17/21st Lancers

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by viva1angel, Aug 19, 2008.

  1. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    TCS -

    Quite correct - Humber Armoured cars - which the recce troops would have had on landing in North Africa - with the two pounder pop guns
  2. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Many thanks for the confirmation.
    Interesting that you called the 2 pounder a Pop Gun as the Germans called their little 3.7cm a Door Knocker!

  3. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    TCS -
    they got that right as we only had High Explosive rounds - and they weren't all that highly explosive - with the TV on - kids screamng etc - it would have been tough to know anyone was at the door...
  4. brazowski

    brazowski Junior Member

    sorry guys, i should have noticed that they had wheels and not tracks
  5. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA


    Hello and Welcome from Berlin.

    Still waiting to get my hands on my late fathers records after suffering the loss of all his original records in the post.

    I am almost 100% certain that he was transfered into the 17/21st when the Reconnaissance Corps were all amalgamated into the RAC.

    I foolishly gave my uncle (Dads younger brother) his brass cap 17/21st badge many years ago and only have his Recce Capbadge.

    I wish you luck with your enquiries.



    I have a nominal roll of the 4th Recce compiled on it's disbandment and it consisted of 17/21st Lancers, 40 Royal Tank Regt and 56 Royal Tank Regt.

    Cheers - Robert.
  6. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    Many thanks for that information and the time and trouble that you took.

  7. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA


    I have a nominal roll of the 4th Recce compiled on it's disbandment and it consisted of 17/21st Lancers, 40 Royal Tank Regt and 56 Royal Tank Regt.

    Cheers - Robert.

    I have a correction Tom, there was a pencil amendment so it should be 46 RTR.

    The list of names I mentioned was just the rear party.

    If you check your e-mail, I've sent you the last 2 pages of the WD and the strength return for the final month. Apparently the official date for 4th Recce Regt disbandment was 1 Jan 1946

    Regards - Robert.
  8. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Thanks, I have been checking over the records and my fathers record showed his transfer to the 23rd Armoured Brigade on 8th November 1945 followed by the 6th Armoured Division on 2nd may 1946.

  9. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Tom and Robert thanks for the information on 4th Recce's disbandment

  10. tropper66

    tropper66 Member

    Hi every one, I am ex 17/21st B,AIR,D Sqn and served from the late sixtys in Sennelager, Omagh, El-Adam, Wolfenbuttle, Fallingbostel and Bovington nice to read such an interesting thread about the Regiment
  11. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    Hello and welcome to the forum.

    There are plenty of members that are more than keen on AFV's.

    I think we all look forward to reading your posts with interest.

  12. tropper66

    tropper66 Member

    To tell the truth I hate AFVs, big, cold,dirty , finger crushing, pieces of crap. I spent most of my time in a Sioux AH1 Helicopter

    Attached Files:

  13. tropper66

    tropper66 Member

    I'm the one in the middle with the beret on
  14. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

  15. tropper66

    tropper66 Member

    The one in the pici is XT806 one of the late airframes from the second batch purchased, as most Sioux where XT 200s photo taken in Creggen Camp in 1973
  16. tropper66

    tropper66 Member

    Emma, one of my local fella's was 17th / 21st, and this is what I have pulled together on Him. Info is all easily accesable, but might be of use.

    In Memory of
    Trooper FRED BRIDGE
    3715659, 17th/21st Lancers, Royal Armoured Corps
    who died age 28
    on 07 January 1943
    Son of Mr. and Mrs. William Bridge; husband of Vera Bridge (nee Wilkinson), of
    Ditton, Widnes, Lancashire
    Remembered with honour

    No other personal details have been able to have been traced other than the fact that born in Bury in 1914 Fred Bridge, was the son of Mr and Mrs William Bridge (nee Ogden), no details of his parents marriage or indeed his own later marriage to a Miss Wilkinson,

    Originally enlisted in The Kings Own Royal Regiment, the date at which Trooper Bridge Transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps with the 17<sup>th</sup>/21<sup>st</sup> Lancers is not known and as such details of Fred’s early Military service are difficult to confirm. It is likely that Trooper Bridge was called up at the start of the War, and would have served in either France prior to Dunkirk or in the Middle East / North Africa

    It is possible that Trooper Bridge transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps whilst already in North Africa with the Kings Own Royal regiment and having joined the 17<sup>th</sup> / 21<sup>st</sup> Lancers became part of the 78<sup>th</sup> Division

    At the outbreak of the war, the 17th/21st Lancers were based at Colchester. As they had just returned from India, they had not yet been issued with tanks or indeed transport of any kind. It was therefore not in a position to be sent to France as part of the forces that were to try and hold back the Germans. The regiment had to hobble together what equipment it could (four old medium tanks and machine gun mounted pick up trucks) and wander around South and East England as a mobile reserve in the event of an invasion.

    From September of 1940 the regiment was brigaded together with the 16th/5th Lancers and the 2nd Lothians and Border Horse in the 36th Armoured Brigade as part of the 6th Armoured Division. This liaison was to prove fruitful and the regiment remained in this formation for the entire duration of the war. The unit was initially supplied with Matilda and Valentine tanks. With these tanks, the regiment trained for the next two years in the new tactics and techniques that were being formed as an antidote to the conspicuous German success with tank warfare. The outdated and slow Matildas were replaced by Crusaders. This was not to be too happy a conversion as the upgraded speed was at the cost of reliability and vulnerability.

    The years of training were put to the test in 1942 as the regiment was sent to Algeria as part of Operation Torch. The plan was to brush aside the Vichy French forces of that country and head to Tunisia as quickly as possible. The French did indeed collapse quickly and the force was able to advance east from Algiers towards Tunisia. However, the Germans were able to react quickly. Their supply lines had been cut considerably by withdrawing to Tunisia and they held a decisive advantage in the air.
    The regiment came into action for the first time on November 24th as they overran a position held by Italian troops. However, a counterattack by the Germans the next day revealed how poorly armed the British were when compared to the 75mm and 88mm guns of the Germans. The quantity of allied troops had placed them within spitting distance of the prize of Tunis, but German technical and air superiority denied the allies their objectives. The war in Tunisia was about to bog down in to more classically defined front lines

    The two Allied columns concentrated at Djebel Abiod and Beja, preparing for an assault on 24 November. 36th Brigade was to advance from Djebel Abiod towards Mateur and 11th Brigade was to move down the valley of the River Merjerda to take Majaz al Bab (shown on Allied maps as Medjez el Bab or just Medjez) and then to Tebourba, Djedeida and Tunis. Blade Force was to strike across country on minor roads in the gap between the two infantry brigades towards Sidi Nsir and make flanking attacks on Terbourba and Djedeida.

    The northern attack did not take place because torrential rain had slowed the build-up. In the south 11th Brigade were halted by stiff resistance at Medjez. However, Blade Force passed through Sidi Nsir to reach the Chouigui Pass, north of Terbourba. Then part of Blade Force comprising 17 light M3 tanks of Company C, 1st Battalion 17<sup>th</sup>/21<sup>st</sup> Lancers, 1st Armored Regiment, U.S. 1st Armored Division under the command of Major Rudolph Barlow, supported by armoured cars of the Derbyshire Yeomanry, infiltrated behind Axis lines to the newly activated airbase at Djedeida in the afternoon. In a lightning attack, the Allied tanks destroyed more than 20 Axis planes, also shooting up several buildings, supply dumps, and killing and wounding a number of the defenders. However, without infantry support, they were not in a position to consolidate their gains and withdrew to Chouigui.
    Blade Force's attack caught Nehring by surprise and alerted him to the vulnerability of
    the strong garrison at Medjez being outflanked. He decided to withdraw from Medjez and strengthen Djedeida, only 30 kilometres (19 mi) from Tunis.

    36th Brigade's delayed attack went in on 26 November. However, Nehring had used the time bought holding the position at Djebel Abiod to create an ambush position at Jefna on the road between Sedjenane and Mateur. The Germans occupied high ground on either side of the road, which after the recent heavy rains was very muddy and the ground on either side impassable for vehicles. The ambush worked perfectly with the leading battalion taking 149 casualties. 36th Brigade's commander, Brigadier Kent-Lemon, sent units into the hills to try to flush the German positions out but the stubborn resistance of the paratroopers combined with the cleverly planned interlocking defenses proved too much. A supporting landing by 1 Commando 14 miles (23 km) west of Bizerta on 30 November in an attempt to outflank the Jefna position failed in its objective and they had rejoined 36th Brigade by 3 December. The position remained in German hands until the last days of fighting in Tunisia the following spring.

    Early on 26 November 11th Brigade were able to enter Medjez unopposed and by late in the day had taken positions in and around Tebourba, which had also been evacuated by the Germans, preparatory to advancing on Djedeida. However, on 27 November the Germans attacked in strength killing 137 men and taking 286 prisoners of war. 11th Brigade made a new attempt to regain the initiative in the early hours of 28 November, attacking towards Djedeida airfield with the help of armor from U.S. 1st Armored Division's Combat Command 'B', which quickly lost nineteen tanks to anti-tank guns positioned within the town.

    On 29 November fresh units from 78th Division's third brigade, the Guards Brigade, which had arrived at Algiers on 22 November, started to arrive at the front line to relieve 11th Brigade's battered battalions.

    On 29 November Combat Command B of US 1st Armored Division had concentrated forward for an attack in conjunction with Blade Force planned for 2 December. Meanwhile the 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment under Lieutenant Colonel John Dutton Frost would be dropped on 3 December near enemy airfields around Depienne 30 miles (48 km) south of Tunis (Operation OUDNA) to destroy Stuka dive bombers which had been causing considerable problems and threaten Tunis from the south. As it was, they dropped near a place where an experienced Italian Bersaglieri infantry battalion happened to be. Radio Rome reported that the Bersaglieri took 300 British Paratroops prisoners. However, the British reported that they had been in contact with 5th FJR Afrika (5th Fallschirmjager Regiment Africa) supported by tanks and heavy armoured cars.The British parachutists nevertheless reached Oudna but the main armoured attack did not take place having been forestalled by an Axis counterattack on 1 December leaving the survivors of the raid to make their way back to home lines, rejoining 78th Infantry Division on 3 December.

    The Axis counterattack, led by Major-General Wolfgang Fischer, whose 10th Panzer
    Division had just arrived in Tunisia, came from the north towards Tebourba. Blade Force became heavily engaged, suffering considerable casualties. By the evening of 2 December Blade Force had been withdrawn leaving 11th Brigade and Combat Command B to deal with the Axis attack. This threatened to cut off 11th Brigade and break through into the Allied rear but desperate fighting by 2nd battalion The Hampshire Regiment (from the Guards Brigade) and the 1st battalion East Surrey Regiment over four days delayed the Axis advance. This together with the effort of Combat Command B in opposing mixed armoured and infantry attacks from the south east permitted a controlled withdrawal to the high ground on each side of the river west of Terbourba

    As Allied troops built up in Tunisia a new H.Q. under First Army was activated in early May, that of British V Corps under Lieutenant-General Charles Allfrey, to take over command of all forces in the Tebourba sector, which by this time included 6th Armoured Division. Despite Anderson's wish to make one more attempt to break through to Tunis, Allfrey considered the weakened units facing Tebourba were highly threatened and ordered a retreat of roughly 6 miles (9.7 km) to the high positions of Longstop Hill (djebel el Ahmera) and Bou Aoukaz on each side of the river. On the 10 December Axis tanks attacked Combat Command B on Bou Aoukaz becoming hopelessly bogged down in the mud. In turn, the U.S. tanks counter-attacked and were also mired and picked off, losing 18 tanks[30]. Allfrey was still concerned over the vulnerability of his force and ordered a further withdrawal west so that by the end of 10 December Allied units held a defensive line just east of Medjez el Bab. This string of Allied defeats in December cost them dearly; 173 tanks, 432 other vehicles, and 170 artillery pieces were lost, in addition to thousands of casualties.

    The Allies started a buildup for another attack, and were ready by late December, 1942. The continued but slow buildup had brought Allied force levels up to a total of 54,000 British, 73,800 American, and 7,000 French troops. A hasty intelligence review showed about 125,000 combat and 70,000 service troops, mostly Italian, in front of them.

    On the night of December 16-December 17, a company of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division made a successful raid on Maknassy, 155 miles (250 km) south of Tunis, and took twenty-one German prisoners. The main attack began the afternoon of December 22, despite rain and insufficient air cover, elements of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division's 18th Regimental Combat team and 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards of 78th Division's Guards Infantry Brigade made progress up the lower ridges of the 900-foot (270 m) Longstop Hill that controlled the river corridor from Medjez to Tebourba and thence to Tunis. By the morning of 23 December the Coldstreams had driven back the elements of German 10th Panzer Division on the summit were then relieved by 18 RCT and were withdrawn to Mejdez. The Germans regained the hill in a counter-attack and the Coldstreams were ordered back to Longstop. The next day they had regained the peak and with 18 RCT dug in. However, by 25 December, with ammunition running low and Axis forces now holding adjacent high ground, the Longstop position became untenable and the Allies were forced to withdraw to Medjez and by 26 December 1942 the Allies had withdrawn to the line they had set out from two weeks earlier, having suffered 20,743 casualties. The Allied run for Tunis had been stopped

    Eisenhower, meanwhile, transferred further units from Morocco and Algeria eastward into Tunisia. In the north, Lt Gen Kenneth Anderson's British First Army grew to two corps under command: three more divisions, 1st, 4th and 46th, forming British IX Corps soon joined the 6th Armoured and 78th Infantry Divisions of V Corps already in Tunisia. In the south, the basis of a two-division French corps (French XIX Corps) under Alphonse Juin was being built and in the centre was a new U.S. II Corps, to be commanded by Lloyd Fredendall, eventually to consist of the majority of six divisions: the 1st, 3rd, 9th, and 34th Infantry and the 1st and 2nd Armored. At this stage Giraud had rejected Eisenhower's plan to have the French corps under First Army and they and US II Corps for the time being remained under direct command of AFHQ. Equally important, considerable effort was put into building new airfields and improving provision of air support.

    The U.S. also started to build up a complex of logistics bases in Algeria and Tunisia, with the eventual goal of forming a large forward base at Maknassy, on the eastern edge of the Atlas Mountains, in excellent position to cut the German-Italian Panzer Army in the south off from its lines of supply to Tunis and isolate it from Fifth Panzer Army in the north.

    During the first half of January 1943 Andersen had with mixed results kept constant pressure through limited attacks and reconnaissance in strength, and on the 3rd January, an attack by 36 Infantry Brigade to capture the dominating enemy positions on Djebel Azzag and Djebel Ajred was not .very successful and by 5<sup>th</sup> January after severe fighting in heavy rain, withdrew to our original front. Losses on both sides were relatively heavy. Again on 3<sup>rd</sup> January 6 Armoured Division made a reconnaissance in force in the Goubellat plain; and on the 6th January followed this by a successful local attack north of Bou Arada.<o>:p</o>:p

    A number of points in that are wrong

    Blade force was a British battle group

    !7/21 only had Valantine and Crusader tanks not M3 Stuarts the were amarican 1st armoured regiment

    !7/21 where in 26 armd brigade not 36

    British cavelry regiments do not have battalions only the RTR

    col HULL 17/21 Lancers commanded Blade Force

    !st battalion 1st Armoured regt US Army was an attached unit under command of John Waters who was a lt col
  17. englandphil

    englandphil Very Senior Member

    Cheers Trooper, ill make the amendments

  18. tropper66

    tropper66 Member

    Must read books

    The Scarlet Lancers by James Lunt Leo Cooper

    T17/21 Lancers 1795-1993 R V L ffrench Blake

    An Army At Dawn Rick Atkinson Abacus books

    Disaster at Kasserine Charles Whiting Pen and Sword

    The last book is crap, as is most of Whiting's work poorly reserched and info nicked from other books

    A few years ago I walked/ drove the route taken by Blade Force, and the later battles that the 17/21st took part in Tunisia. Been quit keen on that part of the war since being posted in El-Adam in the late 60s there was not much to do in the middle of nowhere except investigate the old possisitions
  19. englandphil

    englandphil Very Senior Member

  20. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    As the Reconnaissance units were wound down there were wholesale transfers before final disbandenment.

    I found this list of soldiers transfered in the war diary from the Recce Regt to the 17/21 st Lancers of the RAC.


    Attached Files:

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