Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by DavidW, May 20, 2012.

  1. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    Can anyone tell me when the Royal Wilts Yeomanry arrived in North Africa, and how many of each type of tank were allocated to its squadrons.
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Their history is a tad vague.

    Page 121.
    ''The opportunity came at the beginning of May 1942 . The Regiment was moved from Palestine and trekked across the Sinai Desert to Khatatba.''

    All I can find at the mo about tanks to sqn is on page 148 regarding the battle of El Alamein & their advance .

    2nd November
    'B' Sqn (18 Crusaders)
    Regt HQ (1 Grant 5 Crusaders)
    'C' Sqn (8 Grants 1 Lee)
    'A' Sqn (8 Shermans 3 Grants)
  3. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    Thanks Owen, that's a start.

    I understand that they were under command of the 51st Highland Infantry Division at this time.
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    No they supported 2 NZ Div I think.
    The history is written in an odd way.
    Quite hard to follow.
  5. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    OK, sorry, my mistake.
  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    page 130,
    Royal Wilts support 5th NZ Bde in Op Lightfoot. 23/24 Oct.
  7. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    page 121 again.
    On the 27th May the Germans attacked the Gazala line and thereby brought one more disappointment to the Wiltshire yeomen who had not had sufficient time to train properly by then: their tanks were taken away as reserves for those whose need was greater . So the regiment went back to it's trucks once more as a mobile column to assist the defence of Egypt in case the Germans broke through.
  8. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    9th Armoured Brigade – 1 August 1941 to 27 May 1943
    The Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry was located at Gedera on October 8th. All troops were given seven days leave on arrival. After leave, the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry began the conversion to armour that was delayed by the Persian campaign. Specialist courses were begun in earnest. Just before Christmas the first tanks were issued, three Stuart Light Tanks. The regiment remained at Gedara until the end of March, when it moved to Karkur Road Camp to do test firing on its four available tanks on the ranges at Hadera. Early in May the regiment received orders to move to Egypt. Between May 7th and 10th, the entire 9th Armoured Brigade Group moved to Kataba Camp, forty miles from Cairo near the Alexandria road. They continued to train with their four Stuarts in hopes of receiving additional tanks. By the start of August the regiment’s tank strength was nine Crusaders, one Stuart, and two scout cars. Shortly after the brigade was visited by Prime Minister Churchill, who informed them that the brigade would be re-equipped with 94 of the latest American Sherman tanks along with the new Mk III Crusaders equipped with 6-pounder guns. The regiment would have one Crusader and two Sherman squadrons. The brigade moved to a new leaguer at Fayid on the Bitter Lakes on August 12th. Shortly after training was interrupted to form a composite regiment from the brigade in anticipation of any success in Rommel’s upcoming attack on the Alamein Line. The regiment supplied HQ and ‘A’ Squadron to the composite regiment. To prepare for the attack, the brigade was ordered to Maryut, south Amiriya, between August 21st and 23rd to harass any enemy forces attacking the landing grounds in the Burg el Arab area. The composite regiment with supporting troops moved out on the 24th for four days of exercises in the area of Ruweisat Ridge. Since it was not needed during the Alam el Halfa battle, the composite regiment was disbanded a week later. At this point no Shermans had arrived and the Crusaders were having mechanical difficulties. A further announcement came on September 9th confirming that the regiment would have two Sherman squadrons and that it would come under the X Corps to support the 2nd New Zealand Division in the upcoming battle. To effect this change, the brigade moved to Munqar-adb-el-Majid on the Cairo-Alexandria road on September 10th. As soon as it arrived the Shermans started to arrive so that, by the 16th, the regiment had nine Shermans, one Grant, one Lee, and nineteen Crusaders including a number of the Mk IIIs. The brigade began to train with the 2nd New Zealand Division for the upcoming Alamein offensive. During an exercise with the 5th New Zealand Brigade on September 24th, the regiment learned to operate as a regimental group with the 26th Field Battery NZA and ‘B’ Company 14th Sherwood Foresters. During the first fortnight of October training continued and all squadrons were up to strength with ‘A’ Squadron in Sherman Is, ‘B’ with Crusaders and ‘C’ with Grants. On October 18th, the regiment moved to Hamman to stage for the upcoming battle.
    The 9th Armoured Brigade would be support by the 4th Field Regiment NZA while the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry would support the 5th New Zealand Brigade and the Warwickshire Yeomanry would support the 6th New Zealand Brigade. The third regiment of the brigade, the 3rd Hussars, would be in reserve. Two troops of tanks of each leading regiment would behind the infantry advancing on Miteiriya Ridge and the brigade would move through the minefield gap to exploit south and resist any counterattack. On the regiment’s front, two troops of ‘B’ Squadron would provide the initial infantry support. After the initial attack on October 23rd, the troops would return to the regiment as it passed through. At the start of battle the regiment’s strength was 14 Grants, 10 Shermans, and 13 Crusaders.
    At 1500 hours on October 23rd, the two troops of ‘B’ Squadron reported to the HQ 5th New Zealand Brigade while at 1900 hours the rest of the regiment moved up the Bottle and Star tracks and formed up behind the 23rd New Zealand Infantry Battalion. The two troops of ‘B’, because of darkness, were unable to engage the enemy and the two follow-up New Zealand battalions passed through to support the 23rd NZ Battalion. The regimental group then entered the Bottle track with ‘A’ Squadron leading ‘C’ Squadron and the regiment was joined the two troops of ‘B’, who had been delayed in the minefields. By the time dawn broke on the 24th, both ‘A’ and ‘C’ Squadrons were through the minefields and had passed forward of Miteiriya Ridge with ‘C’ on the right and ‘A’ on the left. The two squadrons on the ridge became heavily engaged (‘B’ was held back due to the weakness of the Crusader’s 2-pounder guns) and began to take casualties from enemy anti-tank and tank fire. By midday, the two heavy squadrons were reduced to one Sherman and three Grants with some disabled tanks still fighting in position. A further German attack took placed against the brigade in the afternoon. At 1800 hours the regiment was ordered off the ridge to move to the Tank Delivery Squadron area to re-equip. The four remaining tanks were handed over to be distributed to other units in the brigade. The following day the regiment moved to Hamman to rest and refit with new tanks.
    Back at Hamman, the new tanks arrived on the 28th and on the following day the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry rejoined the 9th Armoured Brigade at Onsul. That night it moved to the 2nd New Zealand concentration area for the upcoming ‘Operation Supercharge’. The ‘new’ tanks were, in reality, a hasty collection of Shermans, Grants, Crusader IIs, and Crusader IIIs mostly collected from the ‘Lightfoot’ battlefield and repaired. The 2nd New Zealand Division was not to be used after all due to heavy casualties and was replaced by the 151st and 152nd Infantry Brigades along with the Valentines of the 23rd Armoured Brigade. Similar to ‘Lightfoot’, ‘Supercharge’ had the two infantry brigades advancing with 23rd Armoured Brigade support and followed up with the 9th Armoured Brigade, who would advance 2000 yards further behind an artillery barrage. The regimental group moved to the concentration area at El Alamein at 1930 hours on November 1st and then moved up the Sun and Boomerang tracks. The group consisted of the regiment, ‘B’ Company 14th Sherwood Foresters, and ‘C’ Troop 31st Anti-Tank Battery NZA. The tank state was RHQ with 1 Grant and 5 Crusader IIs, ‘A’ Squadron with 8 Shermans and 3 Grants, ‘B’ Squadron with 12 Crusader IIIs and 6 Crusader IIs, and ‘C’ Squadron with 8 Grants and 1 Lee. The Battle of Tel Aqqaqir was a slogfest similar to a second battle of Balaclava. The regiment was withdrawn at 1600 hours on November 2nd to its ‘B’ Echelon with only four tanks remaining. These were turned over to the Warwickshire Yeomanry. Due to heavy casualties the regiment and the 3rd Hussars were withdrawn leaving only the Warwickshire Yeomanry in place with 35 tanks including the four from the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry.
    Owen likes this.
  9. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    Thank you so much
  10. TeeELL

    TeeELL Junior Member

    I don't wish to hijack this thread, but I have an interest. The comprehensive response above leaves me wondering. I have photographs of 3 Sherman III tanks 'RODBOURNE', 'PEMBROKE ARMS' and 'HIGHWORTH' all displaying the circle of 'C' Squadron and all in what appears to be a desert scenario. How does that fit in to the above?
  11. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  12. Marabout

    Marabout Member

    The RWY had named a number of tanks that they had for training in 1942, but the full Regiments worth of tanks turned up so late before the opening of the Battle of El Alamein that they didn't have time to do so. By the time they were reissued Shermans in Syria in 1943 prior to going to Italy, they had time to.

    There was also a conscious desire to try to reconnect with the population of the county of Wiltshire. The Regiment had be abroad for over 3 years and were feeling alittle forgotten. The Honorary Colonel, Col Thynne (who had commanded the Regt in WW1) organised sending photos out to various parishes and public houses in Wiltshire that the serving Regiment had named their tanks after.

    There is more info here - The Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry Association

    The below photos were taken from the Yew Tree Public House, Warminster where they are still on display 74 years after being sent them showing their named RWY tank.

    17903616_10213371295980825_6132216537909447191_n.jpg 17904049_10213371295900823_1448610021348174351_n.jpg 17904306_10213371295940824_6374567025955990008_n.jpg
    Last edited: May 8, 2017
    4jonboy and Owen like this.

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