Trooper John R Foster 13th 18th Hussars 1944

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by ExWafu, Apr 20, 2013.

  1. ExWafu

    ExWafu Member

    I am researching a family member who was in WWII and need some help getting some fine points to some rough facts.

    Trooper Foster (known as jack to his pal’s) was in C squadron of the 13th/18th Hussars on D-Day.

    His CO was Lt Smith and during the following 6 weeks he was in active service in Normandy with C Squadron. Around 6 weeks his tank was struck by an AP round that killed his driver and during the following events he was badly burnt. He was initially tended by French Nun’s and then by the medical corp. When Jack was stable he was returned to the England to spend a painful time in Basingstoke hospital having skin grafts.

    After the war he returned to civilian life as a bricklayer in St Helens, Lancashire.

    The questions I have are as follows;

    What was the Squadron make-up at the time of D-Day, how many tanks per troop and what composition. I am aware that C Squadron was not DD tanks but 75mm and 17 Pounded tanks, all tanks with names beginning with the letter C. What I would like to find out is what Tank was Jacks.

    What LCT Mk4 did he go over on?

    When (accurate date) and where did Jacks tank get hit. Who was in his crew and was Lt Smith his tank commander as well as his CO?

    Thanks for looking at this thread and I look forward to any information you can give.
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Do you know the date of death of the driver etc? I have the Regts official history by Miller upstairs.

    The regiment aslo has all its war diaries at the National Archives in London:

    WO 166/1377 ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS: 13/18 Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own). 1940 July- 1941 Dec.
    WO 166/6891 ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS: 13/18 Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own). 1942 Jan.- Dec.
    WO 166/11073 13/18 Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own) 1943 Jan.-Dec.
    WO 167/453 13/18 Royal Hussars 1939 Sept.-1940 June
    WO 171/845 13/18 Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own) 1944 Jan.- Dec.
    WO 171/4691 13/18 Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own) 1945 Jan.- Dec.
  3. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    the 13/18th were an armoured regiment as opposed to an assault regiment - meaning that they were lighter and faster in order to pursue the enemy through the holes in the enemy defences broken by the assault regiments -

    at least that was the theory illustrated bythe RAC cap badge on the mailed fist ( Assault ) and the four arrows encircling the fist.....

    Therefore the establishment was different inasmuch as they had FOUR squadrons of four troops of four Tanks each in France / Germany that was of three 75mm Shermans and one "firefly" - Sherman with the 17 pounder- whereas the Assault

    regiments had three squadrons of five troops of three tanks each - usually Churchills with the six pounders - and later with ne Churchill with the 95mm howitzer .....

    Each troop has a Lt. as Tank Commander as well as a sergeant and corporal - sometime two corporals - the C0 of the squadron was a Major and the regimental Co would be a Lt Col......where and when his tank was hit will be outlined in the

    regiments war diary but he won't necessarliy be named.....

    stolpi likes this.
  4. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    Simple enough questions but no simple answer I am afraid.

    There has been discussion of the composition of 'C' Troop on the Sword Beach thread. See under Theatres of War/NW Europe. The exact loadings of LCTs was changed at the last moment by the addition of one LCT4. This is also discussed.

    More positively there are some photos of 'C' Troop on the same thread, and more on the Imperial War Museum website.

  5. ExWafu

    ExWafu Member

    Hi Drew

    I am sorry but all I have is that my uncle (jacks son) said he was told it was around 6 weeks after d-day that Jacks tank was hit. Jack was the radio operator in the tank.

    I will look at the achive and see whats there.

    Thanks again to all that have posted so far.
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I had a quick flick through the history last night and its quite detailed from the landings onwards. I'm a bit busy until next Sunday but if you have no joy over the next 7 days give me a shout via PM with a link to this thread and I'll see if I can find anything in the book.
  7. Wessex_Warrior

    Wessex_Warrior Junior Member

    Hello exwafu,

    I also have a copy of The History of the 13/18th Hussars and unfortunately there is no mention of Trooper Foster but Lt J W Smith is mentioned a few times. He was indeed in C Squadron and on 1st April 1945 he was honoured whilst commanding 3 troop. This would suggest that he may have also been commanding 3 troop during July 1944. As you rightly say C Squadron was a wading Sqn on D Day so each troop of 4 tanks had standard 75mm gun tanks and probably one firefly. The Firefly would normally be commanded by the troop Sergeant as this tank would hang back on overwatch during the advance whilst the 75mm tanks flushed out their German prey.
    The landing lists for C Sqn on D Day are still confused as the link below shows the C Sqn loading for D Day didn't go a planned and the number of Fireflies doesn't add up. Others on this Forum may have the answer but at least you will get an idea of the likely range of turret numbers and that the tank name would have begun with a C (Charmer is the famous tank in the picture and others have been identified in various publications and on the web).
    The Regimental History Roll of Honour does list a number of casualties on the 18th July 1944 including Major Delius (Probably a Sqn Commander) and a Sergeant so the War Diaries should mention this action which occured exactly six weeks after D Day. On the 18th July C Squadron took SANNERVILLE and Lt Uttley of that Sqn was wounded but strangely no mention of what happened to Major Delius.
    Something for somebody to flesh out.

    Kind regards,

  8. ExWafu

    ExWafu Member

    Hi Drew5233

    PM sent regarding the documents.

    Cheers the Woo
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Woo :lol:

    No Comms received ;)

    Andy out.
  10. Hello ExWafu,

    Pretty thin information to go by but enough to start speculating:

    'C' Sqn 13/18 Royal Hussars (QMO) on D Day (and for some time thereafter):

    SHQ maybe 3, probably 4 tks Sherman III numbered 60 to 63
    1 Tp 64-67 Lt RIVIERE
    2 Tp 68-71 Lt NORRIS
    3 Tp 72-75 Lt UTTLEY
    4 Tp 76-79 LT SMITH

    The last tank in each Troop was a Sherman Vc armed with a 17pdr gun and commanded by the Troop Serjeant.

    So would I!

    My understanding of the composition of 4 Tp on D Day is:

    No.76 Sherman III (probably 'CHALLENGER') - comd Lt Eric Edward SMITH (247469), dvr Tpr GEE (WIA 6 Jun 44), co-dvr Tpr SIVEYER, gunner Tpr KEMP ?, loader L cpl BAILEY

    Edit 4 Mar 2015: No.76 was actually a Sherman Vc, so could not be 'CHALLENGER' which is a Sherman III, and also not Lt SMITH's mount which was also a Sherman III. This possibly means that No.76 was Sjt YORK's tank, and No.79 Lt SMITH's, but this is not certain as no photo of No.79 is known.

    No.77 Sherman III T152153 'COMRADE' - comd No. 552342 L sjt G.S. HAYGARTH, dvr Tpr TURNER (WIA 6 Jun 44), co-dvr No. 4540455 Cpl D. PICKLES (WIA 6 Jun 44), gunner & loader not known.

    No.78 Sherman III - comd Cpl G. COLLINS (WIA 6 Jun 44). Other crew members include Tpr SHREEVES (WIA 6 Jun 44) & No. 4192628 Tpr John Kimberley OWENS (WIA 6 Jun, DOW 10 Jun 44)

    No.79 Sherman Vc - comd Sjt YORK (WIA 18 Jun 44), [edited 24.11.2013 to add:] Tpr SUMNERS (WIA 18 Jun 44), other two crew members not known.

    It would be useful to know whether Jack Foster was a radio operator only, i.e. driver/operator (aka co-driver), or a gunner/operator (aka loader, also radio operator in a Sherman Vc). What were the exact words he used and the possible various versions of his role in the crew as he described them?

    If a loader (gunner/op), he could have belonged to No.77, 78 or 79, but the same remark applies, and No.79 therefore seems more likely.

    So the answer is : on D Day, not Lt SMITH's No.76 tank but any one of the three other tanks in 4 Tp 'C' Sqn (No.77, No.78 or No.79), with No.79 a bit more likely.

    Of course this depends on which tank he was in.

    If No.77, he was on board LCT(4) 610 LTIN 212, as seen in a number of photographs.

    If No.78 or 79, he was on any one of the four LCT carrying 'C' Sqn except LCT 610, thus on either LCT 608 (210), 979 (214) or 898 (spare).

    On 18 July 1944, between SANNERVILLE and BANNNERVILLE. See following extract from 'C' Sqn War Diary:

    " On the afternoon of the 17th [July 1944] the Sqn. moved to a preliminary forming up area south of DOUVRES la DELIVRANDE ; in a Regtl column we then moved by night back across the Orne river and canal to a concentration area east of HEROUVILLETTE.
    1st Troop had previously rejoined us and had been replaced [at Monty HQ] by a composite Regtl Troop. The Squadron remained in this concentration area until next day, whilst plans and recce's were carried out with 1st Battalion Suffolk Regt., with whom we had landed on 'D' Day. Early the next morning we moved out to the area north of the CHATEAU at ESCOVILLE prior to marrying up with the Suffolks for an attack on SANNERVILLE. This attack was not to be launched until 'A' and 'B' Squadrons had captured the ground south east of ESCOVILLE and the village of TOUFFREVILLE during which period 'C' Squadron was in reserve but were moved forward to the high ground north of SANNERVILLE to support the assaulting imfamtry [sic]. The Suffolks entered the village without difficulty and the remainder of the Squadron joined 2nd Troop on the high ground. At the request of the Infantry Colonel 4th Troop were sent into the village for mopping up and 3rd Troop to the orchards north east to deal with snipers. As soon as the situation was static the Suffolks consolidated the ground between SANNERVILLE and BANNERVILLE and asked for tanks to be sent forward. Whilst this was going on 4 Tanks were knocked out by unseen enemy S.P.'s from the south east, two of the Tanks were later recovered by the ARV. From this action Tpr. Spavin and L/c. Woodcock were killed. Lt. Uttley, Tpr. Ward (for the 2nd time) Tpr. Williams'72, L/Sgt. Ellis Cpl. Barnes, Tpr. Waggott, Tpr. Denyer and Tpr. Foster were wounded.
    The Squadron returned to the Regtl area and remained for the next 3 days until 22nd July in a counter attack role."

    Lt SMITH was NOT his tank comd on D Day, only his Troop CO. He may however have been on 18 July, but I think it unlikely.

    The two fatal casualties on 18 July were:

    No.14598272 Tpr Eric SPAVEN KIA 18 Jul 44

    No.14429703 L cpl Richard Shiel WOODCOCK WIA 18 Jul DOW 27 Jul 44

    Since L cpl WOODCOCK did not die immediately, I would think that Jack's killed driver is Tpr SPAVEN.

    Of the seven wounded, Lt UTTLEY & Cpl BARNES are known to belong to 3 Tp.

    Maybe the War Diaries, or more probably any additional info you could gather at the IWM and the Hussars' Association, could help narrow the choices down.

    By the way, Miller's official history of 13/18 H can be downloaded here:

    Do you have any photo of Jack Foster around 1944?

  11. ExWafu

    ExWafu Member

    Hi Guys

    Thanks for the information so far.

    We, the family are still digging for more facts so if you can help in anyway please let us know.

    Big thanks to WW2Talk for letting us find so many guys who know so much. :)

  12. ExWafu

    ExWafu Member

    Hi guys

    Just come accross a picture of a Sherman Firefly serial number T212686 showing a trooper in a pixie suit with the caption

    A Sherman VC Firefly of the 13th 18th during operation Goodwood. IWM.

    It looks like a photo taken just before the 'off' on the 18th of July 1944.

    Can anyone tell me the troop this tank came from? I can't see the turret number due to stowage and troops on the turret and engine deck.

    Also, how do I go about reviewing the photos of the 13th 18th from May 1944 to July 1944 at the Imperial War Museum?

  13. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  14. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Would love to know why this chap in the picture was wearing a pixie suit in the middle of July - and others can't read my explanation of an armoured regiment - must be the way I tell 'em

  15. ExWafu

    ExWafu Member

    Yes thats the photo.
  16. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I've flipped pic so it correct way around.
    (He's not wearing a pixie suit by the way)

    Attached Files:

  17. ExWafu

    ExWafu Member

    Is this jacks Firefly number 79?

  18. Exwafu,

    This tank is definitely not 13th/18th Hussars. It's also on IWM B7557:

    THE BRITISH ARMY IN THE NORMANDY CAMPAIGN 1944. © IWM (B 7557)IWM Non Commercial Licence

    The markings show that it's part of 'B' Squadron, the Staffordshire Yeomanry, not of 13th/18th Hussars. Its WD number is T-212680, not 212686, and there is no turret number as the Staffs Yeo did not use them. Instead, they used names, painted in yellow (the Regiment seniority colour within the Brigade) large outlines on the hull side. Although not quite visible on these versions of the photos, the nale of this particular tank is BELVEDERE.

    There's no easy way to do that. Photos (disappointly small prints, at least for the H and B series - ADM series prints are larger) are kept in books sorted by negative number, and there are separate books which contain the captions, which I believe are the same as those online.

    So the best way would probably be to do an online search on the IWM website with "13th/18th", "13/18" and "13/18th" as search words, because unit naming is not very consistent at the IWM, and filtering the results for images only:[0]=mediaType%3Aimage[0]=mediaType%3Aimage[0]=mediaType%3Aimage

    Once you've listed all the negative numbers, you can go to the IWM to see if nearby negative numbers also cover 13/18 H tanks but have not been captioned as such. Be sure to bring a big magnification glass with you, Sherlock Holmes fashion, as cameras are forbidden...

    But don't expect to find too many unknown photos, as most 13/18 H photos seem to have been already published in some book or magazine.

    Owen likes this.
  19. No, it's not. This is No.71 CAROLE T228789 of 2 Troop 'C' Sqn.

    From the information you've provided it's also not certain at all whether Tpr Foster was in a Firefly or not. Or do you have new info?

  20. ExWafu

    ExWafu Member

    Hi Michel
    I am only surmising as the following text above;-

    My understanding of the composition of 4 Tp on D Day is:

    No.76 Sherman III (probably 'CHALLENGER') - comd Lt Eric Edward SMITH (247469), dvr Tpr GEE (WIA 6 Jun 44), co-dvr Tpr SIVEYER, gunner Tpr KEMP ?, loader L cpl BAILEY

    No.77 Sherman III T152153 'COMRADE' - comd No. 552342 L sjt G.S. HAYGARTH, dvr Tpr TURNER (WIA 6 Jun 44), co-dvr No. 4540455 Cpl D. PICKLES (WIA 6 Jun 44), gunner & loader not known.

    No.78 Sherman III - comd Cpl G. COLLINS (WIA 6 Jun 44). Other crew members include Tpr SHREEVES (WIA 6 Jun 44) & No. 4192628 Tpr John Kimberley OWENS (WIA 6 Jun, DOW 10 Jun 44)

    No.79 Sherman Vc - comd Sjt YORK (WIA 18 Jun 44). Other three crew members not known.

    This would indicate Jack was in Sgt YORK's tank as he was injured in action on the 18th, as was Jack on the 18th of July. It would also show that Jack's pal Trooper No.14598272 Tpr Eric SPAVEN KIA 18 Jul in the same action possiby in the same tank.

    This is far from an exact science but until we get jack MoD record back we will not know and may not know then.

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