Help on 11th Armoured division in Antwerp

Discussion in 'Higher Formations' started by 8RB, Dec 16, 2016.

  1. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    I have recently obtained an 11th Armoured division veteran's photo album containing some 25 photos taken during the liberation of Antwerp. Judging from the ecstatic reaction of the civilians on some photos I believe these were taken during the actual liberation on the September 4th, 1944. Many vehicles portrayed (mainly Sherman tanks and various carriers) clearly show 11th Armoured divisional signs and unit markings.

    What I would like to find out is where exactly these photos were taken. So far I have only identified the Opera building on the "Frankrijklei" (last photo), and some others near the "Entrepot" building (sadly demolished in the early '90's). Could anyone tell me which route(s) were taken by the 11th Armoured division in Antwerp on the 4th of September 1944? Or even better identify where the attached photos were made?

    Please note some images are attached as thumbnail / file (somehow I could not attach all directly)!

    I want to use some of these photos for an illustrated autobiography (dating from the early '90's) from an 8th Rifle brigade scout platoon corporal. Can anybody help me on this?

    Antwerp 1944 - 15.jpeg Antwerp 1944 - 17.jpeg Antwerp 1944 - 23.jpeg Antwerp 1944 - 25.jpeg Antwerp 1944 - 24.jpeg

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 17, 2016
  2. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Do you have a full list of the various vehicle markings? Apart from the odd T number it's not possible to identify which tank regiment is featured on the photos uploaded so far. 3RTR were certainly involved but that doesn't mean they are 3RTR Shermans.

    What was the name and Regiment of the original owner of the photos? That could provide valuable clues.

    Having worked in Antwerp a few years ago, it's fair to say there are lots of new buildings so don't necessarily expect to be able to do a quick Google street view!
  3. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Original owner was a REME sergeant. I am not sure of course if he took the photo's himself. If it helps the numbers I can see are:
    - not sure about 54 (8th Rifle brigade) or 64 (Independent Mortar and Machine gun company... which regiment were they?) on some Bren carriers
    - 61 (4th KSLI) on a jeep and a Bren carrier
    - 62 (3rd Monmouthshire) on a Bren Carriers and a Loyds carrier (one towing a 6 pounder gun)
    - 64 (Independent Mortar and Machine gun company... which regiment were they?) on a Bren carrier
    - 77 (75th Anti tank regiment) on a Bren carrier (not pulling anything, like a gun for instance)

    Apart from this I feel quite sure I can identify a 23rd Hussars cap badge (certainly not 3RTR or Fife and Forfar Yeomanry) on the tank commander's beret on the last full size photo. I am not sure what the large "O" or circle on the back of a Sherman tank turret signifies (first full size photo), I believe a tank squadron?!
  4. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    I did the Google tour by the way, but so far I have only found the opera building...
  5. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    The large circle on the rear of the tank turret means it's a member of 'C' Squadron. The colour (!...difficult on a B&W photo) would indicate which Regiment in the (on this occasion 29th) Armoured Brigade.

    The beret badge is not 23H: it looks too rounded and it also comes across as a bit pointy. Doesn't actually resemble any of the three regiments in the 29AB. Looks more like a Guards Armoured Division badge: are you sure that photo wasn't taken in Brussels?.....
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2016
  6. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Great to hear about the meaning of the circle!

    Last full size photo is certainly not Brussels I am happy to say. It is the only one of which I have 100% positively identified the exact location, being taken in front of the Antwerp opera, luckily still standing today. Also the caption in the photo album says "Antwerp - Liberation", nothing more specific though. Regarding the badge I believe it is laying back a little, and reflects a lot of light, and therefore seems shorter than it actually is. The pointed thing would be the crown (or a speck of dirt on the photo). Also given the location (and certainly not being 3RTR of F&F) it could hardly be anything else than 23rd Hussars.

    Do also note the text/name on the tank in front of the drivers hatches: "chamber (of?) horror"! Makes you wondering... a crew which has lost one or more tanks or comrades, maybe during Goodwood? How do men cope with such tension for such a long period?

    Any Belgian/Antwerp member that recognizes these locations and/or knows the routes taken by 11th Armoured division when entering Antwerp?

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 16, 2016
    stolpi likes this.
  7. RCG

    RCG Senior Member, Deceased

    Pic 4. poster behind soldiers has the word school on it.
    Writing on Door to the left, when translated to English comes up with: Founded urban education office boys no 3 with 4 degrees.
    So Does it really mean Founded Urban education office.
    Boys year three, with four grades.
    04 jpeg Protex. Which appears to be a Australian soap similar to the old Lifebuoy soap.
    However goggling, Protex Antwerp this comes up.
    Protex - Wijnegem, Antwerpen, Belgium
  8. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Have you seen/got the book 'Battle for Antwerp' by James Moulton?
    O'Boogie likes this.
  9. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your replies!

    Yes, I did take a look in Moulton's book. It does indeed give some clues (a rough "map 5" with some limited description). I also have a Belgian book called "Ze zijn d'r" (which, being Dutch myself, I luckily can read), which gives the route taken by Colonel Silvertop as Van Rijswijcklaan - Elisabthlei - Mechelsesteenweg. When after this one follows the Frankenlei, this leads to the opera house! Even when checking the above route and some other south to north tramway routes (many photos show tramway rails) in Google, I so far have not identified any other locations...

    I will also try to do some research in Protex adress!
  10. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Silvertop was, of course, 3RTR and there are some photos of his tank passing through the streets of Antwerp. Have you compared those photos to your photos to see if any of the buildings are the same? That, of course, makes the 23H cap badge of even more interest.

    David Silvertops Operator was an old friend of mine but sadly Lionel (Whitcher) died quite a few years ago so I have lost access to any 'primary' information. If you are convinced about the 23H cap badge, I do know a 23H veteran (Reg) who will have been there...but that doesn't mean he is able to help.

    Note: the 'connection' between me, Lionel and Reg is that Lionel and Reg were in 24th Lancers until the 24L were disbanded in July 1944 and I run what is left of the 24th Lancers Old Comrades Association (which 24L was also my fathers Regiment before he was transferred to 3RTR. Dad died in 1981 so also can't help!).
    stolpi likes this.
  11. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    From the photo's in the Belgian book I only recognized a similarity of my 05.jpeg to the "Entrepot" building, located along the "Willemdok".

    Any potential light on the matter from a 23H veteran would be very interesting. Especially as the biography I am working on is from an H Coy 8RB veteran I used to know. He passed away some 7 years ago. H Coy 8RB was attached to 23H (as G Coy was to 3RTR) so if he has any memories or information about the route they took in Antwerp, that would be quite interesting. Which reminds me also to take a look in their book "The Story of the 23rd Hussars". Your father also was in the 11th Armoured division?
  12. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Dad was in 11AD twice:
    1. With 24th Lancers - who were in 11AD until February 1944 (when they swapped places with 3RTR in 8th Armoured Brigade in anticipation of Operation Overlord).
    2. With 3RTR from August 1944 to about July 1945 following the disbandment of 24L in late July 1944.

    I will contact Reg's son to see if Reg remembers anything about Antwerp.
  13. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Many thanks. Would be great if anything came out of this.
  14. robins2

    robins2 Active Member

    re post three, the large 0 on turret probably denotes C Squadron


    Bob R.
  15. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Reg's son David is seeing Reg on Thursday this week. David knows Reg has a map of their route but I'm guessing that this is something from Taurus Pursuant or the 23rd Hussars book. We will see!
  16. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Bumping thread to bring it back into view
  17. smdarby

    smdarby Well-Known Member

    Good idea Owen - excellent photos. I was on holiday when these were posted and missed them first time round.
  18. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    As pointed out above I may want to use some of these photos for an autobiography I am working on of an 8th Rifle Brigade veteran (fighting in a scout platoon, all the way from Normandy to the Baltic, from June 13th to May 8th). Any help on their exact locations (and/or exact 23rd Hussars / 8RB route in Antwerp) would be very helpful!!!
  19. andy dutch

    andy dutch Member

    The first photo is the Koningin Astridplein in Antwerp
    Chris C likes this.
  20. andy dutch

    andy dutch Member

    Hi 8RB

    Picture 25 is the school Silo 3, nowadays the school De Spiegel, Belgiƫlei 99, 2018 Antwerp.
    Chris C likes this.

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