WW II, a British focus  



War Diaries

The Royal Tank Regiment
August 1939 To March 1946

  • May 1941
  • October 1941
  • November 1941
  • December 1941
  • September 1942
Royal Tank Regiment Badge

January 1941 CO: Lt Col LS Harland MC
Jan 41 6th Royal Tank Regiment
1/1/41 The Regt remained in the same location 484404 with A Sqn at the foot of the NW escarpment overlooking the main TOBRUK – BARDIA road. A recce forward along this road was made by the 2i/c in the morning. He came under shell fire. The CO also recced a position on the escarpment for a forward RHQ. After a conference held by Brigadier Gott at the position, it was chosen as the position for the Support Group Forward HQ.
It was expected that 2nd January would be D1 but in the evening everything was postponed for 24 hours.
Major GJ Dean returned from leave and took over command of C Sqn.
2/1/41 The Support Group HQ moved to the top of the escarpment at Pt 217 at 1700 hrs; RHQ moved at 1500 hrs and established its self at the foot of the escarpment 49924014. A field telephone set (Italian) was placed at a point at the top of the escarpment from which it would be possible to direct the battle if the enemy tried to withdraw from BARDIA along the road to the West. This was connected to another set on the command tank from which orders could be relayed to the Sqn.
C Sqn lay to the West of HQ and A Sqn was North of the road one mile West of BIR MENASTIR. Replenishing took place in this area at 1600 hrs.
Capt JH Gabe cut his hand badly at lunch time and had to report sick. He therefore did not go forward with RHQ.
3/1/41 Today was D1 and the following account is compiled from Major TCA Clarke’s notes.
0600 – RHQ remained in position at the foot of the escarpment with C Sqn on the West and A Sqn North of the road at track junction one mile West of BIR MENASTIR. The Light Half Sqn (6 light tanks) of A Sqn, under command of Major Mills, went forward to the Western edge of the aerodrome.
0700 – A Sqn light tanks made a demonstration against the BARDIA defences at ranges from 1500 to 500 yards.
0850 – The Australians were reported to be in the centre of BARDIA with 8,000 prisoners.
0950 – HQ moved to 504401.
1100 – The light half Sqn demonstrated up to 500 yards, they were shelled and withdrew to 1500 yards.
1200 – HQ moved to BIR MENASTIR.
1400 – C Sqn light half Sqn were ordered to relieve A Sqn light tanks. There was some delay in carrying out this order but by 1515 hrs both A & C Sqns light tanks were up together at the aerodrome.
1452 – The Regt was ordered to assist the Free French Forces into BARDIA if feasible, but not to go in itself.
1515 – The Regt advanced to the aerodrome.
1525 – It was necessary to withdraw to BIR MENASTIR as the shell fire was heavy but the A Sqn light tanks remained on the aerodrome about 1500 yards from the defences.
1540 – The light tank patrols were ordered to withdraw except for two troops commanded by 2Lt PJ Craen and 2Lt JVC Mason.
1545 – 2Lt JVC Mason of C Sqn reached the aerodrome.
1610 – The Free French started of and de-trucked two miles from the aerodrome and advanced on foot.
1630 – The light tank patrols reported heavy shell fire.
1645 – 2Lt JVC Mason went off the air after his operator had called that he was wounded, his set then going ‘Dis’. 2Lt PJ Craen’s tank was hit and he was wounded. Three light tanks were reported out of action.
1700 – Major GJ Dean and 2Lt SW Porter went forward to tow out the broken down tanks.
1725 – All patrols back at RHQ except for 2Lt Mason’s tank.
1730 – Major TCA Clarke went forward at dusk. 2Lt Mason’s tank was found about 500 yards SW of the gateway into BARDIA, on fire. There was no trace of the crew.
1740 – The Free French were seen getting into their trucks as 2i/c reached one mile West of the aerodrome.
1800 – The Regt went into leaguer one mile West of the previous night. Replenishment took place in this area at 1900 hrs.
The wounded were taken back to the ABS 22 miles away at Rear Support Group HQ, above the escarpment at BIR IUNES. The last eight miles of this journey in a 15cwt ambulance caused great suffering to the wounded as it was over a very bad track. In spite of the gallant efforts of the medical personnel during the journey and at the ADS it was clear that had there been a big battle and many casualties, the medical arrangements would have proved absolutely inadequate.
4/1/41 RHQ were at 498402 at the foot of the escarpment; the two Sqns lay to the East. Demonstrating patrols were made by Capt FCKM Laing with the light tanks of C Sqn as before on the aerodrome. In the course of the morning there were reports of men and MET inside the defences but visibility was consistently poor owing to continuous dust clouds. During the morning A Sqn stood by for action to support C Sqn but were not called for. At midday there was no enemy movement seen.
1405 – Vehicles appeared to be replenishing inside the defences. This target was reported on by the patrols and the report was passed through the link to the Support Group. Within five minutes the gunners had registered on the vehicles.
1600 – Enemy MET and a formed body of men marching South and other men sitting on piles of stones lounging about were reported. The 11th Hussars suggested that this was the Australians forming up prisoners.
1630 – A warning order was received from the Support Group HQ that the Regt might return to come under command 4th Armd Bde if the whole Div should move on TOBRUK.
1800 – Our patrols withdrew.
The situation in BARDIA was obscure all day. There was little accurate information as to what was going on inside BARDIA, even at Bde HQ.
On the night 4/5th January a patrol of the Rifle Brigade together with 2Lt SW Porter and the Regtl Medical Officer went forward and searched for the missing crew of 2Lt Mason’s tank. They found the crew still inside the tank which had been burnt out.
During the night BARDIA fell.
5/1/41 The CO and Major HWH Mills went forward to the burnt out tank and buried the remains nearby (50983990). The Commanding Officer read the burial service. Brigadier Gott, Commander of Support Group, sent a letter of sympathy and appreciation to the CO.
Orders were received from HQ 4th Armd Bde to move at once to cross roads at 481411. Replenishment took place here at 1600 hrs. the Regt then moved 18 miles along the road to 450316 together with petrol lorries and B1 Echelon and were in position by 2015 hrs. 2Lt DF Bune left to go on leave and 2Lt SDG Longworth rejoined the Regt from LOB. The code names were changed on rejoining HQ 4th Armd Bde.
6/1/41 No move was expected all day. At 1800 hrs a warning order was received to be prepared to move to area SE of EL ADEM.
Two Bedouins walked into the leaguer selling eggs which were exchanged for jam. Every man in HQ had an egg. For security reasons the two had to be retained until permission from Bde had been given to release them. Replenishment was carried out after dark at 2130 hrs. B Echelon had been kept waiting all day under orders of HQ 4th Armd Bde. There was no enemy air activity observed throughout the day.
7/1/41 The Regt remained in position. The main TOBRUK – BARDIA road was like the road to Brighton on a Bank Holiday with troops and transport moving up in preparation for the attack on TOBRUK. No enemy air activity was observed all day. WE heard that EL ADEM aerodrome had fallen and many enemy planes had been left abandoned. In the evening we were put at 15 minutes notice to move, but the CO decided that everyone was to bed down at 2000 hrs. replenishment took place at 1800 hrs. the route for the possible move had been recced by 2Lt AR Crickmay in the morning. 2Lt DW Dunstone rejoined the Regt from LOB.
8/1/41 The Regt moved at 1030 hrs from 450416 the route being 445417 437411 437409 422409 to 417405. This route which avoided the roads which led to our destination SE of EL ADEM aerodrome was specially ordered to avoid thermos bombs, numerous reports having been received of them being dropped into the area to which the Regt was moving. The Regt was in position at 1445 hrs. replenishment took place at 1630 hrs in the same area. EL ADEM aerodrome was in sight 7 miles away. It was visited but found to be stripped. A great deal of AA fire was seen over TOBRUK.
9/1/41 The regt moved at 1500 hrs North to the TRIGH CAPUZZO – West to North and South 404 Grid Line, thence North to track over escarpment BIR BAIRUNA 405415. The Regt moved in line ahead for fear of thermos bombs until clear of EL ADEM aerodrome. Replenishment took place at 1900 hrs. there were great fireworks near TOBRUK. A large number of further maps arrived today – large scale overprinted maps of the TOBRUK defences and maps of the BENGHAZI area. Otherwise there has been little information. Operation Orders today give our role as ‘Tapping in’ on TOBRUK defences and a ‘Stepping’ role on the road in our centre. Patrols are out about 2 miles near EL ADEM aerodrome South and SW is an enormous supply dump.
10/1/41 The Regt remained in the same position with patrols forward all day. A Sqn patrol was commanded by 2Lt DG Selby, C Sqn under Capt Laing. Very little was reported by our patrols, they were shelled intermittently. The CO went up to the forward patrols in the morning , Major TCA Clarke visited 2nd RTR and the Adjt went to Bde HQ. Padre Roger visited us for tea. Replenishment took place at 2030 hrs. late replenishment keeps people awake when otherwise they would normally have got down to it.
From 1830 to 1930 hrs there was an artillery duel. The enemy seemed to putting a barrage on the road to our right, but this road is not in our sector. C Sqn patrol reported defensive barrage from 1725 – 35 ½ mile in front of the enemy’s position.
11/1/41 The regt remained in the same position with patrols in the same areas as before. The CO and 2i/c both visited the patrols in the course of the day. The CO also visited Bde HQ and saw Col Birke. It is decided that there will be no leave as no transport is available. There is also no likelihood of B Echelon being brought up in daylight as the Bde Commander still thinks that the risk from the air is too great. There has been no enemy air activity seen today but there has been quite a lot of shelling. It fell amongst 2nd RTR last night, who were on our right. The enemy have at least two guns capable of shelling EL ADEM aerodrome to our right rear, and we are within range. Shells can often be heard passing overhead.
C Sqn was so accurately shelled at 0300 hrs this morning that the patrol commander, Capt Laing, thought that it was possible that the enemy had an OP out with a telephone line, but Bde Commander does not think that this is possible.
Today Lt G Denmeade and 2Lt TH Harvey arrived having completed their course at the OCTU. They will act as HTA and Signal Officer respectively. For the moment 2Lt Harvey is attached to A Sqn.
12/1/41 No change in the situation outwardly, our patrols are in the same positions. A Sqn patrols commanded by 2Lt DG Sebley and C Sqn patrol by 2Lt DW Dunstone. The haze and dust make observation difficult – the best time for our observation being in the early morning and evening. Replenishment took place as usual after dark, but owing to very full moonlight no great difficulty is experienced in finding ones way about.
Padre Rogers held a service at RHQ and Major Chute visited us from 2nd RTR.
13/1/41 No change, light tank patrols as usual, A Sqn commanded by 2Lt AH Crickmay and C Sqn by SSM Rivers. CO visited Bde HQ and 2i/c went to 2nd RTR.
14/1/41 Situation still unchanged. Patrols commanded by 2Lt Sebley and Capt Laing. Battledress was issued to all ranks, a welcome change from ‘drills’, but a bit late at 1900 hrs. great credit is due to Commander RHQ Sqn and B Echelon, and to his officers for their regular way in which they kept us supplied with rations and other small comforts.
The CO returned from Bde with the information that a party from the 5th RTR was coming to affiliate to us for a while. Many members of this Regt have served with the 5th and it was hoped to meet old friends again.
After replenishment had taken place a signal was received instructing the Medical Officer to test the water as a dead donkey had been found in the well!! This caused both consternation and amusement; the water at the best of times was not good. Later a further signal was received cancelling this.
2Lt AH Crickmay proceeded on leave laden with cash and instructions for the purchase of canteen stuff. These have always been hard to come by of late as the time those in the forward area reaching a canteen it was almost invariably sold out to those who were in the back areas and on the spot.
15/1/41 No change in the situation. Brigadier Rimmington and his Brigade Major, Major Uni??e, visited us in the morning. He is commanding a Bde in the 2nd Armd Div.
16/1/41 Regt still in same position with usual patrols forward. Information was received from Bde that the 2nd RTR were to withdraw into reserve. An Australian Bde was moving up our right flank. The day of the battle is now fixed, and if TOBRUK falls we will be moving West towards DERNA. A new type of enemy bomber aircraft was reported as being seen near DERNA – possibly a German. No air activity over our area.
At dusk, the 7th Hussars, on our left flank brought up two Cruisers and fired a few rounds at the SW defences. This produced large volumes of defensive gun fire from the Italians and the firing of many verey lights, which lasted for about 45 mins.
17/1/41 At 0800 the CO attended a conference at Bde HQ and was told the plan for the attack. No operation order received as yet. It was learned today that Major-General JC Tilly had died. He was well known to most of us. Intelligence Summary confirmed that German aircraft have been seen.
18/1/41 CO and Adjt conference at Bde. The CO was informed that the Regt was to withdraw from the line and hand over tanks and vehicles. A very welcome surprise which was later marred by the instruction that crews were to remain with the tanks, but not officers. It must be almost unprecedented for officers to have to leave behind in the line men, with whom they have fought and commanded for the past 9 months, and for themselves, to retire out of the line leaving their men with a strange unit and under command of strange officers.
The reason for this was that the Regt taking over the tanks were not in a position to man them until reinforcements could be obtained. The CO was promised that our men should be relieved at the earliest opportunity. It was eventually agreed that we could send an officer from each Sqn with the crews.
13 light tanks, 11 Cruisers and 24 wheeled vehicles were to be handed over to 1st RTR, 2nd RTR, 4th RHA and 7th Hussars. The hand over was to be completed by 0600 hrs 19th January.The patrol duties were taken over by 2nd RTR at midday. A bad dust storm blew all day which hindered the preparations for the handover and reduced visibility for the patrols to less than 100 yards. 2Lt JR Cruttwell rejoined the Regt from the XII List.
19/1/41 Handover of vehicles was completed by 0600 hrs. remainder of Regt moved off at 1400 hrs to B Echelon leaguer area where the rest of the wheeled vehicles were parked. Move off from leaguer at 1500 hrs and arrived in leaguer area for the night 463387 at 1745 hrs and came under command 7th Armd div. The regt was now carried on wheels, totalling 36 vehicles in all, including captured Italian lorries, without which it would have been impossible to move. Major TCA Clarke left in the morning to report to Rear HQ 7th Armd Div for further instructions. No information as where we were to go has as yet been received. Major Clarke met the convoy at about 1600 hrs and said that it was possible that our final destination would be Cairo.
20/1/41 Lt Col Bowring AA & QMG visited us in the morning, but still had no definite instructions as to the final destination, but said that the Regt was to move to SIDI BARRANI until further orders were received.The CO and Major Clarke left at 1400 hrs to go to advanced HQ, BTE at Gap 32 on the wire, to try and get more definite orders. Major Mills, 2Lt Ball and SSM Rivers also left as advance party to prepare camp site at SIDI BARRANI. Remainder moved off under command of Major GJ Dean at 1430 hrs, and arrived at a point 1 mile West of Gap 40 at 1730 hrs and leaguered for the night.
21/1/41 Major GJ Dean and Capt WI Miller went forward to meet the CO at Gap 38. A single enemy aircraft dropped bombs to the NE of the leaguer area at about 0700 hrs. Capt Miller returned at 0930 hrs and moved up the convoy through Gap 38.
Our orders were to go to SIDI BARRANI where we were to remain. No other information could be obtained except that it was the orders of the GOC-in-C. 12 more men were picked up at ADW which was located here. One was struck by the numbers of unserviceable vehicles of all types lying about and the lack of effort or organisation to repair them.
The decent of SOLLUM HILL was accomplished without mishap and the convoy proceeded to SIDI BARRANI via BUQ BUQ. Those of us who knew SOLLUM before the war felt sorry to see this historic and picturesque old village in ruins.
As we approached BARRANI from the West we passed the scene of the Regt’s encounter with an Italian convoy when it got astride the road and cut the pipe line on 9th December 1940. Many of the lorries which were captured and destroyed were still lying derelict.
Major Mills met us at BARRANI and led us to out camp site on the sea East of MAKTILLA at Kilo 110. On the way we passed the battlefield where the Regt fought on the 10th & 11th of December. A halt was called and the Coldstream Guards Cemetery was visited. At 1700 hrs the Regt arrived in the camp area.
22/1/41 The CO and Major Mills left by road to go on leave to Cairo. Major Clarke and the Adjt went to SIDI BARRANI and made admin arrangements with the Staff Captain. For the remainder it was a day of ‘make & mend’.
23/1/41 The first leave party of 25 ORs left for MATRUH. 2Lt HB Ball also left on leave. Major Clarke, Major Dean, Capt Miller and the Adjt Capt Aldridge, went over the battlefield. The track shed by Sgt Merry’s tank was found still in position.
24/1/41 Second leave party of 25 ORs and Capt Laing left for Matruh.
2Lt DF Bune returned from leave. 4 miles East of camp the 22 Australian field workshop were repairing some captured tanks (M11), a party of men went down and inspected and drove them. Major Clarke and the Adjt also tried one. The general opinion was that mechanically they appeared to be quite good tanks but as a fighting machine they were vastly inferior to our Cruiser tanks.
25/1/41 The third leave party of 25 ORs left for MATRUH. Lt H Barker RAMC proceeded on leave. 2Lt AH Crickmay returned from leave.Major Clarke received a letter from Major Mills with instructions that as many as possible of the 12 medium tanks buried in the MATRUH defences were to be dug out and made to run. The reason for this is not known.
26/1/41 The fourth leave party of 25 ORs and Capt WI Miller left for Cairo. Lt G Dermeade RTA, went to Matruh with a small fitter staff to inspect the medium tanks and estimate the spares required.
Major Clarke and Major Dean met Brigadier Selby at Kilo 125 and went over the battlefield. Major Clarke obtained permission from the Brigadier to move the Regt nearer to MATRUH and the railhead, in order that the repair to the medium tanks could be facilitated and to relieve our already over-taxed transport. It was arranged that the Regt should move on 28th January. Twelve of our men returned from 1st RTR and two from 2nd RTR.
27/1/41 Major TCA Clarke left in the morning for MATRUH to choose a camp site and make the necessary admin arrangements. It started to blow a sandstorm in the afternoon and by the evening it was blowing a gale.
28/1/41 Regt left for MATRUH at 0900 hrs under command of Major GJ Dean; 30 vehicles in all, including Italian lorries. The sandstorm continued unabated and made driving, due to poor visibility extremely difficult. An hour halt for lunch at 1230 hrs near Kilo 52 was made, and the head of the column arrived in MATRUH at 1500 hrs where it was met by Major Clarke who led the way West along the coast road for about 4 miles. The camp site was well chosen, amongst some palm trees about 300 yards from the shore.
In the evening a signal was received stating the Regt would return to MENA. Move orders would follow. Very welcome news for all.
The leave party of 17 left as usual for Cairo. Five more of our men rejoined from 2nd RTR. 2Lt Dunstone went to hospital at MATRUH suffering from an infection in the throat.
29/1/41 The day was spent settling in to camp and reorganising preparatory to a further move. Stores that had been left at MEMIN dump were fetched and checked. Final arrangements were made in preparation for the repair of the medium tanks in the MATRUH defences.
31/1/41 Movement orders were received. The Adjt reported to HQ Matruh Sub-area and the Regt is to move 1st February 1941.

February 1941 CO: Lt Col LS Harland MC
Feb 41 6th Royal Tank Regiment
1/2/41 Major GJ Dean and road party left for Cairo. The CO, Major WI Miller, 2Lt HB Ball and SSM W Rivers reported to MENA Zone HQ and discovered which camp had allocated to the Regt. The camp was still occupied by an Australian Signals Unit but 2Lt Ball and SSM Rivers and a small party of men who had also finished their leave, took possession of part of the lines and started to prepare for the arrival of the Regt.
2/2/41 Today the rear party arrived, Major Dean, Lt G Denmeade, 2Lts AH Crickmay and WEJ Harrison. The Australians were still in the camp, but the arrival of the acting Quartermaster, RSM C McComb and a few vehicles soon enabled some sort of accommodation and feeding arrangements to be organised. The scale of tentage was adequate although some of the tents were rather shabby.
3/2/41 B Sqn arrived mounted in what the rest of the Regt considered a very ample scale of transport, Major JG Stephens, Capt REM Milner, Capt CC Hulton, Lt R Ainsley, 2Lt TJ Troward and 2Lt JEG Permuy.
B Sqn arrived at least a day earlier than was expected. They had been stationed for a while at AMRIYA and had been away from the Regt for some months.
4/2/41 The rail party from MATRUH arrived at CAIRO main station at 0645 hrs, Major TCA Clarke, the Adjt, 2Lt DF Bune and 2Lt TH Harvey. They were brought to MENA camp from the station in our own transport. The Field Officers and the Adjt were allowed to live at their homes, but there was a lot of work to do – office work and drawing up camp kit and stores. All the Regtl contractors badgered Major Miller, the PMC, but were forced by Zone HQ to accept their general contractor.
5/2/41 Today was the first day that the whole Regt spent together for several months. Preparations were made for courses. Two of the few available buildings were set aside as D&M and wireless schools. One room was wired for the wireless course by 2Lt TH Harvey.
6/2/41 Major HWH Mills and a party of 20 experienced fitters set off for MATRUH to dig out the old medium tanks that had been dug-in as pillboxes in the MATRUH defences. Late at night our first disturbing intimation came in the form of warning orders to move with the 8th Hussars to take over duties from the 1st Welsh Regt at Alexandria. However the clerks wisely tho’ perhaps wickedly slept on it and we spent a peaceful instead of worried night. The dreadful news became widely known the following morning.
7/2/41 At first it was rumoured that we should have to move on Saturday 8th but no orders came through today. There has been much preparation and packing up of lorries.
8/2/41 Orders came through this morning, we are to move by road and rail and the train is to be packed by 1800 hrs. all our transport is packed up and the RASC is carrying our baggage to GIZA station. The advance party was Capt CC Hulton and RQMS Wright. They left at midday. It should be recorded that the Garrison Adjutant of MENA Zone HQ was most helpful throughout.
9/2/41 The Regt moved in two parties. The train party started leaving at 0745 hrs, the train itself leaving at 1000 hrs. RASC supplied transport to take the parties down to the station. The road party under Major Miller left at 0830 hrs, a time which had been fixed to fit in with other convoys on the Alexandria road. The Adjt and Major Clarke left earlier in the morning to go to Area HQ at Alexandria in order to get instructions regarding the move into Mustapha Barracks. The CO went ahead in his own car and arrived in time for late lunch, and the road party arrived about 1730 hrs.
Lt R Ainsley and a party of 20 ORs were left behind in Cairo to attend courses at the RAC Base Depot schools.
The Co and the Adjt saw the Area Commander together with the 8th Hussars. The Hussars suggested that as they had left their HQ in Cairo they should place their Regt under our command so that we should have enough men to perform all the duties that were required. However the CO refused to accept this proposal and these negotiations ended in deadlock.
10/2/41 An advanced HQ went to Mustapha barracks and lived in the Welch regiment mess. We also started our duties and sent off our first party of escorts and train guards. In the meantime the District Commander had ruled that the 8th Hussars would leave their HQ in Cairo and a detachment under Major FRW Howe (virtually the whole Regt without the officers) would come under command 6th RTR. A Sqn of the 8th Hussars took over SMOUHA Prisoner of War Camp.
11/2/41 The acting QM (RSM) and the Sqn representatives moved into Mustapha and started taking over the barracks and learning our new duties. They were very considerable. The Regt has to man a complete Garrison and also produce numerous funeral parties and train guards. The understanding is that the 8th Hussars should undertake most of the escort parties while we concentrate on Regtl and Garrison duties.
12/1/41 The Garrison Police provided by us moved in today to understudy the Welch Regt who are still at 6 hours notice to move. We sent more escort and funeral parties today. The Sidi Bishr mess is quite comfortable and the men are housed in good tents. The dining hall tent which we put up ourselves was nearly blown over by the gale.
14/1/41 Lt Col LS Harland MC went on leave to Cairo today in the hope of seeing the authorities there and explaining the difficulties we were faced with as a Tank Regt – our large number of skilled personnel and high proportion of NCOs which make it hard for us to do infantry duties. The Welch have orders to leave tomorrow.
15/1/41 The Welch moved out of Mustapha today leaving a large rear party to hand over the barracks. The whole 6th RTR and detachment of 8th Hussars is now quite comfortably established in barrack rooms and the Mess is beginning to take shape. We have wired the CO to bring back some linen for the table.
16/1/41 The Regt was far too busy taking over the barracks and organising offices and stores to be able to attend church parade today. We unearthed a ‘Black Hole of Calcutta’ in the local Detention Room which was overcrowded with people either not charged at all or else with charges brought against them but waiting escort to be provided by their own units, possibly 500 miles away.
17/2/41 The CO returned from Cairo at 1200 hrs and Major Clarke left for Cairo with certain jobs to do and people to see and then to take some leave. The Regt continued to settle down in barracks and officers began to make special contacts in Alexandria. We were made welcome at the Union Club.
18/2/41 The CO saw the Area Commander today and Major E Genochie visited the Regt. There was not only no talk of the Regt moving out but Major Genochie was heard to say that there was no chance of it happening for some months. Capt CC Hulton went on leave.
19/2/41 The first rumours of our impending move came by telephone at 1100 hrs. no actual orders were received until 1630 hrs. We are to move to TOBRUK to take over the transport vehicles of 2nd RTR and we are handing over our own to Major Chute here. He is here alone to take over 41 vehicles, having received orders while on leave. Urgent telegrams were sent out recalling the people on leave and the schools party at Abbassia.
20/2/41 The stores and baggage were all sent down to the ship for loading early this morning. The Regt was just forming up to move out of the Garrison to Sidi Gabr station when the CO brought back the Area Commander, who took the salute at a little impromptu parade at which he expressed himself as very much pleased. We left at about 1150 hrs and were taken down to the docks by train. On arrival the troops detrained and sorted out their personal bedding and kit which had been brought down by truck. They then had to wait on the quayside until we started embarking at 1430 hrs.
The Regt embarked on HMS CHAKLA a BI boat normally employed for coastal work round India. B Sqn was transported in ‘The Knight of Malta’ a ship which slowed down the whole convoy and which normally runs from Malta to Sicily.
At first the CHAKLA looked to be inadequate but as it turned out, everyone was made very comfortable in one way or another. We set sail at 1630 hrs.
Lt CJ Allison OBE reported today as Quartermaster. He came from the 7th RTR where he had been RSM. This was a hard blow to RSM McComb who had been acting QM since 10th Nov when Capt Sutherland left the Regt. Major TCA Clarke, 2Lts PJ Crean and SW Porter and the RAC Base Depot party arrived 0300 hrs this morning.
2Lt DG Sebley was left as i/c rear party with RSM McComb who has also been armed with a handsome recommendation to take to HQ British Troops in Egypt. Half the 2nd Lieutenants assumed extra badges of rank.
21/2/41 Today was a restful day which everyone seemed to enjoy. It was spent slowly cruising along the coast. We passed MATRUH at about 1230 hrs and in the afternoon an accordion player kept everyone amused.
22/2/41 We arrived at TOBRUK at 1400 hrs. the first tug left heavily loaded at B.45. the whole Regt was as it were, dumped on the quayside, but fortunately there was only one air raid alarm and that with no results. We were taken in Italian transport to the Australian Staging Camp, which lay in a wadi with a few palm trees in it, 5 miles West of the town on the coast. He we had to do for the night as best we could. Most of the men found holes in the hillside as protection from the wind and sand which blew heavily all night.
23/2/41 Today was spent resting in the reinforcement camp. Some people bathed. The 5th RTR are at El Adem exactly at the spot which we left a few weeks ago, and we came under command of Colonel Drew. The 5th RTR transport is moving us to the area occupied by 2nd RTR before we came away, tomorrow. There is some hope that we shall get into some tents.
24/2/41 We moved today to 409414 at 0930 hrs arriving at 1100 hrs, move complete 1630 hrs. soon after our arrival Jim Richardson came as LO from 2nd RTR to say that the whole of 4th Armd Bde is arriving and taking up a position North of 16 – 20 Kilo on the Derna road today. We sent 70 drivers to sleep the night with 2nd RTR and to be ready to take over vehicles tomorrow morning.
The CO saw Brigadier JAL Caunter MC and the rest of HQ 4th Armd Bde today and the Brigadier said how sorry he was that we were not going to be with them.
25/2/41 We took over 56 vehicles today and we are sending one Sqn forward as soon as possible to start taking over M13s at Beda Fomm.
26/2/41 Today was spent in drawing tents and stores for A Sqn to move off tomorrow. The CO is going forward to make contact with HQ Cyrenaica Command at Barce. The Adjt went on leave and Lt HB Ball assumed his duties.
27/2/41 The CO set off at 0800 hrs with 2Lt GNT Ferguson in two vehicles with Lt E Delson as A Sqn LO in a third. A Sqn complete and Capt G Denmeade with the LAD and selected tank drivers and 2nd Lt TH Harvey with the Signal Troop were clear of camp by 1200 hrs. they have taken rations for 7 days and petrol for 400 miles.
28/2/41 Today was spent in preparation for removing M11s from the TOBRUK defences and organising the transport. Capt CC Hulton arrived back.

March 1941 CO: Lt Col LS Harland MC
Mar 41 6th Royal Tank Regiment
1/3/41 Major TCA Clarke and Major WI Miller paid a social call on the officers at EL ADEM aerodrome.
One M13 and two M11 (Italian tanks) were got from the TOBRUK area and towed into the leaguer. As these were to be our new ‘mounts’ we were anxious to learn as much as we could about them. They were dismantled and inspected.
Warning order received from HQ for B Sqn to be ready to move on the 4th of March. HQ and C Sqns were to remain for another week.
2/3/41 Colonel Fanshawe 2i/c of 3rd Armd Bde visited the Regt. RAF EL ADEM paid us a return visit.
4/3/41 B Sqn scheduled to move at 0900 hrs moved off at midday. Additional transport that had been detailed for use of the Sqn had been cancelled. Lt Col Drew, commanding 5th RTR very kindly lent us some transport instead. Major Clarke and Lt Ball went ahead of the Sqn and spent the night near CYRENE. B Sqn halted for the night just short of the pass into DERNA X.6570.
5/3/41 Major Clarke called at CYRCOM HQ and there learnt of the awards that had just been published.
Lt Col LS Harland MC -DSO
Major TCA Clarke -DSO
Major GJ Dean -MC
Capt FCKM Laing -MC
Sgt A Hunt -MM
Sgt F Rycroft -MM
Sgt R Merry -MM
LCpl F Williams -MM
6/3/41 B Sqn arrived BEDA FOMM area. Colonel Fanshawe again visited the Regt. Ten bombs were dropped on the sand dunes one mile West of the leaguer. No damage was done.
7/3/41 Col Fanshawe came again. A Sqn had a trial shoot of the Italian guns and were fairly successful with them.
9/3/41 Two men of B Sqn digging a slit trench exploded a grenade and were injured.
10/3/41 Brigadier Rimington, commander 3rd Armd Bde, and Col Fanshawe arrived and inspected work in progress preparing the M13 tanks. The Regimental Technical Adjutant (Capt G Denmeade) furnished a report on a tank that had been undergoing an extensive test.
11/3/41 Lt F Fleming left for Cairo on duty. Two LO from CYRCOM visited us and spent the night.
12/3/41 Capt JD Aldridge, the Adjt, returned from leave, having driven the CO’s staff car from Cairo a distance of 980 miles. HQ Sqn and C Sqn also arrived in BEDA FOMM area. The Regt is now complete.
13/3/41 The following Lts assumed the Acting Rank of Captain:

Lt JR Cruttwell
Lt SW Porter
Lt SDG Longworth

14/3/41 Major JG Stephens left to take up the duties of Town Major DERNA. Major WI Miller assumed command of B Sqn and Capt CC Hulton took over HQ Sqn
15/3/41 The Int Officer, Lt HB Ball, went forward to Bde HQ to arrange for the arrival in the forward area of A Sqn who were now nearly complete.
18/3/41 A Sqn left for the forward area, A Echelon at 1400 hrs, B Echelon at 1600 hrs. They leaguered for the night about 8 miles South of AGEDABIA. A certain amount of trouble was experienced en route with the tanks, from overheating, and they were found to be very much slower than expected when on a long march. Steering on the road was also difficult.
19/3/41 A Sqn moved their ‘A’ vehicles at 1300 hrs and arrived in the 3rd King’s Own Hussars area at dusk. Lt DF Bune reported to HQ 3rd Armd Bde as LO.
20/3/41 A Sqn came under command 3rd Hussars and moved 3 Kms to the West where they camped.
22/3/41 At approx 1230 hrs three enemy aircraft, believed to be Me 110, dived on and machine gunned HQ Sqn. The Officers Mess lorry was hit and burnt out. The officers who were in the vehicle at the time were not warned in time to take cover and unfortunately the Rev J Bond, the C of E padre from HQ 3rd Armd Bde, who was visiting the Regt was killed. Capt CC Hulton was badly wounded. Capt JD Aldridge and Tpr Morris were also hurt but not seriously. Capt JR Cruttwell received superficial injuries.
It was learned that Major TCA Clarke will not be returning to the Regt as he is going to work at the Mechanical Experimental Establishment at ABBASSIA and ultimately to return to UK to take command.
23/3/41 B Sqn moved off at 0930 hrs under command of Major WI Miller to join 3rd Hussars and take over light tanks from their B Sqn. The Sqn was carried down in captured Italian vehicles. RHQ moved to a new leaguer 6 miles East of the old site.
24/3/41 2Lt GNT Ferguson assumed the duties of Adjt and was together with Lt HB Ball promoted to the rank of Acting Captain. At 1400 hrs two enemy aircraft bombed the area vacated by B Sqn.
25/3/41 B Sqn 3rd Hussars arrived commanded by Capt PW Powlett. They are to take over the M13s left by our own B Sqn.
26/3/41 Lt F Fleming returned from Cairo. Capt HB Ball went to BARCE to arrange for an aircraft to fly Capt Hulton and Capt Aldridge back to hospital in Cairo. Colonel Smith AQMG Cyrenaica Command made the necessary arrangements.
27/3/41 2Lt KJH Macdonald together with the rear party which was left at Alexandria arrived. 2Lt DG Sebley was left by them at TOBRUK, as he was sick.
28/3/41 Two bombs fell in C Sqn area but caused no damage.
29/3/41 C Sqn camouflage tanks.
30/3/41 Major GJ Dean MC arrived by road in the General’s car, from leave and took over his Sqn. Capt JH Gabe and 2Lt DG Sebley also arrived.
2Lt TH Harvey took HQ Sqn Tank Troop on a test night run around the camp area. The vehicles behaved as well as could be expected.
31/3/41 Capt G Denmeade left BEDA FOMM to locate A Sqn with spares. As by this time however A Sqn were on the move, no contact was made. Capt Ball, Capt Ferguson and 2Lt Harvey left on a recce of the forward areas and returned by dusk.

April 1941 CO: Lt Col LS Harland MC
Apr 41 6th Royal Tank Regiment
1/4/41 On this day the Regt was organised as follows:-
CO Lt Col LS Harland DSO, MC
Adjt Capt GNT Ferguson
Int Off Capt HB Ball
Signals 2Lt TH Harvey

B Sqn 3rd Hussars under Capt PW Powlett
C Sqn under Major GJ Dean MC
HQ Sqn & B Ech under Capt JR Cruttwell
A & B Sqns of the Regt being attached to 3rd Hussars. The Regt was located in the BEDA FOMM area (X.2080) completing its organisation and equipping of M13 tanks.
At 1130 hrs the codeword LAXATIVE was received through the OC LRS. Conforming with instructions the Regt stood by its vehicles ready to move at 10 minutes notice.
A considerable amount of work on the M13s had not been completed, as orders prior to the codeword were to the effect that the Regt had to be ready for operations on the 5th April. The work still to be carried out consisted of:-
  1. Suppression of wireless sets – C Sqn
  2. Changing engine oil, calibration of injectors, cleaning oil filters and finally checking up of equipment B Sqn 3rd Hussars.
  3. the training of drivers and gunners of 3rd Hussars who took over these tanks on march 26th.

In anticipation of an earlier move the CO issued the following movement warning order:-
“Movement Warning Order. Squadrons will prepare to move morning of ¾ at 1000 hrs. Formation Regtl Arrowhead. Course on bearing 160° for 25 miles. Starting point RHQ present location. B Echelon under OC HQ Sqn moving at 1100 hrs same course for distance 17 miles only. Please destroy after notes taken”.
2/4/41 Verbal orders were received by LO from 3rd Armd Bde, that the Regt would move to an area South of AGEDABIA on the morning of the 3rd. later this area was confirmed to be CHOR EL BADAN which is Northeast of AGEDABIA.
At 1430 hrs orders were received that the Regt would move at once to this area and orders were issued for the Regt to be ready to move at 1500 hrs. the following message received from 3rd Armd Bde confirmed these instructions:- “Go to X(.) AEAS area as ordered (a) Act as ordered stuff remaining.”
The CO then proceeded to the main road and questioned officers moving Northwards who had come from AGEDABIA. The situation at AGEDABIA, gained in this manner, was the first information the Regt received that the enemy had attacked.
The CO therefore decided to move the Regt due East to a position astride the Divisional axis of withdrawal instead of conforming to the orders issued. The Regt moved off at 1600 hrs in Regtl Arrowhead formation directed on ANTELAT. Three or four of the M13 tanks were already limping badly as we crossed the Divisional axis of retirement. At ANTELAT there was a stream of traffic proceeding northwards. The Regt formed Sqn close leaguer astride the axis and faced the enemy ready for active operations. B Echelon was moved further North and given orders to continue its withdrawal north at dawn.
3/4/41 Wireless comms were maintained with Bde HQ but no orders were received until 0130 hrs. these orders were received over the air to the following effect:-
“6th RTR will at first light move South-Westwards towards AGEDABIA to cover the Bde while it reorganises and refills and later, when the Bde continues to withdraw, 6th RTR will form the rear-guard. Orders for the withdrawal of rear-guard will be issued by the Bde Commander”.
At first light the Regt moved 6 miles Southwards in arrowhead formation with C Sqn on the right and 3rd Hussars on the left. Special patrols were pushed out on both flanks and up to 0900 hrs no enemy movement had been seen and no orders for withdrawal received. The CO therefore ordered Capt Ferguson to move back and find out if the Bde had moved and if so, how far. He returned with the information that the Bde had moved and was at the moment 8 miles away. The Regt therefore commenced to withdraw.
The axis of withdrawal was due North to esc SCELEIDMA. Nothing was seen of the rest of the Bde throughout this march. Five miles in the hour was the maximum speed which could be maintained, if the Regt was to be kept together. Considerable bother with overheating, gear boxes and propeller shafts was experienced by both Sqns. The Regt arrived at esc SCELEIDMA at about 1630 hrs. B Echelon had already moved further on under Bde orders and control. On arrival there was a chaotic muddle and congestion of all types of vehicles of the rest of the Bde.
The Regt therefore moved out to the West and continued its role of protection to the South and West of the Bde. B Sqn 3rd Hussars pushed out ‘Leading Eyes’ and half an hour later enemy patrols were identified.
At 1730 hrs orders were received by rear link that the Regt would come under command of the Support Group forthwith. Commander 6th RTR decided that as:-
  1. No wireless frequency of communication had been issued,
  2. No replenishment of diesel was available and the radius of action of all tanks was 35 miles,
  3. No location of Support Group was given,

the Regt would remain in its present location pending receipt of further orders.
This was signalled to Bde and a LO sent to their HQ. No further orders were issued and the Regt formed close leaguer after dark 7 miles West of the fort at esc SCELEIDMA. Before doing so C Sqn found enemy patrols and the Sqn moved out to drive them away. A night leaguer was formed and the night passed without event but at approx 0100 hrs Commander 6th RTR received a wireless message to move close to the fort by 0630 hrs.
While the Regt halted in this area a LO arrived from Bde and said to the commander 6th RTR “B1 Echelon and all soft vehicles will join B Echelon at once”. These instructions were also passed to certain drivers who unfortunately conformed before Commander 6th RTR sent out instructions “Do not conform to the Bde instructions B 1 Echelon will remain with A Echelon”. In later operations this decision enabled all tank crew personnel to avoid being captured when they had to abandon their tanks owing to lack of fuel.
4/4/41 The Regt moved off in line ahead at 0400 hrs and arrived on time. At 0700 hrs patrols were able to identify other elements of the Bde in the same area, and the men were given breakfast.
At 0730 hrs a brief wireless message was received “GET GOING”. No orders for direction, order of march or protection were given. Capt Ferguson and Lt Bentley-Taylor were immediately despatched to Bde HQ and the Regt remained halted in the meantime. Two LOs from the Regt were already at Bde HQ, and one of these Lt DF Bune returned about 20 minutes later with the orders that 6th RTR would move Eastwards at once to attack and drive off the enemy at the dump at Z’MSUS some 35 miles away. The Regt moved off in the order RHQ, C Sqn followed by b Sqn 3rd Hussars.
A special patrol commanded by Lt F Cox was pushed forward. The dangerous defile at esc SCELEIDMA was negotiated successfully but not without running very grave risks from air attack. This defile is three to four miles long and it took the Regt over an hour and a half to pass through it. Two miles further East the Regt halted and reformed.
The approach march on Z’MSUS continued without further event until within six miles of the destination when B Sqn 3rd Hussars were sent forward for protection front, all soft vehicles were dropped to the rear and C Sqn was warned to be prepared to launch the attack on the enemy at the dump.
B Sqn 3rd Hussars, however, reported the dump clear of the enemy and also that the dump contained no suitable fuel replenishment for the Regt. The average radius of action remaining at this time was between ten and fifteen miles only. The advance was continued Eastwards five miles beyond Z’MSUS and B Sqn 3rd Hussars remained in observation.
The Regt remained halted in the area for over an hour and during this time three contradictory orders were received to move Eastward and Northward. The Regt therefore remained halted and Los were sent to Bde to obtain definite information. Bde location was not certain at this stage of the operation but at 1600 hrs the Regt moved Northwards for 5 miles to S.9828, to be nearer the remainder of the Bde, and halted in open leaguer.
Considerable overhauls and maintenance were necessary and the work was put in hand forthwith. B Sqn 3rd Hussars were left with four tanks in running order.
At 1700 hrs an intense low-dive bombing air attack commenced direct on to the Regt’s HQ leaguer area. Nine enemy bombers took part and while no casualties to personnel were suffered the following vehicles were destroyed, CO’s Utility Car, HQ Troop fitters lorry. Two other vehicles were hit by machine gun fire and damaged. The attack continued for over half an hour.
At 1800 hrs orders were received to advance on EL MACHILI and the following preparations were made:-
  1. M13 tanks which were unlikely to complete the march were to be abandoned and destroyed. The fuel and water to be salvaged for the remaining vehicles.
  2. B Sqn 3rd Hussars were to hand over all tanks to C Sqn and their crews to be carried on wheeled vehicles for the rest of the march. Capt PW Powlett, Sqn Leader, 3rd Hussars was given the following instructions in this connection, in writing:-
    “In order to ‘thin down’ the number of men to be fed and watered in the desert and to decrease HQ and command personnel you will hand over all your tanks to C Sqn, 6th RTR and move your Sqn personnel on your wheeled vehicles through to Bde B Echelon and thence to the rear and if necessary into Egypt as quickly as possible. Your protest against this decision has been considered but I insist upon your conforming to my orders. No advantage can be gained in these operations by retaining your Sqn mounted in a precarious manner on inefficient Italian transport. It is therefore my order that you move to the rear to refit and reorganise as soon as possible. I wish you to express to your Officers, Warrant Officers, NCOs and men my admiration for the way they have carried out their difficult duties during the past few days”.
  3. the RHQ Link tank which was running badly had to be abandoned and the wireless set mounted on a wheeled vehicle. Bde HQ were informed of the problem communication and that it was anticipated further problems would ensue resulting in intercommunication having to be entirely carried out by Los.

The Regt then formed close leaguer for the night.
5/4/41 At 1000 hrs orders were received that the Regt would move North and not East on MACHILI. Commander 6th RTR sent the following signal to Commander 3rd Armd Bde:-“Commander GIRA considers GIRA unable to conform with this order owing to:-
  1. lack of communication, lack of fuel for tanks and the mechanical condition of the tanks.
  2. problem of transporting crews of abandoned tanks over difficult country to the North.
  3. GIRA is therefore adhering to your former orders (moving East on MACHILI)”.

This decision was communicated to all officers and the time of march on the new bearing was given at 1225 hrs. a reply was received to this signal to the effect that Commander 6th RTR was ordered by Commander 3rd Armd Bde to move North and on no account move East. The latter message was received in code.
Therefore the advance was commenced Northward at 1400 hrs, the Regt acting as rearguard to Bde, course 349 deg for 5 miles thence on Bde axis bearing 340 deg. It is emphasised that this latter signal was the last message received through the rear link.
Progress of C Sqn was seriously hindered due to the problems of engine overheating caused by a following wind and the fact that it was a very warm afternoon. Although no enemy movements had been seen, dust of light vehicles appeared periodically on both flanks. There were also two more air attacks at this stage. The CO appreciated the situation that the enemy were in very small and light detachments and the size of our reduced tank force was still large enough to keep the enemy at a distance. It was therefore decided not to send out patrols to recce the flanks, but to keep going at the best pace the M13 could muster. At this stage C Sqn still had 7 M13 running. Later on these had to be abandoned due to lack of fuel.
At approx 1530 hrs the engine of the CO’s tank blew up. The vehicle was destroyed and the CO transferred to the last remaining tank of RHQ. About 45 minutes later this tank also broke-down owing to overheating. At 1600 hrs the Adjt came forward from C Sqn and reported to the CO at his broken down tank. The Adjt represented to the CO that in his opinion the present situation of the Regt could best be presented to the Commander 3rd Armd Bde by the Commander 6th RTR himself. Therefore at 1630 hrs the CO agreed to go forward himself on a wheeled vehicle, approx 12 miles on the same course were covered before the rear of the Bde was caught up. This unit was the 3rd Hussars. Just after dark the CO reached Bde HQ who had been halted for some hours, and reported personally to Brigadier Rimington.
At 2200 hrs the 2i/c of the Bde, Colonel Fanshawe, handed the following orders in writing to Colonel Harland:-
“At first light tomorrow morning the Bde is changing direction and is moving to the East. You will collect the tank crews of your Regt and if, owing to the lack of fuel and water it is not possible to get your tanks any further, you will destroy the tanks, and mount the crews on wheeled vehicles which I will get up from B Echelon and bring these personnel on as quickly as possible to join up with the rest of the Bde. The line of observation provided by the 5th RTR is withdrawing at 0900 hrs tomorrow April 6th”.
6/4/41 On the morning of the 6th two lorries were collected by Commander 6th RTR and Capt HB Ball with 2Lt TH Harvey moved South on the centre line to gain contact with C Sqn. As they approached the 5th RTR line of observation one of its tanks opened fire with both 2pdr and MG fire. The CO reconnoitred and put the troop commander 5th RTR under arrest.
In view of the problem of gaining contact with C Sqn the CO persuaded the Bde 2i/c to order 5th RTR to remain in position until 1130 hrs and at this time it was decided to move the two lorries 10 miles further South; back on the centre line to assist C Sqn with any transport problems. Capt Ball was put in charge of this party and 2Lt Harvey was detailed as navigator. The CO carried on having issued the following orders to Capt Ball –
“You will proceed Southwards on a course of 160° for ten miles. You will be allowed three hours for this mission. I will remain in position to guide you back and should you not return I shall move off to rejoin Bde when this three hours has elapsed”.In actual fact the CO waited until 1640 hrs. the rearguard of the 5th RTR having withdrawn at 1130 hrs. as the CO was moving off Capt Ball’s party was identified to be returning. The CO therefore received Capt Ball’s report that there was no sign of C Sqn.
During the day the dust of vehicles was seen frequently to the South and West but no identification could be gained. A recce party moved off under the CO on the Bde centre line at nightfall and managed to catch up with the rest of the Bde. The CO eventually reached Bde HQ and reported personally to the Bde Commander who issued the following order –
“I agree that you can do nothing further to help your C Sqn. Get your tank crews back as soon as possible to an area where they can be organised”.Commander 6th RTR decided to move Northwards to MARAUA on the main DERNA road. Orders were issued to Sgt Watson who was in charge of the 3-ton lorry, carrying personnel, to follow and similar orders issued to 2Lt Harvey to pass to Capt Ball. The lorries conformed and followed but Capt Ball and 2Lt Harvey who had started to make tea did not appear to move on.
7/4/41 The party under the CO continued to march in the convoy of various units throughout the night and at daybreak on the 7th, approached DERNA. Considerable delay was experienced at getting thought this place especially in negotiating the escarpment out of DERNA.
Having negotiated this escarpment the CO found himself to be leading a convoy of about 40 vehicles all carrying personnel of various units and when about 2 miles over the top of the escarpment the utility car was about 40 yards ahead of the convoy. At this moment machine-gun fire was heard and the dust of bullet splash was seen at the side of the road. The car was not hit and a convenient track on the left of the road enabled the driver to swing off to the left and get hull-down below the embankment on the left of the road.
With the aid of field glasses what appeared to be two large armoured cars were seen to be firing in the direction of the convoy which had halted. The CO by use of hand signals waved to convoy to move off the road, where there were convenient wadis to get the vehicles hull-down. Commander 6th RTR then made a wide detour followed by the lorries including Military Police before rejoining the road.
This manoeuvre was achieved successfully and the whole convoy rejoined the road about 2 ½ miles further East. The march continued towards TOBRUK without further event beyond enemy air activity and during the march A & B Sqns under Major Mills and Major Miller were taken under command. These Sqns were without any tanks and were mounted on wheeled vehicles. Their M13s had to be abandoned owing to lack of fuel.
When about 20 miles from TOBRUK an Australian Staff Officer gave the following message to the CO:-
“All tank crew personnel of 3rd Armd Bde will move to TOBRUK. The senior officer will report to CYRCOM Force HQ”. Commander 6th RTR reported at CYRCOM HQ and reported to Lt Col Smith (AA and QMG). The following orders were issued:-
“You will assemble all 3rd Armd Bde personnel at the Australian Staging Camp. You will organise a party to disembark 18 light tanks from TOBRUK and hand them over to the RAOC”. Commander 6th RTR reached the staging camp about 1900 hrs, organised and despatched the light tank crews and organised a small Force HQ.
Muster parades were ordered. Nominal Rolls prepared and strength returns submitted to TOBRUK AREA HQ. The strength of the various units at this HQ were:-
3rd Hussars 14 officers 124 ORs
5th RTR 9 officers 100 ORs
6th RTR 9 officers 150 ORs

The B Echelons of these units did not arrive during the night.
8/4/41 In the morning the CO reported to CYRCOM HQ and learnt that the B Echelons had arrived in the area during the night.
At approx 1200 hrs those units of 3rd Armd Bde which had concentrated in the staging camp, were moved by lorries to the underground magazines to the East of TOBRUK. These are located in the angle made by the junction of the TOBRUK – BARDIA road and the EL ADEM road.
Commander 6th RTR who was OC Force then proceeded to organise a ‘mobile reserve of riflemen’. Four companies were formed in all, two by 5th RTR and one each by 3rd Hussars and 6th RTR. These troops were mounted in lorries and could be rushed to any locality where danger threatened.
9/4/41 Colonel Drew arrived and became OC Force. Lt E Delson visited HQ Support Group on the escarpment South of EL ADEM, to obtain details and disposition of our own troops in the area.
10/4/41 Capt Gabe and Lt Delson paid a visit to HQ 26th Australian Inf Bde to ascertain the role to be undertaken by MI Coy (6th RTR). B Echelon under Capt JH Cruttwell was moved two miles Northwest during the morning to a site near TOBRUK aerodrome. The MI Coy under Capt JH Gabe moved out to the Western defences and came under command 28th Australian Inf Btn.
At approx 1600 hrs enemy tanks were reported to have penetrated the perimeter. The Regt stood to with 4 carriers, small arms and half a dozen Boyes rifles. Every man was issued with a rifle including Orderly Room staff. The unfamiliar sight was witnessed of the CO of a Tank Regt, in a tin hat and rifle slung over his shoulder, issuing orders to ‘platoon’ commanders.
The 1st RTR could be seen in the EL ADEM road area engaging enemy tanks across the anti-tank ditches, which form part of the outer defences. The enemy was repulsed. The Regt continued to stand to throughout the night. It is doubtful if anyone could have slept however, as the RHA continued firing incessantly until dawn.
11/4/41 A Sqn of the 1st RTR and 4 ‘I’ tanks were halted in our area throughout the day in case of a further enemy attack.
12/4/41 6th RTR with 5th RTR and 3rd Hussars moved Northwest to the harbour area preparatory to leaving TOBRUK. Equipment and kit was dumped on the quayside and a guard mounted over them. All vehicles were handed over to VRP TOBRUK. Major RL Scoones arrived and took over as 2i/c.
13/4/41 The CO and Lt E Delson went aboard the SS BARPETA to inspect the accommodation. Close at hand the SS BAMURA was still burning as a result of an air-raid earlier in the morning.
14/4/41 A fierce enemy dive-bombing attack lasting 35 minutes was launched against targets in the area. The raid was carried out by 24 planes, 14 of which were shot down, 4 by AA fire and 10 by Hurricanes.
There were no casualties in the unit however, although sometimes bombs after being released passed right over the unit before striking the ground.
In the afternoon the Regt embarked with 5th RTR and 3rd Hussars. The total strength was 72 officers and 1149 ORs. Commander 6th RTR was OC Ship and Major WI Miller Ship’s Adjt.
A deliberate attack by dive bombers on a Hospital Ship in the harbour was witnessed. Although no direct hits were registered, several near misses eventually caused this ship to founder. All the personnel on board were rescued. SS BARPETA put to sea at 2100 hrs approx.
15/4/41 An uneventful day at sea.
16/4/41 We docked at Alexandria at 1115 hrs. kit and equipment was unloaded onto the quay. As there were no orders awaiting the unit, the CO and Major Miller proceeded to Cairo to obtain instructions. The unit spent the night on board ship.
17/4/41 Orders were received for the unit to proceed to Cairo by train. This they did under command of Major RL Scoones. Eventually arrived at ABBASSIA sidings at 1930 hrs, almost exactly 11 months since leaving for the Western Desert in May 1940. Contact was again made with C Sqn, with whom there had been no communication since April 6th.
18/4/41 The Regt took up quarters in Main Barracks, Abbassia. Nominal Rolls of all casualties and missing personnel were compiled and submitted to HQ 2nd Echelon. They included the names of 5 officers and 15 ORs.
There has been no news of Major GJ Dean MC, Capt HB Ball, 2Lts F Cox and TH Harvey since April 6th when they were last seen. Lt HA Barker RAMC, was dispatched with 2Lt PJ Crean’s convoy to MACHILI on April 7th and there is no information on him up to this date.
[Transcriber’s note: 2Lt TH Harvey is the only name that is listed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. His name is entered on the Alamein War Memorial which lists men who have no known grave. He is shown as being killed on 6th April.]
19 – 30 It was decided to send as many officers and ORs as could be spared on 5 days well earned leave. Driver, Operator and Gunnery courses were organised and attended at RAC Base Depot and Schools.

May 1941 Missing

June 1941 CO: Lt Col LS Harland MC
Jun 41 6th Royal Tank Regiment
1/6/41 The Regt left AMRIYA in 3 trains.
  1. A Sqn, CO’s and Adjt tanks.
  2. B Sqn and 3 RHQ tanks and 1 A9.
  3. C Sqn and 2 A9 and fitter’s lorry.

The total number of tanks on strength was 52.
2/6/41 On arrival the Sqns detrain and march to Regtl leaguer area SIDI OMAR, West of SIWA road. There are no crocks.
3/6/41 Maintenance. A field firing range is selected at MINQUAR KALK.
4/6/41 A Sqn fire and have trouble with Beza’s ‘single shots’.
5/6/41 B Sqn and RHQ fire and have the same trouble with Beza guns. Divisional Orders. “C Sqn must complete firing by 1200 hrs the following day”. C Sqn move to range immediately and complete their firing by 1200 hrs 6/6/41.
6/6/41 Final preparations are made for the move to forward areas. It is expected that the tanks will be camouflaged with sham lorry bodies. These arrive after much delay but without hinges with which to fit them and are sent back to MATRUH.
The Tanks have trouble with:-
  1. Leaking shock absorbers.
  2. Modified spindles of fan drive assembly.
  3. Track wearing thin.
No sign of long awaited spares.
7/6/41 Regt moves to forward areas, B Echelon at 0630 hrs and A Echelon at 0730 hrs. one A Sqn tank after fitters had worked on it all night had to be left behind with a leaking radiator. Arrive BIR WASI 2000 hrs. one B Sqn tanked crocked.
8/6/41 March continued at 1000 hrs to BIR AFRITA area. An LO contacted 7th Armd Bde HQ South of NIZWET EL AFRITA and obtained Bde orders to move to BIR RAMADAN area at 2015 hrs. Many Bedford 15cwt trucks break front springs for which there are no spares. Arrived BIR RAMADAN area 2250 hrs.
9 –10 Maintenance.
11/6/41 Recce of MABATA area Major RL Scoones, Major HWH Mills, Lts Crickmay and Delson.
12/6/41 Recce HAMRA area, Major WI Miller, Major JD Aldridge, Capt REM Milner and Lt DF Bune.
13/6/41 Operation orders arrive from Bde. Regt prepare to move up to frontier area the next day.
14/6/41 6th RTR left BIR RAMADAN and marched to BIR KHIREIGAT and arrived at 2230 hrs forming a triangular leaguer.
15/6/41 0430 – Regt broke leaguer and marched to QARET ABU FARIS.
0630 – 7th Armd Bde ordered one sub-unit to take over Pt. 207 from 2nd RTR. C Sqn dispatched.
0640 – The Regt ordered to QARET ABU FARIS EL GHARBYA on arrival of 4th Armd Bde at QARET ABU FARIS.
0735 – Regt reported to BDE that C Sqn had taken over PT. 207.
0740 – Regt arrived at QARET ABU FARIS.
0745 – Regt ordered to move 2 Kms North and from there to BP 42, C Sqn to rejoin bringing JAXO (Mobile column).
0810 – Arrived at 510360.
0858 – Regt makes first request to Bde to send wireless batteries in afternoon or evening.
0859 – C Sqn rejoined.
0908 – Bde Orders; Move to cairn 205 (507363) to support 2nd RTR or to act Northwards keeping patrols out.
0930 – 11th Hussars report 10 enemy tanks retiring from HAFID RIDGE.
0931 – Bde Orders: Move to BP 43, push through and halt SW of first bound (BIR GHIBRA). Keep clear of East end of bound and be prepared to support 2nd RTR.
0950 – B Sqn passed through Gap 43.
1000 – Bde Orders: Stay in reserve and prepare to meet any threat from the North or NE.
1005 – 2nd RTR are reported to have reached first bound with good all-round observation.
1020 – Bde Orders: Move to 502372 continuing in same role.
1030 – Bde Orders: Stand fast. Regt at 502371.
1105 – Bde report: Six A/Tk guns 200 yards East of HAFID. Six field guns at BIR HAFID.
1130 – 2nd RTR report considerable activity in HAFID area. Bde orders: if tanks appear, 6th RTR will have to intervene.
1220 – 2nd RTR report guns at HAFID have been over-run, but that they require further assistance to mop up the area as their reserve has been used up.
1225 – Bde orders: one sub-unit 6th RTR will move at once to assist 2nd RTR in consolidating the area.
1226 – B Sqn detailed.
1234 – Bde Orders: Sub-unit going to assist 2nd RTR should make for the left of the large black plume of smoke (passed to B Sqn)
1240 – Bde Orders: Warn your sub-unit that forward guns have withdrawn and joined guns further back. (passed to B Sqn). B Sqn moved forward to HAFID RIDGE and were heavily shelled. Two tanks were immediately knocked out. No liaison had been effected with 2nd RTR. This was reported to Bde.
1300 – Bde Orders: Withdraw your sub-unit to West and South and do not commit it until ordered. B Sqn ordered to withdraw.
1315 – B Sqn reports being shelled by our own guns, and unable to withdraw as every time they move they were fired on. [Manuscript addition – These were actually Enemy guns. J.H.P.]
1328 – Bde Orders: Stand by to move 3 Kms North and send one sub-unit on to MEDUUAR RIDGE.
1330 – Bde is informed B Sqn will be unable to rally and that they are being shelled from the North and NE by light field guns.
1340 – 40 enemy tanks appeared at HAFID RIDGE moving SW towards unit. Regt formed line-ahead and moved NW engaging the enemy at long range. After this engagement the Regt withdrew SW coming under shell-fire from the HAFID RIDGE direction and retired out of range.
1420 – Bde Orders: Concentrate SW of HAFID and be prepared to counter attack if necessary.
1625 – Column reported by C Sqn is composed of lorries at 500376.
1630 – Bde Orders: Get in touch to North with 2nd RTR.
1635 – A patrol from Regt trying to contact 2nd RTR and moving to NW.
1645 – Bde Information: After our shelling of HAFID RIDGE the enemy have retired North. Only a few vehicles are left in the HAFID area. Bde Orders: Clear up the area. Report when ready to move. Suggest you attack from SW or West. Your sub-unit to West to move forward and occupy MEDUUAR RIDGE.
1655 – C Sqn report 100 enemy MT with high proportion of AFVs which is the previously reported column, is moving off in the BARDIA direction.
1700 – Bde Orders: 6th RTR to get in touch with JAXO (mobile Arty column) to co-operate in attack if you want Arty support. Advantage was not taken of this offer, and no liaison was effected with 2nd RTR. LO who had been dispatched for this purpose was recalled by Commander 6th RTR.
1715 – Regt report to Bde: Our patrols are out and the unit is forming up for the attack.
1720 – C Sqn reports the column they are observing is moving NW from MEDUUAR.
1725 – Bde information and Orders: 30 enemy MT at HAFID and some guns. Get on with the attack.
1735 – A Sqn in co-operation with B Sqn were ordered to attack HAFID RIDGE.
A forward patrol who had reported an enemy column consisting of lorries and a few guns and tanks was contacted by A Sqn Commander. The enemy were observed 1¼ miles distant. The Sqn moving in line ahead closed on the column and opened fire at 800 yards. The column turned out to be a dummy camp in which were British MT and damaged AFVs. No fire was returned from the camp but 3 lorries moved out North from the rear of the position. The Sqn, still in line ahead, moved NW following the lorries and looking for new targets. On the NE were well dug-in A/Tk guns and behind them a large concentration of tanks and MT with field guns in support. These were engaged during the move NE.
About 1.5 miles from the first target, which was suspected of being a dummy position, another camp consisting of MT, AFVs and guns was encountered. These were engaged at 500 yards range.
Enemy tanks which moved from the NE were also engaged. The Sqn after a good broadside shoot, which was carried out at speed, withdrew Westwards.
The attack on Northern camps appeared to be a surprise, as Arty fire was not opened for some 10 minutes and there was much movement near the camp area. Arty fire then became intense and two tanks were knocked out moving West.
One tank had been previously hit and disabled by the above mentioned A/Tk guns. Crews from damaged tanks were later picked up and the Sqn withdrew SW onto C Sqn. On the way two British ‘I’ tanks were observed on patrol to the West, and these were later suspected of being used by the enemy. The Sqn again came under shell fire from HAFID direction before rejoining C Sqn.
NOTE:- The enemy position as shown on diagram makes it apparent that the position was organised to lure an attack onto the A/Tk and field guns at short range.
The tanks in the East opened fire on the Sqn and moved out as if to counter attack. It was suggested that these AFVs are the ones which subsequently attacked C Sqn later in the evening. Some of the lorries in the camp were captured British vehicles, and one captured British ambulance was seen to supply ammunition to a gun pit.
From tank commanders reports, the following damage was calculated to have been inflicted on the enemy:-
Tanks definitely hit -9
Tanks probably hit -4
Lorries definitely hit -8
Lorries probably hit -33

3A/Tk and 1 field gun knocked out. Considerable damage was done to personnel on the ground by SA fire.
Meanwhile 14 tanks of B Sqn advanced in trident NNE towards the vehicles on the ridge. A Sqn as already mentioned was in line ahead on their left. B Sqn fired at the enemy vehicles and got no reply, but on crossing dead ground and mounting the rise came under heavy A/Tk fire at ranges from 500 to 300 yards. Losing 6 tanks almost immediately. Two more had just previously been knocked out on the right front of the Sqn by gunfire from the NE.
It is unlikely that any damage was dome to the enemy, as the only targets were derelict vehicles covering the gun positions. The six surviving tanks picked up what crews had managed to evacuate and rallied on C Sqn. Of these six tanks only two were fit for action the following day.
1820 – 6th RTR report to Bde: We are withdrawing.
1830 – SITREP to Bde: Owing to some guns not firing until 300 to 400 yards away, we have sustained many tank casualties, and we have withdrawn 4 to 5 miles West. Bde reply: OK maintain contact by patrols.
1910 – Three 11th Hussars armoured cars arrived and were used as the patrol for maintaining contact.
1924 – Bde Orders: A guide must be sent to Bde HQ (2 miles South of BP 42) to arrive at 2030 hrs.
1940 – While the wounded were being attended to and crock states collected, C Sqn report a column of 70 vehicles of which 35 were tanks, moving SE, three miles from our position.
2015 – 6th RTR report to Bde: We are withdrawing SE.
2017 – Bde Orders: You must hold them. – C Sqn was left to delay this force, while crocks, wounded, and personnel from casualty tanks were evacuated under the 2i/c to BP 42. Three tanks were on tow.
2020 – 6th RTR report to Bde: One sub-unit holding them, we are being shelled by enemy AFVs with long range guns.
2025 – Bde information: You are being shelled by 75mm. Take up hull-down position.
2035 – C Sqn carried out delaying action back to Gap 44, holding the enemy until darkness fell. In the failing light, vehicles, assumed to be enemy, were discerned moving slowly NE. they were at close range but did not see us. C Sqn report enemy tanks have halted and some have turned back.
2055 – 6th RTR report: Our sub-unit is remaining in position. We have only 15 tanks left. Can we withdraw after dark? The enemy column has halted at approx 499369.
2100 – Bde Orders: Send a senior officer to BP 42 in 15 minutes.
2130 – 6th RTR report: Our position is 500 yards West of Gap 44.
2220 – 6th RTR report: Crock state – 20 tanks fit. Miles in hand 15. LO dispatched to Gap 42.
16/6/41 0100 – 6th RTR moved to a point ½ mile East of BP 44 and replenished.
0300 – Regt make further enquiries to Bde about replenishment of W/T batteries. The Regt, now under command of Major RL Scoones, was reorganised as follows:-
HQ -3 tanks
A Sqn -7 tanks under Major HWH Mills
C Sqn -11 tanks under Major JD Aldridge

The LO returned from Bde with orders that the Regt was to be at 500365 at first light with TOGS under command.
0430 – Regt left BP 44 for forming up area and contacted TOGS. Note:- TOGS = Mobile Gunner Column.
0530 – Regt arrived 500365.
0645 – Regt report: Probability that maps and secret documents fell into enemy hands on 15/6/41.
0710 – 11th Hussars report: Column B has moved off during the night in NW direction, but the enemy still in occupation of HAFID RIDGE.
0745 – 2nd RTR ordered to BIR GHIRBA to engage and delay the enemy in the event of his moving forward.
0755 – 36 enemy tanks reported in GHIRBA area.
0830 – 11th Hussars report large enemy column moving WSW, estimated at 100 – 150 MT including 50 – 60 medium tanks, 20 light tanks, lorries and motorcycles.
0900 – Head of column reported at 497367.
0910 – Bde Orders: 2nd RTR move down on the right flank of column, 6th RTR will keep on the inside, delay him and keep him out, but not get really involved unless circumstances are favourable. The Regt moved NE in line ahead and engaged the enemy on his left flank at 1000 to 800 yards. The unit then swung East to clear the front of 2nd RTR, enabling them to engage. Two of our tanks were knocked out in this action. Regt reformed at BP 44.
0950 – 6th RTR report: Our position is between BP 44 and BP 45.
1000 – Bde Orders: Move towards SIDI OMAR to engage 20 enemy tanks advancing North from SIDI OMAR.
1015 – Regt moved South engaging these enemy tanks from the East in line ahead on the move.
1030 – Bde Orders: Move to a point 2 miles West of SIDI OMAR to engage a large mixed enemy force.
1035 – The unit moved SW and engaged the enemy broadside, then swung South engaging another enemy tank column moving NE, with a diagonal shoot. This action continued until the majority of our tanks had swung West and taken up hull-down positions facing NE. then with 2pdr and Besa fire the unit inflicted considerable damage on a large mixed force of the enemy, who withdrew in disorder in a NW direction.
1100 – The action was broken off and the unit rallied at BP 46. No tanks were lost. After evacuating our crocks to the rear, our effectives numbered 11.
1150 – Bde Information: Ammunition on tank and the MO on the way to you.
1230 – 54 enemy medium tanks appeared from the West and shelled us heavily. The unit withdrew NE, firing broadside and pivoting on 2nd RTR swung East and eventually South, halting in a hull-down position facing NW. our position was ½ mile North of QINEI QINA.
1410 – Ammunition replenishment arrived. We had 9 tanks left on the road.
1425 – Bde Orders: Move 2 Kms SE (501374) and be prepared to counter attack to the East or NE, through or across 2nd RTR or to the NW.
1435 – B Sqn rejoined unit less two tanks.
1436 – Bde Orders: Send your third sub-unit wide to the West to MEDUUAR and be prepared to counter attack towards HAFID or to go straight through to protect left flank of 4th Armd Bde. Information: There are ten enemy tanks on HAFID RIDGE.
1445 – Bde: Are you in position. 6th RTR: Yes, at 501374.
1450 – Bde Orders: Leave one sub-unit where you are and go to 504375 and get in touch with 5th RTR to co-operate.
1500 – Commenced move to 504375.
1510 – Bde Orders: Halt where you are. (Regt moved 1.5 miles SE).
1555 – Bde Orders: 6th RTR to remain in present location less one sub-unit which is to proceed to make good the MEDUUAR feature. ( C Sqn were sent to 499374 and remained there).
1600 – C Sqn report 30 enemy tanks approaching from NW. Bde Orders: Engage and destroy but keep one sub-unit in hand because enemy counter attack developing towards CAPUZZO.
1605 – Bde Orders: 6th RTR less one sub-unit will move to BIR GHIRBA to meet threat coming North or NW.
1720 – Bde Orders: There are indications that the enemy is about to attack. Take up hull-down position and delay him. Our guns will assist.
1900 – Enemy tanks at BP 46 are reinforced and now number 80. They attacked in East direction. 6th RTR heavily engaged, had stationary shoot and then retired SE. unit leaguered for the night 510351. Our replenishment failed to arrive. Bde Orders: To be in position 3 Kms West of QARET ABU FARIS by first light.
17/6/41 0530 – Regt moved to QARET ABU FARIS but is delayed by crocks. Total effective 8.
0630 – Arrived QARET ABU FARIS, contacted JAXO who were firing at approx 40 enemy tanks advancing slowly towards him from the NW. 6th RTR composed of 8 tanks formed up hull-down to cover withdrawal of JAXO. The enemy tanks were engaged down to 700 yards while JAXO withdrew. Regt then withdrew on a bearing of 110° heavily engaged and out-ranged by the enemy tanks.
0730 – 6th RTR arrived KHIREIGAT; contacted LO from Bde.
0830 – Replenishment arrived. We have 8 tanks fit, 1 tank towing and 1 being towed. Four tanks joined us at KHIREIGAT and 2 left for LRS.
1145 – Bde Orders: Move into reserve at ALAM EL ARAD facing North and NW.
1235 – Arrived ALAN EL ARAD.
1625 – Bde Orders: Move to 6 Kms North of KHIREIGAT. An enemy column reported moving East, its head is at QARET ABU FARIS. 6th RTR send a LO to 2nd RTR.
2005 – Bde Orders: Move to leaguer 3 miles SE of KHIREIGAT.
18/6/41 0445 - B Echelon arrived with Bde orders to move to 557324.
0530 – Unit moves off.
1300 – Arrived area 567324. One tank evacuated to LRS and ten tanks received. Total effective by evening number 19.
19 – 20 Unit reorganises.
21/6/41 Organisation is HQ 4 tanks and 2 Groups.
Note:- Out of 52 tanks in the Regt, 5 only were present throughout the whole operations.
23/6/41 Lt Col MDB Lister arrives from 2nd RTR and assumes command of the unit.
24 – 28 Unit reorganises.
29/6/41 Orders received that the unit will move to the Charing Cross area, near the site of the old winter camp. C Sqn move off at 2000 hrs.
30/6/41 B Echelon under Capt JM Gabe leave at 0530 hrs and arrive at the new camp site at 1700 hrs.
HQ and A Sqn move off at 2000 hrs. 7 B vehicles under Capt ELS Gjemre remained in area.
Battle Casualties 15/16th June 1941
Major WI Miller* Reported Missing
2Lt DG Sebley* Reported Missing
Capt REM Milner* Reported Missing – believed killed
Lt WN Greenwell Reported missing – believed killed
Major JD Aldridge Wounded
2Lt GNT Ferguson Wounded

Missing believed killed

Cpl Ridpath I* Tpr Parker E
Tpr Hemingway J* Cpl Chappell J
Tpr Watts T* Tpr Chapman L
Tpr Taylor J* Tpr Wade H
Tpr Mulvey S*  

Reported Missing during operations 15/16th June 1941

Sgt Hancock A Cpl Mountford C Tpr Powell S
ULC Haslam L Tpr Taylor F* Cpl Watkins H*
Tpr Conroy F Tpr Pilkington R Tpr Friard H
Tpr Hopkins A Tpr Travis C Cpl Phillips J*
Tpr Stanbury L Tpr Rochead A Tpr Oswald J*
Tpr Castleton E Tpr Dukes G Tpr McNeill E*
Sgt Pressey M Sgt Ashton J Tpr Davies J
ULC Cavey E* Tpr Parry T Tpr Maher A – died 26th June
Sgt Ward M* Tpr Davies R  

Wounded in Action 15/16th June 1941

Tpr Albone K Tpr Preston J
Sgt Petherbridge J Tpr Archer F
ULC Brudnell R ULC Hedditch D
Sgt Lilliot P ULC Goldthorpe A
Tpr Myles G Sgt Thornton W
Tpr Richardson A  

[Transcriber’s Note – using the Commonwealth War Graves Web site] Personnel marked * were killed on the 15/16 and are named on the Alamein Memorial – extract below. All others have been checked and are not listed on the Memorial. The Alamein Memorial Land Forces panels commemorate the soldiers of the British Commonwealth and Empire who fell in the campaigns in Egypt and Libya, and in the operations of the Eighth Army in Tunisia up to 19th February 1943 - the date when it came under the command of General Eisenhower - and who have no known grave.

Nominal Roll as at 30th June 1941

Lt Col MDB Lister  
Major RL Scoones  
Major HWH Mills  
Capt JM Pink  
Capt FCKM Laing MC  
Capt JM Gabe  
Capt ELS Gjemre MC  
Capt JR Cruttwell  
Capt G Denmeade  
Capt SDG Longworth  
Lt F Fleming Lt(QM) CJ Allison MBE
Lt SW Porter Lt R Ainsley
Lt TJ Troward Lt WEJ Harrison
Lt E Delson Lt DF Bune
Lt AH Crickmay Lt RW Hill
Lt JEG Permuy Lt KJM Macdonald
2Lt T Stainton 2Lt CS Elliot DCM
2Lt AH Hancock 2Lt FC Whitty
2Lt AP Titterton 2Lt CR Low


Capt G Brown (RAMC) Lt CH White (RAOC)
Warrant Officers
RSM W Rivers RQMS D Wright
SSM A Gray SSM J Wood
SSM G West SSM T Vickery
SSM J Cowie  
MQMS M Fawcett QMS(T) R Parsley

July 1941 CO: Lt Col MDB Lister
Jul 41 6th Royal Tank Regiment
1 – 15 Maintenance and individual training. As many officers and ORs as possible, without impairing efficiency, were sent on courses and leave.
3/7/41 The following officers were taken on strength:
Lt FR Watkins, Lt CW Allingham, Lt R Fidler.
13/7/41 Capt RGS Saunders posted to this unit.
15 – 17 Div Exercise.
19/7/41 2Lt GP Jackson posted to this unit from 4th Armd Bde.
17 – 30 It is decided to modify the two rear suspension arms by welding on strengthening plates. Tanks are being sent to LRS in rotation for this work to be done.
30 –31 Bde Admin Exercise.

August 1941 CO: Lt Col MDB Lister
Aug 41 6th Royal Tank Regiment
1 –31 The Regt leaguered by Sqns in the area of SIDI OMAR (700332). During this period the unit carried out individual training.
Two admin exercises were held by 7th Armd Bde HQ in which the unit participated.

September 1941 CO: Lt Col MDB Lister
Sep 41 6th Royal Tank Regiment
1 – 7 Individual training.
8/9/41 A Echelon moved to area ALAM EL RAGIL (683336).
9 – 11 Sqns carried out field firing in area BIR SIDI ALI (684329).
12/9/41 Manoeuvres in co-operation with HQ 7th Armd Bde and 7th Hussars. Area – DORGHAMI Depression (70 31)
13/9/41 A Echelon returned.
14/9/41 1530 – SITREP – Enemy column 500 MT cross wire at Ft. MADDALENA and advance along 310 Grid. Enemy advanced elements in the vicinity of RABIA.
1600 – 6th RTR placed at 4 hours notice to move.
2200 – Codeword CASTOR received from 7th Armd Bde putting into force the MERCURY scheme. The Regt under command of Major HE Pyman, Lt Col Lister being on leave.
15/9/41 0700 – Unit moves to 713304 in thick fog.
1130 – Sqns leaguer – number of tanks 36.
16/9/41 Maintenance. SITREP – Enemy column withdrew to West of Frontier wire. Orders to move to forward areas.
17/9/41 Unit moves at 0645 hrs (number of tanks – 36)
    A Sqn up and protection front.    B Sqn right.    C Sqn left.
    326° for 6 miles.    295° for 11 miles.    Along telephone wires East for 21 miles to BIR LITIA (661324)    270° for 9.5 miles to BIR THIBA.    278° for 20 miles to 618328
Close leaguer at 618328.
18/9/41 Broke leaguer at first light. Regt moves off at 0730 hrs in Trident, number of tanks 38.
Course 222° to THALATIA then 45° to 57053081.
1130 – Low level machine gun attack by one Ju88. No damage or casualties. Regt forms Sqn leaguers.
Patrols established by B Sqn at 1230 hrs to cover arrival of 7th Hussars.
19/9/41 B Sqn contact 7th Hussars.
Crock state:-
    30 fit
    4 Y
    4 Z – 2 in B Echelon
CO inspects patrols.
20/9/41 Patrols as usual NMS.
21/9/41 Patrols as usual NMS.
Major HE Pyman and Lt AH Crickmay recce probable battle area West to 537 NS Grid. ALAM EL RUS – ALAN EL KAKAR – BIR DIGNASH and HARIRA.
22/9/41 Lt Bune and Lt Hutton patrol South to 280 Grid in search of Bedouins and fast moving camels reported to be enemy agents.Major Laing and 2Lt Spark carry out recce of SIDI SULUMAN area and met JOCK column.
23/9/41 Patrols withdrawn on Bde orders. Lt Bune and Lt Hutton return after unsuccessful expedition.
24/9/41 Lt WEJ Harrison returns from leave. 2Lt KH Price joins unit.
25/9/41 Visited by Lt-General Godwin-Austin. Lt Col Lister returns from leave. 2Lt TR Mitchell joins unit.
27/9/41 Major Pyman left to take up appointment at Div HQ.
28/9/41 CO and Lt Crickmay recce probable battle area about 537 NS Grid. Visit by Brigadier Scott-Cockburn OC new Armd Bde.
30/9/41 Field firing. CO and Lt Crickmay recce forward area South of DIGNASH.

Nominal Roll of 6th RTR as at 30 Sep 1941

Lt Col MDB Lister  
Major FCKM Laing MC  
Major JF Miller  
Major JM Pink  
Capt JM Gabe  
Capt ELS Gjemre MC  
Capt R Ainsley  
Capt RHN Simonds  
Capt RGS Saunders  
Capt JR Cruttwell  
Capt G Denmeade  
Capt SDG Longworth  
Lt(QM) CJ Allison MBE  
Lt SW Porter Lt FR Watkins
Lt CW Allingham Lt R Fidler
Lt AH Crickmay Lt DF Bune
Lt WEJ Harrison Lt MS Hutton
Lt TR Troward Lt JEG Permuy
Lt E Delson Lt RW Hill
Lt KJH Macdonald 2Lt GS Elliott DCM
2Lt KR Price 2Lt DH Hancock
2Lt CP Jackson 2Lt TH Titterton
2Lt K Stark 2Lt AH Gain
2Lt TR Mitchell  


Capt G Brown (RAMC) Lt CH White (RAOC)
Capt(Rev) HJM Lewis  

Warrant Officers

RSM W Rivers RQM S D Wright
SSM A Gray SSM J Wood
SSM G West SS M T Vickery
SSM J Cowie    
MQMS M Fawcett QMS(T) R Parsley

October 1941 -Missing
November 1941 -Missing
December 1941 -Missing

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