoon, and

I

'2

motor platoons, I

MG platoon (4 x Vickers MMG)

c) Motor Battalion 1944: BHQand: I support company of 12 x 6pdr A fT guns and 8 x Vickers MMGs 3 motor co mpa nys each of 3 motor platoons (in armoured half-trac ks) a nd platoon (still in carriers)

I

sco ut

d) Lorried Battalion 1943- 44: BHQ and: HQcompany wi th I mortar platoon (6 x 3in mortars ) I ca rri er platoo n ( 13 ca rri ers) I A fT platoon ~8 x 2pdr, later 6pdr guns) I pionecr platoon ( 20 mcn) 4 rifl c co mpan ies each of 3 platoons of3 scctions of 10 mcn + I LMC ( I MMC pl atoo n with 4 x Vickers and I RASe tra nsport platoon with 30 x 3 ton lorri es often

attached from Brigade)


I7 Divisional HQ vehicles in Pom pei i during the drive on Naples. The box-like AEC 'Dorchesler' armoured command vehicl e (left ) was used from early in 194' until the end of the war. Di visional HQ used four or more of them as command and signals vehicles, and they were also issued to brigade HQยง from 194'2. Even Rommel used captured Dorch esters! ( Imperial War M useum )

German armour was struggling rorward in the race of murderous a ir attacks to counter-attack the

Allied bridgeheads, a n opportu ni ty occurred ror the division to work south rrom Bayeux on th e extreme west of the British sector, and then east

passed enemy as the open desert had been. On the cred it side, changes in cl uded rriendl y populations, at least until German y itselrwas reached , and hel p from the resistance;

I I

th Hussars even engaged

some as scouts on a semi-official basis. The hig hly co -ordinated air and heavy artillery support that was almost a lways quick ly available, and the continuous air cover, were welcome novelties.

T he first month arter th e landings differed rrom what was to foll ow, however, as the G ermans threw in a ll thei r reserves in the West in an effort to drive

the Allies back into the sea rrom the ideal derensive bocage country orsmal l fields, thick hedges, sunken roads a nd orcha rds, to the west or Caen. M ontgome ry's pla n was to lead the enemy to concentrate all availa ble arm our aga inst th e British

2nd Arm y, so as to give th e Americans th e cha nce to break out aga inst minima l opposition and drive

round rrom the Cherbourg Peninsular into the heart or France behind the rormations racing the coast. To achi eve this, repeated attacks had to be made in the Caen area to keep th e Pa nzers occupi ed, and the division had much stiff fi ghting ror negligible territorial gains. During the first three weeks they lost 1, 150 casualti es, mostly rrom the inrantry units (compared with about 20 a t Beda Fomm ). So close was the fighting that tan ks were actually ' boarded' at tim es, and a hurried issue or Sten gu ns to AFV crews became necessary. During this peri od two actions in w hi ch the

division took part stand ou t. On 12- 13 Jun e, as

26

towa rds high ground ncar V il lers Bocage. This enabled them to outflank th e Panzer-Lehr Division , which was racing the British positions to the north a nd preventing them rrom en larging the bri dgehead. Speed was essent.ial, as 2nd SS Panzer Division Dos Reich was com ing up rrom rurther south and wou ld shortl y close the gap. As a result the cl ivision got bad ly strung out a long th e Normandy roads, a nd it was not possibl e to rollow them up with 50th Division as pla nned. When the leading units were in a nd just beyond Villers Bocage they were suddenly attacked by Tiger ta nks, one or which , comma nded by Obersturmftihrer Mi chael Wittmann , destroyed th e bunched-up vehicles or 4th CL Y RHQ and an entire squad ron of tan ks, as well as 'A' compa ny o r I st RiAe Brigade who were with them. This action, which has perh aps become the most celebrated single tank action or a ll time, was a result or two Tiger compa ni es or 50 1 SS H eavy Tank Battalion happen ing to be in the area behind Panzer- Lehr's fl an k. Later in the day the re mai ns orthe armoured brigade a nd the Queens restored th e situation to some ex tent by holding Vill ers Bocage against 2nd SS Panzer- a nd the local fire brigade, who wou ld insist on trying to exti nguish the burning German

tanks- but the advance had been halted and the d ivision had to ra il back into a 'box' in the bocage where it rought a fi erce derensive ac tion until it could retire to the north aga in. A measure of the

degree or co -operation now common can be gauged from the fact tha t their withdrawal was covered at

relatively short notice by RAF La ncaster strategic bombers a nd fire rrom R N warships and US heavy artill ery. This was the last opportu ni ty ror mobile warfare, as more Germ an divisions moved in to seal

off th e landing areas.


By mid-Jul y in fa ntry losses had reached serious proportions throughout 2nd Arm y; the bridgehead was still very congested, a nd there were signs that th e Germa ns, who still held parts of Caen, might fee l tha t they were containing the Bri tish a nd that they could di vert some armour aga inst the A mer-

icans who were still bu ilding up for their breakout further west under Gen Patton . To rectify this si tuation M ontgomery staged Operation Goodwood, whereby 8 th Corps under Gen O 'Connor (the victor of Bed a Fomm , who had been captured in Africa a nd had subsequentl y escaped from Italy) consisting of three armoured divisions- I I th, the Guards, and 7th - was to ad vance several m iles in morc open country across the river Orne to th e south-east ofCaen to capture th e Bourg uebus ridge threatening Fa la ise. This armoured assa ult was to be preceded by a ir a nd artillery preparation of massive weight, but in cl uded no in fa ntry divisions to clear the way for the ta nks. In the event, Goodwood fai led to reach its obj ectives owing to over-estimation of the da mage air a ttac ks wo uld cause (a common error from D unkirk to V ietnam), and the fact that the Germ an defences extend ed much farther back th an had been a nticipated. Th e two leading arm oured divisions were severely

N O R T H

ma uled ; 7th was following up read y to exploit a breakth rough and so suffered rela ti vely lightly. In fact the main recollection of many who took part was th e nightmare journ ey by the whole di vision from the wes t of Caen and across a single bridge over the Orne under enemy observation in to a conges ted forming-up area alread y occupied by the two oth er di visions. D espite its cost, the attack did achieve M ontgomery's primary obj ective of keeping up the pressure in the a rea so th at the enemy were unabl e to release armour from it. Du ring the rest ofJul y th e d ivision made further lim ited a ttac ks east of the Orne, and when the Ameri ca ns fin ally bro ke out a t the beginning of Aug ust 30 Corps, to which the division had returned , was ra pidly switched back to the western end of the Bri tish area for fur ther attacks south wards from the Villers Bocage area. Slow progress was made during th e first week in August, but then an ill-ad vised Germa n counter-attack to th e west was defeated and the Americans reall y got moving, swinging ro und south ofFa la ise a nd catchi ng many o f the remaining enemy units in the 'pocket'

between them and the Canad ians and other British troops coming south from Caen . After ta king part in this fin a l push from the no rth , the division was

SEA

BERLl N@

Cologne

'.

100, mile<


too wea k in infantry to continue and was reli eved in

the line. The 4th CL Y had al ready left after Goodwood to amalgamate with their sister regiment , 3rd CL Y, elsewhere, a nd their place had been taken by 5th Royal l nniskilling Dragoon G uards, hurriedly converted to a Cromwell regim ent for the purpose. At this stage in the campaig n the GOC, Genera l Erskine, was relieved by M aj Gen G. L. Verney.

France and the Low Countries With the trapping of some 50,000 German troops in th e Fala ise pocket in mid-August th e enemy's efforts to contain the in vasion in Norma ndy were over, and the British as well as the Am erica ns were able to brea k out of th e constri cting bocage. The British and Canadian task was to move cast and north to capture th e 'V -weapon' sites fro m whi ch

28

London was being bomba rded, a nd the majo r ports, in particu la r Antwerp, which the Alli es wou ld need to support thei r ultimate drive into German y. 'T'he division first adva nced east to th e Seine through more open country, but was impeded by several minor rivers a nd determined rearguards. The I I th Hussars th erefore led on a wide front to find un blown bridges a nd unblocked roads, wi th the infantry brigade 'two up', and with each battalion supported by a squadron of 8th Hussars, behind them ; the a rmoured brigade brought up the rear. After some fi erce fi ghting round Lisieux , which also involved 51St Highland Division, a ga p was found , and the armou red brigad e sw ung into th e lead , reaching the Seine on th e 31St. Pa ris had a lready fallen to the America ns [8 Sherman tank in Italy; this vehicle has the rubber block tracks sim il ar to those used o n Gra nts and Stua rLS , which were latcr rcplaced by all¡mc tal assem bli es. It appcars to be paillled in th e standard light mud/ bl ue¡black camou flage sc hemc , and has an 'A' Sqn triangle and a rcd/ white/ red recognition fl ash on th e lUrrCl. Note the No. [9 set acrial , th inner tha n tha t oCthe NO.9 sc t sce n in previous illustrations. (Sharpshoo tcrs)


19 No. 19 rad io set, complete with covcr and and protcctivc cage, in turret of a Sherman tank . Im rod uccd shortly before Alamcin, th is sct bccame standa rd for tan ks and othcr vchiclcs; it provcd reliable, aftcr some initial problems due to high temperature. (Sharpshooters)

and Free French on 25 August. From here on, the armoured divisions were to lead with the in fantry com ing up to consolidate or subdue areas o f stiff' resista nce. 7th Armoured was directed on Ghent as pa rt of 12 Corps und er Lt Gen Ritchi e (erstwhile comma nder ofSth Arm y in the desert), wi th the Ca nadians moving along the coast on their left a nd 11th Armoured on their right going for Antwerp. Now th e adva nce rea ll y got going. The Cromwells proved ideal , being highl y rel iabl e and capa bl e of continuous high-speed running, even keeping up with wheeled transpo rt on the roads with no trouble. The Som me was crossed north of Amiens on 1 September. After the division met resista nce among the coalmin es and ca nals north of Lill e o n the 4th, permission was given to by-pass this area to the south , and it reached G hent o n the following day. After haggles with th e German garrison command er, who refused to surrender to any lesser person tha n a genera l, a nd who saw thro ugh the efforts of th e colonel of 5 th RTR to impersonate one, th e town was entered a nd th e I nniskill ings found themselves with a comple te horsed cavalry regiment, among other prisoners. The 11th Hussars had cap tured several 'V-bomb' sites during the advance. The di vision had advanced '2'20 miles in a \veek, cap turing over 1,000 prisoners for the loss of less than 100 men (compared with 1,300 casua lti es duri¡ng their tim e in the bocage). Such was th e speed of advance that rnaps ran ou t and wireless contact was lost with Corps HQ Though they increased th e spare petrol at the expense of am munition, a nd grounded units such as the LAA regim ent, the las t 70 miles into Ghent could on ly be mad e by a composite grou p of units from both brigad es while the re ma inder of the di vision sta yed ncar Lill e. T he di visiona l RASC now had a formidable task as su p pl y lines still stretched from the Normandy beaches a nd the ever-lengthening centre line was often tempora ril y cu t. REME was able to move up only its recovery units, not its workshops, and the evacua tio n of the wounded began to cause problems. The leading troops had

received ecstati c welcomes from the local popul a tio ns, o ften ex pressed with Ao we rs and - less com forta bl y- fruit and vegetables thrown onto the passing ve hicles. At this stage man y of the unit histories also mention passing baltl efields where their regiments had fought before, from Oudenarde in the da ys of 1arlborough to the Escaut Ca na l in 1940 . There was a pause a t Ghent. Th e armoured brigade was down to a bou t two thirds of its proper ta nk strength and the Queens were as low as half strength ; a lso, th e bu lk of the d ivision had to ca tch up, a nd there was a threat of a n attack by th e rema ins of the German 15th Arm y wh ich was c ut 0[[, no rth o f the Scheidt. I n the face of this the sa ppers had to switch hurried ly from repa iring bridges to blowing them up! In th e event no attack was made and after a week the di vision was able to go forward aga in when the Ca nad ia n infantry came up a nd reli eved them. The motor batta lion had helped a ll evia te its shortage of men by enlisting loca l Belgia ns, a nd had increased its firepower by fitting Browning machine gu ns to some of its earners. The nex t step was Opera tion Market Cardell, which includ ed the a irborne la nding a t Arnhem. For this, 12 Corps- o f which the di vision was still pa rt- moved into H oll and with th e tas k of guarding th e western side of the corridor that 30 Corps, led by th e Guards Armou red , was to crea te in order to link up with th e a irborn e troops, wh ile S Corps with 11th Armoured protected it from th e cast. The country was unsuitable for armo ur, with fl at marshy polder a nd d ykes, the poor roads usually being exposed on top of ba nks. During this period, the second ha lf of September 1944, infantry 29


Sappers launch ing a Bai ley bridge in Italy. Th is invention, together with the armoured scissors bridge which was also used by the divisiona l R E, proved inva luable in N \ V Europe, where most of the bridges over the numerous rivers and ca nals had been blown. (Imperial War ~"I useum )

20

shortage within the di vision reached the point where ta nk crews had lO ac t as foot soldiers to help hold the line against the va rious a llacks, usua ll y by batta lion-sized baulegroups of paratroops, such as Gruppe Hubner and Gruppe Hardegg, which were renown ed for th eir fanatic ism. After the remains o f the British airborn e division had been pull ed out on 25- 26 September the 7th Armoured pushed on to the M aas. Although Antwe rp had been ta ken, it could not be used as the enemy still held the ba nks o f the ScheIdt estua ry below it ; 12 Corps was there fore swung wes t in to Bra bant lO clear the northern shore. I n fi erce fighting the Queens a nd Sth Hussars, assisted by minesweeping Aail ta nks a nd Aamethrowing Ch urchill Crocodiles, eliminated the various stro ng points in the a rea. Fo llowing this, the di vision had its fi rst real rest since landing in Normandy while

30

keeping a sta tic wa tch on the Maas, as forces and supplies were b uilt up fo r th e crossing of the Rhine in to Germany further easl. Even this period was interrupted by the need to capture ule lock ga tes at Panheel on 14 Novem ber before the enemy could destroy th em and j eopa rd ize the ponlOon bridges that were being used to cross a canal lower down. Although onl y a m inor operation by a ba tta lion of the Queens and a squadron o f Sth H ussa rs, it met with heavier artillery fire than had been encountered since Normand y; heavy casualties were suffered , and it was onl y due to th e initiati ve o f a platoon command er, recently transferred from the REME and in ac tion for the first tim e, that success was achieved. The problem of rein forcement was now so grave th at corps and anti-aircra ft troops were being increasingly retrained as in fa ntry; even so, one in fa ntry di vision, the 50th , had lo be disbanded. Following this, the much reduced ' 16th and ' 17th Queens d epa rted from 7th Armoured, leaving onl y ' 15th Queens in ' 3 1 Brigad e. Their places were ta ken by 2nd Devons a nd 9th Durham Light


ORDER OF BATTL E November '944

I

22nd Aml'd Bde

1st R TR } Cromwells 5th RTR & Sherman 5th DGs FireAies 1st RiAe Bde

Divisiollal HQ I I I Royal Artillery /3/ ( Queens) Ede 3rd RHA (25Pdrs) 1/5th Queens 5th RHA (Sexton SPs) 9th Durham L. I. A /T Regt (SP & LOwed 2nd Devons Support Coy (RNFus, 17pdrs) LAA Regt (SP & LOwed MMGs & 4¡2in Bofors) mortars )

In fantry from 50th Division , while Maj Gen Lyne, also from th e NOrl humbri an d ivision, relieved Gen Vern ey in command of the d ivision. The division was not in volved in repelling the Germa n Ardennes offensive in mid-December, but those at home were p erha ps remind ed of its existence on Christmas D ay, when a corporal o f the Queens was interviewed on the rad io immediatel y before the king delivered his C hristmas message. The year of 1944 ended wi th 7th A rmoured still on

I

Divisional troops II

th Hussars (arm'd

cars) 8th Hussars (Reece

regt) Di v Signals

RE : 3 Sqns RASC: 4 Coys RAM C: 2 Ambs RAOC: 3 Parks REM E: 4 Workshops

th e M aas in murderously cold weather which froze lank trac ks solid inLO th e mud , caused several cases

of frostbite, and immobi lized a patrol of I I th H ussars, with froz en weapons and veh icles ea rl y on Boxing Day. 2 1 Bedford QLT 3-ton troop ca rrier, which replaced (he general service 3-lOn ner as a IOfried infantry veh icl e in NW Europe. This vchicle is finished in the standard softskin European camou Aage of kha ki overpa illled with black 'Mickey Mouse cars' (Conniford)

31


22 Sca mmell SV /2S, th e stand ard hcavy recovery traclOr used in the dcscn and N W Euro pe. In N. Africa they werc attached to unit LAOs as well as RAO e 01' REME workshop and rccovc ry uni ts, but by 1944 th ey had been repl aced for from¡ lin c work by tanks convencd into armoured recovery vehi cles. (Co nni ford )

Into Germany In mid-J a nuary 1945 advantage was taken of the freezing weath er for Corps to launch Operation Blackcock to ca pture a pocket of marshy g ro und north of Aachen. Though the division had to use a single one-way road, a nd had to cope with hazards such as smoke screens freezing to form fog, it operated most successfull y under th ese conditions; 13 1 Brigade was provided with ' K angaroo' troop carriers (tanks with the turrets removed ) for th e first tim e, and th e tanks co-operated well with a Commando brigade. Much fi erce fi ghting was involved , including th e capture of the village of St J oost from the notorious Parachute R egim ent Hubner. Training and preparation for Opera tion Plunder- th e crossing of th e Rhine, and in the case ofthe division the advance to H am burg- started in late February. Extra supp lies were to be carri ed on tanks and no vehi cle recovery was to be attempted beyond the river, althoug h a rrangements were made to pick up stra nded crews. Twent y-five brand new tanks were received from Engla nd , and Churchill scissors bridges, Sherma n flail s, K a ngaroos for the infa ntry, and flam ethrowing Crocodiles were all allocated to th e division , which now a lso had an a ir artillery observa tion squadro n. The actual crossing took place on '7 March following infantry assaults by other divisions and an airborne land ing on the other side; 7th was the first British armoured division across th e Rhine and , during th e following week, adva nced to the Ems with th e a rmoured brigade leading. Resistance was continuous but came from small un co-ord inated groups; the in habitants were natura lly hosti le, but subdu ed. The country was wooded and an ex tra infantry brigade, 155 th , was attached to guard the division's open left flank. By this time the end was in sight a nd command ers threw away their maps, as they ran o ff them , confid ent tha t th ey would not need th em

I'

3'

agam to withdraw. A brief check occurred at Ibbe nburen , north of H anover, wh ere exceptionall y stubborn resistance by staff and train ees of a Wehrmachl offi cer training school proved troublesome, but the divisio n side-stepped a nd left th em to 53rd I nfa ntry Division , who were following up. Another ha lt occurred at th e Weser a nd th e divisio n was diverted to the north to help round LIp 1st German Parachute Arm y, but Bremen itself proved too well defended to be taken by a n armoured division , so once aga in it was by-passed and left for th e in fantry ; this time, 3rd Di vision. I t was a period of stubborn fi ghting for every village; o n one occasion 8th Hussars were surprised and attacked in leaguer at night, and in cidents occurred of ambushes being sprung und er cover of the white fl ag, but progress continu ed. On 16 April 8th Hussars liberated two large prisoner-of-war ca mps at Fa llingbostel; one of th ese had a lready been taken over by the inmates, and had British sentries in pressed battledress and clean webbing on th e ga tes, a nd a pa ratroop RSM very much in comm and! The final actions lOok place south and west of H amburg, rounding up groups of police, SS, paratroops, marines and even redundant submarin e crews, fig hting in th e heath lands of th at region. Th e Rifle Brigad e made good use of their newl y- issued carri er-borne Was p fl amethrowers. Th ey also ca ptured a large number of G erman 'vVrens' in Bux tehud e, with no casualties except th e RSM's foot, on which o ne formidabl e frauleill dropped a heavy object. On '9 April 1945 surrender negoti a ti ons for


Hamburg commenced , and on the a fternoon of 3 May units ofthe di visions drove unopposed into th e shattered city. Fittingly, perhaps, one of the first vehicles to enter th e ma in square, where the commandant and o ther dignitaries wa ited in full

dress to surrender, was the scout car of the CO of 11th H ussars; that officer, who was very info rm ally dressed a nd not a whit impressed by the reception committee, stopped to feed the pigeons with a rm y biscuits. So ended six years of war fo r 7th Armoured Divisio n .

It has not been possibl e to mention a ll th e ma ny un its tha t served in th e di visio n during that lim e,

nor a ll the higher form a tions to which it was attached , let a lone a ll th e individua ls involved , but it is hoped that this very brief account will have given some idea of how th e British armoured

di vision came to be form ed , a nd how it developed both in equipment a nd organization during the 2nd World Wa r. It was ind eed a fa r cry from the ' Immobile Farce' of 1935, or th e over-a rmoured and under-supported forma tion of the ea rl y wa r years, to th e fl exible well-ba la nced mixture of a ll arms, ca pa ble of ad vancing or side-stepping as necessary, and swinging either armour or in fa ntry into the va n, whi ch entered Hamburg in 1945.

The Plates A The Division Sign Th ejerboa was added to the pla in whi te disc earl y in 1940, by Gen Creagh ; th e exact date is uncerta in, but some vehicles arc kn own to have

reta ined the earl y form a fter the outbreak of war with Italy. The j erboa on a pl ain white square was used in N W Europe a longside the earlier type featuring thejerboa o n a white disc on a red square. The brownish anima l on th e la te shoulder fl as h caused queries as to whether d ivisiona l troops in

NW Europe were Austra lia ns! Order of Battle, unit vehicle signs and cap badges, May 1942 At this time the di vision was organized into sel fconta ined brigade groups a nd two of the di visiona l AT regiment batteries were integra ted into th e RHA regim ents a nd used their signs. Detachments of RE, LAA a nd oth er services were a lso allac hed perma nentl y to brigades. Brigade workshops would a lso have had brigade colo urs behind the numbers '23 Sexton scl r-propcllcd 25 pd r gu ns in action in NW Europe, 1944; note Allied recogn itio n stars. Th is weapon, based on the Ame rican M 3 chassis, eq uipped 5th Roya l Horse Arti llery, who norma ll y supported the armoured brigade; 3rd RH A, who norma ll y worked wilh the infanlry brigade, kept towed 25 Pdrs. (Gander)

33


24 Achilles M I 0 self-pro pell ed I 7pdr anti-tank g uns follow a laped 'safe' lane in the bocage of Normandy. At least onc battery of the divisional AfT regiment in NW Europe was selfpropelled to work with thc armoured brigade; the remainder supported the infantry with towed 17 Pdrs. ( Imperial War Museum )

on their signs when operating wi th the brigad es independen tl y, rather th an under d ivisional control. I n late ' 942 a ll a rtill ery reverted to d ivisiona l cont rol so th at th e CR A could co-ordinate its efforts, although still often attached to su p port th e brigad es. On the fo rm a ti on of R E M E before Al a m ein , a ll wo rk shop u n its ad o pted bl ue/yellow/ red hori zo n tall y-st ri ped signs a nd came under d ivisio na l CREM E cont rol, whil e the remaining RAO C units had ve rticall y-stri ped bl ue/red /bl ue signs. U nit tactical signs were supposed to be com bin ed wi th the d ivisiona l sign on the reverse of th e PASS plate (8tin squa re, mounted on nearside of so ft skin ve hicles, used to in d ica te vehicle ou t o f ac tion) b ut were o ften pai n ted on opposite sid es of fron t a nd rear, on mudg uards, sandshields, etc. Brigade and arm of service colour plates remained more or less constant throughou t th e war, but unit num bering systems cha nged , o ffi cially, at least fou r ti mes; th a t shown here was in fo rce, with minor alterations, from m id - '94' to earl y '943 . Style va ried from u nit to unit or even from crew to crew. Division and un it 34

signs were often omi tted in the desert, particul arl y on AFYs, bu t were a lways used in NW E u ro pe where tra ffi c control made them more necessary . Cap badges were me ta l a t this period; later in the war, those of O th er R a n ks were mad e of coloured plas tic simul ating silver, brass and bronze fi nishes.

B Egyptian Frontier,

1940

I t is su mm er on the coastal plain; escarpments lead u p to the inla nd pla teau in the background. The AFYs are in earl y straight-edged ca mouA age patterns of two contrasting colours over light stone; o ffi cial va ria tions included black a nd green (mid' 940) a nd si lver-grey with sla te (November '940), bu t other colours were used at comm anders' d iscretion. F ro m left to rig ht:

Rolls-Royce 1924 Pattern Armoured Car, 11th Hussars A rmed with a Bren g un on an AA mounting, a Boys anti-tank rifle, and a smoke-bomb projector, the car carri es no rad io and no markings except the vehicl e serial nu mber. D esert eq ui pment incl udes radiator cond enser, sand chann els, sun com pass, and cut-down petrol tin as 'brew can'. Crew wear brown, crimson-band ed 1 1 th Hussar berets w itho ut badges; the stand ing warrant o ffi cer wears his ra nk badge on a leather wrist stra p . Pistols were seldom worn ; when they were, then wa istbelt hols[ers were at least as common as th e Royal


Armoured Corps pattern with leg strap shown here. Lance-Corporal, King's Royal Rifle Corps Summer combat dress, wi th bl eached ' 937 partial webbi ng se t ; respirators, packs and picks a nd shovels in li eu of entrenching tools were no rma ll y carri ed in seClion trucks. The shorts a re 'taken up' a few inches from length as issued; note black Rifle ran k chevron on sleeve. The weapon is the SMLE No. , Mk III rifle with ,8in ba yonet- termed 'sword' in Rifl e regim ents. Lieutenanl, King's Royal Rifle Corps Other R anks wore khaki fi eld-service (sid e) caps with regi mental badge on the left ; officers often wore No. , Dress caps in rifl e-green with black bUllons, a nd a silver bugle-horn badge on a small raised red boss, as here. R emovable shoulder-straps on the kha ki shirt bear black meta l or woven rank pips and ' KRRC'; the slacks a nd rubber-soled suede desert boots are private-purchase items. The equ ipment is the officer's '937 we bbing set with holstered NO.2 Mk I Webley revolver, am munition pouch, compass pouch and binocular pouch ; an officer's small pack , slimmer than the OR's type, ha ngs on the hip. Private, Royal Amry Service Corps Wolsley pattern sun helmet with RAS C puggri flash (genera ll y removed on the outbreak of war for securit y reasons) . Bl ancoed skeleton webbing with small '907 pouches, , 8in bayonet sca bbard , 'Bombay bloomers' buttoned up and worn as shorts, and full- length puttees were all common in earl y '940 but, except in rear areas, the helmet and puttees had generally d isappea red by the following year. Vickers M k VIB Light Tank, lsi RTR Armed with ·5 in a nd ·303in Vickers water-cooled

wid ely in '940 but seem to have been replaced by khaki denim overalls later ; shirt, shorts or slacks were a lso wo rn in summer and partial or complete battledress in winter. Background: Morris CS II /30 30cwt truck Pl a in light stone fini sh with Egyptian civil ia n-type number plates, typical of types used in '940 by unit echelons, etc. Foreground: Discarded 4gal ' flim sy' petrol tins had many uses; pierced , a nd placed over a hurricane lamp, they made night signs. This, and the cut-out metal day sign point to divisional main HQ The triangle on the partly buried telephone line indi cates an infantry battalion line. C Suppo rt Group, Sidi R ezegh, N ovelllber 1941 The desert was both cold and wet at tim es, particularly at night, a lthough usua lly warm and dusty la ter in the day. In some areas, rock below the surface prevented anything but shallow weapon pits being dug; a lternati ves were 'sangars' wi th walls of rocks or sandbags, but these were da ngerously more consp icuous. From left to righ t: 25pdr Mk 11 with No. 27 Artillery Trailer (limber) , 1st Field Regiment, Royal Arlillery As with a ll guns used in the desert, this is without muzzle brake a nd counterweigh t; it also lacks, at this date, a direct fire sight- tanks were engaged using the di a l sight until, 942. Yellow shells piled on the pit are HE ; black shells held by the detachment are AP shot. Detachment members' warm clothing includ es woollen cap comforters, balaclavas, greatcoats, leather jerkin, battleclress blouses, a nd even rubber Wellington boots. Kneeling figure at limber

machine-guns in comb ined mo unting, with two

smoke-bomb projectors. Th e spotlight a nd AA mounting for the ·303 in gun on the sides of the cupola were rarely seen a fter the first cam pa ign. Penno ns were positioned o n the NO.9 set ae rial in accordance with a recognition code. Separate unit tactical sign and divisional sign were normal at this date. Bl ack tan k corps overa lls were still worn quite 25 A 40mm Bofors light anli-aircraft gu n, winter 1944; this was the standard light A/A gu n throughout th e war. Earli er models used in the desen lacked the shield and the sight correc ting gear shown here . In NW Europe so me SP Bofors mounted on lorry chassis were also used. (Imperial War Muse um )

35


26 Dese rt Rat in N \'" Europ e ~ but not 7th Armo ured Divisio n. Th ese vehicles bearing the black jerboa with its tail over its head are from 4 th Armoured Brigade, which retained the old sign on leaving the division in Africa. The Hum ber scout car and M3 half-track are, however, typical of vehicles used in the division: the former by I Ith Hussars and HQ§, and the lattcr by thc R iAc Brigade mOtor compan ics, R E, RAMC , and other services. (Sharpshooters)

has RA fl ash on sleeve, but o thers wear clothing as issued , wilho ut insigni a. RA cannon insignia

appears above chevrons of sta nding sergeant in field serVIce cap.

Brigadier 'J ock' Campbell, vc Dressed in a leather golfing jacket a nd corduroy slacks, Camp bell wears no insig nia apa rt from his hat wilh rank distinctions. His staff car is a cu ldown Ford station wagon, a ty pe wid ely used by senior officers in lh e desert . Signs on il include a bridging circle, combined di visional and Support Gro up HQ tactical signs, and the veh icl e serial number. There are racks of 2ga l water tins and a radiator condenser, made from an empty one. The windshi eld is smeared with grease a nd coated with sand , apart from a small area, to ki ll refl ections. Bren LMC team, 2nd Bn Rifle Brigade No . I has his helm et covered in sandbag hessian; he has a tape and cotton bandoli er of'303 amm unition

36

clips over his shoulder, and is loading a Bren magazine by ha nd. Note chevron in regimental blac k on green, and black shoulder title. No .2 has a n issue j ersey over khaki drill shirt and slacks, and is using his comforter as a scarf. Equipment around the pit includ es a No. 36 hand grenade (red crosses on green ba nd indicate a fu sed grenade read y for use) , pouches of Bren magazines, and a captured German MP. 38. U nl ike German rifl e platoons and British divisiona l infan try, with their Thompson guns, British motor infantry had no sub-machine g un issued to sectio ns. Background : infantry support weapons Boys ¡ssin anti -tank rifle, one of whi ch was carried in each section tru ck and carrier; and 2in mortar, a platoon HQ weapon capable of firing smoke or H E bom bs up to soo yards. In th e foreground , discarded evidence of the British soldier's staple ration- a bu ll y beef tin. D North-West Europe, winter 1944 A road junction somewhere in H olland. From left to right: Private, 131 ( ~ueens) Brigade, Lorried IIIJantry Th e new steel helm et was now in use a longside the old type. Service issue steel-rimm ed spectacl es were designed to be wearabl e under a respirator. T he


No. 4 Mk I rifle with short spike bayo net was standard issue by this date, as was the entrench ing tool slung in a wall et on th e back of the belt. Th e camouflaged windproof smock, origina ll y issued for Norwegian operatio ns is wo rn here ove r both battledress and the sleeveless leather jerkin. REME Officer, InniskiLlings LAD, on BSA B30 Motorcycle Congested European roads bro ught mo torcycles back in to favo ur : in the desert, jeeps or pick-ups were preferred. Th is officer wears the black RAC beret with REME cap badge, and semi-uniform rai ncoat. Note tactical sign on fuel tank of BSA. Cromwell Tank, 8th Hussars O vera ll kha ki with no add itional pai nted camouflage; chi cken wire and hessian scrim on tu rret onl y, to obscure distinctive turret sha pe above walls a nd hedges. Combin ed di visiona l and reconnaissance regiment tactica l sig ns, th e latter a white '45' on a horizontally-striped blue-overgreen patch. Tank name partly visibl e on turret

sid e. Commander wears black beret, and radio operato r the riml ess RAC helm et introduced in 1943. Aeri al pennons were not used in Italy or N W Eu rope except by some higher H Qs. T ank armament, 75mm main g un and two '303in BESA machine-guns. Lance-Corporal, Divisional Provost CompatI)' Motorcycl ists' helmet, boots a nd breeches; battledress wi th meda l ribbons and di visional sho ulder flash ; red on black MP brassard on right arm, a nd traffic control sleeves; white webbing. MPs on lonely traffic control points were often attacked by enemy stragglers, hence the Sten gun and spare

27 Challenger tank armed wilh 17pdrgun in a high turret on a modified Cromwell chassis. Th e lan k shown is ma rked as oncof 'A' Sqn of th e armoured recce regiment of 11 th Armoured Di vision , but , apart from th e d ivisional sig n, is identical to those used by 8th Hussars in 7th Armoured Division. Note the remova l of the bow machi ne-gun during modification , also a fcalUfc of tile Sherman Firefly, th e 17pdr gun lank of lhe o th er regimenlS in the divisio n. ( Imperial War Museum )

37


28 \'Vindsor ca rriers of the ami-tan k platoon of 1/5t h Queens towing 6pdr guns in Germany. Timber baulks lashed 10 the from seem to have been a com mon feature of carriers in Euro pe. Note mixture of old and new steel helmets, and the facl th al mOS t of th e crew wear the RA e win ter lank sui t. The Windsor was an elongated and more powerfu l version of the uni versal ca rri er. (Im perial War Museum)

magazin e in boot top, as well as the revolver.

Reece Troop Stuart /vI k V, 8th Hussars More heavil y camouflaged than the g un tank, this recce vehicle, known as a 'J alopy' or 'Sawn-Off"" has had the turret removed, and a '5in machine-

gun fitted , to reduce the silhouette. Officer, 8th Hussars H e wears the green, gold -l aced ' tent hat' peculia r to this regiment. The winter tank suit- 'pixie' or

'ZOOt' sui t- was issued to all ranks. I t had a bla nket lining and two neck-to-ankle zipped openings, a nd by ma nipula tio n of the zips could be converted into a sleeping bag. J eep, Divisional RE Field Park Squadron J eeps had been used in th e division since 1942, a nd had g radually replaced pick-ups and 8cwts for officers' runabouts, despatch riders) etc. The driver wears the general service cap, wh ich had now

replaced the fi eld-service cap as standard Other Ranks' headgear ; the badge is plasti c. The major

38

wears the soft kha ki peaked cap, with leather strap a nd metal badge, of the commissioned ranks, a nd the semi-offi cial 'British Warm ' coat.

E Camouflage and Markings Official camo uflage schemes vari ed frequentl y, and many uno ffi cia l ones were used; some of th e most common a re illustra ted on this and preced ing pla tes. All the com mo nly used types of vehicl e sign a re a lso shown ; method and position of application va ried with units. Most sig ns were used by all vehicles to which they a pplied in lW Europe, with th e exception of some armoured cars. In th e desert they were often omitted , a lthough squad ron a nd a ir recognition sig ns seem to have been commoner lhan either di visiona l or uni t sig ns. I AI 3 C ruiser, 1941 , of3 Troop, 'A' Squadron, senior regiment in brigade. Light ston e with single colour overpainted in semi-slra ight-edged scheme, used before wavy -edged schemes became stand ard . 2 Bridging circles, 5in fig ures on front offsid e of vehi cles: 2A Hollow type sometimes a pplied to avoid breaking camouflage pattern . 2B ormal type. 3 Pri est 105 mm SP gun, 5th RHA , I taly 1943. Light mud colour overpai nted with black wavy -


edged sch eme. Note white undersurface of g un ; in th e Middle East und ersides a nd sh adow areas were ofte n w hi te at this time . 4 Aerial pennons, 9in x ' 3in: -tA CO , th ird regt. III senio r o r o nl y a rmoured brigad e. -tB ' A' Sqn CO in second senior regt. 4C 2 Troop ta nk, junior regt. Some units fl ew pennons in regim enta l colours instead of those indi ca ting brigade or seniority. 5 Squadron/compan y signs, painted on turret sides a nd rear and som etimes front of AFVs, and cab doors of softskin tra nsport . Colour indica tes regiment by seniority; a rmoured cars used white. 5A 16in x 12in ; second-ill -comm a nd HQ Sqn , se nior regt. sB 9in sides; 3 Troop, ' A' Sqn , second regt. 5C ' 211l square; HQ, 'B' Sqn , junior regt. 5D 6in rad ius ; CO , ' C ' Coy, a rmoured brigad e motor batta li on. 6 Daim ler Dingo Scout Car, used '940-45; plain ' Portland stone' colour, as were many desert vehicl es. M ed ica l officer's runabo ut in a rm oured

regt ; unit a nd di visiona l signs o bscured by sand cha nnel. 7 Air recognition signs, on truck bonn ets or tilts, AFV turre ts or engin e d ecks, as la rge as possibl e: ' 94' , ro und ed ge o f turre t top. ' 942. Late ' 942- mid-'943, show n on pink a nd green sch eme used on AFVs around tim e of Ala mein. ,D ' 943 onwards. 8 Ground recognition signs : 8A Tun isia a nd Ita ly. 8B Desert, ' 94 '. 9 75 mm ha lf- track, ,nh Hussa rs, ' 944, in kha ki and black N W Europe scheme. 10 Vehicle names, ofte n not a ppli ed: lOA 1St R TR, ' 940. lOB 3rd CLY, '942. II Vehi cle serial number styles: IIA T a nk in desert. liB Ambulance, NW Euro pe. 12 D a imler Mk I Armoured Car, "th Hussars, winter '944- 45. Plai n kha ki overpa inted whi te in snow. Liul ejohn ada pter on 2pdr gun a nd Vickers ' K ' gun o n turret pintl e were standard a llhis tim e.

,A

,B

,C

Legendes I tJiliversaJ carrier d 'un balail1OI1 motorise avec prisonnicrs ilaliclIs, '940 ; I'armcmcnt comprcnd un fusil Bo)'ll anti-tank, <':1 UIlC mitrailleusc Brcn , sous les couvcrtures da ns cen e photo, avec mOntage anti-aCrien. 11: Canon anti-tank Bofon 37 mm - ce n'etai ! pasd'anne reglemcntairedc l'Arm&! Britanniquc, mais la division fut forc~ de Ie r6quisitionner en 1940. 3 Un char Crus.1der Mk II d ' A Squadron 4 Troop, County of London Yeoma nry. Une vue typique d'un Ct]uipage de char, a une periode calme, et de leur char encombrC. 4 Lcs chaNi Stuart et Crusader Mk I, fin 1941 , dans Ie deserl ; ils sonl pcints en beige pale, sans camouflage ni enblCmcs. 5 I..cs chars ella camions se disjoignent de I'ordrc serre adople chaque nui l. Observez Ics chars Crusader el Granl , eelui-lit. avec I'emblcme lriangulaire d'A Squadron el Ics mots 'Avanti ! Avant i !' - cri de guerre italien. 6 Un cll111ion Fordson 15 cwt scrvait a tra nsporter chaq ue groupe d 'une seclion d'i nfa nterie mOlorisee. 7 Un cam ion Chevrolel 310n , servait it transporter ulle sect ion enticre de la brigade inf.1.nterie-camion et accomplit beaucoup d' autres taches de transportation. 8 Transl)()rteu r de chaNi \VhiteRu xlall 181On, rem place plus lard par Ie transporteur articulC, Scammell. 9 Automobile blindee H umber Mk III dans cette vue t)'piquede desert observez ['auto tout couvene d 'cfrels, attaches partoul CI Ie nom ·Clara' sur la lOurelle. 10 ChaNi Grant sur la plainedescne; Ic char Ie plus prochc porte I'emblcmea ca rredc ' B' Squadron sur la tourelle. I I Un Daimler Dingo, \·oiture de reconnaissance du 4th Field Squadron Royal Engineen. Lcsemblema typiquescomprellnent I'attribut de la division avec, en meme temps, ['insignc tac tique de ['unite. 12 Canon anti-tank l\<\k [I 6 pound, comme il ~ I a i t ulilise par la division de la mi-t942. II elait transportc sur un camion dans I' Afriq ue d u nord. 13 L deteCleUNi clcclriques de mines, distri bucs immcdiatemenl avant la balaille d 'Alamein. '4 Un poste sanitaire de regiment dans Ie desert avec une ambulance Austin K'2. 15 On demonte Ie !Iloteur d 'un char Stuart. 16 Morlier de 3- en combat, en h alie 1943. 17 Lcs voilUres de quartier general a Pompei i; a gauche un Dorehester - une voiture de commandement blindce. Rommel se servit d'un Dorchester pris a I'cnncmi dans Ie desert . • 8 Un char Sherman en Italie, carnoune de beige el de noir, avec I'emblcrne triangulaire d 'A Squad ron et Ie panncau d'idelHifi ca tion cn rouge el blanc sur 101 IOu rei Ie. 19 Lc posle rccepteur No 19, Ie poste reglementaire pour Ics chan et d'aulres voilUres pcildanl la deuxieme p..1rtie de la guerre. 20 Lcs ingenicurs 'Ianccnt' un 'Baile:y bridge:' en Italie.

21 Un camion Halford 3lon, Ie carnion normalement utilise pour tranSI)()rter les tro upes en 1944- 45. 22 Un tracteur Scammell qui servait a remorquer les chars abimes. 23 I..es canons autop ropulses de campagne - Ics Sexton 25 I)()Ulld, en France, 1944. 14 I..es pieces anti-tal.lks autopropulsees, les M lo Achilles 17 jXlund, en Norma nd ie. Une ballerie de canons autOpropulses f.-,.isait partie de I'armcment du regimem ami-tank. 25 Vne piece ami-aerienne 40mm Bofon, en Allemagne: 1944. Avcc quelquc:s peti lcs modifications, Ie Bofon etait I'anne legere regiemelllaire anti-aerienne pendant toule la guerrc. 26 Une volturc de recon naissance 1·l umbcr el une aUlo-chenille M3 dc la ,ph Armoured Brigadc. Dans la 7th Armoured Division Ie Humber sen 'ai l plusieun Elau- Majon el les

11th Hussan, CI Ie ~1 3 eillil employc par I'infanterie mOlOrisee de 101 Rifle Urigade. 27 VII char Challenger avec une piece 17 pound etait employe par Ic:s 8th Hussan de la 7th Armoured Division. 28 TransjXlrteur Windsor de la section anti-tank, 15I(5Ih Queen's Regi melll 1945.

Planches en couleur A Les insignes de la division, comme portCs sur les voiturc:s el quelquefois sur les vetements, furent changes de la rondelle blanche au jerboa rougc, debut 1940. Celul-ci, avcc Ie je:rboa sur un carreau blanc, elaiem employes simuhanemelll pcndant les annees 1943- 44: I'auribut noir sur I'epaulet fUI inlroduit en 1944- 45· Le lableau d ' organisation dcmontre la division en mai 194'2. Les panneaux el les ehiffres colores ctaicllt portes sur les voilU res de diflerentes unites divisionnclles; Ics atlributs de easquette indiquelll Its regimen15 qui equipaient eo unitesdansl'organisaliondivisionnelleacetteepoquc. Dalula 71h Armoured Division 10 palllleaUX ctles chiffres d'unite etaient d'habitude allies a I'attribut de division dans un seul insigne, I'attribut de division place au-dessus de celui de l'unite. B L1 frontiere Egypt-Libyecli 1940. A gauchese trouve une automobile blindec, un Rolls Royce 19'24, avec I'equipagequl porte les berets brUludes 11th Hussars. Remarquez les bandeaux rouges etl'abscnee d 'atlributs. Un lance-corporal du King's Royal Rifle Corps el un Lieutenant du mCllle regiment parle a\·ec un Private du Royal Army Sen ·ice Corps. Lc chevron dc rang du Rifleman CSt en noir, distinction rcgimentale, el I'oflieier porte Ie ealot vert des rangs commissionnCs du regiment, avec I'emblcllle du cor-dc-chasse en argent sur une coearde rouge. Lcs deux homllICS portelli 101 cienturc, Ics bretelles elc. de I'annec 1937. l..esoldat RASC porte Ie casque colonial a I'ancicnne mode, avec I'anribut en couleurs regimentalcs; les troupes dll frOllt se deparlirent de I'habitude en 1940. A drolle se trouvc un Vicken Light Tank Mk VIB du 1St Royal Tank Regiment I'«]uipage porle toujours la s.-,.Iopen e noire du RTR des premieNi mois de ]a gucrre. Observcz les insignes individucls de division et d'unile sur Ie dc vant du char, eequi n'Clait pas rare a ce temps-Ia. Dans Ie fond vous voyez un camion Morris 3oeWt, pcint cn beige pale et avec des plaques matricules egyptiennes. C Divisional Support Group, Rczegh, novembre 1941. Par les temps froids et pluvieux Its troupes portaient Ics pardcssus, Ics veSlcs en cuir, el mcme Its bones en caoutchouc. Dans Ie fond , a ga uche, vous vo)'ez l'i:quip.1ge du '25pdr canon de campagne du lSI Ficld Regiment, Royal Arlillery. Au centre se tient Brigadier 'Jock' Campbell, Victoria Cross, dans son break Ford adaptc it. voilUre de quartier general. A droile rcmarqucz ['equipage de deux hommes d 'ull Brcll, avec les allributs dans Ie cou1cun dll 2nd Bn, 'nle R ifle Brigade. Observez le:s munitions et les effe15 dispenCs panout , el Ie M P38 allemand; les milraillettes en manquaiel1 t a celie pcriode-I:1. Dans Ie fond, .j droite, se trouvent un mortier 2 inch et un Boys ·55 inch fus il anI i-lank.

39


'3'

D Une routt, en Hollandc. '944- 45. A ga uche se lient un private de 13 (Queens) Infantry Brigade,av« Ie casque, modele [944,el un (usil N04 Mk I. II porte une vale en CUiT aussi un bloUJi()Il a I'eprcuve du vtm, ((nUe leopard dislribuee pour la premiere fois pour Its operations en NorvCgc mais garclee par quelques unites ulterieurtmcnt. Dalls Ie fond vous voye;: un oflici cr dll RE~'IE sur un BSA B.30 mOlocyclcnc, et un char Cromwell d es 8th H ussarsavec insignes de division el d'uniti:. La lOurel1e est camouR&: de ueillage en fil de fer et des lambc:aux . Au cemre se tiell! un lance-corporal, mOlocyclislc de la j\·l ilitary Police de la division, armed ' un milrailletlc Stell el d 'un pistoict. Dans Ie fond, it d roi le, se tro uve u n cha r Stuart Mk V de la re<:onnaissancc Iroop d es 81h Hussars, dont on a enleve la tourelle, CI montca la place une mitraillette '50 inch. A droite vous voyel unjeep du dc taehement Royal Engineers, et un officier qui [)()rte une salopeue d'hiver de I'equipage de char et [e calOi vert ct couleur de I'or, particuticr aux o fficiers des 8th H ussars. E Emblemes et camouflage. ( I ) Char AI3 1941 avec emblemes du 3 Troop, A Squadron, r~imcmsuperieurdc la brigade. (2) LcsslylesdilfCrenu d'indicalion des timiles de poids sur les ponu. (3) Un canon Priest 105111111, 5th Royal Horse Artillery, en Italie '943- observel Ie dcssous peint en blanc. (4) Les drapeaux etaient chan~es chaque jour en code de reconnaissance. A _ commandant , lroisieme reg1ll1em dans [a brigade. B. commandant, A Squadron, deuxicme regiment. C _ char de 2 T roop, regiment cadet. (5) Lcs emblcmcs d'escadron peinu sur les voitures blindees. La couleurs indiquell t la superiorite des regimcnts ct les automobiles blindecs se servcnt du blanc: A _ Commandan t cn second, HQSquadron, regimcnt superieur. B- 3 T roop A Sc:luadron, deuxiblle regiment. C _ HQB Squadron , regiment cadet. D =commandalll, C Company, bataiUon d'i nfanterie mOlOriseede la brigade blindee. (6) Voiture de camp..1gne un Daimler Dingo d'un mCdecin milit;tire du regiment blindee. (7) Signes de reconnaissance aerien ne sur Its toia des voilures : A - 194' , B _ t942, C _ 1942- 43, D .. '943- 45. (8) Panneaux dercconnalssallceemployesell T Ullisie et ell Italic (A) etdans ledi:serl (8 ). (9) Auto-chenille 75mm, , tth H ussan, 1944. ( lOA et B) Styles typiques des noms de chars, pas souvent utilises. ( I IA el B) Styles Iypiques de numeros matricutes d'un char et d'une ambulance. ( 12) Camouflage d' hiver d'ull Daimler lI..lk I autOmobile blindee des 11th H uss.11"S, 1944- 45·

O'be r scbrift Ein Universal Carrier cines mOlorisierten I nfanteriebataillonsmil italicllischen Kriegsgefallgenen, [940. Die Bordbewaffnung des Fahn:eugs iSI eine Boys Panlerabwehrkanone (PAK) und ein Bren, lcichtes M-G, aufciner Fliegerabwehmlontierung (im Bilde ilbel"logen). ~ Eine Bofors 37mm PAK ; nicht die EinheilS ..... alfe Hirdas brilische Heer, sondem in [940, wegen l\-tangel an anderer Waffen, in die Division als NotlOsung eingeHihrt. 3 Ein Crusader ~'I k II Panler von ' A' Squadron, 4 Troop, 3rd Count y of London Yeoma nry. Typisches Ruhepausebild. Die vielen Klamollen alii Panler heachten! i Stuart und C rusader Mk I Panler in der Wuste, aplit 1941. Die Tamfarbe ist hellbeigeohne irgendwelcher Markicrung. 5 Panze r und Las tkraftwagen (LKW) brechen von einem Nachtlager auf. Crusader und Grant Pamer sind im Bilelc : die ersten mit dem 'A' Squadron Drcicckabzeichen und dem ilalienischen Wahlspruc h : 'Avanti! Avanli!' 6 Ein Fordson 15 CWI LKW. JOOe I nfanteriegruppc cines motorisienen Infanterielugs wurde in cinCIII solchen ' Vagen transportierl. 7 Ocr C hevrolet 3-ton LK W. Das Alllwechsfahrteug konnte cinen ga nzen Zug ciner mOlomierten Infanteriebrigade transportieren, und hatle auch viele alldere Transportaufgaben 7.U verrich[en. 8 Das White-Ruxtall 18-ton Panurtransportfa hneug; es wurde spitler durch das Scammell Transportfahr.t:eug enellt. 9 Ocr Humber Mk I I I Panlerwagen ineiner typischen \VilStenSlene. Die vielen lusa [lIichen Klamotten und die Turmname 'Clara' beachten! 10 Gram Panzer aufci ner 'Vilstenebene. Ocr Panler im Vordergrund tmgt am Turm das vierecki ge Ableichen dc r 'B' Schwadron. I

I I Ein Daimler Dingo Panzcnpiihwagen vom 4th Field Squadron. Royal f.ngineen. Typisch ist das ko mbinierte laklische Divisions - und Einheitsablcichen. I~ Die Mk l l 6-pound PAK, VOIl der Division ab Mille 1942 benutzt. In Nordafrika wurde sic auf einem LKW getragen. 13 Solche elektrische Minensuchgemte wurden kurt vor der Schlacht lU EI Alamein geleifert. Ii RegimenlSveroondpta tl mit Austin K2 Kran kenwagen in der WilsIe. 15 Moto raustausch in einem Stuart Panler. 16 Ein 3-inch ,,·IOner im Einsatl, halien, 1943. 17 Fahneuge des DivisiotUaabs in Pompeii; links ein Dorchester Panlentabsfahneug. Rommel hal im Wilstenkerieg einen erbeutelen Dorchester in gebrauch genommen. 18 [in Sherman Panler in halien. Die T a rnf:1Tben sind beige und schwan, am Turm das "A' Squadron Dreieckabzeichen und die rot-weiss-rote Erkcnnungstafd. 19 Oat ·Nr. 19' Funkgemt, Einhcltsfllnkgerlit for Panzer und andere Fahrtellge in der 1.weiten Kriegshalfte. ~o l'ionicl'e schlagen cine 'Sailey n ridge' cine Fluss in h alien.

~I Ein Bedford 3-lOn LKW de normal Truppentransporlwagen 1944- 45' ~It Die Scammel Zugrnaschine, als 'Bergepanler' cingesctzl. ~3 Die 'Sexton' '25-pounder selbstfahrhaubitlell, Frankrcich 1944. 24 M [0 Achilles 17-pounder Jagdpanler in der Normandie. Das Panzerabwehrregilllcnt der Division hatle cine U..1t1erie solcher Fahneugen. ~5 40mm Bofon Fliegerabwehrkanoncn (FLAK ), Deutschland 1944. Dicsc Kanone, in vielen Abarten, war die nonllalc leich[e FLAK der brilischen Armee den ganttn Kri eg hindurch. ::t6 H umber Panlerspahwagen und M3 Halbkettenfahneug der 4th AmlOured Brigade. Ocr l'l umber wu rd ~ innerhalb der 7th Armoured Division von verschiedenen Stiibetl und "on den Illh H ussars, de r 1\·13 von der Rifle Brigade (molorisierlen Inr:Ulteriercgimelll) bcnutzt. 27 Ein 'Challcnger' Pam:er mil 17-pounder Kanone, von den Auflarunguegimcnt, I I th Division. 28 Ein Windsor T ransportkcuenr..hrl.eug des l'all7.erabwehr.t:ugcs, Ist{5th Queen's Regiment. [945.

Farbtafeln A Das Divisionsableic.hen, auf FahrJ.eugen und manchmal auf Bekleidung gelragen, erfuhr einige l\nderungen : luent ein weisser Kreis, dann (im F riihjahr 1940) eine rOte Springmaus. letz[ere und eine Springmaus au,f einem weissen Viereck wurden 1943- 44 aile beide :w sehell . Dat schwane A.rmelablciehen erschien erst 1944- 45. . Der Starke- und Ausrilstungsnachwcis (STAN ) leigt den Divisiollswsland im Mai [942. Die farbigen Schilde mil den Nummern wurden auf den Fahneugen der verschiedenen Divisionseinheiten getr.tgen. Die Milllenabzcichen sind die der Regimelller, die sich 1.U diese r Zeit inncrhalb der Division befanden. In der 7th Armoured Division war es ilblich das Divisionsableichcll und Einheitswappen gleichlei[ig, mit denl crstcren nach oben, zu trage n. B Oil' Grenle zwischen A.gypten und Lybien, [9-10. Links ei n Rolls Royce M [924 Panlerwagen mit einer iksatlUng der Illh HU$S..1n - braune Berets mit dunkelrotem Kop£band, ohne Mililenableichen. Ein Lance-Corporal und ein leulnant des King's Royal Rifle Corps unterhalten sich mil cinem Private des Royal Army Service Corps. Ocr Riflemall tmgt sein DiellStgradableichen (Winkel) in schwan - ein RcgimentHradition. Ocr Offilier tragt das grune Offiziersschiffchen des Regiments mit silbernem J agdhomemblem auf roter Kokarde. Beidc Manner tragen die Kampfausrilstung M [937. Ocr RASCsoldat tragt den altmodischen Sonnenhelm mit dem Abzeichen in Regi mcntsfarben . Ocr Helm wurden von de n Kampftrup pen schon 1940 aufgegebe n. Reclm ei n Vickers Lig ht T ank Mk V I B Yom ,st Royal Tank Regiment. Wah rend den cnlen Kri egsmonalen wurde das RT R mi t den scwarl.cn Panlerkombinalionen ausgestatle[. Die gelrennlen Divisions und Einheits..1bleichcn vorne am Panler bemerkcn; so etwas kam haufig IU dieser Zeil vor. 1m Hintergrund cin Morris 30-<:wl LKW, hellbeige und mit agyptischen 7.ivilell Kennlcichens.schilden. C Divisional SUPI)()rt Group, Sidi Rezegh, November 194" Vorilbergehend war das Weller sagar ka h und nass und die Truppen lOgen dann Mantel, Lederwams und Gummistiefd an. Links im Hintergrund steht die hesalli ng cines 2s-pdr Fddgeschulzcs "om lSI Field Regimen t, Royal Arlillery. In der Mille Brigadier 'J ock' Campbell 'Victoria Cross' inseinem ford Ko mbifa hn:eug,das in cin Stabsfahrtcug verwandelt wordell ist. Rcch ud iezwei-Mann Bcsa[zungeinen Bren Icichten M -Gs. Sie trage n die Ableichenr:lrbe n des 2nd Balallions The Rifle Brigade. Die umherliegenden Munition, Gerat und die erbeutete deutsche M P 38 beachten! Solche Maschinenpistolen waren in diesen Tagen hum lU haben . Recha in Hintergrund stehen ein 2-inch Moner und cine Boys '55-inch PAK . D Eine StrassenS1.ene in Holland, 19H- 45. Links cin Soldat (private) der 13 1 (Qucens) Infantry Brigade mit dcm Helm M 1944 und dem Gewehr NO.4 Mk I. Er tragt ein Lederwams und die windfeste Tarnjacke, die luerst rur die Operation in Norwege n lugeteih wurden, die aber in einigen Einhciten im spiileren Gebrauch bliehen. 1m Hintergrund cin Offizier der REr..·I E auf ci nem MOlo rrad BSA B.30 und cin Cromwell Panler von den 81h H ussars mit kombinie rtcn Divisions- und Einheitsabzcichen. DerTunn ist mit Drahtnetzund Stoflfetlcn gctarnt worden. I n der Mittc ci n Lance-corporal Motorradfahrerdcr Divisions MilitaT))()lilclkompagnie. Als IkwaffnulIg hat er cine Pistole und cine S[en M-I'. Rechu im Hinlergrund ein Stuart Mk V Panze r der Reconnaissance Troop der 8th Hussars, ohne Turm und mit einem lUsat7.lichen -50-inch M-C. RechlS ein J eep d cr Divisions-Royal Engineerabteilung und ein Offizier der 8th Hussan in der PanzerbeS..1tlungswintcrkombi nation und dem g riln-goldenen Regimen tsschiffchen. E Fah r.t:eugablcichen und Tarnfarhen. ( I ) Ein A 13 l)anzer, 1941 , mit den Abzcichen \'Om 3 Troop, A Squadron YOm rangal tcsten Regiment de r Brigade. (2) Verschiedene Briickengewich tsmarkierungen. (3) [ine ' Priesl' J05mm selbstfahrende Kanone vom 5th Royal Horse Artillery, Italien, '943. Die weisse Rohrunterscite bemerken! (4) Radioanten nenwimpcl, die von T ag IU Tag in einer hcs timmlen Reihenfolge als Erken n ungschiffre gewechscll wurden: A _ Chef des drillen RegimenlS der Brigade. B _ Chef, 'A' Sq uadro n, des zweiten Regiment. C .. Panzer "om 2. Troop de Jlingsten Regimenu. (5) Panlerkompanieerkennungsableichen (die Farbenlelgen die Rangordnung cler Rcgimenter ; Radpanlerkampfwagcn lind Sp..'ihwagen trugen weiss) A ",Slellvertretellder KOlnpallIeche r, HQ Squadron des rangaitcslen Regimen u. B _ 3. Troop, ' A' Squadron des zweitell Regiments. C= 'B' Squadron Stab des jilngslen Regiments. 0 = Kompaniechef, 'C' Company eines mOtorisierten I nfanteriebatallons einer Panlerbrigade. (6 ) Daimler Dill,lto Panzerspiihwagen cines Regimentsartztes cines PanlerregimenlS. (7) ErkennUIlgS"l.eichell, die fUr Flugzeuge oben auf Fahneugen allgebraeht wurden: A - I94I, 13 - 1942, C - 1942- 43, 0 - 1943- 45. (8 ) Erkennungstafel (A) a.us I[alien und Tuncsien, (B) in der Wilste. (9) 75mm Halkettenselbslfahrlafettevon den 11th H Uss.1r1, 1944 . ( [oA und B)- Ikispiele verschicdener Panzername n, die ab und zu 1.U sehen waren. ( [ IA und U) - Ikispicle typischer Panzer- und Krankenwage nkennziffer. (12) Wintertarnfarben cines Daimler Mk I Panzerspiihwagen von den I [Ih H ussars, [944- 45.


O SPREY¡ VANGUARD

A seri es 01 books describin g th e key units and weapons systems . of the Second World War, prepared by leading military experts for the enthusiast and modell er, and ilili stratil~ g auth entic details of unirorms, in signia. annour and supporting vehicles, camouflage, markin gs and weapons.

Avec annotations en

fran~s

sur les planches en couleur

Mit Aufzeichnungen auf deutsch tiber die Farbtafeln

ISBN 0 85045 281 3 ~

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Vanguard 01 british 7th armoured division 1940 45  
Vanguard 01 british 7th armoured division 1940 45  
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