The 11th Hussars, (Prince Albert's Own)
September 1939 To March 1946
||CO: Lt Col AT Smail
||11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own)
Continued at first light with no real difficulty till Wadi TOGH at X7002. This was a wadi 200 feet deep with steep sides. Finally a very steep way was found into the wadi and a fairly easy way out. We continued towards BUNGEM till we got 2 miles short of it when a Ju88 flew past nearby but did not see us. 2Tp who were in front could see the fort and 8 MT around it.
The enemy lit a smoke candle and the 88 appeared to leave the far side.
The going either side of the road running South from BUNGEM was impassable to ACs with sand dunes up to 40 feet high. We withdrew into hills about 5 miles SE of BUNGEM for the night.
Sqn still with RHQ at Y3147. L/Sgt Hall returned with his Tp arriving at 1630 hours.
Sqn came under orders of 8th Armd Bde and moved to Y4847 to be closer to them. Remained in that position for the night.
At 0630 hours 2Tp reported Verey lights in the BUNGEM area and at 0830 hours they could see 6 MET stationary at X5203 and 4 more at 5303.
At 1200 hours 4Tp was sent out to watch BUNGEM and the Sqn moved NE to the higher ground as communication with RHQ was getting difficult.
5Tp remained out, the other Tps were called in to SHQ who spent the night at X6185.
Sqn moved with RHQ at 1200 hours to area of MISURATA arriving at 1750 hours where the night was spent.
||C Sqn.3Tp was sent out to continue the role of getting through the dunes but without any luck. A bad sandstorm came on and the Sqn (less 4Tp) moved further NE to X6118 where the night was spent. One car had to be abandoned with big end and another was on tow.
A Sqn had come into the line to our North.
Sqn moved at first light and by 1000 hours was in the area X7540. From there 1Tp Sgt Trumper moved to X6828 and 5Tp Sgt Longmate Tp X6038. Both Tps reported no movement seen and 5Tp returned to SHQ at last light.
1Tp reported the going West from BIR SITRA area as being virtually impassable.
We had to take over from the Royals. At 1100 hours the Sqn moved to X5958. 1Tp, 2Tp and 3Tp went out to the Royals positions but did not take over until the next day.
4Tp got observation of BUNGEM and 5Tp was sent to contact A Sqn, then to a position at X5118.
At 1300 hours the two SHQ ACs plus 3Tp and the Jeeps set out for a local recce of BUNGEM and 3Tp got within 1 mile of it and SHQ plus 4Tp and the Jeeps moved across the road about 3 miles to the North.
At 1500 hours 3Tp reported 2 men on the escarpment to the West of BUNGEM and 3 MET stationary in the area. 3Tp remained in observation and SHQ and 4Tp and the jeeps moved into the broken country to the West of the track with the object of getting behind the enemy.
After going West for about 4 miles SHQ and 4Tp and jeeps turned South and saw 6 men running from a high point into a wadi. They were chased by SHQ who suddenly came under fire from Bredas. SHQ and 4Tp then went hull-down on a ridge on the other side and saw 3 enemy ACs, one 8 wheeler, and 2 trucks with A/Tk guns. A duel at about 1000 yards ensued and eventually the enemy called it a day and made off, being chased by us for about 3 miles without catching them.
Tpr Dunthorne was hit in the foot by a 20mm which pierced the AC, but he was only bruised.
SHQ remained in the same area till last light. 5Tp went out to relieve 3Tp near BUNGEM, 4Tp had another big end.
At first light 2Tp Sgt Hall relieved 1Tp after they had jointly recced the ground in area BIR SITRA. By 1000 hours 2Tp was in visual touch with C Sqn patrol in area X5618.
4Tp Capt Wingfield Digby moved West to the eastern edge of Wadi EL CHERBIR in order to watch the track running in the bottom. All Tps reported no movement seen.
Took over from the Royals. There were three patrols out. We had a troop of 25pdrs and 3 A/Tk guns from the 3rd RHA under our command.
1Tp and 2Tp went out at first light and 3Tp withdrew.
At 1130 hours 1 Tp reported 3 M13’s to the West of the track, hull down at 4728. 1Tp and 2Tp worked together to try to bring the enemy to action but after the previous days encounter the were “not having any”.Apart from enemy AC patrols nothing was seen all day.
At first light 5Tp took over from 2Tp and 2Tp moved to join 4Tp.
The Colonel visited SHQ at 0935 hours and then went on to visit C Sqn.
At 1430 hours SHQ moved to X6430 and during the time of the move 4Tp and 2Tp were recceing forward towards the GHEDDAHIA BUNGEM track in area X4237. On reaching area X4537 they had a mechanical breakdown and were forced to return. Previously they had seen a Jeep moving East. The Colonel on returning from C Sqn tracked this vehicle eastwards and it eventually proved to be one of the LRDG containing 7 men and was one of a patrol of Capt Hore Ruthuen who, his Sgt reported, was killed while attacking an enemy night leaguer in the MISURATA area.
Advance SHQ moved to X5838 and met the Colonel who later returned to RHQ. At last light they returned to SHQ.
Jan 5th – 13th.
We remained on this line with three patrols out and there was a certain amount of enemy movement going on in front of us the whole time. During the period we had two Tps from D Bty 3rd RHA under command each for 2 days, and then we had two Tps from N Bty RHA. Each night two Tps remained out.
On the 6th we had to withdraw East for about 7 miles owing to the threat on our North caused by 3 tanks and some MET. The Tp of D Bty commanded by Capt Barrington got a very good shoot on the tanks, which rushed off home as fast as they could.
On the 10th we had got so low in cars owing to having to send the bad oilers back, that 3Tp was broken up, his only remaining car going to 2Tp and Sgt White went back to take over the Jeep Tp.
At 0700 hours 5Tp and 3Tp moved out to relieve 1Tp and 2Tp.
At 1200 hours a Dornier circled BUNGEM twice then flew South. Apart from 3 ACs at 4929 nothing else was seen all day.
At first light 1Tp and 5Tp recced forward as far as X4039 and reported the going as good. They then remained just East of the BUNGEM track in the hope of ambushing enemy AC patrols. None we forthcoming and at 1400 hours they returned.
LCpl Mitchell spent the morning repairing 4Tp’s car in the wadi at X5638. By midday this job was done and 4Tp and 2Tp rejoined SHQ.
By 1200 hours C Sqn had taken over our patrols and the Sqn was concentrated for the night at X6340.
At 1825 hours 5Tp reported a heavy explosion 18 miles to the South of BUNGEM otherwise no movement seen.
SHQ moved to X6360 taking out one patrol of A Sqn at X5628.
7th – 12th Jan.
After breakfast the Sqn moved to join RHQ in the wadi at X7251 and remained there until January 13th, well camouflaged in the trees. Water was available in some quantity from the well close to PILASTRINO and all were able to bathe and wash clothing. A necessity, as some men have had lice in the last fortnight.
Tpr Crosby was wounded by 109’s ground strafing, he was firing his rifle at them and was unluckily hit.
On Jan 12th Major Lawson and the Colonel visited KDG’s HQ as A Sqn were to take over that part of the line tomorrow. Major Lawson went on to visit Major Llewellyn Palmer in the area X6167 and see the patrol positions from there.
At 1035 hours 5Tp reported 3 ACs at 5105 and 3 more at 4446. 7Tp reported 600 MET at 8926 and 3Tp were sent due West to investigate. He was however held up by enemy ACs at 3454 and could not confirm the report. Later however he was able to “tap in” and reported no movement seen.
1Tp was sent on a recce to the West and at 1413 hours reported one 50mm A/Tk gun at 4147 and 3 MET.
At 1617 hours 1Tp reported 6 ME moving towards his right rear at 3842 and had to move South to get away from them. 1Tp and 2Tp remained out for the night.
5Tp and 3Tp moved out at 0700 hours to relieve 1Tp and 2Tp.
At 1130 hours 3Tp reported 2 enemy ACs entering BUNGEM from the West, they continued due East and 3Tp followed them back but lost them in broken country.
At 1515 hours 5Tp reported 1 Junkers 88 shot down by Spitfires at 5330. It crash landed and men were seen getting out. 5Tp sent a car to put the up and it was found to be a German Strat JR with 4 Luftwaffe men who were captured. Two cameras which were intact and full of film were cut out. Two of the enemy were wounded and all brought to SHQ.
At first light the Luftwaffe men and their kit went to RHQ.
At 0930 hours the usual enemy patrol of ACs entered BUNGEM with a Portee, withdrawing at 1500 hours. This enemy patrol appeared each day and obviously hoped for another success by driving our cars into BUNGEM.
1Tp and 2Tp moved out at 0700 to relieve 3Tp and 5Tp. 4Tp had to be disbanded owing to shortage of cars.
No movement seen all day except for the usual enemy patrol at BUNGEM.
A Sqn of the Royals moved down to take over our Sqn front and the Tps were recalled. The entire Sqn spent the night in the same place ready to move up to RHQ at X7150 in the morning.A Sqn.
The Sqn moved at first light to the area X6465 and from there Adv SHQ with 2Tp Sgt Hall and 5Tp Sgt Longmate moved to X6167. 2Tp and 5Tp went out to take over patrols from KDG’s. 2Tp was not satisfied with his position and moved forward to X4468, from where he could overlook the track. One enemy AC approached close to his position in a sand storm during the afternoon, but it was engaged and it withdrew.
2Tp was also spasmodically shelled. 5Tp had nothing to report. Both these patrols stayed out for the night and Adv SHQ rejoined the Sqn at X6465.
The Sqn moved at first light to join RHQ where the day was spent.
At 1600 hours the Regt moved to the assembly area and soon after dark marched by night to X4865. This was the start of the advance on TRIPOLI. The role of the Regt was close recce for 8th Armd Bde which consisted of Notts, Staffs, 3rd RTR, Buffs and 5th RHA.
Lt Wentworth Stanley had by now recovered and rejoined bringing with him 2 ACs with which 4Tp was re-formed.
The ADVANCE TO TRIPOLI.
Major Lawson MC, Capt Petch DCM 2i/c,1Tp Sgt Trumper, 2Tp Sgt Hall, 4Tp Capt Wingfield Digby, 5Tp Sgt Green, Jeep Tp Sgt Martin.
Major Lawson visited Tp positions at first light and while he was away SHQ was machine gunned by 109’s. as usual the Sqn Ldr's car was the centre of the enemy’s attraction.
Sqn was replenished at midday and carried 10 days water and rations.
At 1445 hours 4Tp and 1Tp left to take over from 2Tp and 5Tp.
At 1600 hours Sqn moved to area X5565. Tps on patrol were intermittently shelled during the day.
During the first hours of darkness, 8th Armd Bde moved into Battle position in area X4464. Plan as follows:-
8th Armd Bde to take TRIPOLI proceeding by the desert route, 11th Hussars were AC Regt to 8th Armd Bde, 4th Light Armd Bde and New Zealand Div, with the Greys attached to cover southern flank of 8th Armd Bde.
51st Highland Div to advance by way of the road, they had 23 Armd Bde attached. 22nd Armd Bde to form Army reserve and cover western flank of 51st H Div.By 2330 hours all troops were in battle position.
At about 0900 hours A Sqn of the Royals under Major Hamilton Russell came and took over from us. For the rest of the day until 1800 hours the Sqn remained in the usual leaguer getting ready for the advance which was starting the next morning.
Our role in the advance was to act as advance guard to the 8th Armd Bde across the BUNGEM road right up to the ZEMZEM. The Sqn was going to advance on a three Tp front with SHQ travelling with Colonel Pyman and 3rd RTR.
At 1700 hours the three Tps went out to the positions from which they were starting the next day. 2Tp Capt Lockett went to X4457, 5Tp Lt Copeland to X4365 and 4Tp Sgt Smith to X4470. SHQ moved to X4465 where we met Col Pyman and leaguered for the night with three Tps out.
At first light the Sqn, in Regtl reserve, moved forward on the right flank of the Staffordshire Yeomanry – giving local protection right, as far as the BUNGEM track area X4565 where the first opposition was encountered. The UMM EL RAMI ridge was held by an A/Tk screen supported by artillery and the Sqn spent the whole day under fairly heavy fire from 105mm and 75mm.
At last light Sqn moved to RHQ in area X4060 the enemy having withdrawn at that time.
At first light 4Tp and 1Tp started to move West with 8th Armd Bde. Enemy held strong positions to the East of Wadi ZEMZEM which they had been preparing for several weeks.
1Tp progress was impeded and he crossed and re-crossed the GHEDDAHIA – BUNGEM track on several occasions during the day. He was responsible for any information of enemy movements South in the track area and this he successfully did. By 1400 hours 131 Bde were in his area and had formed an A/Tk screen astride the track facing North in area of UMM EL RAML.
Two miles after crossing the BUNGEM track 4Tp’s advance was also stopped by heavy enemy shellfire from the West and also from 75mm guns firing from a wadi to his NW.
SHQ less Adv SHQ, had remained 2 miles to the East of the BUNGEM track, Adv SHQ remained in the area of 4Tp throughout the day and also were subjected to heavy shellfire on some occasions. The day developed into an artillery battle and also into tank battles on the whole 8th Armd Bde front.
In the South the 4th Light Armd Bde made some progress while in the North Highland Div were attacking according to plan.
By the middle of the afternoon the situation on the northern 8th Armd Bde front had not changed. Enemy tanks had moved South to cover a threat movement by Sherwood Rangers and 3rd RTR. Staffordshire Yeomanry were moved to support. A tank battle started which continued until last light, fought at mostly extreme range. It resulted in 14 enemy tanks being accounted for. We lost fewer in the battle but during the morning had lost several Cruisers from the Staffs and Sherwood Rangers probing at enemy A/Tk guns, mostly of the 88mm type.
Our 4.5 guns had been firing effectively at enemy positions East of ZEMZEM since midday.
At last light the usual ‘brew-ups’ were blazing. 1Tp was ordered to move South and join 4Tp, and SHQ moved to join Adv SHQ one mile West of the BUNGEM track in area X4066. It was considered that the enemy had had fairly rough treatment during the day, and that in all probability would retire during the night. At 2200 hours 4Tp reported heavy vehicle movement to his West, this continued until 0230 hrd and was fading into the distance. The enemy had apparently fought another strong rear guard position and were now withdrawing.
At 0715 hours the three out Tps started moving across the BUNGEM road. After going about 2 miles due West from the road all three Tps came under heavy shellfire from the high ground to the West. The leading Armd Regt also came under heavy fire and everyone was held up.
For the rest of the day, the enemy held us with his guns and the Armd Bde deployed and endeavoured to push him out. All three Tps had a very unpleasant day, being under continual shellfire. 2Tp on the left managed to push on another 2 miles, but then got driven back. 5Tp in the centre could not get on at all, neither could 4Tp on the left. The situation remained the same all day.
We leaguered with RHQ at X4065. The three Tps remained out.
At 0800 hours the Regt moved forward in a westerly direction and the Sqn moved at 0915. The Sqn crossed the Wadi ZEMZEM after a bit of difficulty at W1969 and continued NW joining RHQ and 8th Armd Bde at S0105.
1Tp, 2Tp and 3Tp were sent out right flank protection and at 1745 hours 3Tp reported that they had picked up S/I Gibbs of the RAAF who had been shot down in a Kittyhawk 3 days before near DUFAN. He gave very useful information about the enemy who had passed quite close to him the night before.
The Bde was dive bombed by Stukas twice during the afternoon. One Ju87 was shot down in flames by Bde AA.
At last light the Sqn moved into RHQ who were with A Sqn at S0106.
At first light 4Tp and 1Tp were replenished and continued to move West while 2Tp moved North of 1Tp.
By 0900 hours these three Tps had reached the line of the Wadi ZEMZEM without meeting any opposition. B Sqn were recceing westwards to our South with the Bde axis of advance the X65 North/South Grid after Wadi ZEMZEM a bearing direct to SEDDADA.
SHQ moved West in close proximity to advance troops. A dummy minefield was encountered on the western slopes of Wadi ZEMZEM, but this was quickly proved by the RE’s attached to the Sqn and the advance continued.
In broken country in area X1682, 4Tp was engaged by an enemy AC patrol who appeared to be working on a very wide and lately used track running NW. this later proved to be the track made by the enemy withdrawing during the night towards SEDDADA. 2Tp had been working close to 4Tp and went to their assistance. 1Tp who had been withdrawn from the right flank was ordered to attempt to outflank the enemy to the West. The enemy withdrew without close contact being made and fought rear guard delaying actions with 1Tp and 4Tp and also 2Tp, along the line of the enemy withdrawal as far to the NW as the SEDDADA – GHEDDANIA track.
This enemy delaying party consisted of at least 3 ACs and 2 A/Tk guns in lorries, but they never allowed our Tps to get within advantageous range.
By 1300 hours the line of the track was reached and by 1320 hours forward elements of 8th Armd Bde were also on that line. 4Tp had a great chase after 2 enemy vehicles moving to SEDDADA and was unlucky not to capture them.
At 1400 hours 1Tp captured two 15cwt trucks with 2 20mm guns and 1 officer and 20 ORs (German).
The enemy by now were fighting a rear guard action 2 miles SE of SEDDADA, and troops came under A/Tk and artillery shellfire. Sqn had the task of protection of 8th Bde left flank, with special attention to GHEDDAHIA track. It was also hoped to make contact with 12th Royal Lancers who were AC Regt to 23 Bde.
By 1500 hours the Sherwood Rangers were fairly heavily engaged with enemy tank forces SW of SEDDADA to whom they did considerable damage, although full advantage was not made of their success, for Infantry failed to clear up advantages made by the tanks, and withdrew at last light allowing the enemy to return and remove equipment that at 1600 hours had been in our hands.
The enemy held up 8th Armd Bde from 1600 hours in am all round rear guard action South of SEDDADA until last light, although suffering casualties greatly in excess of ours. 8th Bde were twice Stuka bombed during the afternoon, one enemy aircraft was brought down by AA fire. Sqn concentrated at last light, there had been no movement of the enemy on the 8th Bde left flank.
Throughout the night there was heavy vehicles movement heard moving from SEDDADA to the North. RHQ moved in close to the Sqn. Considerable flares were dropped during the night, but no bombs were dropped.
Our role was the same as the day before. At 0715 hours the Tps started pushing on and found the enemy gone.
5Tp had a little difficulty in getting through a minefield which was half dummy and half live.
By 0800 hours the whole Bde was on the move, with the Sherwood Rangers the leading Regt and our three Tps out in front.
By 1000 hours we were across the Wadi ZEMZEM having seen no signs of the enemy. 2Tp on the left picked up a German soldier walking across the blue. This man said that he had been in the BUNGEM when Lt Turner of A Sqn was captured there.
At 1400 hours the Bde halted to fill up with petrol. While this was going on 2Tp on the left was attacked by 3 ACs, 2A/Tk guns on Portees and 1 M13 tank. He withdrew onto our tanks but they did not do anything about them and the ACs and Portees withdrew, leaving the M13 which was picked up by the New Zealanders later.
At 1445 hours we moved on again and having gone about 2 miles we ran up against the enemy at X0008 just short of SEDDADA. The enemy appeared to be holding a line running NE and SW through this point, with guns and a few tanks. 2Tp saw 7 tanks on it which withdrew North fairly soon.
The rest of the day was spent in a slogging match between our guns and theirs. While this was going on, our three patrols stood back a bit, but could get very little observation on what was happening owing to the enemy being in a wadi.
2Tp attacked an A/Tk gun position but could not see the result. While the column was refilling, 1Tp Sgt Matheson took over on the right from 4Tp.The battle went on till dark and the Sqn stayed with the Sherwood Rangers at X0008 with 1Tp, 2Tp and 5Tp out in front as listening posts. The Tps were so close to the enemy positions that they could hear the opposition talking and shouting well into the night. Before darkness fell there has been two Stuka raids on the column but they did very little damage. During the night we heard the enemy pulling out.
The Sqn moved at first light to relieve B Sqn on the left with the task of finding a way down the escarpment near SEDDADA.
At 0800 hours 5Tp reported the track blown out at R9210 with scattered mines in the area. An alternative was down was found about 100 yards South of the blown track and the Sqn went down.
2Tp reported scattered enemy mines round the post at SEDDADA and the RE’s were left to deal with them. 1Tp stayed at the top of the escarpment to guide vehicles down.
3Tp went to THED EL CHATUA where they reported another minefield and came under artillery fire from the West.
at 0945 hours 5Tp who were with SHQ lost a car on a mine and immediately afterwards another car of 5Tp was blown up. Both cars however were not badly damaged and one was fixed within an hour and the other went to LAD under its own power.
At 1125 hours 1Tp reported that Sgt Mitchell’s car had hit an S mine which exploded in the air, wounding Sgt Mitchell slightly and Tpr Hamilton severely, he subsequently died.
At 1430 hours 3Tp was ordered to recce Pt. 102 R7030 and 4Tp was sent North to reach the road at R5846. 2Tp was ordered up with the RE’s and the Sqn extricated itself from the minefield and went NW for about 5 miles thence on 300°.
The Sqn arrived in the area of OBEMISCO DE HSELLETEN at 1700 hours. 1Tp, 3Tp and 4Tp were sent out to relieve A Sqn patrols.
At 1825 hours 4Tp reported 12 MET at 4348. SHQ decided to investigate these MET and were fired on by an A/Tk gun.
2Tp and 4Tp remained out, not having found a way across the Wadi THASLA. 5Tp and 1Tp left behind with the LAD for repairs.
8th Armd Bde moved at first light and it was soon seen that the enemy had withdrawn. The Sqn was with 3rd RTR (Col Pyman DSO) and was responsible for forward recce and going recce to the advance tank Regt.
By 0800 hours SEDDADA fort was in sight and it was soon seen that all routes down into the Wadi SOFFEGIN were mined. The Sqn therefore had to find, as quickly as possible, a way down for the whole Bde. This task was difficult as many routes down were feasible but great obstructions were found in that there were impassable sand dunes in the Wadi bed. 5Tp Sgt Green eventually found a route in area R9517 and this proved suitable for the Bde.
At 0815 hours 8th Bde was dive bombed while waiting on the East side of the wadi. The Sherwood Rangers came down into the wadi first as they were on the right of the Bde, this was also made easier as Colonel Kellet had sent Major Laycock to gain contact with the Sqn, so that his Regt could move the moment a way down was found.
Progress across the wadi was slow and in order to gain the good going a route North to R9040 was taken. From there the direction was changed and the Bde moved very fast over excellent going to the DUFAN – BENI ULID track at R5849. No contact with the enemy was made during this period and Bde did not reach R5849 until 1600 hours therefore during the day the enemy had had time to move a column of 2000 vehicles from DUFAN to BENI ULID. This column was in fact engaged with considerable effect by 4th Light Armd Bde from 1700 hours until after dark in the BENI ULID area.
5Tp moved from R5849 SE down to R5048 and engaged a small enemy column. Colonel Kellet sent tanks to assist him, but the enemy withdrew before they could reach the area.
At 1630 hours Bde moved to R4058 with the intention of moving by the quickest route to TARHUNA in order to cut-off enemy moving from BENI ULID to TARHUNA. The going became very bad for tracked or wheeled vehicles and wadis were encountered that needed the most careful recce before routes could be found over them. This was the case with Wadi MANSUR and 1Tp and 4Tp had extreme difficulty in crossing it before last light. The rest of the Sqn spent the night with the Sherwood Rangers in area of R4255.
This morning C Sqn took over from us. A lot of difficulty was experienced getting across the Wadi NFED owing to the going being bad and it was not until 1100 hours that we got down about 4 miles North of SEDDADA.
The Bde was directed on CHATUA and then to R4040. We found it very hard to do flank guard as the column was always changing direction without letting anyone know.
At 1300 hours we were ordered to proceed complete to BIR DUFAN and seize and hold the aerodromes if possible. Just short of DUFAN 2Tp saw 3 ACs and 1Tp saw 2 more plus 2 lorries, to their East. After further investigation these turned out to be B Sqn of the 12th Royal Lancers who had got to DUFAN an hour before us. After we had made contact with them and seen the situation we found that the enemy were holding the aerodromes in too much force for us to attack so we left the 12th Lancers in observation and leaguered 4 miles South of DUFAN. By this time we were out of touch with RHQ who by this time were close to BENI ULID. All Tps were in.
At first light all available Tps were sent out to find a way across the Wadis, the 8th Armd Bde having been given the task of getting across country to TARHUNA. Ways were eventually found down into the Wadi THASLA and the general line of the wadi (NW) was followed.
At 1600 hours 3Tp, who had been sent out on the left reported a German column moving North along the road at 99286 consisting of twenty five 25pdrs, Portees, about 60 MET. 2Tp and 4Tp had been sent in this direction but had been held up by bad going. 8th Armd Bde column had been stopped by Tomahawks and before we could give the recognition signal, the Sqn charging lorry was badly damaged and caught fire but was extinguished.
At 1700 hours some men were seen by RHQ on the skyline about 2 miles to the West. SHQ and 5Tp went in and captured 39 Italian prisoners and 2 A/Tk guns and were then shelled out of the position.
At 2100 hours 2Tp, 3Tp and 4Tp came into SHQ followed later by 1Tp. SHQ spent the night in the Bde area at L9296. Bombs were dropped during the night.
At first light 1Tp and 4Tp continued recceing for a suitable crossing of Wadi MANSUR for the Bde.
At 0745 hours the Staffs Yeomanry considered they had found a suitable crossing, but this was not the case, as they merely crossed the North of the position where the Wadi SELSELGHIN and the MARZUH EL CHERBIR join the MANSUR, and therefore two wadis must be crossed instead of one. This fact had been ascertained and reported to the Sqn the previous night, and much time was therefore wasted.
By 0900 hours the whole of A Sqn were in a wadi running in a NW direction, out of this there appeared to be no way, and the Sqn had to retrace their steps several miles and then start over again.
C Sqn found a way into the Wadi TMASLA in the area of GREL BORG and eventually we followed C Sqn steps followed by the Bde. Local Arabs stated that the wadi as running NW and eventually reaching the TARHUNA – BENI ULID road in the area of SIDI COM NASER. They also reported the going was fairly good. As progress out of the wadi was impossible and as there were many tributaries, an arab was collected and travelling on the Sqn Ldr’s car he proved most useful.
For a few biscuits and cigarettes and the promise of some ersatz coffee at the completion of his task, he had the 8th Armd Bde through the intricacies of the wadi. No doubt the powers that be would have been far less confident if they knew who their guide in reality was.
Throughout this day the enemy were withdrawing or retreating North along the road from BENI ULID to TARHUNA, while 8th Armd Bde ran parallel with them in the Wadi THAMASLA. By night a position was reached approximately R9394 and C Sqn captured a party of dismounted Italians with A/Tk guns who had been rapidly placed into a position to protect the East flank of the withdrawal.
One HAC was evacuated in the area of GREL BURG and LCpl Mitchell also repaired a Jeep sump in that area. The whole of B1 with SSM Moore remained in that area, and while there, was dive bombed by Stukas. A near miss to the charging lorry did considerable damage and the vehicle was evacuated. No personnel were hurt, one HAC from 2Tp was evacuated, with big end trouble.
Later in the evening, 8th Armd Bde sent a party of tanks and Infantry to cut the BENI ULID – TARHUNA track at last light.
We were still out of touch with RHQ, so we decided to leave the 12th Lancers who were recceing DUFAN and push on West. When we reached the DUFAN – BENI ULID road we regained contact with RHQ. We were then told to withdraw the patrols and guard DUFAN until the Infantry arrived.
4Tp took up a position of observation to the West of DUFAN and 3Tp to the SW. 2Tp was sent into DUFAN to look around and SHQ went in a little later.
We stayed there until 1300 hours when we were told to rejoin RHQ by going South until we hit the Div axis and then followed along that. Even by this time no Infantry had arrived, but there were a lot of RE’s clearing mines. The landing grounds were slightly ploughed and there were quite a few mines about. The 12th Lancers had one Daimler blown up when they went in. The enemy must have pulled out the night we were sitting 4 miles South, but we did not hear them go. We hit the axis track at about 1500 hours and then went NW along it.
We went on driving for hours and hours over the most appalling going and through huge wadis. We were so far behind that we were again out of touch with RHQ. On the way one of 1Tp’s cars broke a big end and we had to leave it.
At 1900 hours were ran across Lt Garrad with the Echelon who was also out of touch with RHQ. We brought him on with us and arrived at RHQ who were at Q9696 at 2200 hours. 2Tp and 5Tp broke down and arrived about an hour later.
At first light the Sqn moved on; on the left flank of the Bde with all Tps out.
At 0845 hours 5Tp reported 20 MET and 1 gun on the track at L8808 and at 0950 hours 2Tp reported mines along the sides of the road.
At 1030 hours SHQ crossed the road coming under heavy shellfire from the TARHUNA heights.
At 1200 hours 1Tp reported 10 cars on a ridge at 8309 and at L7714 2 MET towing guns. One 88mm at 8309.
At 1612 hours 1Tp reported 2 Mark III tanks at L7900.
At 1745 hours 1Tp reported 21 MET moving out from L7812 and at L8103 two occupied gun positions – not firing.
At last light all Tps, less 4Tp, were recalled to SHQ.
The advance was continued at first light and by 0830 hours 1Tp Sgt Trumper who had 4Tp on his left and 5Tp Sgt Green on his right, was in contact with the enemy light A/Tk gun in a narrow screen in area L9304. These guns were covering a small party of enemy MET containing 1 tank and 2 ACs which were moving North into TARHUNA on the track at about L9005. The enemy were burning any vehicles that they could not take with them and at this position destroyed 2 in that manner.
By 0900 hours enemy A/Tk screen had moved North, Jeep Tp Sgt Martin was on high ground to the East and eventually took up a position at 9304, from where they reported a column of 30 MET moving on the track to TARHUNA.
By 0930 hours 8th Armd Bde had reached a line running East/West through SI COM NASER and came under heavy shellfire. It was now apparent that the enemy would hold a rear guard position on the line of the TARHUNA hills, an extremely good position, with command of all the lower ground over which the 8th Armd Bde were advancing. The enemy defended this position with approximately sixteen 75mm guns, twelve 105mm and a few 210mm with the usual screen of A/Tk guns out in a frontal screen. A few tanks were seen on the western flank.
The Sqn was ordered to feel out to the East and to try to make their way round the enemy eastern flank. 5Tp reached RAS SERBAT and reported the ground as being extremely bad, which in fact it was. Sand dunes predominated all the ground North towards TARHUNA and going was virtually impossible, except in first gear. 3Tp remained at RAS SERBAT during the day. A medium OP had been sent out to SI COM NASER and by the afternoon that position held Sgt Trumper and 8 other OPs. It was virtually the only view point of the enemy position and fortunately was not shelled during the day.
SHQ with reserve Tps remained at L9505 in dead ground during the day and were intermittently shelled.
After the TARHUNA heights were eventually evacuated by the enemy it became obvious that in fact there was no dead ground, from enemy OP positions in the TARHUNA area. The day developed into an artillery duel with heavy Sqns of 8th Armd Bde engaging A/Tk guns with HE.
All Tps were withdrawn at night and the Sqn leaguered with B Sqn, Major Turnbull, to charge batteries ours having been knocked out yesterday.
We were in reserve on the right flank of the Bde. After the Bde had gone 3 miles towards TARHUNA they ran into enemy positions.
At 0900 hours 5Tp was sent to MARCONI. He took 2 Jeeps with him in case the going was impossible for ACs. 4Tp went with him and was going to stay at M0807 to act as link to SHQ. By the time that both had arrived at M0807, 5Tp had run out of oil owing to the very soft going. Lt Copeland left his Tp and 4Tp there and went on another 5 miles in the 2 jeeps. After 5 miles he could see nothing and the going was too bad even for jeeps, so he came back to his Tp and 5Tp and 4Tp remained there for the rest of the day and saw very little movement although they were in sight of the main TARHUNA – HOMS road.
SHQ remained in the SIDI COM NASER area all day, unmolested except for when 4 or 5 guns attracted some attention from the enemy by stopping close to them. During the day Sgt Matheson picked up an Australian fighter bomber pilot who had been shot down that morning.
The Sqn leaguered with A Sqn at L9600 with 4Tp and 5Tp out.
At 0730 hours 4Tp and 3Tp were sent out to get first light impression, no movement seen.
At 1136 hours the Sqn was ordered to TAZZOLI where 3Tp reported 1 lorry and 4 men. 4Tp went in and captured 4 Italians and the Sqn moved into TAZZOLI which was still occupied by civilians who were almost starving.
5Tp were then ordered NW to find a way behind the TARHUNA defences. Many tracks petered out so eventually he was sent down the track where he was fired on by some advanced elements of 4th Armd Bde who had come up from BENI OULID.
The jeeps were also ordered North to find a way cross country but this was found impassable.
At 1430 hours 3Tp made contact with 4th Armd Bde who said there was a way across country at L5505. The Sqn then moved down there where 4th Armd Bde were concentrated and the Sqn made a moonlight march to the area of L5422 where the night was spent. The Sqn had been ordered to reach CASTEL BENITO.
Sqn remained in the area of B Sqn until 1200 hours. 2Tp had moved at first light to SI COM NASER and immediately started moving North.
By 1000 hours they were in TARHUNA which the enemy had evacuated during the night. 2nd RTR with Cruiser tanks took a certain amount of prisoners.
Meanwhile the Jeep Tp had worked the country to the East, it being easier for him than the ACs and had reached the MARCONI – TARHUNA road. He was ordered to move into TARHUNA. 4Tp at 1000 hours moved to join 3rd RTR and Adv SHQ moved soon after to L8213 with 5Tp.
By 1210 hours 1Tp with the SSM and B1 were also on the move, having being making minor repairs during the morning.
4Tp had been lucky in his move to ABIAR MIGGI, having stopped to talk to Colonel Kellet on route, a minute after leaving him Colonel Kellet’s tank was hit with a direct hit of a salvo of 105mm. No damage was done.
4Tp found the ABIAR MIGGI position untenable the enemy having the position well ranged by guns firing from the pass in area L7017. These guns and an 88mm in area L7715 held 3rd RTR and Sherwood Rangers up during the afternoon.
At 1630 hours the position remained the same, tanks had made some progress but it was thought that good observation on to the road would be extremely useful and the Jeep Tp was therefore despatched Tp Pt. 498 at L7314 which he reached just before last light.
The Sqn was ordered to rejoin the Regt at L8716 at which position the Sqn, less Jeep Tp, was concentrated by 2100 hours. C Sqn Major Burdon had gone down the escarpment after 4th Armd Bde today and were in the area of SI EL GILINI.
At first light 4Tp was recalled to SHQ and at 0900 hours we were ordered to take over from A Sqn, but by then TARHUNA was found to be clear so A Sqn carried on. 5Tp was then recalled to SHQ but ran out of oil and Lt Pring was sent out to him with his 2 jeeps full of petrol and oil.
At 1300 hours we were ordered to try and find a track down the escarpment running NW from TARHUNA. 2Tp was sent to do this and went up to TARHUNA via the road running up to it from the South. SHQ moved soon after leaving 5Tp to catch up. Capt Lockett could not find any track running NW from TARHUNA so he stayed by a farm just outside of the village and was joined by the rest of the Sqn, 5Tp arriving a little later.Capt Lockett then tried another track and almost got down, but had to give up in the end, although he had got his first view of TRIPOLI in the distance. The Sqn stayed at TARHUNA that night. We were told that the enemy might withdraw from the pass during the night and if he did, we were to go straight through behind 3rd RTR and act as their advance guard the next day. The enemy did not retire that night. The forward link was evacuated that night leaving us with 13 ACs. By this time excitement was intense as to who was going to be first into TRIPOLI.
At first light the Sqn moved forward to cover the road getting to L5622 with 5Tp, 1Tp and 2Tp a few miles in front. Jeep Tp had remained behind with some LRDG jeeps and was coming to us cross country.
At 0920 hours 2Tp reported 3 - 4 enemy guns in action at L4926, firing on the 4th Armd Bde who were moving along to our South towards A21214.
At 1035 hours 2Tp reported 50 MET either side of the road at L6717 and a few minutes later they were attacked by our fighters and some fires caused. 5B was in a very good position close to the road and gave some excellent reports.
The general movement was West but the enemy obviously intended to defend the mouth of the pass on the road at L6518 as several tanks and A/Tk guns and dug-in positions were seen in this area. Moreover, the mouth of the pass was ranged by ‘air bursting’ 88mm throughout the day.
At about 1400 hours the Sqn was attacked by our fighter bombers without damage.
At 1705 hours 2Tp reported men laying mines in the mouth of the pass.
At last light there were still about 30 MET in the area just West of the pass.
We were joined by A Sqn and we both spent the night together.
Sqn was with RHQ until 1100 hours. At this time the Sqn was ordered to join Major Burdon at SI EL GILINI and if the opportunity presented itself to press North of TRIPOLI. The journey was uneventful. The route had been found by the Royals and 4th Armd Bde had proceeded down it yesterday. This had acted as a threat to the flank of the enemy on the TARHUNA line and was no doubt the reason for the enemy evacuating their extremely advantageous position so soon.
While the Sqn was negotiating this route the New Zealand Div was doing likewise, and congestion on the track was considerable.
4th Armd Bde by this time were in the AZZIZIA area. General Freyberg was met at the grave at L4512 and was given the situation that the Sqn Ldr had. Enemy Air recce had reported 80 tanks in area L4512 at 1500 hours and enemy tanks 30 in number, instead of attacking 4th Light Armd Bde who had no tanks, moved to a position to cover the threat from L4512. The Greys were the only tanks in that area and enemy aircraft must have mistaken ACs for tanks.
Jeep Tp remained RAS EL DRAGMA and gave some information of enemy movements on the TARHUNA – CASTEL BENITO road. Sqn spent the night with C Sqn at L5310. Enemy position at L6420 was shelled during the night.
We remained in the same place for most of the day. 1Tp was sent along the road to MARCONI with some Sappers to recce. They found the road ok and unmined all the way and found B Sqn 12th Lancers in MARCONI when they got there. They were recalled.
4Tp was sent down the road West to try and find a way up and down the escarpment with Lt Pring and 2 jeeps. After going 10 miles they were heavily shelled and on coming round the corner they were forced to drop back, where they remained all day.
At 1700 hours RHQ moved on a bit so we moved up a bit. In order to get to them we had to go round a corner on a road which was being shelled which was most unpleasant. We left B1 behind until it got dark.
We all reached RHQ just after dark and stayed with them at L8013. We were again told the enemy might move out that night. Our Infantry, the 131 Bde were going to attack and we were told to follow on behind the 3rd RTR when the pass had been cleared.
During the night, 8th Armd Bde and RHQ plus B Sqn had moved along the CASTEL BENITO road and by first light had reached the mouth of the pass.
The Sqn was ordered to CASTEL BENITO on the right of the main road with B Sqn on the road.
At 0730 hours the Sqn moved North and then turned NW parallel to the road. Tps 2, 3 & 5 were sent on ahead towards CASTEL BENITO but the going was bad owing to sand dunes.
At 1030 hours 2Tp reported they could see CASTEL BENITO but the going looked impassable. 5Tp also reached a dead end and 3Tp was sent another way and at 1125 hours he could see the air field with large fire burning.
At 1200 hours 3Tp had got within 1 mile of CASTEL BENITO and 2Tp was sent up towards 3Tp who reported enemy guns in action down the road.
A Sqn who had been trying to find a way through on our right returned towards last light and we got ready to leaguer together.
At 2130 hours orders were received that both A & C Sqns were to join RHQ who had moved up along the road to within 5 miles of CASTEL BENITO which the enemy had evacuated.
All Sqns remained with RHQ preparatory to the move to TRIPOLI which was contemplated that night when the A/Tk ditch at CASTEL BENITO had been made negotiable.
During the night 3rd RTR followed by B Sqn and RHQ, had after an Infantry attack come down the main road and by first light our troops were seen to be moving West along the road to CASTEL BENITO. The enemy had again withdrawn under pressure during the night. RHQ were at L5427 and A Sqn joined them there. Two HAC were evacuated in area L52, this being caused by extremely heavy sand dune country in the whole area.
B Sqn by 0830 hours were held up in the CASTEL BENITO area by enemy A/Tk guns and artillery.
At 1030 hours A Sqn was ordered to find a way to TRIPOLI to the East of the CASTEL BENITO road. The Sqn, with the Jeep Tp which had rejoined, moved to SIDI SAIAH and then to BIR LANGAR and were halted there by impassable sand dunes. The day was therefore spent aimlessly in that area with nothing accomplished.
At 2100 hours A & C Sqns, who were by that time together, were ordered to join RHQ in the area of L4740 on the road. By 2330 hours the Regt was concentrated there. Regt was to move at 0200 hours after Infantry had cleared CASTEL BENITO, into TRIPOLI, via the main road. Order of march – B Sqn, RHQ, C Sqn and Adv Div HQ. Brigadier Roberts who had been commanding since General Harding was wounded South of TARHUNA.
Mr Lockett’s Tp of B Sqn led the advance after a clear road that night. At 0530 hours leading Tp of 11th Hussars entered TRIPOLI thus the Armd Regt of 7th Armd Div entered this apparently dead town in the van of all troops of the 8th Army.
Tasks had been allotted to Sqns and on arrival each went to their respective areas. Highland Div mounted on 23rd Armd Bde tanks entered an hour later, with bagpipes playing, by which time 11th Hussars were ‘brewing up’ for an early breakfast. Thus did 11th Hussars enter TRIPOLI first. A well deserved honour after long periods of ‘in contact’ with the enemy service than any other unit in the British Army.
TRIPOLI was empty of enemy except for a few still active at demolitions. The towns folk had all kept to their houses and not a sign of a living person was to be seen.
We were ordered to move at 0200 hours and caught the rear of 3rd RTR about 2 miles down the main road. We moved along very slowly owing to the road being blown as it entered the plain, and mines being left about. Lt Pring was sent in his jeep to act as a link between Colonel Pyman and the Sqn Ldr.
At 0730 hours when it got light 3rd RTR were held up by an 88mm firing down the road at L4732. 5Tp was sent out to the West but was unable to get far owing to the going. 2Tp was sent down the road and 1Tp was sent to the NE about 2 miles to watch. Capt Lockett saw the 88mm being towed away so he pushed on down the road and took up a position watching to his West and NW. We were then ordered to find out what was in EL AZIZIA but could not get good observation on it owing to the trees, but could confirm that it was occupied.
In the meantime C Sqn had a Tp (Sgt McHardy) approaching AZIZIA from the SE and as C Sqn were now being directed on TRIPOLI this Tp was put under B Sqn. By the time he had got to just within sight of the place we were told we could withdraw him and leave only Capt Lockett watching it. Sgt McHardy was very short of petrol so 4Tp went out to meet him with some petrol and bring him into SHQ.
At 1100 hours 5Tp was sent up the road and came across an A/Tk ditch across the road which was covered by an A/Tk gun and some Infantry. The A/Tk gun opened fire and hit the White belonging to the RE’s and set it on fire. The Tp immediately turned round but in doing so the 2nd AC went into a ditch and stuck. The crew got out and were picked up by Lt Copeland. Two of the RE’s managed to get out of the White and were picked up by Lt Copeland. One being wounded by small arms fire. The other 3 failed to get out, but later that night when we returned to the car we discovered one had been burnt inside, one had been killed while trying to get away and there was no trace of the third.
After this 5Tp was recalled to SHQ and at 1400 hours 1Tp was sent out towards SUANI BEN ADEM to cover the left of 3rd RTR who were moving on towards CASTEL BENITO. He could only get as far as L4537 owing to the going and he remained in observation there. SHQ moved to L4734 and at last light all Tps were called in except 1Tp who remained out.
At 2100 hours when everyone was in bed the Colonel arrived and told us that we were going through to TRIPOLI that night and we were to lead, after the Infantry had cleared BENITO. This made everyone excited to think that after the work and time we had spent out here the Regt was going to be the first into TRIPOLI and we were going to be allowed to lead them. We looked upon it as a great honour. 1Tp was immediately called in and everyone went to bed for an hour and a half more.
At 2330 hours we moved up the road about 5 miles to join RHQ and C and A Sqns. We had to wait there for 3 hours for the A/Tk ditch to be filled in and the Infantry to confirm BENITO clear. This was when we found the White and 5Tp’s abandoned car.
At 0300 hours the Regt began its triumphal march to TRIPOLI with B Sqn leading. The Sqn entered TRIPOLI at 0500 hours and the Regt had the honour of being the first of the 8th Army to do so. The city, apart from some wogs who cheered us, seemed absolutely deserted at that hour and the Sqn was given the task of patrolling the eastern part of the town.
At 0735 hours 1Tp captured 2 prisoners and 1 policeman who was afterwards released. The city now began to waken up and when the population realised that the British Forces were in possession loud cheers were started and crowds of Wogs and Italians surrounded the ACs.
1Tp also caught the Governor of Tripolitania and the Mayor of Tripoli; they were sent to RHQ who were parked near the Grand Hotel.
By 0900 hours Tps had been patrolling the town for an hour and a half and at 0930 hours A Sqn was given the task of regaining contact with the enemy, down the road towards ZUARA.
4Tp Capt Wingfield Digby MC therefore moved West down the road and met the first obstruction in area of ZANZUR, where the road was demolished in two places. Working round each obstruction with RE’s, a position at L2762 was reached at 1200 hours. To this position the road had been destroyed in 6 places. At L2762 the bridge over the A/Tk ditch had been blown and progress could not be made until a bulldozer was available to fill in the cavity. The A/Tk ditch ran North into the sea and South to SUANI BEN ADEM. The Sqn was therefore in the area of this ditch throughout the day.
4Tp moved on to high ground by the sea and while making this an enemy sniping party moved up to the ditch and engaged SHQ. 4Tp opened fire and 1Tp from a hull down position had a good shoot at 2 enemy vehicles that moved quickly West down the road. Colonel Pyman 3rd RTR, who by this time were close up behind the Sqn, sent a Tp of Sherman tanks in case the enemy should try to repeat this incident. 25pdrs also fired into suspected enemy positions West of the A/Tk ditch.
Sqn spent the night with 3rd RTR.
At 0330 hours we moved off, the RE’s having filled in the A/Tk ditch. The order of march was 2Tp, 4Tp, SHQ, B1 and 1Tp. The journey was uneventful but rather frightening. We arrived in TRIPOLI about 0500 hours and it appeared a dead city, all the windows were shuttered and there was no living thing about, not even a stray dog.
We drove straight to the PALACE D’ITALIA were we stopped until the Colonel came up and we finished his bottle of whiskey and ginger wine, throwing the bottle into the harbour, and then went on to the docks. Sgt Lyon was the first man into TRIPOLI and Capt Lockett the first officer. When we got on to the docks we found the entrance blown so we stayed by a mosque just outside the old city.
While we were having breakfast, the population came out to view us. They were the most awful looking people we had ever seen, just like gnomes, coming out of underground dwellings. While we were having breakfast a patrol of Highlanders came along and cleared the square with their bayonets and then played the bagpipes for us. We moved then, down to the harbour front and waited to move off. At 1200 hours we moved out of TRIPOLI and fetched up at L3563 where we spent the night. At 1700 hours 4Tp was sent down to BIANCHI to find out if it was occupied as the 15th Panzers were thought to be there. He only managed to get a quick look before dark owing to the going, but could not confirm or deny the report.
At 1730 hours 5Tp was sent down to the South of BIANCHI to contact the KDG’s at L1435, but only got half way before dark. Communication with these Tps was very bad, so the Jeep Tp had to go out as a link.
The position remained the same until 1200 hours when a bulldozer arrived. Within 30 minutes the ditch was passable to single line traffic and 2Tp started to move West down the road at 1245 hours. RE’s were with them followed by SHQ.
Various road demolitions were encountered and contact was regained with the enemy in the area of L1060. The enemy had 1 Mark IV tank on the road and some A/Tk and artillery positions on either side. The enemy sniping party had moved East on a parallel track and had forced 2Tp to withdraw. 1Tp in observation from a house further to the West also was heavily shelled and forced to withdraw.
The situation at 1600 hours was 2Tp watching the main road, 1Tp and 5Tp observing on 2 tracks running parallel to the main road.
By 1700 hours Infantry from 131 Bde had taken over as they were to make a night attack on ZUARA. Sqn was to hand over to a Sqn of the 12th Royal Lancers and were therefore concentrated in area L2059 for the night.
A message had been left from Ramchke Gruppe on the road today saying “Goodbye and keep smiling” signed Ramchke. General Erskine has taken over 7th Armd Div and he was with the Sqn at one period today.
At 0715 hours SHQ moved down to L3747. 4Tp moved across country and came into BIANCHI from the NE and then moved West along the North road reporting it clear as far as the road to OLIVETTE by 1100 hours.
1Tp went into BIANCHI along the South road and went West until the road finished on the 14 Easting grid.
Meanwhile 5Tp got half way to his objective but could get no further owing to the going. The Jeep Tp was sent out to him and carried on to the objective, but found the KDG’s were no longer there.
4Tp was sent up the OLIVETTE road until he came to the main road and 4Tp North from BIANCHI up the road by the BOSCO MUSSOLINI to the main road.
SHQ moved to L1750 where 1Tp and 5Tp joined them.
2Tp reached the main road where he met on of A Sqn’s patrols and he then travelled West along the road with them.
4Tp reached the main road and started going West along it. He found it blown in 2 places but managed to get round, but at L1158 he ran into a German tank and had to drop back about half a mile and get off the road where he remained for the rest of the day.
1Tp was sent up to the railway to work down it West but ran into an ambush and had to drop back and remain in ob.
While this was going on 2Tp had reached the T roads at OLIVETTE and took up a position of observation on the road between the main road and the railway.
At 1600 hours the Sherwood Rangers arrived and sent some Cruisers up to 2Tp with an OP. By this time the enemy from ZAVIA were doing a bit of shelling. The Cruisers went almost up to ZAVIA but found nothing.
Just before dark, as the Tps were coming in, a small pocket of enemy were found East of 2Tp between them and A Sqn, which the latter dealt with. 2Tp remained out all night at the railway crossing. SHQ leaguered at L1749.
Sqn spent the days maintaining and resting in area L2060 just off the TRIALI – ZAUIA road. Jan 26th was extremely rainy.
Our role was taken over by a Sqn of the 12th Royal Lancers under Major Morris at 0800 hours. 2Tp returned to SHQ.
We then moved to BIANCHI next door to RHQ. We stayed there until the 27th waiting for ZAVIA to be out of range of the enemy.
Sqn still in area L2060. Major Wainman visited recceing for a position for the Regt during their rest and refitting period.
We moved into rest just West of ZAVIA but found it a bleak spot so the whole Regt moved back to BIANCHI and finally came to rest in the BOSCO MUSSOLINI.
Jan 28th – Feb 28th.
During this period it was decided to reorganise the Regt on lines more suitable for operations in enclosed country.
Sqns were to be composed of:-
Four Tps each of two Daimler ACs and one Dingo Scout Car,One Tp of three Jeeps,One Scout Tp of four White Scout Cars each holding 6 men.
These vehicles were issued and training carried out. 160 ORs were sent back to act as ferrying party.
On 31st January the Commander 8th Army held a Church parade in Tripoli. The Regt was present and had the honour of heading the March Past.
On the 4th February the Regt found a detachment of ACs for the ceremonial parade in honour of Mr Churchill’s visit.
A Tp of C Sqn and one of B Sqn acted as escort to Mr Churchill. The parade was held in Tripoli.
Sqn moved to BOASCA MUSSOLINI at 1500 hours and were settled in by nightfall. Again an extremely wet day and damp amongst the trees in which the Sqn was situated.
Jan 28th – Feb 28th.
Remained in rest and refitted. We altered our organisation to Tps of 2 Daimler ACs and 1 Dingo. We also had one Scout Tp of 1 Dingo and 4 White Scout cars with 6 men in each.
During this time Capt Horsford went to Cairo to hospital, Capt Lockett took over Adjutant and Lt Pring went to RHQ. Tps were organised as:-
||Sgt Lyon, with Lt Welles Cole under instruction
||Lt Copeland, with Lt Burridge under instruction
||CO: Lt Col AT Smail
Throughout February we reorganised and trained for the next phase which we expected to be in hilly country and on narrow tracks. With that object in view we were reorganised on a basis of four Tps each of 2 Daimlers and one Dingo, a Scout Tp of four sections, each capable of taking to their feet, protecting themselves with Bren guns and communicating on a No. 18 (Pack) set; and a Jeep Tp of three jeeps capable of long-range recce.
Capt Dier MC left to take an instructor job at Sandhurst.
Lt Hutchinson DCM was claimed to run an AC training group at Benghazi and subsequently to return to UK having completed more than 8 years in the Middle East.
SSM Lamb DCM MM also left for UK having done more than 7 years in the Sqn, including 2 campaigns as Tp Ldr and one as SSM.
LCpl Carress and LCpl Staples, who had been Sqn Fitter and Tech Storeman for nearly 3 years, each left on the same grounds.
Sgt chambers who had been sick for some 3 months. Returned but went to A Sqn as SQMS.
Capt Petch DCM was loaned from A Sqn as 2i/c and Sgt McCarthy MM became SSM.
Tps were allocated as:-
||Lt Wentworth Stanley (after an excursion behind enemy lines with LRDG)
Lt Woodhouse trained and commanded the Scout Tp and Lt de Wend Fenton the Jeeps.
The Regt complete spent this period in the BOSCA MUSSOLINI, 30 odd kilos from Tripoli, living under canvas, unpleasant with several days of heavy rain. The time was programmed into training, re-organisation and recreation. The men were also allowed into Tripoli approximately twice a week, but as nothing could be obtained there, and there were no recreational amusements in the early days, the men soon became bored with these trips.
Later, however the shops were opened and contained nothing useful at fabulous prices, while a good cinema opened, this the men enjoyed.
The training and re-equipment of the Regt took on a new phase, operating in close country needing a new organisation. Armoured Car Tps were equipped with the Daimler AC (2) and one Daimler Scout car, it being considered essential that for road work, vehicles capable of being driven in reverse should be used. And the Dingo presented a small target, often as an advantage to the leading vehicle of a Tp.
Further to this it was considered that dismounted parties would often be essential for the gaining of information and the Scout Tps in Sqns was also formed. This Tp to consist of 4 sections per Tp, each section of 6 men carried in a White Scout car and with an Infantry No. 18 set for the passing back of information. When AC Tps became held up, these sections would be dismounted and working forwards or to a flank obtain the necessary information. Training therefore in Infantry tactics and the use of the 18 set and 2pdr gun became necessary. Also considerable training in driving and maintenance of the Daimler had to be done, this engine having a fluid flywheel and being differently driven to other vehicles.After commencement of training, troops were taken back to Benghazi for car ferrying parties. Captain Petch DCM commanded this party, consisting of 50 men from each Sqn. Training therefore became extremely difficult.
Capt Churton joined the Regt from the Cheshire Yeomanry and was posted to the Sqn.
Lt Garrard was posted to the Sqn from RHQ.Lt Williamson and Lt Moore returned from hospital in Cairo.
Capt Crankshaw MC took over 2i/c of the Sqn from Capt Petch DCM. Capt Crankshaw had been Adjt for 6 months. Capt Petch had served the greater part of his war service with A Sqn and had been a Sgt in the Sqn in pre-war days. A very bold and experience Tp Ldr he had done great service in the Sqn against the Italians in the first Libyan campaign and also had great deeds against the Germans throughout 1941/1942. As second in command of the Sqn his hard work and experience were invaluable. He will be greatly missed by all within this Sqn, in which he has had such an excellent influence.
Capt Dier of C Sqn left the Regt for UK and several men from the Sqn were posted to Home Establishment, including SQMS Gore.
Sgt Longmate and L/Sgt Hale left the Sqn for other employment.
Football and Pass ball pitches were manufactured and as far as possible the fitness of the men returned. Long periods of work in AFVs not being the best way of keeping men fit.
During this period the 7th Armd Div of the 8th Army had pushed the enemy AFRIKA CORP as far back as the MARETH line, and after 3 weeks occupation of TRIPOLI the harbour was opened and soon was working at full pressure. There can be no doubt that this period of rest and training had done considerable good to the Regt, on the whole the men having been very tired when they arrived, after more or less continuous period of Field Service in the front line since the early days of July.
||CO: Lt Col AT Smail
||11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own)
C Sqn left and came under orders 8th Armd Bde in MEDENINE area.
Though we still had some 15 men away, we left the Regt to report to 7th Armd Div. Arrived at ZOARA just before dark where we spent the night.
Continued to MEDENINE where we reported to 7th Armd Div and were placed under command of 8th Armd Bde. The situation at the time was that 30th Corps opposed the MARETH line. We were in the North which was thinly held by the 51st Highland Div and our role was to do close recce for 8th Armd Bde in the event of a break through.
The day was spent in recce of our area. The country was hilly with some cultivation and occasional olive or palm groves, but not bad for Daimlers which so far were performing well over rough ground.
At about 1800 hours two Tps were called in as a small scale attack by German and Italian troops had started in the northern sector. 1Tp and 3Tp went to SIDI MAKRELOUF to await events and at 2130 hours were ordered to go about 5 miles North. It was very dark and they had considerable difficulty but made the area soon after midnight.
At first light they contacted 51st H Div who reported all quiet and that the enemy attack never developed. They remained out all day and were relieved in the evening by 2Tp.
2Tp spent the day with 153 Bde Highland Div and was relieved in the afternoon by 4Tp. A quiet day.
The expected enemy attack developed from TOUJANE and HAILUT PASS directed against the main road about 3 miles West of MEDENINE – with minor attacks in the northern positions.
8th Armd Bde moved South to counter the main thrust and the Sqn came under Div. 3Tp took up position on the northern battle position at 7692. The enemy attack was well held by 201 Guards Bde and 131 (Queens) Bde with 8th and 22nd Armd Bde in support. The enemy never even reached the main road which was presumably their first objective
The Regt less C Sqn moved at 0900 hours and leaguered for the night at BEN GARDANEC Sqn.
Five minutes after midnight we put down a heavy barrage for half an hour and at first light, which was very misty in places, it was clear the enemy were calling the attack off. 4Tp came in and in the evening 1Tp relieved 3Tp. By evening the enemy had withdrawn almost to the foothills leaving many dead and derelicts.
Having rested and re-equipped and got to like the local Chianti, the Regt was ordered back again into the line, we thought just in time for the final advance, though a fortnight was to elapse before General Montgomery lifted the staring gate.
It was felt that the new organisation was untried and that more time was needed for training, especially in the Scout Tp (5Tp) and to a lesser extent in the Jeep Tp which, though very mobile and capable of ranging wide, may prove vulnerable if mixed up in a battle.
The Sqn left at 0910 hours and with a halt for lunch at ZUARA arrived at BEN GARDANE at 1800 hours for the night.
We left for the front once more and the day’s march brought us to BEN GARDANE in Tunisia. Tunisia is the eighth country that the Sqn has been in since the war began.
Capt Clarke MC had taken over 2i/c while Capt Horsford was in Cairo.
Resumed march at 0700 hours and arrived MEDENINE at 1200 hours. Came under orders 7th Armd Div.
Mar 8th – 12th.
Remained in same area – training. Remainder of Regt came up and we reverted to their command.
We left at 0700 hours and arrived at E7380 at 1310 hours where we were just East of 7th Armd Div HQ, to be held in reserve for at least a week. The Daimler cars had gone well on the journey but the wireless sets had given trouble.
Major Lawson was ordered especially by the Army Commander to go over to the First Army and instruct the Americans in the use of ACs. He was very reluctant to leave the Sqn which he had had for two years (it was also his uncle’s – Major Bertie Lawson - during the last war). General Montgomery said he wanted him to go as he was his best Sqn Ldr in the 8th Army; every man in the Sqn was sorry to lose him.
Capt Reid Scott, who had just returned from being ADC to Field Marshall Wavell in India, took over the Sqn. The CO and he had dinner with the Army Commander the night before and both were disappointed in the low level of conversation which was chiefly about Army wives – a subject on which much better information is always available in the 11th Hussars Officers Mess.
Major Lawson and the Colonel went to see the Army Commander, to whom the 11th Hussars seem to have ready access, while the Sqn made themselves comfortable in a little wadi just West of RHQ.
We moved on to MEDENINE and stayed about 4 miles NW of it, very close to RHQ. During the two day march we had very few breakdowns.
B Sqn relieved a Sqn of 12th Lancers in area 4 miles West of MEDENINE.
C Sqn remained in area 6 miles North of MEDENINE and came under Regtl control. RHQ position at E7181
A Sqn. 9th – 10th.
Nothing happened of any note. The whole Army were congratulating themselves on the battle of March 6th when 52 German tanks from 10th, 15th and 21st Panzer Divs had been knocked out with no loss of tanks to ourselves and only slight loss of men.
The Sqn carried on with 2pdr training, MT training for Daimler drivers, a mine lifting course, chiefly for the benefit of 5Tp, also small Tp scheme for the benefit of Scout section Ldrs.
At 0600 hours we took over from A Sqn 12th Royal Lancers (Major Spencer). We had two patrols out, 1Tp and 2Tp going out to E6181 and E6075.
SHQ remained close to RHQ.
10th Mar to 18th Mar.
We remained in the line during this period and very little happened. The enemy were in the hills so we saw them only occasionally.
The patrols for the first two days used to come into SHQ for the night, but after that they stayed with Infantry who were holding the line round MEDENINE, and went out at first light.
On the 16th 3Tp under Sgt Smith ran into a small German patrol on their way out to their patrol position. The German patrol had the surprise and opened fire at short range with small arms. Sgt Smith was hit in the eye. This caused some disorder in the Tp during which the Germans managed to get away. Sgt Smith was brought into SHQ and Sgt Richmond with the Daimler and the Dingo remained on patrol.
When Sgt Smith arrived he was immediately sent away by the doctor to the nearest MDS. He was not too bad but unfortunately the doctor thought he would loose his left eye. 2Tp was then sent out to relieve Sgt Richmond who came into SHQ. Lt Wells Cole then took over 3Tp in place of Sgt Smith.
On the 17th the 2nd Armd Bde under Brigadier Fisher moved out towards the hills to try and attract the enemy attention away from the Gds Bde who were doing an attack in the North. The Sqn had to help in this as it was in our area, so that morning 3 patrols were pushed out West towards the hills. No opposition was encountered except for a small amount of shelling and by 1200 hours everything was back to normal except we left the 3 patrols out owing to the bad visibility.
Major Lawson left the Sqn, after many sad goodbyes, and drove to CASTEL BENITO aerodrome in the Sqn Ldr’s Ford, which I never expected to see again, though it turned up 3 days later having given lifts to Generals of various calibre on its way back from TRIPOLI.
All Tp Ldrs and Scout Tp Section Ldrs attended a demonstration under Major Wainman whereby the leading Tp of a Sqn was able to ‘spot’ for the Gunners as an OP through direct wireless communication, from the Tp Sgt’s car to the leading Bty of guns, the idea is to bring very quick fire to bear on fleeting or opportunity targets, or perhaps a single 88mm left behind by the enemy to delay us. The idea is good but it may not work in battle.
A Sqn relieved NZ Div Cavalry on the left of B Sqn in area NE of HALLOUF. C Sqn rejoined the Regt.
The Sqn remained in the same position and there was another gunnery demonstration; 2Tp and 3Tp took part and C Sqn were responsible for the wireless which broke down; luckily 5Tp (Mr Williamson) had brought theirs which worked well.
Moved down to RHQ area, 4 miles West of MEDENINE.
At 1530 hours the Sqn less 5Tp left to take over a bit of the line of observation, of about 12 miles front, to the SW of MEDENINE with B Sqn to our North and the Royals to our South.
We leaguered in a wadi with A Sqn of the NZ Div Cavalry; they are grand chaps but are equipped with carriers and were using four Tps on a line where I considered the job could be done by two patrols standing a little further back and taking advantage of the high ground.
The front might be described by an arc with MEDENINE as the centre with the patrols out to the SW watching the hills at KREDDACHE down to ZEBA and SHQ 4 miles SW of MEDENINE and just behind an Infantry and A/Tk gun (6pdrs) screen, held by the Cheshire Regt and the Northumberland Hussars (A/Tk gunners).
SHQ, 1Tp and 4Tp moved to take over 2 patrols from New Zealand Div Cavalry. 1Tp went to 6931 and 4Tp to 6859 whilst SHQ stayed at 7658. A Tp of Deacons were attached. A section of Scout Tp walked over from SHQ to 1Tp over difficult country but got back again ok. No enemy were seen.
3Tp Capt Churton was sent to do the northern patrol and 2Tp Lt Garrard to E6664. Each Tp was accompanied by a NZ Tp Ldr to show them the ground and points of interest. KREDDACHE and KEF EL ANEBA were believed to be strongly held by units of the Panzer Grenadiers and Recce Group, otherwise the hills were reported to be thinly held, chiefly by small “thug” parties living in the villages whose inhabitants were inclined to favour the other side. The main danger was that the wadis in the hills and the tracks were littered with mines.
The Ghurka Rifles had done a night patrol to KEF EL ANEBA for the loss of one man missing, but 3Tp picked him up in the morning, tired and hungry but otherwise quite unconcerned.
The Sqn Ldr visited the patrols. The ground in between was found to be good tank going – though bad for wheels due to numerous little wadis running NE to SW. The two Tps could just cover the ground, though they could not see each other.
The patrols returned to SHQ for the night having seen nothing of interest except natives and their flocks.
3Tp relieved 2Tp who had to go to RHQ to have wireless sets changed. 2nd Btn 60th also of 4th Light Armd Bde started to advance North up the tracks through the hills. We received orders to do the same on the 16th.
1Tp Sgt Trumper went to the northern position and 4Tp Capt Wingfield Digby to the southern.
Major Wainman and the Sqn Ldr visited both patrols and met Brigadier Fowler (CRA 1st Armd Div) who was recceing gun positions for a shoot into the hills. They also saw Major Burdon (C Sqn) who was preparing to take over from the Royal on our left, and Brigadier Currie, Commanding 4th Light Armd Bde, who were operating in the hills in a NW direction from HADDADA. During the day several senior officers called in at SHQ for the news and Capt Crankshaw provided a most efficient information bureau with speculations of his own to add spice.
The Sqn Ldr soon discovered that having patrols 6 miles out in front was a mere formality as Capt Crankshaw could see everything in the hills that the patrols could see by standing on top of his car and using his excellent eyes and a good pair of German glasses.
The Northumberland Hussars were relieved by 76th A/Tk Regt and the Cheshire Regt by the Northumberland Fusiliers,5Tp
Royals relieved C Sqn, otherwise no change.
One Scout section under Cpl Osborne, newly trained in mine detecting and lifting, left for 3Tp at first light. Their orders were to move West down the wadi along the track till they met a Sapper party who were working from the other end. At about 0800 hours Lt Lovett’s car hit a mine and was damaged but the crew were ok. The Scout section got to work and gradually cleared up the road to the West, picking up the mines which were scattered all the way along, and in some cases very deeply buried and hard to detect.
In the afternoon, Sgt Christmas hit a mine, damaging the car and injuring Lt Champion who had only just joined. The LAD recovered the vehicles but, unfortunately, the Tech Officer, Lt Brown, hit a third mine in his jeep on the way back and broke his nose. But LCpl Lamb who was with him broke both his legs and was pretty bad. The doctor was quickly on the spot and by last light all were back out of trouble.
2Tp and 3Tp were on patrol. The remainder of the Sqn carried out field firing in the Wadi KHEIL. Shooting with the 2pdrs was good, but more practice needed in working the commander and gunner in co-operation.
Lt Williamson fired his 2 mortars (Sgt Fitzpatrick and LCpl Marple) with reasonable accuracy. I doubt whether we shall have many opportunities of using them.
2Tp and 3Tp reported no movement seen except for occasional explosions. 2nd Armd Bde moved forward into the area below the hills NE of KREDDACHE in order to draw fire form the enemy so that our guns could fire at them. The enemy would not show himself and the party packed up at midday.
Sqn Tac HQ were with the Queens Bays out in front during the ‘demonstration’.
1Tp and 4Tp returned to leaguer with the Sqn and reported no movement seen.
2Tp sent out on the same job with a party of RE’s. They worked all day but in the evening, although they had only made about 3 miles, the Dingo went up injuring LCpl Woodward (broken leg and face lacerations). The driver was ok. They stayed out all night and were relieved next morning by the Royals.
Shortly after 2Tp got in we received orders to relieve another Sqn further West in the hills. Remained in same area for the rest of the day.
We handed over to B Sqn 12th Lancers (Major Speke MC) and the Sqn moved down just South of the PAPAHOUN road. Remained there for the day.
2Tp and 3Tp on patrol in same position. The Sqn is getting slightly bored looking like a cud-face when there do not even appear to be any enemy to interest one.
Considerable maintenance was carried out as the drivers began to discover the points to which particular attention should be paid on a Daimler AC.
Every effort was made to beg, borrow or steal guns for the Dingos and Jeeps which are equipped with one miserable Bren gun each. Capt Crankshaw and Sgt Mitchell were very successful scroungers and we soon had 1Tp Dingo (Cpl Drew) fitted with a .5 Browning from the RAF and 2Tp had twin Brens on their Dingo. 5Tp went out on training every day practising walking, using cover, working No. 18 sets etc.
Except for explosions caused by our Infantry taking up mines in the hills SE of KREDDACHE our patrols reported no movement seen.
RHQ moved to E7265. 12th Lancers relieved B Sqn. C Sqn operating in conjunction with 4th Light Armd Bde in area E5555.
Moved first thing into the hills to E5555. We took over 3 patrols at E5358, E 5156 and E5535. The first two patrols were to cover RE working parties down the tracks which were heavily mined and covered by enemy guns, 4Tp on the right, 1Tp centre and 2Tp on a watching patrol at GUERNESSA in the South. Both 1Tp and 4Tp made quite good progress before dark. They all stayed out for the night.
1Tp and 4Tp on patrol in the old positions except that they interchanged to give them a change of scenery. Both Tps carried out firing but the area was full of Bedouin.
1Tp reported 3 men walking about on the skyline at E6458 otherwise no movement seen.
The chief excitement during these days of static patrols were certain night patrols carried out by the 1/2nd Gurkhas, 60th Rifles, RB’s etc and the phenomenal amount of aeroplanes that were collecting in our area. We woke up one morning to find about 70 planes on the ‘drome just West of MEDENINE.
Except for a little night bombing direct at the aerodromes in our area, no German plane had been seen for days.
1Tp and 4Tp continued their advance down the tracks. 4Tp was joined by a Scout section under LCpl Howard for close support of RE’s as the ACs drew artillery fire.At 0810 hours 4Tp came under artillery ranging fire and as it was very accurate they decided to withdraw. Just as the Scout section was mounting several rounds came in on them wounding 3 men. All men and vehicles were extricated and withdrew half a mile to dress the wounded. Unfortunately whilst doing this several more accurate gunfire was brought down on them doing considerable damage. Though the vehicles were ok the casualties were:-
|Lt Wentworth Stanley
Tpr McGuire died on the way to hospital.
1Tp were also shelled and no further progress could be made. 3Tp came in just before dark. Later that night orders were received to withdraw whole Sqn to Regt at first light. Operations against MARETH line commenced.
2Tp and 3Tp were on patrol and had nothing to report all day. The Sqn Ldr went to RHQ for orders in the afternoon. The long awaited offensive was to begin tonight with an attack in the North on the MARETH Line by the 50th and 4th Indian Divs.
The plan included a wide outflanking movement (one of General Montgomery’s left hooks) by the NZ Corps embracing 8th Armd Div, the whole commanded by General Freyburg. The 30th Corps which comprised the 50th, 51st and 4th Indian Divs was responsible for making a breach in the MARETH Line by the sea, through which 10th Corps comprising of 1st and 7th Armd Div was to pass, or better still if all the enemy ran, 10th and 30th Corps would advance abreast. It was claimed that we have a 3 to 1 tank superiority (a moderate estimate). A special route “task” force, including many sappers, was to precede the Armd Divs to deal with mines.
On his return from RHQ the Sqn Ldr explained the plan to the whole Sqn. That night we could see the flashes of shelling in the North but could not hear them. There was some night bombing around us. 2Tp reported a few men in the hills, who may well have been Bedouin.
20th – 24th.
Stayed in the same position with two Tps out watching the exits from the hills. These Tps came in at night.
While sitting here we seemed very out of the battle and got very scanty news of how everything was going.
At first light Sqn moved to RHQ at E7063 and soon afterwards further orders to send a patrol back to where we had just left. 2Tp went back and stayed out the night at E5555. No movement seen.
1Tp and 4Tp were on patrol, each accompanied by a scout car (Cpl Pearce and Cpl Williamson) to practice Tp Ldrs in having a fourth vehicle to look after.
The Sqn Ldr inspected the Echelon who were “sitting pretty” in a very nice spot at E???
2Tp stayed out all day and Sqn remained in the same area. 2Tp came in just before dark. No movement seen. 4Tp had a car evacuated with flywheel trouble.
2Tp and 3Tp on patrol in the old positions and had nothing to report except explosions which indicated that the enemy was drawing out.
The Sqn Ldr went to RHQ to get news of the attack and learned that the Americans had captured 1000 prisoners (only Ities) and that 50th Div on the sea had about 700.
The line of Infantry and A/Tk guns on our front appeared to change hands at least once a day. Today our old friends the 2nd Btn 60th Rifles took over.
1Tp with Scout section went to E5555 on watching patrol. No movement seen. Stayed out all night.
1Tp and 4Tp on patrol. Sgt Lovett with his White scout car accompanied 1Tp on the southern patrol and went to 4Tp during the day.
At last light the Sqn Ldr visited RHQ for orders. The 4th Indian Div were sending a party to KREDDACHE and 4Tp were to stay out for the night on the road at E5769 in order to give them confidence and act as a link. As it turned out not a soul came near them.
It appears that the great push is going very slowly and 10th Corps was sent round to support NZ Corps, the whole to become 10th Corps under General Horrocks.
During the day the 4th Indian Div relieved 1Tp who had to go a long way round to get back as the tracks were blocked with transport going West. Unfortunately we had a slight accident with a lorry and had to spend the night out.
The Sqn Ldr visited 4Tp in the early morning and replenished them. 1Tp relieved the Royal’s southern patrol at E6175, 3Tp was relieved by our B Sqn from the southern patrol as the Sqn side-stepped one patrol to the North. The Sqn moved to E6374 and at last light 2Tp was sent out to maintain a link with the leading Bde of 4th Indian Div (Brigadier Kutch) for scheme purposes. 1Tp and 4Tp returned to the Sqn for the night.
A Sqn relieved Royals in area LEBENE. RHQ moved to E7181. C & B Sqns in reserve with RHQ.
1Tp arrived soon after first light and had to go to LAD. 4Tp also had a crew with LAD waiting a new car as their flywheel casing had gone; probably as a result of near misses from shelling. Both got in before dark.
Our push on the central sector had failed but General Freyberg, who had been out-flanking to the West, had made good progress and had got 2000 PoW with quite a bit of kit. A new draft of 25 for the Sqn had arrived within the last week and were gradually being absorbed. Regt moved up to area just West of MEDENINE.
We moved at 0630 hours back to our old Wadi at METAMEUR where we again sat doing nothing.
The Jeep patrol Lt Moore relieved 2Tp of their liaison duties and 3Tp went to their usual position at E6373.
The Sqn Ldr went to a conference at 4th Armd Bde after which it was decided that A Sqn should relieve C Sqn of the Royals. SHQ went to E6979 with three patrols, 1Tp, 4Tp and 3Tp, on the 60 Grid line between 82 and 88 Northings. 1Tp in the South watched the Royals getting blown up on mines. 4Tp in the centre had a good position of observation on a hill and had a White Scout car section attached, Sgt Lovett, which was invaluable. 3Tp and 4Tp leaguered together for the night at E6387 in order to get to their positions at first light the next morning. 1Tp leaguered with the Sqn.
The country in 3Tp and 4Tp areas was mountainous and entirely unsuitable for ACs – the Sqn will have to form an Alpine Tp if this goes on.
C Sqn liasing with Indian Bde in area HALLOUF.
A Sqn liasing with Gds Bde in area LEBENE.
Sqn had orders to find 4th Indian Div who were working on the left flank of 7th Armd Div, and keep contact between forward elements of both Divs. 2Tp and 3Tp went ahead, 2Tp to the Essex Regt and 3Tp to Div HQ. The Sqn moved later in the day and took over from 3Tp. 2Tp stayed out for the night.
26th – 29th.
Remained sitting at METAMEUR. Lt Newton went out on the 27th to recce the road through HALLOUF pass where we were likely to go, and returned the same day.
On the 29th 2Tp went and recced a track up to ??? where the Div was moving to the next day. He stayed out all night.
3Tp and 4Tp took up the same patrol at first light. 3Tp role was to give early warning of any westward movement by the enemy towards TOUJANE and North over the pass at E4989. Throughout the day there was some enemy movement reported in area E5485 and there was a certain amount of shelling at the RB’s and 22nd Armd Bde who were in the low ground SE of REIATSIA.
2Tp was sent to relieve 4Tp at E6085 and Lt Garrard left his Tp near the road at E6486 and went up to 4Tp position to get the picture for the next day from Capt Wingfield Digby MC.
4Tp came back to the Sqn for the night and 3Tp leaguered with 2Tp.
The Regt in reserve less A Sqn who were liasing with Gds Bde.
4Tp relieved 2Tp. Reported the advance of our Infantry patrols through the hills towards TOUJANE.
The Guards Bde were told to hold the same line – and the North of it – as our 2 patrols, so 3Tp were able to hand over their position at 0800 hours and 2Tp were ordered to stay put but to keep in touch with the left of the Grenadiers who were on the left of the Bde.
A draft of 14 men were sent to the Sqn. They seemed good fellows – one looked about 14 years old, but we did not look at his teeth. They were short of training, so Sgt Turner (2Tp) and Cpl Drew (1Tp) were sent back to instruct them in MT, gunnery, elementary wireless and 11th Hussars ideas. And, at the same time, to command the Sqn’s two spare ACs on the Echelon.Finding one’s way about in this country is very different to the Western Desert and all agreed that it was much easier to navigate on “the blue” than to find one’s way along a maze of tracks, very few of which were marked on the map, and trust in being directed by soldiers who never seem to know the name of their CO in most regiments around us.
1Tp went out at 1700 hours to relieve 2Tp. Sgt Trumper went on to get the lie of the land in his dingo, leaving his Tp on the road. Both Tps leaguered for the night at E6486.
The baths at the French barracks at MEDENINE proved a great boon and a large party was sent in daily. The Sqn Ldr was unfortunate enough to arrive there one evening when the Sisters from the Divisional CCS were in occupation. The mornings are getting lighter as summer draws near and SSM Moore has the Sqn out of bed earlier every day.
A Sqn called into reserve.
Sqn was recalled to RHQ and arrived there by midday.
1Tp moved their position forward to E5875 from which an excellent view could be obtained of DJEBEL REINTSOA and the ground in between, which was full of mines.
The Sqn Ldr and the SSM visited the Echelon to vet the new draft. When the Sqn Ldr goes away it seems to be a signal for a move to take place for at 1000 hours the Sqn was ordered to rejoin the Regt in their old area at E7479 to be ready to move through the MARETH Line or through the HALLOUF Pass.
50th Div had discovered in the early morning that the MARETH Line was unoccupied - they had lost touch with the enemy. ARRAM was taken without opposition and suddenly the authorities woke up to the fact that Jerry really was on the run.
The plan now was for the Infantry to advance up the coast; clearing a path through the minefields which was the only danger, though a large one, and for 7th Armd Div to follow up.
We spent the night together in the same place, having heard that 10th Corps and the New Zealanders had had a most successful battle South of EL HANMA.
Remained same area.
The Sqn was hoping to be let off the leash to which we seemed to be attached, to go and chase the enemy. The Infantry were pushing on up the coast and 10th Corps had nearly reached GABES.
The day was spent in maintenance and troop discussions. The Colonel and the Sqn Ldr went to see 22nd Armd Bde.
The air was full of aeroplanes, mostly Kittyhawks and we go frequent Toc/R reports during the day indicating the enemy was pulling out.
At last in the evening orders came for the Regt to move with the Div to Z3322, 6 miles East of GABES.
The Regt was ordered to move at first light to the area South of EL MDOU in advance of 7th Armd Div. The enemy having withdrawn from the MARETH positions this was a peace march.
7th Armd Div was ordered to halt in area Z4305 and the Regt remained in this area during the day.
Regt moved through MARETH line, now evacuated, to ???. Stayed here all day.
We moved at 0630 hours to Z3837 where we stayed and 2Tp joined us there.
The Regt moved off at 0615 hours in the order RHQ, B, C & A to go nose to croup along a well defined track running parallel and about 5 miles West of the MEDENINE – GABES main road.
Our speed of advance was regulated by the speed the sappers could pick up the mines in front of us. As we moved off it rained just enough to lay the dust. It appeared from the Toc/R that the enemy was concentrating his stuff in the Wadi AKARIT where it was thought he might make a stand. The Regt reached Z4005 where we were held up by the sappers, so we halted and spent the remainder of the day doing maintenance and resting.
||RHQ.The Regt continued the advance at first light and halted in area Z3523 where it went into reserve.
Moved North again to area 23520. GABES had fallen but the enemy were holding the line of the Wadi EL AKARIT.
We again moved 11 miles up to Z3424 where we again sat just in front of 7th Armd Div HQ.
The Regt moved off at 0630 hours with A Sqn bringing up the rear and by 0745 hours we had arrived at our position which was just North of 7th Armd Div HQ.
The Germans had left very little for our benefit, except masses of mines, but it was gratifying to hear from the local ‘bedu’ that there had been much bombing from the RAF. But what worried him much more was that the Germans and Italians had both had ideas on his wife and daughter.
We were told about the success of the 10th Corps and New Zealand battle and the plan for breaking the Wadi AKARIT line. The 51st Highland Div were to break it in about 2 days time and at last we were going to have something to do, for 7th Armd Div were to follow through the break and pursue.
||CO: Lt Col AT Smail
|Apr 43 11th Hussars
||(Prince Albert’s Own)
1st – 6th.
The Regt was in reserve during this whole period while the Infantry Div were preparing to and attacking the GABES Gap.
Remained in same area.
There was much chat in the Sqn as to whether it was possible to “April Fool” SSM Moore and get away with it. As far as I know no one tried it except SSM McCarthy (C Sqn) who arrived five minutes too late as SSM Moore had just left to go and pull RHQ’s leg.
We expected to be here for 2 days until 51st Div were ready to attack; but Toc/R reports, which nowadays come in regularly throughout the day, indicated that there was much less MET on the Wadi AKARIT line than yesterday and it was believed that, with the Americans only 30 miles away on their right flank, there was an even money chance of the enemy pulling out; this would be to our advantage as the enemy had DJEBEL TEBAGA FATNASSA which gave him a commanding view over our whole area.
The day was spent in gun cleaning, more maps being issued and some withdrawn, NAAFI kit being issued, clothing washed and general sorting out. The Sqn Ldr and the SSM both received letters from Major (now Lt Colonel) Lawson who was already with the Americans. He said how he wished he were still with A Sqn. Lt Colonel Payne Gallway also wrote from the 1st Derbyshire Yeomanry saying he would be joining us soon.
We stayed in the same position and sent people into GABES and bathing every day. Tp Ldrs toured the countryside to get the lie of the land.
The Sqn Ldr and three Tp Ldrs did a recce of the forward area where it was expected 7th Armd Div would go through. We went through GABES which showed signs of its attention from both the Navy and RAF, then up the coast road where we made friends with the Staffordshire Yeomanry and had a look at the range of hills facing us, which the enemy, who had excellent observation from both ROUMANA and FATNASSA, shelled us with 75’s. We returned via a very good road, “Autobahn” standard, running from GODREF to BIR EL KRENN and saw masses of troops moving up, especially gunners.
Capt Crankshaw accompanied by Capt Churton, Lt Garrard and Lt Williamson had a look round in the afternoon visiting Major Grant Thorold at HQ 2nd Armd Bde and returning quite close to EL HAMMA. Each Tp Ldr was now in a position to explain to his Tp what sort of country they might expect.
“Waiting for things to happen” is how most of one’s time in war is spent, but it can all be put to advantage with a little organisation and trouble.
It was a cold day, but bathing in GABES was allowed for 25% of the Sqn at a time. The Sqn was tucked away in a fig grove where the Jerries had built excellent slit trenches. The day was spent in maintenance and gun cleaning with talks on the new ACs, which need a good deal of looking after. The bathers saw petrol being unloaded from tank landing craft at GABES which is encouraging. The RAF shot down 14 Stukas out of 20 and we had the satisfaction of seeing a night bomber pulled down in flames by AA in the darkness, after which there was a rum issue.
After a rainy night, it was a fine day. There was bathing again and in the afternoon a football game to see what new talent we had in the Sqn.
I wish we were going to stand on Epsom Downs today to watch “April the Fifth” win the Derby. But one must be content with the arid plains of Tunisia.
At 0800 hours all Sqn Ldrs attended a conference at 7th Armd Div where General Erskine gave us a resume of the forthcoming attack on the GABES Gap. The attack had been delayed 36 hours so that the 50th and 4th Indian Divs could be brought up and used as well as the 51st Div. Intelligence said that the 51st would be opposed by the 90th Light and that the remainder of the line was held by four Iti Divs (very under strength), with 21st Panzers in reserve in area Z0660 and the 15th Panzer further back.
The 90th Light was supposed to be in good order and the 15th and 21st Panzers could not muster more than 35 tanks between them. The real danger was the 10th Armd Div which had 92 tanks (including 25 Tigers with 88mm guns) which was sitting watching the Americans
We could distinctly hear the guns open up at about 0415 hours and fire continually well into the morning. We expected to move any time after 12 noon as the 7th Armd Div were to take over the position of the New Zealanders when they moved forward. Many spent the morning writing their last letters for a week or so to their girl friends, but an anti-climax was reached at 1600 hours when, after waiting all day, we were told that we would not be moving today.
Information was received that the enemy had vacated the GABES Gap position. The Regt moved at first light and were ordered to get to the head of 22nd Armd Bde who were leading 7th Armd Div. There was considerable congestion passing through a minefield East of TEBAGA FATNASSA. Once clear of this obstacle B Sqn were ordered to advance on the right and C Sqn on the left. 7th Armd Div was directed on SI MOHAMMED NOUIGES. RHQ and A Sqn leaguered at Z1572 with C and B Sqns in touch with the enemy to the North. In this advance 51st Highland Div were operating on the line of the coast road with 7th Armd Div covering their left flank and 8th Armd Bde on the left of 7th Armd Div.
At 0640 hours orders to move as soon as possible to assembly area North of GABES. By 1130 hours we were passing through the gaps made in the enemy minefields and across the bridges made over the A/Tk ditches. One of 4Tp cars had flywheel trouble and had to be abandoned. We kept the crew and ordered up a spare.
Our role was to fan out and advance North with the Z13 easting as the left boundary and our right boundary running NE through the ruins at Z1473. Sqn advanced two-up with 3Tp on the left and 1Tp on the right.
At 1345 hours 3Tp reported 8 MET and men spread out between 1278 and 1678.
At 1355 hours 3Tp reported 4 tanks at 1579.
At 1405 hours 3Tp reported these tanks now totalled 10.
1Tp confirmed this and was accurately fired on by a 38mm which forced him to withdraw. He contacted a KDG patrol which gave him information about the left flank.
3Tp was ordered round to the West to contact 8th Armd Bde and the SSM contacted CLY Regtl Group and kept them informed of the local situation.
During the evening the 8th Armd Bde heavily engaged the enemy in area 1080 and 22nd Armd Bde behind our screen also engaged them from the South. Enemy shelling was fairly accurate just before dark. 3Tp remained with 8th Armd Bde and the Sqn got together after dark and stayed with the CLY. The enemy had definitely thinned out during the last hour of daylight.
At 0700 hours came the order to move immediately as the enemy during the night had gone (just as we had said they would). The Regt moved off and went via GABES, OUDREF and after a certain amount of jockeying for position at ROUMANA we caught up with the leading Regt of 22 Armd Bde at 12 noon in the Wadi RMEL. B & C Sqns were out in front but we could get a good view of the enemy MET which was moving around on the feature KAT ES SATOUR.
At 1600 hours we moved forward and spent the night at Z1469 next to RHQ with Adv Div hard by.
As soon as it got dark we were heavily attacked by mosquitoes, but in an hour or two it got colder and they vanished.
From Toc/R reports and information from our own patrols the enemy was obviously moving most of his stuff North, but was leaving behind strong rearguards of guns and tanks who were mobile enough to break contact at night and move off.
As is always the case in the front line, one never has anything better that a very rough picture of what is happening except on one’s own immediate front, whereas at GHQ in Cairo an up to date picture is usually obtainable – it is the fog of war.
Today it was almost impossible to discover what was happening on the NZ, 1st Armd Div and American fronts, but in the evening we heard that the NZ 17pdrs had broken their duck and bagged 2 Tigers and the 8th Armd Bde 2 more.
We moved at 0700 hours through the gap in the minefield just East of ROUMANA which the Highlanders had made during the night. Our role was to get across the Wadi AQUARIT and the minefield as quickly as possible and get in front of the 22nd Armd Bde who were pursuing the enemy. This we managed to do by 1200 hours after a lot of delays in getting through the gaps.
4Tp then followed up the line of the road and 2Tp went out on his left. SHQ stayed with the 1st RTR who were on the right of 22nd Armd Bde. Very soon both Tps were held up. 2Tp by an 88mm gun and some Infantry, and 4Tp guns, Infantry and a few tanks at Z2479.
The situation remained the same for the rest of the day, everyone being held up. At last light 3Tp went out to relieve 2Tp and 4Tp came in. We spent the night at Z2174 with the 1st RTR.
The advance continued at 0600 hours and RHQ leaguered with 7th Armd Div in area Z1494.
At first light we moved out with 2Tp on the left and 1Tp on the right.
0615 – 1Tp reported at 1483 four 105mm firing SE. Actually they were shelling the Echelon and reserve Tps who had to move out of the area.
0655 – 1Tp reported 7 0r 8 Bredas firing at our planes at 1883.
0716 – 1Tp reported 30 MET moving East with 8 tanks and two 88mm doing rearguard.
0722 – 1Tp reported Infantry marching East and later 4 lorries of Infantry.
0723 – Tp could see Infantry on the ground at 1486.
0732 – 2Tp reported 1 tank moving East and scattered Infantry in the area 1088.
0755 – 1Tp reported at 1784 eight lorries of Infantry moving East, the 2 leaders towing guns. Since he was only 1 mile to their East and they were coming straight towards him, he attacked and caused the crews of the 2 leading lorries to jump out and run for it. He then closed the range and captured 4 lorries, a 105mm gun and a 6pdr A/Tk gun and some 40 prisoners, mostly Italian. During this time he was fired on by a 88mm to his NW and only a short way ahead of 2Tp.
2Tp reported a large tank stationary and firing at 1Tp only ½ mile ahead of him and thought he would attack hull down from 500 yards. This he did and the crew bailed out and he captured two. The tank was a Mark VI Tiger with an 88mm. It had previously been damaged by 8th Armd Bde and left as a pillbox.
0830 – 1Tp carried on into the rest of the column and took 5 lorries and 1 Volkswagon with 2 officers and 30 men, mostly Italians.
0842 – 1Tp could see some 50+ Infantry and 3 guns trying to get out of action a little to his North. He went in and got three 105mm and about 100 Italians. Evidently a Tp of Italian guns with a backing of Germans had got left behind the main rearguard which was obviously German.
After this we advanced fast almost due North till enemy resistance was encountered in area Z2294. There were thick olive groves in this area and A/Tk guns very difficult to spot. At least two 88mm were in action and at 3451 there were three 105’s which accurately shelled SHQ. The only damage was a large piece of shrapnel through the rear-link mapboard, narrowly missing Capt Petch.
The 8th Armd Bde were at 128 1998, but everything was held up for almost an hour as the guns could not be seen. The two 88’s were thought to be in position at 1997 but as they had not moved for some time 2Tp was sent round to the left to draw fire. He went right through the area where the 88’s had been and took 12 Italians of the PISTOIA Div prisoner.
Shortly after the Bde moved on again, with the railway line at 2902 as the objective. Our tanks were again held up before dark by enemy in the 3000 area. In the orchard at 2999 there was at least one Tiger and one other tank in action. To their South there were two further 88’s in action but these moved off North before dark. Just before dark three 105’s opened up and shelled us accurately. Our tanks replied at long range but it is not known with what effect.
We moved after dark but got on a very dusty track and after two Humbers had gone off the track and nearly overturned, we packed up for the night. Both Humbers were damaged but by working till 0300 hours the fitter got one ok and the other a runner, which went to LAD next day.
4Tp Lt de Wend Fenton spent the night with 1st RTR who moved up to the railway after dark. 3Tp was still with the 8th Armd Bde in the Dingo – both Daimlers being worn out – the second one just managed to rejoin the Sqn the next day. Lateral liaison by Tps with different Bdes, proved of great value to Commanders.
We just had time to get in breakfast before we moved off at 0700 hours with the rest of the advancing Army (how I hate getting mixed up with gunners, Infantry etc of whom we ought to be in front). The enemy was slowly moving off in his own time – he must be jostled!
B Sqn on the right and C Sqn on the left were leading. C Sqn got some guns and prisoners and 1 Tiger tank (a lame one). We picked up 3 Italians.
A Sqn went to Z2384 where we spent most of the day behind B Sqn HQ, and in readiness to move up on their right if necessary to fill in the gap where the coastline branches NE.
At 1500 hours 1Tp Sgt Trumper were despatched to relieve 1Tp of B Sqn Sgt Matheson in front of the 51st Div which was held up by a blown bridge on the coast road and covered by fire. The enemy rearguard here was covering the evacuation of MAHARES. 1Tp leaguered in the area and the Sqn 3 miles North of our day position where we had an excellent view of enemy guns shooting from the area of GRAIBA station.
1Tp went out and worked up the line of the main road and 3Tp advanced on his left. The enemy had left a few people behind in position and 3Tp was fired on by A/Tk guns at close range from some trees and had to fall back.
By 0800 hours the enemy had cleared out and we pushed on. 1Tp on the right came across a minefield, but with the help of a Scout section got through it ok. Both Tps pushed on with the 1st RTR behind them until 3Tp came across a large concentration of MT at Z2396 with tanks and guns. These were immediately engaged by 22nd Armd Bde and the battle continued around this area all day.
1Tp on the right was held up by some guns and Infantry in a wadi across the main road at Z3093.
At 1200 hours 2Tp went out and relieved 3Tp who came in.
At 1500 hours we were ordered to move up more NW so as to get in front of the 22nd Armd Bde who were going to move NE. 2Tp moved about 2 miles NW and took a position up just in front of the 4th CLY.
4Tp was then sent out to 2Tp’s old position.
The situation remained like this for the rest of the day. Both Tps came in for the night which was spent at Z2294.
7th Armd Div was directed NE to GRAIBA and as 8th Armd Bde was advancing due North it was necessary to cover the left flank of 7th Armd Div. C Sqn were given this role, B Sqn were ordered to act as advance guard and A Sqn right flank guard with the additional roles of entering MAHARES and SFAX as soon as possible.
The country was difficult to cross, heavy sand, cultivated olive groves and wadis. During the day the enemy took up a series of delaying positions and by night 7th Armd Div had reached EL AGAREB. RHQ leaguered with A Sqn at U6824.
At first light 4Tp and SHQ pushed forward over the railway then NE to 4409 over rough and slow country. 3Tp remained with 8th Armd Bde, 5Tp Lt Woodhouse went to 1st RTR for liaison. B Sqn on our right was held up by A/Tk guns at 3904.
In this close country there seemed to be considerable doubt as to who should move first after ACs were held up by A/Tk guns. If ACs halted to have a look, all the tanks halted also and there was considerable delay before they went on again.
0950 – 4Tp was at 4309 held up by A/Tk and soon after this 2Tp came up on his left at 4211. Soon after 1000 hours we all moved on the Bde axis along a track running NE from 4401 to track junction 5218. B Sqn were on the right and C Sqn on the left with A Sqn on the coast road. The advance proceeded slowly in the face of light rearguards with a few 88’s in area U5321. 2Tp had to do a left flank guard on the road at 4019 whilst 4Tp had gone on to 4717.
At 1530 hours 4Tp reported MET moving East along the road between 5036 and 5535 – first 10 and then more than 50. SHQ moved to his position and it was seen that all three tracks at 5535, 5533 and 5529 were carrying a steady stream of traffic East to the junction at SIDI AGAREB. This junction was made the objective of the Div with the object of cutting off all traffic on the 3 tracks.
Progress was especially slow and 4Tp, later followed by SHQ, went out to track at 5328 to harass and delay. Two Tigers and MET at 4025. 5Tp went to 4824 in his Dingo to fill the gap. Unfortunately by this time we were short of cars. Our two reserves only just arrived and were with B1 as also was 1Tp held up on a narrow track. The forward and rear link and one Daimler and one Dingo were all there were to harass the road.
4Tp went to the East at 5328 whilst SHQ went to 5328. 4Tp at first drew a blank but SHQ met a tank towing a lorry. An OP from 3rd RHA in a Honey tank with a gun strengthened our forces and after a running fight got the tank and crew, an M13 of the ARIETE Div. Three or four other lorries were engaged in the same area and these were hastily evacuated by their owners, most of whom made their escape in the very rough ground. Nine PoW were taken.
5Tp reported further MET moving East along the track at about 5029. 4Tp with his Daimler joined SHQ and stayed back to destroy the M13 with his 2pdr as HACs could not do this. SHQ then went West to the ridge to look for the MET reported by 5Tp. They met it just over the top – a column of 30 to 40 German lorries – the head only 300 yards away.
The column was immediately engaged with good effect, all the leading lorries turning tail and many of the crews bailing out. 4Tp was called up to assist and as he did so forward link had a stoppage and moved back 100 yards to clear it and to collect the OP who did not know what was going on. Lt de Wend Fenton unfortunately did not see the enemy and went right over the top of the hill onto an A/Tk gun. He stopped and engaged it, but after a few rounds an A/Tk shell pierced the turret, killing Lt Fenton and wounding the other two crew, Tpr Pettit and Tpr Webb, both of whom were picked up by SHQ.
After this it was decided to withdraw – which we did just before dark. We were fired on by our own tanks on the way in, but no damage. The wounded were taken over by RMO of 3rd RHA. 3Tp coming in went over a bank and turned over, but without damage. The crew slept by their Dingo and it was corrected early next morning.
Orders for an advance on a Div centre line which ran roughly on a line of about 15 miles inland from the coast were received. 11th Hussars were to lead, A Sqn on the right, B Sqn in the centre and C Sqn on the left, all minor opposition was to be by-passed.
The Sqn moved at 0530 hours, across very bad going in the Wadi CHERITET with 3Tp Capt Churton leading. We reported a landing ground clear at Z2896 but ditches had been dug across it. B & C Sqns reported enemy NE of GRAIBA, but A Sqn pushed on and gained contact with the enemy at U4503 at approx 0700 hours. Throughout the rest of the day contact was maintained until the evening, in spite of very heavy going.
The country was very different to that which 11th Hussars are used to – we were going through olive plantations most of the time, which reduced visibility to 300 – 400 yards and the cultivated soil reduced our speed to 5 mph. It was ideal country for enemy rearguards with A/Tk guns. On the whole the Daimlers pulled very well.
3Tp located 4 MET (one with an A/Tk gun) SW of CHAHAL Station which they drove off with fire, killing one. For the rest of the morning they chased this bit of the enemy rearguard, culminating in a very successful action at U5514, resulting in the capture of one 75mm A/Tk gun intact, 4 MET destroyed, 5 Germans killed, about 5 wounded and 4 PoW.
At 1100 hours 4Tp Lt Wingfield Digby was sent into MAHARES to link up with 51st Div; he was withdrawn in the afternoon from this attractive fishing village.
2Tp were coping with Sgt Hall’s car which had broken down and 1Tp were ordered at 1200 hours to take over as leading Tp from 3Tp who were low in petrol after the action in the olive groves.
Lt Williamson in his Dingo with 1 Scout car Cpl Pearce had been despatched to act as a link with 51st Div who were slowly advancing up the coast road.
At U4606 SHQ overran an abandoned workshop, capturing 42 M13’s and 6 Italians.
The Sqn’s objective was now to get observation onto the enemy who were pouring East from AGARES. 1Tp and 4Tp moved to X roads U6927 where they spent the night, hoping to intercept anything that came down the road, but nothing came. The Sqn were with Tac HQ 1 mile behind and we were all given a free display of fireworks, far better than any 4th of June show at Eton, by the enemy blowing up his ammunition dumps in the trees at U7227. The explosions were terrific.
The Div was directed on U6230 and we were leading with C on our left and A on our right. The whole day was one big struggle against soft going and we found it impossible to keep ahead of the tanks.
After going 8 miles 3Tp got badly stuck so 1Tp was sent out on the right. The first rearguard position was soon dealt with by 22nd Armd Bde and while this was going on the three Tps remained in observation but could see very little owing to the country being very wooded.
1Tp tried to work up to the right of the enemy position but his progress was so slow owing to the going that the enemy had long gone before he could do any good. After this the advance continued and we found a track so the two outside Tps were called in and 4Tp and 2Tp went down the track in front of the Bde.
The next enemy position was at U5018 and this consisted of an 88mm and tow 105mm and was again engaged. While this was going on the two Tps in front could get no observation so they were brought back in turn to refill and 2Tp was relieved by 3Tp so when the enemy withdrew 4Tp pushed on down the track with 3Tp close behind.
These two Tps carried on down the track until they came on to the metalled road and at U5322 4Tp was fired on by an 88mm and had to get back behind a ridge. This 88 was engaged by our guns and immediately about 8 lorries came out of a wadi about 3 miles in front of 4Tp and withdrew North along the road.
4Tp Dingo would not start and 3Tp carried on down the road. He went for about 4 miles and came under Breda and MG fire from both sides of the road. He fell back a bit while 22nd Armd Bde was coming up behind. He was fired on again, this time by an 88mm so he got off the road and tried to work up amongst the trees.
By this time the tanks of the 22nd Armd Bde and also their B1 lorries who seemed to have put on a spurt and gone through the tanks, had come up and the enemy opened up with about 4 guns. The Tp had to drop back a bit, and remained in observation for the rest of the day while the battle went on until dark.
At last light the Sqn stayed at U5625 and 3Tp came in. By this time 2Tp and 4Tp each had only one Daimler left.
The advance continued at 0600 hours and it was found that the enemy had retired during the night. C Sqn were called into reserve.
A Sqn entered SFAX and the leading Tps were given a big reception by the inhabitants. 7th Armd Div was halted in the area U7246 and the Regt was ordered to push up the two roads leading North from SFAX.
A Sqn proceeded on the eastern road and B Sqn on the main road. RHQ moved to U7855 during the evening. During the afternoon B Sqn made contact with the NZ Div at cross roads U7675 and then moved East to recce the roads running North between the coast and the main road.
2Tp who had stayed out the night came East along the track early in the morning, passing 2 Mark III and two 18 ton half-tack carriers and 20 or 30 MET abandoned on the way – he also picked up a few stragglers, but after getting them on to the Div axis he put them down again as no one wanted them. 1Tp also came in and the Sqn went into Regtl reserve.
From the previous night’s demolitions it was assumed that SFAX was evacuated. 1Tp was ordered to get observation onto the coast road from U7506 as the Highlanders were well behind our right flank owing to mines and demolitions on the coast road. 2Tp was directed on SFAX itself and arrived with 1Tp not long after at 0750 hours amidst prolonged cheers from the population who swarmed over the cars and made much of Lt Garrard.
SHQ passed through SFAX at 0850 hours and Capt Crankshaw was told by a 51st Div officer – “Well, if the 11th Hussars were first into Tripoli, at least they did not best us for SFAX.” Capt Crankshaw politely told him that we were ¾ hour ahead of 51st Div and already had one Tp 10 miles up the road.
4Tp meanwhile had been crossing some very difficult going and had Sgt Andrews car broken down at U7038, where Sgt Mitchell was sent to repair it.
A Sqn was made responsible for the CHEBBA road running NNE and 2Tp with 1Tp in support with 1 Scout car Cpl Williamson were sent to clear mines. B Sqn were late in getting onto this road (the main road North to EL DJEM) owing to the going, so 3Tp was sent up it with Sgt Lovett and his Scout section. Both roads were mined and blown in many places, but by being careful and by good work of the Scout section with their sapper each, good progress was made.
3Tp found a train of 6 wagons full of German bully, sausage meat and so they helped themselves for A Sqn and remained there on guard until RHQ sent some lorries which, although promised, never came and 3Tp were withdrawn to SHQ in the afternoon.
By 1100 hours 2Tp had reached a point 2 miles South of DJE BENINIA with 1Tp close behind. RHQ told me to halt them just as they were gaining contact with the enemy. While waiting, both Tps were replenished with petrol.
Seven miles out of SFAX there was a demolition at U8746 and unfortunately the Sqn Ldr’s car was blown up on a Teller mine whist negotiating it. LCpl Martin, the driver, was wounded and had his right leg fractured, and so the only AC in the Regt which started the advance from El ALAMEIN was knocked out temporarily. Later a German lorry we had picked up was also blown up, slightly wounding Tpr Cahill, Tpr Hillman, Tpr Crowe and Sigm Wylie.
At about 1500 hours B Sqn on our left had caught up and we were allowed to advance. In spite of mines, by night fall all 2Tp was in CHEBBA after an advance of over 70 miles during the day. 1Tp spent the night there with them, also Sgt Fitzpatrick and the 2 mortar sections who took up their petrol and rations. The local populations of all places seemed delighted to see us, and Lt Garrard who speaks French and German well was able to take full advantage of all information. The Sqn spent the night at MELLOULECHE and felt very pleased with such a successful day’s operations, also the Jerry food to eke out our rations which, though enough, were not more than enough. CHEBBA produced some local red wine which was readily sold.
Four Italian PoW were picked up in SFAX by 2Tp, who got two Czech prisoners from 15th Panzers just outside; they were very talkative and anti-Nazi and were despatched at once to an Int officer in SFAX.It was obvious that 15th Panzers had used our road, for many tanks were left. The total bag of tanks found demolished and left by the road during the day was one Mark III, three Mark III Specials, five Mark IV Specials, one American half tracked White with 75mm gun, about 30 burnt out lorries, three bowsers in perfect working order but empty petrol tanks denoting the enemy was short of petrol and had to leave in a hurry.
The unsatisfactory part of the day was just when 2Tp were about to make contact (they saw a staff car tearing round a corner out of sight) higher authority halted me; the enemy were going quickly but the more they are jostled from behind the more would be their confusion and the less time they would have for mine laying.
The weather is lovely and the countryside gets more pretty the more North we go.
The 22nd Armd Bde moved out at first light to area U7247 with the Sqn leading. This area was reached at 0900 hours without encountering any enemy. We were then told to move East and work up North along the main road and relieve A Sqn who were doing it. 2Tp and 3Tp went immediately to U8248 where 3Tp remained and 2Tp started working up the road. After going 4 miles he came across Lt Wingfield Digby A Sqn and took over from him.SHQ hit the road at U8243 and 4Tp was sent up to relieve 2Tp while SHQ came on behind. 4Tp took over and carried on up to U7775 where he came across the 8th Armd Bde and remained with them as the link for the night.
At 1500 hours the Sqn was ordered to move East and work up North along the tracks on A Sqn’s left who were on the coast road.
At 1800 hours the Sqn reached U9369 and 1Tp went up the left track and 3Tp and SHQ up the right hand one. After going 4 miles everyone stopped for the night, 1, 3 and 4Tps remaining out. This was an unsatisfactory day as we never quite knew what was happening and we were shifted about all day.
A and B Sqns reached the road KSOUN ESAF – EL DJEM during the morning when orders were received for the Regt to concentrate in area U7675 which it did at midday.
At short notice we turned out to escort General Montgomery on a parade in SFAX. After the parade he inspected the Sqn, talking to all Tp Ldrs. In the afternoon we went North up the road and joined the Regt.
I hoped to advance at first light to gain contact but higher authority would not allow it. SHQ and 4Tp moved forward to CHEBBA where we had breakfast.
At 0700 hours the starter dropped his flag and 1Tp with Cpl Williamson’s Scout section moved on and by 1100 hours had reached KSOUN ESAF from where I was not allowed to let them go on. SHQ had tried a cross country way, owing to the mines on the main road, but got badly stuck in mud out of which the Daimlers pulled better than the HumbersAt 1130 hours we were told that the KDG’s were to take over our line and the Regt was to concentrate right back at U7863 20 miles South of EL DJEM – why in the hell? Not to be done down, however, we put in a quick bathe near RASS SALAKTA and arrived at the concentration area at 1500 hours.
The Sqn was most disappointed at being pulled out but hoped that the idea was that we were to join up with the Americans near KAIROUAN. The real reason was that having got SFAX, 30th Corps had done its job and handed over the line to 10th Corps. However, we had had a few days pretty successful operations; the only criticism being that whenever we were about to gain proper contact with the enemy we were halted. We were naturally not told till afterwards that the reason was that 10th Corps were taking over the line.
At 0630 hours we continued on up North and after going 10 miles 2Tp was sent out along a track which ran North between 1Tp and 3Tp.
At 1030 hours the KDG’s arrived and took over from us and all Tps returned to SHQ.
At 1200 hours we moved back into reserve with the Regt at U7763.
Received orders that 7th Armd Div would in probability remain in the same area for a week.
At 1800 hours received orders to move at 0500 hours the following day.
The day was spent in gun cleaning and completely digging out and re-packing the cars as we were told we would be there for 5 days. A party went bathing, Sgt Mitchell carried out certain repairs and by the evening when we were all set for a 5 day halt, the order came to be ready to move the next day.
We remained in the same place and a party went into SFAX which was very disappointing. Another party went bathing.
The Regt and 7th Armd Div carried out a peace march to KAIROUAN and leaguered 2 miles South of the town.
We moved off at 0530 hours to a position 3 miles SE of KAIROUAN where we arrived at 1030 hours. The Sqn Ldr went with the CO to meet Lt Colonel Payne Gallwey. He was very well and we brought him back where he saw most of the Regt and got loaded with our precious whiskey. It was great to see him.
There was much chat as to why the 7th Armd Div was up – we were neither in the line or right back in reserve, so maybe we were put out to be seen by the enemy Toc/R.
The Sqn was still doing well for fresh meat owing to six sheep which Lt Williamson had bought on patrol – they had all travelled back in one White Scout car with seven men.
We moved with the Regt to KAIROUAN and stopped about 2 miles South of it. This was a great day as we saw Colonel Payne Gallwey who is now commanding the Derbyshire Yeomanry in the 1st Army. We stayed here all April 14th and 2 recce parties went out to look at the country in jeeps.
Regt remained in the same position and Sqns sent out parties to recce tracks running North from KAIROUAN.
Capt Crankshaw and Lt Moore each took out a party to recce the area North of KAIROUAN with a view to the Div using it on three tracks running North. The ground did not always agree with the maps and there were several impossible wadis.
It was decided that, in view of the extra Jerry food, a “white elephant” should be started again on the Echelon, this, with 15 rations given us for feeding prisoners (which we did not feed), might be useful one day.
Regt moved to P0366 and remained in reserve, although A Sqn came under orders 22nd Armd Bde.
The Regt was ordered to move to P0367. The road was very congested with traffic and no one seems to bother these days about air precautions which only shows how little we have been bothered lately. The Regt was on a slope overlooking a most lovely bit of vale and the countryside was covered with spring flowers.
A Sqn came under orders of the 22nd Armd Bde (Brigadier Hinde) from midday. In the evening the Sqn Ldr with Capt Horsford went over to see the Brigadier who was only 4 miles away at P0664. The 22nd Armd Bde were parked on a ready made aerodrome – level with short grass and, as I thought what a perfect football ground it would make, I decided the Sqn must move over the next day.
We moved about 15 miles to P0365 where we again sat.
Remained in Div reserve, less A Sqn.
The Sqn Ldr and Lt Moore recced the area SE of DJEBIBINA with a view to acting as advance guard to 22nd Armd Bde, but the ground there is not easy for ACs owing to several wadis with steep banks and a soft bottom. We met the Royals who were in the line. Saw Brigadier Hinde who allotted the Sqn a place on the enormous plateau just in front of Bde HQ and returned to bring the Sqn over in the evening.
We expected to be here for 2 days before moving forward in support of 131 Bde who were to be on the left of the general attack on the ENFIDAVILLE line. The New Zealanders on the coast had been repulsed in a small scale attack and the line was believed to be strongly held, chiefly by Germans.
16th – 26th.
Remained concentrated with RHQ.
Remained in Div reserve, less A Sqn.
Three recce parties consisting of Tp Ldrs and young NCOs went to at the area SE of DJEBIBINA. A Derbyshire Yeomanry AC was found at P2262 burnt out and with two men’s remains still in it. SSM Moore arranged a burial and Sgt Mitchell examined the engine; the tyres on this car were still burning after 4 days.
A football match in the afternoon met a quick end as the bladder broke.
Remained in Div reserve, less A Sqn.
Everything seemed very quiet and church services were held in the open without interruption and the men were able to wash clothes in a nearby wadi with running water. Capt Wingfield Digby, who had done invaluable work in the Sqn as a Tp Ldr since EL ALAMEIN was transferred to B Sqn – his old Sqn.
In the afternoon there was a Sqn Ldr’s conference at RHQ to discuss the present establishment of ACs, Dingos, Jeeps etc in a Sqn. It was decided:-BLOCKQUOTE
a) that 5 AC Tps were essential.
b) that the Dingo was invaluable in enclosed country and the ideal Tp was 2 Daimler ACs and a Dingo in enclosed country and 2 Daimler ACs and possibly a Humber on the desert – anyhow 3 ACs of sorts.
c) that in the case of 2 Daimler ACs and a Dingo it was essential to have at least one Daimler with the Echelon to replace any casualty – a Tp of 1 Daimler and a Dingo could not be considered workable except as liaison or in an emergency. At least three more DACs per Sqn should be available on B2 Echelon.
d) that the Scout Tp should consist of 3 or at the most 4 Scout cars commanded by an officer in a Dingo who, when his cars are attached to AC Tps during operations, should be used for liaison duties.
e) that the Jeep Tp should be abolished.
f) that Sqn HQ should consist of 4 HACs as at present with 1 or possibly 2 Jeeps.
Orders came for the attack on the ENFIDAVILLE line which was reported to be strongly held with Italians strongly stiffened by many Germans. A Sqn was to have a patrol at P0882 at first light on the 20th to feel forward up to the track running NW to BIR EL OGLA. The 22nd Armd Bde less 5 tanks was to concentrate in the area South of SIDI AEK by last light on the 19th. 11th Hussars less A Sqn to be in Div reserve.
Remained in Div reserve, RHQ, C and B Sqns moved to SIDI BOU HAMA in the afternoon.
The Sqn Ldr with Capt Churton and Lt Moore with Sgt Trumper carried out a recce in Jeeps of the crossing of the Wadi KETEN in view of the forthcoming operations.
Training was done in the morning; in the afternoon there was football and at 1600 hours the Sqn moved to P1075 where we spent the night just behind Bde HQ who got quite heavily shelled on arrival with the 2 ACVs as the aiming mark.
1Tp spent the night near DJEBIBINA with a Tp of the Royals.
Remained in Div reserve, less A Sqn.
1Tp got badly stuck on their way out and had to have both their ACs hauled out by a 22nd Armd Bde Scammel. 2Tp took over their role and by 0700 hours were in observation in the area P0884. For 3 hours 2Tp was shelled spasmodically and during a hurried move overturned the Dingo (LCpl Atkinson) which was easily righted by Sgt Lovett and his scout section which was attached. 2Tp reported continuous movement of MET North and South at P0093, in all about 100 MET each way during the day.
There was also movement on the road at P0885 and 2Tp might have been able to intercept some of the MET if it had not been that the ground in between was dead flat and covered by artillery fire at close range.
SHQ with 1Tp, 3Tp and 4Tp spent the day at P114795 concealed in a cactus plantation from where an excellent view could be obtained of nearly everything 2Tp reported. There was spasmodic shelling throughout the day of tanks and gunners around us, but I think we escaped observation and we were not actually shelled ourselves.
2Tp had a very successful little action in the evening. A lorry was observed to go forward to P0584, drop some men on the ground and go away NW. Lt Garrard sent his Dingo LCpl Atkinson to try to capture them. The country between the Tps position is very flat and he had to cross 2 difficult wadis in the open ground and cover 2 miles in order to reach them; however he got up their position unobserved at 1800 hours and reported he could not see them. Suddenly the driver Tpr Bannocks saw over the side of the Dingo 20 Germans lying in the corn with rifles pointing at the Dingo. Both sides must have been equally surprised and it was a question of who should jump first. Atkinson could not depress his twin Bren guns enough so he fired over their heads hoping they would put up their hands, but no such luck; so he reversed 30 yards down the road and browned their position which must have caused some casualties but did not move them. If only LCpl Atkinson had had some hand grenades he could have gone back close to them and lobbed one or two over, which must have either hit them or made them give in, but unfortunately the Dingos are equipped neither with hand grenades or Tommy guns.
Lt Garrard ordered LCpl Atkinson to remain in observation until he could come up with his 2 ACs, which managed to cross both the wadis but were seen just as they were coming up to the Dingo over a ridge. The Tp was heavily shelled by a 75mm at very short range and was obliged to withdraw without getting any prisoners. It was a great pity, as 20 Jerry sappers in the act of laying mines would have been a good bag and the Tp could have known that they were obtained entirely by their own efforts instead of just picked up as strays.
One of the lessons was that all Dingos with AC Tps should carry grenades – they were fitted the very next day – and secondly that the Dingo is a very useful AFV in enclosed country because it is small and difficult to pick up.
Lt Williamson brought orders from Bde to the effect that our orders for the next day were the same as the previous day. The 50th Div, NZ’s and Indians had made fair progress but it appeared that the holding attack on the 8th Army front was to be carried out as cheaply as possible.
Remained in Div reserve, less A Sqn.
1Tp moved at dawn to 2Tp’s old position at P080836. SHQ with the remaining Tps spent the day in the same place at P113795.
1Tp reported movement throughout the day at P050846 both ways and could see an enemy military policeman standing there on the road directing traffic. At 1400 hours a lorry which he had directed off the track in a SW direction, as if to relieve an Infantry post, went up on one of their own mines.
The Sqn Ldr reported to the Bde Commander at RHQ 5th RTR at 0715 hours but the general situation on the whole front seemed unchanged. Reports of 1st Army successes were rather confused, varying between 17 and 35 tanks knocked out; whichever number was right, it served as Dutch courage combined with the RAF claims.
Remained in Div reserve, less A Sqn.
4Tp moved at dawn to the same position of observation; this place has not been shot up now for 2 days, which bears out the policy of going out at first light when the ground mist still hides movement – and staying still for the rest of the day.
At 0630 hours came a special request from the Corps Commander that a demonstration should be made in the direction of BIR EL OGLA to deceive the enemy that our attack was going to be put in towards PONT DU FAHS. 2Tp was ordered to proceed up to the farm at P066832 where he had nearly captured 20 Germans 2 days ago. He arrived there without being fired at but was not allowed to proceed North across the next wadi until covering fire could be arranged. The Royals who had a set on A Sqn’s forward link were most helpful and though not in our Bde sent off an OP with a Tp of theirs up to 2Tp.
Unfortunately the OP (a Stuart) went up on a mine 1 mile up the road North of DJEBIBINA which attracted Jerry’s attention who plastered them with 88mm fire. The driver of the tank had his leg blown off and the Tp had to retire out of it.
While waiting for support 2Tp picked up 5 German PoW at the farm. A German officer and 2 men had been on patrol the previous night and had been blown up on one of their own mines. A medical officer and his orderly were sent out but their vehicle had broken down and they had carried the wounded driver into the farm. Lt Williamson in his Dingo and Sgt Lovett with his White Scout car were sent to take the prisoners to Bde HQ for interrogation. They also took the Frenchman who owned the farm for being good enough to take in these Germans without telling us! Although Lt Garrard speaks fluent German he could get nothing out of them, no more could 7th Armd Div intelligence people. The Frenchman has since joined the Fighting French.
At 1300 hours an enemy half track White Scout car came down the road at P080835 and when within 800 yards range, Sgt Hall could not resist firing at it with his 2pdr, thereby not only giving away the Tp’s presence but also not getting full fire effect from the whole Tp shooting at once; the result was that the enemy White got back under cover before a second shot could be fired and soon after produced a 75mm firing at 2Tp at close range. The Tp had to withdraw, being shot at the whole time.
Nothing much occurred during the day. The Colonel came up to see us; the Sqn Ldr paid 2 visits to the 5th RTR and when in the afternoon the Sqn was told to take over 5th RTR patrols the Sqn Ldr went to see the Brigadier at Bde HQ to arrange for the 4th Light Armd Bde to take over the left hand patrol we had done for the last 3 days.
Remained in Div reserve, less A Sqn.
Took over 2 patrols, 1Tp at SIDI ZID and 3Tp at FAREH EL RHEZIA. 3Tp who were without Sgt Green took Sgt Lovett and his Scout section to act as third car.
SHQ were at the farm at P101855 which was alive with fleas and we were obliged to move a bit away.
1Tp could see parts of the road going to SOUAF and one Infantry position on the next ridge to them. There were at one time 12 men walking about on the track 1500 yards to their NW who appeared to be laying mines, but nothing could persuade them to come within proper Besa range. The gunner OP who was with 3Tp sorted them out with his 25pdrs.
3Tp were able to report considerable Infantry and MET movement to his NW and just failed to capture 2 enemy motor cyclists who came up to his Tp, stalking them between the houses with MGs.
Throughout the day we had excellent co-operation with the 5th RHA and SHQ spotted for them and for the 3rd RHA in the 4th Armd Bde on our left. The Royals had a Tp ambushed by a tank and half track 75mm at the farm at P0683 and had their cars knocked out and had to come in on foot. We spent the whole afternoon trying to get the guns on to them. The B1 and Tps in rest spent the day at the village at 113795 where the Sqn leaguered for the night.
Remained in Div reserve, less A Sqn.
2Tp went to SIDI ZID and 4Tp Lt Moore went to FAREH EL RHEZIA with a Tp of Sherman tanks close behind to secure these two Tps from a threat from the left as the wadi on their right was impassable.
SHQ called on the 5th RTR on our way out and were told that only an hour ago 50 Germans in open formation had been seen only 500 yards away advancing on their leaguer but had been shot up at the last minute by a standing patrol.
We soon discovered that this had been a mining party as Cpl Pearce’s Scout car was blown up 100 yards East of X tracks P108821 after the whole of 4Tp had been over the spot, and the Tp Ldrs Sherman was blown up actually on the X track. 4Tp continued with the other 2 Shermans and Lt Williamson was sent across with Sgt Lovett to ‘delouse’ the area. Unfortunately Sgt Lovett’s Scout car was blown up in the wadi track.
2Tp and 4Tp got to their positions alright as did SHQ at the farm at 102855. We had not been there 30 minutes before we were suddenly and very accurately fired on by a 150mm whose second shell fell 5 yards away from Sgt Fitzpatrick’s Scout car, wounding Tpr Hulme in both legs and Tpr Smith ’81 in the right arm and side, breaking his arm (he was seriously wounded). Tpr Shoals (driver of the Sqn Ldr’s jeep) was slightly wounded in the leg. The armour plating on the White was not penetrated though it was hit and the wounded chaps were outside on the ground. The Sqn Ldr’s jeep had one wheel damaged and the radiator punctured.
We were able to get moving down the reverse slope just before the next shell landed in the exact spot where one of the cars had been 10 seconds before. The wounded were bandaged up, for which Jerry seemed to give us a respite, and sent back to the 5th RTR doctor. SHQ was again shot up and was moved out of every re-entrant up the wadi until we eventually got to the little branch wadi at P116830 where we remained untouched for the rest of the day.
At approx 1000 hours both 2Tp and 4Tp were shot out of their positions, 4Tp going to P092835 and 2Tp joining the Shermans at P084860. 4Tp who had no cover except the corn were left for 2 hours and were then shot up until they got South of the DJEBIBINA – ENFIDAVILLE road, and as there was no longer any need for them they returned to rest with the B1.
Meanwhile the B Echelon (SSM Moore) had arrived at the B1 but must have been seen getting there as within 5 minutes they were being shelled by 4 guns and in the period of ¾ of an hour 50 shells landed in the area. Although there were 3 petrol lorries there, the men behaved excellently and SSM Moore and Capt Churton and Sgt Trumper between them managed to get everyone away in ones and twos and the only casualty was LCpl Marsh (3Tp) slightly wounded (he is Capt Churton’s operator). The whole lot returned to the area P122762 where they had been 3 days before and which seemed to be out of range of the enemy guns.
For the remainder of the day 2Tp reported MET movement on the roads to their NW, Infantry in Sangers on the ridge opposite them and guns firing from every direction. The whole salient, which was occupied by the 11th Hussars on the left and the RB’s and 5th RTR on the right, was the ols story of “cannon to right of them, cannon to left of them .....”. The enemy guns tucked in the wadis were impossible to see whilst the enemy could get OPs looking in on our flanks and could spot any movement on our part. Every bit of cover was ranged.
The Sqn Ldr paid 2 visits to the 5th RTR to meet the Brigadier. The weather is not bad but it still rains quite often, the only advantage being that we can “splice the mainbrace” i.e. rum ration. The country is undulating and hilly with patches of cactus surrounding small native hovels. Most of the country is pasture land with a certain amount of growing corn. The spring wild flowers are quite lovely. There are a few French farmers whose property gets knocked about but they have made money by selling eggs etc to the Germans for French Francs which are, of course, worth nothing really.
Easter Sunday. A divine Service was held in the morning. Remained in Div reserve less A Sqn.
3Tp with a 5th RHA OP in a Stuart were at the old place at SIDI ZID with a Tp of Shermans within a mile behind. 1Tp were in support concealed in an olive grove near the X tracks P108822. SHQ was in the cactus at P118790.
3Tp had about 15 shells on their position but stuck it out and were left alone after that. It appears that until one actually moves the enemy are not quite certain that one is there and if one does not move off while they shell you they think you are not in that place. On the whole it pays to stick out the first deluge as they are very accurate following one round on the move.
Using the Dingo on a flank 3Tp Cpl Luke reported considerable movement during the day up and down the road at P0788 and the OP was able to direct the 5th RHA onto any movement and was so successful in dispersing groups of Germans that they all seemed to go away.
1Tp were able to report much MET movement on the road at P0588. It appeared that more stuff was going out of this “Thug” area. The general impression was that partly owing to the French Corps turning their right flank, the enemy were thinning out their line but leaving some well concealed and well positioned guns which were placed to receive less shelling than they could mete out. The Rifle Bde patrol on our right captured 3 miserable Germans which the Brigadier, who visited them, was proudly able to bring back on his Dingo.
Remained in Div reserve, less A Sqn.
At 1500 hours the Sqn moved out to take over a sector from A Sqn. SSM McCarthy, having recced the route, was leading the Sqn. After about 3 miles the track got very bad and, while going down the side of a wadi, the track gave way and the car overturned. SSM McCarthy and LCpl Jones tried to jump out as it went over but they both got trapped. Luckily there was a winch close by and after about 10 minutes we had them both clear. McCarthy had evidently suffered internal injuries for to our great regret he died a few hours later. LCpl Jones had a compound fracture of the leg but, as far as could be said, he should recover.
We moved onto A Sqn area with the intention of taking over next day.
4Tp went to SIDI ZID and 2Tp to FAREGH EL RHEZIA. There was generally much less shelling than before and the usual cry was started at Corps HQ and then down to the fighting patrols of “suspected EBO (Enemy Baled Out); can you confirm or deny?”. The Royals in the 4th Light Armd Bde on our left were pushing on as the enemy were evacuating the “Thug Area”.
At 1300 hours 4Tp pushed on and crossed the SOUAF road at P0889 and 2Tp came up on the left of 4Tp. 4Tp were slightly shelled but the enemy allowed them to stay in that area, having evacuated RAS EL KEF. The Rifle Bde on our right were unable to get forward. 4Tp found a minefield at P0988 stretching from the road North for 400 yards.
SHQ moved forward from our hiding place in the wadi at P1284 and got its usual dose of shelling, but found a quiet place in a wood at P0884. Major Burdon, Sgt McHardy and Sgt Lawrence came to us in the evening to have a look around before taking over the line from us. The two Tps on patrol withdrew at last light and the Sqn leaguered in the usual place.
Remained in Div reserve. C Sqn relieved A Sqn. B Sqn came under orders 22nd Armd Bde during the afternoon. And moved to concentration area.
At first light 1Tp and 2Tp moved to P0888 and P089853. They were both accurately shelled by two Tps of 105’s which they reported at P0753 and P1492, but this was from sound as they were both behind hills.
1Tp also reported an OP and an Infantry line on DJ. DARHAFLA. At last light he withdrew and joined two Tps of Royals.
Having handed over to C Sqn we left for the Regt at 0630 hours and arrived at SIDI BON HAMA at 0730 hours. The remainder of the day was spent in maintenance though while in the line the two Tps not on patrol were able to small jobs and get some rest. Changes were made in the Sqn mountings:-
Sgt Aslin went to command B2A Echelon, Sgt Longmate already being on B2.
The greatest change was that owing to the sad death of SSM McCarthy (C Sqn), caused by his car turning over in a wadi, Sgt Trumper was posted as SSM of C Sqn and had to leave A Sqn forthwith. Sgt Trumper had done magnificent work as a Tp Ldr for over a year, was a great trainer of men and had made 1Tp into perhaps the finest Tp in the Sqn, a born leader – A Sqn’s loss is C Sqn’s gain.
Cpl Gingell took command of Jeep Tp (only 2 jeeps).
Sgt Green (3Tp) took over 1Tp (from where he originally came) and Sgt Turner who had been training the Sqn reinforcements on the Echelon went as Tp Sgt to 3Tp (Capt Churton).
27 – 29th.
Attached to 22nd Armd Bde and sat at P2377.
C Sqn came into reserve in the morning and in the afternoon RHQ, C & A Sqns moved to a concentration area at P2377. Regt remained in Div reserve.
At first light the Tps returned to positions of previous day with the Royals Tps and handed over. They were again shelled but rejoined the Sqn after handing over.
The Sqn joined the Regt again.
We were expecting to stay here for a few days until the Infantry had been able to clear a gap up the coast road North of ENFIDAVILLE for us to pass through. But orders came for us to move to SIDI AMOR in the afternoon. It surprised us that they moved the whole Div in daylight over to the obvious place for an attack; however it is not possible to tell the troops the measures taken for deception and one just has to do as one is told. I have asked Capt Poston MC (General Montgomery’s ADC) to come and tell us “the form”.
The Regt moved to SIDI AMOR and the Sqn arrived “all up”. The Sqn was issued with 3 “pool cars” (DACs as immediate replacements) and they were commanded by Sgt Moore, Cpl Drew and LCpl Cooper; the first two remained with the Echelon and the last named came with B1.
The Regt had sent a lorry with an officer with £400 in his pocket over to the 1st Army for NAAFI kit (almost unobtainable in the 8th Army). He returned full of good stuff, such as whiskey, chocolate and cigarettes.
Remained in Div reserve, less B Sqn still under orders 22nd Armd Bde.
The day was spent in maintenance and cleaning. The Tp Ldrs went out in jeeps to have a look at the countryside. The Jeep Tp is invaluable when the Sqn is not in action, only 2 jeeps are necessary for various jobs such as taking Tp Ldrs out to get an idea of the country, recce of tracks and liaison with other units. When the Sqn is in the line the jeeps get an easier time though they are very useful as run-abouts outside the “shelling area”.
There seemed to be masses of troops in the area and there was a lot of shelling at TAKROUVA (a high peak with a castle like building on the top) and beyond. At night the noise of the guns and the flashes indicated that activity on the front had not died down.
Remained in Div reserve until midday when orders were received to the effect that 7th Armd Div were to come under orders 1st Army. Regt moved at 1530 hours at the head of 7th Armd Div.
The Regt was ordered to move all night, but owing to there being no moon and the bad conditions of the road, the Regt was ordered to halt at 2200 hours in GUSSELTIA area.
At midday there came an order which cheered everyone. We were to go to 1st Army and concentrate SW of MEDJES EL BAB; the 4th Indian Div were to come as well. The attack up the coast from ENFIDAVILLE would have been difficult as the enemy had strong positions and masses of guns in the mountains running parallel to the coast and would have been able to shell our only L of C.
The Regt, leading the Div, moved of at 1515 hours and went down to the fork roads 6 miles NW of KAIROUAN where we halted for a quiet meal in preparation for driving through the night. We then went West through mountains and for the first time saw fir trees instead of the everlasting palm and cactus (although they were a change from no vegetation at all in the desert). It was a tricky road to drive on at night without a moon and we were halted at 2115 hours 2 miles West of GUSSELTIA for the night by the Div Commander who said that the road ahead was blown (it was not blown actually). The Sqn was “all up” except for Sgt Turner whose car was giving oil trouble.
B Sqn. 30th – May 5th.
Moved round with RHQ to 1st Army and remained concentrated with them.
||CO: Lt Col AT Smail
||11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own)
The march resumed at 0500 hours. The roads as per the intended route did not exist and the road through SILIANA was therefore taken. LE KRIB was reached at 0930 hours and the Regt remained there for the day.
The Regt moved off at 0500 hours and continued over hills until the country opened out near SILIANA and we were able to push on fast on an excellent tarmac road. The French seem to have built better roads in TUNISIA than they have in France where they are usually in a state of disrepair. We arrived at LE KRIB at 0830 hours having covered 124 miles since leaving the coast the day before. Sgt Turner’s car was still the only casualty.
The Regt was put on the side of a hill covered with blue anemones, with cattle, horses – not a bad type either- and goats all grazing together. It was a sight to cure eyes sore from the yellow sands of the desert. Eggs were procurable at the local farms. There was a water point only 2 miles away and Major Wainman was not slow in discovering a bulk issue NAAFI in the village of LE KRIB. The 1st Army seemed to be much better off for NAAFI kit and comforts of all kinds than we were. However, the advantages of this comparatively civilised part of the world are off-set by the fact that it is very much less suitable for ACs because of the numerous wadis and hills.
Regt remained at LE KRIB in Div reserve.
The yellow and pale green camouflage on our cars for desert purposes made them very conspicuous on the green grass and cultivation and Capt Churton went out to scour the countryside for paint. By gentle persuasion over the odd bottle of beer, he and Sgt Mitchell were able to get enough paint to do every car in the Sqn.
The Sqn Ldr with Major Turnbull and Major Burdon went up to MEBJEZ EL BAB and by walking to the top of Pt. 250, were able to get a good view of the front line.
The Regt was under orders to move up into a concentration area.
Regt remained at LE KRIB in Div reserve.
Regt remained at LE KRIB in Div reserve.
The Regt were in concentration area near LE KRIB. Reinforcement Daimlers had recently arrived and a fifth Tp was formed.
1Tp under Sgt McHardy (since Alamein)
2Tp under Sgt Lawrence (since Tripoli)
3Tp under Lt Lovett (since Alamein)
4Tp under Lt Champion
5Tp under 2Lt Creaton
Scout Tp under Lt Woodhouse had 4 sections – Sgt Keene, L/Sgt Foster, Cpl Osbourne and LCpl Davies.
7th Armd Div were ordered to move to concentration area with a view to attacking the front NE of MEDJEZ EL BAB the following day.
The plan being:-
7th Armd Div to pass through 4th Indian Div after they had secured the position.
6th Armd Div were to move on the right of 7th Armd Div.
78th Div to capture GEBEL BOU AOUKAZ on the left of 7th Armd Div.
B Sqn came under orders 22nd Armd Bde. The Regt less B Sqn moved along two roads and leaguered in area TESTOUR.
At midday we moved along MEBJEZ EL BAB road to SLOUGHIA. Remained with RHQ the night and assisted in extinguishing a fire which occurred on Regtl forward link.
The Div was to move into position for the attack today – the great advance to TUNIS. The general plan was that under a barrage of 425 guns and 900 rounds per gun the 1st British Div and the 4th Indian Div were to take 3 objectives in succession about a mile apart NE of MEDGEY EL BAB and that the 7th Armd Div on the left directed on ST CYPRIEN and the 6th Armd Div on the right directed on DYEBET MEN GOUB were to advance through the gap when made. It was expected that TUNIS would be captured within 10 days.
Although the enemy supply and transport situation was reported as chaotic, his troops opposite us in the line were crack troops, and were expected to fight well for a few days at least.
At 1400 hours A Sqn moved out and followed the right hand half of the 22nd Armd Bde up the right hand of the 2 roads allotted to the Div. The track was so dusty it was difficult for the drivers to see. It was a good thing the Luftwaffe were not operating as we would have made an ideal target. The Sqn halted for the night when everyone else did and spent the night 6 miles south of MEDJEZ EL BAB.
The Sqn came under command of 22nd Armd Bde and at 1000 hours main road towards MEDJEZ EL BAB for about 6 miles to join them. Our orders were to move up to the concentration area, behind 1st RTR and 5th RTR who were both moving on separate roads. 3Tp and 4Tp moved up on the left hand road behind 5th RTR and the rest of the Sqn were behind 1st RTR on the right hand road. We moved off at 1400 hours and stayed the night split up on the roads.
The march continued at dawn. The 4th Indian Div secured all their objectives and by 0930 hours C Sqn was pushed out as left flank guard to 7th Armd Div.
By evening the leading elements of 7th Armd Div had reached ST CYPRIEN. This left the left flank of 7th Armd Div rather exposed and A Sqn were brought in to the SW of C Sqn thereby covering the whole left flank.
RHQ leaguered in area North of FURNA.
An attack by 4th Indian Div commenced at 0300 hours with the object of making a gap for the 7th Armd Div of the 8th Army and 6th Armd Div of the 1st Army.
The Regt was 7th Armd Div Troops, with B Sqn doing advance guard to 22nd Armd Bde and C Sqn left flank guard with A Sqn in reserve. The attack went well from the start and by 1030 hours 3Tp and 4Tp moved North after passing through the gap at 7141. 3Tp ran into an unmarked minefield and 4Tp came under mortar fire, but both were ok and the whole Div moved NE with only artillery opposing.
At 1420 hours 3Tp leading were at 8143 when 4 half track carriers and some Infantry approached him from the North. At this time 4Tp were a bit to his rear at 741445 and the leading tanks ahead to the East. 3Tp then engaged the enemy approaching from the North and SHQ, 2Tp and 5Tp came to assist. There was considerable confusion in the area with a tank battle in the West and the country hilly and broken, but 3Tp caused them to bale out and they took cover in some diggings and a farm house. Some of our medium guns opened up on the farm and in the enemy’s area but uncomfortably close to us so it was quietened down. 4Tp came on to join us and got mixed up with a tank battle, he was fired on by a 50mm at 500 yards and also MGs but no damage. A Tp of A Sqn took over our left and we started to move on a bit leaving 5Tp out left and 1Tp still in the same area.
At 1700 hours the situation was much the same until 5Tp reported seeing some men moving in the area of the earlier engagement. He went in and collected 2 half track carriers, 1 MC and 19 PoW, all of them 69th Panzer Grenadiers. One half track had six 2pdr hits on it and the other, an American, was OK and taken on strength. Soon after a report of 20 enemy tanks in area K7949 had to be investigated which 5Tp did. He spent some time searching the area but found nothing more offensive than haystacks which some tanks admitted nearly reporting as tanks earlier on.
At 7948 there were two 88’s in action and they fired several rounds at 1Tp and 5Tp but no damage. 1Tp and 5Tp had to remain in the same area for the night and both were joined by a scout section before dark.
The procession started to move on at 0530 hours and reached J7041 by midday. The attack had gone very well and the enemy had thinned out before the barrage started as they had heard it was coming. The Infantry had reached all their objectives, RAF support was colossal and the Armd Divs were loosed into the country.
11th Hussars, less B Sqn who were leading 22nd Armd Bde, were to protect the left flank of the Div. At first C Sqn were sufficient but later when the wedge into the enemy became longer and therefore the flank more extended, A Sqn were put in and 1Tp were sent to take over C Sqn left hand patrol at 1545 hours. 3Tp were sent out at 1615 hours on 1Tp left and captured 8 Germans while under fire from an A/Tk gun. Both Tps reported considerable MET movement SW EL BATHAN including 10 tanks and eight 88mm who succeeded in bringing down one of our Bostons just before dark.
2Tp were on patrol next to SHQ and reported until dark on MET moving which seemed to indicated a move out. 4Tp was sent to join 1Tp and they spent the night together near a farm at J7645 where 2Tp was on the left blocking the road running South. The remainder of the Sqn were at J7643 for the night.
The whole Bde moved off at 0500 hours up behind the 4th Indian Div who were gaining all their objectives.
At 0900 hours the Bde was ordered to go through the Indians and direct themselves on ACHOUR. 3Tp pushed out NE to cover the Bde’s left flank and 1Tp went SE to MASSICAULT to cover the right. 4Tp followed on with 5th RTR and SHQ came along with Bde HQ. There appeared to be very little opposition except for spasmodic shelling. 3Tp on the left was held up by the odd A/Tk gun, and 1Tp on the right took some time in getting into MASSICAULT. When he did get in he was unfortunately bombed 3 times by the Bostons and also smartened up by our Shermans.
By 1500 hours the Bde were on the high ground at ACHOUR with our left and centre in positions of observation to the North and NE with 1Tp observing to the South and SE. The whole outfit remained like this until dark when all Tps were called in and we spent the night at ACHOUR.
The 7th Armd Div continued its advance at dawn and by 1200 hours leading elements had reached the high ground 4 miles to SW overlooking TUNIS.
B Sqn entered TUNIS at 1545 hours. C & A Sqns continued observing on the left flank.
Heavy rain in the evening, RHQ leaguered at J9052.
At first light all continued with the same roles. 1Tp continued NE till he gained the DJEDEIDA – ST CYPRIEN road. He was bombed by 6 FW190’s, near misses and no damage. 4Tp went to 8554 and was bombed by Kittyhawks, no damage.
5Tp got on top of DJ MAHRINE where he was relieved by A Sqn after finding much derelict stuff including 88mm. 5Tp then continued North up the road towards TEBOURBA. At 0630 hours he reported explosions and fires in EL BATHAN. He advanced to 7953 and took 3 PoW on route and gained the road at 7954 by 0915 hours.
At 0917 hours 5Tp Ldr’s car was fired on by A/Tk guns in the village at 8054 from close range. The first shot missed by a yard, the second shot went through a wheel and through the sump, but the car managed to carry on for 500 yards and the crew all escaped with the remainder of the Tp.
0930 hours – General situation. Head of Div at foot of high hills 9353 with B Sqn trying to push along main MEDJEZ – TUNIS road against A/Tk opposition. DJEDEIDA was still held but demolitions in progress. Further West enemy troops appeared to be those in village at 8054. This village was shelled and 7 or 8 tanks and 2 ACs moved out eastwards in a hurry. By this time a route was being found over the top of the hills between the 2 main roads.
3Tp went over the top of the hill to find the most direct route into the outskirts of TUNIS. B Sqn were by now in the outskirts of the town and meeting quite a bit of resistance so orders to all Tps less 5Tp were to close in on TUNIS as quick as possible. The town was still occupied by German troops, but as our troops entered the population started leaving their houses and filled the streets. A large block of flats near the entrance was held by Germans who fired rifles and threw grenades through the windows – all cars sprayed the windows liberally as they passed and finally a Sherman put a few 75’s into it causing some 3 to 400 Germans to come out.
2Tp who were entertaining a staff photographer had a near miss from a grenade which slightly wounded the photographer but they fixed him up OK. A staff car containing 2 Germans drove up close to the Tp Ldr’s car and threw a grenade at the car – the grenade failed to go off and a burst of Besa through the windscreen settled the Germans.
Tps divided on entering the town and aimed to get right through to the far side, clearing what resistance they met on the way. L/Sgt Nash who was with SHQ engaged and KO’d a 75mm A/Tk gun witch he met well sited just round a corner. The population were all for helping and had plenty of information in very exited French, which no one could understand. Several troops were hopelessly immobilised by thousands of men and women endeavouring to shake hand with or kiss the crews. SHQ were on the wrong road and reached the harbour first and engaged a rowing boat and caused 3 Jerries to bale out into the drink. Several hundred prisoners were collected.
3Tp had an engagement with a 20mm Breda and a mortar which they fixed up, together with some 20 or 30 men who were holding the road. 2Tp took about 20 vehicles with 35 PoW of all three branches of the services. By dusk the town was in the hands of the civilian population, many of whom had guns, some were MGs with which they engaged Germans and Italians if there were any handy, and if not they fired them just the same.
We all pulled just outside the town for the night meeting up with our B1 and B Sqn about 1 mile outside.
At 0515 hours 1Tp moved on NE keeping close touch with C Sqn left guard. 1Tp pushed on and by 0900 hours was in a good position at J8150 and for hours reported on tanks moving about to the NE. 4Tp had a good position on some high ground on 1Tp left and reported explosions in EL BATHAN and movement on the far side of the river.
The enemy was undoubtedly on the run and there were many Germans, who must have missed the last vehicle, to be seen walking away or hiding in houses and cactus plantations. 4Tp discovered a German half track and a “Chicago Piano” (4 20mm coaxial mounted Flak guns – excellent) and 1Tp found another Chicago Piano, Lt Williamson and his Tp fetched them all in.
At dawn 3Tp had moved on and at 0715 hours was ordered to go to EL BATHAN and report whether the bridge was blown. At 0815 hours Sgt Turner’s car was blown up on a double Teller mine in EL BATHAN. Capt Churton reported the bridge blown and 2Tp relieved 3Tp at midday and Sgt Moore with a pool car took Sgt Turner’s place.
SHQ had a good position from where we could do OP for the guns which shelled any enemy movement on our front, our shelling moved on quite a lot of enemy tanks and MET which one would never have believed were there. In the afternoon it came on to rain hard which made visibility difficult but B Sqn were getting on well in the race for TUNIS which is all that mattered.
At 1400 hours Lt Williamson with his two mortar sections – Sgt Fitzpatrick and LCpl Hainsworth were despatched to 2Tp at EL BATHAN and was ordered to proceed along the main road to TUNIS, 2Tp leading. The country was very enclosed and the bridge South of DJEDEIDA was blown delaying matters considerably, but by 1810 hours 2Tp reported that they had reached the railway crossing 4 miles East of DJEDEIDA with 5Tp close behind in support and 4Tp only ½ mile behind them. 2Tp had halted and Sgt Hall was talking to Lt Garrard. Suddenly Sgt Fitzpatrick heard German gunners not 400 yards away in the trees to his North giving out fire orders, all three Tps had run into a nest of guns and it was discovered the next day that there were two 88’s on the North and two 88’s on the South not 300 yards from the road, supported by 20mm and at least 150 Infantry dug in, it was a very strong position.
Something had to be done quickly and Sgt Fitzpatrick had hardly shouted up to the Dingo in front of him (Lt Williamson) before the first shot came, fired at Sgt Hall’s car which was leading. There was a ditch on this narrow road which made turning round out of the question. By the time the second shot came Sgt Hall and Cpl Firth had moved down the road followed by Lt Williamson and managed to get out of the 88mm fire plus a hail of SA unscratched.
However Lt Garrard’s car was hit, first by having the 2pdr gun shot away and after the crew LCpl Marley, Tpr Cox and Lt Garrard had bailed out the car was hit again and went up in flames. Lt Garrard managed to get away by wriggling through the corn, Cox and Marley were not quite so lucky and were taken prisoner.
The night was very uneasy for the Sqn as one of the car commanders there reported that he had definitely seen Lt Garrard killed, he turned up next morning covered in mud from head to foot, but with a broad smile. Meanwhile the two Whites had been forced to dismount while the initial shooting was on and lie in the corn, where any movement, even a blade of corn moving, was raked with SA fire. They were unable to go forwards or backwards or turn around. One white was hit and when Sgt Fitzpatrick and Tpr Lane during a lull in the shooting, got back into the White to try and turn round they were shot at again and the car put out of action.
The only thing now was to try to get away through the corn. LCpl Hainsworth was hit in the chest and taken prisoner and was well attended to. Both crews, in twos and threes, managed to make a getaway in the dark, and everyone fetched up at SHQ, RHQ or Div HQ the next day except for LCpl Hainsworth who was recaptured by the CLY together with LCpl Marley and Tpr Cox.
4Tp were able to get out of this tricky situation backwards and Sgt Andrews gave some very good covering fire. That night the Sqn reported Lt Garrard as killed and 10 ORs missing. Lt Williamson with the remainder of 2Tp spent the night with the CLY and explained the situation to Lt Colonel Scott who was very helpful.
At first light we were ordered to send one patrol along the road to TUNIS and another was sent to the high ground NE of ST CYPRIEN.
The Bde moved to the high ground NE of ST CYPRIEN. 3Tp had quite a lot of difficulty in getting along the road owing to isolated A/Tk guns and his right flank was very open because the 6th Armd Div on his right was being held up by some tanks and A/Tk guns. He managed to work his way along slowly, helped by the 1st RTR who were moving along behind him. In the centre the Bde managed to get on to the high ground without opposition, but 1Tp could not get to his objective owing to 10 enemy tanks. These were moved by the 4th CLY and at 1200 hours 1Tp arrived at his objective. 4Tp arrived on the high ground but was held up on his way to his second objective which he eventually managed to reach at 1400 hours.
When the Bde had cleared up the ST CYPRIEN area they were ordered to advance into TUNIS. 2Tp was advancing slowly along the road and at 1540 hours he was in TUNIS, the first British troops to get in. 1Tp was ordered to join 4Tp and they were directed on TUNIS and entered it about 1615 hours. SHQ entered from the West at 1645 hours.
When 2Tp entered TUNIS there were still a large number of Germans in it who were very surprised to see him. He was sniped at from houses and had grenades thrown at him, also he was besieged by the local population who were so pleased to see him. He called for help and 3Tp was sent straight off to help him. Meanwhile 1Tp and 4Tp were having a battle just inside TUNIS, with a Tp of C Sqn, against chaps in houses and a 20mm A/Tk gun. They fought their way through the streets and fetched up with 2Tp at about 1700 hours.
After this the Sqn was drawn out of the town and we spent the night complete just outside. During the morning a few shells landed in the area of SHQ and one wounded Sgt Bull in the leg. This was very unfortunate as Sgt Bull had been with the Sqn since the first push against the Italians in 1940.
C Sqn ordered to push up on road TUNIS – BIZERTA.
A Sqn on road TUNIS – MATEUR.
B Sqn on road TUNIS – LA GOULETTE.
RHQ moved to area 8 miles NW of TUNIS.
From orders received the night before SHQ and 4 Troops skirted the town and advanced up the BIZERTA road and 2 tracks on either side of it. 1Tp on the right 2Tp and SHQ on the road and 3Tp on the western track with 4Tp in reserve.
1Tp caught a Bty of Italian searchlights with crews and sent them marching off to Tunis. 4Tp took a track at K0266 and picked up a German staff car with 6 German officers – the Town Major of TUNIS with all his staff.
0620 hours. 2Tp who had plain sailing along the road as far as X roads J9575 saw some lorries and men in the area of the X roads and was engaged at close range by an A/Tk gun, which fired 3 shots, but managed to miss with them all.
0730 hours. 4Tp was having good pickings along his track. First batch was 20 heavy lorries and trailers with 100 Italians on board – the Tp then divided into two parties of 1 car each. Sgt Martin in his car took 300 PoW with 160 officers and their transport and the Tp Ldr took over 500 PoW with 50 lorries and trailers. One staff car started to escape to the North but a burst of Tommy gun caused 3 Majors to bail out. These were the only rounds fired.
1030 hours. The bridge at PROTVILLE was blown up and soon after the tanks and 2Tp moved up the road as far as PROTVILLE after which further progress was impossible as the river was 40 yards wide, 3 feet deep and a soft bottom.
1200 hours. 1Tp was still pushing North towards GALAAT EL ANDELESS. The going was very soft and several times cars were bogged. In the afternoon he reached the village and found an aerodrome with one Ju52 and its ground crew complete and considerable AA defences including three 4 barrel 20mm weapons on trailers which we took on our strength. Also some 70 PoW all German and several officers. The river was impassable to ACs but A Sqn were on the other side. The afternoon was spent trying to organise and get rid of PoW.
1Tp, 3Tp and 4Tp were ordered to go into TUNIS to contact the 22nd Armd Bde. The general idea was that TUNIS would be cleared up by an Infantry Div while the 7th Armd Div were to push out NW.
By 0645 hours Capt Churton was still unable to gain touch with the 22nd Armd Bde in TUNIS so all three Tps were ordered to push out West and gain contact with the enemy. 1Tp soon gained contact with C Sqn on our right and 3Tp found the CLY dealing with the four 88’s who had caused so much trouble last night. They quickly took the enemy position for the loss of 2 Shermans and recaptured LCpl Hainsworth, LCpl Marley and Tpr Cox. Capt Churton was ordered to work with the CLY and give Colonel Scott any assistance required as he was directed due North up the road to SIDI TABET. 1Tp also worked with them on their right front. 4Tp was ordered to examine the knocked out Whites.
The enemy was by now showing definite signs of being routed – prisoners (all German) were coming in thick and fast and quantities of kit was being found abandoned, partly destroyed, but mostly intact except for vehicles which are burnt out.
1Tp pushed on to SIDI TABET and down to the river where they found an excellent diesel lorry which they spent the next few hours trying to get mobile. While doing so they collected 25 Germans, mostly from the 15th Panzers, by firing over the river at them on the far side. The enemy was persuaded to be taken prisoner easily but found the river too deep to walk across so were obliged to pay 50 francs each to natives with horses who ferried them across. Not bad for trade – 50 francs to be made PoW. One very fat Oberlieutenant, was too heavy for his horse and turned turtle in midstream.
At 1000 hours the Sqn was given the T roads at SIDI ATHMAN as its objective for the day. 3Tp was then at the railway bridge over the river East of DJEDEIDA where the bridge was intact but needed planks to enable vehicles other than trains to cross. Capt Churton collected 6 Germans on the far side of the bridge by walking across on foot.
At 1030 hours SHQ found a ford at DJEDEIDA, 3Tp was directed on to the high ground 1 mile NW of CHAOUAT and captured 60 Germans hiding in the farms and olive groves on the way out of the village. A gunner OP was with 3Tp. SHQ were soon up and took over observation from the excellent position from which we found many targets for the gunners to shoot at, and enable 3Tp to advance into the low ground to the North where they took a further 160 Germans PoW. They were lying in the corn or trying to get away and were armed with MGs. This was done under the nose of a 50mm A/Tk gun which somehow or other failed to fire on 3Tp, but later on shot up SHQ in its own time. LCpl Soar took charge of this herd of Jerries and drove them back under shellfire in fine style. Meanwhile 4Tp had come up and was operating on the East of the road. Lt Moore captured 2 officers and 60 ORs who were sent back on their own, but they were very willing sheep on the whole.
At 1700 hours 3Tp was ordered to patrol West and endeavour to gain contact with the Americans who were supposed to be pushing East from MATEUR. Capt Churton found a light recce patrol consisting of 2 Honeys, 2 White half tracks and 2 Jeeps at 1800 hours, 5 miles West of CHAOUAT but hardly had time to say “pleased to meet you” before they saw some tanks (completely imaginary) over the ridge and careered off “back to HQ for support” and could not be seen for dust.
On their way in 2Tp and 3Tp collected 10 more prisoners between them making 330 odd Germans during the day, many of them from the JAEGER Regt of the crack HERMAN GOERING Div. The Sqn spent the night at CHAOUAT where the SSM and B1 with 1Tp and 5Tp had moved during the afternoon with a certain amount of jockeying for position with Churchill tanks at the ford crossing in DJEDEIDA.
We came under command of the Regt and at first light we sent 1Tp to COURELAT, 2Tp to MARSA and 3Tp to ANDELASS. 2Tp and 1Tp collected so many prisoners in their areas that 4Tp and two sections of 5Tp were sent down to help. Both these between them collected about 10,000 Germans and Italians. 3Tp on his way North collected about 200 Germans. We were then told to leave 3Tp out all night and bring the others in.
C Sqn held up by Wadi MEJERDA at PROTVILLE.
A Sqn crossed Wadi MEJERDA in area DJEDEIDA.
B Sqn called into reserve.
Sqn was ordered to try and cross the MEDJERDA to the North of PROTVILLE. 4Tp and 5Tp went to 39787 to try and do this. They found a ford but it was impassable owing to a steep way out. There were a number of Jerries on the North bank who were apparently desirous of surrendering. One German half track got over and 6 lorries got stuck in the river. The Germans said they had officially surrendered at 0500 hours that morning and were annoyed when they and 4Tp and 5Tp were shelled by the Americans from the North.
The Sqn Ldr and the half track White newly “taken on strength” went to organise recovery of the vehicles in the river. First it was necessary to cross the river which was done by the Sqn Ldr in the back of a mule cart which was a wet business as it was necessary to throw the owner driver overboard for refusing to obey orders and driving badly anyway. A visit to a farm in a Jerry staff car ½ mile North resulted in another 200 PoW together with the ex head of Ordnance in TRIPOLI, a rather drunk but definitely pro British Austrian owner of the chateau. He also owned several staff cars and some good lorries which were taken on strength.
All these had to be towed over the river by the half track which took all day. PoW had to walk a long way. As it was impossible to get lorries across the river with men on board they had to organise their own crossing. This was done on mules owned by by locals who charged 50 francs a trip. Two PoW who tried to economise by sharing an aged mule were deposited in the deepest part when the mule fell down.
At dawn 1Tp Sgt Green was sent out to try and contact the Americans and then work up to the T road at SIDI ATHMAN while 2Tp were to work up to the East of it. No Americans appeared to be coming from TEBOURBA and Sgt Green immediately pushed on with only his own car and his Dingo, Sgt Gullick’s car had broken down, and reached the T road at 0730 hours having captured two 88’s with crews (10 PoW) and 2 half tracks on his way. These guns having shelled us the night before had been shelled by our 25 pdrs and all the enemy moral appeared to be shattered. Some tanks were seen advancing down the road from MATEUR which turned out to belong to the American Armd Div who were directed on PORTO FARINA. Lt Williamson with 1 White had been sent to liase with the American HQ (US 2nd Corps) and had had to go to MATEUR. Lt Garrard was sent in a flash Mercedes staff car to liase with 1st British Div near DJEDEIDA.
The T road was the Sqn objective which we had gained. A Sqn were the only British troops in the whole 1st Army operating across the MEDJERDA river and as PORTO FARINA was considered as the “dough Boys” baby it was touch and go whether the Sqn having done its job would be recalled but Major Wainman without hesitation gave me permission to push on with the Americans, excellent.
3Tp had by now come direct up the main road from CHAOUAT and was sent East to get in touch with the leading American tanks which were 2 miles on, to advance parallel to the PROTVILLE road on the North side with 2Tp on the South, in actual fact they got on so quickly that both Tps went down the main road with 3Tp in the lead. Having reached the T junction North of the river near PROTVILLE 3Tp and 2Tp turned North up the main road to BIZERTA and after 2 miles Capt Churton was up with the leading American tanks who were advancing fast unopposed. By the time they reached the turning to PORTO FARINA prisoners were beginning to come in large numbers. I was told that the German wireless had announced that resistance in North Africa had officially ceased the night before so that any opposition from now on could be treated with severely (even more so than usual).
Capt Churton and Sgt Hall were 3 miles from PORTO FARINA at 0945 hours and were pushing along nicely with the Americans when the Americans suddenly halted. There were the most enormous explosions going on in and around the town and it was imperative that we should get there as soon as possible to avoid further destruction of MT, guns and valuable equipment of all sorts. When Capt Churton asked the Americans why they had halted he was told that “an attack on a pre-arranged plan would have to be put in by an artillery barrage followed by an Infantry attack with two Btns.
As the American Infantry were miles away these plans would cause a long delay and Capt Churton having appreciated the necessity for speed asked them if they would follow him into town if he went on well ahead. This suggestion they unwillingly agreed to and by 1000 hours 3Tp followed by 2Tp were in PORTO FARINA at which moment the Americans, by way of demonstrating their joy, put down a few rounds of gunfire into the town to the fury of 2Tp and 3Tp. SHQ was up with the leading troops within minutes to find Lt Col Lawson had arrived just before with the American Armd Divs.
There was much bucking on all sides and the traffic jam was amazing – A Sqn ACs with the American Shermans jockeying for position to go one way while thousands of Germans were endeavouring to come the other way in their transport, all through very narrow streets over which the civilian population was surging, cheering themselves hoarse. There was German equipment galore, a few tanks, much MT and many guns – most of it burning furiously. (an Intelligence summary a week before the attack had said that the Germans had only 24 88’s left in the whole of North Africa though I myself counted 40 by the road between CHAOUAT and PORTO FARINA).
Why they did not resist is unbelievable, they could have lasted many days more, it was amazing to see the haughty Germans being taken prisoner by the thousand and motoring down the road into captivity of their own accord. It seemed that they were completely disorganised due to:-
- 1) The terrifying artillery barrage which Germans who had fought on the Russian front say is worse than anything there.
- 2) The incessant bombing attacks by the RAF.
- 3) The speed and might of our Armoured thrust on Tunis which split the enemy in two and cut his L of C.
- 4) Their own mistakes:-
- a) Failure to decide until too late to hold a shorter line making them thin on the ground.
- b) Failure to appreciate where our thrust was coming.
- c) Their fear of the 8th Army which meant that on the ENFIDAVILLE Line they wasted many excellent troops (e.g. 90th Light Div) defending ground which would have been easy to hold with two men and a boy, and only thinly defended the MEDJES Gap which was the obvious way into Tunis for the tanks.
To continue with the operation Capt Churton at 1100 hours went on to the North of PORTO FARINA to endeavour to prevent any more destruction of enemy equipment. He was unable to get his car on to the beach so, accompanied by a German Hauptman from 15th Panzer as an interpreter, he dismounted and walked along the beach armed with a revolver, the place was teeming with Germans, some of whom were making rafts (the height of optimism), one of which turned over on launching. Happily they were quite amenable and in 3 hours Capt Churton had collected single handed about 9000 prisoners which he handed over to the Americans. Some of the prisoners said they had spent the whole of the night before sending messages to their families in Germany that they were “all well and would be safely in captivity the following day”.
1Tp had come up and were making the most of a large German food dump and loaded up four ten tonners for the Regt. 4Tp and 2 scout cars had also arrived to help with the prisoners. The whole area was littered with kit of every description and violent explosions were still going off.
At 1500 hours I received orders to withdraw and spent the night by the railway East of DJEDEIDA, having picked up the B1 with SSM Moore at CHAOUAT the Sqn concentrated at the railway crossing.
Lt Garrard and Lt Williamson had been recalled from their liaison jobs and everyone felt healthily weary after having completed a good job of work, there was a feeling of achievement – the Sqn was all together again and we could go to sleep without the thought that we must get up in the dark and “have observation on to the enemy at first light”. We could for once look back at what had happened with no feeling of apprehension at what might happen tomorrow or the next day. One felt that the goal that everyone on the Western Desert had been fighting for since that landmark in history, when Italy on June 10th was “brave” enough to stab France in the back, had been partially attained – the Dago had been evicted from all his possessions in Africa, so it now remained for him to be put out of the war altogether by Italy being obliged to sue for peace.
Except for the capture of England, the worst thing that could have happened for us during the course of the war, would have been the capture of the Suez Canal, one may safely say that this is out of the question.
After Tunis the “press” of the 11th Hussars was terrific and the wireless for several days devoted much of its commentaries to broadcasting to the world the high traditions of the 11th Hussars and even the conservative Times of London described the Regt as “those incomparable paladins, the 11th Hussars”.
From now on the Sqn was with the Regt and so apart from the following facts the War Diary closes until the next campaign wherever that will be. During the advance from MEDJEZ EL BAB to TUNIS the Sqn bag was:-
Prisoners 9 officers, 340 ORsAt least 10 88’s and some field guns, also about 50 MET.
Over and above this masses of equipment including lorries, guns (and several Generals) fell into our hands, most of it was more than the Sqn could handle on its own and it was handed to the tender care of the Americans.
Joined up with the Regt and remained with them ever since.
All Sqns called into reserve at RHQ.
Remained in same area.
Regt moved to BOU ARADA.
||RHQ. 13th – 19th.
Regt remained at BOU ARADA.
Commenced move to HOMS.
Night spent 12 miles South of KAIROUAN.
Night spent at OUDREF.
Night spent at BEN GORDANE.
Night spent at GASR GHIAR.
Regimental War Diary for the Period 24th May 1943 to 19 August 1943.
- 1. GENERAL
- The Regt arrived at HOMS on the 24th of May and went into camp area half a mile East of HOMS village on the sea front. The ruins of Leptis Magna were situated half a mile East of the Regt.
The remainder of the 7th Armd Div were concentrated East and West of HOMS. There was a great shortage of tents and Sqns were forced to improvise shelters, cookhouses, mess rooms etc.
The weather on the whole was good although there were two periods of very hot weather accompanied by sandstorms.
- 2. TRAINING
- Individual training commenced about 10 days after arrival. This included wireless, MT, Gunnery, mine clearing, first aid and map reading. A considerable number of Regimental trade tests were carried out in order to muster personnel for the new trades of Gunner Mechanic, Gunner Operator, Driver Mechanic AFV.
Squadron fitter staffs came under control of the Technical Officer and all vehicles were completely overhauled.
Training commenced on the 8th of August although a certain amount of individual training continued. A number of WOs and NCOs were sent on courses to the Delta.
- 3. ESTABLISHMENT
- The Regt was brought on to a new War Establishment which allowed for additional NCOs and men to cover the White Scout Tp per Sqn and the Regimental Troop of 75mm guns. It was impossible however to obtain these guns.
This WE also allowed for an increase in fitters and motor mechanics.
- 4. OFFICERS
- The state of officers by Sqns and RHQ on 19th August is shown below. Major Stuart French and Major Lloyd had returned to the Regt on the 28th of July and 16th of June respectively. Major Turnbull left the Regt to go to the USA on the 28th July 1943.
||WV Burdon MC
||RFHP Stuart French
||JAN Crankshaw MC
||A Reid Scott MC
||OM Wentworth Stanley
||H Petch MC DCM
||DPJ Lloyd MC
||AT Smail DSO
||T O’B Horsford MC
||W Wainman MC
||RE Wingfield Digby MC
||WN Wells Cole
||CV Churton MC
||RR Lockett MC
||JR Ballingal MC
||JM Balmer RAMC
||EAD Jones REME
- 5. VISITS AND INSPECTIONS
- Major General Erskine DSO GOC 7th Armoured Division.
On 4th June Major General Erskine inspected the Regt on parade (dismounted) and made an address. He afterwards inspected the camp area.
His Majesty The King.
On June 20th the Regt moved to OLIVETTI (approx 20 miles West of TRIPOLI) to take part in a revue of 7th Armd Div by HM the King.
The Regt was drawn up on either side of the road and the King walked down the line. The King had expressed a special wish to have tea with the officers and after the parade, all officers were presented to HM and he had tea in a marquee which had been erected.
Colonel Kavanagh who accompanied the King as Equerry dined with the Colonel and Sqn Ldrs that night.
Lt General Horrocks (Commander 10th Corps)
On August 7th Lt General Horrocks paid a quick visit and met the Colonel and Sqn Ldrs.
Visits were also made by Lt Col K Alexander 11th Hussars in his capacity as Commander Police Training Depot Almaza, Lt Col Lawson 11th Hussars who was attached to the American Forces and Major Grant Thorold 11th Hussars who was Bde Major 2nd Armd Bde.
- 6. LEAVE
- A percentage of officers, WOs and Sgts were sent on a few days leave to Cairo. Leave was possible for ORs in Tripoli but this was not popular as it was a long journey (75 miles) and Tripoli did not provide a great number of amenities.
- 7 SPORT
- The Leptis Magna aerodrome was situated about half mile from the camp. This was turned into a Sports Ground comprising football and hockey and a running track.
The Regt was knocked out in the third round of the Div football cup. In the Div hockey competition for which 31 teams were entered the Regt reached the final where they were beaten by the 3rd RTR 2 goals to one.
An inter Sqn football league was held and later a Troop knockout competition.
Sqns and RHQ each held a sports meeting and this was followed by a Regimental Sports meeting, which resulted in C Sqn winning the Championship.
- 8. AWARDS
- A total list of awards gained by the Regt in North Africa is attached as Appendix A.
- 9. CASUALTIES
- A list of casualties sustained by the Regt in North Africa is attached as Appendix B.
- 10. ENTERTAINMENT
- Lt Osborne formed a Regtl Concert Party which gave several shows. The Div organised nightly shows in Leptis Magna theatre and there was also a cinema in the village of Homs. The hotel in Leptis Magna was turned into a Soldiers Club (the Jerboa Club) and was much appreciated by the men. The nearness of the sea gave all ranks great opportunity for bathing.
| September 1943
||CO: Lt Col AT Smail
||11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own)
||C Sqn. 4th – 15th.
Waterproofed all vehicles and awaited embarkation orders.
The whole Sqn left HOMS at 0900 hours and took up a position in the assembly area just outside TRIPOLI. The order was given to waterproof all vehicles, this was cancelled the next day. Whilst in the assembly area the Sqn was given a section of two 75mm guns on White half tracks and as a result the Sqn had a busy time learning about this new weapon. We were given invaluable assistance by Major Armitage of 3rd RHA.
The Sqn had received two new drafts while at HOMS which resulted in the following mountings:-
|Lt Wingfield Digby
||Lt D Thomson
||Tpr Jones ’23
|LCpl Jones ’44
||Tpr Goodwin ’38
||Tpr Goodwin ’42
||Tpr Jones ’91
DSC – Lt Wells-Cole, LCpl Proctor
DSC – Sgt Gardiner, Tpr Bennett
|Tpr Morriss ’91
75mm Gen Section
DSC – Lt Young, Tpr Jenner ’84
|No. 1 Gun||No. 2 Gun||AA Gun|
|Sgt Cobley||LCpl Edwards||Cpl Hornsby|
|Tpr Jenner ’04||Tpr Bailey||Tpr Grinnell|
|Tpr White||Tpr Higson||LCpl Baguley|
|Tpr Morris ’14||Tpr James||Tpr Sanders|
|Tpr French||Tpr Harknett||Tpr Stevens|
|B1 Echelon||B2 Echelon||B3 Echelon|
|Tpr Raynes||SQMS Pegg||Tpr Hamilton|
|Tpr Pratt||Sgt Greensides||Sgt Purkiss|
|Tpr Mills||Tpr Whittington|| |
|Tpr Jones ’79||Tpr Evans ’73|| |
|LCpl Willetts||LCpl Hughes||Cpl Langmead|
|LCpl Ricketts||Tpr Stokes||Tpr Kay ’11|
|LCpl Swincoe||Tpr Moore||Tpr Lines|
|Sig Nobes||Tpr Dykes||Tpr Otway|
|Tpr Callaghan||Tpr Philps||Tpr Hickford|
|Sig Davidson||Tpr Oliver ’44||Tpr Merrity|
|Tpr Dean||Tpr Jordan||Tpr Tassell|
|Tpr Heywood||Tpr Oliver ’52||Tpr Keeling|
|Tpr Webster||Tpr HudsonTpr Ogden||Tpr Gabbitasv|
|Tpr Evans ’40||Tpr Pipes|| Tpr Blackmore|
||C Sqn. 16th – 19th.
Embarked on LST 368 and sailed. A very pleasant and uneventful journey to ITALY landing South of SALERNO.
After ten fly ridden days spent in a filthy assembly area at TRIPOLI to complete 3 months rest and re-fit at HOMS; we set sail at last for EUROPE to bring Hitler’s war to Hitler himself.
The Regt had never set out on an operation better equipped and a Sqn now consists of SHQ, five Troops of 2 DACs and dingo and a spare car for each Troop, a White Scout car Troop and a Troop of two 75mm guns mounted on half track Whites. So we not only have our old AC role but also light but highly mobile gunners and the Whites do Infantry and RE’s work.
Major Stuart French has taken over the Sqn with Capt Reid Scott as 2i/c, and SSM McHardy DCM as the SSM.
The Tp Ldrs are:
1Tp Sgt Green
2Tp Sgt Hall
3Tp Lt Williamson
4Tp Lt Moore
5Tp Lt Garrard
7Tp Lt Donald (Scout Tp)
10Tp Lt Hunt (75mm)
After delaying the whole day in Assembly Marshalling yards we eventually started driving on to out LST (77) at 1800 hours and what with all the reversing and half of the Sqn going up the lift on to the top deck we were not finished until 0100 hours the next morning.
Assembly area completing de-waterproofing and received orders to take over recce patrol at MONTECORVINO from 46th Recce Regt on the front of 131 Bde.
A Sqn. 20th – 21st.
It was a great day for the PAO to sail away from North Africa where we had had great sport but everyone was about due for a change.
The CO and Major Wainman were on our ship with some of RHQ. Each Sqn had a ship to itself and there were 8 LST in the convoy with a small escort of a few motor launches. The Officers Mess in the Wardroom and the troops lived on Army rations cooked centrally in the galley.
Everyone was pleased to be able to have a laze in the sun on the deck and except for the inevitable lifeboat drill there was nothing to do except to admire the blue of the Med. Two thirds of the Sqn slept in bunks, the remainder on deck which was infinitely preferable. Major Wainman and the Sqn Ldr slept on top of their cars to obtain full benefit of the sea air at night.
The three day voyage was spent in much “dossing” and reading and a little card playing and there were no incidents with torpedoes and such menace.
Sqn embarked on LST No. 362 at 1900 hours.
||C Sqn. 21st – 26th.
Sqn in forming up area BATTIPAGLIA awaiting take over role of protective recce on the right flank 131 Bde on axis NOCERA – SCAFATI – POGGTOMARINO. Sqn had under command one Bty 24 Fd Regt (8 x 105mm Priests).
We were due to beach at 2000 hours but there was much jostling amongst the ships and we hit a sandbar 100 yards from the shore twice before we managed to find the channel and eventually we started driving off at midnight. Although there was no moon and we were not allowed any lights the whole Sqn drove to the 11th Hussars concentration area, which was about 3 miles from the beach, without accident which speaks highly for the standard of driving.
||A Sqn. 23rd – 27th.
These five days were spent in sorting things out and beating off the mosquitoes at night. The normal precautions which seemed so irksome when practised at Tripoli were willingly carried out and the yellow anti malaria tablets were rigorously taken.
On the whole everyone was delighted to be on European soil. To feel that one was in a civilised country with greenery to look at instead of the eternal sand to make one screw up one’s eyes. Conditions will on the whole be much better, but as regards operations the country looks most unsuitable for ACs; the hills are unscaleable mountains and the plains are flat and very thick with trees and cultivation affording no positions of observation.
It is as yet too early to say but I fear it is unlikely that the PAO will be able to play such a prominent part in the war as they have previously.
Landed at 0700 hours without opposition. Proceeded to 7th Armd Div concentration area at 779718 and joined the rest of the Regt less C Sqn.
At 2200 hours Sqn had orders to move as per march table through SALERNO towards NOCERA. Spent short night at SALERNO. Sqn role was protective recce of right flank of Div.
Capt Holloway left at 2200 hours in SHQ Dingo to act as liaison officer at Main 7th Armd Div.
At first light moved slowly through SALERNO towards NOCERA. 1Tp ahead of Sqn with leading tank Sqn to take over right flank.
1200 hours 1Tp reported approaching SARNO. Many demolitions on route.
1900 hours remainder of Sqn and Bty concentrated S. MAURO.
46th Div have the job of forcing the NOGERA pass on the SALERNO – NAPLES road. After several days of stiff fighting the enemy were driven back and the 7th Armd Div were allowed to advance, the order of march being 131 Bde with C Sqn under command, 22nd Armd Bde and 11th Hussars; everyone was confined to one road so the Div covered 25 miles in a long line and progress was deadly slow.
We moved out at 1030 hours in the order RHQ, A Sqn, B Sqn and by 2100 hours we were in SALERNO, having been only 17 miles and to improve matters there was a thunderstorm and it rained all night. A few of the Sqn had their first experience of billets and managed to get under a roof.
At 1200 hours moved with RHQ and A Sqn to SALERNO arriving at 2200 hours in a very severe thunderstorm and we stayed there for the remainder of the night.
2Tp went to S. VALENTINO with OP of 28th Fd Regt. 3Tp went to SARNO and FRAINA encountering considerable demolitions of houses across the road. 4Tp tried to find a way but all routes were demolished beyond our repair.
By noon 3Tp were in SARNO and trying to get beyond but meeting with heavy artillery and MG opposition. 4Tp had gone round and joined up and 56th Div were coming up to takeover our axis. Enemy resistance was shelled by 24th Fd. Both main branches of SARNO river had all crossings blown except SCAFATI which was captured intact.
The Regt was called for up in front so we started at 0400 hours in the dark in order to overtake 22nd Armd Bde who were parked nose to croup up the road; but as it turned out we were not needed and we spent the night on the side of the road 1 mile West of PAGANI. 131 Bde were in front and were badly held up by mines and demolitions along the only road.
At 0430 continued on and spent the night at ANGRI.
3Tp and 4Tp endeavoured to move along SARNO – PALMA road which was 56th Div axis and the only way through to the NW. Bad congestion of traffic doing single track. Enemy were shelling SARNO area.
5Tp was also sent up to be in a position to relieve 3Tp and 4Tp and by 1000 hours 5Tp had turned left off 56th Div axis and was in STRIANO. Demolitions had to be cleared and 3Tp, 4Tp and 5Tp spent the night in area 5048.
Shortly after midday SHQ and Bty of 24th Fd Regt moved North to FRAINA. Here SHQ and reserve White crew were accurately shelled by a heavy gun, killing Tpr Le Masney and badly wounding Tpr Adams, Tpr Hampson and Tpr Leack, Adams and Hampson subsequently died. It also caused considerable damage to vehicles including 12 tyres. SHQ returned to FRAINA to reorganise. OP with 2Tp had a good shoot at enemy guns and MT in area 4847.
This day was spent in waiting by the side of the road and we moved on for 2 miles and spent the night 1 mile East of SCAFATI.
At 0600 hours moved 2 miles West along the road to SCAFATI where we spent the night.
||CO: Lt Col AT Smail
|Oct 43 11th Hussars
||(Prince Albert’s Own)
3Tp and 5Tp pushed on NW and by midday were in PALMA area and CENNARO area. Soon after SHQ moved up as far as 4749 where it was held by bad going and congested traffic.
5Tp had gone North from CENNARO to SAVIANO and from there just short of NOLA at 442577 where it was held up by a road block. After dark 5Tp returned to CENNARO for the night.
During these three days, demolitions and mines were frequently encountered and Scout Tp, of which each Tp had a section attached, were fully employed. We suffered no damage from mines and considerable obstacles were removed. In one case the 38 set was used as a link by the OP when his tank could not get into a suitable position. Civilians were 95% friendly, sometimes to the extent of being a nuisance.
At last the route was cleared sufficiently for us to advance and we went through POMPEII too fast to take note of what remains of historical Roman interest.
We then went up through very narrow streets, being showered with apples and grapes by the locals, to PASTINA from which A Sqn were sent on ahead to SAN GIUSEPPE with 4Tp ahead directed on CAVIANO.
4Tp Lt Moore reported SCISCIANO as held and by dark were out of wireless touch. The wireless is very difficult here due to many other stations and the nature of the country. 2Tp went on ahead of the Sqn via SOMMA VESUVIANNA and were held up by demolitions on the road 3 miles North and spent the night with 131 Bde. The remainder of the Sqn were in SOMMA VESUVIANNA for the night.
In the morning received orders to push on to SOMMA VESUVIANNA.
1305 hours. 1Tp sent on with orders to contact 1/5th Queens SAN GIUSEPPE and push on to SOMMA VESUVIANNA.
1421 hours. 1Tp contacted 1/5th Queens and pushed on to SOMMA VESUVIANNA. They could not get right through the town as the road was blocked and mined and the town burning.
1518 hours. 2Tp and White Cpl Hardy sent to find a way round by the tracks further to the North.
1610 hours. 1Tp and White Cpl Markham was also sent to try to find a way round. Both Tps were held up by demolitions and were unable to get round that night.
1Tp, 2Tp and 5Tp went to SAVIANO. From here 1Tp and 5Tp went to NOLA which had recently been evacuated. 1Tp and Capt Endersby of the Sherwood Rangers attached, searched for 2 tanks reported by civilians, with hand grenades and Tommy guns but were just too late. Capt Endersby then lead a detachment of some 200 assorted civilians with rifles and MGs against a German position holding the bridge at 4258. The attack was repulsed and 56th Div took over.
Both 1Tp Daimlers had a good shoot with their twin K guns. 2Tp then went North West from SAVIANO to FRASCATOLI where the leading car was knocked out by an A/Tk gun. LCpl Latcham was badly wounded and died before regaining consciousness. Sgt Chambers was wounded while trying to extricate him. Tpr Smith ’97 the driver was slightly wounded in the hand. Lt MacAllan’s car had a near miss but he got it away behind a house and then went forward under fire and assisted the wounded into another house where an Italian doctor kindly treated them. Returning to his car he called for artillery support from 105’s. After a slight delay owing to W/T difficulty they got well on the target of enemy tanks and vehicles, together with a few MT dug in, and gave it some 50 rounds gunfire, over 200 rounds in all. The position was evacuated. 5Tp took over and went into MARIGLIANO which was then occupied by 56th Div.
3Tp escorted the OP to NOLA to take up a position in a tower. This position was heavily shelled by a Tp of 105’s and had to be evacuated. Tpr Harris ‘ 26 was severely wounded in the head. In the afternoon the Sqn was called into Regtl reserve and moved down to OTTAVIANO.
The road ahead North to MARIGLIANO was B Sqn responsibility and we were directed on POMIGLIANO. By 0900 hours 1Tp Sgt Green reported the rail crossing at CASTELLO as clear and went 2 miles beyond with 2Tp Sgt Hall close behind in support.
The 75mm Tp Lt Hunt was stuck in a traffic jam South of MARIGLIANO but managed, by the afternoon, to join the Sqn with 4Tp. 3Tp had meanwhile gone through POMIGLIANO with the remainder of the Sqn not far behind and had reached the far side of CASTEL NUOVO in conjunction with the 1st RTR, where they were held up by shellfire from AFRIGOLA.
1Tp reported the crossing at N3357 as blown and civilians said ACERRA was held. It later turned out that the Germans had evacuated ACERRA by midday leaving only 4 vehicles behind. The Italians organised themselves into a guerrilla band and decided to beat them up, but the Germans unfortunately got wind of this and wirelessed for help. Some German tanks came back, burnt some of the town and murdered many civilians. A tank also came down to the crossing by 1Tp and machine gunned the civilians who were filling it in.
At about 1600 hours the 75’s had a shoot from the eastern side of CASTEL NUOVO at a Nebelwerfer firing at us from ACERRA. 5Tp Lt Garrard was sent on with the 1st RTR who by nightfall were in AFRIGOLA where they were shelled considerably during the night.
The remainder of the Sqn spent the night close to RHQ on the eastern outskirts of CASTEL NUOVO. 1Tp were at the crossing SE of ACERRA and 2Tp ½ mile North of CASTEL NUOVO.
0530 hours. 2Tp and White Cpl Hardy and RE’s White moved to MARIGLIANO.
0620 hours. 2Tp was fired on by Mark III 50mm and small arms. The ACs and Dingo managed to back into a square and out of the line of fire. Cpl Hardy’s car was hit in the steering but they and the RE’s managed to bail out and get into houses just before the 11 Hussars White was hit and burnt out. An Italian who tried to warn them was killed.
Lt Burridge tried to find a way out with his car but only succeeded in finding another square further along the main street. While this was going on the RE’s White driver managed to get into his car and drive it out of the line of fire. Later a German officer came cycling down the street but took fright just before he got to Sgt McGuire and Cpl Hardy who only managed to wing him.
Meanwhile we were trying to arrange for some Shermans of 1st RTR to help. We failed in this but the artillery brought fire to bear with the help of an OP who had been sent up with 1Tp to the outskirts of the town and also by observation and corrections given by Sgt McGuire himself. The Scout Section was sent back on foot. Tpr Willis, having been hidden in a house while the Germans were searching, was eventually led out of the town by the Italians. The Italians were also shooting at the Germans with rifles. 2Tp Ldr decided as no tank of ours were forthcoming, to make a dash for it under cover of smoke, but at that moment his car broke down.
1038 hours. The 4th CLY who had just arrived offered to send a Tp to his assistance. The Tp was brought up by Capt Rose, 4th CLY, who was most helpful and entered the town with Lt Digby, 1Tp following behind the leading tank in his car. The Shermans quickly sorted out the Mark III forcing the Germans to withdraw after blowing up the bridge and carrying out further demolitions. This allowed 2Tp to withdraw from the town.1217 hours. The Sqn complete was ordered to lead the 4th CLY along a narrow track which ran from ½ mile North of SOMMA VESUVIANNA to S. ANASTASIA. The track was very difficult and required much digging and blasting before we succeeded in getting through. We arrived at 1455 hours.
1630 hours. We were ordered to lead 4th CLY on as far as possible before dark towards CASORIA and then leaguer. At 1830 hours we leaguered at cross roads 2754.
||C Sqn. 3rd – 25th.
Sqn in Regtl reserve. Our Scout Tp was loaned to B Sqn. During this period training in enclosed country was carried out but no change otherwise.
3Tp Lt Williamson was sent to AFRIGOLA and 5Tp on the road running NE from AFRIGOLA until they were held up by SA fire ahead of them, two miles from the town and by tanks to their West. Sgt Lovett who had dismounted from his car to see round the corner was lucky enough to escape from German Infantry, who shot at him from 10 yards. 5Tp remained there in observation, for the day of a battle between 1st RTR and some German Infantry and 88mm guns well sited and concealed between AFRIGOLA and CARDITO. The Sqn spent the day in AFRIGOLA pestered by Italians and flies.
At 1600 hours 3Tp and 4Tp were sent to watch the main road at N2557 to protect the left flank of 1st RTR. They reported the road to be under fire and leaguered together just short of it. 5Tp were called in for the night which we spent in AFRIGOLA.
At 0600 hours 4Tp and 5Tp were sent to recce the roads to MELITO DI NAPOLI. 4Tp tried the main road but found it completely blocked by mines and trees; the 23rd Armd Bde were working on this road. 4Tp stayed there to keep in touch.
5Tp tried the parallel track from 225550 but found this impassable. He therefore went round to ARZANO and being unable to get West, tried the northern road towards GRUMO NEVANO.
0906 hours. 5Tp reported something on the road ½ mile North of ARZANO. This turned out to be pylons across the road guarded by a Mk III A/Tk gun and MGs.
1045 hours. 5Tp Sgt Peckett had his car hit by a 50mm but managed to bail out without losing any of his crew, thanks to a most fortunate incident. At exactly the same moment, Sgt Lyon who was close behind had the cables of his smoke mortars pulled by the bough of a tree; they both were touched off and provided smoke to cover Sgt Peckett and his crew’s escape. 3Tp was close behind 5Tp and during this episode they both crossed and re-crossed a heavily mined track which later blew up 3 Shermans. 5Tp and 3Tp continued to observe, Lt Newton on foot, and they saw a German tank come up and tow Sgt Peckett’s car away.
1200 hours. A patrol of RB’s was sent to investigate and if necessary remove opposition. They only sent two men who did not go far enough. They reported the area clear of enemy.
1345 hours. The 4th CLY sent one Tp towards GRUMO NEVANO. They followed in the tracks of 5Tp ACs but all 3 tanks hit mines and were fired on by 50mm and possible 88mm. One Sherman received 5 hits and all the crew were killed.
1430 hours. 5Tp and 3Tp searched the obstructions for mines. Sgt Gardiner found mines under heaps of leaves and removed several. They pushed on round the obstacle but 5Tp reported a strong A/Tk position down the road.
1515 hours. The German tanks advanced, 3Tp and 5Tp pulled back into ARZANO. B Sqn 4th CLY, 1 Coy RB’s and artillery spent a disturbed night all packed into the main square at ARZANO, with alarming rumours of Mk III’s on the outskirts of the town, and parties of Germans dressed in civilian clothing with Tommy guns and binoculars prowling through the houses.
During the day the Corps Commander Lt General McCreary flying his flag etc in a Jeep, came up to Sgt Green in ACERRA and asked him what he had ahead of him – the answer was Germans; “Isn’t it amazing!”. He then proceeded to ask Sgt Green his advice on whether or not to bring up 56th Div!
At 0700 hours 2Tp reported that the bridge at 2665 was held by a Mark IV tank which shot at Cpl Atkinson in the leading car as he crept round the corner 50 yards away. The shot hit the left hand front wheel but Tpr Harris put the car in reverse and managed to get back 3 yards round the corner before the car collapsed on the axle. We had a Tp of Priests (105mm SP guns) attached to the Sqn from the 24th Fd Regt and the OP who was with 2Tp endeavoured to shift the German tank. At first it was not possible to tell whether the bridge was blown or not by looking straight down the road, in fact, we generally found it was easier by going on foot 50 to 100 yards away from the bridge on the bank, and it was usually a safer way of recceing a crossing. It was not until 1217 hours that Sgt Hall was able to report that the bridge was blown. He remained in observation of the crossing until 1600 hours when he was relieved by C Sqn and he was able to rejoin the Sqn which had by then moved up to within 1 mile of AVERSA.
SSM McHardy had, by bringing great force to bear upon Military Policemen and senior officers alike, managed to manoeuvre the B1 Echelon up to us, through a traffic jam similar to those found on the Epsom roads on Derby Day.
3Tp and 4Tp who had spent the night together on the West of AFRIGOLA were ordered to recce the river crossing at N2466. 3Tp ran out of petrol 2 miles West of CAIVANO and after waiting 3 hours for petrol to be sent up, moved up to join 1st RTR and remained as a link with them for the rest of the day, and spent the night with them North of FERTILIA. 3Tp’s role was important because the 1st RTR were first at the crossing which was chosen as our axis of advance, and constant touch with them was essential.
4Tp who were delayed by a gun firing from N2364, reached the area of the bridge by 1130 hours, it was held so Lt Moore made a recce on foot with Cpl Williamson to get a closer view. They were away some time, and caused some anxiety to Sgt Murray as he heard them being machine gunned as they approached the bridge. They returned intact and reported the northern span of the bridge to be blown. The Tp remained in observation until they were relieved by C Sqn in the afternoon and were able to return to SHQ for the night.
1Tp Sgt Green went along the road running NE from AFRIGOLA and at 0745 hours, reported the bridge at N2863 as blown, with 2 abandoned German carriers the other side. He was then ordered to recce the railway crossing at TRENTOLA and by 1330 hours, after much difficulty in traversing the narrow muddy lanes, reported that it was blown. So every bridge was blown and it was now a question of waiting for the authorities to decide where we were to throw a bridge across this tiresome canal.
Alternative routes North were required, and at 1300 hours 5Tp were sent to report on the road AVERSA – ALBANOVA. This road was expected to be held or mined but Lt Garrard reached ALBANOVA at 1500 hours after encountering some MG fire on the way. He later returned, and spent the night by a demolished railway bridge at TRENTOLA.
1Tp had come into SHQ from the railway bridge and at 1400 hours was sent to spend the night with Major Wainman at 22nd Armd Bde HQ at AVERSA, preparatory to doing a patrol at first light the next morning. It was another wet night – most have been unrecorded in this diary – and we have had damp blankets for a week. A liaison officer from the 1st RTR called Logan, an Australian of the very best, was attached to the Sqn.
0615 hours. 1Tp sent out to try to find another way round to MELITO DI NAPOLI to the West but was unable to find one and returned at 0730 hours. 3Tp went out to the road block on the GRUMO NEVANO road and found that it had been cleared of mines by the RE’s.
0731 hours. 3Tp pushed on under the obstruction; GRUMO NEVANO had by this time been reported clear by Infantry patrols. 3Tp entered the town and received a colossal reception from the local inhabitants. 3Tp then went on through CASANDRINO and found one mined bridge. Proceeded to X roads at 190584 and found the road to AVERSA blocked by 80 trees across the road.
0800 hours. 2Tp was sent to STANTIMO to try to find another route into AVERSA which they eventually succeeded in doing though it was not a good one and there were some mined bridges.
1000 hours. 3Tp with the Sqn behind reached GIULIANO but could not find a way out on to the PARETE road as the main exit was blocked at a blown railway bridge by debris and mines. One Sherman was blown up. While we were in GIULIANO the 23rd Armd Bde came through and continued along the road to QUALIANO.
1220 hours. 3Tp found a way round to the right and back onto the PARETE road. The whole force managed to get through this way. 3Tp pushed on towards PARETE but at 1337 hours encountered a road block at 146607. They tried to find a way round with the help of the Scout sect who did much digging, filled up ditches and knocked down a wall. Eventually the road was declared suitable for tracked vehicles only and the 4th CLY decided to go through but sent their Echelon back with us with orders to meet them at AVERSA where 2Tp now was. 5Tp was to have been pulled through the block by the last Shermans but this was decided against and they stayed there for the night and returned to the Sqn early the following morning.
1728 hours. We turned round with some difficulty and reached GIULIANO at 1840 hours where we picked up the B1 and 5Tp and proceeded towards AVERSA by the main road. On the way we met a gunner officer who told us that the leaguer position had been changed to TRENTOLA so we went on there. 1Tp and 2Tp doing a fine piece of map reading in the dark through AVERSA; actually the 4th CLY went to ALBANOVA. Leaguered at 2300 hours TRENTOLA. Fortunately we parked 10 yards short of some mines on the road which blew up an A Sqn car the following morning.
The Sqn Ldr went into AVERSA at first light to get orders from Brig Hinde, commanding 22nd Armd Bde under whom the Regt had been placed from today.
The RE’s, covered by a Btn of the Queens had made a bridge across the canal on the main AVERSA – CAPUA road, surprisingly without opposition. 3Tp crossed over at first light with 1st RTR and at 0700 hours reported enemy Infantry dismounted with an AC at the fork at 2073. By 0730 hours the enemy had been shifted and 3Tp moved on with the tanks and an OP for our Tp of Priests until they were held up by MG fire from N1874, only 1 mile up the road. After brushing this aside with the help of the Priests the Tp was only held up once more by 2 half tracks with SP guns before reaching the railway bridge South of CAPUA at 1230 hours. On the way they reported very large explosions to their West in area N1375, which locals said was an ammunition dump, which proved to be correct. The Italian locals were being very helpful to us everywhere, often risking their lives in order to run and warn a patrol that there was an A/Tk gun or something around the corner; these civilians were much braver than the Italian Fascist army which we met in North Africa.
Sgt Luke commanding 3Tp Dingo had a lucky escape at the rail crossing at CAPUA which he was just approaching on foot through the undergrowth, when he was fired upon at 10 yards range by Germans with Tommy guns; he managed to evade them only getting nicked in a few places and losing his beret – a valuable memento for a German who knew its worth. For return Sgt Luke fired 2 pans of SOLOTMURN into the enemy nest which was cunningly concealed in the bank by the bridge. Progress was impossible, as CAPUA was strongly held, so 3Tp remained in observation of the bridge for the next 2 hours.
1Tp was ordered to patrol and report on the road AVERSA – CAPPEBIANCA starting at daylight. Large puddles of water in the road concealed a mine which unfortunately blew up the Dingo which was leading; Sgt Gullick luckily escaped with cuts and bruises but Tpr Cross had his leg so badly smashed that it had to be amputated. He died at midnight after having received 5 blood transfusions – our first fatal casualty and as it turned out the only one of this phase.
At 0645 hours 5Tp were sent to recce the crossing at N1673 which at 0800 hours Lt Garrard reported as blown and mined. 4Tp was sent to the 1st RTR and acted as link until 0830 hours when Lt Moore was ordered to cross the canal on the main AVERSA – CAPUA road, then go West along the North bank until he reached the bridge where 5Tp on the South bank was sitting. But all the routes, though marked on the map, petered out into footpaths about 1 mile from the main road and crossing wet ploughed fields and ditches in a heavy AC is not the easiest form of cross country work.
Lt Moore had a nasty accident in the afternoon when his car, while crossing a narrow culvert over a blind ditch, slipped over the edge and dropped 12 feet to the bottom of the ditch. LCpl Price, the driver, did not turn a hair, Tpr Edgar was only bruised but Lt Moored had a nasty cut on his head and had to be sent to live under the doctor’s eye at RHQ.
At 1000 hours 2Tp relieved 5Tp which was directed across the canal and up to S.TAMMARA then West to the old Palace at N1674 to recce routes leading up to the crossings of the VOLTERNO West of CAPUA. 3Tp was called away from watching the rail bridge and went to support 5Tp with the 75’s under Lt Hunt. Many explosions were reported during the rest of the day.
5Tp got as far as the fork junction with 1st RTR by nightfall, having been delayed all the afternoon by enormous explosions from the ammunition dumps which went off sometimes within 20 yards of where the Tp was on the road and by spasmodic MG fire, also two 88’s which were impossible to see and 2 Nebelwerfers which landed some unpleasant stonks on any area without warning, except for their series of bangs and sinister whines.
At nightfall a patrol was required to block the main road at S. TAMMARA. Sgt Green was sent out and told by the local inhabitants that 2 Germans were hiding in a house; Sgt Green with Sgt Fitzpatrick armed to the teeth to meet the German Army, were taken to the house where they found 2 German soldiers from the artillery, having a large meal and quite oblivious of any danger.
B Sqn. 5th – 6th.
0530 hours. Sqn moved on to meet 4th CLY at 124667 and 4Tp was sent straight on to get in front of 4th CLY patrols which had gone on towards 118702 to recce the bridge at 118709. Locals reported the bridge mined and covered.
0637 hours. 5Tp was sent to recce the road to VILLA LITTERNO and to gain touch with the KDG or some of the 23rd Armd Bde. 5Tp reported the road blocked at 067677 just short of VILLA LITTERNO. He contacted US patrols who reported the town clear of enemy.0835 hours. 4Tp pushed along with 4th CLY towards the bridge. There was considerable small arms fire, some of which was located as coming from a house at 110747. We tried to get the 75mm Section on to this with the help of the Scout section, Sgt Gardiner with a 38 set doing op. Unfortunately the 38 set failed and the 75mm section had to leave the target to the RHA. They then pushed on to a point 1000 yards short of the bridge where the road was mined and a Sherman went up. 4Tp was then withdrawn with the exception of the Scout section who with Sgt Gardiner stayed and removed about 40 mines from the road. The RE’s recced the bridge and decided it was a long job and required two Baileys.
1108 hours. 1Tp was sent off to find a way to VILLA LITTERNO to the South. He succeeded in doing this via 086654 where he contacted a KDG patrol. The situation then became static as there appeared no way round the REGNI LAGI canal.
1700 hours. Sqn moved to 118686 to close with 4th CLY for the night. We remained there also for the day and night of 6th October.
5Tp supported by the 75’s was ordered to go North from the Palace for 2 miles to the Y road then West to MARIA LA FOSSA and to work with 1st RTR. This idea was all very well in theory, but as it turned out, Lt Garrard who was continually held up, was obliged to communicate with his supporting Tp of tanks only 100 yards away either by wireless to SHQ to the Regt to Div then down to 22nd Armd Bde, to 1st RTR eventually to the Tp concerned, or by walking across the open to talk to the Tp Ldr with MGs and snipers very active; it was impossible to get the ACs off the road.
By 1000 hours 5Tp arrived at MARIA LA FOSSA, having been nebelwerfed and machine gunned, when at the entrance to the village Sgt Lovett who was in the leading car was blown up; he had a cut over his eye, Tpr Lucas the driver had slight blast in his eyes and Tpr Gray the operator was unhurt. The DAC seems to be tough enough to resist a single Teller mine although the Humbers are not so, as LCpl Martin who had his leg broken, will witness. 5Tp pushed on and tried to fined a way across the CANALE SCUIMMARIELLO, found every bridge blown and returned to SHQ in the afternoon.
3Tp were ordered to recce the road from N132743 to MARIA LA FOSSA also from that map reference back to the Y junction at N149761. Sgt Moore’s car broke down and had to be sent to the LAD; the lanes were almost impossible to negotiate and the ACs and even the White Scout cars skidded and got ditched.
2Tp were sent to recce the road leading West from N142723 and to try and find a way across the canal. All roads petered out before getting within sight of the canal, and after much walking across country Sgt Hall spent the night with 3Tp at 128728.
4Tp was recalled early in the morning and Sgt Green did a short recce in his Dingo to the broken bridge at N162710. SHQ remained in the same place i.e. on top of a sewer which produced a strong odour which closely resembled that given off by pig manure, and harboured mosquitoes in a big way; it was also wet for both nights of our stay – however we all survived. The CO spent most of the day at SHQ.
At 0640 hours 3Tp was ordered to return to the Sqn and came in in great spirits having spent 5 nights away from the Sqn which meant considerable effort expended on night guards.
2Tp was ordered to observe from MARIA LA FOSSA with the OP. Sgt Hall reported spasmodic shelling from across the river by 88’s and Nebelwerfers and when at 1000 hours he was ordered to withdraw, he dismounted to go and tell the OP, a stonk by a Nebelwerfer landed on the village and Sgt Hall was unfortunately wounded in the hand – a nasty cut across the palm which severed a muscle. He was quickly attended to by the 1st RTR and was evacuated to NAPLES – a fine Tp Ldr and a great loss to the Sqn, we hope only temporarily. 2Tp returned to the Sqn and at 1200 hours we rejoined the Regt at FERTILIA for a few days rest having handed over to 131 Bde. We were parked in a muddy lane out of which it was impossible to move without getting bogged.
A diary of this month’s operations would not be complete without mentioning the White Scout car sections who put in some fine work mine lifting, observing from buildings, towing and other motley but important jobs. The Section commanders – Cpl Pearce relieved on the 5th October by Sgt Fitzpatrick, Cpl Williamson, Cpl Short and Cpl Jellis proved able leaders well trained under the auspices of Lt Donald.
Moved to RHQ at 186682 at 0700 hours. At 1100 hours 1Tp and 2 cars of 2Tp were sent to 090635 to gain contact with the right hand Bde of 46 Div and to act as liaison between 46 Div and 7th Armd Div. They attended a conference and sent in a report to us.
1410 hours. Sqn moved to 163676 where the whole Regt assembled. 2Tp was recalled from 46 Div and Capt Holloway was sent instead.
||A Sqn. 8th – 13th.
We sat in a muddy lane; maintenance was difficult in the wet conditions but certain extra equipment including waterproof clothing was issued; everyone was able to sample the local vino and most people saw NAPLES.
1Tp returned in the morning. Capt Holloway remained as LO to 46 Div. Lt Thomson took over 4Tp.
Note.During these operations it is of interest to know that we received a magnificent reception from the Italian people wherever we went. This usually took the form of showers of agricultural products and bread, at times almost as dangerous as the German 88’s. Our popularity with the Italians and their loathing of the ‘Tederchi’ and all Fascists made a considerable difference to the advance.
Their support did not stop at wild acclamations. We obtained accurate information about the Germans and they were willing to come on our cars and show us the way.
In MARIGLIANO an Italian died whilst trying to warn our Tp that there were tanks just down the street and his wife went off shouting that she was going to kill the Germans. Italians hid Tpr Wills in a house while the Germans searched and then led him out of the town which was surrounded on three sides.
Wherever we went we heard of the German atrocities and in GIULIANO we saw something of it at first hand. Just before we got into the town 2 Germans had been shot by the local inhabitants. For this the Germans lined up and shot about 10 Italians. They were being buried in a cemetery which we passed as we went through. Shortly after we had got clear of the town some Germans jumped over the cemetery wall and mowed down the whole crowd around the graves.
||B Sqn. 10th – 13th.
The Sqn was with the Regt in reserve in a wet and muddy lane near AVERSA. The weather on the whole was despicable.
Received orders to move out early the next morning and to take up a position overlooking the VOLTERNO between the 04 and 06 gridlines. We were to come under the 22nd Armd Bde and would have 131 Bde on our right and 46 Div on our left.
B Sqn had taken over from 1st RTR, the part of the line on the VOLTERNO from CANCELLO to GRAZZANISE. It turned out to be really an Infantry job and 7Tp were sent out at 1600 hours to come under command of Major Lloyd of B Sqn. Their job was to help out B Sqn White sections which were not sufficient.
0530 hours. 1Tp and 3Tp moved off shortly followed by the remainder of the Sqn.
1045 hours. 1Tp saw 3 wounded men on the opposite bank. Lt Digby and Cpl Stewart found a boat and managed to row them back and got them up the river bank with the greatest difficulty. They were survivors of the 5th Foresters who had been badly mauled by Mk III tanks the day before. They were sent back in the ambulance.
1215 hours. 1Tp reported two Germans and a British MO on the opposite bank. They said there were 40 wounded of 5th Foresters and they wanted an artillery armistice in order to evacuate them. Negotiations for this went on for some time.
1403 hours. A medical party was taken across the river rowed by Cpl Stewart and LCpl Russell who volunteered for the job. They waited for an hour and a half for the MO to return but as he did not they came back to our side. Shortly after this a German patrol arrived on the other side and started using mortars and small arms and at 1532 1Tp withdrew slightly under mortar and SA fire. This continued up to 1647 hours.
A Sqn with C Sqn moved out of the muddy lane to a position nearer the VOLTERNO river, so as to be in readiness to follow up the enemy as soon as the bridgeheads were formed by 131 Bde. We therefore took up another static position about 3 miles SW of CAPUA. The White Scout Tp were still under B Sqn watching the North bank of the VOLTERNO, and had quite a big job.
0800 hours. SHQ moved to farmhouse at 065744, 2Tp and 5Tp relieved 1Tp and 3Tp. A Scout Tp from A Sqn under Lt Donald and Sgt Fitzpatrick came up to help out our Scout Tp. One was sent to 2Tp and one to 5Tp.
1200 hours. The RB’s patrols withdrew and 4Tp was sent to 034746 to fill the gap. Our left was now up to the CANCELLO road, our right in touch with 4th CLY, we came under 131 Bde.
1500 hours. C Sqn Scout cars under Lt Champion arrived to help us out.
2140 hours. 5Tp fired on by SA fire.
Information was received that the Germans were pulling out of their positions North of the VOLTERNO and so, in spite of the fact that there is another formidable tank obstacle (Agnena Nuova Canal) North of the river, we were all ready to move at 2 hours notice. Nothing, however, came of this and we had to remain there until the PBI [Poor Bloody Infantry] and the RE’s have cleared up the obstacles in front of us. 46th Div on our left and 56th Div on our right have made some progress while the Americans still further to our right have captured the high ground around CAIAZZO.
Capt Holloway was doing LO with 138 Bde and Lt Wells Cole with 131 Bde. Patrols as usual. 1Tp and 3Tp kept ready to cross the river at GRAZZANISE.
Still waiting to move up. We hear that 40th RTR waterproofed themselves and made a beach landing North of the mouth of the VOLTERNO and are getting on towards MONTE MARRICO to their North. 4th CLY are also waterproofing for a crossing near GRAZZANISE.
0710 hours. 1Tp moved to GRAZZANISE to act as LO to 131 Bde while Lt Well Cole’s Dingo was being mended and to be handy to cross the river.
1325 hours. 1Tp crossed the VOLTERNO and found track at 080789 impassable. 3Tp acted as LO to 131 Bde.
1305 hours. Mainbrace spliced.
1440 hours. 3Tp crossed VOLTERNO in support of 1Tp.
1455 hours. 1Tp got to 066794 and was fired on by mortars and shellfire.
1510 hours. 1Tp netted into the 75mm net and produced some useful fire on suspected mortar areas.
1Tp liased with 1/6th Queens and 1Tp and 3Tp spent the night near 066794. SHQ moved to GRAZZANISE.
7Tp are relieved of their role on the river, which is now clear of the enemy, and came into SHQ. Today has been marked by a considerable amount of American reinforcements coming into our area and what with their “155 Rifles” and other excellent equipment, they look to be formidable allies. Much shelling of the enemy positions during last night and very little coming back!
3Tp carried out a standing patrol at 030778 and 1Tp at 049793. 3Tp were in touch with right hand of 46 Div and 1Tp with left of 131 Bde.
Major Lloyd unfortunately had to go to hospital to receive treatment for dysentery which he had had for a fortnight but doggedly carried on. Capt Reid Scott took over and will in future be the writer of this.
Capt Reid Scott has gone over to take command of B Sqn and Capt Harry Petch has come as 2i/c. otherwise no movement seen.
1Tp and 3Tp doing standing patrols at the same places.
At 1715 hours SHQ and the remainder of the Sqn moved to 055778 where we found sleeping accommodation for everyone inside a large building which also made a fine OP. During the day 2Tp and 4Tp relieved 1Tp and 3Tp respectively.
||A Sqn. 20th – 26th.
Sqn remained at the same position on 24 hours notice to move. Some days were spent in Tp training and special attention was paid to combined training between the White Scout Tp, 75mm Gun Tp and Tp Ldrs and we have as a result become (I hope) much more proficient in carrying out our new role of static observation. We have also added another WSC under Cpl Soar to 7Tp, making 5 cars in all.
October 25th was marred by the serious motoring accident involving the CO, Major Roberts, Capt Lockett (the Adjutant) and Tpr Tyler. In the CO’s Jeep they were driving back in the dark and unfortunately crashed over a blown up bridge into a drop of about 25 feet. The Adjutant escaped with a shaking but the others were all taken to hospital and it would seem likely that the CO will be out of action for at least 3 months, Major Roberts for about 6 weeks and Tpr Tyler 2 months. This is a serious blow to the 11th Hussars and we all hope for better news of the injured.
What with wounded personnel, malaria, sand-fly fever and dysentery (not to mention minor accidents), A Sqn since SALERNO have had 26 officers and ORs evacuated to hospital which is quite enough – the reinforcements now being sent are not as highly trained as we should like them to be.
The only other thing of note has been the reappearance of the Luftwaffe and we have been treated to a good display of fireworks over both CAPUA and NAPLES and, as far as we could see, 2 enemy aircraft were brought down.
2Tp and 4Tp positions remained unchanged except that Tp was in a house 1 mile East of 3Tp’s old position at 037786. Both Tps looked out over the canal at S. ANDREA in the middle of thickly wooded flat country and beyond at FRANCOLISE and SPARORISE on the hillside. It was impossible to cross the canal except on foot, and nearly impossible to spot the enemy guns; the enemy had all the observation.
On 4Tps left the 46th Div with whom Capt Holloway was doing LO, were operating in what appeared to us as a rather half hearted manner. On 2Tp right the 131 Bde was spread out along the canal nosing forward towards S. ANDREA. Both Tps reported intermittent shelling directed especially at the bridge at 065800 which the enemy had blown and we were trying to rebuild. SHQ remained in the same place.
2Tp and 4Tp remained out in the same places and reported the usual shelling during the day. Each had a Scout section attached who went out each night on to the second canal and acted as a listening post. Lt Wells Cole and Sgt Gardiner accompanied one of the sections in turn each night. The first night both sections were heavily shelled by guns in 46 Div in spite of their having been made aware of our exact position.
SQMS Pegg decided to run the gauntlet and replenish the Sqn in the middle of the day although it entailed bringing the Echelon along 3 miles of road which was occasionally shelled in full view of the enemy – he got away with it!
We are still experimenting with the 38 set and how best to use it as a link between the Scout sections out on their feet and AC troops; previously the troop Sgt’s car in a troop has been on constant watch to a scout section out at night. If 2 sections are out in front of 2 different troops had been a tremendous drain on batteries. We now have an arrangement whereby the 38 set and the troop Sgt’s 19 set call each other every 15 minutes.
In the evening under cover of darkness 3Tp relieved 4Tp and 5Tp relieved 2Tp. Sgt Gardiner with 2 scout sections did a long foot patrol at night to 037799.
3Tp and 5Tp were in the same old places and were kept sufficiently interested trying to spot 2 or 3 Nebelwerfers which kept firing throughout the day from between FRANCOLISE and ??? They seemed to change position after each firing.
3Tp and 5Tp were as before. 3Tp had his Dingo ½ mile down the road with the Btn HQ of the Yorks and Lancs who were the right hand Btn of 46 Div. Capt Holloway at 46 Div had the greatest difficulty in extracting any information from them and this other link proved invaluable.
1200 hours. Lt Wingfield Digby recced the crossings between the bridge at 065800 and S. ANDREA and found them possible to cross though 4 out of 6 had been blown. He took his Tp up through S. ANDREA to the T junction at 022819 where there was a large crater which prevented him going any further. The country was very thick and he was in touch with the enemy.
1Tp withdrew at last light and spent the night in S. ANDREA with the CLY who are old friends. 5Tp was withdrawn at last light and Cpl Markham did a foot patrol during the night from 2Tp who relieved 3Tp on the left hand patrol.
2Tp was in the same place with his Dingo as a link with 46 Div. At first light Lt Young took his guns to 030800 from where he could cover 1Tp from a central position, well concealed in some houses. 1Tp moved out of S. ANDREA, detoured round the crater and went to 013807, just in front of him at the corner there was another crater at least 50 ft across which prevented one from going round the corner in any direction. Figures could be seen walking around further down the road and turned out to be 46 Div patrols.
1Tp busied themselves by towing away trees obstructing the road and then got into the position for observation. There was a belt of trees not 500 yards from the road and at 1600 hours 2 spandau guns opened up on 1Tp. Luckily, even though some of them were walking about outside their cars, no one was hit; immediately these MGs opened up LCpl Cunningham jumped into his Dingo and let fly with his K guns, himself standing up amongst a shower of bullets. The spandaus did not fire again and 1Tp moved back into S. ANDREA at dusk.
On their way back LCpl Cunningham’s Dingo second car, was blown up on a Teller mine at 020816. LCpl Cunningham, who already had been wounded twice, had both ankles broken and at the moment it looks like he mat have to lose his left foot, according to the doctors. Tpr Perry received face injuries which are not serious. Cunningham’s behaviour was quite magnificent – his bravery and guts are quite exceptional. Tpr Perry, having been well laced by Lt Digby’s whiskey amused the doctors by his remarks. The 1/6th Queens doctor was most helpful and attended to the men within 20 minutes.Having sorted things out and stripped the Dingo 1Tp returned to SHQ. 3Tp relieved 1Tp and spent the night in S. ANDREA. Sgt Gardiner did a foot patrol at dusk out West towards the 1Tp Dingo and reported nothing, but on the same patrol at dawn he was shot up by 2 spandau which must have crept up and were covering the Dingo.
2Tp with Cpl Markham and his White scout section remained in the same old position, with Cpl Ruder and his Dingo 1 mile along the road with 46 Div. The guns were in the same central position. Sgt Lyon went out to 1Tp of the day before and LCpl Graytson’s section mine swept the whole road and picked up 2 Teller mines over which 1Tp had been backward and forwards the day before.
At 1200 hours 46 Div reported an enemy position with 3 MGs at the river crossing and called for us to shell the area. This we did with pleasure and sprayed the area. Sgt Lyon had a 38 set with the leading patrol of 46 Div 300 yards the other side of the crater and himself remained in observation just North of the crater.
There was nothing to report for the rest of the day except that the 46 Div gunners had the audacity to shoot up 5Tp in the evening, luckily they were bad shots. 5Tp spent the night in S. ANDREA and 2Tp was relieved by 4Tp. 46 Div are taking over our section of the line. 131 Bde ceased to be responsible for the front from first light on the 26th.
At 1100 hours the Sqn moved out and across the VOLTERNO. The role was line of observation along the canal.
At 1730 hours two Scout sections went out and remained there for the night which was quiet but wet and cold.
All patrols were withdrawn except Sgt Lyon who remained at S. ANDREA to help 131 Bde recovery vehicle to get in Cunningham’s Dingo. The recovery vehicle unfortunately went the wrong way and going down a road at PIZZONE also went up on a mine, the driver was wounded. Eventually Sgt Lyon managed to hitch up the Dingo himself and recovered it.
The only sad news of the day was that Lt Wingfield Digby was taken out of the Sqn to command B3 in place of Major Roberts who with the Colonel had had a very bad motor accident and was being returned to England to recover. Sgt Richmond took over 1Tp.
First light no movement seen. Scout sections contacted neighbours on flanks and reported on roads and bridges in that area.
0840 hours. Both Tps reported a 105mm gun in action, area 8179. The gun continued firing occasionally till 1030 hours but no flash seen, only sound bearings.
1430 hours. 1Tp reported 88mm AA fire in area 8980.
1450 hours. 3Tp reported demolitions at 9984 and 9764.
1745 hours. 5Tp relieved 3Tp but left a Daimler badly ditched on route owing to steering getting locked. This was recovered with the help of 1st RTR the next day.
2115 hours. Left Scout sec reported MG fire to his East.
7Tp was sent out to come under command of C Sqn who are now responsible for the front extending along the South bank of the Agnena Nuovo Canal between the main road running North of CANCELLO and to within 1 mile of the sea.
The Sqn returned to RHQ who were 3 miles South of GRAZZANISE and remained in reserve with A Sqn till the end of the month.
A Sqn Scout section were attached with 3 Sec out under Lt Donald at 973763. 3 Sec were sent over the canal at 964763. The area was wet and boggy intersected by canals which frequently had to be forded. High bamboo and rows of trees provided a certain amount of cover.
Later 5 Sec Sgt Fitzpatrick patrolled as far as 966754. Four Germans were seen in area 965795 and engaged.
C Sqn two 75mm guns went into action at 975762. CRA allotted them the task of destroying an ancient castle, a possible OP, at 915607. Several direct hits were scored.
Scout Sec reported bridge blown at 907783 and the approaches mined. The Bridge at 959785 was also blown.
Three separate guns were reported in action the day and shell reps were completed.
The 75’s fired some 70 rounds at various targets with 1Tp and 5Tp doing OP.
10Tp under Lt Hunt went to join C Sqn and were not there for very long before they had done some excellent shooting with the 75’s, but it was difficult to estimate the damage done to the enemy positions on the roads leading into and out of CARINOLA.
C Sqn Scout sect was relieved by A Sqn. A Sqn and 6Tp 75mm guns came under command of Lt Lovett and Regtl battery of six 75’s was in action at 978762. Two Scout sections were ordered out to 933785 and 955794. Both of these were 2 miles from the nearest friendly forces and the western was near 933783 OK and no enemy seen. The enemy re-occupied this area early the next day.
0955 hours. 2Tp reported 945831 a suspected tank, this was engaged, no results observed.
1041 hours. 2Tp did OP for a shoot area 946830. Suspected enemy position. Subsequently confirmed and shells landed well amongst it.
1645 hours. 2Tp reported explosions at 970880 and 005859 probably bridges in CASANOVA.
1746 hours. 2Tp reported fires in CASANOVA. 4Tp relieved 5Tp and Scout sects who had been out for the day returned at dusk wet through and cold.
Guns fired some 180 rounds during the day.
A Sqn. 29th – 31st.
Nothing further to report as A Sqn are still in reserve, carrying on with training.
At first light 4Tp moved over to the left to take over 1 RB patrol at 947757.
2Tp moved via CANCELLO up to 978780 but could get no further as no bridges yet built across the canal.
1044 hours. 2Tp reported 2 enemy guns in action area 900875.
1047 hours. 4Tp reported 1 gun in action 928812.
1115 hours. 4Tp reported an A/Tk gun had engaged him from close range just North of the canal and scored 2 very near misses but no damage. After moving to cover he observed the smoke from another shot and brought 10Tp (artillery) on to the area. It did not fire anymore.
1351 hours. 4Tp saw a man run into a house at 939782. This house was engaged and a direct hit scored on it. The X roads at 933784 were also stonked. Subsequent investigation and enquiry showed 6 shells had landed within 25 yards of the X roads and a local said that the Germans had been there at the time and had cleared out in a hurry. All bridges in that area were intact. The A/Tk gun which fired on 4Tp appeared by tracks on the road to have been an SP.
1740 hours. 4Tp reported at 946770 a small vehicle moving West.
3Tp and 7Tp A Sqn relieved 2Tp on the right.
1100 hours. 1Tp moved over crossing over canal at 931750 then North up the road to just West of MONDRAGONE then to 931779. A Scout sec with him crossed the canal and reported bridges at 932783 and 931784 OK and Class 40.
1Tp then recce bridges at 931791 and reported them OK and Class 40.
1600 hours. 3Tp was ordered round to left flank, two Scout secs walked along the road to 933783 and reported the road A1.
1Tp was at 940800 and 3Tp at 925790, nothing to report.
- Major DJP Lloyd MC was admitted to hospital 20 Oct 43.
- Capt A Reid Scott MC was appointed Major and took over command of B Sqn.
- Lt RE Wingfield Digby was appointed Captain.
- Lt Col Smail DSO and Major HC Roberts were admitted to hospital on 24 Oct 43 following a car accident.
- Major W Wainman MC was promoted Lt Col and took over command of the Regt.
- Capt H Petch MC DCM was promoted Major and took over command of RHQ.
- Capt JAN Crankshaw MC was promoted to Major.
- Lts JR Ballingal MC and GJ Lovett were promoted Captains.
||CO: Lt Col W Wainman MC
||11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own)
At first light the Tps remained in position and sent Scout sec to investigate roads and bridges at 934802, 930808 and 939814. In all cases proved to be fords only and the tracks B5.
Sgt Fitzpatrick’s Scout sec climbed MONDRAGONE feature and from there had a good view NE of low country.
1330 hours. He reported 881843 six enemy MET stationary.
1400 hours. Heavy AA following a bombing attack.
1520 hours. 905868 1 MT moving SW.
Scout sects returned by dark to Tps who stayed at 925790 and 940800.
Nothing during the night.
||C Sqn.Sgt Foster’s Scout sec climbed MONDRAGONE feature and reported on movement of own Tps on far side. No enemy in sight.
1200 hours. 1Tp and 3Tp were ordered forward to patrol and report on roads. Tracks very narrow (B3) and progress slow. Nothing to report.
0630 hours. Patrols withdrawn. Sqn went into reserve.
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