Tank battalion

Discussion in 'Armour' started by Trux, Aug 29, 2010.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    TANK BATTALION

    Originally trained and equipped for infantry support tank battalions were by 1945 used in the
    same roles as armoured regiments and by the end of the campaign had adopted the same
    organisation, and the same name.

    Some regiments were equipped with flame throwing Churchill Crocodile tanks.


    TANK BATTALION

    TANK REGIMENT
    Tank Regiment. War Establishment II/154/2. November 1943


    The tank regiment had started as a unit which would operate in small groups in support of infantry. The early war infantry tanks were well armoured to allow them to go out onto the battlefield but were armed only with machine guns and acted as mobile pill boxes. Later the infantry tank was intended to be more aggressive. The tank was armed with machine guns as secondary armament but carried 2pdr, 6pdr or 75mm guns in their turret. These tanks were intended to assault an enemy position and hold it while the infantry came up and formed a defensive position. In Normandy this was soon shown to be impracticable. Tanks advancing by them selves were very vulnerable to all manner of anti tank weapon including the hand held rocket launchers. Thus infantry attacked to clear away the enemy so that the tanks could follow. Eventually tank regiments developed much the same sort of all arm combat team that armoured regiments were using and the distinction between the two types of regiment all but disappeared.

    Another factor in the gradual convergence of the armoured regiment and the tank regiment was that there were not sufficient Churchill tanks to equip all the infantry support units. There were at least as many such units equipped with Sherman tanks as there were those equipped with Churchill. At the same time there were two brigades worth of Churchill tanks in specialist roles. Many older marks, MkIII and MkIV were converted to Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers and were used to equip three Assault Regiments Royal Engineers. 31 Armoured Brigade became a Crocodile equipped unit and this used only Churchill MkVII.

    As a result of the Standardisation Conference in January 1945 the tank regiments and tank brigades were renamed as armoured regiments and armoured brigades and the only difference then was the equipment used.

    There seems only to have been one relevant War Establishment before that of May 1945. This was War Establishment II/154/2 with an effective date of 30 November 1943. This was modified before D Day and modified again during the late summer/autumn of 1944.The November 1943 establishment gave the tank regiment two OP tanks and eleven light tanks. The OP tanks were removed in March 1944 and replaced by a pool of eight OP tanks at Brigade Headquarters.

    Although the official War Establishment tables give tank regiments an organisation of five troops of three tanks each this was in fact changed early in the campaign. Since squadrons often operated as half squadrons it was more sensible to have four troops of four tanks each, although at first one troop had only three tanks. War Diaries and memoirs mention this and it is known that the 4th Battalion Coldstream Guards of 6th Guards Tank Brigade changed to the new organisation on 21st August 1944. Presumably other units changed as convenient at around the same time.

    The next published War Establishment was that for the standard armoured brigade issued as a result of the Standardisation Conference. Dated May 1945 it was actually notified and made effective on that date. But it had been in use by 21 Army Group since February/March. This is the establishment used in Churchill equipped units in 1945 and is very similar to earlier establishments. The changes were largely confined to replacing earlier vehicle types, which had been found to be inadequate, with improved types. Thus the 15 cwt office truck was replaced by a larger 3ton office lorry. The overworked and overloaded Carrier, Starting and Charging was replaced by a 3ton 4 X 4 Machinery I battery charging lorry. 15cwt personnel, either 4 X 2 or 4 X 4 armoured, trucks were replaced by halftracks.


    TANK REGIMENT
    War Establishment II/154/2. November 1943

    Total personnel
    Lieutenant colonel
    Major, second in command
    4 X Major
    Captain, adjutant
    Captain, Technical Officer
    Captain Liaison Officer
    8 X Captain
    20 X Subaltern
    Quartermaster

    Regimental Serjeant Major
    Regimental Quartermaster Serjeant
    Quartermaster Serjeant, technical
    Mechanist Quartermaster Serjeant
    Squadron Serjeant Major

    4 X squadron quartermaster serjeant
    4 X serjeant mechanist
    orderly room serjeant clerk
    provost serjeant
    signal serjeant
    transport serjeant
    serjeant technical storeman
    29 X serjeant

    59 X corporal
    523 X trooper

    Total 670

    Plus
    Medical Officer RAMC
    3 X armourer REME
    4 X officer’s mess cooks ACC
    15 X cook ACC
    6 X vehicle mechanic REME


    Trades included
    carpenter and joiner
    13 X clerk
    94 X driver mechanics
    103 X driver operator
    5 X electrician
    equipment repairer
    gun fitter
    92 X gunner mechanics
    89 X gunner operator
    6 X storeman (technical)
    39 X vehicle mechanics

    22 X batman
    butchery dutyman
    90 X driver IC
    medical orderly
    6 X motorcycle orderly
    postman
    5 X sanitary dutyman
    5 X storeman
    4 X water dutyman

    Total vehicles
    8 X motorcycle
    1 X Car 4seater 4 X 4
    11 X car 5cwt 4 X 4 jeep
    6 X 15cwt GS
    4 X 15cwt water
    1 X 15cwt FFW
    15 X 15cwt halftrack
    47 X 3ton 4 X 4 GS
    5 X 3ton 6 X 4 stores
    1 X 3ton office
    4 X 3ton machinery I30
    4 X 3ton kitchen
    12 X scout car
    6 X AA tan
    6 X Churchill close support tank
    55 X Churchill tank
    11 X light tank
    3 X armoured recovery vehicles
    1 X 180 gallon water trailer
    3 X 2ton trailer workshop servicing


    This organisation applied to the following units in 21 Army Group.

    All Churchill equipped regiments were part of Independent Tank Brigades, which were renamed Independent Armoured Brigades in February 1945.

    4 Tank Battalion Grenadier Guards 6 Guards Tank Brigade
    4 Tank Battalion Coldstream Guards 6 Guards Tank Brigade
    3 Tank Battalion Scots Guards 6 Guards Tank Brigade
    7 Battalion Royal Tank Regiment 31 Tank Brigade
    9 Battalion Royal Tank Regiment 31 Tank Brigade then 34 Tank Brigade
    107 Regiment Royal Armoured Corp 34 Tank Brigade
    141 Regiment Royal Armoured Corp 31 Tank Brigade
    147 Regiment Royal Armoured Corp 34 Tank Brigade
    153 Regiment Royal Armoured Corp 34 Tank Brigade

    In September 1944 31 Tank Brigade became a part of 79 Armoured Division and the brigade then had only two Churchill equipped regiments, both with Churchill Crocodile flame throwing tanks.

    1 Fife and Forfar Yeomanry 31 Tank Brigade 79 Armoured Division
    7 Royal Tank Regiment 31 Tank Brigade 79 Armoured Division



    Organisation.
    Regimental Headquarters.
    Car 4 seater 4 X 4
    Subaltern, corporal driver IC, driver IC
    15cwt halftrack
    driver IC

    Churchill Tank 1 (control)
    Lieutenant Colonel, serjeant, driver mechanic, gunner operator, driver operator.
    Carries 2 X Wireless set No19
    Churchill Tank 2 (Rear Link)
    Major, Regimental Serjeant Major, operator RS, corporal driver mechanic, gunner
    Operator
    Carries 2 X Wireless set No19
    Churchill Tank 3
    Intelligence Officer, driver mechanic, corporal gunner operator, driver operator, gunner mechanic
    Churchill Tank 4
    Adjutant, serjeant, gunner operator, driver mechanic, driver operator

    From August 1944 three of the headquarters tanks were transferred to squadron headquarters, leaving only one tank at regimental headquarters. However according to some references an Armoured Command Vehicle was provided to accommodate the regimental staff. This is not shown on the establishment of the Royal Signals section. It may in fact have been a halftrack since such vehicles were used by Armoured/Tank Brigade Headquarters in 1945.

    The December 1943 War establishment lists the following Observation Post Tanks. These were removed before the campaign in NW Europe started.

    Tank Observation Post 1
    serjeant, driver mechanic, driver operator, gunner mechanic,
    Tank Observation Post 2
    driver mechanic, gunner operator, corporal driver operator, gunner mechanic

    Each Observation Post Tank had a seat for an observation officer Royal Artillery.


    Headquarters Squadron.
    Squadron headquarters.
    Car 4 seater 4 X 4
    Major (squadron commander), Squadron Serjeant Major, corporal clerk,
    driver IC
    Car 15cwt 4 X 4 (jeep)
    Captain Liaison Officer, batman driver
    Carries Wireless set No19
    15cwt FFW
    Captain (squadron second in command), 2 X driver operator
    Carries a Wireless set No19.

    AA troop
    AA Tank 1
    Subaltern, driver mechanic, gunner operator, driver operator
    AA Tank 2
    serjeant, driver mechanic, gunner operator, driver operator
    AA Tank 3
    corporal driver operator, gunner mechanic, gunner operator, driver mechanic
    AA Tank 4
    corporal driver operator, gunner mechanic, gunner operator, driver mechanic
    AA Tank 5
    corporal driver operator, gunner mechanic, gunner operator, driver mechanic
    AA Tank 5
    corporal driver operator, gunner mechanic, gunner operator, driver mechanic
    AA tank 6
    corporal driver operator, gunner mechanic, gunner operator, driver mechanic


    Reconnaissance troop
    Troop headquarters
    Light tank 1
    Subaltern, driver mechanic, gunner operator, driver operator
    Light tank 2
    serjeant, driver mechanic, gunner operator, driver operator
    Section 1
    Light tank 3
    serjeant, driver mechanic, gunner operator, gunner mechanic
    Light tank 4
    corporal driver operator, gunner mechanic, gunner operator, driver mechanic
    Light tank 5
    corporal driver operator, gunner mechanic, gunner operator, driver mechanic
    Section 2
    Light tank 6
    serjeant, driver mechanic, gunner operator, gunner mechanic
    Light tank 7
    corporal driver operator, gunner mechanic, gunner operator, driver mechanic
    Light tank 8
    corporal driver operator, gunner mechanic, gunner operator, driver mechanic
    Section 3
    Light tank 9
    serjeant, driver mechanic, gunner operator, gunner mechanic
    Light tank 10
    corporal driver operator, gunner mechanic, gunner operator, driver mechanic
    Light tank 11
    corporal driver operator, gunner mechanic, gunner operator, driver mechanic


    Intercommunication troop
    Scout Car 1
    Subaltern, driver operator
    Scout Car 2
    serjeant, driver operator
    Scout Car 3
    driver operator, corporal driver IC
    Scout car 4
    driver operator, driver IC
    Scout car 5
    driver operator, driver IC
    Scout car 6
    driver operator, driver IC
    Scout Car 7
    driver operator, driver IC
    Scout Car 8
    driver operator, driver IC
    Scout Car 9
    Technical Officer, driver operator,

    Note that the 1943 tank regiment establishment listed three extra Scout Cars. It is thought that these were added for liaison between squadron headquarters and infantry units. In this case there would be no need to add three scout cars for use in squadron headquarters in early 1945 since these already existed.

    Administrative troop
    Motorcycle 1
    provost serjeant
    Motorcycle 2
    corporal motorcyclist
    Motorcycle 3
    motorcyclist
    Motorcycle 4
    motorcyclist
    Motorcycle 5
    motorcyclist
    Motorcycle 6
    motorcyclist
    Motorcycle 7
    motorcyclist
    Motorcycle 8
    motorcyclist
    Motorcycle 9
    motorcyclist
    Motorcycle 10
    motorcyclist

    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) 1
    driver IC
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) 2
    driver IC
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) 3
    driver IC
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) 4
    driver IC
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (Jeep) 5
    driver IC
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) 6
    driver IC
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (Jeep) 7
    driver IC
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) 8
    driver IC

    15cwt truck GS 1
    Mechanist Quarter Master Serjeant, 2 X vehicle mechanic, driver IC
    15cwt truck GS 2
    transport serjeant, batman, relief gunner operator, 4 X relief gunner mechanic
    15cwt truck GS 3
    2 X batman, cook ACC (officers mess), driver IC
    Carries officers mess equipment
    15cwt truck GS 4
    signal serjeant, 3 X batman, driver IC
    Carries officers mess baggage and rations.
    15cwt truck GS 5
    Quartermaster, driver IC
    15cwt truck GS 6
    medical officers orderly
    Carries medical stores
    15cwt truck water
    water dutyman, driver IC

    15cwt halftrack 1
    mechanist serjeant, 2 X vehicle mechanic, driver operator
    Carries fitters and tools
    Carries a Wireless set No19
    15cwt halftrack 2
    3 X relief driver mechanic, 3 X relief gunner operator, driver IC

    15cwt Halftrack
    Medical Officer, driver operator
    Carries Wireless set No19
    15cwt halftrack
    driver IC
    For the collection of casualties
    15cwt halftrack
    driver IC
    For the collection of casualties

    3ton 4 X 4 GS 1
    Regimental Quartermaster Serjeant, Technical Quartermaster Serjeant, corporal clerk, technical storeman, driver IC
    Carries anti gas stores
    Tows a 20mm AA gun.
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 2
    batman, driver IC
    Carries petrol
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 3
    relief serjeant, driver IC
    Carries petrol
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 4
    relief corporal driver operator, driver IC
    Carries petrol
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 5
    relief corporal driver operator, driver IC
    Carries ammunition
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 6
    batman, driver IC
    Carries ammunition
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 7
    batman, driver IC
    Carries ammunition
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 8
    clerk, driver IC
    Carries ammunition
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 9
    clerk, driver IC
    Carries ammunition
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 10
    clerk, driver IC
    Carries ammunition
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 11
    serjeant technical storeman, corporal technical storeman, sanitary dutyman, driver IC
    Carries MT stores
    Tows a 20mm AA trailer
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 12
    serjeant armourer REME, lance corporal armourer REME, armourer REME, carpenter
    and joiner, sanitary dutyman, driver IC
    Carries armourers and carpenters tools plus mens kit
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 13
    storeman, postman, equipment repairer, batman, driver IC
    Carries baggage and blankets
    Tows a 1ton trailer
    3ton 4 X 4 GS for use as Office
    serjeant clerk, corporal clerk, driver IC
    3ton 4 X 4 Kitchen
    squadron quartermaster serjeant, serjeant cook, 2 X cook, butchery dutyman,
    storeman, clerk, driver IC
    3ton 6 X 4 store
    6 X vehicle mechanic, technical storeman, driver IC
    Carries stores and vehicle mechanics tools.

    Carrier, Starting and Charging
    electrician, driver mechanic


    The Squadrons.
    Each of the three squadrons was organised identically.

    Squadron headquarters
    This contained the vehicles and personnel essential to the command and control of the squadron in action. All headquarters tanks were connected on one wireless net via the Wireless set No19 B set while they all had a different net via the Wireless set No19 A set. These connected with regimental headquarters, B echelon and the troops. Two of the headquarters tanks were close support, which meant that they were equipped with a howitzer instead of an anti tank gun. The howitzer could be used to lob high explosive onto enemy positions that might hold up an advance. These tanks were generally used by the Commanding Officer and the Second in Command. They had more room inside since the howitzer did not extend so far into the turret space.

    The Second Captain also used a scout car. He was at times called the Battle Captain or the Reconnaissance Officer. His roles included
    - going ahead of the squadron when it moved from one location to the other and selected sites for the squadrons vehicles and routes to them.
    - Acting as liaison with the infantry which the squadron was supporting.
    For both of these tasks a scout car would usually be more convenient than a tank.

    There was also an Observation Post Tank attached to squadron headquarters. When it was the role of tank regiments to support infantry attacks there was an artillery observer at squadron headquarters in order to call down artillery support for the armour and infantry. This role was regarded as so important that if the Royal Artillery Observer should become a casualty his place could be taken by the Battle Captain or the Second in Command, both of whom were trained in the role. As the campaign progressed all armoured brigades held a pool of tanks for the observers.

    A or Fighting Portion
    Churchill Tank Close Support
    Major (squadron commander), serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator,
    driver mechanic
    Churchill Tank Close Support
    Captain, Squadron Serjeant Major, driver operator, gunner operator,
    driver mechanic
    Churchill Tank
    Captain, driver mechanic, gunner operator, gunner mechanic,
    corporal driver operator
    Scout car
    relief gunner mechanic, driver operator.
    For the use of the Reconnaissance Officer
    Armoured Recovery Vehicle MkI
    serjeant vehicle mechanic REME, vehicle mechanic REME, vehicle mechanic,
    driver mechanic

    From August 1944 Squadron Headquarters received an extra tank from Regimental Headquarters. This allowed half squadrons with a headquarters of two tanks and two troops of four tanks each to be deployed.

    B or Administrative Portion
    Car 4 seat 4 X 4
    squadron quartermaster serjeant, batman, driver IC
    15cwt truck GS
    3 X batman, driver IC
    Carries officers mess equipment
    15cwt water
    water dutyman, driver IC

    15cwt halftrack
    mechanist serjeant, 2 X vehicle mechanic, driver operator (relief)
    Carries a Wireless set No19
    15cwt halftrack
    relief gunner mechanic, 4 X relief gunner operator, relief driver operator,
    driver IC
    15cwt halftrack
    serjeant, 2 X relief driver mechanic, 2 X relief driver operator

    3ton 4 X 4 GS 1
    vehicle mechanic, driver IC
    Carries ammunition
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 2
    vehicle mechanic, driver IC
    Carries ammunition
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 3
    sanitary dutyman, driver IC
    Carries ammunition
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 4
    relief gunner mechanic, driver IC
    Carries ammunition
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 5
    relief gunner mechanic, driver IC
    Carries ammunition
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 6
    vehicle mechanic, driver IC
    Carries petrol
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 7
    corporal clerk, driver IC
    Carries petrol
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 8
    clerk, driver IC
    Carries petrol
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 9
    serjeant storeman, driver IC
    Carries baggage and blankets.
    Tows a 1ton trailer
    3ton 4 X 4 GS10
    2 X gunner mechanic (relief), driver IC
    3ton 4 X 4 Kitchen
    corporal cook ACC, 4 X cook ACC, driver IC
    Carries rations

    3ton 6 X 4 stores
    corporal storeman technical, 4 X vehicle mechanic
    Carries stores and mechanics tools.

    Carrier, Starting and Charging.
    electrician, driver mechanic


    The fighting troop.
    Officially the organisation remained that of five troops of three tanks per squadron. In fact all tank units in 21 Army Group changed to the organisation giving four troops each of four tanks. These changes were made from August 1944 and were aimed at allowing half squadrons to be deployed in support of infantry units. Since the reorganisation had to use the fifteen tanks already available in the squadron one troop had at first only three tanks.

    Troop 1
    Churchill tank 1
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic,
    driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 2
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 3
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic,
    driver mechanic
    Troop 2
    Churchill tank 1
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 2
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 3
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic,
    driver mechanic
    Troop 3
    Churchill tank 1
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 2
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 3
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic,
    driver mechanic
    Troop 4
    Churchill tank 1
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic,
    driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 2
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 3
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic,
    driver mechanic
    Troop 5
    Churchill tank 1
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic,
    driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 2
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 3
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic,
    driver mechanic

    OR
    From August 1944

    Troop 1
    Churchill tank 1
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic,
    driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 2
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 3
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic,
    driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 4
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic,
    driver mechanic

    Troop 2
    Churchill tank 1
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 2
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 3
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic,
    driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 4
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic,
    driver mechanic

    Troop 3
    Churchill tank 1
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 2
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 3
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic,
    driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 4
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic,
    driver mechanic

    Troop 4
    Churchill tank 1
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic,
    driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 2
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Churchill tank 3
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic,
    driver mechanic


    The CHURCHILL TANK.
    The Churchill MkIII and MkIV represented the second generation of Churchill. These were designed to carry the 6pdr anti tank gun as a main armament with a co axial machine gun and a hull machine gun. These marks also introduced the full length track covers which were absent on earlier marks. MkIII had a welded turret while MkIV had a cast turret. The MkIV offered slightly more protection. But the shortage of production facilities meant that relatively few MkIV were produced.

    Churchill MkV was the close support version of the MkIII and carried a 95mm howitzer.

    Churchill MkVI was the MkIV fitted with a 75mm gun. Some of the older MkIV were modified to MkVI standard.

    Most Churchill tanks going into NW Europe had been reworked to some extent and those with major re working were given new Mark numbers. MkIII or MkIV tanks fitted with appliqué armour plating to approximately MkVII standard were known as MkIX. Some MkVI were similarly up armoured and fitted with the turret designed for the MkVII thus becoming MkX. MkV tanks which were uparmoured and fitted with the new turret became MkXI.

    There were other variations which did not justify a new mark number. Some were fitted with 75mm guns but retained the older turret. Some had older turrets fitted with cupolas from the new turret.

    These earlier Marks of Churchill remained in production until early 1945 and remained in service until the end of the war, and after.

    Churchill MkVII was the third generation. Although looking very similar to the earlier versions it was redesigned in almost every respect. The hull was redesigned so that it was made of single layer armour with a maximum thickness of 152mm. This compares with the 102mm maximum of the MkIII and MkIV. The hull was also slightly wider. These changes increased the weight to 40 tons and reduced the speed to 12mph. Many would think it a good trade off. The old square escape doors of the earlier marks were replaced by circular ones which eliminated a weak point in the hull.

    The new tank had a new turret. This was of composite construction, containing both cast and welded parts, cast on the sides and welded for the roof. A new low cupola was also fitted.

    Churchill MkVIII was the close support version of the MkVII and carried the 95mm howitzer. This Mark was produced in only small numbers and there would be few, if any, in NW Europe. The 75mm gun could fire high explosive so, much as in Sherman units, the CS version was redundant.

    Many units welcomed the retention of some older Churchill tanks with the 6pdr gun. The 75mm had the advantage of being able to fire anti tank and high explosive rounds but the 6pdr was issued with APDS ammunition which gave it a greatly improved anti tank performance.

    There was no equivalent of the 17pdr armed Sherman Firefly or Challenger for issue to tank regiments. Such a vehicle was envisaged and produced in prototype form. This was the Black Prince but it was not ready before the end of hostilities and was in line with the then current thinking. It became usual for a tank regiment to be accompanied by 17pdr armed Achilles M10A1 Tank Destroyers. These gave anti tank cover to the Churchills when they were advancing, and then moved up to provide anti tank defence for the infantry until towed weapons could be brought up. The Achilles was never a part of the tank regiment but often troops and batteries worked with the same squadrons and regiments for long periods of time.

    The interiors of all tanks were cramped and contained a wide variety of articles, all stowed in the correct place. Usually special stowage was provided to prevent loose articles rolling or flying about. The Churchill was roomier than most British tanks but still cramped.


    Markings.
    Tank Regiments carried a green Arm of Service square with numerals in white.

    6 Guards Tank Brigade
    Brigade Headquarters Green square with 151 in white, white bar underneath
    4 Tank Battalion Grenadier Guards Green square with 152 in white, white bar underneath
    4 Tank Battalion Coldstream Guards Green square with 153 in white, white bar underneath
    3 Tank Battalion Scots Guards Green square with 154 in white, white bar underneath

    31 Tank Brigade
    Brigade Headquarters Green square with 990 in white, white bar underneath
    7 Battalion Royal Tank Regiment Green square with 991 in white, white bar underneath
    9 Battalion Royal Tank Regiment Green square with 992 in white, white bar underneath
    141 Regiment Royal Armoured Corp Green square with 993 in white, white bar underneath

    34 Tank Brigade
    Brigade Headquarters Green square with 155 in white, white bar underneath
    107 Regiment Royal Armoured Corp Green square with 156 in white, white bar underneath
    147 Regiment Royal Armoured Corp Green square with 157 in white, white bar underneath
    153 Regiment Royal Armoured Corp Green square with 158 in white, white bar underneath.


    Vehicles generally carried names
    In battalions of the Royal Tank Regiment it was usual for the tanks of the regiment to all carry a name beginning with the same letter of the alphabet. The letter was dictated by the battalions seniority so that 1 Battalion had names beginning with A. In 21 Army Group 7 RTR had names beginning with G and 9RTR had names beginning with J.

    Other units devised their own systems, trying at least to have each squadron assigned a letter or a subject. We have the names for 6 Guards Tank Brigade in detail. The following were in use when the brigade landed in France.



    Grenadier Guards
    All names were those of English towns and cities, except for the intercommunication troop which had the names of aircraft. Each troop had names beginning with a different letter.
    Worcester Churchill Tank Commanding Officer
    Worthing Churchill Tank Adjutant
    Windsor Churchill Tank 2ic
    Winchester Churchill Tank HQ Troop Leader
    Wolverhampton Churchill OP FOO
    Watford Churchill OP FOO
    Warminster Churchill OP FOO
    Wallasey Recovery
    Liberator ACV
    Mustang Humber Scout Car Signal Officer
    Thunderbolt Humber Scout Car Technical Adjutant
    Typhoon Humber Scout Car A echelon
    Lightning Humber Scout Car Liaison Officer
    Hurricane Humber Scout Car F2 Echelon
    Spitfire Humber Scout Car Intelligence Officer
    Whitwell Stuart Tank
    Welbeck Stuart Tank
    Walthamstow Stuart Tank
    Wanstead Stuart Tank
    Worksop Stuart Tank
    Wonersh Stuart Tank
    Wigan Stuart Tank
    Isle of Wight Scout Car
    Wensley Scout Car
    Wimbledon Scout Car
    Wooton Scout Car
    Waven Scout Car

    A Squadron
    Dorking Churchill Tank Squadron Commander
    Daventry Churchill CS
    Derby Churchill CS
    Dover Churchill Tank
    Meteor Scout Car
    Alton Churchill Tank 1 Troop
    Ascot Churchill Tank 1 Troop
    Arundel Churchill Tank 1 Troop
    Bristol Churchill Tank 2 Troop
    Birmingham Churchill Tank 2 Troop
    Bracknell Churchill Tank 2 Troop
    Claydon Churchill Tank 3 Troop
    Cresswell Churchill Tank 3 troop
    Chorley Churchill Tank 3 Troop
    Elstree Churchill Tank 4 Troop
    Everton Churchill Tank 4 Troop
    Eton Churchill Tank 4 Troop
    Fulham Churchill Tank 5 Troop
    Finsbury Churchill Tank 5 Troop
    Faversham Churchill Tank 5 troop
    Indefatigable Churchill ARV

    B Squadron
    Newbury Churchill Tank Squadron Commander
    Newmarket Churchill CS
    Northampton Churchill CS
    Nottingham Churchill Tank
    Reading Scout Car
    Folkestone Churchill Tank 6 Troop
    Frinton Churchill Tank 6 Troop
    Fairlop Churchill Tank 6 Troop
    Kenley Churchill Tank 7 Troop
    Kettering Churchill Tank 7 Troop
    Kingston Churchill Tank 7 Troop
    Glssop Churchill Tank 8 Troop
    Gloucester Churchill Tank 8 troop
    Guildford Churchill Tank 8 Troop
    Halifax Churchill Tank 9 Troop
    Hulme Churchill Tank 9 Troop
    Hull Churchill Tank 9 Troop
    Yarm Churchill Tank 10 Troop
    Yeovil Churchill Tank 10 Troop
    Yatton Churchill Tank 10 Troop
    Furious Churchill ARV

    C Squadron
    Manchester Churchill Tank Squadron Commander
    Mansfield Churchill CS
    Macclesfield Churchill CS
    Mortimer Churchill Tank
    Tempest Scout Car
    Portsmouth Churchill Tank 11 Troop
    Peterborough Churchill Tank 11 Troop
    Preston Churchill Tank 11 Troop
    Southampton Churchill Tank 12 Troop
    Shrewsbury Churchill Tank 12 Troop
    Surbiton Churchill Tank 12 Troop
    Lancaster Churchill Tank 13 Troop
    Liverpool Churchill Tank 13 Troop
    Lytham Churchill Tank 13 Troop
    Oxford Churchill Tank 14 Troop
    Oldham Churchill Tank 14 Troop
    Oldbury Churchill Tank 14 Troop
    Thame Churchill Tank 15 Troop
    Twyford Churchill Tank 15 Troop
    Taplow Churchill Tank 15 Troop
    Ark Royal Churchill ARV


    Coldstream Guards
    Battalion Headquarters vehicles had the names of birds
    Eagle Churchill Tank Commanding Officer
    Seagull Churchill Tank Adjutant
    Vulture Armoured 15cwt
    Owl Armoured 15cwt
    Robin Armoured 15cwt
    Pigeon Humber Scout Car Signal Officer
    Wren Humber Scout Car A echelon
    Owlet Humber Scout Car Intelligence Officer
    Linnet Humber Scout Car Liaison Officer
    Eaglet Humber Scout Car
    Gull Humber Scout Car
    Cygnet Recovery
    Ostrich Recovery
    Snipe Stuart Tank
    Peregrine Stuart Tank
    Hawk Stuart Tank
    Kite Stuart Tank
    Merlin Stuart Tank
    Falcon Stuart Tank
    Osprey Stuart Tank
    Flycatcher Stuart Tank

    A Squadron vehicles had the names of battle honours, each troop having names beginning with the same letter
    Egypt Churchill Tank Squadron Commander
    Barossa Churchill CS
    Peninsular Churchill CS
    Alma Churchill Tank 1 Troop
    Aisne Churchill Tank 1 Troop
    Arras Churchill Tank 1 Troop
    Marne Churchill Tank 2 Troop
    Malplaquet Churchill Tank 2 Troop
    Modder River Churchill Tank 2 Troop
    Somme Churchill Tank 3 Troop
    Suakin Churchill Tank 3 troop
    Sevastopol Churchill Tank 3 Troop
    Tangiers Churchill Tank 4 Troop
    Talavera Churchill Tank 4 Troop
    Tel el Kabir Churchill Tank 4 Troop
    Nive Churchill Tank 5 Troop
    Waterloo Churchill Tank 5 Troop
    Gibraltar Churchill Tank 5 troop
    Loos Churchill ARV

    B Squadron vehicles had the names of animals, each troop having names beginning with the same letter
    Tiger Churchill Tank Squadron Commander
    Jackal Churchill CS
    Jaguar Churchill CS
    Buffalo Churchill Tank 6 Troop
    Bison Churchill Tank 6 Troop
    Bear Churchill Tank 6 Troop
    Cheetah Churchill Tank 7 Troop
    Caribou Churchill Tank 7 Troop
    Cougar Churchill Tank 7 Troop
    Elk Churchill Tank 8 Troop
    Elephant Churchill Tank 8 troop
    Eland Churchill Tank 8 Troop
    Lion Churchill Tank 9 Troop
    Leopard Churchill Tank 9 Troop
    Lynx Churchill Tank 9 Troop
    Panda Churchill Tank 10 Troop
    Panther Churchill Tank 10 Troop
    Puma Churchill Tank 10 Troop
    Ox Churchill ARV


    C Squadron vehicles had the names of ships, each troop having names beginning with the same letter
    Revenge Churchill Tank Squadron Commander
    Renown Churchill CS
    Resolution Churchill CS
    Bandit Churchill Tank 11 Troop
    Buccaneer Churchill Tank 11 Troop
    Bulldog Churchill Tank 11 Troop
    Dreadnought Churchill Tank 12 Troop
    Defiant Churchill Tank (6pdr) 12 Troop
    Dauntless Churchill Tank 12 Troop
    Minotaur Churchill Tank 13 Troop
    Minerva Churchill Tank 13 Troop
    Medusa Churchill Tank 13 Troop
    Triumph Churchill Tank 14 Troop
    Terror Churchill Tank 14 Troop
    Thunderbolt Churchill Tank 14 Troop
    Vindictive Churchill Tank 15 Troop
    Valiant Churchill Tank 15 Troop
    Venomous Churchill Tank 15 Troop
    Resource Churchill ARV

    The system of names seems to have survived re organisation and in January 1945 the battalion captured a Panther tank and named in Cuckoo in line with HQ names.


    Scots Guards
    This battalion named vehicles after Scottish geographical features. Headquarters used names of mountains, A squadron used the names of towns and cities, B squadron used the names of islands and C squadron used the names of rivers.
    Cairngorm Churchill Tank Commanding Officer
    Ben Nevis Churchill CS Adjutant
    Ben Lawers Churchill CS 2ic
    Ben Macdhui Churchill Tank HQ tanks leader
    Brae Riach Churchill OP FOO
    Ben Ledi Churchill OP FOO
    Lochnager Churchill OP FOO
    Blue Bonnets Humber Scout Car
    Glendaruel Highlander Humber Scout Car
    Macbeth Humber Scout Car
    The Master of Ballantrae Humber Scout Car
    Auld Reekie Humber Scout Car
    Cock o’ the North Humber Scout Car
    Colonsay Humber Scout car
    Killiecrankie Humber Scout car
    Robert the Bruce Humber Scout car
    The Black Douglas Humber Scout car
    Rob Roy Humber Scout car
    Kingdom of Fife ACV
    Sandy Cameron Stuart Tank
    Hielan Laddie Stuart Tank
    Monymusk Stuart Tank
    Tullochgorm Stuart Tank
    Reel o’ Tulloch Stuart Tank
    Craig n’Darroch Stuart Tank
    Duntrune Stuart Tank
    The Black Bear Stuart Tank
    Corryhoylie Stuart Tank
    Ghillie Callum Stuart Tank
    Sheepwife

    A Squadron
    Greenock Churchill Tank Squadron Commander
    Perth Churchill CS
    Troon Churchill CS
    Crail Churchill Tank
    Edinburgh Churchill Tank 1 Troop
    Dundee Churchill Tank 1 Troop
    Ayr Churchill Tank 1 Troop
    Lochinvar Churchill Tank 2 Troop
    Inverness Churchill Tank 2 Troop
    Dunkfeld Churchill Tank 2 Troop
    Sterling Churchill Tank 3 Troop
    Elgin Churchill Tank 3 troop
    Kirkcaldy Churchill Tank 3 Troop
    Montrose Churchill Tank 4 Troop
    St Andrews Churchill Tank 4 Troop
    Glasgow Churchill Tank 4 Troop
    Oban Churchill ARV

    B Squadron
    Coll Churchill Tank Squadron Commander
    Tyree Churchill CS
    Mull Churchill CS
    Treshnish Churchill Tank
    Iona Churchill Tank 7 Troop
    Rona Churchill Tank 7 Troop
    Canna Churchill Tank 7 Troop
    Skye Churchill Tank 8 Troop
    Uist Churchill Tank 8 Troop
    Barra Churchill Tank 8 Troop
    Jura Churchill Tank 9 Troop
    Islay Churchill Tank 9 troop
    Bute Churchill Tank 9 Troop
    Stroma Churchill Tank 10 Troop
    Staffa Churchill Tank 10 Troop
    Arran Churchill Tank 10 Troop
    Lewis Churchill ARV

    C Squadron
    Esk Churchill Tank Squadron Commander
    Tweed Churchill CS
    Teviot Churchill CS
    Nith Churchill Tank
    Dee Churchill Tank 11 Troop
    Don Churchill Tank 11 Troop
    Deveron Churchill Tank 11 Troop
    Annan Churchill Tank 12 Troop
    Beauly Churchill Tank 12 Troop
    Findhorn Churchill Tank 12 Troop
    Spey Churchill Tank 13 Troop
    Clyde Churchill Tank 13 Troop
    Garry Churchill Tank 13 Troop
    Lyon Churchill Tank 14 Troop
    Leven Churchill Tank 14 Troop
    Lochy Churchill Tank 14 Troop
    Tummel Churchill ARV

    Note:
    The Scots Guards seem to have had squadrons with only four troops of three tanks each at this date.





    TANK REGIMENT (CROCODILE)

    TANK REGIMENT
    Tank Regiment. War Establishment II/154/2. November 1943
    There was no separate establishment for a Tank regiment equipped with Crocodiles. The establishment for a Tank Regiment contains notes concerning Crocodile equipped units.

    The Churchill Crocodile was a standard Churchill MkVII tank fitted with flame throwing equipment. In theory any MkVII could be adapted in the field by fitting a standard kit. Many MkVII tanks were fitted with the necessary attachment points during manufacture. Some 800 kits were manufactured but it is not known how many were issued for use in NW Europe. Certainly 250 sets were reserved for possible use in the Far East and others were used for training in the UK.

    Modifications to the Churchill VII included
    - fitting a flame projector nozzle in place of the hull machine gun
    - fitting fuel pipes under the hull of the tank
    - fitting the rear towing gear for an armoured fuel trailer. The towing attachment was designed to swivel in two planes so that the trailer could be towed over any country the Churchill was capable of crossing.

    The trailer was armoured, but only against small arms fire, and had two wheels. It contained 400 gallons of thickened flame fuel and nitrogen cylinders to propel the fuel. The trailer could be jettisoned when empty or if damaged. It had a detachable tow bar to enable it to be towed by unit transport and a rear towing hook so that more than one could be towed.

    The effective range was only some 90 yards. Even then it could not be used in all conditions. A headwind made its use dangerous and strong side winds made it ineffective. Still it was a fearsome weapon when used against pillboxes or defended buildings.

    In NW Europe all Crocodile units were operated by 79th Armoured Division. 141 Regiment RAC arrived shortly after D Day, and a small number of Crocodiles landed on D Day. The Fife and Forfar Yeomanry arrived in October 1944. 7 Royal Tank Regiment arrived in February 1945. From September 1944 Crocodile units were controlled by 31 Armoured Brigade.

    Crocodiles could be used as normal gun tanks but as far as possible this was not done. They were specialist armour and it was intended that they be withdrawn when their specialist role was fulfilled. As specialist armour they required careful planning and timing if they were to operate efficiently. It took about an hour to prepare the Crocodile for action. First the trailer had to be filled with fuel. This was done by hand from cans with red and yellow bands on them and took about half an hour. The equipment then had to be pressured up, a slow and careful procedure. First a gas cylinder was gently opened to force fuel through the pipes to the projector. Gradually all the cylinders were opened until the maximum pressure was achieved. This took another 15 minutes. Then everything had to be checked for leaks of fuel or gas.

    Crews were very exposed when fuelling and pressuring up and so this had to be done some distance from the firing line. When the Crocodiles arrived at the start line they had only a limited time in action. The pressure would last for about six hours, although it was getting weaker by then.

    Crocodiles were difficult to manoeuvre because of the length of the trailer. It was difficult to make sharp turns and very difficult to reverse. However it was necessary to aim the whole tank since the horns of the Churchill limited the traverse to 10 degrees left and 20 degrees right. It was also desirable to keep the tank in a position where it could protect the trailer since it had only thin armour.

    Finally the Crocodile had to use its fuel wisely. 400 gallons of fuel would give about 60 seconds of firing. Usually one second bursts were used, both to conserve fuel and to allow the crew to see the effects of the flame.

    The regiments equipped with Crocodiles were organised the same as normal tank regiments. Headquarters tanks, both regimental and squadron, were gun armed Churchill and CS tanks were used to give support.

    35 3ton 4 X 4 GS lorries were deleted from the establishment and 50 Tractor 4 X 4 were added. These were Matador Medium Artillery Tractors, although FWD SU COE were in the same class. Photographs show Mack NM 6 X 6 Tractors being used. These were used to tow trailers when not in action and to collect empty or damaged trailers on the battlefield. These were distributed with 15 in each squadron or one for each crocodile. 5 reserve tractors were held at Regimental Headquarters. It was stated that no additional drivers would be authorised and units would find the extra 15 drivers from the existing establishment.

    Since the Crocodiles were usually employed in individual squadrons and troops, one Churchill in each squadron and one Crocodile in each troop was a control tank with two Wireless Sets No19.

    At some point it was decided to divide the squadron into four troops of four Crocodile so that half squadrons of eight Crocodile and two Churchill (one 75mm and one 95mm Close Support) could be deployed in support of assaults rather than a whole squadron. No establishment has been found for this but regimental diaries and histories mention it. No extra tanks were made available so that the reorganisation had to rely on those already available. This seems to mean that in fact one troop per squadron had only three Crocodiles. Additional squadron headquarters tanks came from regimental headquarters which had less need of them. This left only one tank at Regimental Headquarters.

    In common with other armoured and tank regiments the AA tanks were withdrawn after Normandy. Crocodile units also gave up the light tanks of the reconnaissance troop, having found little use for them.


    Total personnel
    Lieutenant colonel
    Major, second in command
    4 X Major
    Captain, adjutant
    Captain, Technical Officer
    Captain Liaison Officer
    8 X Captain
    20 X Subaltern
    Quartermaster

    Regimental Serjeant Major
    Regimental Quartermaster Serjeant
    Quartermaster Serjeant, technical
    Mechanist Quartermaster Serjeant
    4 X Squadron Serjeant Major

    4 X squadron quartermaster serjeant
    4 X serjeant mechanist
    orderly room serjeant clerk
    provost serjeant
    signal serjeant
    transport serjeant
    serjeant technical storeman
    29 X serjeant

    59 X corporal
    523 X trooper

    Total 670

    Plus
    Medical Officer RAMC
    3 X armourer REME
    4 X officers mess cooks ACC
    15 X cook ACC
    6 X vehicle mechanic REME


    Trades included
    carpenter and joiner
    13 X clerk
    94 X driver mechanics
    103 X driver operator
    5 X electrician
    equipment repairer
    gun fitter
    92 X gunner mechanics
    89 X gunner operator
    6 X storeman (technical)
    39 X vehicle mechanics

    22 X batman
    butchery dutyman
    90 X driver IC
    medical orderly
    6 X motorcycle orderly
    postman
    5 X sanitary dutyman
    5 X storeman
    4 X water dutyman

    Total vehicles
    8 X motorcycle
    1 X Car 4seater 4 X 4
    11 X car 5cwt 4 X 4 jeep
    6 X 15cwt GS
    4 X 15cwt water
    1 X 15cwt FFW
    15 X 15cwt halftrack
    12 X 3ton 4 X 4 GS
    5 X 3ton 6 X 4 stores
    1 X 3ton office
    4 X 3ton machinery I30
    4 X 3ton kitchen
    50 X Medium Artillery Tractor
    12 X scout car
    6 X AA tank
    10 X Churchill tank
    6 X Churchill close support tank
    45 X Churchill Crocodile
    11 X light tank
    3 X armoured recovery vehicles
    1 X 180 gallon water trailer
    3 X 2ton trailer workshop servicing
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page