Sherman OP tanks on D-Day

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by IanTurnbull, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    What would the RAC do with an OP tank? They seldom employed indirect fire for which an OP tank would be useful.
  2. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian layabout

    Well, per Sheldrake's post, "for artillery observers from units which were not equipped with their own tanks" - to call in fire support for the armoured unit.
  3. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Years ago I had the pleasure of interviewing General Tony Richardson, who in 1944 was a young officer with 147th Essex Yeomanry Field Regiment. He told me that he was riding in a tank when he landed on GOLD on D Day. I don't know which battery he was assigned to or whether he was riding in a command tank or OP tank.
    Chris C likes this.
  4. Expat Yeoman

    Expat Yeoman Member

    In June 1944 he was Lieutentant TA Richardson, aged 21 and a Tp commander in 431 Bty. He landed in the first hour of action with his Troop providing direct fire support for 1st Bn The Hampshire Regiment.

    As you note, later to be Major General Richardson CB MBE.
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  5. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    And a very nice gentleman, too.
  6. Expat Yeoman

    Expat Yeoman Member

    Very much so, I had the pleasure of meeting him on many occasions as he was a regular and most active supporter of 70 (Essex Yeomanry) Signal Squadron.

    I have just found a little more to add, this in his own words:

    "In June 1944 I was GPO of D Troop"
  7. Expat Yeoman

    Expat Yeoman Member

    I think I've found another one: A2 with serial S233733 (I think the final digit is 3 but as an outside bet could be a 5.) No town/ village name visible though.

    Found on the IWM site within a video (!), astonishing (and very lucky) to find any film of Sextons and well worth a look, it's only short (there are a few more on the IWM site including another showing S233733 but alas no other new discoveries I could spot). I managed to grab a screen shot of the side and have brightened it up to show the serial.


    Description "A camouflaged Crusader AA tank follows the path that the rest of the Sherwood Ranger Yeomanry has taken towards Cahagnes. The crew of an Essex Yeomanry Sexton self-propelled gun are seen firing their 25-pounder in an attempt to dislodge the stiff opposition ranged against 129th Brigade's assault on Bricquessard and its push towards Cahagnes. A nearby troop of Sextons joins in the action. A 4.5-inch gun of a medium artillery regiment serving with the 5th AGRA bombards positions manned by the 326th Infantry Division."

    Attached Files:

  8. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    There a bit here from "None Had Lances" p55-56 on the 24th L having a need for "a tank without a gun"...


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  9. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    It is interesting to see the annotation of an AA Crusader as "following the rest of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry". By mid July there was a blanket ban on AA fire and the RAC were short of tank crews. RA units received Crusader AA Tanks as support for artillery recce after incidents where recce parties ended up fighting, and as 17 Pounder gun tractors and Anti tank command vehicles. The Essex Yeomanry might not have needed AA Crusaders because the GPOs were Sherman gun tanks - as mentioned in post #43.
    Chris C likes this.
  10. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    My understanding is that the RAC AA Crusaders were not officially released until August 1944, although it should be borne in mind that the Sherwood Rangers were still holding on to their Crusaders well into 1945, as the pic below attests:


    This was probably because they had actually gained a firm fondness for the Crusader on the drive to Tunis in 1943 - they were the last regiment to hand over their Crusaders, holding onto them until September of that year.

    What was the reason for the blanket ban in AA fire of which you speak? Was it because of the danger to friendly aircraft?
    Chris C likes this.
  11. Expat Yeoman

    Expat Yeoman Member

    The EY did not have Crusaders at any point, only the Sherman.
  12. Andy Urwin

    Andy Urwin Member

    Thank you for posting this Ian.

    My Grandfather is the 3rd along the back row. This is amazing.

    Where was this picture taken? And when? Any idea?

  13. Andy Urwin

    Andy Urwin Member

    I have this picture also.
    My grandfather is 3rd from the right on the back row.

  14. Expat Yeoman

    Expat Yeoman Member

    Having just re-read Gee I need to correct myself. CO, BCs, Troop Comds and GPOs were in tanks, variously Covenanters, Crusaders and Cavaliers up until their being replaced by Shermans in Nov 1943 when the Sextons were introduced.

    However, it was only Sexton and Sherman used on active service by the Regiment.
  15. Hi Michael,

    I have this Sexton B2 as possibly S233633, but can't find my source anymore. Could you post the photo?

    Thanks in advance,

  16. Attacker2

    Attacker2 Junior Member

    From the 90th City of London Field Regimental History:

    "On the sixth June 1044, 90th (City of London) Field-Regiment RA was the Divisional Artillery Regiment in support of 69 Bde of the 50th Div. The Regiment had been converted into a SP regiment for the initial assault on" D" Day, and OP officers had Sherman tanks. These tanks had been modified by having the gun removed and a piece of appropriately painted tin piping inserted inside the turret to resemble the gun. The idea was to give more room inside the turret for technical gunnery work...

    ...Strong opposition was encountered and a considerable amount of fire was exchanged on both sides. Capt BLAND found numerous targets to engage with his Bty and his Regiment, and the 25pdrs were firing continuously, orders being sent through the 19Set in the mere of the Sherman. In the heat of the fighting, a sweating infantryman passed by the Sherman, from the turret of which Capt BLAND was observing the artillery fire. As he passed, the infantryman shouted out, "Why the hell dont you fire your ...... gun? Ten minutes later, another infantryman, appeared sweating and begrimed with the dust of battle, and yelled out, " Why don't you fire? That's what the 'b' gun's for isn't it? These criticisms irked Capt Bland as it was impossible to explain at any length that the visible gun wasn't a gun at all. He decided to take action and manoeuvred the Sherman forward to have a shot with .30 Browning mounted in the turret. There were cheers from the Battalion as the tank moved forward, to be followed by groans as fire was opened from the Browning only. But worse was to come. As the Browning spoke, the signaller in the co-drivers seat, hearing the noise, decided to open his hatch and have look. As he raised the hatch, it coincided with a burst from the Browning which unfortunately was aiming directly over it. The burst shot away the periscope, frightened the signaller badly, and scattered rounds in all directions."
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  17. Expat Yeoman

    Expat Yeoman Member

    Typically I cannot find my notes now I need them. I will keep looking Michel, though I am sure you are right with the number.

  18. Expat Yeoman

    Expat Yeoman Member

    Hi Michel - found it at last - an image from an eBay seller. B2 / S233833. No name evident, though it could be behind the text that the seller has put on the image.

  19. Daniel Green

    Daniel Green Member

    Hi all,
    Does anybody have any info on the A troop of the Essex Yeomanry 413 Battery? I’ve honed in on this post as I recognised the name Tony Richardson, who gave an address at the memorial service of my wife's grandfather.
    I’ve dug around and there is very little mention of the A troop Sextons and I would love to get more info.
    I have only his IWM recordings, where he has 2 and a half hours of his account of training from 1939, through to D-Day and then through Germany recollections. But I don’t have any photos of him in uniform.
    He was the staff sergeant artificer who was responsible for mechanical fixing of the broken equipment.
    All I have is one of his 25-pdr she’ll cases and his D-Day landing map.
    Any info would be greatly appreciated.

  20. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    OP tanks/vehicles belonged to the Artillery Units. They just travelled with the Tank Regiment HQ Troop until they went off to where they were needed to direct fire. These OP tanks never belonged to the Tank Regiments

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