Defence of Rauray by the 24th Lancers, Tyneside Scottish et alia

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Ramiles, Apr 1, 2015.

  1. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Thanks SDP for the ref. which I've added to the "books to read" post #2 above,

    I'm digesting as much of the specifics, "fancies" and intrigues of a couple of fascinating versions at the moment:
    Devon Wargames Group: Rauray 1944 - Battlegroup Panzer Grenadier

    And has a great little map that firmly has woods picked out on either side:

    But where I'm trying to pin point the "British" tanks (hidden somewhere in the trees perhaps ;) )
    Nb it says: Armoured assets, of three troops of Shermans and a troop of M10's, were due to arrive about an hour into the battle. (That would be the cavalry then!!! unfortunately the description of how this one "played-out" ended halfway through the attack... :( )

    And also on this page at this great website: http://www.rememberingscotlandatwar...-veteran-very-quickly-The-Battle-for-Normandy

    The Battle for Rauray (about 60% of the way down)

    Where it's hard to fathom out (though there is mention of British armour) what the British tanks were doing there, from the dates though these were most probably 24th L. (The SRY too - in the "drive south" and the taking of Rauray - perhaps 8th Armoured Brigade would be the best/better description there.)

    "The Battle for Rauray
    On D Day 50th Division had landed on Gold Beach and had pushed inland towards Bayeux.

    On 27th June British infantry and armour drove rapidly southwards to Rauray. This village commanded high ground. On 28th June Tyneside Scottish, part of 70th Brigade, successfully infiltrated Bretteville, south of Rauray. It was a hard fought battle. The British forces were made to withdraw from Bretteville. They reformed around Rauray, but the Rauray spur was in British hands.

    29th and 30th June were quieter days. On the morning of 1st July a German counter attack drove straight for Rauray, isolating the Tyneside Scottish to the south. There was fierce fighting as the Tyneside Scottish and 11th Durham Light Infantry struggled to repel the Germans.

    The Germans began to withdraw at 10.00am but an hour later they made another counter attack. The British line held but at midday the German attacked again. The 70th Brigade had been heavily hit and Tyneside Scottish lost 132 men."

    It also adds a bit about the infiltration of Bretteville too - which would advance the British further than I had first supposed.
    It's a fascinating tale and one that I am sure to want to find much more about.

    All the best,

    Last edited: Nov 8, 2016
  2. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    For the 4th Lincolns, and from post # 14 above: "The Hallamshires held the south-west corner of the wood, a little to the north of Vendes and linked with the 4th Lincolns at Tessel-Bretteville"

    --- o O o ---

    Did just a little bit more "digging now" and "Goodness me!" Who'd of guessed :eek: - another Xmas card for the folks back home - this time from 1944: (& 24th Lancers on there! B) )

    Polar Bears

    The 49th Division became known as the Polar Bears because of their service in Iceland between 1940 and 1942. The adoption of the new divisional sign accompanied publication of the division's newspaper 'The Midnight Sun'.
    The famous white polar bear originally appeared in a natural attitude - face lowered to look into a hole in the ice, preparing to grasp his next fishy meal.

    The new general officer in command of 49th Division was Major General 'Bubbles' Barker. He died in 1983 and his Times obituary revealed that his nickname related to his effervescent spirit and puckish sense of humour. In his staff there was a Brigadier-Major Paul Crook who had been a talented swing musician and cricketer. It's unlikely there was any close relation but John Crook and Paul Crook would have been connected many generations before in the family trees of English Crook dynasties.
    Bubbles Barker was responsible for redesigning the division's badge.
    Whilst it was known that Polar Bears hunt fish with their heads down to see and claw back their prey: they also lower their heads before charging. But 'Bubbles' felt that the lowered head indicated a lack of martial intent. He wrote:

    'The Bear is too submissive. I want a defiant sign for my division, lift its head up and make it roar.'

    Nice pics of the 2 badges there i.e. Polar Bears

    The Polar Bears became notorious to German troops and merited a vicious attack by Lord Haw Haw on the radio during the Normandy campaign. He called them 'The Polar Bear Butchers' and the insult formed the basis of a somewhat bloodthirsty 49th Divisional Christmas Card for 1944. This extreme rhetoric reflects the ugliness of fighting in Normandy.

    I think I had this book suggested too previously - and there's an interesting write up to it here:

    The 49th Infantry Division was christened the 'Polar Bear Butchers' by Lord Haw-Haw after its involvement in the ferocious battles following D-Day at Cristot, Fontenay, Tessel Wood and Rauray. The Polar Bears were composed of units drawn from all over Britain, including formations from Durham, Essex, Gloucestershire, Kent, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Suffolk and Yorkshire, as well as the Royal Scots Fusiliers, the South Wales Borderers and the Tyneside Scottish. In eleven months of combat during 1944 and 1945, the Polar Bears suffered 11,000 casualties and earned a Victoria Cross. Formed in 1907 in the West Riding of Yorkshire as a Territorial unit, the 49th Infantry Division fought with honor throughout the First World War, earning three VCs. With the onset of the Second World War the Division saw action in the ill-fated Norwegian campaign of 1940, before spending two years as the Iceland garrison. From August 1944, under Canadian command, the Polar Bears acted as Monty's left flank, playing a key role in the capture of Le Havre, campaigning vigorously in Belgium and garrisoning the 'island' between Arnhem and Nijmegen during the winter of 1944. They went on to liberate Arnhem, Utrecht and Hilversum. The Division's reconnaissance armored cars were the first Allied troops to arrive in Amsterdam on 7 May 1945. In the final weeks of the war the Polar Bears played a humanitarian role, bringing desperately needed food supplies to the starving people of Holland.

    All the best,

    Last edited: Nov 8, 2016
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  3. squeeth

    squeeth Member

    Plenty of detail in here

    Thank you very much. ;O)
  4. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member


    That information came into being because the author got into a dispute with me over the claim 3 Tigers were knocked out during EPSOM. He simply took every photo and bit of information I posted in reply to him on another forum and created the pages you linked with it. Mobius I believe but I could be wrong. Being foreign he spent a lot of time trying to find the railway lines that gave the name 'Rauray Spur' before I explained it all to him!
  5. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Re. the German tank wrecks at Tessel and nearby at Rauray.

    I was asking in the Tessel thread if there was any evidence that rings a bell of a particular German tank hit first on the track (by an armour piercing shell? possibly?) and thereafter brewed up by an HE?

    My reference to this is in my gd's account:

    "Then the German tanks started to roll across our front about 800 yards away. It was a nuisance because they came into view and then went out of sight so I had the turret swing to pick one up as he came into view. I had nice time to range him and had him close in my binoculars, as I said my gunner was good and he hit him right between the tracks, I told him to put an HE through the hole he had made, which he did and that started the day's work. A tank carried about 100 mixed shells, some High Explosive some armour piercing, well we used these and sent one tank back to load all it could to replenish the troop and we fought on till almost dark and also we had called to the artillery to bring down a barrage. A lot of tanks, Germans, were knocked out that day and yet when asked how many tanks we had knocked out (this is cross your heart stuff) I could only say one, if anyone had said did you have a cup of tea or eat anything or jump down to go to the lavatory, I couldn’t have told them. There is a point where concentration is so intense that you know what to do every second and you do it but to explain it afterwards was to me academic."

    It has something of a "Rauray" feel to it for me, however it is possibly also chronologically/geographically just in the area of the incident with Cooper mentioned in posts #46 & #47 above, which if it ties to the 24th L wardiary is a bit closer to the tanks K.O'd near Tessel wood.

    Just looking at the pictures of the German tank wrecks there (and taking ref. of their positions where noted etc.) I suspect gd's account is underplaying events, but very sadly from what I can glean there are as yet no other accounts from members of "c" squadron 24th L, or even down to the level of accounts from members of the individual troops. Another bearing factor I also have to take into account is my own lack of surety as to whether or not my gd. went with Arbuthnot (when he went) from being in c squadron 24th L to briefly leading b (I think between 27th June and 30th June when he was KIA), which I guess would colour which actions he (gd) took place in and at which times, i.e. from that point of the switch c27th June, I would have to be following b squadron rather than c. That said though for many engagements b and c 24th L were similarly engaged. Though sometimes it can be quite key that you are actually following the right one! To quote though from the above "but to explain it afterwards was to me academic" ;) :)

    I believe Arbuthnot moved from his role in C sqd. 24th L to lead B sqd 24th L around the time of the death of Captain Ian Kerr "B" Sqn. 24th Lancers: Casualty Details

    But was himself KIA shortly thereafter: Major Sir Robert Dalrymple Arbuthnot (Nb. posted to 24th Lancers (but remained listed under the 9th Queen's Royal Lancers)): Casualty Details

    And in moving from c to b, he may, or may not have taken some of those in c (my gd perhaps among them) with him at that time.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2016
  6. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

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  7. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic


    I believe that map is taken from Kevin Baverstocks excellent book about the Rauray battle.
  8. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    By the looks of it, "C squadron" of the 24th L has been split perhaps there into 2 halves? Either that or one is meant to be "B" and the other "C" and a typo has snuck in?

    Does seem to place them (i.e. the 24th L tanks) quite "firmly" somewhere just before dawn on the 1st July 1944, and also seems to put the SRY actually pretty close in to all of the rest...
  9. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    There is an "searchable index" to the book "Breaking the Panzers" here:
    Breaking the Panzers

    It can give a snap shot on what's in there i.e.
    Breaking the Panzers

    But the views it gives (i.e. at the mo) seem much more restricted than other "previews" I have - thus far- typically seen on google books.
    Which google explains here: Why some books aren't available in full view - Books Help

    In the topic of maps though:
    Breaking the Panzers

    There is mention there (in among the previews) of an "existing" sketch map of the Rauray battlefield by "Warhurst" for example and a tangental google search for such - led to something different - i.e. this find of a pdf. on a 1995 thesis on:



    (A bit more "light reading" - potentially there I guess :rolleyes: ) - a couple of mentions of Rauray and the "WD of the 24th L" is listed as one of the ref's at the back. Will have to put aside some time to look through it all properly though...
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2016
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  10. Albowie

    Albowie Junior Member

    Really enjoying this thread as this battle is the ultimate refute to all the Fanboys that slag off the performance of Allied tankers in Normandy. It clearly illustrates that any attacking formation regardless of whether it is in Panthers, Tigers or Lowly Shermans wil lget mauled taking on dug in troops with tank and AT support. The Hybrid labelled as 3 RTR is unlikely to have been from them as 3 RTR in Normandy (and for most of the NWE campaign were armed with Mk V Shermans not Mk 1 (As were GAD and the rest of 11 AD with 7AD using Cromwells) . At this stage the only official users of the Hybrid M4 were 33 AB with a handful in 4 AB. Later (post Sept) they were issued to 8 AB as attrition replacements. This is the 75mm armed version only as the Hybrid Fireflies were pretty common across most formations
    I think this is just one of many wrong captions that the IWM has had.
  11. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Additionally... (certainly at least at the moment) if you click on the script that says "Look inside" on the top-left handside - just above the book cover...

    You can see a fair few pages and the "look inside" link also offers you the search for keywords (albeit it says that you actually have to sign in to see more than just the result that your words are there).

    - it took me immediately to a lot of pages that had a full result - of a simple word search - which is basically what I was after at the moment.

    Of course though, not a substitute for actually buying the book - or taking a trip to a library that has a copy etc. but certainly (I think) enough to give you an idea if it is something that you want to do...

    All the best,

  12. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Last edited: Jun 25, 2018
  13. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Coming up to the 74th Anniversary of this momentous battle.
  14. squeeth

    squeeth Member

  15. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY


    Re. your comment nested in the quote (near the top) in the post immediately above: "I can claim the dubious honour of most of what's in the Wiki page. Any errors or ommisions will be gratefully received. ;O)"

    It is good work ;-) But there is one thing I saw in the wiki at: Operation Martlet - Wikipedia

    About 60% down the page, in the section titled "German counter-attack, 1 July" it currently says:

    "By 11:00 a.m. the British outpost line had been overrun on both sides of the track. A line of 17-pounder anti-tank guns of 344 Antitank Battery RA near le Haut-du-Bosq, became the front line despite the restricted view. When A Company of the Tyneside Scottish was forced back into the 6th KOSB area, German tanks and Panzergrenadiers swung north, 300 yards (270 m) behind B Company, where they were engaged by tanks of the 21st Lancers. Six German tanks were knocked out and the advance was stopped; artillery was called for around Brettevillette."

    as these were, I think, engaged by tanks of the 24th Lancers.

    e.g. 21st Lancers - Wikipedia

    (Not being at Rauray)
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2019
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  16. squeeth

    squeeth Member

    Thanks, if I can find a citation I'll change it.
  17. desertfox44

    desertfox44 Member

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  18. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

  19. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Incidentally in Kevin Baverstock's "Breaking the Panzers" there's mention on p143 of two 24th Lancer Shermans being destroyed by a tank dug in at the north-east corner of Brettesvillette village" - and these would I assume have been tanks of either the 2nd or 3rd troop of "C" Squadron 24th L who were leading the counter attack at that time (between 1810 and 1830 in the evening of 1st July 1944)

    The 24th L also had a "B" Squadron tank KO'd on that day and there is an earlier ref. in "Breaking the Panzers" on p91 - which I think relates to this:

    At around 0735 hrs on the morning of 1st July 1944

    "On the left some Sherman tanks were moving up to reinforce our troops. One was struck by an AP shell fired from an 88 mm gun. It "brewed up", it's crew jumped out in haste and it caught fire and exploded."

    (Which itself was a excerpt / quote from the book "Mike Target" by John Mercer.)
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
  20. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hello, was digging through the forum trying to see if I could find any information on whether C troop of 217 Battery of 55th (Suffolk Yeomanry) AT Regiment was using 17-pounders or 6-pounders at Rauray. It can possibly be inferred based on the ranges given in the following account of the troop at Rauray which I thought I would share.

    Based on the rounds apparently not penetrating a Panther at 700 yards until they had a shot on the side, I am guessing they had 6-pounders but I'm not sure.

    Curious that there are two mentions of Tiger but also of a Pz IV which makes me wonder: were the reported Tigers both really Tigers? I think I saw upthread that there was maybe only one Tiger at Rauray.

    Anyway, I mainly thought you might enjoy reading this.

    Last edited: May 8, 2019
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