Sherman OP tanks on D-Day

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

  1. Expat Yeoman

    Expat Yeoman Member

    Dan, what was his name and I will see if I can find anything (a long shot but you never know). The main source of information will be the regimental history by Gee, though I do have copies of some of Gen Richardson's notes and memoirs.

  2. Daniel Green

    Daniel Green Member

    Thanks for getting back to me. His name was Arthur Parsonson. Quite a unique surname, so shouldn’t be many of them around.
    I hop you can find something.
  3. Expat Yeoman

    Expat Yeoman Member

    Thanks Dan. That is a name I immediately knew as he was very active with the Colchester branch of the Old Comrades Association for many years, though I regret I did not have the opportunity to meet him.

    You'll know I am sure that he received a Commander-in-Chief's Certificate for Good Service for his time with the Regiment.

    His obituary was included in the 2005 edition of the regimental journal, again I suspect you will already have that but if not I can send you a copy.

    As I mentioned in my previous post the best source of information is the regimental history by Patrick Gee (who was the Adjutant of 147), as you will appreciate it doesn't really go down to individual Troop details but it does give a good account of the locations and actions from D Day to the end of the war with several references to 413 Bty.

    From a very quick archive search there was an article about A Tp on D Day itself in the 1984 regimental journal, only a page and nothing specific about Arthur. It is part of a longer article about the regiment on D Day.

    If you don't have the two journal articles private message me and I can see if I can get copies to you.

    Michael / EY
  4. Daniel Green

    Daniel Green Member

    Hi Michael,
    Many thanks again for the info. I have messaged you via your website contact.
  5. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    I acquired a Corgi model of an OP tank on eBay and it happens to be based on a EY tank; furthermore, it has the mark “RC” which means it was the tank of the Troop Commander of “C” Troop 431 Battery! “C” Troop’s Commander was Captain Foreman who also spent most of the post D-Day campaign with the 4/7th Dragoon Guards. It has the serial TZ61663 which I had always thought was a nonsense number because of the "TZ.." until I saw your post. Could it be that the designers just mis-applied the number?

    I tried to establish why Corgi chose the EY for an OP tank, but unfortunately the records were lost in Corgi's takeover by Hornby in 2008, and nobody remembered who the designers were. The models were made for the 60th anniversary of D Day when Tony Richardson was still involved with the Normandy Veterans Association, so perhaps he was involved in the choice of 431 Battery.
    What do you think?
    IMG_4360.JPG IMG_4363.JPG
  6. Expat Yeoman

    Expat Yeoman Member

    Hi Ian, I have one of them kicking around somewhere too (though right now, no idea exactly where!) I hadn't thought to try to map it to a position and people, nice work there :)

    I agree re the serial number, it is too close so surely an error in copying the details.

    As to why the regiment was selected I have often wondered but have not been able to confirm. If General Tony was involved at the time, he did not mention it.
  7. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    Thanks Michael. The plot thickens though. See this post from Michel on another thread

    "I think the original (also mistaken) number provided was T261663 (not 633) which itself probably came from an unsubstantiated Bison Decals set BD-72006. See - Reviews – Bison British Armour decal sheets (1/76 & 1/72, NW Europe 1944-45)"

    If you follow that link the same tank's decals are those chosen (top right 3rd set down). As it says in that review, these decals purport to be based on actual photos, and the photos are included in the modelling sets. Perhaps this tank was widely used in modelling circles at that time (2004). If so it would be interesting to find that photo of Captain Foreman's tank as all the others are distant

    PS Any idea why in some pictures the vehicles name is not present. Were they painted over in combat, or perhaps no time to adorn the replacements. Also I am not sure all Troops used Essex locations - am I right in that?
  8. Ian,

    I wouldn't pay too much attention to the Corgi markings. The tank itself is the wrong model (M4A3, which was not used by the British), and the markings are missing the Unit Serial, plus (as you noted) the T-number starts with "TZ...", so these guys obviously had no clue :rolleyes:

    However, you might want to contact the guy behind Bison Decals and ask him about his source.

  9. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    Worth a try. Here is the original label on the set
    Apparently the photo on which the T261663 decals are based is from February 1945. At that time 431 Battery was engaged in heavy fighting in the Reichswald incl Operation Veritable
  10. Expat Yeoman

    Expat Yeoman Member

    I have been attempting to track down the names for each of the Sextons, Shermans and Half Tracks. As far as I can tell those in A-D Troops all used names associated with the County; E Troop went 'hard' with names such as "Exterminator" and F Troop seems to have been a mix of County names along with others such as "Falaise".

    As you say some photos show no names. I don't have a definitive answer as to why this was. Possibly as you say they had been painted over in combat, or perhaps the photo was taken on first arrival and the crew had not had time to add the name. Curiously I have also seen a photo of D5 with name. I had thought that each troop was a four gun troop so either that assumption is wrong and I am missing 5 & 6 or each of the other Troops, or possibly D5 was a replacement vehicle? I doubt I'll find a definitive answer to either of these points!
  11. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    I had always thought my father's tank was an M4 A2 (See 1st picture)
    Yet Captain Foreman's looks different (no bolted front plate; See 2nd picture)
    They were the two Troop Commanders in 431 Battery 147th Field, so is the difference down to mods, or replacements do you think?
    How can you tell the difference between an M4 A2 and the A3 used by the Americans (as in the Corgi model)?

    Attached Files:

  12. Ian,

    DOODLE OAK, like (as far as I know) all Sherman OP tanks was a Sherman V (M4A4). See your other photos with side views - the wider gap between bogies characteristic of Sherman III tanks is clearly visible.

    The second photo does shows a Sherman III (M4A2), but this is not an OP tank. It belongs to 4/7 DG. See B15145 | WW2Talk

    The Corgi tank has the large grille engine deck plate and the sloped rear hull plate of an M4A3. If you really want to plunge into the wonderful world of Shermans, here is a good starting point:
    M4A3 Shermans

    But be warned, this is highly addictive. There is no turning back :D

  13. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

  14. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    Thanks Michel; we overlapped. Ian
  15. The tank in B15146 is indeed a Sherman V (see the distinctive co-driver's hood), so is probably an OP tank, thus possibly Capt Foreman's.

  16. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member


    The 147th Field troops were definitely 4 gun troops on D-Day as per the landing tables. I haven't come across anything yet that adds to that number although I am only in D-Day+2 in my virtual trip across NWE! Until then I think your assumption that they were replacements makes sense.
    Expat Yeoman likes this.
  17. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    The Gunners may not have the same obsession with naming individual vehicles as the RAC. Each vehicle in an artillery battery had a unique letter and number - laid down across the Royal Regiment. The OP Tank of A troop would be Romeo Alpha and its GPO's vehicle Golf Alpha. The Sextons were A Sub B sub etc. BK travelled in K. The Sigs Sgt in Mike or the Monkey truck Its a Gunner thing. See Trux's post on the organisation of the SP field artillery regiment here Field Battery - Self Propelled

    The cavalry, and by extension yeomanry had a tradition of going into battle on a named charger. In the 1980s our supported arm QRIH and 17/21st had named tanks. As FOOs we discussed what names we could adopt and considered ancient warriors - our soldiers were much less enthusiastic and we did not press the matter. It wasn't who we were. This illustrates some of the dynamics at work. Officers have to decide whether this is something worth doing and enforcing.

    It may have been that some in the Essex Yeomanry, as ex cav. may have felt the urge to name their tank/ SP gun/ water truck. Others may not. It may have depended on individual officers , their whim and whether it was that important in the middle of a campaign.
    IanTurnbull and Expat Yeoman like this.
  18. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    Its almost certainly me, but i have always found the official War Establishment transcription difficult to apply to an OP within the 147th Field who were affiliated to an independent armoured brigade, the 8th.
    Specifically the roles within the tank. On another thread it is extracted as
    "Each Troop HQ;
    Observation Post Assistant
    Driver-mechanic (AFV)
    Driver, IC
    Tank, OP, with three wireless sets"
    If I have interpreted this correctly this is just 4, yet a normal Sherman has 5 and there is some debate that EY OP tanks have 6 shoe-horned in
    Does anybody have any accounts conforming this? I have yet to come across one
  19. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    I have come across something in one of TAR's articles regarding a 5th Sexton in "D" Troop, 431 Battery. I have extracted it below. It confirms D5 was a replacement vehicle
  20. Great find Ian!

    Does the previous part of the article mention a date?


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