23rd Hussars Royal Armoured Corps

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by Mavis Williams, Mar 11, 2018.

  1. Mavis Williams

    Mavis Williams Well-Known Member

    Hello Experts, I would like to know where the 23rd Hussars were on the 7th September 1944 as I am trying to tell the story of one of the men on our local War Memorial and want him to be remembered. He was Edward Joseph STENNER 7937374 and died on that day age 23 years, but don't know if it was in a battle or was he injured earlier and died that day? Any help would be appreciated. Kind regards, Mavis Williams
  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    001 STENNER EJ 7937374 23RD HUSSARS 07/09/1944 ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS COLL. GRAVE IV. E. 15-18.

    KIA near Merxem/Antwerp - the abortive crossing of the Albert Canal by 4th KSLI near the Schijnpoort bridge; the 3rd Monmouthshires supported by tanks of the 23 Hussars tried to come to the rescue of the hard pressed tiny bridgehead of the KSLI, by a flanking attack through the dock area. The attempt failed and some tanks were lost, among which the lead tank of 'A' Squadron commanded by 2nd Lt. R.H. Cottrell near the railroad. Cottrell's tank was knocked out and he and his entire crew were killed.

    If you look at the concentration files tab in the above link you have a small story.

    Map of the action taken from 'Autumn Gale'

    The other crew members were:
    001 COTTRELL RH 326618 23RD HUSSARS 07/09/1944 ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS I. D. 14.
    003 COLLINS RJ 14231880 23RD HUSSARS 07/09/1944 ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS COLL. GRAVE IV. E. 15-18.
    004 SMITH CFC 7951004 23RD HUSSARS 07/09/1944 ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS COLL. GRAVE IV. E. 15-18
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2018
    Juha, CL1 and Tricky Dicky like this.
  3. Mavis Williams

    Mavis Williams Well-Known Member

    Thank you so much, I didn't know about the concentration files tab on CWGC and also the explanation of what happened to Edward Joseph. Very much appreciated. Kind regards, Mavis
  4. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    23H War Diary:

    Sep 5 18.00 hours. Move to harbour at Pulhof, 6692 for rest and refit.
    14.00 hours. "A" Squadron sent to capture bridges and cross Antwerp canal north of Antwerp but all advance beyond railway bridge 6898 impossible owing to heavy Anti/tank and infantry opposition.

    Sep 6 & 7 Other small enemy activity and infiltrations in the Division area make it impossible for the Regiment as a whole to take advantage of the incredible generosity and enthusiasm of the people. 2/Lieut Cotterall and 4 Other Ranks killed in action.

    32 Bridge Street, Shotton, Hawarden R.D, Flintshire
    Edward Stenner 23 Jun 1875 Steel Works Furnaceman Heavy Worker
    Elizabeth Stenner 16 Sep 1876 Unpaid Domestic Duties
    Edward J Stenner 13 Aug 1912 Hairdresser Private Business
    Victor A Stenner 30 Aug 1914 Sheet Worker Pickling Process Heavy Worker
    Lorraine E Stamper (Stenner) 19 Mar 1917 Tempory Shop Assistant General Stores

    Schoonselhof Cemetery:

    Schoonselhof - Stenner_EJ.JPG
    Tricky Dicky and CL1 like this.
  5. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    The Story of the Twenty-Third Hussars, Page 143:

    Juha, stolpi and Tricky Dicky like this.
  6. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    23H Wireless Log:

    Guy Hudson, Owen, SDP and 1 other person like this.
  7. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Never seen or even heard of a Wireless Log before. Where on Earth did you find that? Naturally wondering that if 23H kept one then so would others.
  8. Mavis Williams

    Mavis Williams Well-Known Member

    OMG! Thank you so much for all this Harkness, you are very kind, this will add to his story so much. Thanks again, Kind regards, Mavis
  9. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Please note that the tank commander was 2nd Lt Raymond Henry Cottrell (not Cotterell as is mentioned in some literature).

    The really sad thing is that the crew - as the fragment from the 23rd Hussars history in Harkness post mentions - was killed in bailing out; they were shot while trying to escape from the tank after it was hit. Unfortunately this was not uncommon during WW2.

    Sherman tank crew:

    Last edited: Jun 4, 2018
    harkness likes this.
  10. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    It was part of the War Diary. Unfortunately it only covers a few days in September 44. I'd give my right arm for more.

    Happy to help, Mavis.
    SDP likes this.
  11. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    The other crew members (not Cottrell unfortunately - he was buried separately):

    Schoonselhof - Collins_RJ.JPG

    Schoonselhof - Smith_CFC.JPG

    Schoonselhof - Williams_ROL.JPG
    stolpi and SDP like this.
  12. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    An account of the action by Sgt Bertie McCully (1923-2012), 3rd Troop, A Squadron, 23H.

    At 14.00 hours my troop was sent with another troop of A Squadron and the Squadron Leader, to cross the various bridges in the city outskirts and help the KSLI who had established a bridgehead but were having trouble with some Mk. IV tanks. The leading troop came to a railway arch, which had wires across attached to some explosive device.

    The REs were called to remove this obstacle. As dusk approached a number of German infantrymen, dug in deeply became belligerent, firing bazookas, striking a couple of tanks and causing showers of sparks but fortunately not penetrating. One of our tanks with Bob Walmsley as driver was sent across an allotment plot, where the German slit trenches were, to try to 'stop their little game'. It got stuck in the soft ground. There then came a message on the wireless for me to take my tank over and tow them out. As I went across this patch, I thought it advisable to drop a hand grenade into each trench to keep the occupants quiet. The enemy was obviously observing us, probably from a large building beyond the railway embankment as, immediately I dismounted to attach the towrope to Bob's tank, mortar bombs started arriving. The job was eventually accomplished and I gave my driver instructions to start pulling. The result was that we also got stuck. It was getting dark by this time so we were informed that a section of infantry would give us covering fire while we dismounted to leave the tanks for recovery the next morning. I instructed my crew to each take a blanket, greatcoat and small pack. From the storage bin I grabbed one of the bottles we had acquired on our journey. The other crew decided to sleep in an air raid shelter but it did not seem such a comfortable place to spend the night. So I led my crew into a dock building and, by feel, as we were unable to show any light, came to what I assumed was an office door. It needed a ‘little persuasion’ by my army boot to gain access. As I felt around the room there were several desks and chairs. We cleared sufficient floor space to lay down our blankets, use our small pack as a pillow and cover our bodies with the greatcoats. The bottle I had selected was a ‘bubbly’, which I opened and passing it along the line, we each had a good ‘swig’ before settling down for the night. At first light I awoke and looked around our room. On one wall was a picture of Adolf and on another one of a Messerschmidt shooting down a Spitfire. It was the German Port Control Office that we had entered. Fortunately, its occupants had left the previous day. We got out to greet the Squadron fitters with their recovery vehicle. It was able to stay on the metalled road but by means of a long towrope and winch pulled the two tanks out of the soft ground. Orders had been given to continue the advance but as soon as Lt. Cotterell's tank moved beyond the railway a German gun knocked it out and all members of the crew were killed. As further progress was impossible, it was decided to withdraw the KSLI from the bridgehead and we returned to harbour in Antwerp.

    On the 8th September we diverted to Beeringen to protect the right flank of the Guards, who had been given the job of trying to reach Arnhem.

    Sgt Bertie McCully (front) and crew:

    Juha and stolpi like this.
  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Good ... where does it come from?
  14. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    His unpublished memoirs. I had the great pleasure in meeting Bertie in Bridlington in 2011.
    Juha likes this.
  15. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Was he also involved in the fighting in the Ardennes, Dec 44/ Jan 45? If so, I would be interested in his story.
  16. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    We had settled in at Ypres and a six week training programme had been set up to introduce us to the new Comet tanks. A Squadron Office was installed in a café just outside the Menin Gate and A Squadron sergeants in another café on the opposite side of the road. In view of the friendliness of the local populace there were high hopes of a jolly Christmas. During this period the Germans had been amassing a formidable panzer force, the Sixth SS Panzer Army, and on the 16th December they attacked on a section of the American front with the object of capturing Liege and the Meuse crossings, drive across Belgium and capture Antwerp. We did not think that we would be involved as we had no tanks, but by the 19th December when the attack became more threatening, 'someone' decided the 29th Armoured Brigade should get down to the Meuse to stop the German's 'gallop'.

    We left Ypres on the 20th December for Brussels to collect the old tanks, arriving in Brussels late at night. Sgt. Ken Roberts and I were informed that two 17 pounder Shermans were in workshops about halfway between Brussels and the river and that we were to go there to collect them. Off we went in a 3ton lorry. I sat beside the driver to direct him to this place, which was rather tricky, as no map was available. I had been allowed a quick glance at the only map available before leaving Brussels. We arrived at the workshops and then discovered that one tank had been sent to guard the bridge at Dinant while the other still required work doing to it before it could move. So, who was going down to the river and who would wait for the tank at the workshops? We tossed a coin and I lost, so it was back onto the lorry with my crew and off to Dinant. On the road we passed Bren carriers of the 8th RB - I learned later that they had been ordered forward to recce. the area to ascertain how far the enemy had reached! On arrival at the Dinant bridge, the 'scratch' crew was only too anxious to hand over and return to the rear area. I made my way along the river to Givet, the Regiment's objective. At the Givet bridge, American rear troops were in some panic and were just being issued with ammunition. I took the tank across the bridge and parked it facing east, which was the direction from which the enemy would appear, should he come down our road. But first, as we were hungry, I enquired as to the whereabouts of the cookhouse. The cook on duty was sorry he had little to offer us, then proceeded to open a huge tin of frankfurter sausages with a pile of sliced bread, followed by tinned peaches and evaporated milk. It was a veritable 'banquet'. The rest of the Regiment arrived the next day and A Squadron went forward daily to positions covering the road from Beauraing and Feschaux.

    On December 24th, the 3rd Tanks, who were covering the bridge at Dinant, made contact with the enemy to our north. We were alerted in case they tried to make for the Givet bridge. It appeared that the Germans had decided to withdraw, so on December 25th A Squadron moved forward to Beauraing and on to Neuville, taking up an excellent position covering the valley from the south. The cook's truck arrived with frozen bully beef and cheese sandwiches, which we considered an unusual Christmas dinner. We remained in this position until 31st December, withdrawing into Beauraing each night. Lt. 'Stan' Goss was my troop leader. He had recently joined the Squadron and had taken over First troop, and I was Troop Sergeant. He and I entered the Hotel Moderne to arrange sleeping accommodation. I was quite happy to share the front lounge with the members of the troop. There was plenty of room to put our bedrolls on the floor but asked for a bedroom for the officer, and this was arranged. The proprietor invited us to have an omelette, which we consumed, before calling the 'lads' in. I got down in my bedroll and put my head on my small pack that I was using for a pillow, and I could hear a 'mumbling' sound. I got up to find our what it was. It appeared to come from below so I descended the cellar stairs and there was one huge bed stretching the whole length of the cellar, which contained all the family and neighbours, who were reciting the rosary. I hoped that they included us in their prayers, went back to my blankets and was soon asleep.

    Early January 1945 we moved forward to Wellin. On the 4th January a battalion of the 6th Airborne Division supported by the Fife and Forfars had battled for the village of Bure, a small village about a thousand yards from the bridge over the River Homme and entirely covering its approaches. The 6th Airborne had suffered two hundred casualties and the Fifes had lost about a dozen tanks in the all day battle. So it was with some apprehension that on the 5th January my troop was to support the Airborne in a further attempt to take Bure. The plan was for First Troop to advance down the road into the village and for the rest of the Squadron to give us covering fire from the high ground. When the time came, the thick mist prevented the Squadron from seeing us, or giving us any assistance in the village. Also they encountered trouble. Sgt. Arthur Huthwaite's tank went up on a mine and Sgt. Ken Roberts was killed by a bazooka. Meanwhile in the village, I led the way, followed by Lt. Goss. He ordered the other two tanks to take a right fork and assist the Airborne troops to clear that area. The main street turned left then right and I had gone some way along when I was informed by an Airborne officer that a German gun was firing into the village from a wood about 1500 yards away to the left. I manouevred the tank between two houses to get a shot in but was unable to locate the gun. Lt. Goss had gone by and reached the edge of the village. There was a loud bang and his tank had been hit and burst into flames. Two members of his crew were killed and one classed as 'missing presumed killed'. I backed out of my position and at the edge of the village approached a Tiger tank. It had been this, which had destroyed the troop officer's tank. I ordered the gunner to "Traverse right", but before we could get a shot off, the 88mm shot hit my tank and we were baling out to avoid being consumed in the ferocious flames. Jack Gearing, my driver, was killed and we lost a good friend.

    For the next week the Regiment supported infantry attacks to obtain crossings of the River Homme and when it became apparent that the enemy was in full retreat, concentrated in Tellin until January 13th when the move back to Ypres started.
    CL1, SDP and stolpi like this.
  17. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Thank you, much appreciated ... :)
  18. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    No probs, stolpi. If anything else comes my way I will let you know.
  19. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Inside the Sherman:

    Some others on how to operate a Sherman:

    Last edited: Mar 15, 2018
    harkness likes this.
  20. Mavis Williams

    Mavis Williams Well-Known Member

    Apologies - Just catching up with all the extra, thanks so much everyone. Kindest regards, Mavis

Share This Page