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 » 02 Nov 2009 00:08

Here's the war diary of 6 RTR for the period of CRUSADER:

http://wp.me/phMWl-ei
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

dor1941
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Re: 6th RTR in CRUSADER who killed them..

Post by dor1941 » 03 Nov 2009 14:52

JBond

I was surprised to find an extension of your theory on the Crusader Project site; i.e., that two of Major-General Gott's brigadiers were culpable in the loss of 6th Royal Tanks. Your persistance in pursuing this illusion requires a response.

Your attempt to fault Brigadiers Davy and Campbell for this loss is contrived and inaccurate. Regarding Davy,
.. in his Dec 41 report he accepts that it was his mistake not to stop 6 RTR participating in the attack, since it prevented him from concentrating his tanks


This is not an admission that he gave the order to attack, but rather that he regarded it as a mistake not to *stop* it.

You then acknowledge that Gott actually *did* order the attack of 6th Royal Tanks:
Gott's order was, according to his report, for a "limited attack".
Your notion that Davy is responsible for the attack is obviously incorrect. Consequently, your further contention that Davy contradicted himself-when he objected to the attack after the war in his memoirs-is also wrong.

Since you have acknowledged that it is now a matter of public record that Gott ordered the attack, and it is evident that Davy never suggested that Brigadier Campbell did, please explain what motive Davy would have to "blame" Campbell (deceased or not) for "the SNAFU"?

You have persisted in not drawing a distinction between the original mission given to Davy and Campbell-to take the Sidi Rezegh escarpment and park a tank squadron on the Trigh Capuzzo-and Gott's further order for a "limited attack"beyond that point. Are you ever going to address this dichotomy?

Are you seriously suggesting that Davy and Campbell are culpable because they should have refused to carry out Gott's order? 8O

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

Post by Urmel » 03 Nov 2009 20:22

dor1941 wrote: Are you seriously suggesting that Davy and Campbell are culpable because they should have refused to carry out Gott's order? 8O
Yes, and I do not see what is so astonishing about this. They were on the ground, and Gott was not. From half an hour before jumping off it was clear that they were going to be assaulted (and I mean 'assaulted') by a large amount of German tanks. Davy had already taken it upon himself to take 7H out of the attack, and he later regretted he did not do the same with 6 RTR. Some initiative would not have gone amiss. But that was hardly their only failing on that day, it was merely the most conspicous one (although 7H might lay claim to that one too, come to consider).

I also dislike the open-ended 'had reservations about how the tanks were used' that you quoted in your original post in this thread, and to me this seems to shift the blame away from him on either or both of two people who were by then dead, the colonel of 6 RTR and Campbell.

I also note that you continue to assume that an unsupported cruiser squadron on the Trigh Capuzzo (i.e. in the position that Davy did order them to) would not have been destroyed that day. Honestly, I think that is a stretch, and one that I am not willing to make. Let's recapitulate: the fundamental order Davy gave was for an unsupported cruiser squadron to advance beyond the infantry and gun cover into an area known to be defended. If such an order is the fruit of his prior experience in the desert, than I wonder what exactly he had learned from it.

As for your suprise, I hope it is a positive one, since I actually went to the trouble to post the war diary after OCRing it. If you don't like that I put my analysis on top of it, get your own site and repost it with yours or without it. I have been upfront about this, posting the link here and crossposting this link in the blog. Readers can make their own mind up, and that's what it is all about.
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 » 03 Nov 2009 20:33

This is what Davy himself had to say on the subject of initiative. It is an excerpt from his pre-battle instructions issued on 17 Nov 41 to his Brigade, followed by the infamous 'no tank commander can go far wrong...'
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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 » 04 Nov 2009 23:00

Here is some more information. Not that it adds much. From the D.A.K. war diary, I picked it up in NARA last week.
Combat report excerpt of A.A.3 for 20/21 November 1941
20 November
[...]
Difficult night march via Via Balbia and Axis Road up to Belhamed and from there further east into the left flank of the troops deployed on the Jebel escarpment to take over their flank protection. For this purpose the 2./Flak 18 is subordinated to the battalion.
21 November
Battalion engages tanks which broke through between the positions and receives new instructions from General Rommel. – Return march with continuous tank combat to the Belhamed. – From here battalion is deployed during the afternoon to engage tanks which broke out from Tobruk. 8.8 cm AA destroys six tanks during this. General Rommel drives along amongst the point vehicles of the battalion. At 14.30 hours marching off from Belhamed to Via Balbia to Jebel ascent south of Gambut to secure and hold this. Arrival and subordination of a company from Pz.Pi.200 (engineer battalion of 21.Pz.Div.).
It is not clear to me from this what happened exactly, a lot of interpretation is necessary, and one has to remember this was written much after the event (on 31 Dec 41), so it has to be consumed with caution. I nevertheless thought this might be of interest.
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

dor1941
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Re: 6th RTR in CRUSADER who killed them..

Post by dor1941 » 05 Nov 2009 06:16

JBond wrote:
dor1941 wrote: Are you seriously suggesting that Davy and Campbell are culpable because they should have refused to carry out Gott's order? 8O
Yes, and I do not see what is so astonishing about this.
The first duty of a soldier is to obey. It will be primary to the success of the Mission.

You clearly view these two brigadiers as culpable for the loss of 6th Royal Tanks-and other issues as well-because *they obeyed* legitimate orders from their direct superior. In my view, they would be guilty of dereliction of duty if they had failed to follow an order to the best of their ability.
They certainly have the latitude as senior officers on the spot to modify the orders from above, but must accept full responsibility in the event of the failure of the mission if they chose to do so. Davy was not inclined to accept the proposition that the mission would fail. The situation was obscure, and Axis strength and dispositions were largely unknown.
They were on the ground, and Gott was not.
Yes, and with the approach of D.A.K, Davy could hope that 4th and 22nd Armoured Brigades might relieve some of the pressure on him and Campbell-in fact, Gott had ordered the two brigades to follow the two panzer divisions closely as they moved towards Sidi Rezegh. Davy had to modify his earlier instructions accordingly. We must remember that Gott has acknowledged the entire situation was obscure. Davy consequently did not entirely cancel Gott's original orders (to advance 6th Royal Tanks).
I also dislike the open-ended 'had reservations about how the tanks were used' that you quoted in your original post in this thread, and to me this seems to shift the blame away from him on either or both of two people who were by then dead, the colonel of 6 RTR and Campbell.
That was the mildest phrasing I could think of to reflect the frustration Davy appears to have felt in the sacrifice of 6th Royal Tanks. This is absolutely no criticism of Campbell or any officers of 6 RTR, and I feel badly that anyone would interpret it that way.
I also note that you continue to assume that an unsupported cruiser squadron on the Trigh Capuzzo (i.e. in the position that Davy did order them to) would not have been destroyed that day.
I never said or implied this.

Why should anyone want to speculate regarding this? As I noted above, Axis dispositions were unknown.
As for your suprise, I hope it is a positive one, since I actually went to the trouble to post the war diary after OCRing it.
I was quite surprised and pleased when you posted the War Diary and the additional info from NARA. I must compliment you on your research efforts. :)

David R

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

Post by Urmel » 05 Nov 2009 22:45

dor1941 wrote:
JBond wrote:
dor1941 wrote: Are you seriously suggesting that Davy and Campbell are culpable because they should have refused to carry out Gott's order? 8O
Yes, and I do not see what is so astonishing about this.
The first duty of a soldier is to obey. It will be primary to the success of the Mission.
I fundamentally disagree with this in the case of command staff. Squaddies, yes. But Brigadiers, no. They are supposed to judge independently and take responsibility.
dor1941 wrote:
As for your suprise, I hope it is a positive one, since I actually went to the trouble to post the war diary after OCRing it.
I was quite surprised and pleased when you posted the War Diary and the additional info from NARA. I must compliment you on your research efforts. :)

David R
I am happy to hear that, and it is my pleasure to make these items available. I enjoy the discussion they generate.
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 » 20 Dec 2011 16:17

This extract from the war diary of 7 Support Group suggests that the 6 RTR attack at 0830 and the warning of the approach of large enemy forces from the South and east were concurrent - it is also of note that this diary describes one of the 6 RTR suadrons as being held in reserve which is not the impression I got from the 6 RTR war diary:-
21 November 1941 SIDI REZEGH
From first light the whole Support Group area was again shelled by 75 mm guns behind the ridge at 428406, with an OP on a pole on the ridge. Smoke was ordered by the Comdr from “F” Bty, 4 RHA to blind the enemy OPs and to cover the forming up area of 1/KRRC. Meanwhile 100 enemy vehicles and 51 tanks were reported at first light in the area 495369.
0830 An enemy column, including 130 tanks, was reported moving WEST with its head at 458378. This column was moving across the Support Group axis towards the “B” Echelon area.
0830 The attack of 1/KRRC on the escarpment North of SIDI REZEGH aerodrome went in, assisted by a concentration of shell fire by 4 RHA and 60 Fd Regt, RA and by 6 RTR, who advanced down the escarpment at SIDI REZEGH...
...0910 The enemy tanks were approaching the “B” Echelon area from the south, and were engaged by 7 H. The “B” Echelon area was 435398. 7 H were forced to withdraw by the very superior numbers of enemy tanks, and Brig. Davy asked for the return of the reserve sqn of 6 RTR which, after knocking out 5 Mk 2 tanks on the WEST of the aerodrome had been put under command Sp. Gp. as a reserve.
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Re: 6th RTR in CRUSADER who killed them..

Post by Urmel » 21 Dec 2011 19:25

Nice find Tom.

If you look closely at the entry for 21 Nov 41, you'll notice two points:

1) The KRRC attack went in at 0830 hrs, the same time the German tanks were reported. But the desastrous follow-on move, in which RHQ, B, and C Squadron passed through the line towards the Trigh Capuzzo. This means that there would have been time to call this attack off. I need to get back into my records to see how long it took KRRC to take their objective, but it wasn't a hop-skip-and-a-jump.
2) There was no reserve squadron. But the line you have there clearly refers to A Sqdn which supported 2 RB, and which destroyed 5 German Mk. IIs (and other stuff) while doing so, with very few losses.
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 » 23 Dec 2011 10:57

Were the 6 RTR under the command of 7 Armd Bde or 7 Support Group that morning?

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

Post by Urmel » 23 Dec 2011 15:13

My understanding is that they were given a task in support of 7 Support Group, and that would have put them under command of the same, but I am away from the documents at the moment I'm afraid.
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 » 10 Apr 2012 20:39

Hi,

I found some relevant information to this discussion in the war diary of 4 RHA (WO169/1429):

Code: Select all

21 November 1941
Combined attack by KRRC and 6 RTR to capture escarpment NORTH of aerodrome was made at first light supported by the Regt. 2 RTR were watching left, 7 H right. Shortly after attack began 7 H were attacked by large number of German tks and F Bty were ordered under comd 7 H; they turned round and engaged Tks due east. Attack on escarpment succeeded but 6 RTR on left ran into trouble. Capt D. Smith, Comd C Tp, who was FOO with 6 RTR was wounded and was replaced by 2/Lt A.T. Kershaw, who went out in armd O.P. and neither he nor any of his party were ever heard of again. 6 RTR now had only 20 Tks left. 7 H had been badly mauled, lost a lot of Tks and were badly scattered. Throughout the day, Tks kept threatening from EAST and S.E. and were engaged by guns of 3 RHA, 4 RHA and 60 Fd and never closed in to attack. 2 RTR put in an attack in the evening and quickly lost several tks and this was virtually the end of the 7 Armd Bde. 4 RHA, less C Bty came under comd Sp Gp.
No sign of 2/Lt A.T. Kershaw on CWGC website so, hopefully, he was captured and survived.

Regards

Tom

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

Post by valentine III » 16 May 2012 12:45

I'm amazed that the squadrons that tried to reach El Duda continued to charge or tried to fight back while being shot to pieces by the 88's and other axis antitank guns. I imagine that the comander of the regiment was an early casualty. The regiment 6th RTR took part in the Battleaxe operation that was a failure and had knowledge of what a few 88's could do to a tank regiment unsuported...

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

Post by Andy H » 16 May 2012 13:58

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.

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

Post by Urmel » 17 May 2012 12:54

valentine III wrote:I'm amazed that the squadrons that tried to reach El Duda continued to charge or tried to fight back while being shot to pieces by the 88's and other axis antitank guns. I imagine that the comander of the regiment was an early casualty. The regiment 6th RTR took part in the Battleaxe operation that was a failure and had knowledge of what a few 88's could do to a tank regiment unsuported...
It may simply have been too sudden, and they probably ended up in a kill zone they couldn't get out of.

I am still looking for evidence of 88s from primary documentation. Thus far I couldn't find any. But it appears that Panzerjaeger 605 was involved in this battle.

Which is of course a correction of my earlier post:
Urmel wrote:I have not seen any evidence of 6 RTR encountering 605. PzJgAbt, and I doubt that somehow. The specific claim in the British/SA histories is that AA3 with attached 88s sorted them out. Everything else is just speculation, more or less informed.
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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