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Cromwell and Royal Tank Regiment Stories

Tank Museum photo No. 1809/B/6 Tank Museum photo No. 1809/B/6

A week after the Regiment had begun their new tasks the first issue of tanks was made to them for their own use. To the general surprise these tanks were not of the American Sherman type as had been expected. In their place they got the Cromwell, the standard British cruiser tank with which 7th Armoured Division, unlike other British armoured divisions, was equipped. The Cromwell was a fast, handy tank which carried a 75mm gun and two machine-guns for the use of its crew of five. In neither armament nor armour was it the equal of the German Tiger or Panther, but it did not 'brew up' easily on being hit.

The turret was cramped, and a gunner who had a long-legged crew commander would find himself dug in the back every time his 'skipper' sat down to study a map.
Major General Roger Evans 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards

 

Tank Museum photo No. 5571/F/3Tank Museum photo No. 5571/F/3


7th June 1944. Regiment landed on beaches at Hable-de-Heurat. One Firefly and one Cromwell were lost by drowning. Tanks proceeded to the concentration area, most of the de-waterproofing being done en route.

8th June 1944. The country proved to be very close in this area allowing Boche infantry to get very close to the tanks. On one occasion a tank under command of Lieutenant Garnett was boarded, prompt action by the officer using a Sten gun and his (radio) operator his revolver saved the situation. A lot of trouble was caused by an enemy SP (self-propelled) gun working its way into Sully village and succeeded in knocking out one Firefly. Even at this stage it was becoming very clear that fighting ranges would be extremely short: upwards of 50 yards.

War Diary of 5th Royal Tank Regiment

 

Tank Museum photo No. 0902/A/3Tank Museum photo No. 0902/A/3

At about 1 p.m. the Regiment moved out, A Squadron in the lead. It was a hot afternoon and they drove down steep and narrow country roads in a cloud of choking white dust.

Lieutenant Rampf of A Squadron had his tank knocked out by an infantryman with a Raketen Panzerbusche 43, the German answer to the Bazooka.

At this moment the 4th County of London Yeomanry appeared on the scene and Lieutenant Colonel Goulburn asked them to put the company of 1st Rifle Brigade, which was under their command, into Livry to clear the village. This they were able to do, but as it was by then 8 p.m. it was decided to advance no further that night.

History of the VIIIth King's Royal Irish Hussars


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