How many tanks?

Discussion in '1940' started by MarkN, May 29, 2016.

  1. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    tanks at docks  1940.jpg T 9139 tanks   jpg.jpg
    A few more from my collection, one of the tanks is Mr Roberts T9153.
    Keith T 9153 tank mr.jpg T 9153 tank.jpg tank 12.jpg T 9139 tank.jpg
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019
    Juha and von Poop like this.
  2. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    Great collection Keith but you are a tease... it took me ages to spot that the second A9 image had been flipped and is in fact another view of T7251 which was lost/abandoned next to the Pont Faidherbe, Calais. The spire in the background is Notre-Dame de Calais.


    You can just pick out T7251 amongst the wreckage in this aerial picture. Is anyone aware of accounts of what appears to have been an extensive defensive action at this bridge?


    I’ve marked the location on Google but, as you can see, little remains – a consequence of later Allied bombing I believe.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019
  3. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    Sorry about that, photo printed that way round. photo of Same tank.
    tank bef 1940 T 7251.jpg
    Juha likes this.
  4. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    one more
    british tank 4.JPG
  5. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    On the face of it, this list shows that losses were far below the number of tanks that were sent to France. For example, it lists six A9 gun tanks as being lost in France, when fourteen such tanks were recorded as travelling with regiments to the Continent - ten with 2 RTR, three with 5 RTR, and one with 3 RTR. If these figures are to be believed, and one believes in the "evacuation" theory, then no less than eight A9 gun tanks were evacuated at either Cherbourg or Nantes.

    This is obviously implausible, so what happened? I believe that a clue can be found in the minutes of a meeting of the Tank Recovery and Repair Committee held at the War Office on 19th February 1940. This was attended by various RAOC high-ups, as well as representatives of SD7. Regarding repairs in the BEF, the following passage is interesting:


    "BLR" stands for Back Load Return, and essentially means the evacuation of vehicles needing repair to the UK. It is notable that the request to exclude certain tanks does not include Light tanks, so these may have been deemed subject to 50% BLR as a matter of routine. It should be noted, however, that the proposed exclusion of Cruiser and Infantry tanks from BLR was being undertaken on the presumption that by the time hostilities commenced, there would be a nice smooth AFV repair operation underway in the AFV Area at Pacy-sur-Eure. Events turned out to be quite different, of course, with the Armoured Workshops being improvised at Louviers. Given the volume of repairs in June 1940, and the vulnerability of the workshops, were the A9's, and indeed other tanks, sent back to the UK by BLR long before the evacuations at Cherbourg and Nantes commenced? It should be noted that later in 21 AG, the BLR-ing of Cromwells, Shermans etc. was quite a commonplace.
    Seroster likes this.
  6. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Hello, hello! I wasn't expecting this thread to come alive again. And pictures too! :)

    I'm not sure where your information comes from of 10, 3 and 1 off A9 gun tank with 2, 5 and 3 RTR.

    From the WDs etc...
    3 with 5RTR tallies. The 1 with 3RTR tallies with what jhunt posted on page 1, but where he gets that from I have no idea. And the 10 with 2RTR contradicts the 2RTR WD which has either 8 or 10 A9s total of which 4 were A9CS - ie 4 or 6 A9 gun tanks.

    Nevertheless, just 4 from 2RTR added to 3 from 5RTR takes us over the 6 number that were allegedly lost in France. Some must have come back somehow, somewhere, sometime.

    On the subject of backloading to the UK. As hinted at in my earlier postings, I think this is highly likely. Documentary evidence indicates a number of trainloads were sent rearwards by RAOC/1 Armd Div workshops. Taking BOW Nantes for example, what were they supposed to do with them on arrival? The didn't have any capability to do anything with them other than store them or send them on.

    Your WO excerpt dated 19 February probably has little relevance to the actual situation in June. The only units capable of working on Cruiser tanks were the ones sending them back down the line. What is the point of sending them back to be parked?
    Last edited: May 20, 2019 at 11:11 AM
  7. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    Is this an assumption that four of the A9's in 2 RTR were CS, or is there e.g. photographic evidence to confirm this?

    Anyway, I've been digging around in my files, and I've got some evidence of the make-up of 3 RTR that contradicts what jhunt put up.

    This is an excerpt from a report by Captain H.C.W. Ironside, who was a member of 3 RTR's RHQ. Bear in mind this must be a post-war report, as Ironside went straight into a POW camp after the surrender of Calais:

    HCW 1.jpg

    So that's 12 x A13, 9 x A9 and A10, and 24 x Light Tank Mk.VIB, for 45 tanks in total. I would guess the number for the A13's must be an underestimate, but who knows?

    3 RTR's commanding officer, Lt.Col. Reginald Keller, submitted a report approximately a month after the surrender of Calais, and he had this to say about the initial outlay:

    RCK 1.jpg

    So four of 3 RTR's tanks went with the Bays, this following the general pattern of 3rd Armour Brigade sending tanks ahead with the 2nd Armoured Brigade in order to best utilise the shipping space.

    Keller also confirms the presence of A10's later on while the situation was devolving:

    RCK 2.jpg

    This is again backed up by Ironside thus:

    HCW 2.jpg

    So going from this evidence, 3 RTR seems to have been a much more A9/A10 heavy unit than has been previously assumed on this thread.

    Therefore I think that either the official figures are a severe underestimate for the number of lost A9's, or lots of A9's were returned.
    JERICHO likes this.
  8. jhunt

    jhunt Junior Member


    On 3RTR, attached is the only photo of 3RTR tanks in Calais that I have seen that shows what could be an A9(or maybe A10) gun tank. These are the probably the tanks that were prematurely burnt on 24th of May. This photo shows 5 tanks, there were 6(the last is obscured) in order they are A13MkI from C Squadron, A13 MkI from HQ B Sqn, A9 or A10 from RHQ?, A9CS from HQ A Sqn (Not T7245, which was abandoned on Rue La Fayette), an A13MkII, (Probably not T9161 or T9163 which were abandoned elsewhere) behind these unseen is another A13MkI from 1Tp A Sqn. Note the A13mkII and A9/A10 that do not appear in later photos and must have been moved.

    From Photos: A9 CS tanks were: A Sqn T7245 abandoned on Rue Layfette, the one above ( could be T7259) and from B Squadron T7239 knocked out in the attack on Guines probably the one commanded by Captain O'Sullivan and T7251 knocked out on Rue De Four a Chaux and later moved.

    The photographic record of 3RTR in Calais is the most complete of any 1AD regiment and definitely demonstrates the loss 5xA9/A10, maybe there were others but I believe that it is unlikely. More on 2RTR shortly.

    Regards Jamie

    6_Cruiser Tank Mk III A13.JPG
  9. jhunt

    jhunt Junior Member

    With Regard to 2RTR A9CS definitely identified are A Sqn T7241 and TT7248, B Sqn T7244(Definitely 2RTR, but maybe another squadron) and T7250. There are other photos of 2RTR CS tanks that I can't specifically say are one of the above tanks, they may or may not be, but at least I can say there was a minimum of 4A9CS amongst the 8 A9 that have been reported to have been with 2RTR.

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