7th Royal Tank Regiment R.A.C.

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by Ewing75, Feb 2, 2010.

  1. Ewing75

    Ewing75 Junior Member

    I've been researching my Great Uncle's movements during WW2. Not a great amount is known of what he done and the circumstances surrounding his death.
    I've actually got his full military record from the MOD on order however it's a 6 - 9 month ETA.
    In the meantime the facts I know are below -

    Trooper Donald Frederick Cornwallis Stuart
    7th Royal Tank Regiment R.A.C.
    Service No. 328599
    Date of Death - 14/11/1942

    I know from research that the 7th RTC were captured at Tobruk during the battle of Gazala around mid-1942.

    Other then the above, the only other information is a story that has been passed through the family, how accurate it is I do not know. It states that he was on a hospital ship with a leg injury and that the ship was torpedoed which is why there is no official grave for him.

    ANY help, would be greatly appreciated and I'd like to thank you in advance for any replies.
  2. James Daly

    James Daly Senior Member

    I've done a search on Geoff's WW2 search engine for Alamein Memorial casualties on that date, and there are 768, from all kinds of Regiments. This does point in the direction of a ship being sunk with many casualties being missing presumed killed.

    Do you know if the ship was German or British? If it was British it might be that we can find out which ship from Merchant or Royal Navy casualties on that day. I suspect though it may have been a German or Italian ship taking them to POW camps.
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  4. Ewing75

    Ewing75 Junior Member

    Many thanks indeed for the rapid replies....
    The SS Scillin it seems to be. I've just done some reading on the ship and it seems the torpedo blew the hold out which was where the majority of the British POW's were held, who died instantly. A tragic end for a 24 year old man. This is all information I can take to his younger brother.
    Are there any known facts surrounding the capture of his unit? Any information would of course be greatly appreciate.
  5. James Daly

    James Daly Senior Member

    If he was held as a POW you could try contacting the Red Cross Archives, as the Red Cross kept records of most POW's. In my experience they are normally pretty quick at replying, which if his service record takes 9 months will at least give you something to work with. They will give you a list of places, dates etc - pretty minimal but its at least something.

    ICRC Archives
  6. ADM199

    ADM199 Well-Known Member

    I have him on my list as having died on the Scillin.

    Unfortunately the C.W.G.C. do not have all the casualties with correct D.O.D. There were 787 killed and 27 survived of which I met six survivors.

    Unfortunately the M.O.D. made a mess of compiling the list they sent to C.W.G.C. in 1996.

    At present I only know of one 90yr old survivor who is still with us.
  7. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Ewing 75
    Bit tricky trying to trace the actions of the 7RTR - all we appear to know is that they were part of 32Tank bde at Tobruk from the time of the 70th Div's stay there -late '41 - the 70th was then relieved by the South Africans of Maj.Gen Klopper - who accepted the surrender in late June '42. They were in company of 1st RTR - 4th (Scottish)RTR - and they were left behind when 70th under Gen, Scobie were relieved. And so many were sent to Italy in ships such as SS.Scilian
    The main publicity at that time was centred around the actions of 7th Armoured div and especially the 11th Hussars- and so other units were sent to the back burner.
  8. Ewing75

    Ewing75 Junior Member

    Many thanks for all the replies... I'm basically trying to build up some solid information I can take to his 89 year old brother whom I'm in touch with. Until today, he had thought his older brother was on an official hospital ship that was bombed by the Germans!

    Is there ANY form of official passenger list for the SS Scilian that he might appear on, or book of rememberance? Literally any information I could take to my 89 year old Great Uncle concerning his brother would of course be greatly appreciated.
  9. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    National Archives has their War Diaries.

    WO 169/4511

    7 Royal Tank Regiment
    Covering dates1942 Jan.- Mar.

    WO 169/4512
    7 Royal Tank Regiment 'D' Squadron
    Covering dates1942 Feb
  10. ADM199

    ADM199 Well-Known Member

    Just a little fill in information.

    Tpr Stuart was in the main Camp at Benghazi on some high ground overlooking the Salt Marshes.
    This Camp was only completed by the end of June so would have spent short periods of time at various other temporary Camps.

    The only shelter were two man tents which were made by buttoning up two Italian Groundsheets. At the end of August a new Camp was created nearbye with 4 Compounds separated by 14' wide roads. At this time Captain Palermo who had been the Officer in charge of the original Camps construction returned from sick leave.

    Tpr Stuart left the Camp on the 26th of October with 250 other prisoners by Lorry and Trailer for Tripoli. The journey took a little less than three days.
    Most of the 1010 men who left during the end of October period were in a Camp said to be on the 7km. mark and was called Campo Benito.

    On the morning of the 13th November 1009 men were taken to board the Scillin which stood at the Spanish Mole.
    She sailed at 1300hrs with 814 prisoners onboard; 195 that remained had been stopped from boarding as the ship was already grossly overloaded. They boarded another ship that left in the early hours of the 14th and arrived in Italy safely.

    The Scillin sailed close to the Coast taking the channel between the Tunisian Mainland and Kerkennah. When she reached 35:40N - 11.17E she was intercepted by H.M.Sm. P212(later named Sahib.)which after gaining a good position regarding the Moonlight brought the Scillin too with his deck gun.
    Although at this stage the ship was in a sinking state where she had been hit below the waterline the submarine closed to 700yds and fired a torpedo into the Engine room. The Scillin sank in less than 2 mins,her back breaking as she took on water.

    The P212 closed up looking for survors and picked up 36 Italian and 27 "British" P.O.W.

    The one man missing on the 13th was a S/African - Pte J.A.Clover who was killed by a sentry at Campo Benito on the 1st Nov at Dusk.

  11. Ewing75

    Ewing75 Junior Member

    ADM199 Brian, many many thanks for the above info. I'll be visiting my Great Uncle over the weekend so will pass this information over to him.

    Is there any official record of the chaps that went down with the Scillin? I presume there is some form of onboard list, however is this public information?
  12. englandphil

    englandphil Very Senior Member

  13. ADM199

    ADM199 Well-Known Member

    ADM199 Brian, many many thanks for the above info. I'll be visiting my Great Uncle over the weekend so will pass this information over to him.

    Is there any official record of the chaps that went down with the Scillin? I presume there is some form of onboard list, however is this public information?

    The M.O.D. had a list of P.O.W. who left Campo Benito to board the ship as far back as late 1944. It took a Freedom Of Information request to get this and other enquiries into such losses released at the end of 2007.

    The C.W.G.C. were unaware of the casualties from the sinking and had most listed as having died between the date they left Benghazi and the 14th Nov. That is how I know Tpr Stuart left Benghazi on the 26/10/42. He left in the same group as my Father.

    Like many later released documents you get the impession that they were not treated in a manner that Historical Documents should be.

    The incident is mentioned in a few War Crimes Files with the S.B.O. at Benghazi making three seperate statements regarding conditions at Benghazi.
    The treatment of P.O.W. at all the N/African Camps gets considered by the J.A.Gs. Office for prosecution.
    Very little action was taken though.

  14. Ewing75

    Ewing75 Junior Member

    Many thanks to all who have given their time to help with this quest.

    His army records have been on order with the MOD for 4 months already, I am hoping they will make everything clearer, or it would certainly be interesting to see how they have recorded his death.

    In the meantime, would anybody have any information in regard to what he would have actually been doing on a day to day basis as a Trooper in the 7th RTR?
  15. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Ewing -
    It all depends on what he was trained as - in those days the 7thRTR was in an Army Tank bde - which meant Matilda's- Valentines or Grant's basically as opposed to an Armoured bde which had Covenanters - Crusaders etc -The RAC badge represented the policy of those days with the Mailed fist representing the Army Tanks as the thumpers breaking through the enemy lines for the Arrows representing the Armoured tanks swanning around the rear - or as the Germans had it - :"Schwerpunkt and Aufrollen" - today they are all "Battle Tanks and Recce" in Battle groups- seems to work !

    So as a Trooper he would have either been a Driver - Gunner or Wireless Operator who also loaded the guns, The Commanders were from full Corporals upwards with a Sergeant - Lieutenant in a troop of three Tanks - whoever was good became the troop cook !

    The w/op also helped cleaning the guns and the engine adjustments overlooked by the driver - now and again all three would rotate as they were all trained in each others tasks with the W/op being the commander when things went sour and there were casualties.

    The W/op was also responsible for getting the football scores from the BBc on saturdays - that was really important !

  16. The Q

    The Q Junior Member

    My Grandfather John Stewart 7869644, almost certainly bent your Great Uncles ear at some point as he was RSM 7th from I think from 30/4/41, His (my grandfathers) military records only show, relevent to your enquiry.
    posted egypt,
    missing middle East 20/6/42,
    a later additions of
    POW 21/6/42,
    POW Italy 21/6/42.
    POW Germany23/4/45.

    I would guess from Tom Cannings answer he would have been a tank commander, and I would like to know his POW camps and any other info anyone has.

    and a really odd question I know tanks were named with each first letter relevant to the regiment, so the 7ths began with G is there anywhere a list to the tanks names and possibly who they were assigned too, (although once battles got under way I guess anything could happen to assignments.)

    once I have deciphered his full Military record I would hope to place it somewhere on this site.
  17. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Q -
    your Grandfather would not necessarily be a tank Commander as such as an RSM he would have been in HQ Squadron with the Colonel - his main duties would have been organising the supplies via the "A" & "B" echelons to the fighting squadrons - checking reinforcementsetc - seeing to the collection of wounded - cleneing out knocked out tanks- removing the dead - all the nasty jobs - he was there along with his other SSM's.

    Your first date of 21 st June '42 is the actual date of the surrender of Tobruk by Maj.Gen. Kloppers and the South African division - 32nd Tank bde and various Artillery units all during the Gazala gallop back to El Alamein when both Ritchie and Auchinlek were fired and Alex and Monty took over.

  18. Ewing75

    Ewing75 Junior Member

    ADM199, Brian... my Great Uncle was deeply moved to hear about the circumstances surrounding the death of his older brother. To this day he was told that the German's had bombed a Hospital ship transporting his brother so the news of the SS Scillin was completely new news to him.
    As stated at the start of this thread, I do have his official MOD records on order, payment was taken over 4 months ago so I'm just hoping I'm nearer the 6 month window then the 9 in terms of wait.
    In the meantime, is there any form of official report/ invesigation/ SS Scillin passenger list that might have that I can take to my Great Uncle?
  19. ADM199

    ADM199 Well-Known Member

    I am afraid there was no official enquiry.
    Just a note from Captain Simpson who was in charge of the 10th Submarine Flotilla at Malta attached to the P212s Patrol report which exonerated Lt Brommage from any blame for the death of the P.O.W.
    Rightly so.
    Captain Simpson was a recipient of Ultra Intelligence so would have seen the Signals that indicated P.O.W. were on the Ship.
    John Brommage obviously didn't have this information.
    There were several questions asked in Parliament regarding missing men who were last heard of at Benghazi.

    For over 2yrs the Red Cross came up with various Formulas for marking ships carrying Prisoners Of War. They always obtained agreement from members of the Axis. There were always objections on various grounds from Admiralty.All of this is well Documented at T.N.A.

    With Information released 30yrs later a realist would say that we didn't need the ships marking as the powers to be already knew which Ships were carrying P.O.W. and that we knew where they were at any time during their voyages.
  20. 587599Hoyle

    587599Hoyle New Member

    7th Battalion RTR were badly hurt at Operation Battleaxe 14-17th June 1941.
    My father Sgt A. Hoyle was KIA 17th and commemorated at Alamein. He was a regular [I was born and lived at Catterick Garrison until after Dunkirk when the 7th was re-formed at Braco in Scotland].
    Lance Corporal Raymond Atkinson was sent on Echelon B duties on 17th June and ended up with the workshops in Tobruk, was captured at the fall of the town and via Italy ended up as a P.O.W. in Germany. He died last year at the age of 96-ther oldest member of the Royal Tank Corps. He was my babysitter in 1936!
    7th battalion diaries are not easy to obtain-the one covering the Arras battle where the Germans were stopped for a critical few hours before Dunkirk costs £ hundreds!
    Since I do not know my mother's place or date of death I cannot PROVE [despite a birth certificate] that I am the nearest kin thus the Army Records Office-now superceded by a private company will not let me have my father's Service Record-annoying since he was previously in another Regiment which I cannot trace.

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