6th RTR in CRUSADER who killed them..

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Urmel
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Re: 6th RTR in CRUSADER who killed them..

Post by Urmel » 17 May 2012 13:01

Andy H wrote:Hi

In The Years of Defeat (1939-41) (The History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery) by General Sir Martin Farndale, he states on Pg211 that the 2nd Lt was a J.A.T.Kershaw. I checked out this gent also on the CWGC and found no record-so hopefully he survived in some manner.

On Pg 212 he states that 6RTR lost 75% of its tanks crossing the Trigh Capuzzo.......as the day wore on the attack from the south became more serious and gradually the guns, the remains of 6RTR and 2RB were drawn into it.

Regards

Andy H
And this is how they ended the day:
HQ 7th Armd Bde was now located and the Regiment rallied on them. The Regt’s strength was now about 7 tanks, 3 of which were on tow and only 1 fit for action. The night was spent in leaguer with HQ 7 Armed Bde to the south of the aerodrome.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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Re: 6th RTR in CRUSADER who killed them..

Post by valentine III » 18 May 2012 09:37

It would be very interesting to know something about the possible involvement of the 605 pzj. abt Any sources?

From all sources it appears that Belhamed was an area of concentration for the intended plan of investment of the Tobruk fortress: Concentration point of the Harko 104, Boettcher group with the German army artillery. Also of both kompanies of 900 pi. abt and the itallian 31st assaul engineer unit. They were sited just behind the german infantry positions around tobruk... well just a bit more or less informed gues.

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Re: 6th RTR in CRUSADER who killed them..

Post by Urmel » 21 May 2012 10:35

KTB Div. z.b.V.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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Re: 6th RTR in CRUSADER who killed them..

Post by valentine III » 30 May 2012 12:40

pitty this document is not available on the net.

Eduard

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Re: 6th RTR in CRUSADER who killed them..

Post by Urmel » 30 May 2012 13:12

This information is now. It's people like me who go to the Archives who currently make this stuff available. But since I'm not being paid for it, it happens in its own time, and according to my personal preferences as to what I make available. The information is correct though - anyone can go to NARA and check for themselves.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: 6th RTR in CRUSADER who killed them..

Post by valentine III » 01 Jun 2012 08:21

Well, just a bit far from Barcelona, spain.

Very interesting to know, though

Thanks

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Re: 6th RTR in CRUSADER who killed them..

Post by Urmel » 03 Sep 2012 21:18

Andy H wrote:Hi

In The Years of Defeat (1939-41) (The History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery) by General Sir Martin Farndale, he states on Pg211 that the 2nd Lt was a J.A.T.Kershaw. I checked out this gent also on the CWGC and found no record-so hopefully he survived in some manner.
Andy

It looks as if he did not:
Lieut. Michael Kershaw, who had taken over from Capt. Dudley-Smith, was missing with his crew in his armoured car, and several months later unmarked graves were found beside the car. These were Lieut. Kershaw, L./Bdr. Homan-Berry, Sig. Moult and Dvr. Barnes.
Source is the history of DD Battery RHA.

Here's the CWGC record: http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casua ... %20MICHAEL
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: 6th RTR in CRUSADER who killed them..

Post by Urmel » 21 Feb 2013 22:22

dor1941 wrote:The situation was obscure, and Axis strength and dispositions were largely unknown.
I want to come back to this, since I have now read the 7 AB war diary. I just post the text that is relevant. Remember the jump off time for the attack by 1 KRRC and 6 Royal Tanks was 0830.

0755 South African Armoured cars report 150 tanks and 250 MET concentrating to the south of the brigade [...] 7 H were ordered to remain where they were, with their eyes direction MOSCOW (Bir er Reghem). Their task in the attack on Sidi Rezegh was cancelled.
0825 7 H report advance guard of 30 enemy tanks 2 miles west of MOSCOW moving west.
0851 7 H report engaging enemy tanks being halted at [...]
0938 7 H report being heavily engaged by 100-150 enemy tanks at [...] and being forced to retire
0940 2 R Tks report being engaged with 50 enemy tanks moving west [...]. Later they reported to have destroyed 15 enemy tanks and that the enemy was withdrawing NE.
1003 Sp Grp were asked if 6 R Tks could revert to Brigade. 6 R Tks were heavily engaged however.

I maintain that when the South African report came in Brigadier Davy should have taken 6 R Tks off the attack on Sidi Rezegh, or at the very least limited their task to putting 1 KRRC onto their objective, and then return (and even that would have been a high risk strategy). In the end, by not doing this, Brigadier Davy split his already weakened Brigade three ways, with the consequence that two regiments were more or less annihilated that day in two separate actions, and only the weakest regiment remaining to it. He had already acted against orders by taking 7 Hussars off the Sidi Rezegh attack, thereby weakening that as well. I see that as a clear command failure. Putting a regiment of 50 tanks against an attack by 2-3 times that number was bound to end up in desaster. From the time of the report to the time when 7 Hussars reported being engaged, 1 hour passed. Davy let another hour pass before trying to call back 6 R Tks.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: 6th RTR in CRUSADER who killed them..

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 04 Apr 2013 12:28

I've been looking at the 1 KRRC account of the attack on the Sidi Rezegh escarpment and was surprised to see that there is no mention of tank support from 6 RTR.
I maintain that when the South African report came in Brigadier Davy should have taken 6 R Tks off the attack on Sidi Rezegh, or at the very least limited their task to putting 1 KRRC onto their objective, and then return (and even that would have been a high risk strategy).
Am I right in thinking that 2 RB attacked on the left of 1 KRRC with 6 RTR to the left (west) again? The account stresses the damage done to the carrier platoons by rapid fire A/T guns - do you think they mean light AA guns?

What really shocked me was the description of the attack the next day that overran 1 KRRC - it seems that they sat and observed a large force (80?) of German tanks sat north of them, which all of a sudden swung round to the west and overwhelmed them. It seems from this account that little was done to prepare for a possible flank attack from the west.

Are there any accounts of this action (the German recapture of the escarpment) from the German or Italian side?

Regards

Tom

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Re: 6th RTR in CRUSADER who killed them..

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 04 Apr 2013 20:41

Gents,

I have been thinking about the attack by 6 RTR again and think that we have perhaps misunderstood what Davy was saying in his book "The Seventh and Three Enemies".

David R quotes:
Brigadier Davy of 7th Armoured Brigade had left 6th Royal Tanks with Campbell to execute the plan, but he had reservations about how his tanks were ultimately used. "Brigadier Davy believes that it was 'a tactical error to have ordered the 6th Royal Tanks to go beyond the Trigh Capuzzo to an objective which was not immediately to be occupied by our own riflemen and before there was a reasonable certainty of being joined on it by the leading troops of 70th Division' ".
What Davy actually says [pp. 152 - 153] is as follows:

"At about midnight General Gott arrived at the headquarters of the 7th Armoured Brigade to co-ordinate the operation for a junction with the 70th Division, whose sortie had been ordered to begin at 6.30 a.m. Placing the commander of the 7th Armoured Brigade in command of all troops in the Sidi Rezegh area, he ordered him to recapture the lip of the escarpment the next morning, so as to restore observation over the Trigh Capuzzo and to send forward a force across the Trigh Capuzzo to join hands with the 70th Division on El Duda. He then returned to his headquarters.
At 2 a.m. Lieutenant-Colonel Byass attended a conference at which orders were given for the attack. This was to be carried out by the 1st Battalion of the 60th on the right and A Company of 2nd Battalion The Rifle Brigade on the left. The 6th Royal Tanks were to lead the latter in close co-operation and to establish themselves on an objective beyond the Trigh Capuzzo. A special detachment of the 6th Royal Tanks was to be prepared to advance to El Duda to join hands with the 70th Division...The whole of the guns of the Support Group (forty-two 25-pounders) with Brigadier Campbell of the Support Group acting as Commander Royal Artillery, were to support the attack and it was hoped that they would be able to give adequate cover against the anti-tank guns on the escarpments. Zero was fixed for 8.30 a.m.
This plan was fairly reasonable in so far as the reoccupation of the lip of the northern escarpment was concerned. But it seems to have been a tactical error to have ordered the 6th Royal Tanks to go beyond the Trigh Capuzzo to an objective which was not immediately to be occupied by our own riflemen and before there was reasonable certainty of being joined on it by the leading troops of the 70th Division."

In the WD of the Support Group for 20 November it says:

"2000 Comdr was called to a conference by Comdr 7 Armd Div at the HQ of 7 AB ½ a mile south of HQ 7 Support Group. Here orders were received to capture and hold the escarpment north of the aerodrome and east of SIDI REZEGH itself. Commanding Officers attended the conference at HQ 7 AB, and 1/KRRC were ordered to carry out the attack next morning – the first infantry attack to be made by a motor battalion in the Middle East during this War."

So, General Gott came to Davy at HQ 7 Armd Bde at about midnight (or earlier according to Support Group) and told him to take charge at Sidi Rezegh and organize an attack to capture the escarpment. Davy then called a conference for 0200, 21 Nov, of COs (i.e from both 7th Armd Bde and the Support Group) and there gave out his orders. Those for 6 RTR are recorded in their WD [thanks Andreas!] as: "A Sq’s task was to occupy Pt 167 (432404), establish 2 RB in that area and protect the left flank of 60th [KRRC] who were making a similar attack on our right with 7th Hussars (though this regiment was later withdrawn to meet an enemy attack from the east.) B & C Sqns were then to go through, capture the cross-roads and link up with 38th Bde at Ed Duda".Therefore, what he is actually saying in his book (although not making it absolutely obvious!) is that it was his plan, and that in retrospect he "seems" to have made a "tactical error" by ordering the 6 RTR to go beyond the Trigh Capuzzo.

Indeed, on p.154 he says:

"Accordingly [the need to delay the advance north by the Germans while the attack on the escarpment went in] the Brigade Commander [i.e. Davy, comdr of 7th Armd Bde] placed Brigadier Campbell in command of all the troops allotted for the northern operation and ordered him to carry out the attack as planned [i.e. including the "tactical error" of moving some of 6 RTR north of the Trigh Capuzzo]."

It seems, therefore, that when Davy handed over the northern attack to Campbell, he intended 6 RTR to continue with the task beyond the Trigh Capuzzo as the original objective at Map Ref 432404 is well south of it.

The supposition that Davy was trying to lay the blame on Campbell or Gott therefore seems to have come about due to the way that the SA Official History quoted him, rather than something he positively attempted in his own writing.

I hope all that makes some sense - it did when I started to think about it :lol:

Regards

Tom

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Re: 6th RTR in CRUSADER who killed them..

Post by dor1941 » 05 Apr 2013 12:11

Tom

Thank you for your interest and research on this issue. I certainly agree that the South African Official History of Crusader did not clearly answer the lead question in the title of this Topic or the reason for the muddle.
Tom from Cornwall wrote:Gents,

I have been thinking about the attack by 6 RTR again and think that we have perhaps misunderstood what Davy was saying in his book "The Seventh and Three Enemies".

So, General Gott came to Davy at HQ 7 Armd Bde at about midnight (or earlier according to Support Group) and told him to take charge at Sidi Rezegh and organize an attack to capture the escarpment. Davy then called a conference for 0200, 21 Nov, of COs (i.e from both 7th Armd Bde and the Support Group) and there gave out his orders. Those for 6 RTR are recorded in their WD [thanks Andreas!] as: "A Sq’s task was to occupy Pt 167 (432404), establish 2 RB in that area and protect the left flank of 60th [KRRC] who were making a similar attack on our right with 7th Hussars (though this regiment was later withdrawn to meet an enemy attack from the east.) B & C Sqns were then to go through, capture the cross-roads and link up with 38th Bde at Ed Duda".Therefore, what he is actually saying in his book (although not making it absolutely obvious!) is that it was his plan, and that in retrospect he "seems" to have made a "tactical error" by ordering the 6 RTR to go beyond the Trigh Capuzzo.

Indeed, on p.154 he says:

"Accordingly [the need to delay the advance north by the Germans while the attack on the escarpment went in] the Brigade Commander [i.e. Davy, comdr of 7th Armd Bde] placed Brigadier Campbell in command of all the troops allotted for the northern operation and ordered him to carry out the attack as planned [i.e. including the "tactical error" of moving some of 6 RTR north of the Trigh Capuzzo]."

It seems, therefore, that when Davy handed over the northern attack to Campbell, he intended 6 RTR to continue with the task beyond the Trigh Capuzzo as the original objective at Map Ref 432404 is well south of it.
I agree that this is a sensible interpretation of Davy's words.

I would emphasize that Davy's plan was conceived in accordance with specific orders from Gott to take the Sidi Rezegh escarpment and to achieve "a junction" with the Tobruk Garrison. Davy's whole force amounted to about 150-odd tanks, the artillery of his Brigade and the Support Group and about five companies of infantry. All the infantry would be needed to take and hold the escarpment. This left only the tanks to execute Gott's order to achieve the required junction at Ed Duda. Gott had commanded the divisional Support Group himself in earlier operations, was intimately familiar with its structure and weak infantry strength and knew full well what he was ordering Davy to do.

I choose not to speculate on what might have been had Davy done this or that, but rather to stick to his interpretation of his orders from Gott. I view those orders to be unequivocal and pressing in the sense that Cunningham was demanding a link-up with Tobruk at the earliest possible moment. If this was done quickly it could prevent enemy units from redeploying into the target area or giving them time to strengthen their positions. Certainly Norrie, Gott and Davy all clearly understood their orders and the required risks involved. Even when the risk of the D.A.K. from the South became apparent, Davy wrote "I believed from the start that I had at least one German division coming at me. But I had to treat it as a diversion, because the attack towards Tobruk was the main operation and had to go through" (Agar-Hamilton and Turner, p. 178)
The supposition that Davy was trying to lay the blame on Campbell or Gott therefore seems to have come about due to the way that the SA Official History quoted him, rather than something he positively attempted in his own writing.
I agree with this comment and merely point out that this was not my supposition.

David R

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Re: 6th RTR in CRUSADER who killed them..

Post by Urmel » 05 Apr 2013 12:28

Thanks a lot for the research Tom, and that settles the matter of whether Davy tried to shift blame quite clearly in my mind as well, and I withdraw my supposition.

Now...

What was 38th Brigade? 70 Infantry Division consisted of 14, 16, and 23 Brigade. There was a 38 R.T.R., but it was a dummy unit.

On Davy's views and role:

1) He had two German divisions come at him, not one. That's a big difference in mediums (with one division he could achieve a slight superiority when he sent one regiment of - with two German divisions he would be about equal if he kept the regiment). When the reports came in at 0755 (see above) they talked of 150 tanks. Was it checked what type of tanks?
2) I am also not speculating on what could have been, I have a clear view of what Davy should have done, as the senior officer on the ground (compare his attitude to implementing orders to those of Westphal a few days later). In any case, whether Brigadiers should follow orders or not when the situation around them disintegrates, he had already deviated from the orders by taking 7 Hussars of the attack on Ed Duda, and eventually did completely tear up the orders by recalling 6 R.T.R. - but of course it was too late by then.

I would also point out that a plan that made the link-up with Tobruk imperative was of course in total contradiction to the original plan for CRUSADER, which saw the liberation of the fortress as a minor objective of operations, rather than the key objective, which was after all the destruction of the enemy armoured force in the field. So the best that could be said for Davy in my view is that his superiors all got it massively wrong too.

But in any case, it was his decision-making that made him end up in a situation where he had his three regiments in three locations, and two of them wiped out. He could e.g. have concentrated the armour on the attack on Ed Duda, and leave Support Group to defend Sidi Rezegh with its artillery and AT. This would clearly have been in line with his orders. He could have fully or partially cancelled the 6 R.T.R. attack on Ed Duda at 0800 to concentrate on the overarching objective of CRUSADER. Either of these two would have given him a tank force of 100 tanks in one spot. If this would have been enough to affect the outcome is an open question.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: 6th RTR in CRUSADER who killed them..

Post by Urmel » 05 Apr 2013 12:55

On the actual attack, A Coy 2 RB (who were actually attached to 7 Armoured Brigade) were following 6 R.T.R. in the attack, and accomplished their aim with relatively small losses (2 carriers to AT weapons, 1/6 killed, 2/11 wounded (Officer/OR)). They report not having seen anything of 2 R.T.R. who were supposed to cover their flank. They also state the attack went in at 0830, sufficiently after 0755 to make alternative arrangements.

One other thing they say is that their reserve column saw 3 R.H.A., 239 Bty and one other battery engaged 16 German tanks sometime after 1000 but before 1100, the advance guard of 60 tanks that were approaching from the east, claiming 3 or 4 destroyed. Brigadiers Davy and Campbell at first refused to believe these were enemy tanks and Brigadier Davy was 'very sour' to Lt. Martin believing that the 2 RB column had engaged 7 Hussars. 2 RB claim that this belief delayed the making available of tank support until 1100 when Brig. Campbell sent 5 A15 which he had with him (presumably from 2 R.T.R.?). All of these were lost when 2 RB Reserve Column was overrun by the main body of the German tanks between 1120 and 1145.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: 6th RTR in CRUSADER who killed them..

Post by Urmel » 05 Apr 2013 14:35

As an aside, and a snippet of interesting information (nothing else implied), Davy's substantive rank was apparently Major at the time of Sidi Rezegh. I was quite surprised by that. Took the admin a long time to catch up with what folks were actually doing.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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Re: 6th RTR in CRUSADER who killed them..

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 05 Apr 2013 23:41

Andreas,

Wonder if the mention of 38th Brigade is a corruption for 32nd Army Tank Brigade. One other thing is that 5th SA Inf Bde had been ordered to take part in the attempt to link up with the Tobruk forces - so there would have been an extra 3 infantry battalions on the escarpment in the British plan.

Regards,

Tom

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