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    War Diary: 141st Royal Armoured Corps

    Month and year: August 1944

    The August 1944 war diary for C Squadron of the 141st Royal Armoured Corps covers their actions in Normandy in the area around Saint-Germain-d'Ectot and Falaise.

    National Archive Reference: WO 171/877

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    Page 1 of 4
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    1 Aug 44 LA PAUMERIE ST GERMAIN D'ECTOTAug 1st saw 'C' Sqn still spanning the universe and
    making a valiant effort to look none the worse for it - with
    half the Sqn under Major Duffy whiling away the time at
    LA PAUMERIE under command 8 Armd Bde and the other half (11
    and 14 Tps - 2/Lt. Wareing and Lieut Grundy) still under
    30 Corps in the area ST GERMAIN D'ECTOT.
    2 Aug 44. LE BON REPOS.On 2 Aug an amazing thing happened - amazing that is to
    anyone unfamiliar with the way of things in the Army. In
    the middle of the afternoon (1540 hrs) Capt Barber was infd
    that he would be operating with 53 Div at 1730 hrs - where
    and how was of little consequence - some 25 miles away.
    The originating conversation presumable began something like
    this. "Using the Crocodiles this evening - mind if we borrow
    them ?" and ended up "By Gad, damn decent of you old chap-
    just send them around will you - thanks lawfully old boy".
    Of such stuff are the affairs of mice and Crocodiles.
    The affair wns to be a repetition of Storrar's foray in July
    with the same object - a raid on LE BON REPOS with Crocodiles
    and Inf (again the 4 Welch under Lieut-Col Williams) moving
    astride the road from LES VILAINS to capture PW. 'A' Sqn who
    knew this terrain backwards were doing nothing at the time -
    an irrelevent remark ! Phlegmatic to the end, and a little
    curious, Capt Barber motored off to investigate the show,
    leaving Lieut Grundy (a little caustic by now) to bring up
    the Crocodiles. It Was not until 1640 hrs that the move order
    was decoded and off went the Crocodiles, arriving at 1930 hrs,
    after sundry directions of very doubtful value from an L.O.
    The big plan was quite sound - Div arty, armour support by
    107 RAC. But the assaulting wpn had literally no time to
    tie up at all. Capt Barber had half an hour with the Sqn Comd
    and put the tp comds in the picture. At 2030 hrs the Crocodiles
    left MONDRAINVILLE for the S.L. with 'H' hour now fixed at
    2100 hrs - this after all the trials and tribulations manifested
    by a Crocodile trailer after a 25 miles march. Another aspect
    of this haste was the lack of information regarding mines.
    The flaming expedition was in fact a success and 17 PW
    were brought in, including one offr. Everyone in fact was
    exuberantly happy except Capt Barber. One Crocodile went
    on a mine (presumably enemy) near LE BON REPOS and had to be
    destroyed by 107 RAC. Another went on a mine (presumably
    British) almost on the S.L. Yet a third lost a bogie
    possibly from mortar fire. A fourth developed a broken turret
    ring from a HE hit. The remaining two stuck to the more
    mundane routine of extensive trailer troubles. What remained
    of the Crocodile force limped into harbour that night at CHEUX.
    2 Aug 44. CHEUX.For the next few days Capt Barber, unable to find out with
    any real satisfaction under whose command he really came strove
    to revive his dead and half dead Crocodiles. Finally on
    9 Aug he managed to rejoin his Sqn SW of MONT CHARIVEL.

    Meanwhile Major Duffy had been feverishly moving the
    remainder of his Sqn from one planned attack to another.
    2 Aug 44. CAUMONT.On 2 Aug he moved NE of CAUMONT to 715604 preparatory to
    an attack on CAHAGNES 7356 under command S.R. and in sp 43 Div.
    As the Crocodiles lumbered down to the S.L. however they
    were stopped by a hot-foot Briggdier who declared our own
    4 Aug 44. CAHAGNES.tps already in CAHAGNES from another direction. From there
    on 4 Aug he moved to 737555 SE of CAHAGNES in sp if required of
    the Queen's Bde pushing East. Once again however there was
    7 Aug 44. MONT CHARIVELnothing afoot. on 7 Aug Major Duffy in the middle of a little
    impromptu training (fricassee of quick switches, dry
    shots and all the bag of tricks) under command 3 Sqn Grenadier
    Gds (6 Gds Tk Bde) and in sp of 227 Bde (15 Div) moved to
    743425 SW of MONT CHARIVEL preparatory to the attack on ESTRY
    7437 During the night he moved south of MONTCHAMP
    Page 2 of 4
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    By this time the attack was to be done by 44 Bde.
    The attack on ESTRY was to go in at 1200 hrs 8 Aug with
    right two coys 4 KOSB and two tps 3 Sqn Grenadier Gds. Dividing,
    line between bns the rd running NW SE through ESTRY.
    Quite wisely it was decided to keep the Crocodiles concentrated
    and both tps were allotted to sp the 4 KOSB on the right,
    two tps of AVREs being given to the left. 12 Tp (Lieut McFarl???
    was to take the right in support of 'D' Coy. 13. Tp (Lieut
    Sutherland-Sherriff) in sp of 'C' Coy on the left were to
    flame the orchards running SW from the lateral rd as far as
    the track junction at 748375 (See Diagram).
    C Squadron August 1944 map
    The Crocodiles were to go first with a section of Inf behind
    each tp and two sections mopping up. Major Duffy pointed out
    that he could not guarantee to cross the sunken road - only the
    leading Crocodile would be able to tell if that were possible.
    SL was to be the main AUNAY-VIRE lateral road and during the
    move up ESTRY was to be boxed by Div Corps and AGRA arty.
    The REs reported a rise on the lateral road of 3' to 3'6" which
    would give hull downs to the village. This proved erroneous.
    In view of the presence in the village of a Tiger which had
    the lordly habit of Patrolling up to the X-rds this was quite
    important. I effect it meant that if gun tks were to give
    effective sp to the Crocodiles they must cross the lateral road.
    8 Aug 44. ESTRY.The action started off on the wrong leg. The route to
    the SL had been recce'd and prepared by bulldozers, but
    one of the Gs Tks (who were leading) bogged and there they
    stayed for some time. Sutherland Sherriff and McFarland
    on foot at last managed to find a detour, arriving on the SL
    some twenty minutes late and only with great difficulty finding
    the Inf who had gone to gd in a shower of arty fire. Lieut
    MacFarland was wounded in the wrist and his trailer turned
    upside down by blast so that both tps now had only two Crocodiles
    as they moved over the SL. So far as is known the Gds Tks
    never did cross the SL.

    The right hand tp quickly came to a halt after dealing with
    one target, stopped by the sunken road and were released by
    the Inf. Sutherland Sherriff however with 13 Tp was in for a
    little excitement. In the first field he was busily flaming
    the hedges in the orchard when he Saw a flash from the vicinity
    of the Church. Five times the gun shot at him, missing every
    time, before transferring its affections to Sgt Webb.
    Sutherland Sherriff, perspiring a little now, stopped as
    the gun emerged into full view some 200 yds on the left in
    the shape of a full blown Panther. There is only one way to
    treat a Panther - hit it ; which the Gunner did first shot on
    the turret ring - and the turret crew baled out with more haste
    than dignity. The gunner switched to Besa - a solitary shot
    and the gun jammed. But from behind Sgt Webb had already
    bagged two of the crew. Meanwhile, still occupied by the dvr,
    the Panther did a smart right turn and disappeared.
    Page 3 of 4
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    The flaming was resumed and at the same time MGs on the
    barn nearby were destroyed by Besa. For some unknown reason
    rapidly to become obvious the Inf started to retire and Sgt Webb,
    looking around with more than average curiosity spotted a Tiger
    on the left. 28 rds of smoke and the Crocodiles were out of it.
    Sgt Webb claims one hit on the Tiger without effect, he also
    fired several shots into the smoke for luck.
    In actual fact there had been nothing at all in the hedgerows
    flamed. Indeed although the attack was planned in very careful
    detail it seems reasonable to say that it lacked directions, Iacked
    correct appreciation of the enemy by the Inf and lacked aggresive
    protection by the supporting gun tks. From this attack
    Major Duffy moved back to 723528 on 9 Aug and was joined by
    Capt Barber's contingent.
    On 10 Aug 'C' Sqn came under comd 12 Corps and were allotted
    to 59 Div under comd 34 TK Bde. with the object of pushing
    them into the recently won bridgehend over the Orne and South
    of the Foret de Grimbosq. For 'C' Sqn life was certainly
    becoming a war of movement. By night 1st Aug they were harboured
    just west of GOUPILLIERES 9351 and crossing the river at 1000hrs
    on 11 Aug the Sqn moved into BRIEUX 9351. On 12 Aug the Sqn
    reported to 153 RAC and strolled along behind the 2 E. Lancs
    Regt to sp them if necessary in the adv on CESNY BOIS HALBOUTL
    9945. Major Duffy offered his services when, whilst listening
    in to the battle, he heard the Wasps called for. At that moment
    however OC 153 RAC ordered the Sqn to move to ESSON 9554 and
    report to 53 Div. Major Duffy duly reported to 53 Div where he
    was sent to 56 Bde of 59 Div. Here the BM strongly advised
    him not to move into ESSON as it happened to be strongly held
    by the enemy and that they had in fact wanted the Crocodiles
    earlier in the afternoon for THURY HARCOURT. Finally 'C' Sqn
    returned to BRIEUX. On 15 Aug Major Duffy attended an 'O'
    Gp 147 RAC and moved into harbour North of LEFFARD 0638 in
    sp of 158 Bde whose intention was to adv to the three points 224,
    222, 245, SW of FALAISE. 53 Div were in fact busily pushing
    the steel band across the FALAISE Pocket, West of the FALAISE -
    ARGENTAN road. At 1615 hrs Major Duffy was called to an 'O' Gp
    several miles away arriving at 1630 hrs, and informed the
    Crocodiles were required some two miles further on at 1700 hrs.
    It was of course impossible. A quarter of an hour's delay
    was squeezed out of the Bde Comd, and the Corp arty would
    give another 10 mins grace. The Inf Bn doing the show was
    the 2 Mons (under comd 158 Bde for this) and the bn with which
    the Unit had looked forward eagerly to doing a show ever since the
    days of Lieut-Col Walter Kempster (2 Mons) and Eastwell Park.
    Everything possible was done to get the Crocodiles there on time.
    Lieut-Col Brown 147 RAC (who had been doing his level best to
    get the crocodiles a full Sqn show???) himself went back to get
    the Crocodiles pressured up whilst Major Duffy went on with the
    planning. But it was no good and the most that could be done
    was to move up (trusting in the personal acquaintance in England
    of the Junior Comds) in case 2 Mons should hit trouble.
    The 2 Mons did however take LEFFARD in their stride unaided.
    On the next day (16 Aug) the Sqn had the unique Crocodile
    experience of moving in an adv gd (E Lancs Regt, 'C' Sqn 147 RAC
    2 AVREs with 'C' Sqn 141 RAC) to NORON 'ABBAYE which the
    E. Lanes captured unaided. Things were cracking in the FALAISE
    pocket for the Germans. Prisoners were rolling in and as the
    GIII 53 Div remarked "It only requires a Motor Cycle and a tin
    and Matlock wouldn't have a look in". The Sqn harboured for the
    night at 097373 NW of NORON L' ABBAYE, where in the early hours
    they received a visit from the CO fresh from 'A' & 'B' Sqn effort
    North of FALAISE as a consequence of which Lieut Grundy's bottle
    of gin was sadly depleted.
    on the 17 Aug the general adv continued and on 18 Aug still
    u/c 147 RAC the Sqn adv in sp of 71 Bde through ST MARTIN DE M???
    harbouring for the night just off the FALAISE - ARGENTAN rd
    at 154319. On the next day 19 Aug the Sqn moved to 173297 and
    at 1300 hrs were released to Corps res (subsequently Army Res)
    Page 4 of 4
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    53 Div had at last called a halt, all its objectives taken,
    in a drive which gave this Regiment the greatest admiration
    for a Div to which we once belonged.
    Here for a few brief hours the Sqn was in clover,
    recovering a mixed bag of German vehicles of every shape and
    size. Lieut Wareing Was acting as Sqn L.O. at the time -
    Liaison Officer or Looting Officer ? A more heterogenous
    collection of vehs was never seen than that which moved next
    day (20 Aug) to harbour out of the battle SE of SASSY 185458.
    As the CO. shot by one very Junior Subaltern (2/Lt Macksie),
    at the wheel of some German juggernaut, so far forgot himself
    as to wave. The wonder is that he did not shout "Hyah".
    Here, in 21 Army Gp reserve, the Sqn stayed a few days
    cleaning up and playing with its new German toys. The whole
    tone of the party was set by Major Duffy's militant crash of
    gears in the pained but enduring Lieut Wareing's prize car.
    On 22nd August Capt Hall (along with Lieut Macksie) left 'C' Sqn
    to take over 2IC 'A' Sqn.
    25/26 Aug 44On 25th/26th August 44 'C' Sqn moved into 1st Aslt Tps
    Wkshps at Tilly Sur Seulles MR 8368 for complete refit and
    were not expected to be in operation again before 6/7 September.
    The personnel of the Sqn were to spend a few days in a well
    deserved rest in the Rest Camp at
    with a firm base at 'D' Sqn's location at 9865 7F/1 south-west
    of CAEN.

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