Trooper H E Crodden 10th Hussars June 1940

Discussion in '1940' started by wessexmodels, Aug 9, 2009.

  1. wessexmodels

    wessexmodels Junior Member

    I am trying to find more information about my late father-in-law, 405347 Trooper Harold E Crodden who served with the I0th Hussars in France in late May/June 1940. He was a driver IC and was wounded (gunshot) on 11th June, spent 6 days in no.7 General Hospital, before being evacuated on 16th June from Cherbourg. I have seen the 10th POW war diaries, which aren't very detailled, so can anyone tell me where the 10th Hussars were on 11th June, and where no. 7 Hospital was. As a modelmaker I would like to model his vehicle if this info. could be found, (no luck at Bovington).
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi and welcome to the forum....I would suggest a trip to Kew for the unit's War Diaries.

  3. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique


    HUSSARMAN Junior Member

  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Was he a Signaller?

    The 10th Hussars were in Romilly on 11th June until 1300hrs when they moved to Foret De Belleme. The diary says that the drivers had been on duty for some time and suggest they were fatigued which resulted in several accidents and two Signallers being taken to hospital.

    No mention of fighting on this day in the diary.
  6. DannyHarrison

    DannyHarrison Member

    My Grandad served in France with the 10th Hussars L/cpl John Harrison 550403 (DCM) he won the DCM there in one of those tanks:
    L/cpl Harrison was driving a cruiser tank which, on coming round the corner of a road, came face to face with a German anti-tank rifle and machine gun. His tank Comd, and gunner were engaged at the time in firing on an enemy anti tank gun further to a flank, so L/cpl Harrison at once removed his flack shield and killed the crew of the anti-tank rifle and machine gun with his revolver. He then ran his tank over the German position. His prompt and courageous action probably saved the life of his tank Comd, who was engaged in observing in another direction. Hope this was of interest Regards Danny
  7. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Paul/ Drew/Owen -
    The initial poster claims that his late Father-in- law was a driver I.C.
    (Internal Combustion) meaning wheeled vehicles only and not Driver. Mech. ( Tracked Vehicles) so he would be a lorry driver in the echelons and not a Tank Driver.

  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Danny, Here's the original citation incase you haven't seen it. Sadly it's not very clear but appears to have a bit more detail than the LG version.

    The National Archives | DocumentsOnline | Image Details


    I suspect he earned his DCM on the 27th May fighting at Huppy with the French and the 51st Highland Division.

    Here's a list of the tanks the 10th Royal Hussars took and lost in the battle:

    HQ Squadron - 1 Cruiser Tank and 1 Light Tank. Lost 1 Light Tank.

    A Squadron - 6 Cruisers and 4 Light Tanks. Lost 3 Cruisers and 3 Light Tanks.

    B Squadron - 3 Cruisers and 6 Light Tanks. Lost 3 Cruisers and 6 Light Tanks.

    C Squadron - 2 Cruisers and 7 Light Tanks. Lost 1 Cruiser and 3 Light Tanks.

    There's also a good little account of the fighting in ATB's Blitzkreig in the West from page 401 and some good pictures including a couple of knocked out armour belonging to the 10th Royal Hussars.

  9. DannyHarrison

    DannyHarrison Member

    Thanks Andy, I have seen the citation and yes the quality is poor I got the NA to recopy it for me, so I typed out the account above, thanks for the extra info I am very proud of him :)
  10. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    Wessex Models - a bit late but better late...etc. In an account written up in the 10th Hussars Guidon Journal in 1990 by ex Sergeant Ron Huggins, a Sergeant Garbutt recalls escaping from the fighting in St.Pierre du Vauvray.

    "The mist turned out to be a blessing and I started crawling up a wooded hill the other side of the embankment. Then suddenly I heard a voice say, 'Sarge'. It was another trooper called Crodden who had also got away, but he had a gaping hole in his shoulder and his path was barred by a roll of barbed wire. Well, I don't know how I did it, I crawled over the wire and pulled him after me. Needless to say, both of us had a few more bleeding spots. We kept on resting and crawling when suddenly we saw a patrol of French soldiers.

    They did us mighty proud and got us both to a first aid station and then into a French hospital. We were operated on straight away and the next day a French nursing sister came to our bedside with a captain from the RASC (British). He had called in at the hospital to cadge some splints as his dispatch rider had broken his leg, so the sister told him there were two English soldiers in the hospital. The captain said he'd be back for us in half an hour as the French had capitulated. All British troops had to make for the coast. We could only move by night as the Germans ruled the skies over France at that time. It took us three days to reach the coast.

    Eventually I was put aboard a little steamer on a stretcher and all I had on was a little French shirt. It was still dark and we reached England unmolested."

    No.7 General Hospital was at Cherbourg as far as I know, but Garbutt refers to a French Hospital? If he was still with your father in law then that seems to conflict with the information you have, which I assume comes from his war record. I know for certain that the 10th Hussars war diary was reconstructed by a group of officers after the war as they had lost all their paperwork in France during the retreat.

    A couple of other things: he was almost certainly wounded on 9/10th June as the Germans had captured the village by 9am that day. Could not 'Driver i/c' refer to 'in command'? Although, what he almost certainly was in St.Pierre was dismounted - the 10th Hussars had formed troops of lorried infantry from spare crews and dismounted crews - of which there were many after Huppy. In fact the regiment only kept two or three tanks after 27th May, the rest were sent to form a composite squadron with the 9th Lancers and Queens Bays. Your father in law was probably one of 3 or 4 troops of 'lorried infantry' - about 30-40 men sent up from Louviers to protect the St.Pierre bridge over the Seine under Lt.Lemieux. 8 were killed in the fighting and about 25-30 captured. They were only lightly armed - revolvers, rifles, the odd Bren and Boyes rifle without much ammunition. The Germans were across the river with a whole infantry division, air and artillery support. Not an easy job then...
    Rich Payne likes this.
  11. 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
  12. Oldleg

    Oldleg Well-Known Member

    I am not sure if you are still monitoring this thread but I would like to speak to you as I think your father inlaw may have been in other village in France in June 1940. Please PM me. Alex.
  13. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Last seen on forum October 2010
  14. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    RTR attestation:

    Wounded 18 Jun according to the Casualty List:
    Drew5233 and CL1 like this.
  15. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Coming to this very late, but since it has been revived....

    Following the most gallant, but also militarily inept, effort at Huppy on 27 May, 10H ceased to be a fully functionning armoured regiment. Significant components of its personnel and equipment were detached and found themselves operating under other's command. Thus, the 10H WD will only provide you with information on the likely whereabouts of about half of the 'Regiment'.

    For those personnel still under command RHQ/10H, 11 June was (as pointed out by Drew5233 above) a 'non-day' viz fighting. Dismounted (ie. personnel formed into infantry sections) elements had got caught up in fighting the day before in the Louviers area and had withdrawn to relative safety that evening. No engagements are recorded on either 11th or 12th.

    However, perhaps Tpr Crodden was not part of this assemblage. Perhaps he was part of the 10H contingent assigned to the Composite Squadron (Bays & 10H) part of the Composite Regiment (9L + attachments). Perhaps he was part of the 10H contingent sent to support 3rd Armoured Brigade. Perhaps he was part of the contingent sent rearwards as he was not needed forward.

    Looking through the appropriate reports and WD entries, I see no mention of a Tpr Crodden.

    Nevertheless, this deserves a good read. Battle of Huppy Monday Tpr Crodden gets no mention in the Wounded in Action section on page21. Could it be that Tpr Crodden was the 'victim' of a ND?

    As regards modelling a vehicle, as the late Tom Canning wrote above, a wheeled vehicle would be more appropriate than a tank. But, given the lack of evidence as to what his true role was within the Regiment, it could be that Tpr Crodden did not have any vehicle to call his own at all.
  16. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Wounded 2 days after returning to the UK having spent a few days in hospital in France. Hmmmmmm!

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