WW II, a British focus




 

 

War Diaries
For

4rd County of London Yeomanry
September 1939 To July 1944

grant2.gif - 16890 Bytes October 1941 - Missing
November 1941 - Missing
February 1942 -Missing
March 1942 -Missing
April 1942 -Missing
October 1942 - Missing
October 1943 - Missing

January 1941 CO:
Jan 41 4th County of London Yeomanry
1/1/41 Dorking
23/1/41 Lt ED Cameron joined the Regt.
24/1/41 2Lt M Gladstone gazetted to the Regt.
27/1/41 Vehicle Strength.
38 Light tanks Mk 6c, 6 Cruisers Mk IVa A13, 9 scout cars, 1 Humberette, 26 Bedford 3-ton, 12 Bedford 15cwt, 10 Fordson 30cwt, 10 BSA M/C, 6 Matchless M/C, 2 Norton M/C, 3 Norton Comb., 1 Water truck, 1 Office truck, 1 W/T, 1 Austin 7, 1 Bedford HB, 1 Morris DC, 7 Utilities, 8 bicycles.

February 1941 CO:
Feb 41 4th County of London Yeomanry
1/2/41 Dorking
5 - 6 Regt on 1 Armd Div Exercise.
28/2/41 Vehicle Strength.
38 Light tanks Mk 6c, 6 Cruisers Mk IVa A13, 7 Cruiser Mk VI, 9 scout cars, 1 Humberette, 26 Bedford 3-ton, 12 Bedford 15cwt, 10 Fordson 30cwt, 12 BSA M/C, 3 Norton Comb., 1 Water truck, 1 Office truck, 1 W/T, 1 Austin 7, 1 Bedford HB, 1 Morris DC, 7 Utilities, 8 bicycles.

March 1941 CO:
Mar 41 4th County of London Yeomanry
1/3/41 Dorking
5 - 6 Regt on 1 Armd Div Exercise "PANDA".
31/3/41 Vehicle Strength.
21 Light tanks Mk 6c, 6 Cruisers Mk IVa A13, 6 Cruiser Mk V, 23 Cruiser Mk VI, 9 scout cars, 1 Humberette, 22 Bedford 3-ton, 15 Fordson 15cwt, 11 Fordson 30cwt, 14 BSA M/C, 3 Norton Comb., 1 Water truck, 1 Office truck, 1 W/T, 1 Austin 7, 1 Bedford HB, 1 Morris DC, 7 Utilities, 4 Albion 3-ton 6-wheelers, 8 bicycles.

April 1941 CO:
Apr 41 4th County of London Yeomanry
1/4/41 Dorking
30/4/41 Vehicle Strength.
18 Light tanks Mk 6c, 1 Cruisers Mk IVa A13, 6 Cruiser Mk V, 3 Cruiser Mk VI, 9 scout cars, 1 Humberette, 22 Bedford 3-ton, 15 Fordson 15cwt, 11 Fordson 30cwt, 14 BSA M/C, 3 Norton Comb., 1 Water truck, 1 Office truck, 1 W/T, 1 Austin 7, 1 Bedford HB, 1 Morris DC, 7 Utilities, 4 Albion 3-ton 6-wheelers, 8 bicycles.

May 1941 CO:
May 41 4th County of London Yeomanry
1/5/41 Dorking
29/5/41 Regt moved to Warminster.
31/5/41 Vehicle Strength.
17 Light tanks Mk 6c, 1 Cruisers Mk IVa A13, 6 Cruiser Mk V, 8 Cruiser Mk VI, 10 scout cars, 1 Humberette, 22 Bedford 3-ton, 15 Fordson 15cwt, 11 Fordson 30cwt, 14 BSA M/C, 3 Norton Comb., 1 Water truck, 1 Office truck, 1 W/T, 1 Austin 7, 1 Bedford HB, 1 Morris DC, 7 Utilities, 4 Albion 3-ton 6-wheelers, 8 bicycles.

June 1941 CO:
Jun 41 4th County of London Yeomanry
1/6/41 Warminster
11/6/41 A & B Sqns moved to Tinkers Firs.
21/6/41 C Sqn moved to Tinkers Firs.
22/6/41 32 ORs posted from 54 Trng Regt.
30/6/41 Vehicle Strength.
18 Light tanks Mk 6c, 2 Cruisers Mk IVa A13, 6 Cruiser Mk V, 16 Cruiser Mk VI, 10 scout cars, 1 Humberette, 22 Bedford 3-ton, 15 Fordson 15cwt, 11 Fordson 30cwt, 14 BSA M/C, 3 Norton Comb., 1 Water truck, 1 Office truck, 1 W/T, 1 Austin 7, 1 Bedford HB, 1 Morris DC, 7 Utilities, 4 Albion 3-ton 6-wheelers, 8 bicycles.

July 1941 CO:
Jul 41 4th County of London Yeomanry
1/7/41 Warminster
25/7/41 100 ORs at Prime Minister's inspection at Tidworth.
31/7/41 Regt inspected by Their Majesties The King and Queen.
Orders received for the Regt to mobilise for service overseas.
Vehicle Strength.
5 Light tanks Mk 6c, 2 Cruisers Mk IVa A13, 9 Cruiser Mk V, 11 Cruiser Mk VI, 6 American Light tanks M2.A4, 4 American Light Cruisers M.3, 10 scout cars, 1 Humberette, 22 Bedford 3-ton, 15 Fordson 15cwt, 11 Fordson 30cwt, 14 BSA M/C, 3 Norton Comb., 1 Water truck, 1 Office truck, 1 W/T, 1 Austin 7, 1 Bedford HB, 1 Morris DC, 7 Utilities, 4 Albion 3-ton 6-wheelers, 1 Leyland breakdown, 8 bicycles.

August 1941 CO:
Aug 41 4th County of London Yeomanry
1/8/41 Warminster
11/8/41 Tank baggage party left for port of embarkation.
14/8/41 Regt left Warminster for port of embarkation.
15/8/41 Regt embarked on HMT Strathnaver at Liverpool in early morning. Moved out of dock and anchored in mid-stream in afternoon.
Regtl strength 41 officers 603 ORs.
16/8/41 Sailed from Liverpool.
17/8/41 Joined convoy of 5 other ships which included HMT Strathmore and HMT Orion carrying the rest of 22nd Armd Bde.
28/8/41 Convoy arrived at Freetown at 1400.

September 1941 CO:
Sep 41 4th County of London Yeomanry
1/9/41 At Sea
11/8/41 Tank baggage party left for port of embarkation.
11/9/41 Convoy arrived Capetown in the late afternoon. Regt granted shore leave until 2359.
12 - 13 Regtl route march in the morning, shore leave from 1300 - 2359.
14/9/41 Convoy left Capetown at 1200. CO left the ship to fly to destination with Brigadier.
26/9/41 Convoy arrived Aden. HMT Strathnaver remained outside harbour bar until early on 27.
30/9/41 HMT Strathnaver left Aden for Suez.

October 1941 - Missing

November 1941 - Missing

December 1941 CO:
Dec 41 4th County of London Yeomanry
1 - 13 Settled down at 458330 to re-form, collect tanks and personnel. People turned up from all over the place and very soon we had accounted for nearly everybody.
Tanks came in gradually from various workshops, most of them in a fairly bad state and ill-equipped. From here and there a certain amount of kit was collected and finally by 13th Dec we had collected 32 semi-serviceable tanks. 3 CLY had about the same and 2 RGH had been equipped with M3 and sent up to join 4 Armd Bde and the 'Jock Column'.
On the 6th Dec we sent a composite Sqn under Major Lord Cranley to join 4 Armd Bde. Nine tanks of our own with Capt Smallwood, Lt Maugham, Lt Skelton and 2Lt Melville, four tanks from 2 RGH and 3 tanks from 3 CLY.
On 11th Dec we sent up B Sqn under Capt Hill Wood, with eleven crews to take over from Major Lord Cranley, who returned.
Whilst attached to 4 Armd Bde, Tprs Pooley and Wheeler were killed.
Finally orders were received for the Bde to form up as an independent Bde with a Regt of RHA, A/T gunners and a Btn of infantry under command.
14/12/41 Left 458330 with 32 tanks for BIR LEFA; four tanks dropped out on the way.
15-17 Remained at BIR LEFA collecting more tanks. Capt Hill Wood evacuated to TOBRUK hospital.
Rejoined by B Sqn with 12 tanks.
18/12/41 Moved off from BIR LEFA at 0730 with 47 tanks (15 on transporters) to take over from 4 Armd Bde. Arrived at BIR GRIMA (76 miles).
19-22 Moved off to MICKLE area and did about 23 miles and stopped at T 9858 with 36 tanks.
Joined up with L/N Bty 2 RHA, two troops 102 NH C Coy, 9 RB. Otherwise did nothing.
23/12/41 Moved off 68 miles towards SAUNNU, arrived with 33 tanks. Whole column was rather clumsy to move and the going was very bad in places.
24/12/41 Moved on towards SAUNNU but got rather South and stopped for the night at M of RUGBET ER RETEM. A few tanks had caught us up and we now totalled 35.
25/12/41 Spent Christmas Day waiting for petrol to arrive, which it eventually did about 1600hrs. Did not move that day.
26/12/41 Moved off early towards BIR HASSIAT, contacted "Reeds's Column" and the Royals on the way.
About 1500hrs a small column was sighted to our left flank and we turned South to attack it. Ourselves leading, 3 CLY left and 2 RGH right. The column turned out to be about 3 tanks, some guns and transport. We attacked with C Sqn leading, A sqn on the right and B Sqn left reserve. We were fairly heavily shelled by their guns and replied with out own. The tanks ran away and we went after them, firing at fairly long ranges.
C Sqn damaged one tank and put out of action one gun on tractor, and A Sqn shot up two transports and some infantry.
Action was broken off at dark and we leaguered in that area.
27/12/41 Moved off early to CHOR ES SUFAN with 29 tanks. Forward troops contacted the enemy about 5 miles East of ultimate objective. We were on the left, 3 CLY centre and 2 RGH right and Bde HQ and mixed column in the basin behind. On contact B Sqn pushed forward and A Sqn was sent round on the left. It was some time before contact was made with 3 CLY on the right and before A Sqn got up on the left to form a front, B Sqn were engaged in a lively battle with the enemy inclining to retire towards high ground at TUAN EL NAAN, where they obviously had a very strong position.
About 12 tanks remained at the North end of the valley and our patrol on the left reported the South end held by a strong A/Tk gun position, the whole of the line of high ground of TUAN EL NAAN was held by tanks estimated to be about 20. Every time we moved forward to attack the 12 tanks in the valley (from which no movement was seen after the first two hours), we were heavily shelled from the high ground. A & B Sqns remained in observation for the rest of the day, C Sqn having been withdrawn earlier on.
The enemy obviously had a very strong position and our left flank patrol under Lt MacColl was unable to find their right flank and 2 RGH were unable to get round in the North. Owing to the lie of the ground it was impossible to see the strength of the concentration beyond the high ground.
We had no casualties and one enemy tank was destroyed. We leaguered in the basin behind for the night.
28/12/41 At first light we reoccupied our approximate positions and the enemy were still on the high ground to the West. During the morning there were various reports of movement of troops and column of MET. It was clear that the force against us was considerable and from the tank that was destroyed on the previous day, which was new, they obviously had reinforcements. We had 25 tanks.
About 1200hrs reports were received that a large column with guns and tanks was moving SE down the track from AGEDABIA. This column soon came in sight on our right rear flank some five miles away; at the same time the enemy tanks on high ground in the West moved down from their positions towards us. Our left flank patrol under 2Lt MacColl had been unable to find the right flank of the enemy, but connected up with 12th Lancers who were in that area, who also reported the SW end of high ground strongly held.
2 RGH were ordered to face North and NE to deal with the threat from that quarter. The enemy had got guns in position and about ten tanks were reported. 3 CLY and ourselves faced the advancing tanks from the West. We were able to get excellent hull down positions and were ready for a really good shoot. The shelling of our position from both sides was pretty heavy and necessitated Bde HQ moving off due South to avoid the shelling and also to get back out of the encircling movement from the East. Our guns also moved back South into a new position.
All this time the enemy tanks moved on across the valley and as they came nearer were an excellent target. They were mostly Mark III. C Sqn were withdrawn about 1400hrs and A & B Sqns with 3 CLY still held their positions and were inflicting heavy losses on the enemy.
At about 1500hrs when we still had the tank position in the West well in hand, orders were received to withdraw and conform in original position on BIR HASSIAT.
3 CLY and 2 RGH withdrew first, leaving A & B Sqns as rear guard. 102nd NH [Northumberland Hussars?], who had a very good shoot on the left of B Sqn, were also withdrawn. By the time the mixed columns were collected, the encircling movement of the enemy in the East had made it impossible to move in that direction, so the column moved off South, collecting the Gunners on the way. A & B Sqns were then ordered to withdraw gradually, fighting a rearguard action. The enemy tanks, when they saw the general withdrawal movement, came after us at a great pace. Owing to the need of getting the Gunners out and owing to the fact that 2 RGH were nearly out of petrol and all tanks were short of ammunition, no stand could be made until nearly dark, although there were some excellent positions to take up, in particular on the WADI FAREGH.
During this withdrawal RHQ was heavily dive-bombed, but no casualties resulted. Just as it was getting dark and petrol supplies were reported on the way, a stand was made, but by then it was too late and the enemy had halted. The remains of the Regt were collected and leaguered for the night about 7 miles South of BIR HASSIAT. A1 Echelon arrived with petrol and ammunition. It was estimated that there were at least 50 tanks against us from the West and about 12 from the North. The number of tanks that followed us up was counted by the rear guard as 28. A, B & C Sqns accounted for 20 enemy tanks and many more were hit. Our shooting from excellent positions was very good and it was a great pity that we had to withdraw.
Capt Smallwood, Capt Cameron, Lt Maugham, SSM Vine and many others did excellent work on the rearguard.
We finished the action with 18 tanks. Personnel casualties were:-
Killed-Sgt Ball
Wounded-Lt Smith,
 Lt Sorby & 3 ORs.

Although we inflicted considerable damage on the enemy, it was depressing not holding the battle field.
29/12/41 Moved off at first light to join Bde five miles North of BIR HASSIAT. Left there about midday and took up positions at BELANDAH facing South and SE to protect left flank of Gds Bde.
The enemy were still reported in some force in the area TUAN EL NAAN, with news of big columns on the move about AGEDABIA. No action took place that day. Our gunners shot up a couple of transports during the night that had strayed from their route. We had 17 tanks.
30/12/41 Took up battle positions in the same location, 2 RGH left, 3 CLY centre, ourselves right. By 0900hrs it was evident that the enemy intended to attack our position from the South and SE. By now we had only 14 tanks. At 0930 the enemy started to advance, moving across our front in a Northerly direction. They came in a very steady line, about 40 of them in the first advance. This northward movement made it necessary to move the Bde line about 1000 yards NE and by doing this it left us in the impossible position of trying to keep contact with 3 CLY on our left and still keep observation on our right flank which became completely exposed. At this juncture the CO broke a track and had to get into another tank. The enemy were now within very short range, but although the country was quite favourable, it was difficult to hold a line. All the remaining tanks of C Sqn were out of action and there was little left of A & B Sqns. Major Kidston then took command of the whole front and after some time managed to form a line with 2 RGH, 3 CLY and the few remaining tanks of our own. Having formed a protective flank to the gunners etc, the line gradually withdrew North.
It was a most unsatisfactory battle in every way. Almost from the start we were not an effective force and the move NE made it impossible for us to hold our front with so few tanks. The enemy were very quick to realise our position and in a very short time split their front attack and switched half of the force back towards our right flank. In this battle they had A/Tk guns right up with the tanks. They seemed to appear from nowhere. The Regt accounted for 6 tanks of the enemy and lost, either through enemy action or breakdowns, 12 tanks. Actually nearly all these were mechanical failures.
Capt Smallwood at one time had 16 men on his tank, which he had rescued from the battlefield. We leaguered for the night just South of BU GABBAD.
We had five tanks left, one of which was a non-runner.
Battle casualties:-
Missing-Sgt Van der Linde and his crew
 -Sgt Jones and his crew (less driver)
Wounded-1 OR
31/12/41 At first light mixed column left the Bde and went to support the Gds Bde. We moved off at midday and settled down for the night in the ANTELAT area.

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