6 Commando: the battle for Steamroller Farm

Discussion in 'Commandos & Royal Marines' started by Phaethon, Apr 7, 2010.

  1. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    Once in a while I come across stories that don't really concern my research directly, but that nothing much is really published about and I find really interesting.

    This time I found myself following a line of research for the action involving no.6 commando (lead by D.Mills-Roberts: irish guards) and No3 Herman Goering Jager Bn & 14 Pz Gr Regt, at a location known as "steamroller farm" (named because of a large steamroller parked there). In copying the 78th divisions war diary on my last visit to TNA, I found some additional documents which describe the action fairly clearly and which I hope will be of interest to researchers and families of those involved.

    Specifically my question regarded what 14 wounded commando's from VI commando were doing in the area of steamroller farm (513118) when they were rescued on the 28th feburary 1943 from captivity by a forcing comprising of capt. Windsor-Clive's 3 coy (supported by 2 coy) from the 2nd Bn Coldstream Guards, and a number of churchills from ‘A’ Sqn, 51 R Tanks, commanded by Major E W H Hadfield. (you might know the region by its better known name: "tally-ho!" corner)

    I asked around but nothing was forthcoming so I thought I'd investigate, compiling bits and pieces from different wae diaries and make them public when I had a clear picture as to what was going. As a result here is the complete account of the battle of the battle of steamroller farm, prior to the arrival of the coldstream on the 28th.

    (action summary): The Battle for steamroller farm
    Location: Tunisia (26th to 27th of Febuary 1943)
    Grid 513118 Map sheets 33 and 34 (Tunisia: 150,000)
    Latitude = 36.4547, Longitude = 9.5086 (N36.4547, E9.5086 for google maps)

    No 6 commando were tasked with actively patrolling south of medjez after rumours reached the ears of the 78th division (and its temporary cousin "Y Division") regarding possible german infiltration through the hills north east of El Arousa (Al arusha today).

    This turn of events presented a potentially serious problem for the allies as it was in this locality that the main road to medjez ran; a road which due to the difficult nature of the hilly Tunisian terrain was a major line of communication for the british 1st army.... one which had proved vital in the movement of men and equipment south which had suddenly been neccissarry to thwart Rommels ambitions at the Kasserine and Sbiba passes in the south.

    These same hills appears to have lulled allied high command into a false sense of security however, as presumably it had been thought that any sort of heavy incursion into the area was unlikely due to the logistics involved in supplying the force across such an environment. After all the allies had just been taught a logistical lesson (in particular lessons regarding the movement of tanks across open ground) during the heavy rains just a few weeks before and the germans were believed to be experiencing supply difficulties. Unknown to the allies however, the german force was substanital, and it was being supplied by air drops.

    The commandos ran straight into an ambush, the germans destroying a number of the commandos trucks before they could react. Counter attacking immediately in an attempt to rescue the occupants the commandos fought back bravely, and were (arguably) gaining the upper hand when a number of panzer grenadiers arrived with tanks and tipped the tide of the battle. The Commando's were forced to retreat, but not before suffering substantial casualties, and over 80 men missing.

    To understand why this battle was so important you have to understand the timing. It comes just after the battles of the Kasserine pass, when there was a great fear of a further german offensive in the region. Steamroller farm, located on a small hill overlooking the main road, controls the entire approach from Medjez to Al Arusah in to the south west. Severing this vital link to the front line with a force capable of occupying it for any sustained length of time could have been a disaster. Given the ammount of equipment left behind (including 88mm guns) it was clear that the germans planned to do a substantial amount of damage to the allied war effort.

    My report here includes the original war diaries from the diaries of No.6 commando. The medal cards from no 6.commando. And the map and description of the conflict from 78th divisions war diary.

    First up is the actual diary from no.6 commando (from the 15th Feb to the 28th) and the official account of what happened (appendix N).
     

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  2. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    Sorry if the sizes aren't right for this, as usual I'm having trouble downloading images to the site.

    Here is the map, and the 78th Div account (largely identical but obviously with the map, so its easier to read and understand what was occuring)
     

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  3. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    Now the medal cards, note that these aren't the digitally downloaded versions. They're from the war diary of 6 commando.
     

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  4. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    ... the second part of the medal cards.
     

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  5. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    And here are two images of steamroller (taken the day after the final battle), the first showing a coldstream carrier in front of the farm the day after the mechanized attack on the 28th (note the damage from the two seperate battles). The second showing the approach past the wadi towards the main farm buildings.

    I've been very lucky in that I have been able to speak to a coldstream veteran of the second battle.
     

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  6. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    Attached at the bottom is part of an original field issue map of the area (excuse the non relevent notations to the top right, these are for a different time period, I have also added lines for the direction of attacks) dated 1943 from 78 division HQ. Also presented here is an account of the churchill tank raid taken from the 51st Battallion; in fact from a website that everyone on this site should be familliar with :DNIH website and an additional hand drawn map from the same source.

    "Early on the morning of the 27th February 1943, the Germans began a cautious reconnsaissance with a troop of tanks and lorried infantry down the road leading to El Arousa. Although a troop of the Derbyshire Yeomanry fought a gallant delaying action it was difficult to see what could prevent 'Y' Division from being cut off. Then, at the crucial moment, the leading unit of the 25th Tank Brigade, the North Irish Horse, appeared at El Arousa on its way south. Brigadier Russell immediately commandeered a squadron of Churchill tanks which he deployed north of the town. Then as the German appeared around a bend in the road two tanks and two lorries where precisely picked off by the Churchill tanks. The Germans hurriedly retreated to Steamroller Farm - so called by the British due to the presence of a steamroller in the farmyard."

    (interesting to note that Ronald Addyman (quoted above) is wrong, they came from the south.)


    Again more from the NIH site.

    [​IMG]




    51st Battalion Royal Tank Regiment War Diaries

    Appendix One



    1. Message received at 2230 hrs 27 Feb 43 by Major E W H Hadfield from ‘Y’ Div instructing him to report to Comd, 2nd Bn Coldstream Gds, who had just arrived in the area. Major Hadfield was informed that the Div Comd was concerned about the valley North of EL AROUSSA as a result of previous action and wished a recce in force from EL AROUSSA up to the Farm (MR 513118 Sheet 34) a distance of some 4½ miles, to find what German tanks were in the valley and to clear up any enemy infantry in the gullies.
    2. A detailed recce of the ground by Major Hadfield was not possible. He was informed about the ground as far as Pt.490090 by ‘C Sqn, Derby Yeo, and ‘C’ Sqn 142 RAC. No information on enemy locations or the ground leading up to them was available. No infantry patrols were carried out during the night and as far as was known none had been carried out recently.
    3. Troops involved.
    (a) ‘A’ Sqn, 51 R Tanks commanded by Major E W H Hadfield
    2nd i/c - Capt G C Franklin
    Recce Offr - 2/Lt J G Renton
    Cmdg No.1 Tp - Capt E D Hollands DCM
    (2 tanks, one of which cast a track at the start line and took no effective part in the action) Cmdg No.2 Tp - Lt H Thompson (3 tanks)
    Cmdg No.3 Tp - 2/Lt W E Lang with 2/Lt P L Hibbert (2 tanks)
    Cmdg No.4 Tp - Lt E Hartley (3 tanks)
    Total strength of Sqn - 13 tanks.

    (b) 1 Coy Coldstream Gds ferried on the tanks. Further Coy in reserve.

    (c) Detachment of RE for mine clearing.

    Total force as above commanded by Major E W H Hadfield, under OC, 2nd Bn Coldstream Gds.

    (d) One Tp 25 pdrs in support.

    (e) One Sqn Derby Yeo (2 Tps) in support and under Comd of Div.

    4. Orders by Major E W H Hadfield as issued at 1100 hrs 28 Feb 43 - Information

    a) Own Troops as in para 3 above.

    b) Enemy Troops. Enemy positions not known in detail but infantry and few tanks with two or three a/tk guns believed to be on ridge beyond Farm

    c) Ground. An RE recce has been made as far as Pt.490090 and ground been reported clear of mines.

    Intention
    To capture Steam Roller Farm (513118)

    Method Tanks - 1st Ech. No.4 Tp Rt 1 left.
    2nd Ech. No.3 Tp Rt 2 left.

    Infantry will advance with 2nd Ech and clean up tank obstacles i.e. gullies on either side of road. Inf will be ferried on tanks and Cmd will be on Sqn Cmdr’s tank until contact.

    Artillery will be prepared to bring down fire as ordered. FOO in W/T truck will travel with Sqn HQ.

    RE will be prepared to deal with mines as encountered. Officer will travel in own Scout Car with Sqn HQ.

    Orders for further action will be issued as information is received from forward tank troops.

    Start Time- 1100 hrs.

    5. The advance proceeded according to plan as far as Farm (513118) which was reached at approx 1600 hrs. Major Hadfield then put two tps (3 and 2) to the left flank to avoid bad ground and the bottle-neck at the Farm and placed the other two tps below the Farm and hull-down to it to wait for the infantry to go in. He then ordered No.1 Tp to go forward along the road (the only possible way for tanks) to take on any enemy infantry or A/Tk guns in the gullies. These gullies proved to be A/Tk gun positions, and No.1 Tp inflicted heavy casualties on the guns and personnel of the A/Tk positions. At the same time, he ordered No.4 Tp to go to the right in support of No.1 Tp but not to go forward. He ordered No.2 and No.3 Tps to remain hull-down awaiting infantry. When the infantry arrived, all tanks fired on the buildings. The Infantry Comd reported the Farm clear, but as Major Hadfield was in some doubt he ordered the 2nd Ech (2 and 3 Tps) to advance on the Farm and then on the ridge beyond. When the tanks approached, a heavy dive-bombing attack (which disabled 2 i/c’s tank and one tank of No.2 Tp) coincided with the opening up of A/Tk guns in the Farm area. Two tanks (one of No.1 Tp and one of No.2 Tp) were hit by A/Tk gun fire. All A/Tk guns (estimated one 88mm, 2 75mm, 2 50mm and one Gerlich20 - 3 8mm) were then silenced and several mortar positions were destroyed.

    6. Major Hadfield was then ordered by the Div Comd to advance to the ridge beyond the Farm and dominate the ground beyond it, in order that, if possible, he could meet up with the detachment of 56 Recce Regt, which was working down from the North.

    7. No.1 Tp (1 tank) supported by 2/Lt J G Renton, was therefore ordered to advance towards the objective. This they did and immediately encountered A/Tk gun fire (88mm gun). It is estimated that there were also three Coys of Infantry with lorries, staff cars, wireless cars and two Mk.III tanks. No.1 Tp was able to get amongst the positions and it inflicted heavy casualties on the infantry and destroyed approx 25 vehicles, 1 88mm gun with its tractor, limber and amn, and set large fires going. Two Mk.III’s were hit many times, and the crews baled out. They appeared to be destroyed beyond repair. Several mortar positions were destroyed with their crews, at close range.

    8. As the infantry on the left did not go as far as the Farm and as there was still considerable A/Tk gun fire from the Farm area, and the whole of No.2 Tp, plus the 2 i/c’s tank, were destroyed on the left flank, No.1 Tp was ordered to withdraw.

    9. At 1730 hrs, more enemy aircraft appeared and dropped supplies, and what appeared to be parachutists. These parachutists entered the gullies, and worked around to the disabled tanks, and made recovery difficult.

    10. Major Hadfield informed Higher Command that the ground was unsuitable for further tank attack, and that he was getting out of touch with his infantry.

    11. He was then ordered to withdraw, and withdrew by bounds, with the infantry covering the withdrawal.

    12. Casualties - tanks. Two tanks were destroyed and set on fire by A!Tk gun fire, one disabled by dive-bombing, one set on fire by dive-bombing and one disabled by A/Tk gun fire. Total - 5 tanks.

    13. Casualties - personnel. Killed - One Officer and 2 ORs.
    Wounded - two Officers and 9 ORs. 14. Enemy Casualties. 2 88mm A/Tk guns and 200 88mm rounds.
    2 75mm A/Tk guns.
    2 50mm A/Tk guns and 250 rounds.
    2 Pak 41.
    2 2cm Flak and 600 rounds.
    25 wheeled vehicles.
    150-200 men.
    2 3” Mortars.
    2 Mk III Tanks.

    15. Estimated Strength of Enemy. Two Bns (later identified as III Herman Goering Jager Bn, 2 Coys T.I. and 14 Coy Pz Gr Regt.).

    TACTICAL COMMENTS

    a) Reconnaissance

    There was a considerable amount of information which had been brought in by ‘C’ Sqn Derby Yeo., who were the only people who knew the area over which the action was to be fought. A certain amount, but not all, of this information was communicated to ‘A’ Sqn.
    OC ‘A’ Sqn received his orders for the attack by midnight, 27th Feb 43, and the attack did not start until 1200 hrs next day. From the Start Line used, very little could be seen of the objective. To the right of the Start Line, there was a hill from which a good view of the ground could have been obtained. A recce, by Sqn Ldr, Infantry and Gunners taking part in the attack, from this point would have been of considerable value.

    b) Artillery Support

    Artillery support was uncertain and only one troop was used for this action. The FOO (in a soft vehicle) did not remain near the Sqn Ldr. An FOO travelling in one of the Sqn HQ tanks, with direct communication with the Troop or Battery on the A set, and communication to the Sqn Ldr on the B set, would have been able to bring down the fire of the guns on the A/Tk positions which were worrying the tanks.

    c) Infantry Support

    The ground over which the attack took place was very broken and full of nullahs. Originally only one Infantry Coy started the attack with the Sqn, but this was increased to two coys during the advance. In broken country, more infantry are required than in open country, and unless enemy dispositions are known, the infantry should be ahead of the tanks.

    d) Wireless

    In this action, the infantry were on the same net as the tanks, this worked well and allowed close co-operation between tanks and infantry. It is suggested that, where only a Sqn of tanks is employed, the infantry should be on the same net. If a Bn is employed, the infantry would have to be on a different net with a rear link to the tanks, since the number of sets on the net would probably be too great.

    e) Use of 3” Howitzer

    The 3” How was only fired once on the Steam Roller Farm area, which was found to be out of range at the time. More use could have been made of the Close Support Tanks, both with HE against the Farm and A/Tk gun positions, and with smoke to cover the advance of the tanks through the narrow defile East of Steam Roller Farm. The limited range of the 3” How is a disadvantage, but the Close Support Tanks could have been worked round on the right flank, which would have brought them within range of the objective.

    PART II
    TANK CASUALTIES.

    1. ACHILLES T.31820

    This tank was penetrated by two 75mm shot. One shot fired at a range of approx. 200 yds at an angle of 10deg penetrated the lower left hand corner of the off-side door. This pushed the door inwards for about 1½” at this corner, while the top right hand corner of the door came forward and sheared the top hinge. The door frame was cracked in two places adjacent to the Allen screws, and the door was jammed. The projectile pierced the 6-pdr amn bin behind the driver and started an amn fire.

    The second 75mm projectile was fired from approx 200 yds at 10deg, passed through the centre of No.4 tie plate, between the suspension, penetrated the bottom of the hull and came out the other side. It was unlikely that this shot caused the fire since it was too low down to hit any 6-pdr cases.

    Four of the crew escaped, although three were badly burned. The driver, however, was unable to escape and died in the burning vehicle. He was afterwards found to be kneeling forward in his seat. His two escape hatches were not impeded by the turret, but his door had been jammed. It seems possible that he tried to escape either through the top hatch, or the near side door but was not able do so on account of the speed with which the cordite fire started, and the fact that the that the amn which as set on fire just behind his seat.

    This tank wa completely burned out, but was recovered later.

    2. ADAMANT T.68796

    This tank was penetrated by one 75mm shot at 200 yds, at an angle of lOdeg. The shot penetrated the near side of the hull, 18” in front of the air louvres, cut the tow rope in two, passed into the fighting compartment, and started a cordite fire in the turret. All the crew managed to escape, but the three members of the crew in the turret were badly burned.

    This tank was a total loss, but was recovered later.

    3. ASP T.68384

    This tank was heavily dive-bombed. One bomb broke the off side track and another scored a direct hit on the near side rear engine door. This blew the door off its hinges and tore it into three or four pieces. The near side rear of the engine was smashed in, and the assemblies situated in this corner of the engine compartment were damaged.

    The tank was a total loss, but was recovered later.

    4. AMAZON T.31148

    This tank was dive-bombed also, and the offside track was broken, which put the tank out of action. After being dive-bombed, it was hit in the rear hull plate by a 75mm shot at an angle of 15deg. This shot passed through the outer rear hull plate, and, travelling slightly upward, went through the right hand air exit hole in the the inner rear hull plate, smashed through the gearbox, right hand oil filter, and fan. It then hit the engine gearbox bulkhead, bending this so that the the projectile ricochetted from right to left diagonally across the engine, smashing both rear carburettors and distributors and stopped, embedded in the left hand carburettor. This ignited a small quantity of petrol from the carburettor, and caused a small fire which quickly burned itself out.

    This tank was afterwards recovered and repaired.

    5. ADDER T.31068
    One shot, probably a 75mm, hit the top track and broke it, thus putting the tank out of action. Another projectile, either 50mm or 75mm calibre, ricochetted of the cast turret, which cracked in two places. These cracks appeared to be on the surface only and were not visible inside, where paint was scaled off for about 12 square inches. They were repaired by electric welding. Another projectile bent upwards the front Besa barrel, which had to be sawn off to remove it from the mounting.

    The crew evacuated the tank when the track was broken and attempted to carry out repairs. The enemy fire was, however, too hot and the tank Commander finally dropped a hand grenade into the turret to effect immobilization. This tank was recovered and repaired. The damage caused by the hand grenade was only superficial, but so numerous that many hours of work by Fitters and Electricians was necessary.
    All the above five tanks were left on the battlefield but recovered later. Those which had not caught fire were easily repairable, but although the burned out ones were recovered it is doubtful if all of them can be made fit again even in Base Workshops.

    The u/m tanks, although damaged, all completed the action and returned to harbour under their own power.

    6. ARDENT T.68814

    This tank was hit as follows:
    One hit, size of projectile unknown, ricochetted off the turret ring, cracking it in two places.
    One hit, size of projectile unknown, damaged the track shield below turret, this jammed the turret and impeded traverse.
    One hit, 50mm or 75mm, ricochetted off the top rear of the plated turret, the groove was about 1” deep, but no penetration.

    7. ACTIVE T.69045

    One 90deg hit on offside, in front of the air louvre, leaving nose of projectile embedded approx 3” deep and broken off flush with the side of the tank. This projectile was hollow and probably 50mm APCBC/HE.
    One 90deg hit on the right hand joint of the welded turret produced an indentation of approximately 2”, probably 50mm.
    8. APOLLO T.31703

    One 50mm shot at 20deg, range probably 200 yds, penetrated the cast turret at the top nearside corner. This shot passed through the right hand grenade rack, setting off 3 grenades. It then passed across the fighting compartment and hit the inside of the turret wall on the opposite side, leaving only a slight indentation. Both the Tank Commander and the Operator were killed but the Gunner was uninjured.
    The penetration showed every indication of sandy metal and on the inside wall, ‘scabs’ had slightly lifted on the surface. Electric welders complained of difficulty in welding owing to inferiority in turret metals.

    9. AGILE T.31344

    One projectile of unknown calibre ricochetted upward from over the near side pannier door, cutting the tow rope and bracket and damaging the track shields. Another projectile ricochetted off the turret but produced only a slight groove.

    10. ADVENTURE T.32428 One shot, either 50mm or 75mm, penetrated front near side idler horn, just above the anvil and packing pieces. This bent the plate and seized the track adjustment. The shot then passed through the offside track guard over the horn, without causing further damage. One shot, probably 75mm, hit the top edge of the front nose plate. The shot then ricochetted upwards and damaged the 6-pdr gun, which had to be changed. The nose plate was only slightly parted from the glacis plate by this shot.
     

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    Drew5233 likes this.
  7. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    As ever a very interesting thread, thanks


    78 Division, 5 Corps
    Lieutenant-Colonel Derek MILLS-ROBERS, MC, VI COMMANDO (IRISH GUARDS)

    On 26 Feb, VI COMMANDO had just arrived in a wooded mountainous area NORTH of BOU ARADA for the purpose of patrolling the area.

    At dawn the unit was suddenly attacked by a superior GermanXforce later supported by tanks. Throughout the operation this officer handled his command, in face of superior numbers, with great skill and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy; later after his unit had been forced to withdraw, and became scattered in the broken mountainous country, he searched the area at great personal risk to collect wounded.

    During the whole of the operation this officer showed great courage and determination and was an inspiration to his unit.

    D.S.O.
    The National Archives | DocumentsOnline | Image Details

    Att'd photo of D. Mills-Roberts MC.
     

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  8. PeterThomas

    PeterThomas Junior Member

    Hi.

    Whilst researching my late Father-in-Law's war service, my brother loaned to me a book entitled A Sapper's War by Leonard Watkins. In Chapter 17, Leonard describes the Battle for El Arousa (Steamroller Farm); he was there. He doesn't name names, but has much praise for the young Captain of the North Irish Horse who lead a squadron of six Churchill tanks. Leonard believes he owes to him his life. I'd love to know who he was. Leonard simply calls him Harry.

    Many years later, Leonard went on a Battlefield tour of the area and says the ex-para major leading the tour simply gave the official book account of the battle which he found far from accurate. Also, Leonard later met an ex member of 6 Commando who was also there and gave him details of the horrific hand-to-hand fighting with German paratroopers which preceeded the main battle.

    Leonard's book is well worth reading. Hope this information has been of use.

    Regards,

    Peter
     
  9. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    Hi Peter, it doesn't surprise me that the 'official' account is slightly skewed, as you can see from the above documents there is a report of more paratroops landing in the area... but considering that supplies were being dropped by parachute it seems likely that some of these men were in fact supply canisters.

    The battle of steamroller farm was also only ment to be a recce to test the enemy defences, not to hold the ground. However the Coldstream/Churchill force simply exploited their success and ended up routing a much larger force before retiring themselves. It was only the next day that the grenadiers and Coldstream Carriers arrived to take the position, and found the injured commandoes.

    Is there any chance you could post a few pages of the book you are talking about relating to the battle?
     
  10. PeterThomas

    PeterThomas Junior Member

    Is there any chance you could post a few pages of the book you are talking about relating to the battle?


    Hi, yes. I'm away for a couple of days but will see what I can do on my return.

    Regards.

    Peter
     
  11. Paul Whatley

    Paul Whatley Junior Member

  12. lucie.turner

    lucie.turner Junior Member

    Hello, My Dad has been researching my grandad James Allender for years and we have never seen his orginal commendation. He was in the No6 commandos and he won his 2nd military medal at the battle of Steamroller farm, looking through the medal cards his is there! I cannot believe I have found the actual commendation it moved me to tears, his best friend was Eric Khytovitch and his is there as well, amazing feeling thank you so much. Eric was killed a year later after he was hit by enemy fire and he had grenades in his belt (which my grandfather Jimmy always told him not to do) and was blown up. I will be reading the details of this over the next few days and will be in touch again soon. I have lots of original info on my grandad and wondered if you would be interested in seeing this I can post in here? Kind regards Lucie
     
  13. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I have lots of original info on my grandad and wondered if you would be interested in seeing this I can post in here? Kind regards Lucie

    Feel free to start a thread on your Grandad , I've just emailed you the recommendation for his 1940 MM .
     
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Hello, My Dad has been researching my grandad James Allender for years and we have never seen his orginal commendation. He was in the No6 commandos and he won his 2nd military medal at the battle of Steamroller farm, looking through the medal cards his is there! I cannot believe I have found the actual commendation it moved me to tears, his best friend was Eric Khytovitch and his is there as well, amazing feeling thank you so much. Eric was killed a year later after he was hit by enemy fire and he had grenades in his belt (which my grandfather Jimmy always told him not to do) and was blown up. I will be reading the details of this over the next few days and will be in touch again soon. I have lots of original info on my grandad and wondered if you would be interested in seeing this I can post in here? Kind regards Lucie

    And I'm sure I can rustle up some stuff on his 1940 exploits with the BEF :)
     
  15. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    Stumbled across this excellent thread whilst researching the story of Captain Alan Pyman M.C of No.6 Commando. He was killed in Normandy on D-Day and the following is his citation for the Military Cross awarded after the Battle for Steamroller Farm.

    ‘ Feb 26th 1943 : Fedj-et-Attia (516128 Sheet 34). Lt. Pyman was in command of No.2 Troop. He was ordered to attack a Company of the Herman Goering Jaeger Regiment at 06:25 hrs on 26th February. His own party was 46 strong. He attacked with vigour and skill driving this company into a prepared trap. He was then attacked by a second Company and lost and retook a hill-top at 528126 no less than three times. He withdrew the Troop after 6 hours fierce fighting when they had no ammunition left and having caused considerable enemy losses. He then led his men back to their own lines through enemy occupied territory without loss. A task which took him ten hours. This officer has shown outstanding courage on every occasion and is a first class example to his men.’

    Pyman-Alan-004.jpg
     
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  16. My dad ,E D Holland’s was in the 51 st RTR and faught at Steamroller Farm in North Africa, where he let a young paratrooper go free,
    They were reunited many years later on T V ,he is also mentioned in a book The Churchill by J Parrett ,
    Would really love to hear from anyone who has more information
     
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  17. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

    Hello Carol,
    Which television programme were they reunited on?
    Guy

    Captain Ernest Darrell Hollands D.S.O. D.C.M. 51st Royal Tank Regiment, R.A.C.

    The Tank Museum | Recipient

    Screen Shot 2018-11-05 at 11.35.10.png Screen Shot 2018-11-05 at 11.35.57.png
     
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  18. Carol,
    Your father, Captain Hollands, is mentioned in some detail in a book called "Iron Fist," by Bryan Perrett. The author devotes just over two pages to his actions at Steamroller Farm. I've attached the pages since its an older book and may not be easy to find anymore. Best of luck to you.
     

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  19. Eric Khytovitch was my uncle and on the 14th of November 2018 his brother and my dad Raymond passed away at the age of 93. Peter K
     

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