Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry (SRY) in North West Europe

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by Ramiles, Apr 3, 2015.

  1. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Hi all,

    For anyone interested in the SRY... I'm going to try and look in a bit more depth into the SRY in NWE.

    I aim to keep track here - for future ref. - of some useful shared links and events in the life of the SRY in Normandy and beyond in 1944, 45 & 46.

    Please feel free to post on about any interest or knowledge in this you might have....

    All the best,

    Rm.


    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28016]


    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28017]
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  2. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    SRY NWE Links

    The SRY in WW2 : SRY - World War 2 -- N.W. Europe

    Battle Honours for the SRY: SRY - Battle Honours

    IWM "SRY" search: Imperial War Museums

    IWM "Nottinghamshire Yeomanry" search: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search?f[0]=subjectString:nottinghamshire yeomanry&query=

    Nb. returns different results.

    Documentary? Films?: (Well one can hope! :) )

    The IWM has some examples of the SRY in NWE on film (nb. in their archive but not yet online) i.e.
    Imperial War Museums
    (Operation Epsom - Capture of Rauray Spur - has several parts in which the SRY are included)
    http://www.iwm.org.u...ems_per_page=10
    (These appear to be in July 1944 nr. Tilly at Hottot)

    "Normandy 44 – The Battle Beyond D-Day" - presented by James Holland http://www.bbc.co.uk...rammes/b0461mvr
    (Last shown in 2014 so not currently available currently on iplayer, but there are a couple of short clips from it on this page).

    "Challenging some of the many myths that have grown up around this vital campaign, Holland argues that we have become too comfortable in our understanding of events, developing shorthand to tell this famous story that does great injustice to those that saw action in France across the summer of 1944."

    Audio:

    http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search?query=Sherwood%20Rangers&items_per_page=10&f[0]=mediaType%3Aaudio

    i.e. Stanley William Cox (inc. recollections of Point 103): Cox Stanley William IWM interview (22372)
    John Robert Lanes (inc. recollections of Point 103, Geel) Lanes John Robert IWM interview (22115)
    David Desmond Render (inc recollections of St.Pierre, Geilenkirchen, Goch, Bremen) Render, David Desmond (Oral history) (22099)
    Robert Malcolm Morris (inc recollections of tank actions in Normandy): Morris, Robert Malcolm (Oral history) (20468)

    Books:

    Andy Cropper - "Dad's War" - about life in the 24th Lancers and then the SRY in NWE
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dads-War-Andy-Cropper/dp/0952422204

    Stuart Hills - by Tank into Normandy - a quite often quoted book about life in the SRY:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tank-Normandy-Cassell-Military-Paperbacks/dp/0304366404

    James Holland's "An Englishman at War - the War Time Diaries of Stanley Christopherson" ... a very worthy account in all respects (note from "willers")
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/An-Englishman-War-Christopherson-1939-1945/dp/0593068378

    Arthur Reddish - "Normandy 1944 - From the Hull of a Sherman"

    Capt David Render and Stuart Tootal - "Tank Action: An Armoured Troop Commander's War 1944-45"

    L.F.Skinner - Casualty Book - The personal note book of Rev. Leslie Skinner RAChD Chaplain 8th Armoured Brigade attached to the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry

    L.F.Skinner - The Man who worked on Sundays - The diaries of the Revd Leslie Skinner who as Chaplain to the 8th Armoured Brigade, landed on D-Day with the SRY and followed it thought its battles.

    Ken Ford's ''Assault Crossing'' - for the actions in late August 1944 around the Seine at Vernon (Thanks Owen! http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/7978-seine-crossing-vernon-1944-2007/?p=667795 )
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Assault-Crossing-River-Seine-1944/dp/1848845766

    Links:

    For context on the Normandy battles beyond D-day: http://warandsecurit...e-beyond-d-day/

    Maps:

    Lots of maps of the NWE theater campaigns here: http://www.westpoint.edu/history/sitepages/wwii european theater.aspx

    There's a day by day changing map of the area's under allied control in Normandy (from D-day through much of August) here: The Normandy Campaign

    Other SRY threads:

    Nottinghamshire Yeomanry 1944-45-War Diary

    Nottingham Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry 'A' Squadron

    The SRY in August 1944: The SRY in NWE in August 1944

    The SRY in September 1944: The SRY in NWE in September 1944

    The SRY in November 1944: Operation Clipper - Geilenkirchen and the SRY - November 1944

    The SRY in January 1945: The Sherwood Rangers in January 1945

    The SRY in February 1945: The Sherwood Rangers in February 1945

    The SRY in March 1945: The Sherwood Rangers in March 1945

    The SRY in April 1945: The Sherwood Rangers in April 1945
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
  3. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    SRY NWE events

    After an eventful career in north Africa the SRY came back to blighty and soon found that they were earmarked for a "quick" hop over to France.

    June 1944 - Landing at Gold Beach (Normandy Battle Honour), much fighting including St.Pierre & Tilly-sur-Seulles, Rauray

    For Point 103 and St.Pierre: http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/57272-the-battles-for-point-103-and-st-pierre-8th–-18th-june-1944/
    For the Battle for Tlly-sur-Seulles: WW2Talk
    Rauray (Battle Honour) WW2Talk

    July 1944

    4th July 1944 - SRY in vicinity of Chouain

    11th July 1944 - filmed preparing for an attack on Hottot. (For example see: http://www.iwm.org.u...ems_per_page=10 )

    17th July 1944 - SRY move to a position north of Caumont - static, defensive conditions with sporadic shelling noted over next few days.

    21st July 1944 - very heavy rain day and night causes problems for SRY.

    Around 20th July the SRY began to make the move south towards Mont Pincon and the Noireau River...

    August 1944 - WW2Talk

    And quite a month! Mont Pincon (Battle honour), Jurques (Battle honour), Noireau River crossing (Battle honour) Conde-sur-Noireau, Chambois, Aigle, Evreux, Vernon, Seine 1944 (Battle honour - See thread at: http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/57398-the-sherwood-rangers-at-vernon/ ) and A "basic" outline of which can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8th_Armoured_Brigade_(United_Kingdom)#Crossing_the_Seine, Gisors, Beauvais, Amiens.

    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28068]

    September 1944 - WW2Talk

    Map Advance to the Somme and Antwerp: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/Canada/CA/Victory/sk/Victory-22.jpg

    Tourmai, Rouse, Oudenaarde, Gent, Bruxelles, Beringen and the Battle of Geel (Battle honour WW2Talk ), Nederrijn and at Beek a recce troop of the SRY were amongst the first British troops to enter Germany.


    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28079]


    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28080]

    October 1944 - On the defensive amidst very static conditions. A period of rest and recuperation ensued with drills and excercises for the next stage in operations.

    November 1944 - Operation Clipper - to reduce the Geilenkirchen Salient (Battle honour) : WW2Talk


    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28081]

    December 1944 - The Battle of the Bulge occurred and north of there 30 Corps began their move to the area on 20th December and held the bridges at Dinant, Givet and Namur

    1945

    The SRY in Germany - a basic outline of which can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8th_Armoured_Brigade_(United_Kingdom)#Into_Germany

    January 1945 - Roer Triangle (Roer Battle honour) - WW2Talk


    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28086]

    February 1945 - Operation Veritable (Reichswald Forrest) WW2Talk
    & WW2Talk


    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28087]

    See also thread: WW2Talk

    Operation Leek (Nr. Goch)


    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28084]

    March 1945 - Operation Plunder (March 1944: Cleve (Battle honour), Goch (Battle honour), Weeze (Battle honour) to Isselburg Rhine (Battle honour)) See also: http://www.rememberingscotlandatwar...60/-/5678091a-836a-489a-9cf2-b8a896cf1ad7.jpg


    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28085]

    April 1945 - Operation "Forrard On" (Isselburg to Hengelo, Cloppenburg and Bremen). On the 24th April across the Elbe "A" Squadron SRY supporting the 5th Wiltshires involved in street fighting in Bremen and "B" Squadron SRY with the 4th Wiltshires into Osterholz and Hastedt. "C" squadron SRY were apparently with the 7th Somersets attacking the main German HQ in Bremen in the Park. On the 30th April "C" squadron SRY supported the Devons into Harpstedt, while "B" squadron SRY were at Hastedt.


    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28107]


    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28108]


    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28106]

    May 1945

    1st May "A" Squadron SRY helped capture Rhade. 3rd May "B" Squadron SRY helped 7th Hampshires capture Karlshoffen. Meanwhile 8th Armoured brigade was sending much need supplies to the newly liberated Sandbostel concentration camp to help the 22,000 prisoners who had been kept there. The Germans surrendered unconditionally at 1820 hours on the 4th May and hostilities on the Second Front were to cease at 0800 hours on 5th May 1944.

    1946 - Hannover, temporary disbandment and for some home at last.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
    Kosel Den likes this.
  4. willers

    willers Member

    Ramiles
    In your listing of books on the SRY you have omitted James Holland's "An Englishman at War the War Time Diaries of Stanley Christopherson" ... a very worthy account in all respects
    Willers
     
    Ramiles likes this.
  5. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    No probs, and thanks, I've now put it in.

    Rm.
     
  6. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    An odd little discovery, I just did a quick search on IWM website just for SRY: Imperial War Museums

    And I wonder if anyone happens to have memories of ever having seeing these films? And knows for instance what kind of "audience" they might have actually been intended for? Was this sort of thing meant for the "general" public, or was it specifically meant to be for an "army training film"

    I seem to remember my granddad saying he had been "filmed" for such things and I always wondered if there might ever be a way to find such a thing if it could ever be brought to light. Unfortunately this is the SRY in early July just before he joined it in August 1944 from the 24th L, so I don't think that this is "the one"!

    All the best,

    Rm.

    PREPARATIONS FOR THE ASSAULT ON HOTTOT PART 1 Allocated Title (A70 77-11)
    PREPARATIONS FOR THE ASSAULT ON HOTTOT Part 1: Detachments from SRY's REME recovery section and LAD in the form of a Sherman armoured recovery vehicle and an M5 half-track motor along a tank track and on to the Caen-St Lo road outside Tilly-sur-Seulles with the regiment's HQ squadron. Three heavily-camouflaged Shermans follow in their wake.

    (no Part 2 listed under "SRY" apparently there)

    http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060019533
    PREPARATIONS FOR THE ASSAULT ON HOTTOT Part 3: A Sherman ARV from the REME recovery section in the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry (SRY) HQ squadron motors along a tank track marked by white tape to join other AFVs heading along the Caen-St Lo road outside Tilly-sur- Seulles. Two heavily-camouflaged Shermans from the SRY's 'C' squadron (?) follow in their wake.

    http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060015409
    PREPARATIONS FOR THE ASSAULT ON HOTTOT (PART 4) 1944-07-11
    I. The cameraman surveys a Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry (SRY) tank harbour in an orchard outside Tilly-sur-Seulles. A tank commander from the SRY's 'B' or 'C' squadron clambers into his ex-DD Sherman tank, dons his headphones and speaks down his wireless microphone to net into his squadron's radio frequency (?). The driver and his assistant board the Sherman. Filming through the commander's hatch and the loader's hatch in the turret, the cameraman observes a 75mm round being placed 'up the spout'. Three members of the crew clean the 75mm gun barrel with a ram rod.

    II. A No 83 Group RAF Typhoon fighter-bomber attacks Hottot with rockets. A 3-inch mortar team from the 1st Battalion Dorset Regiment's mortar platoon goes into action; the Sergeant in charge of the mortar section shouts firing orders. During a pause in the bombardment, a new supply of mortar bombs is stacked in the firing pit for ready use, while more are unpacked have propellant charges fixed to their fins and their fuzes set for firing.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  7. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Rather than have civilian film crews running around the battlefield, the Army Film and Photographic Unit provided the raw material for press and newsreels. I don't know for certain whether or not they had a definite aim of recording things for posterity, but thankfully somebody made a decision to keep it.

    Army correspondents were tried in the First World War but not very successfully. In round two, civilian journalists became accredited war correspondents to provide the stories for the newspapers but I don't think there was any direct link between them and the AFPU in the sense that the latter took pictures/film directly related to the former's interviews.
     
    dbf and Ramiles like this.
  8. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

  9. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    9 times out of 10 a still photographer and a film cameraman went about together. I would say 75% of the stuff filmed also has still photos to go with it.
    The original reels of everything filmed are at the IWM. You can view any film they have by booking a viewing. You tell them in advance how many reels you want to see and you get a date in a ptivate booth where you can view any amount of films and slow them down, replay and freeze to your hearts content. The same content was given free to all the major news agencies and that is why Pathe have a lot of it on youtube. Thus you can find a lot of the IWM stuff various archives but the original uncut reels are in The IWM. It is important to note that the News Agencies cut and spliced a lot of stuff together to make their newsreels but only the IWM has all the original raw uncut footage. Pathe do have a lot of raw footage which they describe as 'unissued' but even then they have spliced complete unedited reels into larger reels (say 5 reels of raw footage connected together in random order) that may confuse the unwary The only safe way to view non IWM stuff is to consider every edit /scene change on a film as a seperate entity.
    If anyone was filmed then it is in the IWM today. You have to know a date and it would not be that hard to go through an entire months output to check for a face.
     
    Ramiles likes this.
  10. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Thanks! "m kenny", if he "was" filmed I don't think that they took his name: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search?query=Symes&items_per_page=10&f[0]=mediaType%3Avideo

    I'll keep digging, I think it was in Normandy but he also might have been filmed in "training films" or "war footage" at any point from 1934-1946. He might even have had a "speaking" role, if it was a training film specifically.

    I'll keep digging for specific dates or ideas of who else might have been in these as their names might be on the IWM searchable "notes".

    I think I have a picture of him with some trainees: http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/37155-24th-lancers/?p=560860
    And the "officers" name in there might perhaps be a further pointer for me.

    It would seem (right now) that my granddad is the corporal 3rd from the right in there.

    He was a sergeant, and tank commander in Normandy though.

    All the best,

    Rm.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
  11. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    So as not to let this get too to large a topic I aim to split off sections into new SRY threads as and when the need seems to arise. I'm trying to think of a logical point to make a first break and I would like to start to look in more detail into what the SRY were up to in August 1944.

    A lot of existing threads already tackle events in August 1944 in a number of ways so I'll try to point in particular to any of these that already mention the SRY.

    August 1944 was quite a month for the SRY, with Mont Pincon (Battle honour), Jurques (Battle honour), Noireau River crossing (Battle honour) Conde-sur-Noireau, Chambois, Seine 1944 (Battle honour), Aigle, Evreux, Vernon, Gisors, Beauvais, Amiens.

    Much of which is covered in basic here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8th_Armoured_Brigade_%28United_Kingdom%29#Crossing_the_Seine

    Has anyone already got any particular knowledge and or interest in August 1944, for any of these?

    All the best,

    Rm.
     
  12. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Hi all,

    .....at Beek a recce troop of the SRY were "amongst the first British troops to enter Germany".

    i.e. : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8th_Armoured_Brigade_%28United_Kingdom%29

    "The 13/18 H were involved in operations against the village of Elst with the 4th Wiltshire Regiment, and also in the clearing of ground to the West with 130th Infantry Brigade. To the southeast of Nijmegen, the SRY made history, in company with the US 82nd Airborne Division, by capturing the village of Beek and established themselves as the first British troops to enter Germany."

    By the way is this "controversial" now ;) ???

    I've seen a number of such claims by a number of differing regimental sources* and I am intrigued by the history behind the "validity/veracity" now of this "claim". Bearing in mind that this is naturally subject to a dispute about it's overall importance in the war (as for example is sometimes the case with the US flag(s) at Iwo Jima**), I believe at the time it was an "important" story for "allied morale" and was possibly a part of a news reel film about such?

    Also an interesting note: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beek
    Beek ([​IMG] pronunciation (help·info)) (Limburgish: Baek) is a town and municipality in the southeastern Netherlands, in the province of Limburg. As of 2012, Beek has a population of about 16,400, of which about 8,800 live in the town of Beek.


    BRITISH GOODWILL PARTY GIVEN BY 12 CORPS FOR DUTCH CHILDREN AT THE CHURCH HALL IN BEEK, THE NETHERLANDS [Allocated Title]
    http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060014870

    It took me ages to find anything about the "German village of Beek"
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beek_%28disambiguation%29

    And when I did start to find leads I found that it is actually not all that uncommon a name for a small German village in that "part of the world"

    This means that I am confused which Beek it means, but obviously the nearest to the Dutch border (and Nijmegen) seems to make most sense?

    I'm still looking to see if there is an extant film or pics of the "triumphant" SRY recce crew and whilst I think that this "Beek" is in the Netherlands (there might "just" be a conjoined "Beek" village just over the border in Germany also too though?)
    http://ww2talk.com/forums/gallery/image/28087-reichswald-forest/

    And whilst there is a Beek (now almost a suburb of north-east Xanten) This "seems" too "far" behind German lines for a "recce" even for the SRY ;)
    http://ww2talk.com/forums/gallery/image/28105-operation-plunder/

    I think that the Beek, Nettetal, Germany - might perhaps also just be the one?

    I imagine wherever it is though there is probably a plaque there of some kind? :salut:

    All the best,

    Rm.

    Ps. * so see for example: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/4177276/Aubrey-Beaty.html
    Also "Beek" nr. Nijmegen but no mention there of the SRY?

    Though perhaps there it's still all "fact" it's just all in the use of the exact "words" or "phrase" :pipe:

    ** for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raising_the_Flag_on_Iwo_Jima#Publication_and_staging_confusion
     
  13. Albowie

    Albowie Junior Member

    Another to add to the list of Books is: Tank Action: An Armoured Troop Commander's War 1944-45 by Capt David Render who joined the SRY as a young Tp Leader (5 TP A Sqn) on D+5. An excellent account of his time with the regiment and one which fills in lots of little bits of the Jigsaw of UK Armoured ops in NWE. Highly recommended and very cheap considering it is well printed Hardback
    Al
     
  14. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Kosel Den likes this.
  15. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Came across this newspaper article that I hope will be of interest, my relative, Lance Sergeant Laurence Joseph Cribben MM, who was KIA 1 September 1944, is mentioned.

    The Nottingham Journal, Thursday, 12 October, 1944

    Sherwood Rangers’ Thrilling Invasion Diary

    Men Of Notts. Fight Their Way From Beaches

    Tales of bitter fighting, of great bravery, amusing anecdotes, and an amazing and beautifully-related story of the negotiations for a surrender between a German colonel and the Colonel of the Notts. Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, are contained in the thrilling diary account of the activities of the Rangers since D-Day, which is now published exclusively in “The Nottingham Journal.”

    The account has been compiled from letters from officers and men of the unit to Mrs E. O. Kellet, chairman of their Welfare Association.

    Mrs Kellet knows, or is in contact with the family of nearly every man in the regiment. From the Welfare Association she sends comforts, newspapers and periodicals overseas every week and keeps men informed of all local news.

    In return they write to her giving all their news and telling what is happening. The result is that she compiled a local record that is probably unique of its kind.

    The story stops short just before the Sherwood Rangers crossed into Germany, the first British troops to enter the Reich. Congratulations on their splendid fight and their amazing co-operation with other units, particularly the American airborne troops, have been received by the unit in a letter from General Browning.

    Bitter Losses At Start
    The account starts with details of the landing on D-Day when the Rangers followed immediately behind the assaulting infantry, and goes on to describe the initial fighting in Normandy. Sunday, 11 June, is described as a black day, for on that day they lost Major Laycock, of Wiseton, Retford, “who commanded the regiment so magnificently since D-Day,” Capt. G. Jones of Retford, and Lieut. A. L. Head, of Linby, Notts. Captain P. J. D. McCraith of Plumtree, Notts., and Sergt. Towers, of Sutton-in-Ashfield, were both wounded.

    This was following their first experience of the extreme difficulty of supporting infantry in a village and in very enclosed country. The first panzer attack they encountered was broken up and they lost no ground, but the casualties were all caused by one shell.

    The next few days “we did all that was expected of us and received several complementary messages from the various Brigade Commanders whom we supported.”

    On 26 June, the Colonel (we are not allowed to mention his name), wrote:
    “In the last three days we have had a rather bad time. Unfortunately we have lost some of the best troop leaders and troop sergeants. People like Sergt. Crooks of Retford, Sergt. G. Green of Wollaton, Sergt. Biddle, also Sergt. Bartle (missing) and Sergt. Bracegirdle, M.M., of New Ollerton. It is almost impossible to replace men who have had such tremendous experience, and at nowhere in the world will you meet such charming people. They are the ones who have done so well in this show and who have given us such a good name already. We shall never get others like them.”

    A Cow With A Turret On!
    “About this time,” writes the Colonel, “I heard a very amusing story about Capt. Seleri and Sergt. Dring, M.M., of Grimsby. They were both endeavouring to do some observation for artillery fire on a village. The result of their combined efforts of giving corrections, which in every case differed, was that a tremendous “stonk” was brought down on C Squadron H.Q.

    “This infuriated Capt. Seleri, who told Sergt. Dring over the air that the supposed tank which he was engaging at that moment was only a cow. To which Sgt. Dring replied with his usual terrific speed, ‘Never seen a cow with a turret on before!’”

    The Colonel also told the story of R.Q.M.S. A. Barlow, of Retford, who kept a chicken which he carried “together with the co-driver in the co-driver’s seat. He usually has it tied to his tank during static periods, but the other morning it escaped and all the crews of R.H.Q. tanks were hunting the chicken when we were supposed to be moving off. However, it was eventually captured.

    “In our last battle we were attacked by our own Typhoon firing rockets. I do not think I have ever been so frightened in all my life. Last night we listened to the news and the BBC mentioned the attack on the previous day in which we had taken part. This attack, they said, was heavily supported by our Typhoons. Our reply was ‘Sez you!’

    “You will see we have a new address i.e. B.W.E.F. The alternative meaning to this, we are given to understand, is ‘Burma When Europe is Finished’” (Shortly after this letter was received the address was changed to B.L.A.).

    Major Mitchell In Unhealthy Spot
    In August, Major Mitchell, who formerly worked with John Players, Ltd. Nottingham, wrote:
    “The type of fighting is very slow and entails endless conferences at all times of the day and night and often in very unpleasant and unhealthy spots. We had a brush with a Jaguar which A Squadron again bagged at a range of 30 yards!

    “While A Squadron were knocking the panzers about, B Squadron were having a busy time and made quite a lot of ground. They had a lot of mortaring and spent three or four unpleasant nights. After this the men badly needed a rest so we pulled right out of it and for the first time since D-Day did not hear the crack of a gun for four days. The Corps Commander visited us. He was in great form and paid high tribute to all the regiment had done both out here and in the Middle East.”

    During the rest period the Colonel wrote:
    “We are resting in a charming spot. Every morning and evening three attractive girls come out of the farmhouse with stools and pails to milk the cows in the orchard. The first time they went alone, but ever since then they have had an escort of about five chaps from the Recce troops, one carrying the pail, another the stool and the remainder following behind and they all sit around while the cows are milked. Corpl. Tuft was in great form last night and played the saxophone for two hours surrounded by about 50 men and the whole crowd from the farm.”

    It was not until 16 September that the Colonel wrote again. Then he said that from 12 to 15 August they had pretty continual fighting under command of various brigades and in an infantry division whose Commander is nick-named “Von Thoma.” “He is small and very fierce and likes tanks well to the front. All his brigadiers are terrified of him.”

    On 14 August he describes “a very fine bit of work” when Sergt. Cribben and the Recce Troop shot up a whole platoon of German infantry with Bren guns and enabled a bridge over a river to be blown in unexpectedly quick time.

    Tanks Mileage 2,000 Record
    On 16 August during an attack across this river, eight men were killed and nine wounded including six crew commanders. Corpl. Stewart, of Duffield, received a nasty wound in the arm. “On 17 August Capt. Bridgeford, the T.A., and M.Q.M.S. Scott, of Worksop, went up on a mine in a scout car which was utterly ruined. However, the only damage was a black eye for Capt, Bridgeford. The same day we finished up at a small village where in the evening the local inhabitants shaved off the hair of one of the local girls for having consorted with the Germans. This was witnessed by a large number of Sherwood Rangers who had been informed of the episode by Sergt. Jackson, of Retford.

    “A great many prisoners have been taken and the R.S.M. (R.Q.M.S. Barlow), Capt. Hutton, the doctor and the padre all claimed to have captured one prisoner.

    “Our brigadier has sent me a letter which he received from the infantry brigadier whose brigade we had been supporting over the last week. The latter ended up by saying that no infantry brigade had ever received better tank co-operation.

    “Since approximately 22 August, for us the chase has started, and each day we average about 30 miles and some days we have even gone up to 60. The tanks have been quite amazing from a mechanical point of view and some of A Squadron tanks which we had in England now show 2,000 miles on the speedometer.

    “On 23 August we travelled along a road where our Air Force had caught a German column. I do not thin I have seen such utter chaos and destruction. The Air Force certainly do not exaggerate in their claims.


    “Unofficial” Trip To Paris
    “On 27 August we had sudden orders to move and covered 68 miles in order to take part in an attack over a large and very important river. The country was looking lovely. On the day before, Major Gold asked me if he could visit some friends, which I naturally took to be members of the regiment; which happened to be fairly close, with whom he had spent a few months before D-Day.

    “Owing to the sudden move we had all gone by the time he had got back, and on the following day when I saw him I asked him if he had any difficulty in locating us as we had travelled 68 miles, and he replied that he had actually caught the tail of the Squadron across the river, but admitted to me that he had gone to Paris, taking with him S.S.M. Biddle and Trooper Rugman, of Melton Mowbray.

    “They were in no state for battle that day and I gathered that the people of Paris had gone absolutely mad when they realised they were English and they completely mobbed them, so they had great difficulty in getting along. This sort of thing had continued until 1 a.m. the next morning when they started the journey back to the regiment. Major Gold said never in all his life had he had such an experience.”

    On 28 August A and C Squadrons had very difficult fighting through a forest, but both gained their objectives. They were working with infantry brigades. On 29 August they travelled 20 miles, meeting slight opposition and the regiment took about 120 prisoners. On 30 August the advance continued and they covered 54 miles.

    “We did a left flank movement and were the first British troops through many of the villages through which we passed. The welcome we got was simply terrific. At one period we were able to use our old Desert A formation as the country was so open. The going was excellent and Capt. Hutton coming up behind with his A Echelon for most of the journey was going 40 miles an hour and complained bitterly but to no avail.”

    Heroism Of Sergt. Dring
    “On 1 September we travelled another 50 miles and during that period had quite heavy fighting, especially at one village we had to take. “A” Squadron did extraordinarily well on that day and captured a village, knocking out five 75 A.T. guns and capturing approximately 120 prisoners. This they did without any loss except that Sergt. Dring had his tank hit by one of the 75s when he was in the process of running it down. He had a lucky escape, only receiving a nasty cut over the eye. He came back on a scout car to Capt. Young, the M.O., for medical treatment and as he went past me with his face covered with blood he gave me the V sign, I shook my fist at him for having been so reckless, but I only got the V sign back in exchange.

    “Within half an hour he was back again, wanting to rejoin his squadron. At first I prohibited this but eventually gave in on the understanding that he would fall in rear of the squadron and not take any more active part that day. Exactly three-quarters of an hour afterwards I saw one tank having a battle on his own and on investigation found Sergt. Dring engaging some enemy infantry on the opposite hill. On that day Sergt. Cribben, of the Recce Troop, had his tank hit by a Mark IV. Special and was instantly killed. This is a great blow; he has done extraordinarily well.

    “A few days after this we crossed the frontier. The Belgians were just as pleased to see us and although not so demonstrative in the country parts, perhaps appeared to be more sincere in their welcome. The brigade was then ordered to form a left flank protection of the people on our right who continued to advance north-eastward and to do this each regiment was given a locality.

    “We were entirely on our own and Brigade was about 25 miles away which was great fun. We were based on quite a large town where I made my H.Q. We had very little time off as we had to prevent any enemy moving south-east and as a result all were fully employed each day. Whenever we got information about enemy approaching, which generally came through the local Maquis, we had to deal with them.”

    Major Mitchell Talks German
    Here follows one of the most remarkable descriptions of negotiations for surrender that has been written during this war.
    “On our second day there,” wrote the Colonel. “we were told that a German garrison of approximately 800 Germans was holding out. B Squadron was in the area and Captain Wharton, of Odsall Park-road, Retford, under a flag of truce, went into the village and demanded that they should surrender. The German colonel in command refused to deal with anybody except a regimental commander so Major Stephen Mitchell and I went down. We went into the village with an enormous white flag in a civilian car which the whole of the neighbouring village had pushed in order to get the thing started. I was never so frightened in all my life and I think Stephen looked a bit pale!

    “We went up to their H.Q. which was in a house in the village and walked straight into a room where the German colonel was holding a conference with all his officers. He requested that we should give him another 10 minutes alone with his officers and to this we agreed. After ten minutes we went into the room and Stephen, Bill Wharton and I were alone with the German colonel and his adjutant.

    “The colonel was a typical Hun, small, dapper, with a rather bull neck and a left breast adorned with various crosses and a ribbon which denoted a winter in Russia. His adjutant was also a typical Hun, very tall and dark, continually clicking his heels and in appearance very similar to Conrad Veidt. We started negotiations, with Stephen acting as interpreter, speaking in German, and I may add that his German had become somewhat rusty!

    Nazi Colonel Starts To Haggle
    “The colonel started off by saying that he refused to have anything to do with any of the local inhabitants and Maquis (he called them terrorists) who had been causing him so much trouble. He pointed out that in 1940 his country had made an armistice with the Belgians and that he would not have any dealings or treat the Maquis as proper soldiers. Incidentally, he had captured five of them who had been wounded and they had been shot. The next thing he said was that he considered he had a strong enough force, including artillery, to continue fighting, and that it was his duty as a German soldier and for the sake of honour, to do so.

    ”When he said this Stephen forgot all his German, I became even more scared and our conversation became even more difficult. However, I pointed out that we had an enormous force at our disposal, including air, that his honour had been saved by holding out so long. He then pointed out that he had knocked out three of our tanks and held certain members of the crews as prisoners at the moment (which in fact was true, as he had knocked out three tanks of an R.T.R.).

    “After a great deal more discussion he agreed to surrender on the following terms: that he should march out with full honours, i.e. all men carrying their arms a 7 o’clock that night and he would meet us at a specified rendezvous.

    “Furthermore, he asked me to sign a statement both in German and in English that we should not hand over any of his men to either the French, Belgians or Russians. I did this willingly. Anything to get the old boy to give in. I was also getting very worried, as we had been away for approximately two hours and I expected any moment that Arthur Warburton, our gunner O.P., would start shelling the place.

    “They talk me when I got back that they had become extremely worried and did not know what on earth to do, and were just about to send a troop of tanks in with their guns pointing to the rear in the hope that the Germans would understand this to be a sign of a temporary armistice.

    “We eventually got back and waited for the Germans to come out to the arranged rendezvous, which was, in fact, a point where the railway crossed the road. We did not quite know whether we ought to provide a guard of honour, as somebody said when the Duke of Aosta in Abyssinia surrendered with military honours he was received with a guard of honour! In the end we decided that the company commander and I should receive him with tanks and infantry hiding close by in case they tried anything funny. In the meantime the M.O. Capt. Young, went into the village under a flag of truce with a couple of ambulances to deal with some of the German wounded.


    Slight But Painful Misunderstanding
    “At 7 o’clock we were at the rendezvous and waited until 7.25 but there was no sign of any Germans coming out. This thoroughly put the wind up us and when suddenly some machine-gun fire started at the other end of the village we thought the end had come. We decided then that Capt. Young should return to the village with an ambulance under a flag of truce and see what the trouble was.

    “When he got there he found the adjutant who told him that he did not know the cause of the trouble whereupon Capt. Young suggested that the adjutant should return in the ambulance with me and that he should stay with the German colonel and to this suggestion the adjutant agreed. However, no sooner had the adjutant entered the ambulance than firing broke out again, whereupon the adjutant leaped out of the ambulance, Capt. Young leapt in and came tearing back to us.

    “We then sent Capt. Wharton into the village with a troop of tanks under the white flag and I followed with the Company Commander.

    “We then discovered the cause of the trouble. The whole garrison had gone to the wrong rendezvous as unfortunately there was another road leading out of the village where the railway crossed. In the meantime another battalion of our infantry about 20 miles away had heard about this stronghold and when they arrived came face to face with approximately 800 Germans marching with arms along the road and opened fire. However we reached there in time before any damage was done.

    “Actually only one German was killed and we explained the situation to the German colonel who immediately addressed his men and explained the situation to them. Their discipline was incredible. The German R.S.M. gave one word of command and the whole force sprang to attention and listened to what the colonel had to say. After which they all raised their arms three times and executed ‘Sieg Heil.’

    “We had to wait until about 1 o’clock in the morning when lorries arrived to take them away. The colonel rode out on a magnificent white charger which I longed to keep but eventually gave to one of the local farmers.

    H.Q. Didn’t Like Being Disturbed
    “I sent the colonel and his adjutant off in my scout car under Capt. McKay back to Brigade H.Q. However, they would not play so we had to take them to Major Nelthorpe, of Scawby Hall, Brigg, Lincs., at B3, who made some very rude remarks to the wretched colonel and his adjutant for having been woken up at such an hour! A Squadron also took about 300 prisoners that day and in all during that period we must have taken about 2,500.”

    He concludes: “We were rather sorry to leave but we had to push on after another day and our journey took us through Brussels.

    “The enthusiasm of the people was simply incredible, and as every vehicle went past they showered it with fruit and in many cases bottles of wine and beer. I was very relieved when we got to our destination.”

    Later, they had several days of stiff fighting, and one morning had rather an alarming experience. One of the infantry came up and said: “I would like to confirm that the tank I can see 300 yards to my left front is one of yours?” After a quick “shufti” it turned out to be an enemy Panther which had its gun pointing to the rear with its commander looking that way. Fortunately, Sergt. W. Charity of Gainsborough, Lincs., had a 17-pounder tank quite close which he moved up very gently along a sunken lane. “I do not mind saying that we were thoroughly relieved when the third shot brewed it up.”

    “The Germans opposing them there,” said the Colonel, “fought like hell, and their tank crews must have been drunk, drugged, or mad, because we heard them shouting out ‘We want to die for Hitler’!”

    The report concludes with a statement by an officer that “In spite of it all everyone is in amazingly good heart. These chaps are stupendous the way they carry on.”

     
    Tricky Dicky and Ramiles like this.
  16. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    This from Xmas 1944 - with the Sherwood Rangers - when they were in the vicinity of Schinnen, in the Southern Netherlands.

    Transcribed:

    Xmas 1944…

    We’ve had a fairly good Xmas. Unless one is home it’s not Xmas and one doesn’t bother, there’s nothing to it at all. The lady here was crying this morning, it’s the first year Xmas she’s been without her husband, she’s a fine person and her nine children are really nice. The baby crows and jumps about when I come in. But she says it’s nothing without her husband. They have figures of the Nativity, I helped them with it last night….

    Page 5…

    … they placed candles around it and at the moment they are singing around it, they have been saying the beads. They are singing, “Holy Night” now and if I weren’t writing they’d have me singing carols, but I want to write to Jack Hawkins this evening.

    I had two hundred cigarettes from Caerphilly Comforts but there was no card or anything so I don’t know who I have to write to.

    Rob is old enough not to worry about having to take second place to the baby I s’pose, and I can imagine him with exaggerated care putting out one finger to touch her and wondering if she’s real, or scratching his head wondering where you found her.

    They are now singing “Come all ye faithful” my room mate and I sang in English and they in Hollands, it may amuse you to know I understand them very well if they…


    Page 6

    …speak slowly, the lady now told her visitors that I “forestand”.

    You’d love this country and its people I’m sure, they’re so very kind and of course they love the English. Of course their children have insisted that I promise to bring you here after the war, you see they have an interest in the “Kline kinda” (little child). They are quite rich too, the brother is an Advocate in the law courts. At the moment he is president of the courts trying the offenders against the state.

    Now I must try to try to write to Jolly Jack.

    So I’ll send my three darlings all my love and hope you’ve all been very happy over the Xmas and pray too that by next year this terrible war will be over and we’ll be able to be happy together. Give the babes a kiss for me. All my love to you Phyl darling from your loving husband Ben xxx.


    image_02-1.png

    image_03-1.png

    image_04-1.png
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018

Share This Page