3 RTR in North Africa/Western Desert

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by footymum, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. footymum

    footymum Member

    Hoping someone can help me on more information, on what 3RTR's role was in The Middle East from 30.10.40 - 19.08.43. (These are the dates stated on his ww2 war records that he was posted out there).

    Have information re Greece. Also i know he took part in Operation Crusader and was wounded on the 10.12.41. (after this given a B1 classification from the medical board.)

    Does anyone know where they were stationed whilst out there.

    There is a photo of a bomb hitting a petrol dump dated 07.41 (where would they have been then)?

    Hope someone can help me with my questions. Thankyou
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Does this help?
    From here..
    Armour Regiments Page

    3rd RTR: When war was declared on 3rd September 1939, 3rd RTR was stationed at Warminster, Wiltshire as part of 1st Heavy Armoured Brigade, 1st Armoured Division, along with 2nd and 5th RTR. After landing at Calais on 21st/22nd May 1940, it fought in the ten day defence of the vital town and port, witch delayed the Germans final assaults on Dunkirk. Many of the unit were evacuated while other fought a significant engagement at Gravelines in defence of Calais. A detach from the Regiment, also made it toe Cherbourg in time to be evacuated from there, too. Before being evacuated 3rd RTR destroyed all its tanks to prevent them falling readily into German hands. After being evacuated at the Regiment was reinforced from survivors from other units and re-equipped with A9 and A10 tanks, serving briefly in 22nd Armoured Brigade before joining 2nd Armoured Brigade. In October 1940 it joined 3rd Armoured Brigade, along with 5th RTR, then sailed to the Middle East, arriving in Suez on 24th December 1940. In March 1941 it joined 1st Armoured Brigade. It then saw service in Greece as part of this unit under the command of 6th Australian Division, before being evacuated back to Egypt. During the Greek campaign 3rd RTR lost more tanks to mechanical problems, due to the rough terrain and lack of spares, than to enemy fire. As tank loses grew the crews mounted BESA machine guns of the backs of lorries, before later forming an anti Paratroop unit under command of the 2nd New Zealand Division.
    At the end of April 1941, the surviving 12 officers and 180 Other Racks were evacuated firstly to Crete and by end of May 1941 back to Egypt. There it was attached to 4th Light Armoured Brigade, along with 8th Hussars and 5th RTR. It served in 4th Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Division during the 'Operation Crusader' battles of November 1941 and again during the Gazala battles of May and June 1942. After withdrawing to El Alamein it joined 8th Armoured Brigade as part of 10th Armoured Division, on 10th September 1942, with which it fought during the battle. When 10th Armoured Division was disbanded 3rd RTR the crews of the 3rd RTR were home in Britain for Christmas 1943. Then after a period of leave they moved to Bridlington to help form the 11th Armoured Division as part of 29th Armoured Brigade, along with 23rd Hussars and 2nd Fife and Forfarshire Yeomanry, being the only unit in the Brigade with any real combat experience. After Bridlington they were moved to Aldershot in readiness for the Allied invasion of Europe joined.
    gash hand likes this.
  3. footymum

    footymum Member

    thankyou thats very helpful.
  4. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    if he was with 3rd Tanks then he was everywhere in the desert - and always at the sharp end.....as from the story in Tunisia when a Brigadier asked corporal" what is going on ?"

    The Corporal answered - " oh - the usual Sir 3rd versus the 3rd "

    The Brigadier had no idea asked - "what do you mean ?"

    The corporal then said - 3rd Tanks versus the 3rd Reich

    as I say - they were everywhere

  5. footymum

    footymum Member

    Thanks Tom for your information.
    Still looking for the British Base as after being wounded on the 10th December 41 and getting the B1 Classification from the medical board he was on base duties until his return in 1943. Where was the base and what would his duties have been.
  6. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Around the 10th December 1941- close to the end of the Crusader battle when Rommel was thinking about retreating to El Agheila- this was the Infantry battle after the Armour had failed to destroy the 15th and 21st Panzers - and most survivors of the Tanks battles around Sidi Rezigh- Gazala et al were on they way to Beda Fomm once more....this Battle can be googled.....as by the 23rd the 3rRTR had been given a bloody nose by the reinforced Afrika Corps between Mechili and Antelat....

    The base at that time MIGHT have been Tobruk but most likely Cairo for re - assessment to B1 etc - light duties really meant that he could walk around with a clipboard and pencil just looking busy and keeping out of the way of Sgt Majors.....skiving in fact

  7. footymum

    footymum Member

    Thankyou Tom that has been very helpful. Will look into all this information.
  8. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    10 December 41 was downtime, 4 Armoured Brigade remained in reserve due to lack of fuel and inability to supply further forward than they were after a march early in the day. I checked 7 Spt Grp WD and no mention of 3 RTR tanks being in support of any of the columns, that seems to have fallen to a squadron of 2 RGH (unlikely, but not impossible).

    Note that 4 Armoured Brigade had been in contact Dec. 9 however, and this might have been a delayed report or a clerical error? They got stuck in by 1200 with artillery and AT guns of the enemy near Bir Hamat, and ended the day at 1600 being on high ground west of el Adem.

    Alternatively, he may have been wounded in an air attack, or when he stepped on a mine? The WD of 3 RTR would clear matters up I am sure.

    You can see the organisation of the columns on 12 December here:

    Reorganising 7 Support Group for the Pursuit – 13 Dec 1941 « The Crusader Project

    Note no mention of any tanks.

    Hope this helps.

    All the best

  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    These regimental war diaries maybe of interest:

    WO 169/236 3 Royal Tank Regiment 1940 Dec.

    WO 169/1411 3 Royal Tank Regiment 1941 Jan.- Dec.

    WO 169/4506 3 Royal Tank Regiment 1942 Jan.- Dec.

    WO 169/9364 3 Royal Tank Regiment 1943 Jan.-Nov.

    WO 166/11092 3 Royal Tank Regiment 1943 Dec.

  10. clive_t

    clive_t Member

    Hi, I've recently found out that my father spent some time with 3RTR from July 20th 1942. Regarding the 'bomb hitting the petrol dump 07.41', I have the War Diaries for July-September 1941 and it mentions air attacks on 19th, 22nd, 23rd, and 27th July. I'd be interested to know where I can see this photo you mention. I'm not 100% sure where these bombings actually happened, but there is mention around that time of moving up to "Death Valley"



  11. Jack Murray

    Jack Murray New Member

    Hi Andy
    How can I get hold of WO 169/4506 3 Royal Tank Regiment 1942 Jan.- Dec? I am writing the third part of a Kindle-only fiction book and have used war diaries extensively related to 6 RTR which I found on Warlinks. I can't find similar for 3 RTR. Hoping you can steer me in right direction.
    Jack Murray (jackmurray99@hotmail.com)
  12. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    Check with Drew5233; you could also try Bovington Tank Museum.
  13. Jack Murray

    Jack Murray New Member


    I have sent Bovington a request but not sure how things are in current situation. Thanks for suggestion. Love the quote, by the way, about Americans and geography...
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  14. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    Jack, it was something I heard on QI when Stephen Fry was hosting.

    I am not sure about Bovington either.

    Good luck with your work.

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