WW II, a British focus




 

 

 
A Short History of the 8th Armoured Brigade

CHAPTER III

 

May 1943 to D-Day.

On 15th May 1943 a Cocktail Party was given by the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry to approximately 60 officers of the Brigade. Thereafter a period of relaxation followed, and seven days leave was authorised for all ranks.

The Brigade remained in the Hergia area training till 14th June when the move to Homs was commenced. The move was interrupted at Zavia where the Brigade had the honour of being inspected by H. M. King George VI.

7th Armoured Divisional Sports were held at Leptis Magna on 9th July and the 8th Armoured Brigade Team defeated all comers. The next day Colonel Ronald MacDonnell left to rejoin the 2nd Armoured Brigade and was replaced by Colonel R. C. G. Joy of The Royals. Other changes included the return of Lieutenant-Colonel David Silvertop to the 3rd Battalion Royal Tank Regiment and thle replacement of Lord Cranley by Lieutenant-Colonel Spence in the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry.

On 16th September the long trek back to the Delta began and Brigadier O. L. Prior-Palmer met the Brigade at Beni Yusef on the 27th. He assumed command early in October on the departure of Brigadier "Roscoe" Harvey for England.

Five weeks followed during which the Regiments were deployed on guard duties and handed over their remaining tanks. After seven days in a Transit Camp at Amiyria the Brigade embarked in SS "Tegelberg" and "Nieuw Holland" sailing from Alexandria Harbour under the command of Colonel Ronald Joy, M.C., on 18th November, Brigadier O. L Prior-Palmer having been posted to command the 7th Armoured Brigade a week previously.

After a long and uneventful journey the convoy berthed in Scotland on December 9th and all ranks were despatched on leave. 168 (City of London) Light Field Ambulance, the 552 Company Royal Army Service Corps and the 8th Armoured Brigade Workshops had also returned with the Brigade, and Lieutenant-Colonel Jim Eadie, D. S. O., who had assumed command of the Staffordshire Yeomanry before Alamein was still at the head of the Regiment.

In the New Year the Brigade re-assembled at Chippenham Park, New-market, under the command of Brigadier J. M. Anstice, D. S. O., and were informed of the part they were to play in the forthcoming invasion of Europe.

In order to even out the Regiments with recent battle experience among Brigades which had not fought since France in 1940, certain changes were now made. The Staffordshire Yeomanry changed places with the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards in the 27th Armoured Brigade and the 3rd Battalion Royal Tank Regiment replaced the 24th Lancers in the 29th Armoured Brigade now commanded by Brigadier Harvey.

At this juncture Brigadier Bernard Cracroft assumed command of the 8th Armoured Brigade which was now composed as shown below:-

4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards. - Commander: Lieutenant-Colonel Geoffrey Byron.
24th Lancers - Commander: Lieutenant-Colonel W. A. C. Anderson.
Nottinghamshire (Sherwood Rangers) Yeomanry. - Commander: Lieutenant-Colonel John Anderson, D. S. O.
147th Field Regiment (Essex Yeomanry) Royal Artillery. - Commander: Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Phayre.
12th Battalion The King's Royal Rifle Corps. - Commander: Lieutenant-Colonel Dick Oxley.
168 (City of London) Light Field Ambulance. - Commander: Lieutenant-Colonel Tommy Robb.
552 Company Royal Army Service Corps. - Commander: Major House.
8th Armoured Brigade Workshops R.E.M.E. - Commander: Major R. A. Arbuckle.
265 Forward Delivery Squadron. - Commander: Major Henry-May.

Intensive training in Combined Operations was now undertaken while all staffs were deeply immersed in the planning of operation "OVERLORD".

The 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards had already completed a stiff course of training in the secret Duplex Drive Swimming Tank with the 27th Armoured Brigade and two Squadrons of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry went to Fritton in Norfolk to carry out a similar course during March. Duplex Drive Swimming Tank

April saw feverish activity when all equipment had to be rendered waterproof, the "Non-DD" Tanks being equipped to wade in six feet of water. All training culminated in Exercise "FABIUS" in early May when a full scale rehearsal of the landing was carried out.


Duplex Drive Swimming Tank On 19th May the Brigade moved to its concentration area at Hursley Park, near Winchester and on 1st June all units were "sealed" into transit camps in the Romsey area. The air of England was heavy with pent up excitement and expectancy.

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