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War Diary: 1st Bn Royal Tank Regiment

Month and year: July 1944

The 1st Bn Royal Tank Regiment July 1944 war diary starts with the unit in area Ellon and their advance towards Mont Pincon

National Archive Reference: WO 171/865

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Page 1 of 8
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
Map Ref Sheet No 37/16 NW. 1 July 0530 REVEILLE.
BAYEAUX. 1200 Unit moved to leaguer area at ELLON 798734, as it was now in reserve.
798734 Rest of the day spent in settling down and straightening up the area.
2 ") Reveille 0600 hrs and normal field routine. Courses were run for
3 ") tradesmen and much thought was given to the problem of infantry
4 ") cooperation with tanks. Officers of the Unit discussed the matter with
5 ") officers of the Queen's Bde, and much exercising was done with troops
of the Queens.
6 " Usual routine and training.
0930 Unit inspected by G.O.C. 7 Armd Div - Maj Gon ERSKINE. Work was not
7 ")
8 ") Usual routine and training.
9 0430 Unit "stood to" as precautionary measure as forward tps were being
attacked in some strength by enemy tks. The attack was held however, and
at 1000 hrs the Unit "stood down"
Normal Routine.
Page 2 of 8
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
Same 10 July Normal Routine.
11 " Normal Routine.
20.30 Conference for cmds of Regtl Gp.
12 " Normal Routine.
13 " Normal Routine, Camouflage expert from 30 Corps Hq visited the Unit, and
experimented on one of the tanks. Tank was painted a fairly light shade
of green, which was generally agreed to be too light. Wire netting
around the turret was accepted as an excellent idea.
14 " Normal.
15 " 2100 "B" Sqn carried out night leaguring exercise with infantry of the Queens.
The Sqn leaguered after dark by troops, and infantry were given the task
of finding and attacking them. It was found that the infantry had great
difficulty in finding the leaguers, and that leaguer guards could hear
infantry movements very easily.
Page 3 of 8
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
Same 16 July Day spent in preparation for the forthcoming operation. There was to be
a reorganisation of 8 & 30 Corps, under which 8 Corps became Armd, with
7 Armd Div, Gds Armd Div & 11 Armd Div. The plan was for Cdn infantry to
attack East of the R. ORNE and to clear up the S part of CAEN, FAUBOUG
de VANCELLES, The Armd Corps was to follow them across the river, and
attack South, along the broad stretch of open country SE of CAEN. The
attack was to be proceded by a large bomber programme.
2300 Unit leaguer was shelled during the night and several casualties resulted.
Sheet 37/16 NE. 17 " 0630 Unit moved to Conc area RUCQUEVILLE 911779.
Day spent in final proparations for operation.
1800 C.O. talked to the Unit : he outlined the present position and the
forthcoming operation.
18 " 06.30 Very heavy bomber attack went in S of CAEN.
Page 4 of 8
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
18 July 0800 Unit moved via BIEVILLE 0573 across, the R. ORNE by "LONDON BRIDGE" to
Sheet No. ST HONORINE LA CHARDONERETTE 0971 and thence S through GIBBERVILLE 0868.
40/16 SW. By 1800 hrs A & B Sqns were as far south as the rly line in Sq.0964. No
real opposition was encountered, though a number of P.W. were taken from
hiding in woods, and from 1800 hrs onwards, there were reports of enemy
tanks in the area FOUR 0962. No fighting developed, and the Unit leaguered
at 095665 at 2300 hrs.
19 " 0500 A & B Sqns moved out to their positions of the previous evening.
1400 B Sqn advanced on the village of FOUR (0962) and there was heavy fighting
all afternoon in that area, Opposition was mainly from dug in A/T Guns,
and there was heavy mortaring on the village by the enemy.
2200 By nightfall, FOUR was clear and B Sqn remained in the village for the night.
The remainder leaguered at 094647 at 2330 hrs. The night was quiet.
20 " 0500 B Sqn came back immediately N of RHQ which was at 094651. A & C Sqns
remained in observation N of FOUR. No fighting devoloped.
Page 5 of 8
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
Same 20 July 1430 Very heavy rainstorm which continued all afternoon.
1830 Unit moved N to former leaguer area at 095665.
Major C.L. SPROULL, M.C. 2 i/c, left Unit to attend Staff College course.
21 ") Unit remained at leaguer area. Intermittent shelling went on around the
22 ") area, and the G.A.F. was fairly active owing to much low cloud. Major
G.J.W. PEDRAZA M.C. arrived and apptd 2 i/c vice Major SPROULE.
Capt B. SMETHURST promoted MAJOR and comd 'A' Sqn vice Major. R. CRISP.DSO.MC
- wounded.
A new plan was formulated, by which Cdn infantry were to attack by
Sheet 40/14 NE. artificial moonlight to capture VERRIERES (0560) and ROCQANCOURT (0558).
22 Arnd Bde was to follow up and capture the high ground S of LORGUICHON
WOOD 0757.
23 " Day spent in preparation for new Op.
1700 Unit moved to concentration area, at 045640.
Page 6 of 8
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
Same. 23 July 2200 Fairly heavy bombing attack by Luftwaffe. Many Anti Personnel bombs used,
some of which fell in leaguer area and caused casulties.
24 " 0430 Reveille. Attack Cdns went in according to plan. They secured VERRIERES
0560. Unit moved to Pt. R ridge in Square. 0361,0461. Very strong
opposition stopped the Cdn advance, and no further progress was made.
1000 Two tps of C Sqn were pushed forward to the WEST of VERRIERES, in which
Cdn tps were meeting stiff opposition. It was found that there was a strong
enemy A/T position immediately N of ROCQANCOURT and that any attempt to
advance further S was met by accurate A.P. fire.
Enemy mortaring of VERRIERES was very heavy, and also the ridge on which the
remainder of the tanks were sitting, was shelled very heavily by mortars
and Nebelweifers all day.
1400 It was decided that C Sqn's position in VERRIERES was untenable, as they were
sustaining fairly heavy casualties. They were therefore withdrawn. During
the afternoon the enemy was observed forming up for counter attack, but
valuable support from R.P. Typhoons Broke these up.
Page 7 of 8
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
Same 24 July A V.C.P. was attached to RHQ all day and through him, very valuable air
support from RP Typhoons was available,
2300 The tanks, without A1 Echelon, leaguered at 050617. The night passed fairly
quietly, though enemy tanks were in VERRIERES during the night : they went
away again without fighting.
25 July 0500 Tanks moved out to their positions on the ridge.
During the morning, the Unit was relieved by 5 R Tks, Sqn by Sqn; the
relief was complete by 1300 hrs. Unit remained in the former leaguer area
26 ") Unit remained in same their role being in support case of counter
11 ") attack by the enemy, Intermittent shelling went on, in and around the
28 ") leaguer area. There was activity by the Luftwaffe every night, These
days were spent in maintenance and recovery of k.O'd tanks.
Sheet 37/16. NE 29 " 1000 Representative of 4 Cdn Armd Bde, who were to relieve the Unit, visited
Page 8 of 8
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
Sheet 37/16 NW. 29 July 1630 Unit relieved by 4 Cdn Armd Bde and moved back through CAEN, via BRETVILLE
L'ORGEILLEUSE 9271 and ST. LEGER 8675 to the area ELLON 8073. Leaguer
at 800732.
2100 All vehicles back in leaguer.
30 " Day spent preparing for new operation which was to go through 43 Div who
had broken through S of CAUMONT.
31 " Maintenance and preparation for op.
1130 CO's conference at which the operation was outlined and discussed. 7 Armd
Div was now back in 30 Corps. The Divisional objectives were either MONT