11th Armoured Division, Tank Casualties, 1945

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by dbf, Apr 8, 2013.

  1. grimmy

    grimmy Guest

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  2. grimmy

    grimmy Guest

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  3. Firefly44

    Firefly44 Junior Member

    Serial No. D46
    2nd Fife & Forfar Yeomanry


    From A Squadron War Diary

    5th April:
    Moving off at first light, 'A' Sqn led, order 1, 3, 2. The Regt passed through the 3rd Tks as Lavelsloh, and advanced through Warmson. At Harrienstedt, 1 Tp bumped a road block in the village which they suspected was held. Cpl Bush, leading tank, charged the block and got through but Lt Fuller, following, was bazookaed. He and three of his crew were killed when they baled out, by the enemy, a party of SS. 3 Tp were passed round the left flank towards Glissen; when the inf came up the village was soon cleared. The Sqn were then ordered to clear down as far south as Armstadt, where a few of the SS men were collected. 2 Tp with a patrol conducted a patrol from here down to a ferry at Haven, which was visited with a few to bridge building.
    Later the Sqn was withdrawn to a concentration area south of Stolzenau to await bridging operations. Our casualties were buried in the orchard of this village (Hibben).

    Casualties:

    5th April
    Killed

    Officers
    Lt F W Fuller

    ORs
    L/Cpl Axtell
    L/Cpl Grossmith
    L/Cpl Marris

    From the memoirs of Lt WS Brownlie A Sqn

    5 April

    A race to the Weser, 30 miles away. 23 Hussars were on Chase Route; we were on Steeple Route a few miles to the south. Off, flat out, at first light. This was more like it. Twiehausen, Espelkamp, Rahden, Linteln, Lavelsloh, Bohnhorst, Linde, Harrienstedt, Glissen, Meiers Muhlen, Hibben. Five minutes out of harbour my wireless set packed in. Mine being a spare command tank, there was another set in the hull gunner’s position. Without stopping, we swapped the two sets: a tricky operation.

    Approaching Glissen, still at full speed, Frank Fuller’s Troop was in the lead. His Corporal was first tank, and the operator reported on the air “no washing” in the village ahead. Therefore they slowed down. The Corporal reported enemy in the ditches on both side of the road. Frank reported that he had been hit, and then was silent. His Corporal reported that he seemed to have gone right through the enemy pocket, and was told to stay where he was. The Squadron deployed off the road, myself going left over the fields looking for a position to fire on to the road or into the village. The following Troops unloaded the Infantry who were travelling on the back of the tanks, to start a clearing action. Meantime Frank’s tank sat alone and silent, round the bend in the road.

    Suddenly his operator, Tpr Oxley, came on the air and said very quietly that the rest of the crew were dead, that the enemy were all around, and he proposed to lie doggo till he could escape. He was told to do that. I found a good fire position, and saw our infantry deployed and advancing. I fired in front of them to help them forward, but they went to ground ‑ maybe they mistook my stuff for enemy fire. More of our tanks came up, a few prisoners were taken, and casualties inflicted on others trying to escape. I shot at some crossing open ground to my left, and Glissen was taken without much trouble: more prisoners. They were from 12 SS Panzer, very young, blubbering and weeping as they ran back along the dusty road, urged by the boots of our infantry. I helped by brandishing a pistol from the turret, and shouting “Schneller, schneller”. We found bicycles and Panzerfausts in the ditches. Obviously the enemy were now scraping the bottom of the barrel, but they could still kill people.

    The Troops were sent on separately, to find a crossing over the Weser, now only a mile or so away. I stayed with Squadron HQ, which went through Meiers Muhlen to Hibben. I was taking the first mouthful of a meal when I was sent back several miles to contact an infantry unit. En route I met some of our Echelon, where Frank’s tank had been hit, and pieced together the story. I tell it in memory of him, and of many like him whose luck ran out.

    His tank was hit in the front by a Panzerfaust, and halted in the midst of the enemy party, who were in the ditches on both sides of the road. He got no reply from his driver or co‑driver on the IC, so got out of the turret to climb down and perhaps get in on top of the driver and try to drive out of danger: perhaps better than sitting and being finished off, but a hard decision. He was at once riddled by MG fire and blown off the tank by another Panzerfaust. His gunner lost his nerve and jumped out: killed. I think the three dead were L/Cpls Axtell, Grossmith and Marris. Frank was one of the few juniors who were married. Oxley was too, and he had just failed to get a posting to UK, his wife having an incurable spinal disease. When I arrived back at the scene, the tank had been shoved off the road, and Frank’s just recognisable body was in the ditch.

    Closing up to and crossing the Weser was a complicated business. I spent the afternoon as LO with another unit, then was sent north to Hibben, near Stolzenau where the bridge had been blown up in their faces. It looked as if we would be static till a bridge was built, so I took care to find good billets – an open space surrounded by enough houses to accommodate everybody. The tanks arrived, and the usual washing, shaving, cooking, etc, began. The women in the house that I selected as Squadron HQ had objected, not willing to understand that we were coming in whether they liked it or not. One went off on a bicycle, whether to seek support or what I don’t know, then came dashing back, screaming. A Polish DP had chased her, waving a knife. I told her that if there was any more nonsense we would set him on her again (some hope) and that shut the civilians up.

    In the evening Frank and his crew were buried in a nearby orchard, Padre Walsh conducting a solemn ceremony in the midst of a violent air‑raid, the rest of us standing and resisting a strong desire to dive for cover. Oswald was a remarkable man.

    KIA:

    243186 Lieutenant Frank William Fuller (ex 24th Lancers), age 33

    7927852 L/Corporal Arthur George Axtell, age 34

    7960888 L/Corporal Frederick William Marris, age 21

    14318281 L/Corporal Herbert John Grossmith, age 20

    All are buried in Hanover War Cemetery
     
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  4. Firefly44

    Firefly44 Junior Member

    Serial No. D40

    2nd Fife & Forfar Yeomanry

    From 2FFY War Diary:

    Apr. 9

    At first light Rodewald was again clear and the woods beside it and A sqn. pushed on to Niedernstocken at 2451 where the bridge was also blown.

    Apr. 10

    As the bridge was not yet complete, the regiment moved off at 0800 hrs., with B sqn. leading, to cross the river at Neustadt 1736 where the 6th Airborne had established a crossing. We then moved northeast to Esperke 2750. On going towards Schwarmstedt 2755, the leading tank was knocked out by a Panzerfaust. Here there was considerable opposition, which was attacked by two coys. of the Herefords astride the road, each coy. being supported by a troop of B sqn. The coy. to the west of the road met heavy fire coming from the woods just south of the village. Both the Sqn. Ldr., Capt. Ryde, and the Coy. Commdr. were wounded. The tp. of tanks mostly got back and the third tp. of the sqn. was brought into action.

    KIA:

    3862599 Trooper Fred Jamieson, age 28

    Buried in Becklingen War Cemetery
     
  5. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Firefly
    Thanks for adding info
     
  6. KevinT

    KevinT Senior Member

    Some named tanks from dbf post. Most are obvious from the photos.

    11th Armoured Division
    23rd Hussars
    Comets
    T334942 AJAX post no. 21
    T334983 BUCEPHALUS post no. 18

    If anyone can put names against the WD census number please post them.

    Cheers

    Kevin
     
  7. grimmy

    grimmy Guest

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  8. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    .....and the guy stood in the turret is the Gunner Reg S******* who was instructing other gunners at the time.
     
  9. grimmy

    grimmy Guest

    deleted
     
  10. JDKR

    JDKR Member

    D16 and D20 - 3 RTR

    Both these tanks belonged to B Squadron 3 RTR commanded by Major Bill Close. This is Bill's description of the loss of the tanks...


    "On 11 April 3 RTR moved on from Schwarmstedt with my squadron in the lead. My leading troop commander was 2 Lt John Pearson who had only recently joined the battalion, aged 19 and with little battle experience. He had a very experienced troop sergeant, Sergeant Cranston, and another fairly new subaltern, Jeff Lomas, acting as his troop corporal. This was fairly common practice in RTR and was done specifically for young officers to gain battle experience. Our approach to the River Aller was via the village of Essel and I gave instructions to Pearson to keep a sharp lookout for possible panzerfaust men. In the event he reported only seeing a few dead germans and he moved on rapidly towards the river. It was difficult tank country, a straight road leading across the river, the ground on either side of the road very marshy, making it impossible to deploy off the road.

    I had moved my HQ tanks fairly close to Pearson's troop and, taking cover in a small stand of trees by the roadside, took stock of the position. Through my a i thought I could see enemy movement in the woods across the river and accordingly warned Pearson to watch out and be prepared to engage anything that moved. "Wilco out" was his response and he moved on towards the bridge. When about 100 yds short of it, he could see that it was blown, he duly reported that fact to me and that he thought the river was about 40 yds wide at that point.

    I was somewhat concerned about the movement on the other side of the river as I knew 1st Commando Brigade had made an assault crossing over the river the night before and we were not quite sure of their whereabouts. I was in the process of reporting to the CO that the bridge over the river was blown when suddenly - Crash! Bang! - Pearson's and Cranston's tanks erupted into flames and I could see one or two crew members out but obviously wounded. Lt Lomas in the third tank managed to get off the road, took cover in some bushes, and proceeded to engage the anti-tank gun which had knocked out Pearson and Cranston. Although his tank was hit twice he courageously carried on with the engagement and, eventually, with a direct hit on the enemy gun, knocked it out. In the meantime I moved up close to the burning tanks and got out to go to the aid of the wounded crew.

    John Pearson and two of his crew, Shipley and Wyatt, his operator, were lying in the long grass beside the road, all badly burned about the hands and face. Trooper Rowe, another member of his crew, had also managed to get clear and was not badly hurt. The driver, Manning, was killed instantly. Sergeant Cranston and LCpl Turnbull in the other tank were killed instantly, with the remainder of the crew managing to get out with only minor wounds.

    There was some small-arms' fire coming from across the river but not accurately enough to cause any problems and we were mostly concealed from view by the burning tanks. I immediately got on my radio for medical help and was told that Doc Whitehouse was on his way. Johnny Pearson's first few days with the battalion had been quite eventful, two sharp engagements, but, in spite of his very serious burns, he was quite cheerful and without doubt was extremely thankful to be alive. He had also made every attempt to go to the aid of Cranston's crew. Shortly afterwards Doc Whitehouse arrived with his two medical half-tracks and the wounded were evacuated".

    Source: A View from the Turret, Maj Bill Close MC, Dell & Bredon, 2002


    Comments.

    1. As far as I was aware the only 'anti-tank' guns available to engage the tanks would have been two 10.5cm Flak belonging to RAD Batterie 1./521 on the Aller's right bank. However the report clearly states that the penetrations were 88mm. Either Wright and Harkness assumed that all large penetrations were 88mm and didn't bother to measure them or there were 8.8 cm guns present at this battle which have not previously been known about. I will have to do some research!

    2. I don't think Bill Close is correct in identifying LCpl Turnbull as being in Sergeant Cranston's crew. Turnbull is buried in CWGC Hannover and is recorded being killed on 4 April. Also buried in CWGC Hannover is a Tpr Dawes who is recorded as being killed on 11 Apr and is therefore, I think, the correct name/crew member.
     
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  11. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    What is the deal with the deleted posts, Grimmy?
     
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  12. JDKR

    JDKR Member

    D24 - 23 HUSSARS

    Fair likelihood that this is the Comet from Second Troop B Squadron commanded by Lt Vickers which was knocked out on 9 April (23 H history P228) when close to the Leine. Reasons? Report and history have two matches - tank was hit twice by AP rounds and crew escaped unhurt.

    JDKR
     
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  13. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Thanks for adding information, it's pleasing to see the information is being accessed and the details checked and cross referenced.

    :) Just want to note here about this and the other 3 similar threads in RAC/RTR section, they're not my own area of research.
    So if anyone has an interest in these units and indeed the time to keep adding to the threads etc, please feel free. It all adds to the general knowledge base.

     
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  14. JDKR

    JDKR Member

    D2 - 15/19 HUSSARS

    This tank was knocked out on 7 April. It was from 4 Troop, A Squadron and was leading the advance when it was hit close to a railway crossing at GR 941333 (1945 grid ref). The three crew members killed were: Sgt Crump (commander) and Tpr Beard and Tpr Powell. The regiment was heading north to assist 1st Commando Brigade in the Leese area (although this task was subsequently allocated to 23 Hussars).

    JDKR
     
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  15. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    For those interested or confused by the mention of 12 SS HJ Division, I believe these were from their replacement battalion based in Langendamm, just east of the Weser at Nienburg. They put up quite a defense also at Husum which left most of the village burned down. Not the Husum on the coast, but the small village SE of Nienburg, east of Landesbergen, NE of Leese, where the CWGC cemetary now is.

    All the best

    Andreas
     
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