7886539 Cpl Francis W P MOTT, 3 RTR: KIA 7 April 1943

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by GraemeRowland, May 6, 2020.

  1. GraemeRowland

    GraemeRowland Member


    Does anybody know anything about Cpl Mott please? He was killed the same day as my uncle Dennis and he was 26 years old. His parents were Mr Owen Edwin and Mrs Frances Margret Mott, of Hawkhurst, Kent.

    Perhaps he commanded a tank and was destroyed by a Tiger as he also has no known grave???
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2020
  2. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    He is not commemorated on the Hawkhurst War Memorial for some reason, perhaps his parents had moved before the Memorial panel was finalised.

    A rough summary (you may know more, as 3 RTR seems to have several threads ongoing) is
    In the south, the Axis forces defeated at El Alamein withdrew into Tunisia along the coast through Libya, pursued by the Allied Eighth Army. By mid April 1943, the combined Axis force was hemmed into a small corner of north-eastern Tunisia and the Allies were grouped for their final offensive. Medjez-el-Bab was at the limit of the Allied advance in December 1942 and remained on the front line until the decisive Allied advances of April and May 1943.
    The Brigade took advantage of new equipment and it became normal for the brigade to allocate infantry companies to armoured regiments, forming Armoured Regimental groups. At the start of operations at the Mareth Line, the Brigade was formed as follows:
    3rd Royal Tank Regiment Nottinghamshire Yeomanry Staffordshire Yeomanry
    25 Sherman tanks 23 Sherman tanks 28 Sherman tanks
    4 Grant tanks 4 Grant tanks 3 Grant tanks
    22 Crusader tanks 19 Crusader tanks 19 Crusader tanks
    8 Armoured cars 6 Armoured cars 7 Armoured cars
    B Coy, 1st Buffs A Coy, 1st Buffs C Coy, 1st Buffs
    Following the failure of the frontal attack on the Mareth Line during the Tunisia Campaign by XXX Corps, an attempt was made by the New Zealand Corps to outflank the Axis positions in Operation Supercharge II. Initially unsuccessful, the 1st Armoured Division was despatched to reinforce this "Left-Hook". On 26 March, the brigade was launched towards El Hamma and penetrated deep into the Switch Line. Having gained all their objectives, the brigade drove through the gap, and the Axis forces, pressed by a fresh frontal attack and in danger of being encircled, withdrew some 60 miles north-westwards to defensive positions around Wadi Akarit.

    At the Battle of Wadi Akarit, which occurred from 6–7 April, the brigade first came up against the Tiger I (Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger I).
    The Battle of Wadi Akarit (Operation Scipio) was an Allied attack from 6–7 April 1943, to dislodge Axis forces from positions along the Wadi Akarit in Tunisia. The Gabès Gap, north of the towns of Gabès and El Hamma, is a passage between the sea and impassable salt marshes. The 51st (Highland) Infantry Division breached the defences and held a bridgehead, allowing the passage of their main force to roll up the Axis defences. After several determined counter-attacks, the Axis forces withdrew and the Eighth Army, under General Bernard Montgomery, pursued toward Tunis, until reaching Axis defensive positions at Enfidaville. The Eighth Army had 1,289 casualties and lost 32 tanks.

    You may already have this book: Ford, Ken (2012). The Mareth Line 1943: The End in Africa. Osprey Military Campaign Series. Oxford: Osprey. ISBN 1-78096-093-X. which may contain better information.

    The Crusader which formed the bulk of 3 RTR vehicles was under armoured and under gunned (as were most Allied tanks) with a 6lb main gun (57mm) against the Tiger I's 88mm. Additionally the downwards slope of the turret underarmour simply deflected a shell straight into the fighting compartment, and the Crusader would quickly brew up, leaving little opportunity for the crew to escape. That may be why he has no known grave.

    UPDATED TO ADD: He is commemorated on the Hurst Green, Sussex War Memorial, and it states he enlisted in Hawkhurst, presumably his family then moved to Hurst Green, the huge distance of about 3 miles.....
    Corporal, 3rd Royal Tank Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps. Killed in Action in Tunisia 7th April 1943. Son of Owen Edwin and Frances Margaret Mott of Hurst Green.
    Last edited: May 6, 2020
  3. GraemeRowland

    GraemeRowland Member

    Hi Kevin, Many thanks for your reply and it is interesting why he is not on the Hawkhurst Memorial. He is on the Medjez-el-Bab one alongside my uncle. Dennis does not seem to be commemorated elsewhere either. He is now added to the memorial book at his school after my enquires there.

    I feel, but have no proof, that he was in a Crusader and that it was a Tiger that got him and Cpl Mott plus two other troopers. It of course may have been an anti-tank gun or Mk IV as there was a screen to protect the withdrawing Axis forces. Even if they had been in Shermans, they would not have stood much of a chance against a Tiger. As ever, we were much behind the Germans in tank design!

    I wish I knew more of what actually happened. Do you have any information from 21 Panzer? I have contacted a German researcher but everything is locked down there too.

    I have a growing library of books on North Africa and started my research with Op Scipio by Barrie Barnes and do have Ken Ford's book too thanks. Most books gloss over the battle of Wadi Akarit and the break through pursuit hardly gets a mention.

    When we get out of lock down, I intend to walk the course of this battle to get a better feel for it.

  4. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Hi Graeme,
    Looking at his casualty records, FMP has him as died of wounds,
    Grave ref, Face 3
    Cemetery or Memorial Medjez-El Bab Memorial.
    Burial country, Tunisia.
    Found a photo of him. (sorry about the quality)


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  5. GraemeRowland

    GraemeRowland Member

    WOW that is amazing! Where did you get the photo please? What is FMP? He is recorded as no known grave on the memorial.

  6. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    FMP = Find My Past.
    The photo was amongst his casualty records.
    I would of thought if he died of wounds, someone must of found/treated him, which suggests he would have a grave.Others on here may be able to throw more light on him.

  7. GraemeRowland

    GraemeRowland Member

    Thanks Graham
    I had better join FMP along with the other sites!

    Certainly there should be a grave for him but it could have been alongside his tank and then lost perhaps.

    I am still hoping to find somebody who was there and can still remember

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  8. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

  9. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

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  10. GraemeRowland

    GraemeRowland Member

    Many thanks again. I still have a lot to learn about researching!!
  11. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    With a Crusader having a crew of 4 or 5, it seems that Graeme's uncle is likely to have been a crew mate....
    There are only 4 deaths in 3 RTR on 7th April, which is obviously why Graeme is so interested in his other mates....
    One difficulty might be if they were all equipped with MkIII's as the larger 6 pounder reduced space so only 3 crew.....
    A Sherman had a crew of 5, so perhaps one baled out successfully?

    ROWLAND, DENNIS HENRY. Sergeant. Service Number 3768768. Died 07/04/1943. Aged 31
    3rd Royal Tank Regiment, R.A.C. Awards: M M
    Son of Alfred and Margaret Rowland; husband of Dora Rowland, of High Heaton, Newcastle-on-Tyne.
    Commemorated at MEDJEZ-EL-BAB MEMORIAL: Face 3.
    Does Graeme have details about the Military Medal award?

    FUDGELL, FRANK. Trooper. Service Number 7929256. Died 07/04/1943. Aged 29.
    3rd Royal Tank Regiment, R.A.C.
    Son of John and Alice Fudgell; husband of Gertrude E. Fudgell, of Clifton, Bristol.
    Commemorated at MEDJEZ-EL-BAB MEMORIAL: Face 3.

    BARRATT, SIDNEY. Trooper. Service Number 7928571. Died 07/04/1943. Aged 36
    3rd Royal Tank Regiment, R.A.C.
    Son of Jonah and Amelia Barratt; husband of Nancy Barratt, of Kinsley, Yorkshire.
    Commemorated at MEDJEZ-EL-BAB MEMORIAL: Face 3.

    If only one tank crew was lost, there may be records that could provide further details....

    Graeme: Were you aware of this?
    Lot 311 Date of Auction: 4th July 2001 Estimate: £400 - £500 Sold for £700
    Medals to the Royal Tank Regiment from the Collection of Bill Green
    A Western Desert M.M. group of four awarded to Sergeant Dennis Rowland, 3rd Royal Tank Regiment, killed in action in Tunisia in April 1943
    Military Medal, G.VI.R. (3768768 A.Sjt., R. Tank R.); 1939-45 Star; Africa Star, clasp, 8th Army; War Medal, nearly extremely fine (4) £400-500
    Footnote: M.M. London Gazette 18 February 1943.
    “Sgt Rowland has at all times shown a complete disregard for his personal safety, and on occasions although heavily outnumbered, by his courage and undaunted aggressive spirit has rallied his section and led them into the attack. By his actions, he has at all times set a high example to his men and displayed powers of leadership of a very high order.”
    Sergeant Dennis Rowland was killed in action at Wadi Akarit, Tunisia, on 7 April 1943, and is commemorated on the Medjez el Bab Memorial.
    The lot is accompanied by a copy of Taming the Panzers - 3 Royal Tank Regiment at War by Patrick Delaforce, and a photograph of Rowland’s memorial.

    Last edited: May 6, 2020
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  12. GraemeRowland

    GraemeRowland Member

    Too right I am interested in all those that were killed that day but would much like to hear from anybody who survived too. I want to build a picture of what actually happened.

    There is an error in Dennis' entry above; his mother was Mary Rowland not Margret Rowland and this was probably because Dora never met her even after the war when Dora went to Jersey especially to meet her.

    Thanks I have photos of the medals from the purchaser and am in contact with him as he is interested in my research - surprise, surprise. It is interesting that his CO (Pyman) put him up for a DCM which was downgraded by somebody further up the chain.

    Patrick Delaforce uses a quote by my uncle Dennis on page 151 and the chapter title is based upon it plus he refers to Dennis in his book last paragraph. The location of the quote on page 151 time wise could be just after he was killed!

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