7th Royal West Kent Regiment

Discussion in '1940' started by mark abbott, May 30, 2019.

  1. mark abbott

    mark abbott Junior Member

    Does anyone have any details regarding the capture of most of the battalion at/near Albert on the 20th May 1940?

    Many thanks

  2. cesjak

    cesjak Junior Member

    This from Destination Dunkirk by Gregory Blaxland -

    The formation of Petreforce was fully justified when 7th Royal West Kent's were met by the German advance at 18:00 on 18th May. The Battalion had arrived that morning, taking up position in Clary to cover the bridges over the Canal Du Nord on the roads from Peronne leading to Arras & Albert. The River Somme was on the right flank, open on the left. The Gunnery School Force had provided four field guns and a consignment of Brens and Boyes anti-tank rifles, all packed in grease which had to be cleaned off before use, a difficult enough task when in barracks let alone the field. Divisional Sappers were available who blew subsidiary bridge and blocked the two main ones, allowing refugees and straggling soldiers to continue crossing. Air attacks were frequent. German motorcyclists arrived on the Albert road and were repelled, followed by three tanks who sprayed the area with machine gun fire from the far bank. Return fire was given with the Boyes anti-tank rifles that had little effect as it was discovered that half charge training ammunition had been issued. The Brens were also in action supplemented by a single 3" mortar. Soon the field guns joined the action setting one tank ablaze and driving the other two off. The area remained quiet for the rest of the night. At dawn the Battalion received orders from Petre to withdraw to Albert with the choice of forming an anti-tank defence there or moving on to occupy the higher ground at Louvencourt. The high ground was chosen and the Battalions column of 70 vehicles arrived there safely.

    and regarding the 20th

    Petre was ordered to send the 7th Royal West Kents forward to Albert, even though it had been seen as unsuitable for anti-tank location. They reach Albert at 06:00 20th May to be greeted by a Stuka attack. Two Companies hastened on to cover the town approaches. The sound of tanks was heard and soon Panzer II's appeared with Armoured troop carries behind converging on Albert by more route than the West Kent's could cover. The Germans forced their way into town and infiltrated round behind the defenders. Runners were sent to warn the rest of the Battalion. An attempt was made to transport two companies which was interrupted by a Panzer and the men in the lorries were slaughtered. Others fought from various buildings dealing with a number of German infantry but could not penetrate the Panzers with the anti-tank rifles. The situation had become hopeless within 2 minutes of its development. The four field guns were left in the main square, as the West Kents fell back.

    After examination by the Germans the abandoned guns were believed to have been deployed for training purposes due to the low charge ammunition found with them.
  3. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Here is the account of the action from Chaplin's regimental history:
  4. mark abbott

    mark abbott Junior Member

    Thank you to cesjak and dryan67 for their posts. I am visiting Albert in late July so the posts are most helpful.


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