Tank Museum photo No. 2121/A/4
I was Troop Leader of 3 Troop, A Squadron (Westminster
Dragoons). We were sent to collect our five Shermans from
the Milner Safe Company in Liverpool, who had converted
them to flails: we were amused, after seeing them being
tested by factory staff in full view of several hundred
other workers on the Trading Estate, to have to sheet our
Flails down fully when we left on the transporters because
they were still on the SECRET list as far as the War Office
Captain David Squirrell.
Tank Museum photo No 2121/D/1
We left Leiston in Suffolk on transporters and unloaded
in Petworth Park amongst the greatest organised chaos yet
seen. We found ourselves attached to a squadron of 13th/18th
Hussars. There we spent most of our time lying on our backs
waterproofing, apart from a parade for the King's inspection.
There was a Squadron Order Group where I realised how unfirmly
we were attached to the 13th/18th and we were given orders
for a move on transporters all the way back to Tilbury.
The following day there was another O Group to say that
they had lost the transporters and we would go on our tracks.
When asked where there would be a Petrol Point the 13th/18th
Squadron Leader told me firmly that I would not need one.
Tilbury was well within the range of a Sherman: they knew
about such things.
They didn't. We ran out of petrol at various places around
the North Circular Road, one driver managing to do so at
the end of his own road. My tank got as far as the edge
of Epping Forest where, because we were so secret, we crossed
the pavement to the shelter of the trees, only to be followed
by a man who said he had been fitting flails to Shermans
at Currans of Cardiff! He was followed by a Council foreman
who was very cross about his pavement. A month later he
sent me a bill for a couple of hundred pounds for repairs.
Lieutenant D F Ingram.
Tank Museum photo No. 2121/C/6
At a briefing we were shown photographs and models of the
beaches in France where we were to land on D-Day and informed
that A Squadron's role was to land on Queen White beach
on 'H' Hour plus 3, and support the Staffordshire Yeomanry
and infantry of 3rd Division in an attempt to 'rush' Caen.
In a large marquee we were issued with stiff new 'anti-gas'
battledress and strange-looking French francs, and later
joined by a Military Police Lance Corporal whose motorcycle
was to be strapped to the turret of our tank for the landing.
At this time, also, we were ordered to paint a large white
star on the roof of the turret and a number on the side.
On two occasions we were taken out of the park to attend
parades. First to receive a 'pep' talk from General Montgomery
and then to be reviewed by the King and Queen and the two
young princesses. A highly polished Crab was part of the
display of specialised armour drawn up at one end of the
field. "I would like to see it working" said His
Majesty lugubriously "but I don't suppose it will".
With the waterproofing completed we took the tanks to a
nearby army base where we drove, in turn, into a large concrete
ditch containing several feet of water. Here we waited anxiously
for a few minutes, listening for sounds of water gushing
in through overlooked holes. However everything turned out
well and we drove back to our assembly point pleased with
Trooper W H Jennings.