British armour in the desert, 1940-41

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by MarkN, Jan 27, 2017.

  1. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    There is a nice thread running in the BEF forum for upload of tank and other armoured vehicles images and stories. Thought I'd start one here too....

    This is an excerpt of a Peter Brown article published in Military Modelling Vol.41 No.4 2011.

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    EXE (T15255) was produced by Nuffield Mech & Aero in mid July 1940. It was issued to 5RTR by the end of the same month. It left the UK with 5RTR and 2nd Armoured Division in October 1940 arriving in Egypt in early January 1941. It was one of the 4 A13 Mk.IV cruiser tanks assigned to RHQ 5RTR.

    The picture above shows it in German hands. They captured it intact. It never saw action.

    The Germans probably first came across the tank on 5th or 6th of April 1941 when units of 5. leichte Division were advancing along the Trigh el Abd towards Tengeder and then Mechili.

    It had been abandoned about 10 days earlier by 5RTR as the main bulk of the battalion moved forward from el Adem to the advanced positions inland from Mersa el Brega. It had been abandoned due to engine overheating 31 miles south west of Bir Bu Haraga.

    The 5RTR WD reads...
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    Edited to add the colourised image which I've found on my HD.

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    Last edited: Jan 30, 2017
    Rich Payne, Owen, BFBSM and 1 other person like this.
  2. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    Thanks for posting.
     
  3. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    David,
    Feel free to add some of the images that (I'm sure) you have collected over the years. ;)
     
  4. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    ELEPHANT (T15252) was produced by Nuffield Mech & Aero in mid July 1940. It was issued to 5RTR by the end of the same month. It left the UK with 5RTR and 2nd Armoured Division in October 1940 arriving in Egypt in early January 1941. It was one of the 14 A13 Mk.IV cruiser tanks assigned to C Squadron 5RTR.

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    The two pictures above show it after having been abandoned in Derna on 7 April 1941.

    ELEPHANT was part of 12 Troop, C Squadron. The three A-13s of 12 Troop under command of 2/Lt Steevens had been detached from the battalion at 0800 on 2 April to provide close protection to the retreating 1RHA. ELEPHANT was thus not involved in the engagement later that day with 6.Kp/PzRegt.5 where five A13s were destroyed by enemy action and their crews killed.

    12 Troop rejoined the remaining tanks of 5RTR on or about 5 April.

    The 5RTR WD reads...
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  5. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    Hi Mark.

    I don't collect photographs.

    But I do have some books, and use internet image searches when building a model.

    I don't think that I have seen any of those photos of Elephant before. The first one is very crisp.
     
  6. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Don't let that stop you posting David. All my images come from the internet. I don't have a single genuine photograph of a tank.

    My posts have a bit of a back story to the images as I start with the story and then add the image. But there is no need for you or anybody else to have a story, just post up the image for others to see.
     
  7. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    EXPONENT (T.15215) was produced by Nuffield Mech & Aero at the end of May 1940. It was one of the first tanks issued to 3RTR after their return from Calais. It left the UK with 3RTR and 2nd Armoured Division in October 1940 arriving in Egypt in early January 1941. It was then transferred to 5RTR later the same month. It was one of the 14 A13 Mk.IV cruiser tanks assigned to B Squadron 5RTR.

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    This picture show EXPONENT after it after having been abandoned above Derna after the brief engagement with elements of MGBtl.8 and A.A.3 on 7 April 1941.

    This engagement is described thus in the 5RTR WD...

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    ..and..
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    2/Lt Chave may well have been commanding EXPONENT. There were two tanks from B Squadron and two from C Squadron in this engagement. He commanded one of the two B Sqn tanks.
     
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  8. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Here's one for modellers and historians to puzzle over...

    IWM picture H2490 ( THE BRITISH ARMY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 1939-45 (H 2490) )
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    Peter Brown, in Military Modelling Vol.41 No.1 2011 page 52 states that EDGECUMBE is T.15251.

    If that is correct, then EDGECUMBE was produced by Nuffield Mech & Aero in mid July 1940. It was issued to 5RTR by the end of the same month. It left the UK with 5RTR and 2nd Armoured Division in October 1940 arriving in Egypt in early January 1941/very end of December 1940. It was one of the 14 A13 Mk.IV cruiser tanks assigned to C Squadron 5RTR. In the picture above, 10 Troop seem to be the allocation.

    In the appropriate war diary, EDGECUMBE - commanded by Capt Erskine - is one of those lost in the engagement with 6.Kp/PzRegt.5 on 2 April 1941 SE of Agedabia. Here it is depicted in the report...
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    However, the 5RTR war diary notes the following...
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    So, T.15251 was one of the 7 tanks that made it to Derna and one of the two that got stuck in the town and could go no further. I've already posted above pictures of one of them which is clearly identified as ELEPHANT T.15252. Here are two pics of the second abandoned tank in Derna.

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    Notice how the scene matches the 5RTR war diary entry: thrown track and left hand turn - mind you, you need to use your imagination to see that the camaraman is in the nook of the corner and the road shoot out to the left of the images.

    So, the puzzle: Was...
    a) EDGECUMBE lost on 2 April or 7 April; near Agedabia after a firefight or Derna because of mechanical failure?
    b) EDGECUMBE really T.15251 or has it been misidentified by Peter Brown?
    c) Did 5RTR change the names around from one tank to another? That'll put the cat amongst the modelling community pidgeons.
    d) The 5RTR war diary provide dodgy info regarding T.15251 at Derna?

    The last possibility is the one that Peter Brown chooses having come across this connundrum himself. Here's his words from Military Modelling Vol.41 No.2 2011 page 61...

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    The problem with this theory is that T.15215 (EXPONENT) is a B Squadron tank - see the pictures posted above as well as the listing of serials produced by Peter Brown in his articles. The tank depicted broken down in Derna town is clearly marked as a C Squadron tank - which EDGECUMBE and T.15251 were.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  9. bitoque

    bitoque Junior Member

    Unfortunately i have nothing relevant to add, but i just want to thank all the information and detective work being shared!

    regards,

    -Nuno
     
  10. Paul Cuthbert

    Paul Cuthbert New Member

    I've been modelling British armour from Nth Africa for a couple of years and there are more minefields in getting the details correct than the troops had to deal with at the time. It surprises me that with all the info available online that kit manufacturers still get so much so very wrong.
     
    Chris C likes this.
  11. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    In their defence, if they spent as much time ferreting around the web for obscure details and new revelations as we do, they'd never release any kits.
     
  12. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Too bad they don't work a bit more with modellers, e.g. create relationships with well informed modellers to assemble the information for them; pay them a stipend or send them a free kit every two months.

    It's a shame all the photos from this thread are gone.

    On the subject of Peter Brown, the "armoured photohistory" books he has written for the A9/A10 and the A13 are just wonderful if you like looking at photographs. In these books they really are the star, and they are printed on black pages which helps focus the eye on the photographs wonderfully.
     
    BFBSM likes this.

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