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    War Diary: 7th Bn Royal Tank Regiment

    Month and year: September 1944

    The 7th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment September 1944 war diary covers the units advance through France from Gace to Abbeville

    National Archive Reference: WO 171/868

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    Page 1 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Field1Training continues. Finishing touches put to all Maintenance jobs, and
    painting of vehicles with new Bde signs etc.
    Excellent concert given by 59 Div Concert Party in the evening at our
    1900Received Warning order of move to new location - area North of Gace 5448.
    21015Harbour Parties moved to new area.
    1415Bn moved via Argentan
    2315Arrived in New Harbour - 47 Miles.
    Strength of Unit 41 offrs and 625 OR's plus 1 Offr and 25 OR's LAD and PadreAppx 'A'
    3Remained in present area i.e. 609573 Nr Le Sap. Owing to fairly long run
    for Churchill Tanks yesterday (47Miles) quite a number of heavy maintenance
    jobs had to be done.
    4Maintenance continues.
    1030Received Warning Order to move. To stand by at 3 hrs notice and 2 hrs
    notice from 1400 hrs. Informed we had to be concentrated in area North of
    Louviers by 7th Sept - 3 days time.
    1610Received orders to move to Bernay area.
    1900Tanks moved
    0030Arrived at Harbour - 29 Miles.
    50330Received Orders for move to area North of Seine. Route - Brionne -
    Pont de L'Arche. Arrived into Harbour Area Croix-Mane - about 2 miles NWest
    of Croix Mare 0334 - Journey 64 Miles. This makes 140 Miles in 4 days.
    2200Tanks arrived in new Harbour.
    6Maintenance in morning. Tanks commenced to march to concentration area.
    Continued overdeaf.
    Page 2 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Field6 (CTD)1430Tanks left. Croix Mare
    1930Arrived at concentration area Location 613364. 29 Miles Route:- Yvetot -
    Bolbec - Goderville.
    CO attended conf at Bde HQ ref attack on Le Havre and received outline
    70900CO visited 56 Inf Bde HQ to arrange the necessary details. CO issued
    outline plan to Sqn Leaders.
    1700Sqn Leaders visited their respective Bn Comdrs of 56 Inf Bde and carried
    out Recces. Attack due to take place on Saturday 9th.
    Rained continually during the day.
    8Heavy rain all day. D Day for attak on Le Havre now Sunday 10th. The day
    spent on Recces of Routes to FVP's and start lines and coordinating
    conferences with Infantry, Flails and Avres.
    9weather still bad
    1930Tanks leave present location for Lying up position at MR Area 5434.
    'C' Sqn on 'A' Route A, B & RHQ on 'C' Route. Routes difficult - steep
    inclines and going bad.
    C Sqn arrived in their area by 2300 hrs. A,C & RHQ unable to reach their
    area before 2300 hrs. Instructed to cease any movement after 2300 hrs
    owing to noise reaching the enemy. Surprise needed. A, B & RHQ
    harboured half way to lying up position.
    Strength of Unit 41 Offrs and 622 OR's plus 1 Offr and 24 OR's LAD and Padre
    Appx 'B'
    10Weather fine
    0530A,B & RHQ moved fwd to lying up position and arrived in area 5434 by 0645 hrs
    Tank and Gun maintenance carried out.
    Attack on Ie Havre. Continued Overleaf.
    Page 3 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Field10Attack on Le Havre.
    1. General. Operation Astonia was the code name used for the attack on
    Le Havre by 49 and 51 H Divs. 7 R Tks was in support of 56 Inf Bde
    throughout the operation
    2. Plan 56 Inf Bde was given the task of breaking through the enemy
    defences and taking the Plateaux to the S.W. of Montvilliers as Phase 1
    the operation.
    The initial assault was carried out on a 2 Bn Front SWB's in support.
    C Sqn 7 R Tks, 1 Sqn Flails, 1/2 Sqn Flame throwers and a Tp of AVREs
    Glos Regt left with In support. B Sqn 7 R Tks and other Arms as above.
    The Essex and A Sqn 7 R Tks were to come through the 2 leading Bns to
    take 2 Posts on the Plateau and get a footing on the next plateaux to
    the South,
    3. The Attack Phase 1. After an hours most accurate bombing of the plateaux
    the assault started at 1830 hrs. The Flails supported by B. & C Sqns
    7 R Tks started clearing the lanes through the minefields and by 1900 hrs
    they had made 2 lanes on the right and one on the left Front. On the right
    some opposition was met from an A/T Gun firing from the right flank.
    4 Flails were hit and destroyed. C Sqn 7 R Tks then started to pass
    through the lanes and in doing so lost 4 tanks on mines. This was due
    to the fact that the lanes were not properly cleared and there were
    other mines not shown on the overlay maps, and therefore not flailed.
    on the left flank B Sqn passed through the minefield without mishap
    despite the fact that there was only one lane. The Inf and other supporting
    Arms came up rapidly on both flanks and by 1915 hrs the first enemy strong
    points had been taken.
    Continued Overleaf
    Page 4 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Field10Very heavy shell fire on the right flank caused casualties to the Inf and
    Tank crews This delayed operations for about 30 mins, but by 2130 hrs all
    positions on this flank had been taken.
    On the left flank the attack went according to plan and enemy opposition
    was slight. The Essex and A Sqn passed their Obs just before dark and
    completed the capture of the plateau
    A Sqn remained with the Essex during the night. B Sqn rallied back and
    it was possible to re-fuel and re-stock with ammo.
    C Sqn remained on the plateau as it was impossible for them to get back
    through the minefield gap owing to traffic congestion.
    11At dawn B Sqn rejoined the Glos on the plateau and were ready by 0700 hrs
    to advance when required
    0900147 Bde started to pass through 56 Bde with the Leics directed on Foret de
    Montegeon. They had no Tanks with them as their supporting Regt was unable
    to get up in time. The 147 Bde therefore asked for assistance from OC
    7 R Tks. A Sqn were accordingly ordered to support and half the Sqn went
    fwd with the Leics. This half Sqn fought with the Leics for three hrs and
    succeeded in getting them on to their objective. They then returned and
    were replenished by ferrying Amn and Petrol in Stuart Tanks through the
    minefield. No B vehicles could get through at this stage.
    At approx 1500 hrs O'sC Glos and 7 R Tks obtained permission from the G.O.C.
    to launch the Glos and B Sqn accross the River South of the plateau and
    into the town. 2 X 75mm A/TK guns were encountered at 522293, but were
    quickly knocked out. The advance continued rapidly and many prisoners
    were taken
    A Sqn with the SWB's followed up and at last light both Sqns were in the town
    area 508284. They remained with their Inf throughout the night.
    Continued Overleaf.
    Page 5 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Field120800B Sqn with the Glos and A Sqn with the SWB's started a race for the sea
    B Sqn advanced along the road running West from 510283 with A Sqn on the
    left on the main Rd running west from 510278. Sqns first obstacle was
    the Fort at 498283 which contained 400 Germans. The road was mined just
    short of the Fort and one A/T Gun gave a certain amount of trouble.
    However after 10 mins bombardment with TK 75mm H.E. the Fort surrendered.
    The mines were soon cleared and the advance continued.
    A Sqn had to deal with 3 A/TK Guns but otherwise met with little opposition.
    The operation maindy consisted of blasting Pill Boxes and collecting
    1130A Tp of B Sqn raced ahead and with no Inf in support entered the main
    German HQ. This Tp took 400 P of W incl the Garrison Cmdr and his Staff.
    The latter surrendered the Fortress of Le Havre to OC 7 R Tks.
    By 1500 hrs neither Sqn could find any more Enemy to take prisoner and
    operations ceased.
    A & B Sqns concentrated in area Montevilliers for the night and C Sqn who had
    moved back to rear Rally during the morning remained there.
    13During the morning the Regt moved back to its original concentration area
    MR 613364. Maintenance of Tanks etc. was commenced
    14Tank and Gun Maintenance etc.
    15Tank and Gun Maintenance etc.
    16Harbour Parties moved off to Recce new area. Sheet 9 E/1 Belmesnil MR 1951
    Strength of Unit 45 Offrs and 632 OR's plus 1 Offr and 23 OR's LAD and Padre
    Appx 'C'
    Continued Overleaf
    Page 6 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Field17Tanks moved off at 0900 hrs.
    Route Goderville - Beroute - Rouville - Fauville - Yvetot - Totes -
    Tanks arrived at approx 1900 hrs . Length of journey - 50 Miles.
    18All tanks commenced a heavy maintenance period under the direction of the
    Tech Adj.
    19Tank Maintenance.
    20Tank maintenance. Individual Training commenced in Gunnery, Wireless and
    D & M.
    21Tank Maintenance and Individual Training.
    22Tank Maintenance and Individual Training
    23Tank Maintenance and Individual Training.
    Strength of Unit 46 offrs and 642 OR's plus 1 Offr and 24 OR's LAD and Padre
    Appx 'D'
    24Recreation and Rest Day
    25Memorial Service held in morning. Individual Training commenced in afternoon
    26The maintenance. Individual Training. 95 HE Shoot for Gunners in afternoon.
    27Maintenance on Tanks continues - Individual Training
    Page 7 of 7
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    Field28Maintenance on Tks
    1000Receive Infm - Bn to move to area South of Dunkirk, To move at 0700 hrs
    Friday 29th - First stage to be just west of Abbeville
    290830Bn moved from area Belmesnil en route for just South of Dunkirk
    Route - Belmesnil - Longueville - Torcy - Enverman - Fresnoy -Blangy.
    Bn harbour 4 miles South of Abbeville,
    1700Tanks arrived in new area Mileage - 50 Miles
    30Bn continued its march. This stage took us to Forest Montiers - 3 miles
    SE of Rue (owing to traffic etc. Abbeville was by-passed to the West)
    Route: St Valery Sur Mer - Noyelles - Forest Montiers
    1040Tanks moved from harbour area
    1505Arrived new harbour Mileage - 30 Miles.
    Strength of Unit - 47 Offrs and 637 OR's plus 1 Offr and 26 OR's LAD and Padre.
    Appx 'E'