War Diary: 141st Royal Armoured Corps

Month and year: July 1944

The July 1944 war diary for C Squadron of the 141st Royal Armoured Corps covering their actions based in Normandy. Mentions operations in Granville sector, Operation Maori II.

National Archive Reference: WO 171/877

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Page 1 of 3
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
CRISTOT 871697 RAURAY 8965 1 Jul 2 Jul 2000 hrs 1600 hrs After a long stretch of inactivity and still in a state of depletion from 'D' Day Casualties 'C' Sqn were placed u/c
49 Div by 30 Corps then u/c 8 Armd Bde and moved to CRISTOT 871697. On the next day 14 Tp (Lieut. Grundy) moved to
mop up snipers in the area of RAURAY with 11 D.L.I. - they were really small German parties which had succeeded in
infiltrating through the British posns, in the general German counter-attack which was going on at that time. The
troop flamed a few hedgerows and flushed about five Germans. Meanwhile 11 Tp in sp 1 Tyneside Scottish were moving
up to the Start Line for a similar show when the Tp Comd's tank was hit and "brewed up" - three killed, Lt.Benzecry
and L/c Huzzey badly burned. It is believed that this was done by a British S.P. and if so emphasises the need for
very careful tank recognition by the other arms (the MK VII has several recognition features formerly taught as
being exclusive to German Tanks).
LA SENAUDIERE 792692 6 Jul 1900 hrs. The Sqn remained at CRISTOT for some days until placed u/c 50 Division in sp of 56 Bde when it moved to 792692
(LA SENAUDIERE).
LES PONTES CORBET 7 Jul 1900 hrs On the next day 13 and 11 Tps (each with only two tks) with four comd tks moved to LES PONTES CORBET preparatory to
assisting 56 Bde in operations in the GRANVILLE sector. The smallness of the force was due to the necessity of
maintaining further tps available for planning in another forthcoming show. On the next day (8 Jul) it was even
further sub-divided, Major Duffy with 11 Tp moved into the area 7565 where he remained all day prepared to assist
the 2 S.W.B. Capt Hall with 13 Tp (Lieut Sherman "rides again") moved to a R.V. at 765648 in sp of 2 Essex from
which place they were soon driven out by shelling. However somewhat later in the day (at 1300 and 2015 hrs) 13 Tp
flamed out M.G. post as 775646. Again Germans fled.
776648 9 Jul A similar show took place on 9 Jul when 13 Tp flamed M.Gs in the
hedgerows and lanes at 776648. Again the Germans were driven out with some killed and captured but a "Bazooka" shot
on Lieut Shearman's tank stopped his turret traverse, his engine and his W/T and jammed his gun. Desperate and repeated
pressure on the starter motor accompanied by prayers to all the Saints at last produced results and no casualties
were suffered.
LA SENAUDIERE 9 Jul On the same evening the whole Sqn were gathered together once more at LA SENAUDIERE.
During this period (partly owing to the extremely close country, partly owing to tactics imposed by other arms) 'C'
Sqn continuously suffered a process of integration and disintegration. Hence by 11 Jul the Sqn were once more
scattered over the front for Operations MAORI II (a drive on HOTTOT). 14 and 12 Tps were u/c 231 Bde and sub allotted
to 1 Hamps and 2 Devons respectively. During the day they were not required. By the evening the infantry
after an advance of several hundred yards, were on the outskirts of HOTTOT. They had no intention of advancing
further. Even so it was seriously suggested that the Crocodiles rush madly down the streets of HOTTOT (known to be
infested by German Tanks) flaming the whole way (of course anyone should know they a Crocodiles can only flame
almost straight ahead). The C.O. was fortunately present and on very obvious grounds managed to avoid this senseless
gesture by appeal to 30 Corps, who subsequently issued a directive on the use of Crocodiles. This was typical of
the many fantasies designed for Crocodiles in their early history by Crocodiles "know-alls"
835665 834668 11 Jul. Further over on the left in a parallel thrust 11 Tp (under that massive and canny colossus from Northumberland
Page 2 of 3
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
Lieut Waring) were u/c of 70 Bde with 10 D.L.I. they flamed the woods at 835665 and 834668, getting excellent armour
sp from the Sherwood Rangers. The infantry came in well and 24 PW were taken. Sgt Bovington and Lieut Wareing did good
work in extricating Sgt Bovington's tank under mortar fire - the tank was almost of its tracks and astride two Teller
mines.
792692 12 Jul. Released from MAORI II 'C' Sqn returned to LA SENAUDIERE, where Major Duffy made valiant and indeed successful efforts
to make his Camp the smartest this side of the ORNE.
LOUCELLES. 8773. 15 Jul. On 15 Jul the Sqn came under command of 59 Div thence u/c 33 Armd Bde and moved to LOUCELLES for 59 Div operation to
capture LANDELLE - NOYERS. Could 'C' Sqn remain together?. No. 11 Tp (2/Lt. Wareing) with 12 Tp (2/Lt. McFarland) under
Capt Barber were placed in sp of 177 Bde, 14 Tp (Lieut Grundy) under Capt Hall were placed in sp of 197 Bde whilst 13 Tp
(Lieut Melch) were in Div res.
871646 17 Jul 1500 hrs 14 Tp(Lieut Grundy) was the first in action assaulting the woods and orchards at 871646 with 'C' Coy of the Royal Warwicks,
and very well sp by 'B' Sqn. 1 Northants Yeomanry. Further sp was provided by a battery of SP.s, the Div Arty and inf
mortars. Although small it was in every way a successful action. The plan was well tied-up, the infantry moved some
20 yds only behind the Crocodiles and the Crocodiles were released beyond mortar range immediately after the action
Besa was used in addition to flame but owing to the proximity of the infantry 75mm HE was off. Several PW were captured.
NOYERS. 883627. 17 Jul At the same time plans were going on for the use of Crocodiles on the outskirts of NOYERS in four separate phases. 12 Tp
were designed for Phase I but owing to the difficult country two of the Crocodiles developed mechanical defects and could
not get to the Start Line. In phase III 11 Tp (Lieut Wareing) successfully flamed houses first knocked down by the AVRES
at 883627 but the inf did not follow up - in fact Lieut Wareing claims that he did the operation in magnificent solitude,
neither Germans nor British being anywhere near.
NOYERS 894626 18 Jul. 18 Jul. In the same operation other minor attacks were made on the next day all of which were affected by mechanical troubles
which have a high proportional effect on the efficiency of a single troop effort. They were successful and without
casualty but indecisive because the infantry did not come in quickly enough. Finally an attack on the orchards and
buildings to the N.E. of NOYERS at 894626 with 1/6 Staffs, 2 AVREs and the sp of one field regiment. The inf did not
in fact reach the start line, nor did the inf coy comd keep his R.V. with the Armd Comd and the Crocodile Comd (Capt
Hall). Nevertheless the armour assured Capt Hall that the inf could be there and both AVREs and Crocodiles (13. Tp under
Lieut. Welch) went in. All four were "brewed up" by two 75mm guns, this was deduced many days later when it was possible
to examine them). Two Mk VIIs and trailers were thus completely destroyed with no hopes of recovery as the inf had not
occupied the ground. Lieut Welch was killed in baling out (although Sgt Warner gave him smoke protection), the gunner
was killed by the 75mm and the other three badly burned. Sgt lamer's crew were evacuated by the remaining Crocodile and
he himself made valiant efforts singlehanded and on foot to go to Lieut Welch's assistance. Futile losses these.
From the 16-18 Jul then 'C' Sqn had thus found themselves committed to six single tp actions many of which had been
seriously affected by mechanical defects. The main lessons from all these actions were -
(1) that an allotment of a single troop is fatal as mechanical defects (which are relatively high for the Crocodile
Special equipment)have a high proportional effect on a single fighting tps strength.
Page 3 of 3
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
(2) It is absolutely vital for the Crocodiles to do their OWN planning with the infantry and have a close-tie-up.
(3) Without infantry following behind the whole effort is completely wasted and at far greater risk to the Crocodiles.
On conclusion of the operation 'C' Sqn returned to LS SENAUDIERE but before leaving the operation a word must be said
of the very good sp given by 144 RAC under Lieut-Col Jolly in the actual fighting. It was first class.
BRECY 24 Jul. Soon afterwards 'C' Sqn travelled up to RHQ at BRECY for a rest and were not on the move again until 29 Jul for the drive
South of Caumont.
LA PAUMERIE 29 Jul In this operation 'C' Sqn with two tps under Capt Barber allotted to 50 Div, thence sub-allotted 14 Tp
(Lieut Grundy) to 231 Bde and 11 Tp (2/Lt. Wareing) to 56 Bde. The reminder under Major Duffy were u/c 8 Armd Bde and
moved to LA PAUMERIE, No protests at this splitting were of any avail - everyone must have a little bit "just in case".
And of course - as the next day proved - this resulted in nobody having anything. The admin and operational difficulties
of splitting a Sqn into detail were absurd and the next few days were a nightmare for replenishment and communications,
greatly impairing operational efficiency.
It was during the move down that Major Duffy had his celebrated night out. Having given orders for his portion of the
Sqn to move to a given location he carried on liaising with the thousand and one personages and institutions which at any
given moment will provide you with a hundred and one "perfect job for the Crocodiles old boy". In the darkness Major
Duffy, enthroned in his scout car, set off to find his Sqn. For hours this search went on until from out of those
electric whiskers there proceeded an obscenity and "we'll kip here for the night" At first light the 10.5cm under whose
very muzzle he had unbeknowingly parked his car opened fire - the car was given an initial impetus of some 12 yards and
never stopped moving.
ST GERMAIN D'ECTOT 768624 30 Jul 2000 At 0800 hrs on 30 Jul 11 Tp under Lieut. Wareing was scheduled to assist 2 S.W.B. forward to ST GERMAIN D'ECTOT. At
0800 hrs Lieut Wareing found himself with not a single trailer fit for action. The route to the start line was too
tough for them. The infantry Bn without success launched three attacks on M.Gs in the orchard at 768624 taking heavy
casualties. At 2000 hrs Lieut. Wareing was once more ready and assaulted with 'C' Coy 2 S.W.B. and one Tp 13/18 Hussars.
As he concluded his flaming Lieut Wareing noticed the infantry some distance away in the lee of a bogged Crocodile
thoroughly enjoying the fireworks display. With Northumbrian forthrightness he dismounted, went back and took them
"by the ears" on to the objective. The M.Gs had been driven off without casualty either to infantry or Crocodiles.
The lesson was obvious. A two tp effort could have replaced Lieut Wareing's Tp in the first place and the whole show
saved much earlier. The next day 14 Tp were released from 231 Bde and sent to join 11 Tp with 56 Bde.
30 Jul Lieut. Grundy had been having a trying time with 231 Bde situated as he was without Tpt and in a deluge of purposeless
requests. However he survived with the usual polished sung froid until very gratefully he rejoined Capt Barber.
ST GERMAIN D'ECTOT 768624 31 Jul On the morning of 31 Jul 11 Tp flamed the orchard and house at 768624 (first tackled by the AVREs), assisting 'D' Coy
of the 2 S.W.Bs after a concentration of mediums in the village. This time the infantry showed no hesitation and were
on to the objective almost before the flaming had ceased. The evening twilight overtook 11 & 14 Tps strolling arm in
arm under the paternal eye of Capt. Barber in the wall-through advance of the 2 Essex to LAUNAY.