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141 Royal Armoured Corps (The Buffs) Churchill Crocodiles

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1943 - 1945' started by grahame555, Feb 20, 2009.

  1. rac1945

    rac1945 New Member

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    Hi,
    I'm afraid there's not a huge amount more I can help you with except to add the following which has come mainly from the War Diaries and Old Comrades' newsletters:

    He held the rank of W/Cpl (War Substantive - so held during hostilities) and was with the regiment to the end when it disbanded in November 1945, your father was transferred to the 23rd Hussars, it's possible he was demobbed from them. As you say he was the Sqn wireless NCO which is confirmed in his commendation. He was also on the nominal roll as of 22 April 1944, this was compiled prior to D-Day so that a Trust could help out dependants. He served in C Sqn in the HQ Troop so would have been in a gun tank rather than a Crocodile.

    If you haven't requested your father's service records, that would certainly be worth doing, the info and docs can be found here - Get a copy of military service records - although obviously at the moment it looks like they are effectively shut down with no access to the records, hopefully that will be easing in line with other things.
    Again depending on when they re-open but The Tank Museum may be able to help with a copy of your father's Tracer card, this shows which regiments with dates, if they have the card.
    Sorry couldn't help any more, good luck with the forms.
    John
     
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  2. Clarkes

    Clarkes New Member

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    Thank you John, that is very helpful. I will certainly request Dad's service records and see if his Tracer card exists. I was convinced he was in a Crocodile but maybe I'm wrong.
    Yes, it was upsetting for the men to be transferred out of 141 Regiment at the end .
    As children we were told quite a lot about s'Hertogenbosch, and the gratitude of the people of the city, though not about the battle. My parents were in touch with the family with whom my father was billeted for quite some time. Strange that the men from 141 Regiment are never mentioned only the Welsh regiment and those from Lancs.
     
  3. Nicholas Reis

    Nicholas Reis New Member

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    Hi,

    I have stumbled across this forum whilst researching my Great Uncle. He was 6294283 Trooper Zacharia Rodwell. It is known he died on 11 August 1944 and is interned at Ryes War Cemetery in France. He was possibly initially interned at Le Blanche Herbe which I think is on the outskirts of Caen. The grid for the initial interment is 998.692.

    I wonder if any of you kind people have any information on Zac. I don't even know his Sqn or tank name.

    Many thanks for any information that i can pass onto my mother.
     
  4. rac1945

    rac1945 New Member

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    Hi Nicholas,

    I don't have very much info I'm afraid but there is some information on Zacharia's service with 141RAC.

    He was an original Buff (hence his army number) and transferred into the Royal Armoured Corps when the 7th Bn The Buffs converted to tanks in November 1941.

    He served in A Sqn and was in the crew of what's called a Slave Batter Carrier when he was in Normandy. These were small tracked vehicles (in Normandy most likely a Loyd Carrier) that could charge the batteries of the tanks. This was necessary due to the heavy loads of starting cold tank engines and also if the wireless had been kept on while on wireless watch. As such he served with the fitters who serviced the tanks.

    He is mentioned in The History of A Squadron where there is a paragraph about how he was killed. Here it is:

    'There was one bad casualty during this period; while the Squadron was being heavily mortared in the village, the Slave battery carrier, which had been left well back with the ARV [Armoured Recovery Vehicle] and Fitters, was hit by an 88mm high explosive shell. Trooper Zachariah [sic] Rodwell, one of the fitters was killed, and Trooper W Allen was badly wounded. The fitters were a very unlucky lot in the earlier days of the invasion; Trooper Rodwell's loss was a big one - he was an extremely efficient and popular member of the Squadron.’

    John
     
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  5. Nicholas Reis

    Nicholas Reis New Member

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    Thanks John,

    Thats much more solid information than we had. My mother always said he was run over by a tank. I shall pass this news onto her tomorrow when I visit her.

    Regards Nick.
     
  6. Nicholas Reis

    Nicholas Reis New Member

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  7. rac1945

    rac1945 New Member

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    Hi Nick,

    Unfortunately not specifically, it mentions May-sur-Orne on the previous page but also movements to this unidentified village. I’ll have a look at the war diary later to see if that can shed any light on the location.

    One snippet of info I missed off the previous post was about his army trades, he was qualified as a driver (Driver IC) and as a Motor Mechanic.

    If this raises more questions when you go through it with your mother, do ask and I’ll see what I can find out.

    John
     
  8. rac1945

    rac1945 New Member

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    Hi Nick,

    The War Diary is sadly sparse for the 11th August but it does give a map reference of 130540 which is near the village of Les Mesnils, a little north-west of Bacqueville-en-Caux. This is the area the squadron moved to on the 11th August but there is no further information as to how they were harboured in that area.

    John
     
  9. Nicholas Reis

    Nicholas Reis New Member

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    Hi John,

    Many thanks for all your work. I will work on this information myself and develop it.

    My mother loved this new information. She remembers being with Zacs wife sometime later in Hythe who understandably was very upset over the whole affair as his name was not on a local commemoration. He was added later.

    Nick.
     
  10. Margaret Singer

    Margaret Singer New Member

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    Hi I'm new to this site. I've recently found some old army books belonging to my Dad. He was a volunteer during WW2 from '42 to '46 serving in the RAC Buffs B squadron. He didn't talk much about this period in his life so our information is quite sparse. As far as I know he landed on Gold beach either on D day or shortly after. His tank was blown up possibly within the first 2 weeks of landing, I believe beside a bridge and I think he may have been the only survivor. I think he then spent some time in a field hospital. Following this time I presume he joined another tank and was involved in clearing the concentration camps at the end of the war. His name was Peter Forsyth army no 7958559 and according to the papers I have he was a Tank front gunner. I would be really grateful if anyone has any information as I am trying to put together a family history for his grandchildren.
    Thanks in advance.
    Margaret.
     
  11. Granite Sheep

    Granite Sheep New Member

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    Margaret,

    Have you sent away for your Dad’s service record? This might be a good starting point for your research. I have had a very quick cursory look at the regiments War Diary and the only mention I can see is from the 19th August 1944 when his name appears on a casualty list. This will be the incident you refer to above. The entry states: 7958559 Forsyth P G/M RAC 194 Fd Amb

    The G/M refers to gunner/mechanic and presumably the 194 Fd Amb refers to the Field Hospital he was sent to. It is not a lot to go on, but as I say I only had a cursory look. When the regiment was disbanded in November 1945, the War Diary shows which regiments each man was transferred to. (This was the only mention of my own father when I was researching) Unfortunately I couldn’t see your Dad mentioned on these listings, but he may have been transferred earlier. Do you know which regiment he ended up in?

    If your dad was in B squadron then he wouldn’t have landed on D-Day as only Troop 13 from C squadron landed then. The rest of the regiment arrived 22nd /23rd June. Not a lot to go on, but once I have a bit more time I’ll see if I can find more. It’s great that you are putting this together for his grandchildren.

    Regards

    Andrew
     
  12. Margaret Singer

    Margaret Singer New Member

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    Andrew,

    Thank you so much for replying to my recent post. Unfortunately my dad, like so many others didn't really talk much about the war so the information we have is mainly from the various papers which we recently found. I had always assumed that he landed on gold beach on D day and also that he was injured not long after. To have a date of his injuries is great, so thank you for that. I will also send off for his war records and try to access the war diaries if possible.
    Thank you again for the advice and information and if you do find anything else that would be much appreciated.

    Regards,

    Margaret
     
  13. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Active Member

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    Hello Margaret and welcome to the forum.

    As mentioned above, you need to apply for his service records and they can ONLY be obtained from the MOD in Glasgow, Scotland. Unfortunately due to the Covid19 situation, they are taking a good 12 months to arrive, but the sooner you apply the better.
    Get a copy of military service records


    We have a sister site at ww2talk.com-mainly British and Commonwealth focused. If you would like to put your request on there, someone may already have the complete war diaries. Worth asking. Look forward to seeing you there:).

    WW2Talk

    Lesley
     
  14. Margaret Singer

    Margaret Singer New Member

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    Thank you Lesley. I've just applied for my Dad's service records. Will also look at the other forum that you mentioned.
    Regard, Margaret
     
  15. rac1945

    rac1945 New Member

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    Hi Margaret,
    I've only just had a visit back to this thread and seen your post, apologies I missed it earlier. I've compiled a list of all the men who served in the regiment and as Andrew mentions, your father would have landed later in June as only 13 and 15 Troops from C Sqn landed on D-Day. I can also confirm he was listed on the schedule of men in the regiment as at 25 April 1944. I haven't been able to find your father's name on any list of wounded, nor any other men being wounded on the 19th. It is possible that even being in a tank that was hit he managed to escape unhurt, thankfully more common than you might imagine. It is possible that he wasn't wounded in August but rather was at the Field Hospital for an illness or injury not sustained on the battlefield, his entry for the 19th doesn't mention 'Wounded' where many other entries do.
    Could I ask what the paperwork is where you have found his postition as front gunner - depending on how that is worded could mean he was the flame-gunner in the hull next to the driver.
    There's no information in the 141RAC war diary nor any of the books about them being used at a concentration camp but I know 7RTR were used for this work, it's possible that a couple of tanks were loaned from 141RAC to help out, it would be interesting to find out for sure whether some of their tanks and crew did do that work.
    Good luck with your application to the MOD.
    Best Wishes
    John
     
  16. JamesB909

    JamesB909 New Member

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    Last edited: Jul 19, 2021
  17. rac1945

    rac1945 New Member

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    Hi James,

    From the research I've done your Grandfather appears only with reference to A Sqn so that is likely to be his 'home' squadron, men were sometimes loaned out or temporarily assigned to other squadron's which may account for the confusion. He was with the regiment as of April 1944 when a full roll was taken (so would have gone across soon after D-Day with the regiment) but I didn't come across any entry for when he joined, other than he wasn't with the 7th Buffs when they converted to 141RAC.

    The Troop Leader in whose tank he earned the MM was Lt J Russell who joined Nov 1944, which strongly suggests he served in 1 Troop, A Sqn.

    He was promoted from Tpr to L/Cpl 15/08/1944. He left the regiment in October 1945 when it was disbanding and was posted to SADE - Specialised Armour Development Establishment.

    Cheers
    John
     
  18. JamesB909

    JamesB909 New Member

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    Thanks for the info, we will try to get his war record, as he was only 21 in 1944 we thought he might of been a replacement, obviously not.
    He was 6ft 3 so would of stood out I imagine, as Yorkshire grammar school boy.
    His campaign map makes a lot more sense now as it has them landing at D-Day +3, and goes all the way into Northwest Germany it’s signed on the back by his friends from the unit when I next see my my mum I will get a scan of the front & back if anyone is interested, it’s the only thing he kept framed from his time in the Crocs and was very well looked after by both him & my Grandmother.
     
  19. rac1945

    rac1945 New Member

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    Hi James,

    I've just been looking at the squadron list and reviewing the sqn history for this period and changing my thoughts on his Troop, I think Lt Russell was brought in to command 2 Troop as Lt Griggs was the Troop Leader of 1 Tp for most of this period.

    Indeed, at 6' 3" he must have found it a bit of a squeeze even inside a Churchill. Good luck with getting his war record, you can also ask the Tank Museum if they have his TRACER card which summarises his unit service, you can request this by contacting their Archives, good thing is you'll get this a bit quicker than the MOD paperwork.

    Would be very interested to see the map and signatures, it would be great to see names of some of the other men.

    Cheers
    John
     
  20. Granite Sheep

    Granite Sheep New Member

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    Hi James,

    as John says, the map and signatures would be of interest.

    I don’t know if you are aware of the book “The History of A Squadron”. The incident where your Grandfather was awarded the Military Medal is mentioned. Below is the quote:

    “Just after midnight Captain Storrar’s half squadron crossed and moved down to a field on the outskirts of Lingen, waiting to start a dawn attack in the town next morning. The objectives were two streets, and the supporting infantry were the Lincoln’s; the attack was a great success, no losses being incurred by the infantry, although two companies had been held up for twenty-four hours previously by a very stubborn enemy. Both streets were completely burned down, and over one hundred prisoners were taken in this model flame action. One rather awkward moment was when Sergeant Joe Sykes in his keenness to burn out the Hun, gave some houses rather much of an overdose which resulted in covering Lieutenant Russell’s tank in flaming fuel; L/Corporal “Blackie” Armitage very gallantly beat out the flames, kept the guns in action and directed the temporarily disabled tank, and as a result was awarded the Military Medal. Captain Storrar who “laid on” this battle and showed great bravery and complete disregard for personal safety during the whole action, was awarded the Military Cross.”

    I’m not sure if this is simply a replica of his citation, but thought it would be of interest. This book is long out of print and difficult to get a hold of.

    Hope this helps and good luck with your research.

    Andrew
     
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