4RTR - 15 June 1941 - Would really appreciate some help

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by brimacombe, Jul 17, 2020.

  1. brimacombe

    brimacombe Active Member

    Hi Guys!

    I'm trying to write a brief bio of one of the men of 4RTR who was killed on 15 June 1941 during the attack at Halfaya. I've identified 8 men of the unit lost that day - two tanks? The individual I'm working on is Tpr William K Daniel. Does anyone have a copy of 4RTR war diary for the day? I'd like to try and put together the names of those in the tank and perhaps get an idea of how the tank was lost.

    Here's a list of the eight I identified...

    1. 7913928 L/Cpl George Brock Casualty
    2. 7913938 Tpr Arthur Cracker Casualty
    3. 7910039 Tpr WILLIAM K DANIEL Casualty
    4. 7884510 Cpl Raymond Hunter Casualty
    5. 7909179 Tpr Jack Robert Casualty
    6. 5103672 L/Sgt Arthur Leatherbarrow Casualty
    7. 7912846 Tpr Leonard Saxton Casualty
    8. 7889912 L/Cpl Leonard Stretton Casualty

    Really hoping the power of the forum will come through on this one!

    Thanks in advance guys!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 18, 2020
  2. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    The whole of 4RTR was badly mauled that day but only C Sqn was directed against the HALFAYA position.

    They began their attack at 0605 with 12 I tanks and a solitary Light. By 0930 all 13 were effectively knocked out and 17 casualties accrued.

    In other words, it is most unlikely that the 8 names you have identified were to be found in just 2 tanks. Indeed, unless they were C Sqn, they wouldn't have been attacking HALFAYA at all.
  3. brimacombe

    brimacombe Active Member

    Thanks Mark, that at least gives me something more to work with.

    Thanks again.
  4. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    Assuming the subject of your research was in C Sqn (if not you will have to have a bit of a rethink about HALFAYA), this may assist.

    The HALFAYA position (including the company on the coast and at QALALA) was held by a composite force in battalion strength under Maj BACH, CO 1st Battalion, 104th Schutzen Regiment.

    The force consisted of 3 companies from 1/104, the 6th Oasis Coy, the Italian 5th Coy of di Francesco Battalion, 3 Italian artillery batteries with a total of 12 105mm guns and 2 batteries of 1st Abteilung, 33rd Flak Regiment with 4 88mm and 8 20mm AA guns in an AT/k role.

    Between 15 and 17 June, BACH's forces claimed 20 tanks and 8 armoured cars. This is in line with what the British later wrote off lost.

    On 15 June alone, the 2 batteries of 1./Flak-Regt.33 claimed 9 I tanks (C Sqn, 4RTR) and 2 Cruiser tanks (poss BHQ, 4RTR or misidentified I tanks of C Sqn) on the escarpment and 3 I tanks on the coast (A Sqn, 4RTR). Thus, they claimed 14 tanks out of the 20 total claimed. The majority of the 14 were claimed by the 88mm battery.

    The balance of probability therefore suggests an 88mm of 1./Flak-Regt.33 was the offending weapon.

    An interesting propaganda piece was published in Signal during the war about this. I have it somewhere l think.

    The information l present does not come from Signal but is from a British write up of the events taken from captured German documents.

    However, note of caution reminder, none of the above applies if the subject of your research was not part of C Sqn or the part of A Sqn attacking up the coast road.
  5. brimacombe

    brimacombe Active Member

    THANKS MARK - now it's just trying to confirm he was in C Sqn or part of A Sqn!

    My source is the book of remembrance, written in the '50's and deposited in the church here in Holsworthy, which states 'Killed in Action 15 June 1941, at HALFAYA PASS, Tobruk.'

    Thanks for your help Mark
  6. MarkN

    MarkN Banned


    If that is all you have to go on, he may not even have been in 4RTR.

    7RTR were fighting next to 4RTR in attacking Fort CAPUZZO.

    Next to them was 2RTR and 6RTR just a bit further west.

    And given that the description mentions TOBRUK - much further to the west - he could even be in 1RTR or 5RTR which had elements in the TOBRUK garrison.
  7. brimacombe

    brimacombe Active Member

    Pretty certain he was 4RTR - I knew his brother and other close relatives and recall many years ago being given the privilege of looking through some of his personal papers. CWGC also states 4th and, the book of remembrance has been 100% correct on every other entry, so feel pretty confident on that one Mark.
  8. MarkN

    MarkN Banned


    4RTR was split between 3 separate attack groupings under 4th Indian Division that day.

    1. Battalion HQ 4RTR with all of B Sqn and HQ A Sqn with 3 troops was under command 4th Armoured Brigade (aka Armd Gp, Escarpment Force) in the assault on Pt.206.

    2. All of C Sqn was undercommand 2nd Cameronians (aka Halfaya Gp, Escarpment Force then Coast Force) for the assault on the top of HALFAYA PASS.

    3. 2 troops from A Sqn were under command 11th Indian Brigade (aka Coast Force) for the assault on the foot of HALFAYA PASS.

    If your subject was not a tank crew member, ie part of the B Echelon or other, he could have been anywhere behind those 3 separate prongs and their start points at SOFAFI and. BUQ BUQ.
  9. brimacombe

    brimacombe Active Member

    Thanks for the detail Mark. I'm not sure where to go with this one now! You've confirmed many of the facts but, unless I can find his name somewhere there's little chance of being able to pinpoint exactly where he was!
  10. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    Quite so.

    Public records tend to be more detailed the higher you are pettering out to almost nothing at the individuals' level. Officers get a mention sometimes if the weekly returns were not destroyed. References to ORs are like hens' teeth.

    Details on individuals, their trade, their role and their whereabouts (organizationally and geographically) are more likely to come from private records held by the family or similar.

    This simple reality is often difficult to accept by a descendant researching their familiy member.
  11. brimacombe

    brimacombe Active Member

    You know that thing we all say, about wishing we'd taken more notice when we had the opportunity Mark! Well, I'm wishing that right now! I was still at school when I had the opportunity to talk to Don (Kenneth's brother) and look at the papers. They might well have answered all the questions. I was hoping there might have been some published personal diaries or similar which might help, but no luck there either.

    Thanks again for you efforts Mark, truly appreciated.
    Chris C likes this.
  12. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    If you tell the story of what the whole of 4RTR got up to that day - without leaving out the non-tank crew story as most do - you cover all the bases.

    You may not identify the exact details of your subject's efforts, but you will have covered them within the whole.
  13. brimacombe

    brimacombe Active Member

    Thanks Mark - now to condense it down to a single A5 page, including his biographical details!

    It'll all come together in the end!

    Thanks so much for your help
  14. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Unfortunately no Appendix A was attached to the transcribed war diary. 4RTR 10.jpeg
  15. brimacombe

    brimacombe Active Member

    Thanks so much! OH FOR APPENDIX A!!!
  16. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    Appendix A is a 6 page report with its own 1 page appendix of "Lessons".

    It covers the period 14-17 June and ends with the statement that the Battalion suffered 70 casualties of which 13 were known killed and 57 wounded or missing and 37 out of 38 I tanks which started the battle had been lost.

    It doesn't tell you much beyond that which can be read on numerous websites detailing the event. The key elements, some of which are not often to be found elsewhere, l've posted above. More than enough for an A5 sheet of paper.

    Which brings me to another point. I appreciate we live in times which are more me-me-me than us-us-us and seemingly everybody is desperate for detailed information on complex subjects to be broken down into 10-second soundbites, however. As mentionned earlier, details on individuals are principally gained from private family records, diaries and recollections. Nobody will ever find any information at that level if everybody else only prepares an A5 length write up. Does such a momentus episode in your family's history only warrent an A5? Will it include anything that would help the descendants of other members of the Battalion find information about their family when doing the same type of research as you?

    I bear no ill towards anybody. I just saw an opportunity to highlight an obvious reality. Nobody will ever find anything if such an event is distilled by all concerned down to an A5 summary.
  17. brimacombe

    brimacombe Active Member

    Hi Mark - thanks for the reply.

    I totally agree regarding the 'more more more' however, there's a couple of things I perhaps didn't make clear at the start of this post. I'm compiling brief biographies of ALL the individuals who appear on the memorial, rather than a family member. If it was a family member I would (and have in the past) give the individual as much space as they needed, believe me! However, the purpose of this exercise is to get across to the 'general unassuming public' that there is more to the memorial than 'just a name'. It saddens me that almost every surname on the memorial has now disappeared from the area and that the generation who once knew those individuals have now almost all gone.

    I'm the historian of Holsworthy Museum and know too well that writing an essay on a subject is only of interest to a very few (though I'd far rather be writing that way.) A brief biography of each individual however (published in booklet form) will be read by far more people and, although the level of detail cannot be there, it does mean that many more people are reached and, if on Remembrance Sunday those people recognise the names being read out and can recall just a few details regarding their lives, then it's done its job.

    HOWEVER, having said all that, it doesn't mean I won't write up an essay for each (which I did for those who were lost in WW1 - so I am pretty experienced in locating family records, diaries etc for specific details).

    The power of the forums always amazes me and the knowledge of the many will always outweigh that of the few, and without people such as yourself Mark, and the thousands of others willing to share their knowledge, much of the detail - however ephemeral it may be - would be lost to all. It never hurts to ask, and forum members, in the main are forgiving of what may sometimes be considered as silly questions, in my mind there are no such things - if someone is prepared to ask a question then they're seeking an answer and thereby making sure that the information is passed on to the next generation.

    Once again Mark and Dryan, thanks for your efforts - it is truly appreciated.
    Chris C likes this.
  18. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    Correction to the above, 37 l tanks out of 44 (not 38) starting were lost.
  19. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    Everybody has their own objectives, motivations and intentions. If A5 is all the space that can be made available, then A5 it must be.

    I am not making any judgements. I merely saw an opportunity to state something that seems so obvious to me but lost in the ether of daily life.

    There are so many like you looking for the detail: war diaries, private diaries, details of personal recollections etc etc etc. Like you, many are disappointed with what they (initially) turn up. But is it any surprise really when the output of research is confined to A5? That's life today!

    Good luck with what you are doing.
  20. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    In addition to MarkN´s post no 4 (just for the sake of completeness)

    * Stützpunkt (strong point) Halfaya:
    - 1., 3., 4., Kp/SR*.104
    - 1/FlakRgt.33 mit 1 leFlakBat (8x20mm Flak) und 1 swFlakBat (4x88mm Flak)
    - I gruppo (Pardi) 2° reggimento artiglieria celere (8x100/14 Howitzer)
    - II battaglione 62° reggimento fanteria
    * SR = Schuetzen-Regiment equals Rifle Brigade

    * Stützpunkt Qalala:
    - 6 Oasen-Kp + 4x100/17 Howitzers of gruppo Pardi

    * Stützpunkt 208:
    - 4.MGKp/KBT 15
    - swFlakBat (2x20mm + 4x88mm of I/(FlakRgt.33, 1x5cm PAK + 3x3.7cmPAK of PzJägAbt.33)

    * Stützpunkt 206:
    - 1 Kompanie KBT15
    - 2 Batterien I/ArtRgt.33 (8x10.5cm leFH, 3x3.7cm PAK and 3x5cm PAK of PzJägAbt.33, 4x2cm Flak of I/FlakRgt.33).

    There were three more bases in the second line of defense:
    * Stützpunkt Capuzzo
    - I battaglione 61° reggiment fanteria (with 2x37/45 AT guns)

    * Stützpunkt Musaid
    - II battaglione 62° reggimento fanteria (plus 1 Platoon 47/32 AT guns)

    * Stützpunkt Ober Sollum
    - 1Kp Infanterie and 1Kp M.Werfer from II battaglione 62° reggimento fanteria (plus 1 Platoon 47/32 AT guns).
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2020

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