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Gold Beach, H Hour +15 Minutes

Discussion in 'Gold Beach' started by Jim, Nov 22, 2007.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Armoured vehicles from British 79th Armoured Division and Sherman DD tanks from 4th - 7th Dragoon Guards, part of 8th Armoured Brigade arrive on Gold Beach to support 5th East Yorkshires during the assault phase of the landings. The specialised armour of British 79th Armoured Division provided all of the British and Canadian beaches with direct fire support. It was a unique formation; its constituent units never fought together as a division but provided heavy firepower and special expertise to whichever division or brigade required it. Each of the tanks had specific tasks to perform but once they landed and began to take casualties confusion reined. These troops are attacking the area around German strongpoint WN 33 on the extreme left of King Sector at La Rivibre. The strongpoint is grouped around the type-H677 casemate (1) containing an 88mm Pak 43/41 gun. French houses within the strongpoint’s perimeter have been reinforced with concrete and small arms and machine gun fire from these positions raked the beach (2). The elimination of the large German gun became the most important priority for the men and armour landing In front of it. The AVREs (Armoured Vehicles Royal Engineers) confronting the enemy casemate were standard Churchill tanks modified for particular tasks. They were armed with a 12in. spigot mortar known as a Petard, which could deliver a massive 261b charge of high explosive - known as the Flying Dustbin - up to a range of 230 yards, although the effective range was about 85 yards.

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    The tanks were capable of destroying the fortification with devastating effect if they could get close enough. The first AVRE tank from 81 Squadron, 6th Assault Regiment Royal Engineers was knocked-out by the German 88mm gun (3). A second AVRE later succumbed to the same gun (4). On the extreme left is a Sherman Crab flail tank from C Squadron, Westminster Dragoons (5). This type of tank was fitted at the front with a revolving drum with attached lengths of chain As the name suggests this flailed the ground as it advanced exploding buried mines. The 88mm gun in strongpoint WN33 was eventually knocked out a short time later by a Crab tank commanded by Captain R.F. Bell, whose 75mm gun put a shell right through the embrasure of the casemate at short range. On the right a DD Sherman from 4th/7th Dragoon Guards (6) is attacking an enemy pillbox supported by men from the East Yorkshires. These Sherman tanks were fitted with canvas floatation screens (7) giving them an amphibious capability. They were propelled by twin screws at the rear (8). Once they had touched down on the beach, their screens were dropped and the propellers disengaged converting the DD’s back into normal track-driven tanks. Co-operation between tanks and infantry was difficult. Once they were in close contact with the enemy the infantry usually went for cover and the tank crews battened down their hatches. The only way to communicate with the tank crew was via the telephone housed on the outside of the vehicle, which left the infantryman vulnerable to enemy fire. The tank commander was just as disinclined to put himself at additional risk by opening his hatch to communicate with the infantry.
     
  2. FREEDOM War44

    FREEDOM War44 New Member

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    "The 12in. spigot mortar known as a Petard, which could deliver a massive 261b charge of high explosive - known as the Flying Dustbin - up to a range of 230 yards, although the effective range was about 85 yards."
    That was a massive weapon to stop the gunnere.I wonder how many times this weapon was used to take out more attacks.
     
  3. AdrianWn33

    AdrianWn33 New Member

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    Wn33 and the Crab that silenced it.

    Hi there, my grandad was Trooper Jim Smith under command of capt Bell and was the one who took the shot to silence wn33 so its great to see an impression of what the beach could have looked like. Jim passed last year just before his 90th and his ashes were laid next to wn33 a couple of days ago.

    I'm interested to know of any information availiable about the tanks, really trying to find out his tank number but its proving ridiculously difficult, I know he was part of breaching team 6 and thats as far as I've got. If you have any more info or know where I may be able to get this kind of info itd be a great help and very much appreciated!

    Many thanks!
     
  4. Cabel1960

    Cabel1960 recruit

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    I wish you all the best in your search for information of your Granddad Adrian. If you do find some please call back and share it. :wink:
     
  5. stephen ogley

    stephen ogley New Member

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    my late father landed on gold beach, with the 86th field regiment royal artillery, he was the driver in a Sherman O.P tank.I'm sure he was quite apprehensive on the day, one he couldn't swim, and secondly could only imagine what was to come. he was only young, wasn't called up till 1942, spent the next 2 yrs training for the big day that was to come. steve
     

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