The 10th Hussars and the Battle of Huppy

Discussion in '1940' started by Paul Reed, Jan 11, 2009.

  1. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Just picked up this photo. Will do a better scan when I get the original.

    The photo is taken in 1940, possibly near Arras? I think it is an A13 - what unit's had these? Any clues from the Tac signs? I am hopeless on them.

  2. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    Well done. Cruiser Mk. IV or A13 Mk.II

    Unit sign of a Red? square with a white 6, would be 10th Hussars, 1st Armoured Div.

    There is no sign of 1st Armd. Divs White Rhino though.
    Paul Reed likes this.
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Doesn't that square on the turret denote B Squadron?
    Would the 3 denote 3rd Troop?
  4. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Thanks for that - that gives me a good starting point. Seems 10th Hussars only fought on the Somme in 1940, so it could be near Amiens/Abbeville not Arras.
  5. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    Doesn't that square on the turret denote B Squadron?
    Would the 3 denote 3rd Troop?

    I would agree with that. As 10th Royal Hussars were the junior regiment in 2nd armoured brigade the hollow square would be Blue.
  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Could it have been lost in same engagement as this Mark VIC ??

    <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top align=left><TD class=rectxt noWrap>[​IMG]
    <!-- empty--></TD><TD>[​IMG]</TD><TD class=rectxt width="100%">Photographer: Keating (Capt)
    War Office official photographer


    Collection No.: 4700-35 <!-- [View Collection Summary]-->

    Description: Vickers Light Tank Mk VIC knocked out during an engagement on 27 May 1940 on the road between Huppy and St Maxent in the Somme sector.

    Period:Second World War

    Further Information: Supposedly 'Blenheim' of 'B' Squadron, 10th Royal Hussars. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
  7. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Some BEF tank marking info here.
    See what Bod means about the blue Sqn markings on the 10th Royal Hussars vehicle.
    The A Sqn vehicle's triangle is blue.

    <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top align=left><TD class=rectxt noWrap>
    <!-- empty-->
    </TD><TD>[​IMG]</TD><TD class=rectxt width="100%">

    <!-- [View Collection Summary]-->

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  8. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Could be - will have a look at their War Diary next time I am at Kew.
  9. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Some BEF tank marking info here.
    See what Bod means about the blue Sqn markings on the 10th Royal Hussars vehicle.
    The A Sqn vehicle's triangle is blue. <table width="100%" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr valign="top" align="left"><td class="rectxt" nowrap="nowrap">
    <!-- empty-->
    </td><td>[​IMG]</td><td class="rectxt" width="100%"><!-- [View Collection Summary]-->

    Thanks for that. This is the relevant part of what you've linked to. Just seen that Huppy has a long straight road running close to it, which may be the one in the photo?

  10. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Owen - Tank markings on British tanks never changed - HQ = diamond - A = triangle - B = Square - C = Circle

    Paul - Drivers i/c didn't drive Tanks only wheeled vehicles - Driver/ mechs drove Tanks

    10th Hussars never left 2nd armoured bde and were still in 1st Armoured when they were broken up after the Gothic line in Italy in Oct '44..
  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  12. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Interesting stuff Andy - thanks for posting & Merry Christmas!
  13. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    There are two 10th Hussars officers in Hodeng-au-Bosc cemetery (and no O/Rs)

    Initials: J S
    Nationality: United Kingdom
    Rank: Second Lieutenant
    Regiment/Service: Royal Armoured Corps
    Unit Text: 10th Royal Hussars.
    Age: 27
    Date of Death: 27/05/1940
    Service No: 117589
    Additional information: Son of Richard Rouse Sydenham Rowell and Margaret Fletcher Rowell, of Appleton, Berkshire. B.A. (Cantab.).
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

    Name: MUIR, IAN KAY
    Initials: I K
    Nationality: United Kingdom
    Rank: Lieutenant
    Regiment/Service: Royal Armoured Corps
    Unit Text: 10th Royal Hussars.
    Age: 23
    Date of Death: 27/05/1940
    Service No: 69084
    Additional information: Son of Mathew William and Clara Gardner Muir.
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
  14. Roddy1011

    Roddy1011 Senior Member

    Hi there -

    Ref your 10th Hussars pic and its markings:

    There were really two 'sets' of armoured units with the BEF, Light Tank Divisional Cavalry Regiments and the more heavy Tank & Armoured Brigades. The former used Light Tank VIBs, VICs & Carriers. Then there was the 1st Tank Brigade with Matilda Is and IIs and finally the 1st Armoured Division with Lt Tks, A10s & A13s...

    There were also two wheeled recce regiments - 12L & 4 Northumberland Fusiliers

    The markings for all of these were:

    Div Cav Regts - carried '2' on Black (Tks & carriers) often with their div badge

    - 1 Inf Div - 13/18 H - '2' with White Triangle
    - 2 Inf Div - 4/7 RDG - '2' with Crossed Keys
    - 3 Inf Div - 15/19 H - '2' with Red Triangle on Black Triangle
    - 4 Inf Div - 5 INNIS DG - '2' with Red Roundel with upper left sectioned
    - 48 Inf Div - 1 LBY - '2' with Blue Oval, Red Diamond & Parrot...then
    - 51 Inf Div - 1 LBY - '2' with Blue Square, Red Circle & 'HD'

    Also present:

    - 1 F&FY - Thought to have used a stylised 'Elk's Head'
    - ERY - Pt of 1st Armd Recce Bde - no insignia known at present

    Wheeled Recce was as follows:

    - 12 L - AoS 129 with bar below (Morris Armd Cars)
    - 4 NF - Red & White pennant on hull sides (Daimler Sct Cars)

    1st Army Tank Brigade:

    Consisted of 4 & 7 RTR. Both sported AoS of '4' on Red with Bar Above

    1st Armoured Division:

    All vehs meant to have white Rhino with fol numbers:

    - HQ 2 Armd Bde - '3' on Red
    - Queen's Bays - '4' on Red
    - 9 Lancers - '5' on Red
    - 10 Hussars - '6' on Red

    - HQ 3 Armd Bde - '7' on Green
    - 2 RTR - '8' on Green
    - 3 RTR - '9' on Green
    - 5 RTR - '10' on Green

    Quite often, these numbers were painted straight onto the veh with no coloured backing...

    Hope all this helps.

  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    The Attack on Huppy

    Early on the morning of the 27th May we set off for our start line. The Commanding Officer was worried because his rear-link wireless set was failing to function owing to condensation, and he was therefore not in communication with Brigade Headquarters at Oisemont. However, the plan was clear cut, and accordingly the Regiment crossed the start line on time. The formation was “two up.” On the right front was ‘B’ Squadron (Major J. P. Archer-Shee), on the left ‘c’ squadron (Major D. Dawnay); in reserve was ‘A’ Squadron (Major C. K. Davy MC). There was no sign of the expected French artillery support, nor was there any signs or sounds of the Bays, who were expected on our right. The absence of both will be explained in a moment, but in the meantime the conjectures were soon brought to an abrupt end by the sudden outburst of gun and small arms fire from the direction of the orchards towards Huppy, which the advanced elements of ‘C’ Squadron were just approaching. From now on the battle raged, but little did we know that the regiment was on a lone mission, as we were still out of wireless communication.

    Brigadier McCreery had sent a despatch rider to the Regiment, but this man had been killed on the way, and the extremely urgent message which he carried never reached the Commanding Officer. It was to the effect that the French were not ready to start, and the attack had been postponed for an hour until 0600 hrs.

    In the meantime there was a ding-dong battle on the left. ‘C’ Squadron, which, with its left resting on the main road, had made first contact, was met with fierce fire from 37-mm. anti-tank guns. This fire penetrated any light tanks that were hit, and, as half of each squadron’s tanks were Mark VI ‘B’ light tanks, they began to suffer casualties, and immediately moved off across the road to the left into closer cover. ‘B’ Squadron on the right and on a more open forward slope advanced farther until fired on at fairly long range from the area between Huppy and Doudelainville. As the fire was intense, this squadron also sheered to its left across the centre line, no doubt attracted by the apparent cover on the west side of the road.

    At this time the Commanding Officer, in order to get a better view of the proceedings, advanced in his A13 Cruiser directly towards Huppy. It was extremely difficult to see what was going on, and in particular to locate targets as we were looking straight into the rising sun. The Commanding Officer’s tank was now fired on at about six hundred yards’ range and hit twice in quick succession, putting the wireless set out of order and destroying the gun mounting. He therefore ran his tank forward into some cover in order to regain control of the battle; for by now there were several tanks on fire in the neighbourhood of the road and the situation looked serious.

    At about 0540 hrs a scout car arrived containing the Brigade Major, Major John Anderson of the ‘Skins’, who ran across an open field to the Commanding Officer’s tank, which was hiding in the smoke of a burning haystack while attempts were being made to clear the gun mounting. He brought the news that the start of the attack had been postponed until 0600 hrs. Having been thanked for the belated information, Major Anderson picked his way back through the smoke while tracer of all calibres flicked past him. He reached his scout car in safety and drove off.

    Although there was still twenty minutes before the rest of the Brigade was due to attack, it was unwise to stand still; for enemy artillery was beginning to register likely cover for our tanks. Our attack was therefore continued.
    ‘B’ Squadron had by now joined ‘C’ Squadron across the road, but had suffered heavy casualties in so doing. There was a trail of blazing tanks across the countryside, making it impossible to identify the squadrons in the smoke. The Commanding Officer, however, having at last cleared the elevating gear of his gun with a crowbar, made a dash to join the two squadrons across the road, and suffered three more hits on the way, fortunately without vital damage.

    Patrols were now sent round to the left flank to try and find a weak spot, and in turn were met by heavy fire; for the orchards were full of well sited slit trenches in which were anti-tank rifles capable of penetrating our light tanks.

    ‘A’ Squadron was brought up from reserve, and a determined effort made to get right round the left flank, only to meet with the same result. The enemy’s line appeared to be echeloned right back and to be well defended along its length with anti-tank guns.

    By now we had suffered heavy casualties both in tanks and personnel, but a final effort was made to work round the enemy’s right flank. Severe casualties were inflicted on enemy infantry and anti-tank guns, but our attempt was frustrated. Second Lieutenant Moorhouse’s cruiser was hit and set on fire, though not before it had accounted for a particularly deadly 37-mm. gun; and most unluckily Captain Wyndham Malet and Second Lieutenant J. Rowell were killed in their tanks. Second Lieutenant R. Milbanke, however, twice made great efforts to find a weak spot in the enemy defences, and, having had two tanks destroyed under him, was ordered to withdraw.

    This last thrust had penetrated for about six hundred yards, but such was the enemies concentration of fire , and so heavy were our losses, that withdrawal was the only alternative if the Regiment was not to be completely destroyed. The Commanding Officer accordingly indicated a rendezvous near St Maxent for the remaining tanks. Shelling by 105 mm. guns was becoming increasingly accurate; so, having picked up all the wounded who could be found, the remaining tanks limped back to take up a defensive line between Cerisy and St. Maxent. Out of the thirty tanks that had gone into action only ten survived, and some of these were badly damaged.

    Later in the day orders were received to withdraw to Ramburelles, where Captain Wyndham Malet was buried, before continuing the withdrawal to Hodeng au Bosc.

    In the attack on our right the Bays had advanced farther than had the Regiment before running into the enemy defences consisting, in their case, of a crest behind which lay anti-tank guns. Then after a prolonged struggle the Bays too had to withdraw.

    Meanwhile on the left, the 3rd Armoured Brigade, by keeping well to the west, reached the Somme without much opposition. But on turning east they met the base of the enemy’s bridgehead and could make no further progress.

    The end of the days fighting therefore saw the Germans with their bridgehead over the Somme still intact. Our mission had failed, not through any short comings on the part of the regiments concerned; indeed many desperate and gallant deeds were done, even if some of the fighting was most unorthodox according to current tactical doctrine. To quote but two examples: SSM Canning of ‘A’ Squadron, when he found his tank in the middle of a series of slit trenches, into which his guns could not depress to fire, jumped down to the ground ordering his gunner to cover him, and proceeded to shoot at the occupants of two or three slit trenches with his .38-inch revolver; and when his weapon jammed owing to an empty case slipping under the ejector he was seen to produce his penknife and calmly dig out the case, reload and carry on with further execution. It is a mystery how he survived for more than ten seconds in such a situation. Again a member of the crew of another tank was seen likewise to dismount, but the weapon he wielded was a heavy crowbar belonging to his vehicle, and with this he struck down the astounded occupants of more than one slit trench. It is regretted that he was never identified, and it is feared his tank was later destroyed.

    In the days action the Regiment had lost two officers (Captain Wyndham Malet and Second Lieutenant John Rowell) killed, two officers (Lieutenant M. Grissell and Second Lieutenant Mitchell, later reported prisoners of war) missing, six other ranks killed, nine missing and seven wounded. Captain Richmond, who was with Brigade Headquarters, was also killed when his tank was blown up while trying to cross the Somme at Picquiny, just west of Ameins.

    During the evening Majors C. B. C. Harvey and C. K. Davy, with Trooper McHugh as their scout-car driver, went up near as they could to the enemy positions to try and locate some of our missing men. After crawling along the roadside ditch to within two hundred and fifty yards of the enemy positions, they located Second Lieutenant Kim Muir, who was lying unhurt in a patch of young wheat. With him was Sergeant Locker, who was badly wounded and whom Second Lieutenant Muir would not leave. It was not possible at that time to get to them, as the ground for about seventy yards was bare and in view of the enemy, who put down heavy machine gun fire immediately Second Lieutenant Muir raised his head in response to Major Harvey’s whistle. It was decided therefore to withdraw and get further help and return a few hours later when darkness had fallen.

    Unfortunately, the enemy anticipated this manoeuvre and when the rescue party arrived no sign of anyone could be found in the vicinity. The darkness made things difficult and the searchers had to keep very quiet, as the enemy were now extremely alert. The attempt at rescue therefore had to be abandoned.

    On the 28th May, the day following the attack on Huppy, the 51st (Highland) Division arrived in the area, having moved up from the Saar, where it had been holding a defensive sector under French command, detached from the BEF.

    The 1st Armoured Division was now removed from the command of General Altmeyer and placed under that of the 51st Division. As a result of this decision the 2nd Armoured Brigade was ordered to send a composite regiment, based on 9th Lancers, who had not incurred heavy casualties at this stage, to join the 51st Division. The Support Group, including 4th Borders, was also ordered to assist the 51st Division.

    The remainder of the 1st Armoured Division was to be withdrawn to an area some fifteen miles east of Rouen; the 3rd Armoured Brigade to Servaville; and the remainder of 2nd Armoured Brigade to Le Fayel-Les Hogues. Light repairs were now to be undertaken in brigade areas, while tanks requiring heavy repairs were to be evacuated by rail to Gamanches, Blangy and Vieux Rouen to Louviers, south of the Seine.

    Thus on the following day, when the 51st Division had driven the enemy back towards the Somme, it was possible for the Regiment to search their battleground at Huppy. Second Lieutenant F. R. Govett went as far as Behan, where he gained information that several British soldiers and at least one officer had been seen being taken back as prisoners. There was thus some hope for the missing, but to the great grief of all the Regiment Lieutenant Muir’s body was found not far from where he had previously been seen. He had been shot by a burst of machine gun fire. Second Lieutenant Rowell’s body was also extricated from his tank, and both were taken back to Hodeng-au-Bosc, where they were buried in a little cemetery on top of a hill.

    On the 29th May everything of use was salvaged from the damaged tanks, nearly all of which were no more than burnt out wrecks. Two light tanks and one cruiser were, however, recovered.

    On the 30th May a composite squadron was formed with the Bays, who had also suffered heavily in the attack on the 27th May, and this squadron joined the 9th Lancers composite regiment at St. Leger. The Squadron Leader of this squadron was Major Asquith (Bays), with Captain Lord George Scott (10th Hussars) as second-in-command, and Lieutenant R. M. Milbanke and Second Lieutenant Nigel Graham (both of the 10th Hussars) as two of the troop leaders.

    At 2000 hrs. on the 31st May the remainder of the Regiment left for Les Hogues and the remaining tanks, five in number, were entrained at Vieux Rouen for an unknown destination (actually Louviers), never to be seen again.

    Arriving at Les Hogues on the 1st June we found a very bad billeting area, so Major C. B. C. Harvey was dispatched to find a better one in the area of Auzauville.

    On Thursday, the 2nd June, while remaining at Les Hogues, a voluntary Divine service, conducted by the senior chaplain of the Division, was attended by practically every man in the Regiment.

    On the 3rd June the Regiment was moved back to Chateau l’Esques, a fine old country house owned by a charming family who offered us every hospitality. ‘C’ Squadron, however, was detached and located at Letteguives.

    The news during the last few days had been, to say the least of it, depressing. Belgium had capitulated, thus exposing the left flank of the Allies; and shortly afterwards we heard of the evacuation of our Army from Dunkirk. It therefore appeared to us that the 1st Armoured and 51st (Highland) Divisions were now the only British troops in France, except for a few Royal Engineers and administrative troops at the ports behind us.
    At this time, however, we still had confidence that the French could restore the situation, and that our own retreat westwards was only a temporary affair.

    As we now had no tanks left, the Regiment began organising into Lorried Infantry, not knowing where our next move would take us. We thus awaited events unaware of the true situation and, for the time being, out of contact with the enemy.
  16. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I think you might be able to find that tank after all Paul, if not its exact loctation, very close.
  17. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Good stuff Andy!
  18. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    HUPPY 27th May 1940

    The DR bringing order to postpone attack for one hour was killed or went astray.

    "B" Squadron on the right heavily engaged by A/A force from S. edge of HUPPY swung left to avoid fie and were caught in enfilade crossing the main ABBEVILLE ROAD from W to E. Their light tank troops which were leading were all knocked out. The leading troops of "C" suffered also.

    2 Tps and HQ of the reserve Squadron "A", resumed the advance along the W edge of HUPPY for a distance of 600 yards. Although they inflicted severe casualties on retiring infantry and A/T posts, one Cruiser (2/LT MOREHOUSE) was hit and set on fire, CAPT J W MALET was killed and his tank forced to withdraw and another tank was ditched.

    CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:

    One Light Tank of "C" Squadron (2/LT J S ROWELL) supporting this advance was hit, and the commander and driver killed.

    CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:

    The CO deciding that no further advance was possible ordered the remnants of "A" Squadron to withdraw through ONICOURT Tp Pt. 112 SE of ST MAXENT. This was done and about 8 wounded, burnt and detanked men of the crews were brought back. CAPT. MALET was buried in RAMBURELLES.

    28th May 1940

    MAJ C B HARVEY and MAJ C K Davy, MC went up to HUPPY to see if there were any signs of our missing men. 2/LT ROWELL's body was recovered from his Light Tank.

    29th May 1940

    LT I K MUIR's body was found in the open at HUPPY riddled with bullets. 2/LT F R GOVETT went in a scout car as far as BEHEN to try and confirm reports of British wounded Prisoners of War. From information he obtained it seemed probable that one was 2/LT R W MITCHELL.

    CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:

    30th May 1940

    Burial of LT I K MUIR and 2/LT J S ROWELL, in the cemetery above HODENG.

    The regiment suffered four more casualties on the 27th May 1940 not mentioned above:

    Trooper Leonard Jenkins CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:

    Trooper Basil Walstan Lawrence CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:

    Sergeant John William Locker CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:
    This NCO was last seen lying in a field near HUPPY on 27th May 1940 next to LIEUT. B. MUIR of this regiment. The body of this officer was subsequently found riddled with bullets at the same place, but there was no trace of SGT LOCKERS's body.

    Trooper Jack Milgate CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:
    This man was last seen running for cover after his tank was hit at HUPPY.
  19. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    I'll dig out my files of interviews with Hussars vets - Sergeant Ron Huggins has written about this battle in the Guidon Journal of the regiment from 1990 I think. Jenkins is very interesting - one of the stories from Mr George Cotterill, a veteran of the battle has a Trooper Wright, 'a coloured lad' getting out of a damaged B Squadron tank and 'going back to rescue the driver, but was machine gunned and killed'. There was no casualty of the 10th Hussars called Wright at Huppy or anywhere else and other interviewees told me they thought this was Jenkins, who was variously described as 'swarthy' and 'Welsh', but there is no record of his home address on the CWGC site.. Interesting stuff. I've been to Hodeng au Bosc - very beautiful, very peaceful. Kim Muir's grave is not a standard CWGC grave - he was a well known horseman in England and his family erected the headstone I think. Captain Wyndham Malet was 2/ic of A Squadron and reportedly crashed his A13 Cruiser through a hedge at Huppy, wearing his soft officer's red side hat and, take this with a pinch of salt (sorry Ron, god bless you) but complete with riding crop. He was shot while standing up in the turret. A German anti-tank gunner at Huppy, Gefreiter, later Unteroffiizier 'Schutze' Herbert Brinkforth was the first recipient of the Knight's Cross/Ritterkreuz from the ranks in WW2 I believe. He is celebrated, if that's the word, in many places and credited with destroying 11 tanks on May 27th at Huppy. I even have a German equivalent to our 'Commando' magazines published in the 1950's/60's with a whole story about Brinkforth. In the material I've read, a lot of exaggeration is evident - British tanks are described as 'black, thirty ton monsters'. If only, then 37mm shot wouldn't have been going through them like a dose of salts would it?
  20. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Brian - Do you know anything about this chap?

    Trooper Basil Walstan Lawrence

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