Tobruk Matilda markings question

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by Chris C, Apr 19, 2020.

  1. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Yes really - it's logic. If a new camo scheme was applied to the tanks it would cover up any large numbers already on them so whoever then applied the new numbers was not doing it as part of the original Tobruk scheme
  2. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Then this is of the 3RTR system
    This closeup of DEFIANCE shows a partially obscured triangle and inside something that could possibly a "4".
    Then the numbers are in fact troop identifiers as Mark suggested
    Chris C likes this.
  3. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Only works if inside a squadron identifier. I would still suggest that the single large number was akin to an individual tank identifier as in WW1 with the crew number. 4RTR only had a limited number of tanks in Tobruk. When they finally handed over they only had four left
  4. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Oh, really?

    The Tank Brigade (32nd Army TB) had the following tanks:
    4th Battalion Royal Tanks - "A" Squadron 16 "I" Tanks and 1 Light; "B" Squadron 16 "I" Tanks and 1 Light; C Squadron 15 "I" Tanks and 1 Light; BHQ Squadron 4 "I" Tanks and 3 Light.

    32nd Army Tank Brigade: Brigadier A.C. Willison
    Headquarters (a few cruiser and light tanks)
    1st Bn, The Royal Tank Regiment (3 squadrons with 28 Cr. Mk.I, II and IVA, and 21 Lt. Mk. VIB tanks)
    4th Bn, The Royal Tank Regiment (3 squadrons with 50 Inf. Mk. II Matilda and a few Lt. Mk. VIB tanks)
    D Squadron 7th Bn, The Royal Tank Regiment (19 Inf. Mk. II Matilda and a few Lt. Mk. VIB tanks)
    C Squadron 1st King's Dragoon Guards (Marmon-Harrington armoured cars)
    (AH & T report 32 cruiser and 69 "I" tanks, with 25 lights-a total of 126 in the brigade).[/QUOTE]
    Crusader OOB - Page 5 - Axis History Forum

    But what do I know...
  5. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member


    4RTR WD entry for 21 November 1941 states
    A Sqn held 16 Infantry an 1 Light tank
    B Sqn held 16 Infantry an 1 Light tank
    C Sqn held 15 Infantry an 1 Light tank
    Battalion HQ held 4 Infantry an 3 Light tank

    That exactly 1 Infantry and 1 Light tank short of establishment.

  6. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    When they were relieved they only had four tanks to hand over so that at some point limited is exactly right
  7. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Oh l see!

    You didn't mean in Tobruk you meant outside Tobruk after they had fought their way out.

    Losing tanks to enemy action was quite common and so yes, after several pretty ferocious engagements, the number of fit tanks steadily declined.

    I guess, by a similar logic, you also consider the personnel was limited since the battalion had lost 78 personnel.

    You also didn't really mean 4 either, as the unit held 12 on handover and also had another unspecified number in Tobruk AOW being worked on.

    But hey ho!
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  8. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    ltdan likes this.
  9. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Adding to my last.

    There are always exceptions to the rule.

    7RTR, for example, had no C Sqn but a D Sqn. Moreover, the five troops of D/7RTR were numbered 1-5 (not 11-15 or 16-20).

    On 21 November 1941, they started the breakout with 17 Infantry and 2 Light tanks. That's one of each over establishment.
  10. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Another (sad) example of "large numbers"
    Valentine II.png Valentine mk II-IV.jpg
    unit and date unknown

    whereas this one
    Mat Bir 1.jpg
    seems numbered as part of "body count" at Bir Hacheim?
    Mat Bir 1.2.jpg Mat Bir 1.3.jpg
    "9" from the same sequence
    Mat Bir 1.4.jpg

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  11. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Matilda II "GRUMBLE (II)", 7 RTR, Fort Capuzzo, 15 June ´41
    seemingly the numbering served as marker for damaged enemy tanks
    Mathilda in front of Fort Capuzzo 2.jpg Mathilda in front of Fort Capuzzo 3.jpg

    until I stumbled across this picture:
    Mathilda in front of Fort Capuzzo during OP Battle Axe 15th to 17th June 1941.jpg
    same tank but obviously in a very early state of destruction (turret not dislocated).

    IMHO quite unusual: the number "38" already applied despite the tank is still burning....
    number is rather high for troop markings and7 RTR lost 14 tanks altogether that day at Capuzzo.
    Someone who knows of further losses from other units?
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  12. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    At the end of Op Battleaxe, 4RTR left 37 I Tanks on the battlefield, 7RTR left 33. Not all around Capuzzo though. But a significant number were.
    ltdan likes this.
  13. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

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