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    War Diary: 1st Bn Royal Tank Regiment

    Month and year: September 1944

    The 1st Bn Royal Tank Regiment September 1944 war diary starts with the unit in Hornoy (South West of Amiens) and covers their advance through Belgium to s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands

    National Archive Reference: WO 171/865

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    Page 1 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Sh.4. HAVRE AMIENS 1/250,0001 Sept0530Reveille. At first light Regiment moved on from leaguer area to the X rds
    1200at 7347, arriving there about midday. Here, orders were received to halt
    and to allow 53(W) Div to pass through. This process went on all afternoon
    2230and evening, and at last light the tanks and A1 Echelon leaguered at the
    X rds 7347. During the night orders were received to continue the advance
    at first light next morning.
    2 Sept0600Reveille.
    0630Regiment movied on through HORNOY 6245, MOLLIENS VIDAME 8958, across the
    R. SOMME at PICQUIGNY 9965, and on through VIGNACOURT 0472, LEGER LES DOMART
    Sh 5 AMIENS MONS 1/250,0001400to the area of the X rds 0483, S of BERNAVILLE. Here the Unit halted for an
    hour. Orders were received that the Unit was to push on at all speed and
    by pass enemy resistance to the cross roads at CAUCHY 2525 (sh 2 LILLE GHENT
    1/250,000) This was to be reached by nightfall, 5 R Tks had met opposition
    Sh 2 LILLE GHENT1/250,0001500S of ST. POL 1513 and the Unit was to by-pass the town. 1 RB was under command
    1530At 1500 hrs the CO gave his orders and at 1530 the advance started.
    Page 2 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Sh 2. LILLE GHENT 1250,0002 Sept0000The objective was reached and a firm base was formed around it, with C Coy
    1 RB and CC Bty 5 RHA who were under command, Throughout this advance, many
    small parties of enemy infantry were encountered, who were brushed aside
    or by-passed, only to re-appear, as soon as the Regtl Gp had passed by, The
    night passed fairly quietly, but there was a certain amount of sniping and
    Spandau fire which the RB dealt with in the early morning.
    3 Sept0530Reveille. The Regtl Gp was ordered to push on through LILLERS and secure
    crossings over the AIRE and LYS Canals. Enemy were still in LILLERS, but the
    armour and guns with the RBs got through very quickl and by mid morning tps
    1100were on to the line of the AIRE Canal. All bridges were found blown except
    one which was blown as soon as our tps were seen and a wooden one which was
    blown when a Dingo patrol was. 200x away. Recce patrols were put along the
    southern bank of the canal. In the meantime, two replenishment lorries
    returning to A2 Echelon, were brewed up by enemy mortar fire in PERNES, 2323,
    and it was found that an enemy pocket has established itself there during the
    night. A troop of B Sqn was sent to deal with this together with some of the RB.
    Page 3 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Sh. 2. LILLE GHENT1/250,0003 Sept1100Contd. There were still parties of enemy with MGs, "bazookas" and mortars in
    the area between LILLERS and the canal. and a Sqn of Tanks with C Coy 1 RB
    were detailed to clear these up during the afternoon. The remainder of 1 RB
    was some way to the South. cut off from the Regt by enemy pockets across the C.L.
    1600At 1600 hrs Orders were received to withdraw through LILLERS and to move to
    secure canal crossings N of BETHUNE 3927. After a number of counter orders
    the plan was eventually put into operation, and 1 RB was moved up through
    LILLERS to take up a position covering the road to the East and then withdrew
    the whole group through the town and through 1 RB and to press on to secure
    crossings at HINGES 3931, LOCON, 4331 and ESTAIRE 4639.
    1700The withdrawal was successfully completed by 1700 hrs and leading tanks had
    reached LOCON and were well on the way to ESTAIRE.
    0000One Sqn had reached the bridge at ESTAIRE which was blown, and the rest of
    the Gp were established at LOCON with two Sqns deployed to engage enemy
    moving NE out or BETHUNE. C Coy 1 RE remained holding the bridge at HINGES
    where all was A1 Echelon,
    Page 4 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Sh. 2. LILLE GHENT1/250,0004 Sept0530Reveille.
    The Regtl Gp remained in position until the late afternoon. Considerable
    damage was inflicted on the enemy during the day, especially on transport
    moving NE out of BETHUNE.
    1600The Gp was ordered to withdraw to an area S of BETHUNE since the rest of the
    Bde was well on the way to GHENT. 18. The only way to do this was to go
    across the HINGES bridges and then go S. The withdrawal was started, and
    ing. guns and two Sqns had already got to HINGES when the counter order
    came to return to LOCON and hold the bridge there during the night at all
    costs, The rearguard Sqn was counter marched and had just got back into
    position, when the next counter order was received that the LOCON bridge was
    to be evacuated and the HINGES bridge held at all costs.
    2230By this time it was nearly last light, HINGES was held by 2 Sqns of tanks
    5 Sept0400and 1 RB until 0400 hrs when the whole was relieved by inf of 53 Div.
    0700The Gp concentrated in reserve S. BETHUNE. By this time communications with
    22 Armd Bde were non existent owing to distance, and the Gp was under command
    Page 5 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Sh. 2. LILLE GHENT1/250,0005 Sept0700Contd. 12 Corps who were the only HQ nearby. The leaguer area was at 391162,
    Remainder of the day spent on maintenance.
    6 Sept0700Reveille, Heavy rain until afternoon.
    1500Unit moved to SAINS EN GOHELLE 3817 where billets were available for all
    troops.
    7 Sept0700Reveille. Maintenance and Recreation. Orders were receive from 12 Corps
    HQ that no move was permitted owing to the petrol situation and therefore
    that the Unit not join the rest of the Bde which was around GHENT.
    8 Sept0700Reveille. Normal Routine.
    9 "0700Reveille. Normal Routine.
    10 "0700Reveille. In the evening, orders came from 7 Armd Div to move next morning to
    join the rest of the Bde.
    11 "0530Reveille.
    Sh 43 WETTEREN 50,0000630Regt moved through LENS 5315, CARVIN 6121, PECQ 8941, AUDENARD 0958 to
    HALTBUNDER 349677 arriving at 1800 hrs. The CO & Adjt at once made contact
    with 22 Armd Bde HQ which was at LEDE 3669.
    Page 6 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Sh. 43 WETTEREN12 Sept0600Reveille. Unit remained at the same area, Day spent on maintenance.
    Sh 3. ANTWERP 1/100,00013 Sept0600Reveille.
    1100Unit moved through TERMONDE 4576, BOOM 6482, RUMPST 6880 to WAVRE ST CATHERING
    1600arriving at 1600 hrs. The Regt in the area 735798.
    14 Sept0600Reveille. The weather was inclement and it was decided to move into
    billets in WAVRE ST CATHERINE 7379. This took place during the morning.
    There was a dance for British troops in the village during the evening.
    15 Sept0700Reveille, Normal Routine, Orders were received that the Regiment was to
    take over the defence of the ALBERT CANAL next day,
    16 Sept0600Reveille.
    0700Unit moved out through DUFFEL 7482, LIERRE 7886, KESSEL 8286, RHQ went
    to 883863. A Sqn took over defence of the ALBERT CANAL excl the
    bridge at 839932 to track at 895913, with their HQ at 866896. B Sqn was
    responsible for the sector from the bridge 967895 to tr at 016872 with their
    HQ in WOUT 9786. The gap was covered by infantry of the Division.
    C Sqn was in reserve at 892858.
    Page 7 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Sh. 3. ANTWERP 1/100,00016 Sept. Contd1400During the afternoon, patrols of Recce Tp., probed up the road N from
    HERENTHOUT 9186 to the canal and encountered parties of enemy infantry with
    machine guns, who tried during the course of the evening to make their way
    S o. the canal. These were efectively stopped and beaten up. The Regt
    remained in these positions all night.
    17 Sept0600Reveille, Sub units remained in positions on the canal. The enemy tried
    during the morning to get back S of the canal again N of HERENTHOUT, but a
    troop of tanks were set to deal with them which it did effectively. The rest
    of the day passed quietly.
    18 Sept0600Reveille,
    0700RHQ moved out to MORKHOVEN and established itself in billets at 965852.
    During the morning the Sqns and Recce Tp pulled out and billeted themselves
    around RHQ, The Regt was now in reserve,
    19 Sept0600Reveille. Normal Routine.
    20 Sept0600Reveille, Normal Routine.
    Page 8 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Sh 3. ANTWERP 1/100,00021 Sept0600Reveille,
    0730Regt moved from MORKHOVEN to OSTERLOO 0782 and billetted in a convent.
    Normal Routine. RHQ was at 069824.
    Sh 4. MAESEYCK 1/100,00022 Sept0530Reveille.
    0600Regt moved from OSTERLOO to MOLL 1690, arriving at 1100 hrs. The troops
    were satisfactorily billetted and entertainments arranged for them in the
    town. RHQ was at 172907.
    23 Sept0700Reveille. Normal Routine.
    1900Orders were received to move at first light next morning to the area
    EINDHOVEN.
    24 Sept0500Reveille.
    0545Regt moved to VELDHOVEN 3714 and leaguered around RHQ which was at
    365135, arriving at 1100 hrs.
    Sh 5. S'HERTOGEN BOSCH 1/100,0001700Regt moved again through EINDHOVEN to 418215; it was last light by the time
    the Unit had leaguered, and raining very heavily.
    Page 9 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Sh 5. S'HERTOGEN BOSCH 1/100,00025 Sept0600Reveille. Unit remained in position awaiting orders all day.Millson
    26 Sept0600Reveille,
    0800Regt moved up the Div C.L. to 436306, SE of ST ORDEN RODE, Here the vahicles
    1100were parked just off the road. B. Sqn under command of 131 Bde was sent to
    probe the rd towards OLLAND 3833. They reached the area 406327 and there
    encountered a number of enemy infantry armed with MGs and "Bazookas". Going
    was very bad on both sides of the road, and when a troop went forward on it,
    it's leading tank promptly "bazooka'd". The Sqn therefore remained
    1800in observation until 1800 hrs when thay leaguered for the night at 417326.
    Infantry of 131 Bde took over the forward positions.
    1400Meanwhile the rest of the Regt leaguered around RHQ which was at 403307
    and remained there for the rest of the day.
    27 Sept0530Reveille,
    0700Regt moved again up the C.L. to VEGHEL 4837 and leaguered at 487376.
    0900A Sqn was ordered to advance towards DINTHER 4341 under command 131 Bde.
    Page 10 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Sh 5. S'HERTOGEN BOSCH 1/100,00027 Sept0900Contd. This was done with little opposition, and the forward troops passed through
    DINTHER to rd junc 429418 and thence S to the canal bridge at 425410.
    1300Here A Sqn took position in observation, and artillery fire was directed on to
    numerous enemy in the woods S of the canal.
    1400RHQ and C Sqn moved up the road towards DINTHER, but as it was found that no
    further offensive operations were required by Comd 131 Bde, they moved back again,
    RHQ going to 485379. The Regt and A Sqn remained in their respective positions
    for the rest of the day,
    28 Sept0530Reveille.
    0630Regt minus A Sqn was ordered to move up the C.L. through UDEN 5342 to
    NISTEIRODE 4947. The move started, but then the ordors were countermanded
    and the Unit had to return to its positions in VEGHEL. This was
    an awkward proceeding as the C.L. was jammed with traffic going both ways.
    1000Unit back in leaguer areas at VEGHEL and remained there for the rest of day.
    A Sqn remained as before and had a quiet day.
    Page 11 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Sh 5. S'HERTOGEN BOSCH 1/100,00029 Sept0530Reveille,
    0600Regiment moved up through DINTHER, through LOOSEROEK 450460 to 473447 where
    the CO gave his orders, Tha Regtl task was to cut the road DINTHER - S'HERTOGENBOSCH.
    0730C Sqn was to contact troops of 5 R Tks which had reached 400451 and then
    push S to cut the road at 392440. B Sqn was to protect the right flank of
    the Regt by moving to the area CORSO 388473.
    0830Sqns moved out to perform these tasks. C Sqn reached the stream and track
    crossing 394444 and there found enemy infantry with "bazookas" Also there was
    88 mm AP fire and mortaring coming from S of the canal. One C Sqn tank was
    brewed and one hit by a "bazooka" C Sqn therefore remained in their positions
    for the rest of the day. B Sqn reached the area CORSO successifully and there
    took up positions of observations shooting up many enemy infantry and directing
    fire from CC Bty 5 RHA.
    0930RHQ & Recce Tp went to 416444 where they remained for the rest of the day.
    1100A Sqn with the Bn of 131 Bde now tried to push W along the DINTHER - S'HERTOGENBOSCH.
    road to link up with C Sqn. Going was difficult owing to intense enemy arty fire.
    Page 12 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Sh 5. S'HERTOGEN BOSCH 1/100,00029 Sept Contd.1100from S of the canal, but they succeeded in getting visual contact during the
    afternoon. Their fwd troops were at 403430.
    1900At last light, B & C Sqns pulled out and leaguered around RHQ at 416444.
    Inf of 1/6 Queens took over the fwd positions for the night. A Sqn remained
    in position at HEESWIJK 4241.
    30 Sept0500Reveille.
    0600At first light Sqns moved out into their positions of the previous
    day. They remained there all day, shooting up enemy infantry and directing
    Arty fire. A number of casualities were sustained from enemy mortaring, which
    was very accurate.
    1600In the afternoon orders were received that the Unit was to pull out with the
    exception of A Sqn, at last light.
    1700RHQ and Recce Tp moved to 445446, and B & C Sqns leaguered close by at last
    light.
    1800131 Bde took over the fwd positions. A Sqn remained as for the previous night.