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    War Diary: 141st Royal Armoured Corps

    Month and year: June 1944

    The June 1944 war diary for the 141st Royal Armoured from their embarkment at Southampton to their landing in Normandy and fighting inland to Fontenay Le Pernel with Crocodile tanks assisting in the capture of several towns and several hundred prisoners of war.

    National Archive Reference: WO 171/877

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    Page 1 of 4
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Blackdown, HANTS12(1) Movement to Marshalling Area
    (2) Report received (att as apx) of Tps 13 and 15 under Lieut. JWG. Shearman and EM Davies in
    action since 'D' Day. Summary of their actions as follows.
    (a) June 2nd 1944: Lieut JWG.Shearman in sp 69 Inf Bde Gp and Lieut. EM. Davies in sp 231 Inf Bde -
    50 (W) Div - embarked Southampton
    June 3rd 1944: Skeleton HQ and Echelon under Capt. HCD.Barber embarked Southampton.
    (b) 6th June 1944: France - 'D' Day: 15 Tp landed H + 35 and lost all 3 Crocodiles on the
    beaches - one man drowned and one man missing, one Crocodile subsequently recovered.
    13 Tp under Lieut.Lt.Shearman landed H+45 hrs. One tank lost
    on the beaches - drowned - remaining two advanced in sp of 7 Green Howards to attack gun posn at
    pt 44 (918844). Enemy surrendered after 2 rds of 75mm. Remainder of the day sp inf along axis
    CREPON - VILLIERS LE SEC - CREULLY and assisted in taking several hundred PW by use of the 75mm
    and Besa only. Night 6/7 harboured in CREPON.
    (c) 7th June 1944: 13 Tp shelled at first light by close range enemy bty. Assisted by RA signallers
    armed with grenades and the Westminster Dgns flails the two tks assaulted the posn and after 8
    shots of flame 150 PW surrendered. Tk recovered from 15 Tp joined 13 Tp.
    (d) 8th June 1944: The 3 tks moved to Brecy and the skeleton echelon to SOMMERVIEU.
    (e) 11th June 1944: Two tks sp HAMPS from ST ANDRE' to main Rs S of ST PAULS DU VERNAY. No opposition.
    Tks returned to 231 Bde HQ at ST ANDREDuring the evening jettisoned trailers and participated
    in counter attack on LA BELLIE EPINE firing 75mm and Besa into the houses.
    (f) 12 June 1944: Tks harboured at JUAY MONDAY and 15 Tp crews took over
    (g) 14th June 44: 15 Tp attacked. LA SENAUDIERE782689 alone. KO'd one MK III and one Panther,
    Casualties - one Crocodile, one killed, two wounded, two missing. Remaining 2 tks returned to
    (3) Main Lessons
    (a) MK VII Crocodiles must be used primarily as flame NOT as A tk gun. In the early days of the invasion
    however, general principles had to go by the board in emergencies.
    (b) The few shots of flame actually fired did prove success and whilst disappointed at the wastage
    (4 out of 6 drowned and one knocked out whilst moving in recce
    Page 2 of 4
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    FRANCEpatrol. The tps were very favourable impressed by its initial performance.
    22-23'HQ', 'A' and 'B' Squadrons landed in FRANCE and harboured at ST. GABRIEL 889794 (Sheet 7F1 1/50000
    24thRemainder of 'C' Squadron landed and harboured at SOMMERVIEU 833816 Sheet 7E5.
    'A' Squadron detached to 8th Corps under comd 31st Tk Bde
    'B' Squadron detached to 1st Corps under comd 27th Armd Bde
    'C' Squadron already detached to 30th Corps.
    The Regiment was therefore spread along the whole 2nd Armt front.
    25th'C' Sqn moved to JUAY MONDAY
    'A' Sqn moved to Assembly Area South of Cully 9076 (1/50000 Sheet 7F1) to participate in op 'EPSOM'. Tps
    1 and 2 and 3 under Maj RL.Cooper u/c 7th R.Tanks. Tps 4 and 5 under under Capt. Strachan u/c 9th R.
    Tanks. First objective of 7th R.Tanks with 46th Bde - CHEUX 9166 LE HAUT DU BOIS 907663.
    First objective 9th R. Tanks. with 44 Bde LA GAULLE 921679, WOOD 928679, St.MANVIEU 930686, Crocodile
    were to follow the adv and be called in as required.
    Night 25th June 44 both parties 'A' Sqn moved to FUPs area 894713 and 920715.
    Transaction note: entry has St.MANVIEU 630686, believe it should be St.MANVIEU 930686
    26th(a) In the adv to CHEUX by 7th RTR crocodiles not employed by engaged a few enemy PANTHERS. One tk
    holed by an 88mm three times in the engine and put out of action. Tk Comd (Sgt. Wheatcroft) ordered
    crew to vacate the tk in case of fire and himself remained on board.
    (b) 4 and 5 Tps under Capt. GH.Strachan were employed in sp of the RSF to clear up ST MANVIEU. This op
    very successful except for one strongpoint where inf casualties made it impossible until the next
    morning when Capt.Strachan staged a fresh attack with a coy of the Wiltshires. Lieut. NH.Harvey's
    Crocodile which shed a track in the middle of the strongpoint was then found to be empty and the crew
    was presumed captured. During the operation another Crocodile shed a track and the driver (L/c.D.Rogers)
    was killed by a sniper. One tk overturned. Total Casualties:- 3 Crocodiles (later recovered),one
    killed, one officer and four missing presumed captured.
    27-30'A' Sqn provided tps to 7th and 9th RTRs to be used if required in the adv on the R. ODON. The
    Crocodiles were not engaged used but a great strain was placed on the crews as there were
    continually out. Also in counter attack role against the German thrust on CHEUX and FONTENAY LE PERNEL
    Page 3 of 4
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    FRANCECasualties NIL
    'B' Sqn moved to 033795 (1/59,000 Sheet 7F1)
    27thNo. 8 Tp 'B' Sqn under Lieut.RC.Brooke in sp of E.Yorks attacked fwd edge of wood at Chateau Le Landel
    032736. Seeing his other two tks going too far right Lt.RC made a dash himself for the
    correct objective and was knocked out by a 75mm A tk gun at 20 yards range. Lieut RC.Brooke and gunner killed.
    Subsequently another member of the crew was killed by mortar fire at the RAP.
    27-30'B' Sqn on call if required. Planning stage foe next advance.
    The whole of this period presented a process of learning "the hard way" a process in which the
    Regiment has very little control - a series of penny packet experiments. From these small actions
    however the necessities of adhering to the following principles was very forcibly brought out :-
    (a) The first essential of any plan entailing the use of crocodiles is to ensure they are got to within
    80 yds of the objective to be flamed - this entails armour protection to the flanks, arty and smoke.
    (b) Very clear signals must be laid down between the inf and supporting crocodiles.
    (c) The inf must follow the crocodiles in or the enemy will return immediately.
    (d) If the crocodiles are held back until required any given strongpoint should be attacked by FRESH
    inf (eg res pl or coy) as it is impossible to make proper plan with the inf pinned to the ground.
    (e) A wood should be attacked if possible on the fwd edge with the flanks well screened by smoke
    or covered by armour and SPs with smoke on the objective and demoralising smoke behind. The flaming
    should be done at angles. (especially if the crocodiles are few in number),and into the wind so
    that the flame smoke is blown back and forms a protection to the tank's rear.

    Diagram showing recommendation on how to use smoke with crocodiles
    Page 4 of 4
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    FRANCEFlame can only be used against the edge of the wood ie to get the inf INTO the wood where they
    can fight on level terms.
    (f) A village should be taken up the length of the main street going ahead only calling on
    the flame to deal with specific string pts.

    Diagram showing recommendation on how to assault village with crocodiles up main street

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