War Diaries of 4th (Queen's Own) Hussars
CO: Lt Col EGG Lillingston
|1-3/1/1941||Spent in settling in and becoming acclimatised to desert conditions. The camp on the whole was very well laid out, with water laid on to one stand-pipe. Sanitary arrangements were, on the whole, good. Bathing facilities scarce.|
|4/1/1941||1 Sgt and 4 ORs to CAIRO where they were guests of the Gezira Sporting Club for the next week, being on a house boat on the Nile.|
|8/1/1941||48 hours leave commenced for the Regt to CAIRO. The numbers allotted were very limited. MQMS WH Heaps and RSM CR Ransom of the Regt were today promoted to Emergency commissions at Lts. Both remained with the Regt.|
|12/1/1941||The Regt today experienced its first duststorm which continued for most of the day. Normal work was brought almost to a standstill, and the men were occupied in erecting one or two of the tents which had been blown down and securing the remainder.|
|16/1/1941||The cinema, an all wood structure, caught fire. The fire was confined to the screen end of the building, thereby saving the greater part of the building including the operating machinery and the power plant. As the Orderly Room tents were threatened by live embers being blown about, orders were given for the tents to be cleared and struck. The CO and Capt ST Eve left for a tour of the Western Desert battlefields. Command of the Regt was taken over by Major PW Dollar.|
|25/1/1941||Sqns carried out battle practice from Tanks and scout cars.|
|26/1/1941||Battle practice continues. CO and Capt Eve return.|
|27/1/1941||Major PW Dollar, TSM Wilson and 4 fitters left for BARDIA to procure and put into working order certain wheeled vehicles captured from the enemy. Major Dollar proceeded by aeroplane, the remainder by road.|
|28/1/1941||Major HG Cowdell and 2Lt EB Newton left for a tour of Western Desert battlefields.|
|30/1/1941||An early morning enemy raid on the ISMAILIA area. The digging in of tents and slit trenches was nearly completed.|
|General Remarks. The arrangements made by Movement Control for the disembarkation and reception of the Regt’s Tanks were very bad. An advance party, Capt TI Taylor and 2 other Officers and 147 ORs, had been organised for looking after the Tanks on arrival. This party had arrived Port Said on 24.12.40 and was sent to the camp where the Regt found them on arrival. Shortly afterwards the Tanks arrived at Port Said, and immediately their arrival was known, Capt Taylor with 33 ORs was sent off to guard them. They found they had been broken into and pilfered. This necessitated a careful check of deficiencies which were recorded by Sqns at the subsequent Bde Court of Inquiry which was held on 22.1.41. Again, owing to the lack of organisation of loading by Movement Control and embarkation staff at Liverpool, and to the careless handling by dock personnel there, the heavy baggage of all units had been mixed up on the ship and many cases had been smashed or broken open. RSM Ransom with the baggage party (3 Officers and 30 ORs) was sent to Port Said with the ship. He was instructed to employ carpenters at the docks to repair or replace broken cases. Thanks to his energy, and the care with which the cases had been registered on leaving Husbands Bosworth, the losses were not serious and were noted for the Bde Court of Inquiry which was held on 22.1.41. The delay in obtaining railway trucks for conveying the Tanks seemed interminable, and also the length of time on the journey. It was not until the 15th of the month that the Tanks arrived at the camp, with the exception of one Tank which fell into the sea at Port Said. During the period of waiting for the Tanks to arrive, 4 Lt Tanks were taken over from KDGs on the 9th, and allotted 1 to each Sqn, for the purpose of training young drivers. Instructions having been received that the Regt had to form a Supernumerary Tp, a further 3 Tanks were taken over from the KDGs on the 19th and handed over to 2Lt ARL Hornby who formed this Tp. A decision to form the KDGs into an Armd Car unit enable the Regt to take over all of their Tanks on the 28th. These were distributed amongst the Sqns. Modifications to make the vehicles which had arrived, desert worthy, were taken in hand immediately upon arrival, and various fitting put in hand to ensure the comfort of the crews under desert conditions. Strenuous efforts were made, particularly by the QM and the Technical Officer, to obtain items, not already supplied, from the Ordnance Depot at Abbassia; but owing to the Regt not being on the priority list and the pressure on the Ordnance, presumably owing to the campaigns in the desert and the Sudan, little could be obtained before the 27th, when issues began. No news could be obtained of the Regtl transport which was loaded on the SS Rinda at Swansea on 28.10.40 and its absence caused great inconvenience and delay in getting the Regt ready for operations. Training continued under Sqn arrangements, particular attention being given to navigation, maintenance and operating under desert conditions both by day and night. Practical work in Tanks was not possible until their modification and fittings had been completed, but towards the end of the month sufficient were available. On the 25th and 29th of the month range and battle practice with .303 and .5 ammunition were carried out on the ranges North of the camp. This was the first firing carried out since July 1940. The shooting was satisfactory though there was not enough practice ammunition available and it is hoped more will be obtained in the near future. The health of the Regt was good, but serious difficulties were experienced in obtaining baths for the men owing to a faulty water supply, lack of heating and the non-completion of the camp baths. The rations were good though the variety limited. Leave was continuous throughout the month. Football grounds were marked out and cleared of stones under the Padre, Capt PSW Howard. A cement cricket pitch was constructed and baseball was started. The weather was cool and very pleasant except for frequent duststorms.|
Disembarkation of Tanks – 4th Q O Hussars.
To:- HQ 1st Armd Bde.
From:- OC, 4th Q O Hussars 2.1.41
On arrival at the Regtl camp on December 31st 1940, I was informed by the Officer in charge of the Regtl Advance Party that he and his party had been sent on to the Regtl camp by Movement Control immediately on disembarkation.
This party had been detailed by me, under 2nd Armd Div Admin Instruction No 13 of 21st October 1940 to take charge of the Tanks on disembarkation.
The next morning, on enquiring from the Bde Comdr what was happening to our Tanks, I was informed that a member of the Div Staff had seen them lying unguarded and open and uncovered on the quay at Port Said. I was instructed to send an Officer and a guard to take charge of them, which I did.
Meanwhile, the AA Defence party (of 13 ORs), which had travelled on the ship with them, arrived at the Regtl camp under orders received from Movement Control. The Sgt in charge of this party had done his best to look after the Tanks but was over-ridden by Movement control and the RAOC. I enclose a copy of his statement of what happened.
I would point out here that this party was detailed as AA Defence on the voyage and I never would for one moment have considered such a party adequate for looking after the Tanks of the Regt on disembarkation.
As a result of what has happened I am unable to accept the responsibility for any losses which may have occurred since embarkation, nor am I able to state what such losses may be until the Tanks have arrived and have been properly inspected and checked. Immediately they arrive I will have this inspection and check carried out and will forward a report of the result.
Lt Col commanding 4th Q O Hussars.
COPY OF THE STATEMENT BY THE SERGEANT I/C AA DEFENCE PARTY.
I was the Sgt i/c the AA Defence Party on the ship carrying the Regt’s Tanks. Our ship came alongside the dock at Port Said on December 24th 1940 and landed 23 Tanks by crane to the dockside.
These Tanks had to be unlocked in order to get them to the crane. When in the crane they had been locked again, except for the front driver’s flap, which had to be left open in order to manoeuvre the Tanks on shore, and which I could shut up from the outside when they had been put in the desired place.
I was ordered by an RAOC representative of movement and control to have these Tanks towed to the filling station, to have the tanks filled with petrol and water.
On arrival there , Sgt Standring, whom I had sent with the Tanks, was ordered by the RSM of the RAOC to leave the Tanks unlocked so that they could check the tools and equipment for loss or deficiency on the voyage.
Sgt Standring told the RSM that he (Sgt Standring) had orders to stay with the Tanks, and was told by the RSM that it was nothing to do with him and he must leave them there. Sgt Standring returned and reported this to me whilst I was unloading Tanks. It took 5 days to unload these 23 Tanks with other cargo, and on the second day I went off my self to the filling station and was informed it was nothing to do with me and I was to leave the Tanks there.
On the 29th of December our ship moved out from the dockside and the other 29 Tanks had to be unloaded by lighters. I sent L/Sgt Watson with the Tanks on the first lighter and he was told that from the moment the Tanks left the ship they were nothing to do with us and in fact he had to pay his fare back to the ship.
In all cases the Tanks were sent over by me with their padlocks locked, but with the driver’s flap open so that they could be parked in the desired position.
I had always intended finally to close the driver’s flaps, but had not only never been allowed to do so by the Movement Control but had been very clearly told that it had nothing to do with me. I also noticed that in many cases the padlocks on the turrets had been forced whilst the Tanks were in charge of Movement control.
Sgd. P Shaw
CO: Lt Col EGG Lillingston
|7/2/1941||Wheeled vehicles of the Regt arrived at SUEZ in the SS Rinda. Capt de Moraville, Lt Heaps and 12 ORs left for Suez to collect them.|
|8/2/1941||A further party under 2Lt Paterson left for Suez, owing to the Regt having to assist with the vehicles of the KDGs, as they were leaving in their Armd Cars for the Western Desert.|
|9/2/1941||21 3-tonners arrived from Suez. Major Dollar returned from the Western Desert.|
|10/2/1941||1 utility car and 23 lorries arrived from Suez. Major Cowdell and 2Lt Newton returned from the Western Desert.|
|11/2/1941||Remaining vehicles arrived from Suez.|
|12/2/1941||Vehicles to make up the Regt to Desert Establishment were taken over from Bde. These vehicles were one which had belonged to the KDGs and were deficient of practically all of their tools, which necessitated a Bde Court of Inquiry. Capt Kennard and 3 ORs left for TOBRUK.|
|13/2/1941||A TEWT was held by Comdr 1st Armd Bde which was attended by the new Div Comdr, Major General MD Gambier-Parry MC.|
|15/2/1941||A practice Regtl Marching Order parade was held after which the method of packing vehicles with the new equipment and modifications was decided on.|
|19/2/1941||The Div Comdr visited the Regt for the first time and walked round the camp.|
|20/2/1941||A tactical exercise organised by 1st Armd Bde was carried out. The Regt with one Sqn 3rd RTR, one Tp RHA, one Tp NH and one coy Rangers under command, crossed the ISMAILIA Canal at BILBEIS. Capt Kennard and 4 ORs arrived back in camp.|
|21/2/1941||The Regt moved back to camp. All vehicles returned apart from 1 Tank of C Sqn which was evacuated by the LAD. The total mileage covered on the exercise was about 130 miles.|
|24/2/1941||The Regt ordered to mobilize on a standard War Establishment. Desert equipment was to be kept but surplus vehicles were ordered to be handed over.|
|25/2/1941||The Regt was placed on the Priority List for the first time since arrival in Egypt.|
|26/2/1941||12 3-ton lorries, 3 30cwt lorries and 3 15cwt trucks were handed over. The Regt was allowed to retain 2 surplus 30cwt lorries for carrying batteries.|
|27/2/1941||The night of 27/28th heavy rain started to fall.|
|28/2/1941||The Regt came direct under 2nd Armd Div. Rain continued in storms throughout the day and caused several tents to be flooded and the road through camp became almost impassable.|
CO: Lt Col EGG Lillingston
|1/3/1941||Orders received to proceed to assembly area at AMIRIYA. Tanks ordered to entrain at TEL EL KEBIR at 1400 hours on the 2nd. Rain continued.|
|2/3/1941||The wheeled vehicles left camp at 0650 hours and proceeded to WADI NATRUN where they spent the night. Owing to the shortage of ‘flats’ entrainment of tanks was postponed till 0600 hours 3rd March. Rain continuing.|
|3/3/1941||52 tanks entrained starting at 0600 hours and left for AMIRIYA. The remainder of the Regt entrained at QASSASIN. The whole Regt arrived at AMIRIYA that night. The Tanks were not detrained that night. Considerable help in pitching tents was given by the Australians. The Regt came under command 4th New Zealand Bde. Rain stopped and the weather cleared.|
|4/3/1941||The tanks detrained at about 1400 hours. At 1700 hours orders were received for all wheeled vehicles to assemble in the Dock disposal area for embarkation at 1720 hours. This was altered to 0530 hours 5th March.At 2230 hours orders were received for the Tanks to proceed to the docks at ALEXANDRIA, leaving camp at 0800 hours 5th of March.|
|5/3/1941||All wheeled vehicles left camp at 0500 hours. All tanks left at 0800 hours but remained on the road beside the camp until about 1130 hours. All vehicles spent the night at the docks.|
|6/3/1941||Loading of the vehicles was started, SS Clan Macauley, SS Cingalese Prince and SS Settler. Four Officers and one man per vehicle only were allowed to proceed with these ships. During the afternoon the Comdr 1st Armd Bde altered this to two men per Tank and one man per other vehicle. Two more Officers and the RQMS were also added to the party.|
|7/3/1941||Loading of vehicles was completed.|
|8/3/1941||Warning order for the main party to move to the docks at ALEXANDRIA tomorrow morning were received at 1300 hours. The afternoon was therefore spent in preparing for this move.|
|9/3/1941||0400 – Main party left, in relays, by RASC lorries for IKINGI station. 0500 – breakfast. 0600 – party entrained and left for the docks arriving at 0830 hours and embarked on HM Cruiser ‘Gloucester’, which eventually pulled out of the harbour at 1145 hours. Much assistance with the loading and stowage of the Regt’s baggage was given by the ship’s crew. This was much appreciated by all ranks of the Regt.|
|10/3/1941||1030 - The cruiser arrived at PIREUS in Greece. 1130 – the Regt disembarked and later had dinner on the quayside, and was then taken in relays, by lorries, to a marshalling camp at GLYFADA, arriving there at 1430 hours. Men allowed out in the evening.|
|11/3/1941||0730 – Ships carrying the Regt’s vehicles arrived at PIREUS. Disembarkation commenced and as the vehicles arrived in camp they were sent they were sent to a Greek aircraft factory for re-camouflaging.|
|12/3/1941||RSM Taylor with 50 ORs and 2 lorries left camp by road for VERIA. More vehicles arrived in camp and were sent for re-camouflaging. A Greek interpreter arrived in camp.|
|13/3/1941||The CO and Adjt, Major CA Peel, with the interpreter left by road for VERIA. RHQ Tanks and Scout cars left camp for loading on to train, under command of Lt RE Henshaw. Major Cowdell was placed in command of an MT column consisting of 44 Officers, 1530 ORs, 373 lorries and 106 MCs, which is to proceed to VERIA, leaving camp tomorrow. Rain again fell this evening making conditions cold, wet and miserable.|
|14/3/1941||0630 – Regtl wheeled vehicles left GLYFADA, at the head of the column referred to above, and proceeded to ATALANTI via ATHENS, ELEPEIO, MANDRA, THIVIE and LEVADIA, distance 128 miles. Snow and wintry conditions were encountered during the journey. All personnel spent the night in a school at ATALANTI. The column was diverted after LEVADIA via the coast route, owing to the mountain pass South of LAMIA being reported as impassable. The remainder of the Regt’s Tanks were loaded onto 2 trains during the morning. These trains with 11 Officers and 84 ORs, under command Major Dollar and Major Clements, left ATHENS for VERIA. 1600 – The train with RHQ Tanks and Scout cars, under Lt Henshaw, arrived at SKYDRA station. 1630 – The CO and Adjt arrived at VERIA and met Lt Henshaw’s party and fixed them up in a field for the night. Lt Ransom was left at GLYFADA in command of 1st Reinforcements – 4 Officers and 55 ORs.|
|15/3/1941||0830 – Regtl wheeled vehicles left ATALANTI and proceeded to TYRNAVOS via LIVANATES, KAMENA, VOURLA, LAMIA, PHARSALA and LARISSA, distance 127 miles. Great improvement in the weather but still hard frost at night. 1630 – The Tank train arrived VERIA and were sent on by the CO to SKYDRA station. 1700 – First train arrived SKYDRA . Tanks were immediately unloaded. 1830 – Second train arrived SKYDRA but Tanks were not unloaded. Personnel bivouacked in the station yard for the night. The CO and Adjt, assisted by the Bde Greek Liaison Officer, found an area for the Regt in and around the barracks North of YANNITSA.|
|16/3/1941||0700 – Second Tank train unloaded and the Regt moved into Greek barracks at YANNITSA. 0900 – Regtl wheeled vehicles left TYRNAVOS and proceeded to KOZANI via DOMENIKO and SERVIA, distance 76 miles. Very hard frost.|
|17/3/1941||Regtl wheeled vehicles left harbour and proceeded to YANNITSA via VERIA, distance 83 miles. All vehicles of the Regt which had originally left TAHAG camp, Egypt, arrived safely. Officers on the march with the wheeled vehicles were:-Major HG Cowdell, Lt AE White, Lt WH Heaps, 2Lt EB Newton, 2Lt CM Curwen, Capt (Rev) PSW Howard, Lt Romero.|
|18/3/1941||The LAD arrived during the afternoon. The CO and Sqn Ldrs out on recce. Personnel spent the day on maintenance, digging slit-trenches and gun pits. C Coy of the 1st Rangers, KRRC, with Bren carriers, arrived in the barracks with the Regt.|
|21/3/1941||C Sqn under the command of Major D Harrison moved out of barracks at YANNITSA to AXIOPOULIS. An air raid alarm was sounded during the day – enemy recce plane overhead.|
|22/3/1941||The CO went on a recce and travelled as far as the YUGOSLAV border.|
|24/3/1941||Another air raid alarm sounded today – enemy recce plane.|
|25/3/1941||4Tp of B Sqn under command Capt J de Moraville moved out of barracks to VERRIA.The Colonel, Major Dollar and the Adjt attended local Greek church this morning. Greek celebrations of their independence.|
|26/3/1941||Regtl HQ and Fighting Tp moved out from barracks at YANNITSA to Water Works at NEA KHALKEDON. A Sqn under command of Capt RSG Smith also moved to the area of NEA KHALKEDON.|
|28/3/1941||C Sqn moved from AXIOPOULIS to ATHYRAS.|
|29/3/1941||The Colonel out all day with the Brigadier on recce in the vicinity of the STRUMA Valley.|
|31/3/1941||General Remarks. Since arriving in the YANNITSA area, maintenance of vehicles was carried out daily under Sqn arrangements. Gun positions and slit-trenches were dug. Apart from one cold and bleak day the weather has been extremely warm and pleasant. Everyone found the Greek population very friendly and obliging. Recces were carried out over a wide area by the CO and Sqn Ldrs. The CO covered 2017 miles between the 16th and 31st of March.|
CO: Lt Col EGG Lillingston
|1-5/4/1941||Further recce work and liaison with Greek troops.|
|6/4/1941||0530 – German attack launched on BELES Mountains. B2 Echelon ordered to AMYTHAION. Major Harrison left at AXIOPOULIS with 4 ORs and were joined by 3 Scout cars from Bde HQ and one Tp of Greek Cavalry. Capt Eve took command of C Sqn.|
|8/4/1941|| 0030 – Information received that Germans threatening AXIOPOULIS.
Railway bridge AXIOPOULIS blown at approx 1300 hours.
1600 – B1 Echelon ordered area SYDRA.
1700 – Regt ordered to KOZANI. B1 proceeded via EDESSA. Remainder via VERIA. One Tank of B Sqn destroyed NEA KHALKEDON area.
|9/4/1941||0900 – B1 Echelon arrived KOZANI.1200 – remainder of Regt arrived KOZANI. Detached Tps from A & C Sqns rejoined the Regt. One Tp of A Sqn (Lt Romney) detailed to proceed to Bde HQ at PERDIKA. A Sqn detached from Regt and ordered to AMYTHAION bridge where came under command of the Bde Comdr. Lt Romney’s Tp completed its role and rejoined A sq. The CO and Bde Major recced area PERDIKA and PTOLEMAIS. The weather began to break – heavy rain.|
|11/4/1941||Remainder of the Regt, less B2 Echelon, moved to area PERDIKA. Recces by all Sqns for lines of withdrawal. Extremely heavy rain. Ground and tracks (other than KOZANI – FLORINA road) were in most cases impassable to wheeled vehicles. B2 Echelon moved to GREVENA.|
|12/4/1941||Regt, less A Sqn, moved back to high ground behind PTOLEMAIS and harboured. Orders issued by CO and battle positions allotted. 1400 – B1 Echelon, less thin skins, ordered to GREVENA. Weather cleared up. Extreme frost at night.|
|13/4/1941||At first light Regt moved into battle positions. 1400 – forward elements of enemy Armd Div reached PTOLEMAIS. Battle ensued. Regt withdrawn to MAVRODENDRI. Four Tanks lost to enemy action, one Tank mechanical breakdown. Orders received to move to GREVENA – drove all night.|
|14/4/1941||0700 – Arrived GREVENA and joined up with B1 Echelon. 1200 – Heavily dive-bombed by approx 20 Stukas. Machined gunned and bombed intermittently by individual aircraft throughout the afternoon. 1400 – B1 Echelon moved to area South of river where they joined B2 Echelon. Regt moved to area 5 miles South of GREVENA after dark.|
|15/4/1941||Regt moved at first light in small formations to area South of the river. Continuous dive-bombing attacks took place along the road but no casualties. Moved very slowly owing to great press of Greek vehicles of all descriptions. B Sqn was left North of the river until dark, when it moved South, leaving one Tp (Lt Crichton) to guard the bridge. C Sqn given the role of protecting right rear flank.Overnight a patrol was sent North of GREVENA but made no contact with the enemy. B Echelons harboured KALABAKA area.|
|16/4/1941||Orders to withdraw to KALABAKA, acting as rearguard to Bde. Moved after dark and the CO halted the Regt at about midnight after going some 5 miles. Owing to the number of abandoned vehicles and the state of the road it was impossible to proceed in the dark, but RHQ went forward a further 4 miles and halted to enable Sqns to spread out at first light. B Echelons harboured 10 miles West of VOLOS.|
|17/4/1941||Regt proceeded to KALABAKA, arrivng at 1430 hours, when orders were received to proceed to ATALANTI area (170 miles) independently. 2000 – Left KALABAKA.|
|18/4/1941|| Refuelled at LARISSA and left for PHARSALA at 1100 hours. Road
from LARISSA to PHARSALA completely blocked by vehicles, resulting in
very slow progress. Bombing and machine gunning attacks throughout the
1800 – Sqns ordered by the CO to move independently, if necessary, to harbour 5 miles South of PHARSALA Pass.
2000 – RV South of PHARSALA. 30 Tanks reached PHARSALA. Casualties from GREVENA were 3 Tanks lost enemy action, 2 bogged and 3 mechanical defects. CO called a conference at PHARSALA and in view of severe enemy air attacks and of the danger of being caught in mountain passes in daylight, it was decided to move to LAMIA by night.
|19/4/1941||Regt arrived North of LAMIA. Refuelled at first light. Withdrew behind THEMOPOLAE Line and halted for maintenance 12 miles North of ATALANTI. Tank casualties the previous night on mountain passes were 17, all steering troubles. CO reported personally to the Brigadier and was ordered to on the morrow to area THEBES – KHALKIS.|
|20/4/1941||Sent LO to GLYFADA to collect fitters. Regt moved to THEBES where essential maintenance was carried out. Four RASC lorries reported to the Regt North of ATALANTI and dismounted Tank crews etc were sent off to ATHENS under Major Clements. Major Clements was ordered to wait at THEBES for the Regt and Capt Taylor took command of this party, consisting of 2 lorries. The other 2 lorries remained with the Regt. Lt Crichton sent to Force HQ as Liaison Officer.|
|21/4/1941||Maintenance carried out and Regt moved after dark to GLYFADA via ATHENS.Three patrols, 2Lt Paterson, 2Lt Beachcroft and 2Lt Peacock were sent out. 2Lt Henderson attached to Ferrying party in PELEPONESE under 3rd RTR.|
|22/4/1941||0400 – Regt arrived GLYFADA and reorganised. HQ – 3 Tanks and 1 Armd Car and three Sqns of four Troops (one Armd Tp of 3 Tanks and 2 Bren carriers and 3 rifle Tps of 1 Officer and 25 ORs with varying quantities of light automatics). Role – ordered to take up position inclusive CORINTH Canal, inclusive PATRAS. A Sqn to PATRAS. C Sqn East of PATRAS. B Sqn East of C Sqn. HQ at CORINTH Bridge with one Tp of C Sqn, Capt Taylor. Moved off after dark.|
|23/4/1941||Regt moved into position and recces carried out. One truck of B Sqn bombed – direct hit, 8 killed and 5 wounded. Approx 80 ORs remained at GLYFADA under command Major Cowdell. Took up position on ATHENS Racecourse.|
|24/41941||Force LO sent to ATHENS to attempt to get reinforcements from Force HQ for defence of CORINTH. BGS visited CORINTH at 2000 hours and agreed to attach one Coy of Australians. Regt ordered by BGS to leave CORINTH area on the 27th and to embark KALAMATA on the night 28/29th.|
|25/4/1941||Major Cowdell’s force left ATHENS 0200 hours, arrived ARGOS approx 2200 hours. Orders to embark NAUPHLION cancelled and proceeded to KALAMATA. One Coy Australians under 4th Hussars took up covering position North of CORINTH Canal. CO sent orders to Sqns to rendezvous South of CORINTH on night 26/27th|
|26/4/1941||0700 – Heavy bombing followed by parachute attack on CORINTH Canal. RHQ heavily involved and a total loss. A, B & C Sqns under command Major Clements left PATRAS approx 1400 hours and proceeded independently to KALAMATA, arriving night 27/28th. No further information available.|
|27/4/1941||40 ORs under command Capt Taylor proceeded to MONEMVASIA, arriving morning of the 28th. Major Cowdell’s party embarked night 27/28th at KALAMATA on various ships. Major Cowdell and 16 ORs on “Costa Rica”, which was sunk. Others lost in destroyers. Casualties: - numerous but scarcity of information.|
|28/4/1941||4th Hussars party landed in CRETE, consisting of 4 Officers and 70 ORs under Major Cowdell. Capt Taylor’s party embarked night of 28th, arriving SUDA BAY approx 0700 hours on the 29th.|
|29/4/1941||Capt Taylor’s party proceeded to ALEXANDRIA, arriving approx 1800 hours on the 30th. Major Cowdell’s party organised into HQ and three Troops.|
|30/4/1941||Capt TI Taylor, Capt J Eden, 2Lt P Chrichton, 2Lt R Beachcroft, 2Lt JG Vaughan, 2Lt EB Newton and 85 ORs disembarked ALEXANDRIA. Attached leave and transit camp, SIDI BISHR.|
|NOTE. As all the Senior Officers of the Regt who took part in the Greek Campaign are now missing or PoW, this diary is incomplete and is only intended to act as a guide for the writing of the complete diary at the conclusion of the War.|
CO: Lt Col RB Sheppard DSO
|1/5/1941||Egypt. Capt Taylor’s party proceeded to TAHIG camp. All ranks attached to HQ Sqn 1st Armd Bde For all purposes. Capt Taylor assumes temporary command.|
|4/5/1941||Egypt. All ranks granted 5 days leave.|
|5/5/1941||Crete. Major Cowdell’s party moved to positions around KOUNOUPIDIANA to protect AKROTER peninsular and AA guns overlooking SUDA Bay, from airborne troops.|
|8/5/1941||Egypt. Lt AE White and 2Lt KC Caldwell disembarked ALEXANDRIA and admitted 27th General Hospital. Discharged 14th and 10th May respectively.|
|10/5/1941||Crete. Major Cowdell’s party sailed from SUDA Bay in the “City of Gloucester”.|
|11/5/1941||Egypt. Major Cowdell, Capt Howard, Lt Green, Lt Ransom, Lt Heaps, 2Lt Paterson and 74 ORs disembarked ALEXANDRIA from CRETE.|
|16/5/1941||Major Cowdell’s party proceeded to TAHAG Camp and were attached to HQ Sqn 1st Armd Bde. Major Cowdell attached RAC Base Depot, ABBASSIA.|
|18/5/1941||Capt PA Uniacke rejoins Regt from HQ 7th Armd Div.|
|19/5/1941||Lt C Daggett and Lt J O’Brien taken on strength of the Regt.|
|21/5/1941||Major RB Sheppard DSO assumes command of the Regt and is promoted Lt Colonel.|
|22/5/1941||Capt R Dale and 2Lt HL White rejoin Regt from HQ 1st Armd Bde.|
|24/5/1941||Regt reorganised into four Sqns. In temporary command - A Sqn - Capt Dale. B Sqn - Capt Taylor. C Sqn - Capt Uniacke. RHQ Sqn - Lt Crichton.|
|26/5/1941||Advance party leaves for BENI YUSEF camp by road.|
|27/5/1941||Main party leaves for BENI YUSEF by rail.|
|28/5/1941|| Battle casualties published showing the following:-
Killed in Action:- 2Lt AS Nicholls and 12 ORs.
Wounded:- Lt AE White, 2Lt KC Caldwell and 2 ORs
Missing, believed drowned:- 14 ORs
Missing, believed PoW:-Lt Col Lillingston, Major Dollar, Major Clements, Major Peel, Major Harrison Capt Smith, Capt Eve, Capt Hamilton, Capt Wijk, Capt Kennard, Lt Dixon, 2Lt Romney, 2Lt Pragnell, 2Lt Henshaw, 2Lt Hornby, 2Lt Gilbey, 2Lt Black, 2Lt Henderson, 2Lt Peacock, Capt de Moraville, 2Lt Curwen, 2Lt Saturley, 2Lt Southall and 395 ORs.
|29/5/1941||2Lt AC Telford joined the Regt from RAC Base Depot. Three Officers and 8 NCOs proceed to RAC Base Depot as Instructors for Regtl course of D&M and Gunnery.|
|NOTE. As all the Senior Officers of the Regt who took part in the Greek Campaign are now missing, believed PoW this diary is incomplete and is only intended to act as a guide for the writing of the complete diary at the conclusion of the War.|
CO: Lt Col RB Sheppard DSO
|1/6/1941||30 ORs to ABBASSIA RAC Base Depot on courses.|
|5/6/1941||Capt de Moraville granted immediate award of the Military Cross.|
|6/6/1941||Lt O’Brien and 2Lt Paterson leave for ALEXANDRIA to collect training equipment|
|8/6/1941||Major Kidd and Capt Blackett posted to Regt from the Royal dragoons.|
|12/6/1941||Orders received for the Regt to proceed to GEZEIRA on anti-parachute duties. Lt Daggert and 2Lt Paterson and 25 ORs left by road at once.|
|13/6/1941||Remainder of Regt left by road for GAZEIRA where quarters are taken on the Racecourse.|
|15/6/1941||Visit by the Brigadier this morning.|
|21/6/1941||Lt CS Baily posted to the Regt.Capt S Benjamin posted to the Regt.|
|30/6/1941||Major Kidd, Capt Blackett and Capt Benjamin join the Regt. Strength – 22 Officers and 196 ORs|
CO: Lt Col RB Sheppard DSO
|1/7/1941||2Lt Paterson and party back from MERSA MATRUH|
|4/7/1941||30 ORs to ABBASSIA on second set of courses.|
|9/7/1941||Lt Caldwell leaves with 27 ORs to drive MT up to PALESTINE.|
|14/7/1941||Regt takes over guard duties at CinC house and GOC house. Lt Caldwell and party return.|
|19/7/1941||Regt informed that the Sqn would probably do duty in the Western Desert as Recce Sqn to 1st Army Tank Bde.|
|24/7/1941||Lt O’Brien mention in despatches.|
|Remainder of month unreadable manuscript.|
CO: Lt Col RB Sheppard DSO
|4/8/1941||Regtl courses, D&M and gunnery finished at ABBASSIA.|
|5/8/1941||Major HG Cowdell appointed Sqn Ldr of RHQ Sqn.|
|8/8/1941||A Sqn, commanded by Major FH Blackett, moved to ABBASSIA for equipment.|
|Note: During the month the major event was the equipping of A Sqn with Mark VIB Tanks. Strength, 16 Tanks with full complement of B Echelon. The remainder of the Regt, strength 20 Officers and 130 ORs, were left at GEZIRA Racecourse and continued training.|
CO: Lt Col RB Sheppard DSO
|5/9/1941||A Sqn moved up to Western Desert as recce Sqn to 1st Tank Bde, under command Major Blackett. Officers:- Capt Dale 2i/c, A/Capt Green, Lt Caldwell, Lt O’Brien, Lt Paterson, Lt Telford.B Echelon – Capt Benjamin, 2Lt Vaughan.|
|8/9/1941||20 ORs posted to Regt from Base Depot.|
|19/9/1941||Regt moved to BENI YUSEF and reformed RHQ, B & C Sqns commanded by Capt Archer, Major Cowdell and Capt Taylor respectively.|
|26/9/1941||80 ORs posted from RAC Base Depot ABBASSIA.|
|Summary:- A Sqn have been inactive during the month. This Sqn is under strength and at the moment numbers 91. The remainder of the Regt have been training and reforming. Total strength of the Regt is now 291 incl A Sqn. Under strength therefore 312|
CO: Lt Col RB Sheppard DSO
|8/10/1941|| MQMS Wilson rejoined the Regt having escaped from the prison camp
at SALONIKA on the night of 1st July, making his way back to Egypt via
Turkey. He reported that amongst the PoW were the following Officers up
to 10th June.
Whilst the Officers were in camp the Regt was organised into Sqns and normal discipline was maintained. After the Officers were sent to Germany RSM Suddaby took over command until eventually the men were sent off to different PoW Camps.
|9/10/1941||The Regt moved to Calcutta Lines, Mena Camp.|
|10/10/1941||Capt Taylor promoted A/Major. Lt Caldwell promoted A/Capt. Lt Johnson promoted A/Capt. Capt Uniacke detached to I Branch.|
|19/10/1941||Lt Crichton attached to 1st Armd Bde for duty as Bde Int Officer.|
|20/10/1941||A Sqn arrived back from Desert. All vehicles handed over to OFP for re-issue to New Zealand Div cavalry. Capt Dale attached to K Corps. Lt Howard promoted A/Capt, to complete establishment. Major Knight joined the Regt and assumed command RHQ Sqn. 2Lt Dunlop, North Irish Horse, attached to Regt and posted to A Sqn.|
|28/10/1941|| The Regt was reorganised – 3 Sqns and RHQ.
A Sqn -Major Blackett.
B Sqn -Major Cowdell.
C Sqn -Major Taylor. RHQ -Major Knight.
One American Tank MkIII to each Sqn and Tech Adjt.
|Summary. A Sqn have performed normal patrol duties around BIR DIQNAISH until their return to MENA camp. Remainder of the Regt have been training and reforming. Total strength is now 29 Officers and 294 ORs.|
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