7 RTR - Fall of France & Tobruk

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by Tudor Rees, Mar 18, 2018.

  1. Tudor Rees

    Tudor Rees Member

    Am doing some research for relatives on Cpl David Binch (7884433) of 7RTR. a professional soldier, he fought in France BEF 1940 , was evacuated at Dunkirk, then on to the Middle East and fought there. Captured in June 1942 at Tobruk, he was sent to POW camp PG 82 in Italy, escaped, recaptured, and then sent to Stalag 357 and then X1-D in Germany until liberated.

    I am trying to piece together for his family the actions he may have fought in. Is it possible to:
    - trace what squadron he fought in (France and ME)?
    - thus identify what type of Tank he crewed? (France and ME)?
    - is there a list of unit/tank crew personnel?

    There are many excellent works out their describing larger unit engagements/history - but I would like to get at some detail of his actions against the enemy. Have been in touch with the 7 RTR website and RTM at Bovington who were helpful. Have not been to search war diaries at Kew yet.
    Would welcome any further thoughts/ideas/ suggestions on research sources? TIA - this website is a super resource.
    Best Regards

    Attached Files:

  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I've only got the regiments diaries up to March 1942. I think you will be lucky to identify which squadron he was in.
  3. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Have you ascertained that he was a tank crew member?
    There were more non tank crew personnel in 7RTR than actual tank crew.

    Have you ascertained that he saw "action" as a member of a tank crew?
    Even those in the battalion designated as tank crew often missed out on the action from inside a tank as there simply weren't enough to go around. They may well have been part of the wider battle dismounted or other. For example, the action near Arras in May 1940 begun with about of 1/3 or the battalion's tanks missing as they had already broken down due mechanical failure. Later, at the end of 1940, only a handful of 7RTR tanks made it as far as Tobruk during Op Compass. The majority having already packed up enroute.
  4. Tudor Rees

    Tudor Rees Member

    Hi Mark

    Thanks for your reply. Yes we have established he was a tank crew member - operated as a loader or driver.
    Was in action at Arras according to his wife - but no specific mentions in service record (just BEF) or of him in unit history.
    Was in action in the desert with 7 RTR and again his wife mentioned he was crew in a "version of the Sherman tank" which I assume must be M3 Grant/Lee. During action, his tank commander was wounded and he took over command of the tank. Its these kind of scraps of the story I am trying to piece together from his wife who is 91 bless her.

  5. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

    Tudor Rees and Tricky Dicky like this.
  6. Tudor Rees

    Tudor Rees Member

  7. LondonNik

    LondonNik Senior Member

    I realise this is an old thread so apologise for posting rather late in the day...

    It is extremely difficult to place men into a Company for 7RTR in 1940 as there is very little hard evidence in the War Diary - a name here and there for the football team or for promotion and that's it. There's a partial list of names on the back of a couple of the War Diary pages (I bless the person who re-used this!) but there's no Cpl David Binch (7884433). Other sources include personal accounts used in books and articles by other personnel in his unit - again I haven't come across David in the 1940 accounts I've seen. He doesn't appear in my database assembled from the 1940 Casualty Lists either.

    The best person to tell you which in Company (or even Section!) he served would be the man himself - in letters, stories, anecdotes etc. as these sometimes hold tell-tale clues to the hidden detail.

    Mark N is correct - a man could be a Gunner, Loader or Tank Driver and still not have seen the inside of a tank during combat. In 1940, 7RTR had as many men as 'Spare' crew as they did active crew, and then had a whole lot of men in 1st Reinforcements as ready replacements. All of those men would have been trained as Tank Drivers and Gunners too, just to add to the confusion.

    I can tell you with 100% accuracy that David did not form a part of either the tank crews or the spare tank crews for 11 Section, D Company, 7RTR at Arras in May 1940 (and that's about as accurate as I can get except for a couple of individual tanks, which I won't go into here) but he could have been in 11 Section in another capacity.

    I wish you the best of luck
  8. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Oh. This one has arisen.

    I have the 1941 WDs for 7RTR and D/7RTR.

    On a quick scan of them l could see no Binch pop out from either. However, l tend not to copy the reams of nominal roll occifer or other returns.

    However, l found him on 1RTR's census return for 1941 in the September section of their WD.

    That puts him in Tobruk with D/7RTR under command 1RTR during (at least part of) the siege.

    He is listed as a driver not gunner or loader.

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