J B Smethurst RTR

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by Susan Smethurst, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. Susan Smethurst

    Susan Smethurst Senior but too talkative

    My late father was Brian Smethurst an officer in the Royal Tank Regiment 39-47. His brother was A B Smethurst MC (still with us). My father fought North Africa, Italy, France , Germany etc being seriously wounded 3 weeks before VE day. After the war he became a vicar and was padre to the 8th Army Association. He was Chairman of Preston Branch RTR Association. Simply put does anyone remember him or know how I should trace his records-assuming Bovington first port of call?
     
  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Susan -
    Your first call should be to Glasgow in order to get an application for his Service Records - then Bovvy for the diaries of his battalion - sounds like he was with either 7th Armoured div or VIII armoured brigade - the address for Glasgow is on this site - somewhere - found it ....

    Disclosures
    Mail Point 535
    Kentigern House
    65 Brown St.,
    Glasgow G2 8EX
    TEL:- 0141 224 8032

    They are very helpful but overworked and it could be six months before you see the records...try and get Mrs Y Wilson - she's very good !
    Cheers
     
  3. dave3164

    dave3164 @davidcarter1978

    Hi susan I have also had recent dealings and a visit to the library/archives at the tank museum in Bovingdon they are also very good. They will photocopy and send you documents for a charge and a visit would cost you about £5 but in my opinion well worth it.

    Dave
     
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Welcome to the forum Susan.
    Any photos of him in uniform , would love to see them.
     
  5. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    He was 1st Royal Tank Regiment, 7th Armoured Division. 2i/c (second in command) of A Squadron before D-Day, by the look of it.
    The Squadron Commander was Major R J Crisp who, I think, has written a hard-to-get-hold-of book - perhaps that will mention him.
    Edit: perhaps not - Crisp's book, Brazen Chariots, is about the desert war and I have him [Crisp] down as 3rd Royal Tank Regiment at that time. Apologies for the blind alley.
     
  6. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Idler -
    You obviously have access to the Army list to have knowledge that he was in 1st Tanks -or 3rd Tanks, my sole reason to ask Glasgow was to ascertain his battalion prior to finding the diaries of his battalion - the details from Bovvy will be great for the day to day stuff., whilst waiting for Glasgow.

    Haven't seen "Brazen Chariots" in years but I do have a copy of Cyril Joly's "Take these Men" - all stirring stuff.

    3rd Tanks under "Pip" Roberts had a great war - while he was playing his piano with 26th Armoured Bde in Tunisia - a corporal was doing some maintenance when a staff car pulled up alongside and a Brigadier asked " What is going on ?" - the corporal answered - " The usual Sir - 3rd tanks vs 3rd reich ! Know the feeling !
    Cheers
     
  7. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Tom,

    Nothing that comprehensive, I'm afraid, just a month's worth of 1 R Tks' war diary that happens to mention him. 5 R Tks Press On Regardless didn't have him so I tried my second and last source!

    Susan - here is your uncle's MC citation:
     

    Attached Files:

  8. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    One person who knew him was Field Marshal Lord Carver, one time CO of 1 R Tks. In early October 1943 near Naples:

    A Squadron was to lead the advance either side of the road to Cardito, with Pedraza's B on its left and Colin Sproull's C on the right, hoping to occupy the enemy's attention on a wide front and exploit any gap found. A Squadron met with more trouble than the infantry, two of their tanks being knocked out and two ditched, while one troop, having misunderstood its orders, moved to the wrong place. Barry O'Sullivan was clearly unable to cope with these problems, and I had to tell him on the wireless to hand over to his second-in-command, Brian Smethurst. Unfortunately, his wireless operator, Sergeant Burton, thinking that he was speaking to the rest of the crew in the internal communication set, broadcast to the whole regiment his approval of the decision.

    Carver Out of Step
     
    dbf likes this.
  9. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    idler -
    That is still good work as it will be very interesting to see his movements between -1st - 3rd and finally 46th RTR who were in the 23rd Armoured bde with 40th and 50th RTR most of the time from the desert to Italy when they went back to Palestine - they stuck with 1st Inf Div for a long time and went with them to Anzio and during the break out - they were not told of Clark's intentions and so along with 5th Div - went haring up the coast and ran into trouble with the Herman Goering panzers...lost track of them after Rome as we were on the scam to Sienna before the Gothic Line
    Hope Susan gets the records soon ....
    Cheers
     
  10. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Tom,
    I've edited post 5 to clarify that it was Maj Crisp who (I can now confirm) was in 3 R Tks before transferring to 1 R Tks, not Capt. J B Smethurst of 1 R Tks. Apologies for the confusion.
    It was his brother, Maj A B Smethurst, who was in 46 R Tks.
     
  11. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Idler -
    I knew about Crispy in 3rd Tanks - they went back to UK after Tunisia and "Pip" Roberts took over 11th Armoured - so I was confused as the 46th RTR were no where near the NWE - where I was under the impression - from Susan - that Bert was wounded in that area - lost track of 1st RTR as well !
    Cheers
     
  12. Susan Smethurst

    Susan Smethurst Senior but too talkative

    Gentleman I have so enjoyed the posts- in particular the MC citation for my uncle.

    Forgive my ignorance if my family legend is inaccurate. But here it is

    Born 1920. died 1989 effectively of 1945 wounds

    Was in TA before war

    Aged 19 when war broke out

    Fought North Africa campaign-El Alamein. My mother as his widow was invited to El Alamein 50th Anniverary service at Westminster Abbey and introduced to Prince of Wales

    Went through Italy, D day etc, Said they were headed off to Hamburg (didnt like that). Liberation of Brussels? Crossed Rhine (amphibeous tanks).
    Serious wound 3 weeks before VE day-brain injury like a stroke.By then Acting Major (24). In hospital 2 years. In 1960 married my mother and became an anglican priest. Was 8th Army AssociationChaplain leading service at reunions in Blackpool. Honoury Padre 2 para Association for some reason. Led RTR northern branches in establishing veteran links with Panzer divisions-they visited his grave and laid wreathes doing a ceremony for fallen conrade.

    Michael Carver remained in touch with JB

    Legend is that JB was the officer who tookover when Robert Crisp was injured at end of his book but perhaps it was his brother. I have the book!

    The Carver book refers to when my father took over from an officer who was the first POW to make a home run and returned to command with unsuccessful outcome.
     
  13. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Susan -

    You note that your family legend may be inaccurate - you may be right as I am as confused as Idler was with the 1st and 3rd RTR - as the 1st was in 7th Armoured div - 22nd Armoured bde - which went off after Naples to the Uk along with 5th RTR - 4th COLY and 11th Hussars.....

    The 46th RTR was in 23rd Armoured Bde along with 40th and 50th RTR - much of 46th RTR were in Anzio - and disappeared whereas the 44thRTR - which had been in 4th Armoured bde showed up at Normandy on 7th June '44.....

    Your cousin Fay Smethurst claims that her Father - Alfred Brisbane Smethurst was awarded his M.C. with the 46th RTR at Hocholdt in Germany ....and recommended by Michael Carver - so right now - I am slightly confused but understandable - I hope by being nearly 86 !...I shall await your Father's service records !
    Cheers
     
  14. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Here we go: Delaforce's Battles With Panzers: Monty's Tank Battalions 1 RTR & 2 RTR at War states that Capt. B Smethurst was promoted to OC A Sqn after Bob Crisp was severely wounded on 19 July 1944 during GOODWOOD in Normandy. I assume that this is not the episode referred to in Crisp's book as I believe it only covers the desert war.
    Maj Freddie Pile (son of Pile of AA Command fame) took over A Sqn at the end of August 1944.

    I have found an MM citation for a Tpr Pettersen (Petersen in Delaforce)who took command of his Cromwell when his unnnamed and unranked commander was badly wounded. The curious aspect is the date of 16 April 1945 is 3 weeks before the end of the war and the fact that most other casualties in the closing stages are identified. I wonder...
     

    Attached Files:

  15. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    idler -
    you must have been a detective in a previous life to dig up that lot...however it merely confirms that 1st RTR was still in 22nd Armoured bde in 7th Armoured Div in the NWE thingi....doesn't that list of signatures from the Col. of the regiment all the way through every top rank to the Army Group Commander himself ...now I can see why I never got an M.M. - I didn't even know our Colonel - and he had an M.M. - gave himself a D.S.O. as well... came up with the rations !

    Noe the next trick is to find when did 46th RTR leave Italy to appear in the NWE where Fay's dad was awarded his M.C.....
    Cheers
     
  16. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Tom - I detect that you're talking about this thread. Fay has also commented here. This must be the Lt M J Smethurst mentioned in Sharpshooters at War. Sometime after dinner, I will see if I can pull his citation. However, I don't think Lt M J and SSM P Smethurst are related to JB and AB (AB's MC citation is at post 7 or thereabouts), I think we have two sets of brothers here, the link being Carver as CO 1 RTR and later Bde Comd of 4 Armd Bde who included 3/4 CLY.
     
  17. Susan Smethurst

    Susan Smethurst Senior but too talkative

    This is weird-I did not know I had a cousin. I thought my Uncle Alfred had stepchildren but not children of his own. Feeling rather confused now. Am applying for his service records. He definitely went on about being in 7th Armoured Division-recall him going on about 44th RTR -can that be right?
     
  18. Susan Smethurst

    Susan Smethurst Senior but too talkative

    Sorry just seen the post about how many Smethursts there were! Was bit shocked about having cousin !
     
  19. Susan Smethurst

    Susan Smethurst Senior but too talkative

    Last post for today. Sitting as Deputy District judge tomorrow so got to get some sleep. Wonder what JB Smethurst would make of that. AB thought v entertaining.

    The MM citation rings totally true to the date and area JB told me. He said they were ambushed. Shell on front of tank. Shrapnel into his brain. He fell down into tank. Next thing he remembered was lying on ground with people over him. He always said it was incredible that he (6ft 3) had been pulled out. His life was saved he said by Field Hospital having a brain surgeon callled Col Ritchie there. Shipped home-spent lot of time in St Hughs College Oxford which was a hospital. Anyway we will see when I get records.
     
  20. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Susan -
    .....and I always had the impression that Judges were beyond being shocked ....the records will take months so - it might be a good thing to call Bovington and get the war diaries of the 1st Battalion RTR ....this will fill in the gaps in the family legend...then the records will give you verse and chapter of how he fitted into the battalion, and exactly where he travelled to end up in Germany - it should be very interesting and hopefully you will return for translations - we are all waiting to "read all abaht it "

    You would be surprised how one could get a man out of the Tank no matter how tall - once the adrenalin kicked in -those people sneaking around with their panzerfausts were always ambushing someone - they were prime candidates for retroactive abortions - we got one of the b...... with a 6 pounder shot....
    Cheers
     

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