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Operation Crusader

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by Warlord, Feb 18, 2011.

  1. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Ivan -
    if your wife wants to know what he got up to in the desert buy her the book by Barrie Pitt - "Crucible of War" Volume 2 - Auchinleks Command - it's all there ..
    Cheers
     
  2. Springbok

    Springbok Junior Member

    Hi Warlord.

    Thankfully he was a survivor but was sent to Camp 52 until escaping in 1943 when Italy capitulated.

    Hi Tom.
    Many thanks for the recommended reading. I will see where I can get the Barrie Pitt book a.s.a.p.
    As with so many veterans he barely spoke of his wartime experiences, and certainly not about Sidi Rezegh. Considering what they went through this is hardly surprising but just think what information has been lost forever.

    Regards.

    Ivan.
     
  3. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Ivan - exactly why we veterans are here - to make the truth known and not some authors fiction on what was done - when and by whom - and for what reason - even to-day we have some revisionist - on this forum -trying to revise the El Alamein battles...not as long as we are around can that happen and they receive very short shrift from me.....
    Cheers
     
  4. JonS

    JonS Member

    Medenine also saw the advent of FOUR - 17 pounders - which mauled the three panzers Divisions attacking out of the sun - but they were sent back to the Uk for a decent base and the bodged up 25 pounder was not good enough - we didn't see them again until a battery of them landed at Sicily with the Canadians - who lost them all after Cassino !
    I don't think that's quite right. AFAIK there were at least 20 17pr on 25pr carriages (aka Partridges) at Medenine.

    There were a small number of 3-in HAA guns converted to A-Tk use that saw limited service in the last stages of North Africa and subsequently withdrawn, never to see action again, but the reason given for that is they weren't needed with the arrival of the 17-pr.

    Field Regiments under CRA's Command | NZETC
    5 Infantry Brigade Group and 4 Light Armoured Brigade in Position | NZETC

    WE all had a demo of the 17 pounder - and were overjoyed to see one shot knock a PZMk IV off its ring and drop it 50 yards behind- so when we asked please can we have some - like Oliver - we were told to forget it as they were all going into the second front - they did... - and we never saw them in Italy ! at least I didn't...
    There were certainly 17-pr in Italy, towed and SP.

    The Final Attack | NZETC
     
  5. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    JONS
    That is always the problem with reading books on any subject - each book tends to tell the same tale - differently - I was aware of the 3.7" HAA guns at Medenine and the FOUR which landed at Algiers and were whistled down to Medenine
    but not twenty ! The 3.7" A/T guns didn't show up again until the Bulge in Jan '45 at least accordfing to the books I read....

    It may very well be that there were 17 pounders in Italy but as I pointed out - I only saw the battery of Canadians which were lost at the Liri valley- and apart from the demo gun - I never saw anymore in Italy - which might not have been too difficult if the Kiwi's had some-WE didn't have any !
    Cheers
     
  6. JonS

    JonS Member

    Hi Tom,
    I'm pretty sure the 3-in (not 3.7-in) HAA re-roled as AT is not the same as a 17-pr (on any carriage). It was an emergency/interim way of using obsolete barrels, but took so long that the 17-pr was in production by the time they - the 3-in - were ready.

    I believe you were in a Army Tank Bde, 21st if I'm reading your avatar right. Why would you have any 17-pr - did Tank Bdes ever have A-Tk guns on their TOE?

    Best regards
    Jon
     
  7. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Jons -
    I get the feeling that you are looking for an arguement - that being so - you have come to the wriong spot .....
    according to some people I met who had been actually involved in the Battle of Medenine there were 3.7" HAA guns used in the A/T role and that we had around 1000 of them sitting in warehouses in Cairo and it would be silly not to use them perhaps ?
    There was never any discussion of the 3" gun - which I understood were all sold to the Russians when the 3.7' HAA came in to replace the 3"HAA around the year 1937.....some of these 3" HAA were converted to A/T by the Russians - captured by the Germans and used by Rommel in his first foray from El Ageila in early 1942 -until replaced by the more formidable 88mm.

    You are however correct in stating that I was a member of the 21st Tank Brigade in both North Africa and Italy when the 17 pounders were first introduced - and were very much aware that the 17 pounders had been introduced on D Day and thereafter by various units with Sherman Firefly's - Cromwells and later by the Comets but none of these units had appeared in Italy - which prompted the question at our demo of the 17 pounder of "when can we have them"- not realising at that time that the Churchill Turret ring was too small to house the 17 pounder -PLUS the fact that the Artillery all around us in the fighting also never had the 17 pounder gun- we were NOT aware that the KIWI"s had some at the Sangro battles as at that time - November 1943 - the 21st Tank Bde and the 25th Tank bde were still in North Africa awaiting the call forward after Ortona to support the 1st Canadian Division until they left for Belgium in February of 1945 -we also had the Kiwi's alongside at times but I still do not recall seeing any 17 pounders amongst their Artillery....
    Cheers
     
  8. JonS

    JonS Member

    I get the feeling that you are looking for an argument
    Ah, well, you'd be wrong there :)

    according to some people I met who had been actually involved in the Battle of Medenine there were 3.7" HAA guns used in the A/T role and that we had around 1000 of them sitting in warehouses in Cairo and it would be silly not to use them perhaps ?
    "Sitting in warehouses" probably isn't the phrase I'd use :) AIUI there were excellent reasons why the 3.7-in HAA wasn't used as an A-Tk weapon more often, and why it's use was, mostly, restricted to it's intended role. At least until Italy and NWE, where it started to be used more and more often in a field artillery role.

    There was never any discussion of the 3" gun - which I understood were all sold to the Russians when the 3.7' HAA came in to replace the 3"HAA around the year 1937 ... some of these 3" HAA were converted to A/T by the Russians - captured by the Germans and used by Rommel in his first foray from El Ageila in early 1942 - until replaced by the more formidable 88mm.
    AIUI, about 100 3-in were converted to A-Tk weapons for British use. ~50 got mounted on Churchill(?) chassis', and 50 were mounted on 17-pr carriages. 25 of the towed guns were sent to Africa in late '42 or early '43, but off the top I don't recall whether it was to 1st or 8th Army.

    I know the Germans used a, er, wonderful array of weaponry in Africa, including some captured Russian 76mm as A-Tk weapons, but I've never come across them using British 3-in before.

    Hmm. 3-in is the same as 76mm, isn't it?

    You are however correct in stating that I was a member of the 21st Tank Brigade in both North Africa and Italy when the 17 pounders were first introduced - and were very much aware that the 17 pounders had been introduced on D Day and thereafter by various units with Sherman Firefly's - Cromwells and later by the Comets but none of these units had appeared in Italy - which prompted the question at our demo of the 17 pounder of "when can we have them"- not realising at that time that the Churchill Turret ring was too small to house the 17 pounder
    I don't think the Churchill-equipped Tank Bdes in NWE had 17-pr at any stage either.

    PLUS the fact that the Artillery all around us in the fighting also never had the 17 pounder gun- we were NOT aware that the KIWI"s had some at the Sangro battles as at that time - November 1943 - the 21st Tank Bde and the 25th Tank bde were still in North Africa awaiting the call forward after Ortona to support the 1st Canadian Division until they left for Belgium in February of 1945 -we also had the Kiwi's alongside at times but I still do not recall seeing any 17 pounders amongst their Artillery...
    FWIW, I believe 2(NZ)Div deployed to Italy with towed 17-pr, received some Sherman Firefly for 4th Armd Bde in late 1944, and got some M10 with 17-pr in very early 1945.

    I've no doubt you didn't come across any, but I'd be astonished if 2(NZ)Div was the only CW divisions in Italy with 17-pr.

    Cheers
    Yeah, cheers :)

    Jon
     
  9. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Jons -
    you can take it as read that the 3' guns captured from the russians and used by Rommel initialy after El Ageila to wipe out the 2nd Armoured Div wre British

    The 4 x 17 pounders from 1st army after Algiers were sent to Medenine under the code name of "pheasants" - not partriges .

    The 3.7" used at Medenine were as A/T's as they were also at the battle of the Bulge

    I repeat - the Churchill turret ring was too small to take the 17 pounder - all through Mk2 - Mk7 and the Black Prince was in developement to enable the turret ring to accept the gun,when the war finished.

    When the 4th NZ armoured bde were - as you say - furnished with the Sherman firefly - I was still in Hospital and naturally could'nt see them from Catania.

    You may very well have been astonished as I don't recall the 6th Armoured 5th Canadian A.D nor the 1st A.D. - before it was broken up - having any fireflys..
    again - Cheers
     
  10. JonS

    JonS Member

    Jons -
    you can take it as read that the 3' guns captured from the russians and used by Rommel initialy after El Ageila to wipe out the 2nd Armoured Div wre British
    I shall do some rummaging.

    The 4 x 17 pounders from 1st army after Algiers were sent to Medenine under the code name of "pheasants" - not partriges .
    Blah. Brainfart on my part. One of those game birds o_O

    I repeat - the Churchill turret ring was too small to take the 17 pounder
    As was the Cromwell, although that was overcome ... by issuing those regts Shermans.

    When the 4th NZ armoured bde were - as you say - furnished with the Sherman firefly - I was still in Hospital and naturally could'nt see them from Catania.
    Fair enough. The towed guns were always there though.

    You may very well have been astonished as I don't recall the 6th Armoured 5th Canadian A.D nor the 1st A.D. - before it was broken up - having any fireflys.
    I suspect we may be talking past each other. When you said "when we asked please can we have some [17-pr] we were told to forget it as they were all going into the second front - they did" I assumed from the context (the demonstration of a 17-pr gun) that you meant all 17-pr - that is towed, SP, and mounted in Shermans - were exclusively reserved for NWE.

    again - Cheers
    Indeed.
     
  11. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Jons - as far as we were told - ALL 17 pounders were scheduled for the NWE - they could have been mounted on bicycles for all we knew -we certainly didn't get them in either mountings.
    Ceers
     
  12. JonS

    JonS Member

    Right, but that means essentially nothing since none of the NWE Tk Bdes ever got them either.
     
  13. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    JonS

    You are misunderstanding this situation of the 17 pounder by that remark as 3RTR had firely's in NWE since D Day with one firely per troop - thus approx 48 per battalion and I would say that the rest of that Bde in 11th Armoured had them also - so a possible 150 Firefly's in that Division at least - plus 7th Armoured's 1st and 5th RTR - with 33rd and 34th armoured bde's all set to have Cromwells when the Bulge thingi broke out and they reverted to their Shermans- Comets later with the modified 77mm off shoot of the 17th etc....then there was the 4th Canadian at Totalize along with the Polish Armoured - so there appeared to be lots of 17 pounders in that theatre when one includes the M10 's and the towed Artillery's Anti-Tank batteries.....

    So the statement made in Italy that " they were all scheduled for the NWE theatre had some merit !
    Cheers
     
  14. JonS

    JonS Member

    Tank bdes were treated differently to the armd bdes, in both Italy and NWE. None of the tk bdes got fireflies. All of the armd bdes got fireflies. In both Italy and NWE. 22nd, 29th, 33rd, 4th Cdn, as well as 5th Gds, 4th, 8th, 27th, and 10th Polish, were all armd bdes, so yes; they all had Fireflies. Granted, Italy didn't get Sherman Fireflies or M10C until ~6 months after NWE, but I'm just not seeing that delay for towed guns.

    I think you may have grossly overcounted the number of Fireflies in a regt and division. By my count 1 per troop (later 2 per troop) gives 12 per regt, or 36 for a division, rising to 48 some months later when the div armd recon regt also started receiving them (then up to 96 when troops started doubling their holdings).

    Regards
    Jon
     
  15. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    JonS -
    Obviously I do know the diference in Armoured bdes and Tank bdes as I served in the 21st TANK bde/1st Cdn and also the 26th ARMOURED bde/6th Armoured - many Armoured bdes had four squadrons x 4 troops thus 1 per troop = 48 per battalion - Tank bdes had 3 squadrons x 5 troops - ALL became Armoured towards the end of WW2 no matter their equipment.
    with some e.g 51st RTR coming an Engineer - Armoured battalion with funnies when 25th Tank bde was broken up near Cesena and NIH moving over to replace 145th RAC in 21st TANK Bde - and 142nd RAC aso being disbanded...
    Cheers
     
  16. JonS

    JonS Member

    4 x 4 = 16
     
  17. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    jonS - now you are being a little obtuse as I did spend some time in various schools and do realise that 4 x 4 =
     
  18. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    jonS - now you are being a little obtuse as I did spend some time in various schools and do realise that 4 x 4 =

    Tom

    You seemed to say that the number of Fireflies was 48 per battalion in your post above. But 1/troop makes only 16 per battalion, since there were only 16 4-tank troops in a battalion.

    Not sure how this relates to CRUSADER though. ;)

    All the best

    Andreas
     
  19. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    Jons -
    you can take it as read that the 3' guns captured from the russians and used by Rommel initialy after El Ageila to wipe out the 2nd Armoured Div wre British

    That's a bit difficult, since when 2nd Armoured was wiped out the Germans were not yet at war with the Russians. :)

    I presume you mean 1st Armoured Division/2nd Armoured Brigade and the counter-offensive in early 1942?

    In which case, I wouldn't overrate the role of the Russian guns. They had only a few of them at that stage and these (and any towed ones that there might have been) were with Kampfgruppe Marcks on the march to Benghazi. Most of the wiping out was done by DAK around Msus, equipped with tanks, 50mm ATG and 88mm AA/AT.

    At least this is related to CRUSADER! ;)

    All the best

    Andreas
     
  20. JonS

    JonS Member

    many Armoured bdes had four squadrons
    Do you have some examples of this, please? The only references I have all indicate that armd regts only had three fighting sqns (triangle, square, circle) for a total of 12 Fireflies per regt. There's also HQ sqn (diamond) of course, but the HQ sqn usually wouldn't have any Fireflies, or any it did have would be in excess of TOE/WE.

    Oh, wait a sec - there's some confusingly mixed terminology here. You say "many armd bdes had four sqns". You've missed a layer there I think - is that what you meant? Or did you mean "many armd regts had four sqns", or perhaps "many armd bdes had four regts"?

    Best regards
    Jon
     

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