23rd Hussars - The Black Bull:11th Armoured Division

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by HarryM, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. HarryM

    HarryM Junior Member

    Hello all, Please bear with me for my first post.

    I shall start with a quick explanation of how I got here. I know that both my grandparent served in the war, my grandfather was associated with tanks and my nan was a nurse. They have both passed my grandfather in 1983 and my nan 2006. Being 32 I never really knew my grandfather and unfortunately I left it too late to ask my nan what she knew. I was left my grandfathers medals, badges and dagger by my nan. My father who has moved to the states visited this summer and when we got chatting about his parents he said he had nothing of his fathers. My instant though was that I would get the medals mounted with a picture of my grandfather and give it to my dad so he has something.

    This is what brings me here I went through the box of what I was given and I have 4 medals, a 10th Hussar pin, two 23rd hussar pins, 2 forrward pins and two black bull patches.

    I believe from this that my Grandfather served with the 23rd Hussars. I have very little information other than what is in the box. I know my father knows a bit but not a great deal, also I am intrigued and want to see what I can find for myself.

    My grandfather was
    James Harris
    Born 1920 Died 25/07/1983
    Home town - Plymouth/Devon

    Sorry I don't have any more information, but if someone could point me in the right direction to find out more I would really appreciate it.
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  3. HarryM

    HarryM Junior Member

    Many thanks for such a quick response, I shall get straight on to the records.
  4. grimmy

    grimmy Guest

    Hi HarryM and welcome.

    My Dad was a 23H man and, as Owen mentioned, a 23H veteran joined today. There are also several 23H relatives who are members of this forum.

    The name Harris rings a bell, but I won't know until I check my records at home tonight (am at work right now).

    Would you recognise your grandfather if you saw a photo of him? If so, try looking through my 23H albums here http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/album.php?u=21120. Member NickH also has a good album here http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/album.php?albumid=929.

    PS Quite a few of the early contingent of 23H men came from 10th Hussars.
  5. grimmy

    grimmy Guest

    I thought the name rang a bell. Here's an extract from 'The Story of the 23rd Hussars':

    At the other end of the field, playing the 'lying-in-wait' game which was the delight of the German tank man, lay hidden a number of Panthers. At close range, and with well distributed fire, they all opened up at once with deadly effect. All but four of the 'A' Squadron tanks were hit and blazing within a matter of minutes, and the remaining four fought their way back to cover, destroying three Panthers as they did so. Major Watt's tank was one of to be hit and the crew 'baled out', comparatively unhurt. Seeing the plight of his squadron and realising that he could not control the battle without using a wireless, Major Watt ran back to his tank which was not yet on fire, but which he well knew to be in full view of the enemy. When he jumped onto the turret to seize the microphone, a Panther opened up on him at point blank range and Major Watt fell, badly wounded. Corporal Harris, his driver, rushed forward and pulled him to safety, though under very heavy fire all the time. Having done this, Corporal Harris went forward alone with a Sten gun to asault the enemy infantry, which were threatening to advance upon them. Major Watt refused all medical treatment until the other wounded could be attended to and kept trying to resume command although his wounds made this quite impossible. The baled-out crews ran about under heavy fire helping the wounded. Captain Taylor had in the meantime, with great coolness and courage, reorganised the survivors. The Recce Troop were sent across to evacuate the wounded and after a brisk battle, which cost them one man killed, they fought their way back down 'A' Squadron's route, which by now had been cut by some very aggressive Panzer Grenadiers. When he was satisfied that all possible survivors had been evacuated and that there was nothing more that could be done Captain Taylor brought the remnants of the Squadron across to the main route and joined the rest of the Regiment.

    No guarantee that he's your grandfather, of course, but if he is then you can be very proud of him.
  6. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Here is a summary of the service of the 23rd Hussars:

    23rd Hussars

    1 December 1940 at Teddesley Hall, Penkridge
    Raising Regiments
    10th Royal Hussars (Prince of Wale’s Own)
    15th/19th The King’s Hussars
    Battle Honours
    The Odon, Bourguebus Ridge, Le Perier Ridge, Amiens 1944, Antwerp, Venraij, Venlo Pocket, The Ourthe, North-West Europe 1944-45

    Western Command – 1 December 1940 to 30 December 1940
    The regiment was raised on December 1st, 1940 by 8 officers and 50 NCOs and men from the 10th Hussars and the 15th/19th Hussars plus recruits at Teddesley Hall, Penkridge at near Stafford. The officers and men arrived by December 7th and an additional intake of men was added on December 18th.

    30th Armoured Brigade – 30 December 1940 to 8 January 1941
    Training began on December 30th. At that time, the 23rd had only some Ross and a few Enfield rifles, a few .303 Besa Machine-Guns, some Bren LMGs, two “impressed” vehicles, one delivery van, and one medium tank that could not move.

    29th Armoured Brigade – 8 January 1941 to 31 August 1945
    Since the brigade HQ was to be formed at the end of January at Penkridge, the regiment moved to the 29th Armoured Brigade. The 24th Lancers were ten miles away at Cannock. On March 4th and 5th, the regiment moved to Knaresborough, Yorkshire and took over from the 43rd Royal Tank Regiment. The first tank, a Valentine Mk II, arrived on the day before the move. By the end of March 1941 it had three tanks, two Mk III Valentines and one Mk II Valentine, five personnel carriers, 12 motorcycles, 15 “utility” cars, two 3-tonners, 6 15-CWT trucks, one officer truck, and two impressed vehicles. The next five months were occupied with training.
    On June 14th, 1941 the regiment moved to Nawton Camp near Helmsley and then to Whitby on August 14th, 1941. The quantity of equipment increased during this time as well. By August 1941, it had acquired no less than 28 Valentines of various makes. On arrival at Whitby on August 14th, the regiment did squadron camps in Yorkshire and then moved from squadron camps to a regimental camp at Commondale on September 1st. The first brigade scheme took place from September 15th to 17th entitled Exercise Chris. Afterwards the regiment visited Fylingdale for gun trails from September 30th to October 2nd. During Exercise Percy on October 9th, the regiment was almost complete in Valetines and Matildas. The regiment then made a brief move to Northumberland around Hadrian’s Wall before returning to Whitby on October 16th. Individual training started on October 22nd and continued through the winter. The 23rd spent November 26th to December 5th at the Castlemartin Ranges. Soon after the first consignment of Mk IV Valentines arrived along with Mk VIB AA tanks. It did squadron camps in March 1942 and on the 31st it was announced that it would be moving shortly to Southeast Command.
    Between April 25th and 26th, the regiment moved to Plumpton, Sussex with HQ Squadron on the racecourse and the three sabre squadrons billeted in the area. It began squadron training on the Downs and then the regiment moved to Kent for Exercise Tiger. On return from the exercise, it disposed of its Valentines and Matildas and re-equipped with Covenanters and Crusaders. From August 1st to 4th, 1942, it did trial firing of the new tanks at Seaford Ranges. After it was involved in Exercise Black Bull from August 6th to 7th. It moved to Rushford Belts near Thetford, Norfolk on August 10th, 1942. It was ordered to mobilise on August 16th and visited Linney Head on the 20th before returning to Thetford. On return it received reinforcements but did not end up departing for North Africa. Instead, it moved into winter quarters on October 17th at Chippenham Camp, near Newmarket. It visited Castlemartin Ranges from December 24th to January 3rd, 1943. It was warned to be ready to move soon and the tanks were sent off for transit to North Africa on February 5th, but the move was once again cancelled. The tanks returned back to Chippenham on February 10th. The regiment was relatively idle since there were no training tanks and the regular tanks were over the recommended mileage. The regiment was reorganised in March into squadrons of five troops with four tanks at Squadron HQ. In the spring, it moved to the Stanford Battle Area for a week brigade training on May 1st then it was involved in Exercise Sabre from May 16th to 20th. After the exercise, the regiment received its first Shermans, which were to replace the Crusaders. The 23rd moved to Bridlington, Yorkshire and the Shermans continued to arrive. For a time the squadrons had a double allotment of Shermans and Crusaders before the latter were sent off. Exercise Eagle took place next on July 7th and was followed by a regimental camp at Butterwick on the Yorkshire Wolds. VIII Corps’ Exercise Hawk followed on July 22nd and gun exercises at Hornsea Ranges, Spaunton Moor and Riccall Bridge.
    During August and September a plethora of vehicles arrived. The regiment was involved in Exercise Blackcock from September 24th to October 3rd and at the ranges in Kircudbrightshire on October 24th. Also from September until it moved to Aldershot, the 23rd visited the ranges at Fylingdale and Hornsea. At the start of the New Year, it received 17-pounder Shermans. The Reconnaissance Troop took on Stuarts after having first having carriers and then Crusaders. New AA Crusaders arrived but these were given up after the battle of Caen. On March 31st. 1944 the main party left for Aldershot. The equipment was sent to the embarkation ports on June 8th and the regiment moved to Gosport on the 11th. The advance party left for France on June 13th.
    The regiment landed in France on June 15th, 1944 and by the 17th it had concentrated at Coulombs in Normandy. From June 26th to 30th, the 23rd was involved into the crossing of the Odon and in the Battle of Point 112. The 11th Armoured Division concentrated in the area of Cully on June 26th. The plan was for the brigade to advance with the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry on the left, the 23rd Hussars on the right and the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment in reserve. The regiment had ‘H’ Company 8th Rifle Brigade and ‘G’ Battery 13th Royal Horse Artillery as part of its regimental group. The advance began on June 26th to Cheux and the attack ended on June 30th when it returned from Hill 112 to Putot-en-Bessin. It was then involved in the Battle of Caen from July 1st to 22nd. On July 2nd, it moved to Rauray and then to Cully on the 15th for a day’s rest, but it then was back in the line waiting for action. The attack on Caen began on July 16th with the division moving across the Orne and reaching its forming-up point the next day. It went into battle on the 18th and was heavily engaged (held up). On the 20th, the 7th Armoured Division took over and the regiment moved to Demouville. On the 22nd it was to refit at St. Germain.
    The 23rd was then involved at Le Beny Bocage, Chenedolle, and Le Bas Perrier from July 22nd to August 7th. After one week refitting at St. Germain, whre the AA Troop was disbanded and the Recce Troop was down to three tanks, it receive reinforcements from the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars. It left on July 29th to an area south of Balleray and north of Caumont. Its next operation began on July 30th. It was to advance to Le Beny Bocage with the regiment of the left and the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry on the right with the 3rd Monmouthshires attached. Le Beny Bocage was captured on August 1st, followed by Chenedolle and then Le Bas Perrier by August 6th. The regiment then assembled at La Barbiere. From August 6th to 22nd it operated in the Falaise Gap. First it received reinforcements from the disbanded 24th Lancers and reorganised. It left La Barbiere on August 12th and the next day organised with ‘G’ Company 8th Rifle Brigade under ‘A’ Squadron, ‘F’ Company under ‘B’, and ‘H’ Company under ‘C’. It advanced to Vassy then Canteloupe. It then operated along the Falaise-Argenten Road reaching Laigle by August 22nd and ending the push through the Falaise Gap.
    The 23rd next advanced from the Seine to Antwerp from August 28th to September 5th. It left Laigle on August 28th and concentrated in an area near the Seine. It then advanced through the following towns: Laigle, Evreux, Vernon (across the Seine), Gournay, Cierecour-Le-Grand, Conty, Dury, Amiens, Mandicourt, Lievein, Lens, Carrin, Tournai, Renaix, Ninone, Wolverthem, Maliens, Contich, and finally Antwerp on September 4th.
    On September 6th, two troops of ‘A’ Squadron supported crossing the canal in Merxem. The 11th Armoured Division left Antwerp on September 8th and advanced into Holland. The regiment crossed the Albert Canal on the 9th at Beeringen and moved to Heusden. Then with all the companies of the 8th Rifle Brigade attached, it moved through the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry at Helchteren and reached Petit Brogel by the 10th. It remained there from September 11th to 20th to rest, except for two days at Grand Brogel. It moved off again on September 20th through Leende, Marteeze and Geldrop. It reached De Rips on September 25th, where it remained for the next three weeks patrolling and resting.
    On October 15th, the regiment was ready for a drive toward Venry. It moved to Leuren on the 19th and remained there for a fortnight, while one third of the regiment rotated back to Helmond for rest. On November 2nd, the regiment advanced again from Usselsteijn to clear the Maas Pocket, operating there through the 28th. It then moved to Deurne with orders to re-equip with new Comet Tanks. It left on December 10th and, after four days at Geldrop, it moved to Ypres to refit and re-equip.
    Unfortunately, just as the regiment was ready to take on the new Comets, it got a call on December 20th to move to Brussels with the remaining 17-pounder Shermans and four Stuarts to collect Shermans at the 2nd Army Reinforcement Group the next day. The 29th Armoured Brigade was sent to the bridges over the Meuse in reaction to the German Ardennes offensive with ‘C’ Squadron at Givet followed by ‘A’, and ‘B’ in reserve. The RHQ was located at Agimont. The regiment crossed to Beauraing on the 25th and remained for four days before returning across the Meuse for the next three days. It continued to operate in the area until January 10th, 1945. It concentrated at Tellin and Resteigne from the 10th to the 14th, beginning to move back from the 13th. By January 20th, the regiment had returned to Ypres after handing over its Shermans at Brussels. The first Comets began to arrive and it was complete by March 14th, when the regiment left Ypres for the final battles.
    The 23rd moved through Veerle, Vorst, Petit Vorst, and Schout north of Diest. It moved forward on March 28th and crossed the German frontier at Venlo on tank transporters before crossing the Rhine. It concentrated with ‘H’ Company 8th Rifle Brigade near Brunen and then advanced in the reserve to Geschan, where it took over the lead on March 30th. It reached the Dortmund-Ems Canal on March 31st and crossed it on April 1st. It was then engaged at Tecklenburg. On the 5th it lead the division to Weser. It attacked Stolzenau then crossed the Weser through Luccum, Petiburg and Schneeren. It took Steimbke on April 9th and then crosser the Aller at Mandershoh on the 14th toward Winsen. The 23rd attacked Barum on the 17th then advanced toward Lunenburg the next day. It reached the Elbe and remained there for the next ten day. By May 2nd, it crossed the Elbe and moved along the Lunenberg Autobahn. While at Niendorf and Struckdorf on the 4th, it heard about the surrender of Germany.
    The regiment then moved to Husum with ‘A’ Squadron at Hockersbull. It remained there through October 1945. On January 3rd, 1946 the regiment was broken up and Kreis, Husum was handed over to the Royal Scots Greys.
  7. grimmy

    grimmy Guest

    Sorry - wrong man. The Corporal Harris, above, was 7902914 Lance-Sergeant Ernest Arthur Harris, 23rd Hussars, Royal Armoured Corps (Oxford). He was deservedly awarded the MM.
  8. grimmy

    grimmy Guest


    Your grandfather was in HQ Squadron, 23rd Hussars.

    His address immediately after the war was 41 Lanhydrock Road, St. Judes, Plymouth.
  9. willgray04

    willgray04 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

  10. HarryM

    HarryM Junior Member


    Your grandfather was in HQ Squadron, 23rd Hussars.

    His address immediately after the war was 41 Lanhydrock Road, St. Judes, Plymouth.

    Apologies been away and had net issues. That is the one, Looking at street search that is the house my dad was born in from what he told me on trips down to Plymouth.

    That is great news/info. I will keep on the hunt armed with the info. Thanks so much for the help.

    I have scanned through the photos, I might recognise him but all the photos I have are just before he left.

    willgray04, There may have been a book at some point but unfortunately like so much it has not survived. Any more info would be greatly appreciated.

    I am visiting my folks at Christmas so will get my dad involved, he is currently going through the family tree and getting engrossed so this would be a welcome addition I am sure.

    Many thanks

  11. Little Jimmy

    Little Jimmy Junior Member

    Thank you for your quick answer Grimmy. I have a few Photos of C. Land. I m willing to send to you by Email. best regards heinz
  12. grimmy

    grimmy Guest

    The above post relates to a query about Clarence Land, 23H.

    Heinz, the Regimental History states that he was wounded on 16 Oct 1944:

    "The whole regimental group advanced the next day, preceeded by the Recce Troop, which was to pass through 'C' Squadron and reconnoitre the track to Merselo, the next village. The Honeys had not gone far when one of them ran over what must have been two R mines joined together, for the unfortunate little tank was completely destroyed, and Sergeant Dale and one of his crew were killed, the rest being wounded."

    Mersela (Holland) 16 Oct 1944

    Sgt C. Dale killed
    CWGC - Casualty Details

    Tpr R. Lloyd killed
    CWGC - Casualty Details

    Tpr C. Land wounded
    Tpr H. Richards wounded
  13. Mohan

    Mohan Junior Member

    Hello, this is my first post and I Apologise for any spelling errors. My Grandfather was Sgt Frances Mohan who served with the 23rd Hussars through The war, indeed he ended up marrying a German girl, my grandmother who is still with us. I am very interested in his life during those days and we have a few stories that I will share with the forum. I am slowly making my way through the history of the 23rd. I was wondering if any of the veterans alive would remember him because according to my Grandmother some of the soldiers he served with would visit after the war and remark that it was him that often kept them together and got them through. I was wondering if it was possible to find out what his actual role was. I think he spent most of the war in a truck because certainly he had a lucky escape when this was either bombed or mortared seconds after he and his crew baled out of it. Apparently they were very dismayed at this as they had spent a lot of time customising the vehicle And were very proud of this fact.
    I look forward to any replies or comments and would be grateful for any information, regards Kieron
  14. grimmy

    grimmy Guest

    Hi Kieron and welcome.

    The first task is to establish which Squadron he was in - I will pass on his name to some veterans I know. Any photos of him during his war service? They would certainly help.

    I will check my records when I get home tonight - the name sounds familiar.
  15. Mohan

    Mohan Junior Member

    That would be great and I will send you a photo of him in uniform soon. After the war he studied classics at Cambridge, becoming a headmaster in Bristol. Your reply is much appreciated and all credit to you for keeping their stories alive, regards, Kieron
  16. Mohan

    Mohan Junior Member

    P.s. I notice that your location is Preston and I know that Frank taught at a catholic school or college there in the 50s and 60s. Kieron
  17. Mohan

    Mohan Junior Member

    Hello Grimmy, I have a photo but cannot seem to upload it. Maybe if you could let me have an email address I could forward it to you that way? Thanks ever so much.
  18. grimmy

    grimmy Guest

    Kieron - PM sent.
  19. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    Hello and welcome to the forum.

    Good luck with your research.

    I am also a Prestonian, although living in Berlin.

    This website may be of interest to you regarding the catholic College.

    Unfortunately there has been some bad publicity last year.

    preston catholic college - Google Search

  20. grimmy

    grimmy Guest

    Francis Mohan (courtesy of member Mohan):

    Attached Files:

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