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    War Diary: 5th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment

    Month and year: June 1944

    The 5th Royal Tank Regiment (5 RTR) June 1944 War Diary covers their departure from FELIXSTOWE to Normandy and their fight inland to Jerusalem, Normandy

    National Archive Reference: WO 171/867

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    Page 1 of 5
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    Camp R512100Regt commenced marshalling on the main
    FELIXSTOWE-IPSWICH road (Trimley Heath area)
    prior to loading
    Marshalling Area20615Regt moved to "The Hards" FELIXSTOWE to
    commence loading operation on to their
    respective LCTs
    1030Loading completed, flotilla moved to take
    position in River Orwell.
    1145Crafts in position and at anchor
    30900Craft comds briefed their crews regarding
    operations both immediate and future, i.e.
    landing area, objective BAYEUX
    4No event, flotilla still at anchor awaiting
    favourable weather reports.
    River Orwell50815Flotilla moves up and puts out to sea. Regt
    due to arrive in France at D-day second tide
    after 50 Div have made the assault the
    morning of D-day.
    At sea6At sea. Sea choppy; few cases of slight
    7Regt landed on beaches at HABLE DE-HEURAT
    One "Firefly" and a CS were lost by drowning.
    Owing to weather conditions and shipping con-
    gestion landing was not completed until 1500
    hrs. Tanks still under the packet commanders
    proceeded to the concentration area, most of
    the de-waterproofing being done en route.
    Here would be seen the effects of the success
    ful advance of 50 Div and naval gun barrage.
    The Regt concentrated in the area just south
    of SOMMERVIEU and was organised as fast as
    possible so as to meet expected enemy attack.
    Sommervieu8"A" Sqn under comd of Major MACDONALD were
    called upon to support 56 Bde in clearing
    pocket of enemy resistance in the SULLY area
    7683, who were situated in the chateau there.
    Heavy sniping was first experienced here.
    The country proved to be very close in this
    area allowing Boche inf to get very close to the
    tanks. On one occassion a tank under comd
    of Lt. Garnett was boarded, prompt action by
    the officer using a Sten gun and his operator
    a revolver saved the situation. A lot of
    trouble was caused by an enemy SP gun working
    its way into A Sqn positions in SULLY village
    and succeded in knocking out one "Firefly".
    Even that at this stage it was becoming very clear
    that fighting ranges would be extremely short
    upwards of 50 yds.
    Page 2 of 5
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    SOMMERVIEU8B Sqn under comd of Major THOMSON was sent
    North out to support the Commandos in their advance
    out of PORT-EN-BESSIN and to cons-
    olidate positions. Here much sniping and
    close range tactice were again encountered. B
    Sqn returned to Regtl leaguer area at night. A
    Sqn remain out in VAUX-SUR-AIN area for one
    night. At this stage it is worth mentioning
    that a very good shoot was done against the
    chateau in SULLY, only marred by the fact that
    during the withdrawal for the night under that cover
    of smoke the only exit being a narrowbridge,
    the Sherman belonging to the OP of the 5 RHA
    hit the bridge and fell over the side killing
    Capt NOBLE MC.
    Losses: Personnel. Own: Killed-Cpl Davison,
    Tpr Walker, Tpr Lones.
    Wounded- Cpl Fisher, Lt. Wilde
    Tanks: 1 Firefly, 1 CS Cromwell (by Mortar bomb)
    Enemy: 4 x 88mm guns, 1 x 75mm gun, 1 x 20mmSP,
    1 Opel car, 1 x 75mm SP damaged
    9A Sqn return a to Regtl leaguer. C Sqn leave to
    take up a position at MORNIREL asclose support
    to 50 Div in that area where they leaguered
    that night. The remainder of the Regt carried
    out maintenance during the day.
    1730CO attended conference at Bde, subject: Future Operations.
    to630Bde moved the forward with the intention of cap-
    turing the high ground between HOTTOT and
    JUGUIGNY passing through the FDLs of 50 Div
    south of BAYEUX the regt being on the right
    flank. Owing to the close country the regt
    moved one up with C Sqn (Major BURT) leading.
    Progress was very slow. Lt HAYWOOD at FOLLIOT
    found himself near a small enemy leagure where
    he put out of action a Mark enemy IV before having to
    withdraw, B Sqn were then ordered to try and
    find a gap on the right flank. The village of
    BERNIERES BOCAGE was ultimately nearly surrounded
    but an SP thought to be a Panther
    knocked out 2 Cromwells. Meanwhile 4 CLY had
    reached BUCCELS on the CL abd forward
    elements where reported in TILLY SUR SEULLS
    though this was though doubtful. The Regt
    then leaguered in the ELLON area for the night
    Losses. Tanks, Own 2 Cromwells
    Personnel killed: Lt D.I.Grahame-Parker
    L/C Perry. Tprs Walker,
    Harris, Langford, Tutheridge and
    White, N.
    Wounded Sgt Cook
    Missing Tprs Cherley, Lynch, O'Callaghan.
    Page 3 of 5
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    ELLON110430The Regt broke leaguer at first light and
    moved forward towards the TILLY-BALLEROY
    main road in an attempt to cut the road and
    so push on to original objectives. The
    village of BERNIERS-BOCAGE was reported clear
    by Recce, this infm proved to be incorrect
    as enemy Inf were still in nearby woods.
    Recces leading Tk was K.O. by an SP Gun
    about a mile further on. Meanwhile One Coy
    of the Essex Regt occupied the village.
    The Regt then moved on across country "A"Sqn
    under comd Major MACDONALD leading. The
    large open space between FOLLIOT and LINGEVRES
    was crossed by "A" Sqn. On reaching
    the woods near LINGEVRES enemy tks opened up
    and two CROMWELLS and a FIREFLY were KO'd.
    "A"Sqn in co-operation with 1 Pl "I" Coy 1RB
    was ordered to proceed South through the
    woods to LINGEVRES. Good progress was made
    up to about 300x when Rifle Secs who had
    got too far ahead of Tk support were ambushed
    and suffered a few casualties. At this
    stage "A" Sqn halted, "B" Sqn took up a posn
    on the right, "C" Sqn taking posns in high
    ground in the rear. It was impossible to
    get through the wood. Lt. HEYNES was on
    the right flank of 'A' Sqn close to the wood
    and was suddenly hit by a presumed Mk V Tk
    which crept up along a sunken road unobserved
    German Inf undoubtedly reported his posn to
    the lk V. Two members of his crew were
    killed, L/Cpl Day managed to escape
    although his leg was shattered. He was later
    picked up. The 'A' Tk of this Troop comd by
    Sgt Hill was also hit by the same gun
    almost immediately afterwards killing two
    of his crew. That evening the Essex put
    in an attack on the wood 8070. The
    objective was taken and although attacked
    by two Mk IV Flame Throwers they succeeded
    in knocking one out with a PIAT gun and
    their posn remained intact. That night
    the Regt leaguered in the area FOLLIOT.
    Losses: Own 1 Firefly 1 Cromwell
    1 Honey
    Killed Cpls Bridge, Tprs Holton,
    Carter, Richardson, Haw,
    Hornsbury, Musson, L/C Morriss
    Wounded:- L/Cpl Hay, LCpl Day
    Page 4 of 5
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    120430Regt took up defensive positions on the high
    ground until the afternoon when the Bde was
    ordered to carry out a flanking move and to
    capture the high ground South East of VILLERS-
    BOCAGE. Excellent progress was made and the
    Regt leaguered LA MOULOTIERE having met with no
    enemy opposition.
    FOLLIOT130500Advance resumed with 4CLY leading and elements
    of 131 Bde were left behind to form a firm base
    All went well until one Sqn 4CLY had passed
    through VILLERS BOCAGE. Their RHQ was then
    attacked by Mk V1 tks causing consideable
    damage. It now became clear that the 2SS
    Panzer Div was in the area and the 5RTR
    immediately took up posns on the high ground East of
    the village AMAY-SUR-SEULLS. Again the country
    was very close and as the enemy attacked it was
    clear that his inf were employed as eyes for
    the tks; They advanced; drew our fire then
    returned to point out our locations to the tk
    comds who dealt with the targets.
    Fighting of this nature carried on throughout
    the day. The Regt leaguered for the night in
    "squadron boxes". 4 CLY, 11 and 8 H, formed
    a close Bde leaguer, 131 Bde forming an outer
    perimeter. Losses; Own - 4 Tks. Enemy - 1 MkIV.
    Losses . Own
    Wounded: Lt HAYWOOD, Sgt FISHWICK,
    Tpr LARNER
    AMAY SUR SEULLS14The day was quiet regt being on the defensive
    and strengthened their posns all around.
    Towards evening a strong enemy attack was
    launched and this was thrown back with considerable
    losses to the enemy, official figures
    unknown but estimated losses were 8 Tks destroyed
    and approx 500 inf. RAF using rocket bombs
    attacked VILLERS BOCAGE. At 2300 hrs the Bde
    was ordered to withdraw to area La MOULOTIERE
    as the left flank was far too exposed, destroying
    all equipment which dropped out en route. This
    was done under cover of a heavy bombing attack
    on the enemy posns. After travelling all
    night the Regt leaguered at LA MOULOTIERE at
    0600 hrs on 15 being the last unit to leave
    battle area
    Losses: Own. Killed SSM RAMAGE.
    Page 5 of 5
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    LA MOULOTIERE151430À Sqn took up posns at LA PAUMERIE
    remainder of regt carried out maintenance.
    161400The Bde Comd addressed the men and thanked all
    ranks for the fine show which was put up at
    VILLERS BOCAGE this move being a tactical one
    had fulfilled its puspose.
    17Lt. NEWTON of the Westminster Dragoons posted to
    this unit
    18 )Sqns still supporting 131 Bde at LA PAUMERIE
    19 )
    20 )
    21 )No event
    22 )
    23 )
    24 )
    251000CO ,Sqn leaders and 2 i/c attend the tk busting
    demonstration near BALLEROY organised by the
    US Army
    26Major BURT wounded by shell in C Sqn leaguer
    Sgt Henry received head wounds, both evac to
    3 CCS where Sgt Henry died the following day
    27No event
    28Major ADAMS rejoined unit and assulied comd of
    C Sqn
    29No event
    30Tpr Holland HQ Sqn wounded and evac to 3CCS due
    to enemy air attack on leaguer
    Regt moved to Jerusalem area.