46th Royal Tank Regiment - Looking for Information

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by Jonathan Diaz, Feb 4, 2017.

  1. Jonathan Diaz

    Jonathan Diaz New Member


    I am trying to find information on the 46th Royal Tabk Regiment (Liverpool/Welsh). My grandfather had served in it, Fredrick Harding, but the stories he told me don't have a clear timeline of what/where he was.

    I know he was captured at some point and if I wrote it down right the prisoner transport he was on was called; Niño bicaio.

    He said the tank that he was in was named the Endevour.

    Frankly I am just looking for any information on what his Regiment did, where they went, I think it would be amazing if someone out there knew him. He passed away this last year and I always wanted to ask him more but I think was hard for him to share. Even if someone could point me in the direction of some good places to read up on things that would be amazing!

    Thank you for your time and help.
  2. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    The only sure way to find out information on 46th RTR is to obtain the war diaries, they will give you day by day what the regiment was involved with at that time.
    Also look at orders of battle they will tell you which Corps they were serving with and you can research from there in the bigger picture

    One or two members provide a copying service for war diaries if you are interested.
  3. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Hi Jonathan

    46 RTR were part of 23rd Armoured Brigade. The other two regiments making up the brigade are 40 & 50 RTR. Some useful info here 23 Armoured Brigade

    I think your grandfather was 7895498, Corporal F. J. Harding of 46 RTR. If this is him, he was posted as missing presumed POW on 22 July 1942.

    The date ties in with the Second Battle for Ruweisat Ridge (Operation Splendour). During this battle 23rd Armoured Brigade were decimated by German landmines and 88mm Guns. 23rd Armoured Brigade lost 115 of their 150 Valentine tanks that day. General Auchinleck, commander of 8th Army complained that: "23rd Armoured Brigade, though gallant enough, lost control and missed direction". Others have said the the Brigades superiors were weak and unwilling to question the poor tactics adopted during the battle. Some have described the battle of Ruweisat Ridge as the WW2 equivalent of the charge of the light brigade at Balaclava.

    It would appear your grandfather was taken to a transit POW in Tuturano Italy called PG. 85 during which it would appear in 1943 he managed to escape and was recorded as now in a neutral country. In 1944 he was recorded as safely back in UK.

    You will need his service records to fill in the blanks and also avoid any uncertainty. You can apply for it by filling in the form Get a copy of military service records - GOV.UK

    If the eldest surviving sybling applies you can get them for free. Otherwise it costs £30. Beware, it can take about 6 months to process.

    My father served with 23rd Armoured Brigade in Egypt, Palestine and Greece during 1944 and 1945.

    Hope this helps.

  4. Jonathan Diaz

    Jonathan Diaz New Member

    Thank you for the quick replies!

    And Gus, I don't know how you found that information but that is him! I looked through the pictures of all of his documents of his I have and tha was his ID number!

    Thank you for filling in those gaps. The eldest living relative of his is actually my mother, his daughter, would she be able to request the service records?

    If so I'll probably fill everything out with her and send it in right away.

    Again thank you guys for all of the help! I am going to keep digging and hopefully I can find more answers and fill in the gaps of his story.
  5. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

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  6. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    46RTR 3.jpeg 46RTR 4.jpeg 46RTR 5.jpeg Here are the war diary entries for 22nd July 1942 for the 46th Royal Tank Regiment. This is from the transcribed war diary from the Tank Museum in Bovington:
    Mikko Heikkinen and gmyles like this.
  7. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    46 RTR would place him at Anzio in support of the landings on 22 Jan 44 of 1 BR Inf Div.

    Grim work.


  8. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Read the thread Frank, he was PoW in 42 & back in UK in '44 ;)
    Drew5233 likes this.
  9. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Not true. The NoK form says this...
    As for the wait for them to be sent out, Service Records have been processed within weeks nowadays .
    4jonboy likes this.
  10. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member


    Here's a small introduction into what 23rd Armoured Brigade were up to after North Africa. It is extracted from The Valentine in North Africa 1942-1943, by Bryan Perrett.

    Subsequent History of 23rd Armoured Brigade

    The following is an extract from a Brief History of 23rd Armoured Brigade, a small pamphlet long since out of print, and, to my knowledge, the only complete record of this famous formation’s operations.

    Sicily July 10,1943

    Whilst the success of the British forces in AFRICA was still echoing round the world, General Montgomery, with his 8th Army, struck again on July 10, 1943, landing in SICILY. The 23rd Armoured Brigade was in the forefront. This time 50th RTR with a squadron of 46th RTR supported 51st Highland Division in the assault landing. Regimental headquarters and the remaining squadrons of 46th RTR joined the Brigade as soon as transport was available to SICILY, and these two armoured regiments proceeded to take their full part in the difficult and bitter fighting in SICILY.

    At the end of the Sicilian Campaign, Brigadier G. W. Richards handed over the Brigade to Brigadier R. Η. B. Arkwright, who commanded until the end of the war.

    Salerno Sept. 9,1943

    40th RTR at this period, were concentrating in NORTH AFRICA, retraining and re-fitting with Sherman tanks in preparation for the SALERNO landing. On the 9th September, 23rd Armoured Brigade, which then consisted of 40th RTR and the “Greys”, took part in the assault on the mainland of ITALY at SALERNO. These two regiments supported 46th Division, 56th Division and 201 Guards Brigade. In the meantime, 46th and 50th RTR had temporarily joined 4th Armoured Brigade and with the 8th Army they had crossed the MESSINA STRAITS and landed in ITALY, They continued to advance with the 8th Army and were engaged in fighting at SAN SALVO with 78th Division in November, and they continued Northwards until reaching the SANGRO River where 50th RTR were engaged in some very bitter and heavy fighting in that area, their Commanding Officer being killed.

    Naples Oct. 1,1943

    To return to the west coast of ITALY, the 23rd Armoured Brigade fought with the Infantry in the break-out from the SALERNO bridgehead and in the forcing of the VIETRI Gap. They also carried out the advance on to the NAPLES plain and the capture of the SORRENTO Peninsular which was effected by the “Greys” with Americans. The 23rd Armoured Brigade, (40th RTR) plus Americans were first into NAPLES and they continued throughout that extremely wet and cold winter fighting in the mountains and on the banks of the VOLTURNO. The crossing of the river followed, which, at that period the Italians considered to be an insuperable obstacle. They continued to advance along the famous APPIAN WAY towards ROME. During this period 46th and 50th RTR rejoined the Brigade from the 8th Army and the “Greys” left us, much to our regret. They were a fine fighting regiment.

    That Autumn (1943) consisted of mountain climbing in tanks, to assist 46th Division, 56th Division, 210 Guards Brigade and 5th Division. The GARAGLIANO River was crossed by the 40th RTR about January 19, 1944, in support of 56th Division, 46th Division and 5th Division. The fighting was bitter and the Infantry suffered very severe casualties which prevented them from joining up with the British 1st Division at ANZIO where 46th RTR had landed. It is not necessary here to describe the ficrcc fighting that took place at ANZIO.

    Rome June 4, 1944

    The Brigade, when the break-out finally came was well represented, 46th RTR being the first tanks over the TIBER River and that regiment was actually in ROME on June 4,1944.

    Return to M.E.F.

    Shortly after this, 23rd Armoured Brigade was withdrawn to the MIDDLE EAST to recuperate and re-train, exactly two years after they had arrived in EGYPT. It would appear safe to say that no Armoured formation, even in the 8th Army, had been more constantly engaged, or had fought with more Infantry Divisions during that period.

    Fighting with Infantry is very exacting as it means that the tanks are always in the forward areas getting little rest by day and mostly moving by night.

    Greece 1944

    After intensive training in the MIDDLE EAST, the 23rd Armoured Brigade sailed for GREECE in October, 1944 and in the early days of the Greek Civil War it bore the brunt and horrors of that unpleasant period alone.

    Post War

    In May 1946 the Brigade was placed in suspended animation, but was reconstituted in 1947 when the Territorial Army was reactivated in the outbreak of the Cold War.

    Of the original regiments, only 40th RTR remained, as the 46th and 50th were never reformed. The newcomers were 41st RTR, Staffordshire Yeomanry, and Cheshire Yeomanry.

    The 40th contained many veterans of the war years, who maintained strictly professional standards, never forgetting that they were “Monty’s Foxhounds”. These standards were passed on to the already trained ex- National Servicemen who volunteered for service in the regiment on leaving the regular army, and in consequence all went well for several years.

    However, the political memory is short, and the government’s economy axe was already at work in the late 1950s. The Brigade was finally disbanded and the 40th forced into a marriage with 41 RTR. 'I'his meant that half the experienced officers, NCOs and men from each unit had to resign, the combined unit was now stretched across a county instead of being concentrated, and finally that the permanent staff of regular army instructors, upon whom the regiment would rely to keep its technical knowledge up to date, was cut below the levels of adequacy.

    40/41 RTR, was however, the only remaining Royal Tank Regiment in the Territorial Army, itself a testimony to its efficiency, and was given the role of providing several hundred trained crewmen for the reinforcement of Rhine Army in an emergency. In spite of the end of conscription, this role was more than fulfilled, and the regiment could always boast more Ever Ready Reservists (officers and soldiers who made themselves available for immediate recall to the colours) than any other regiment in the Royal Armoured Corps, TA. In fact the last shots in the regiment’s history were fired in May 1964 by dissident Radfhan tribesmen at a group of Ever Readies temporarily attached to 4th Royal Tank Regiment.

    The Regiment’s Headquarters were latterly situated in Huyton, the constituency of the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson. This did not prevent its disbandment in 1967 as a sop to the Left. By an ironic twist of fate Mr Wilson heard the news of his election defeat in 1970 in what had once been the officers’ mess, the same room in which many officers had heard that there was no further requirement for their services.

    Hope this helps

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  11. andy1742

    andy1742 New Member

    Hi Jonathan

    My Dad served in 46th RTR (Liverpool Welsh) from July 1939 until he was wounded in September 1942. I have some very limited information on the regiment during those years which I am more than happy to share. He wrote a few notes about his time in the regiment and his activities afterwards. Sadly, he is no longer here to ask.

    I need my bed at the moment but will be in touch tomorrow.

  12. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    Does anyone have a copy of the war diary for 46 RTR during its time in the Anzio beach head? I’m particularly interested in the operations at the Moletta River in mid-Feb 1944, but all would be even better.


  13. Marie Piper

    Marie Piper Member

    This picture is 46th RTR Monturano Italy 1943 Front row l to r J Greenbertg, Bill Jack, Frank Wright, J Hilton, G Dunne, R Greene,
    Back row l to r: Ron Dagnall, Ernest Pantony, Albert Winkle, Sgt Cena, Bendall, A Banks.

    Attached Files:

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  14. Andrea Vreede

    Andrea Vreede New Member

    I'm writing to you from Rome where I live. I am looking for more information on the death of my father's first cousin, Lieutenant
    Robert André Bussell (190482), 46th RTR, who fell in battle on February 16th 1944, the first day of Operation Fischfang, the German offensive. Bobby's mother was Dutch and so am I. He is buried at Anzio and I really would like to know more about what happened to him. Is it possible he might be mentioned in the war diaries of 46th RTR?

    Best regards,
    Drew5233 likes this.
  15. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    With Robert Bussell being an Officer, there is a very, very high chance that he would have been mentioned in the 46 RTR war Diary. Other Ranks were less likely to be mentioned.


  16. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    Here you go. Right at the bottom of the page.

    I will work out where the Grid Reference is and post it on here later.



    Last edited: Nov 30, 2020
  17. Andrea Vreede

    Andrea Vreede New Member

    Thank you so much, Frank! I honestly don't know how to thank you. What does tp mean and the number behind it? Is that the location? If you can find that out I am going to take a look at the spot soon. It's not far from Rome. By the way, Bobby's elder brother was shot near Arnhem by a German officer. The family never recovered.
  18. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    Here is the location. I know the site well. It sits at the top of a long rise that comes up from a northely direction and overlooks Buonriposo Ridge. Unless he was dug in, hull down, he would have been very exposed to artillery, anti tank and tank fire.



  19. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    Lt Bussell commanded a Troop of tanks. Tp is short for Troop.

    Here is the organisation chart for a Sherman tank unit:


    You will see that he commanded a Troop of four tanks one of which was his tank.



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