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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

    well Tom the thought that I had a cousin was a bit of a surprise-you are right that few things shock judges. My ability to be a judge and making free decisions is because JB, AB and people such as yourself served in the war and freedom won! I hope that the citation referring to a tank commander being wounded in April 1945 is true because the SS guy who caused my father such pain for 44 years was shot. BUT he made the very best of his life-never a victim.

    Now to Bovington-I live 2 hours drive from there. Should I arrange to go there to see records rather than write to request them?
  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    We Tank men were never victims - but we did have to be a bit nuts to do what we did riding around in a veritable tin can being shot at with bigger guns all through the war...we would probably do it again I suppose !

    Two hours from Bovvy ? - Portsmouth - Newbury - Swindon way - I would give them a call first - a friend of mine used to work there - Jane Devine - she might still be there so ask for her - she might hang up though when you mention my name !

    They are pretty good and all very helpful and they can dig up the Battalion war diaries in a couple of days - nevertheless it's a good drive of a summers day and lots of things which might interest - such as seeing how a 6'3' man can be hauled out
    of a 2ft hole in a Sherman or "Ronson Lighters" as we called them - says he snootily being a Churchill man.
  3. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    For completeness and comparison, these are the citations for the Sharpshooters Smethursts (3 then 3/4 County of London Yeomanry) P and MJ:

    Attached Files:

  4. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    tricky one with the two M.C.'s near the same town - one in 7th Armoured Div and the other in 4th Armoured Bde - which was in the desert with 7th Armoured div and stayed in Italy - in 4th armoured along with the Scots Greys and 44th RTR - which relates to Susan's Father's comments in mentioning 44th RTR at one point ! -Service records will sort that out but the war diaries might help !

    The 44th RTR finished up in Greece when the war finished as I was given(sic) the opportunity of joining them or going out to Burma - or joining the 16/5th Lancers in Austria - like a damn fool had I chosen Burma I would have had six months in the UK - and still joined the Lancers as the war in Burma finished in the August !
    Sometimes one just can't win...
  5. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Susan / Idler
    curiouser and curiouser as Alice might say .....just dug out Delaforces book on the Deserts Rats in Europe - page 176 - ""22nd Armoured bde continued their advance on Soltau.1st RTR went North from Walsrode and at Jarlington lost a Tank to a bazooka"" - This is the Petterson area where he won his MM- after pulling Smethurst ? out of the tanks and dispersing the Bazooka....not a word on this action of 16th April- strange !

    Page 177 - On the 18th 1st RTR started well and captured Welle, 20 miles North. Major Freddy Pile with "A" squadron wrote - "" The advance to Hamburg did not leave us unscathed. We lost three Officers and 17 O.R.'s (either killed or wounded ) a quarter of our Tank strength in under three weeks including Capt G.F.Cordy- Simpson; Lt.J Noble badly wounded by a sniper on the Autobahn...the names of Holliman,Frost,MacGregor Davies,and Elbrush....etc

    However on the 16th they had come across a POW Camp at Fallingbostel with many from Normandy - Ahrnem and including RSM Lord of the guards.....so perhaps he was in "B" squadron ??? "C" or HQ

  6. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Immediately above the bit about Pettersen in Delaforce's Battles with Panzers (p129) there is an account by Maj Tom Craig, OC B Sqn 1 R Tks that specifically mentions the advance to Jarlingen on 16 April:

    We had a lucky stroke of revenge shortly after John was killed. North of Soltau, the usual stand-to at dawn, we moved on 16th towards the village of jarlingen. After checking an abandoned SP gun, I was right behind my leading troop, was atonished to see marching across a T-junction about 300 yards ahead, a group of about forty SS Cadets marching towards the village towing eight carts, laden we discovered later, eith Panzerfausts and ammunition. I quickly ordered the troop behind me to go off round to the left to stop the cadets getting into the vilage, brought the Squadron HQ and remaining troop up into line and all opened fire at once with every weapon we had and firing HE into the trees above the cadets. It was quickly over, There were no SS survivors.

    Edit 1: the advance was Walsrode - Ebbingen - Jarlingen, the diversion through Ebbingen was made because of roadblocks and obstacles on the direct route (source: A Short History of 7th Armoured Division: June 1943 - July 1945)

    The John was John Cordy-Simpson but his date of death is listed as 18 Apr 45 which would be after Jarlingen!
    Edit 1: L/Cpl Leslie Clarke won an MM on 18 April (confirmed by citation) for fighting his tank and the fire in it after it had been 'hit by a bazooka' in the Forest of Langenhoe; perhaps the same event?
    Edit 2: Cordy-Simpson was 2i/c of A Sqn. The OC A Sqn was Freddie Pile whose tank was next to Cordy-Simpson's when it got hit.

    Other observations are that JB may have been serving in B Sqn and may have been leading the second troop that was sent to cut-off the village - logically, they would have been the first troop to enter the village though they may not have led the advance to it. The war diaries would certainly help a bit.
  7. englandphil

    englandphil Very Senior Member

    A piece from 'A short History - 7th Armoured Division 1943 - 1945'

    Prehaps the greatest achievement of the operations of the 16th of April was the liberation of the great prisoner of war camp in the woods South West of Fallingbostel. 8th Hussars sent a squadron down there to find, on their arrival that the British had already taken over and that the main gate was guarded by senteries from the 1st Airborne Division, immaculate in scrubbed belts and gaiters and well creased battle-dress.

    Inside where ten thousand British and American prisoners, commanded by RSM Lord of the 1st Airborne Division, who was busily enganges in his office giving peace time orders to his orderly Warrant Officers.
  8. Susan Smethurst

    Susan Smethurst Senior but too talkative

    He always said he was wounded in Soltau-had forgotten that until saw the word in your post Tom. He once met a German relative (by marriage) of an RTR friend of his and the conversation went very quiet when aforementioned German Veteran said he was near Soltau in aPRIL 45. Heard him say to my mother this was the heartland of the nazis -SS hardlinets
  9. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Susan -
    that sort of thing tends to put the kybosh on all conversations - but then there were other good chaps to meet also - met an English woman here in Canada who introduced her Austrian husband - my eyes narrowed until he mentioned that my Regimental HQ was in his Father's hotel in Althofen - Stiermark - I recall a ten year old boy and his sister trying to get over a very large sleeping Labrador belonging to Capt. The Lord Carmichael - we helped them get to school on time ! - Otto's daughter now runs that Hotel !
    Another old lady who broke into tears when I mentioned the Vienna Tattoo - she had been in the audience - it's a very small world at times !
  10. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Susan -
    Things like that tend to put the kybosh on all conversations - my eyes narrowed after meeting an Englishwoman when she introduced her Austrian husband who went on to explain that my regimental HQ was quartered in his Father's Hotel at Althofen - Stiermark, and I recalled a boy of about ten and his sister trying to get over a sleeping very large Labrador belonging to Capt. The Lord Carmichael - we managed to get them to school on time -Otto's Daughter now runs that same hotel !

    Another time on meeting an older Austrian Lady - she burst into tears when I mentioned the Vienna Tattoo -she had been in the audience one night - as a young woman ! It can be a very small world at times
  11. Susan Smethurst

    Susan Smethurst Senior but too talkative

    It is indeed a small world Tom! My small world is now in Horsham West Sussex so 2 hours to Bovington may be pushing it a bit. More like 3. But will do it! Have pics of me sitting on tanks there as child. I am trying to get photos of JB in uniform -they are in Lancashire c/o my brother. Notwithstanding his very severe injuries JB married in 1960 and had 4 children the last being when he was 57 (mum 45!). I am the eldest of his tribe. He said the war told him to live every day as fully as possible and he certainly lived!

    May I ask where you served during the war?
  12. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Susan -
    My Father in Law had a similar wound to his head in the first and Great War to end all of them - now they have started to number them ....he managed to father five children in between epileptic fits .....your Father was right in that we have only to-day - so live it to the full.....

    That's why I travel to the UK and Italy - Switzerland - Germany - Austria - South Africa - Australia - Fiji -Hawaii - New Zealand - just about annually - this coming May to Bournemouth for a conference - last year to the Uk for Christmas and Daughters birthday - must be something about the Churchill Tank as Gerry Chester(25th Tanks) also gets around to Arizona - Bali - Nth. Ireland and hopefully we shall have lunch in London in May ....

    I had the free Cook's tour with four all free luxury cruises to North Africa -then to Italy - then on a big white luxury Liner from Ancona to Bari - and the last one on a similar liner to Catania in Sicily - when it was supposed to go all the way to Liverpool !

    I served in Churchill Tanks with 145th regt RAC in the 21st Tank bde in support of the 1st Canadian Division from Lucera after Ortona in Southern Italy until I was wounded at the Gothic Line - then the Regiment was broken up for spares so I transferred to the 16/5th Lancers in Austria until demob....

    Three years ago we attended a wedding in Midhurst - down your way - it was a hoot - the Hotel is 300 years old - the Church 200 - and the reception was held in a
    100 year old converted barn ! Forty guests flew in from Philidelpha on the friday - spent all day saturday at the wedding - and flew out again on the sunday - how they got their heads through those small aircraft doors is a mystery even to-day...

    so at just 86 it's been fun ... and still is
  13. Susan Smethurst

    Susan Smethurst Senior but too talkative

    Tom-its the Eagle (?) I think in Midhurst-always fancied staying there. Three little girls under 13 (including a 2 year old-with a ww2 tank commander as grandad...not a 56 year old as most of her generation) doesnt lend to my getting much r &r as you may imagine

    My brother is sending me a photo of JB which I will scan on and post (aint technology wonderful....)

  14. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Susan -
    The great thing about having youngsters around is that they do tend to keep you young - and fit - my own grandchildren are all teens and are all over the place - one at university in Montreal - the other at Barcelona on a school tour - and the other on the ski hills of Vancouver now that they all have snow !

    That Hotel at Midhurst might very well be the Eagle- I didn't absorb it's age until undressing for bed - I put the loose change from my pocket on the bedside table which promptly slid onto the floor - I thought it was I who was listing to starboard....

    Look forward to the photo's of the Tank Cmmdr !
  15. Trpr Hughes

    Trpr Hughes Member

    Hello all, my uncle, Richard John Hughes was in 'B' Squadron 1st RTR, we presume he was transferred from The Queens Own Hussars sometime before July 1943 but really have nothing else to go on other than family tales and a 24hr pass. Not very helpful I realise but I can't seem to start a new thread on the subject anyway. Bummer.
  16. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Tpr Hughes -
    Your uncle was obviously at Tunisa at that time of July 1943 just after their - and 1st armoured Divs battle of El Hamma in the left hook around the Mareth Line - at the same time that the 7th Armoured Div and 1st Tanks were hunting for reinforcements for the next and final battle from Medjez El Bab to Tunis and Cap Bon which finished off the North African campaign - some elements of the 7th Div. went on to Salerno but the bulk went back to the UK around the December '43 they all joined up again for the D Day thingi - but they did leave the 4th and 7th Armoured bdes in Italy - the 22nd Armoured Bde taking their place - VIII Armoured bde went home at the same time. - the 4th and 7th finally made it to NWE before the end !

    You should try for your uncles service record - it's sure to be interesting as the 1st Armoured Div finally made it to Italy in the September of '44 but were disbanded by the October / OR get a copy of the 1st RTR & 4th QOH diaries from Bovington ...
  17. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Tpr Hughes -
    meant to add - that to start anew thread - on any subject - as you open the web - look to your extreme left and in the column you will find "general" - click on this and viola - will appear a "new thread" little box on the top LH corner - click on that and away you go....
  18. Trpr Hughes

    Trpr Hughes Member

    Superb, thank you. I know he was captured at Tobruk but managed to escape when with the QOH.
  19. Susan Smethurst

    Susan Smethurst Senior but too talkative

    This is so interesting. Tpr Hughes -yes post a thread-I have gained so much from this forum not just the history but also the people. Talking of which...Tom-my father told us many times about being at the top of Mount Vesuvius (sorry can't spell) when it was rumbling into an eruption (43?). Where does that fit in time wise?
  20. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Susan -
    That fits in as some elements of 7th Armoured were involved in the landings at Salerno - Sept 9th '43 - in fact both the 1st Kings Dragoons and 11th Hussars entered Naples on Oct 1st '43 - Vesuvius was grumbling for some time - so I would imagine that many of the non involved units had the opportunity to visit Vesuvius and Pompeii and other ruins until they left for the Uk - after the medics and others had de loused the population of Naples - every one was sprayed with DDT - men women and the children,even infants -up and down the front and back -

    Our Brigade was entertained by Beniamino Gigli and his daughter on the piano - just after we arrived at Naples - before heading off to join the Canadians at Lucera.

    The 4th and 7th Armoured brigades stayed in Italy and 22rd Armoured went home along with VIII Armoured bde to land on Normandy's shores.

    Those were the fun days - before Cassino....


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