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War Diary: 1st Bn Royal Tank Regiment

Month and year: June 1944

The 1st Bn Royal Tank Regiment June 1944 war diary covers their embarkation at Felixstowe and their disembarkation and advance through Normandy to Parfouru l\'Éclin

National Archive Reference: WO 171/865

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Page 1 of 9
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
1 June The tanks, which were now in the marshalling area on the Ipswich -
2 June Felixstowe Rd., went forward as called for, and were embarked on L.S.T.s
3 June at FELIXSTOWE, Embarkation was completed by 3.6.44. On that day, Unit
Personnel were paid in French francs, and issued with 48 hr Ration Packs.
4 1300 The party at S5 Camp were embussed to travel to Tilbury Docks.
1400 Party moved off.
1600 S5 party arrived at the docks and were taken by lighter out to S.S. IGNATIUS
DONNELLY, an American Liberty Ship, which was lying out in the stream.
5 " This was planned to be 'D' Day, but owing to adverse weather conditions,
the landing operation was postponed for 24 hrs,
2200 The L.S.T. convoy with the tanks of the unit sailed from FELIXSTOWE.
6 " D' Day. The initial assault proved highly successful.
7 " 0600 S.S."IGNATIUS DOMNELLY" sailed from the Thames with a large convoy of
Liberty Ships.
Page 2 of 9
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
7 June 1000 This convoy was shelled from the French Coast as it passed through the Straits of Dover. No damage was sustained.
1400 - 1600 The L.S.T. convoy had now arrived off the French coast. From 1400 - 1600 hrs
Map Refs the tanks of the Regiment were disembarked. This operation was completely
FRANCE successful. The tanks went to SOMMERVIEU, 825808, where they leaguered
CAEN-FALAISE and carried out de-waterproofing. The Unit leaguered at this place for
1/100,000. the night,
2200 The Liberty Ship convoy, which had been sailing close to the English Coast
now stopped for the night.
8 June 0400 Liberty Ships went on, sailing almost due South, and arrived off the
French Coast at ARROMANCHES at 0800 hrs. It was found that disembarkation
was 24 hrs behind schedule owing to bad weather, and that the wheeled
vehicles would not disembark until the 9th JUNE. Conditions on board
the Liberty Ship were not good. Officers and men slept in a hold and the
cooking facilities consisted of one steam boiler. This was in sharp
Page 3 of 9
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
8 June 0800 - contrast to the LST's on which Unit personnel were well accomodated
and fed. The day passed without incident on board ship. The tanks
remained at the same point on land.
2200 From this hour there were several air raids on shipping lying off ARROMANCHES.
No damage was sustained by the ships of our convoy.
9 June 0800 Disembarkation of wheeled vehicles from S.S. IGNATIUS DONNELLY began, Vehicles
were lifted out of the holds by the ship's derricks, and slung into Landing
Craft alongside. At the beginning, this operation was very slow, but it
speeded up as the day went on and all vehicles were disembarked by evening.
On landing, wheeled de-waterproofed and then went on to the leaguer area
at SOMMERVIEU 825808.
1200 It was considered possible that the enemy might launch a counter attack
with tanks, and our own tanks were therefore moved forward to the area
RUCQEVILLE 8777, where they took up a battle position. RHQ was at 873775.
Page 4 of 9
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
9 June 2000 CO held a full conference. 22 Armd Bde were to push forward on the next
day. 5 R Tks to move forward to"JERUSALEM" 815724, and thence South West
to BERNIERES BOCAGE. 4 CLY to move on the axis of the Tilly road to
BUCEELS 830701. 1 R Tks in reserve, to move forward to CONDE SUR SEULLES
10 0430 Reveille.
0500 The tanks moved forward to CONDE SUR SEULLES, and leaguered around RHQ
which was at 836745. The rest of the day was uneventful
11 0430 Reveille.
The day was uneventful.
1800 COs conference. The method of advance was to be changed. 131 Bde had
now arrived on land, and 1/5 and 1/6 Queens supported by B & C Sqns were
to advance along the axes as before, B Sqn right and C Sqn left. It was
hoped that this method of advence would prove more succossful than the
purely armoured advance, which had been very slow owing to thick country.
Page 5 of 9
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
11 June 2100 B & C Sqns left CONDE to join 1/5 and 1/6 Queens respectively.
0330 Reveille.
0400 A Sqn in Reserve, moved forward to the area FOLLIOT 813716, where they.See Report by Lt. Col. R.M.P. CARVER, DSO.MC. at App. C.
remained all morning.
RHQ, consising of the Colonel's and Adjutant' tanks, and the I.Os Scout
Car, moved to 818717, which was a point of vantage affording a good view
of the battle area. Although in an exposed position, these vehicles were
apparently not spotted by the enemy all day.
Fighting went on all day but little propress was made.
2030 Enemy tanks were reported at VERRIERES 8069. B & C Sqns were moved round
to deal with these, and after some fighting the tanks were driven off.
2300 The Squadrons and A1 Ech moved into Leaguer at 816718. Orders wereSee COs Report at App. C.
received that the Regt was to pull out next morning and move round
to the BRIQUESSARD 7459 Area, in support of the rest of the Division, which
had made good progress on this front all day.
Page 6 of 9
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
13 June 0400 Reveille.
0800 Regt moved via SUBLES 7576, LA BUTTE 7469, STE. HONORINE DE DUCY 7365
1200 and leaguered at 738637.
1230 COs conference. Immediate task was to protect flank from PARFOURU-L'ECLIN
7463 to LA BELLE EPINE 7769. and Recce Tp were each allotted sectors
which they recced during the afternoon.
1900 Regiment leaguered at 733615.
COs conference. 5 R Tks and 4 CLY were in the area VILLERS BOCAGE and the
road BRIQUESSARD-AMAYE-VILLERS BOCAGE had been cut by the enemy. The task
of 1 R Tks on 14 June was to open the road and keep it open until the other Regiments had pulled out.
14 June 0400 Reveille.
0430 Sqns moved out along the axis of the BRIQUESSARD - VILLERS Road. It was
opened and positions were taken up on either side of the road.
Page 7 of 9
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
14 June 1500 The enemy was active in front of our positions all afternoon, but in the
evening it become clear that a counter attack was to be launched in some
2000 About 2000 hrs this attack came in, but it was adequately dealt with by the
Unit. Many German infantry men were killed by machine gun fire from the
tanks and at least two "PANTHER" Tanks were KO'd.
2300 The attack petered out as it got dark, and at 2330 hrs the Regiment moved
into leaguer alongside the main rd. No sleep was allowed, but the enemy
did not attempt a night attack.
15 June 0430 In the early morning, 4 CLY & 5 R Tks moved out along the road to
BRIQUESSARD and 1 R Tks followed them out. The move was completed without
enemy interference.
0700 The Unit arrived back at the leaguer area 733615. Vohicles were replenished
and B & C Sqns moved to hold the flank between LES ORAILLES 764668 and
Page 8 of 9
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
15 June 1200 Regiment moved into Leaguer. at 633646.
16 " 0430 Reveille.
1000 C.O. talked to the Regiment, reviewing the last 3 days' action.
17 " The flank being shortened, it was held by one Sqn; Sqns took daily turn
of duty. C Sqn on duty. 17 June, They were not in contact with the enemy
though their forward post was at 756652.
1430 Conference.
18 " 0900 A relieved C Sqn.
1800 Conference
19 " 0900 B. Sqn relieved A )
20 " 0900 C Sqn releived B ) There was very little enemy activity on our front during this time.
21 " 0900 A Sqn relieved C )
22 " A Sqn continue on duty.
23 " 0800 A Sqn of 4 CLY relieved A Sqn.
1100 CO talked to the Unit on the subject of the general war situation.
Page 9 of 9
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information References to Appendices
24 June )
25 June ) Normal field routine
26 June )
27 " 1100 Lt Col R.M.P. CARVER DSO. MC told the Unit that he was leaving to command
4 Armd Bde. He left almost at once, as 4 Armd Bde was in action at the time.
Major E.H. GIBBON. DSO, promoted A/Lt Col and assumed Comd 1 R Tks.
Major C.L. SPROULL MC. apptd 2 i/c Regiment.
Major J. J. DINGWALL apptd O.C. 'C' Scn.
Commanding officer:- Lt Col.E.H. GIBBON.DSO.
28 " Normal Routine.
29 " 1400 C Sqn carried out an exercise, cooperating with infantry and using No 38 set.
30 " 1400 B Sqn carried out an exercise cooperating with infantry and using No 38 set.
Appendices attached to Original Diary,
No. 1. - Report an Regtl Operations during period 12 - 15 JUNE 44.
No. 2. - Overseas Admin Order No. 2.
No. 3. - ABs. W. 3008 for 10,17 & 24 JUNE 44
No. 4. - AFs. W. 3009 - do -