......THE ROYAL GLOUCESTERSHIRE HUSSARS IN WORLD WAR TWO
Just before the war the RGH was divided into two and 2 RGH was part of 22nd Armoured Brigade (with the 3rd and 4th County of London Yeomanry.) It was equipped with the Mk. VI Cruiser, or Crusader, tank. Leaving England in the winter of 1941, on the H.M.T. Strathmore, the 2nd RGH landed at Port Suez on October 1st.
The Regiment strength was 43 officers, 585 men, 52 tanks, 10 scout cars, and 112 other vehicles.
At 6am, November 18th 1941, the 2RGH advanced into enemy territory, Libya, for the first time. Near Bir El Gubi the Regiment saw its first action, but outnumbered 6 to 1 was forced to withdraw. During the action 2nd Lieutenant Gordon-Creed's tank had a track shot off. Continuing to drive in a circle, his gunner and wireless operator injured, they knocked out 2 Italian tanks before bailing out. After being treated by the M.O. they returned to the tank, under fire, made repairs at night and drove it out the next morning. He was awarded the Military Cross.
Another tank was hit and the driver killed, unable to remove his body, Trooper Furnivall squeezed into the seat on top of the dead man and drove the tank to safety. He was awarded the Military Medal. In all 30 tanks were lost, of these 10 were recovered the next day.
KILLED IN ACTION:
Lieutenant J.Harper and 2nd Lieutenant G.Honeysett
Corporal C.E.South. Troopers A.Astbury, E.J.Cook, D.Davies, V.A.Humphries, S.R.Hellings, A.McRae, and R.Reynolds.
Sergeant C.J.Woodger died of his wounds later in the day.
Lieutenant-Colonel N.A.Birley (awarded the D.S.O.). Captain W.A.White. Lieutenant S.Jones.
Troopers W.Lee, W.Morgan, R.Winstone, R.Wilson, A.Wiggall, F.Armstrong, J.Chiswell, F.Mallow, F.Murrow, K.Smith and J.W.White.
Major J.saleby. Captain J.Paterson. Lieutenant G.L.Clay. Sergt A.Clarke, Sergt G.Havins. Corporal C.Bates, Corpl D.Craddock. L/Cpl F.Oliver. Troopers H.Beard. N.Carter. S.T.George (wounded). W.Lapworth (wounded). L.Morgan. W.Parsons. G.W.Payne (wounded). M.T.Sims. T.C.Stagg (wounded). E.D.Johnson. E.Staite. D.G.Waddell (died in Germany). L.J.Wadley. H.Wakefield. W.Webber.
The Italians lost 70 tanks and the Italian Ariete Division was never seen in action again.
Stationed near Bir El Reghem the 22nd Brigade was the last operational armoured unit left. The 4th and 7th had 'virtually ceased to exist' after very heavy fighting with German tanks. 23rd November, heavily outnumbered they had no choice but to fall back under intense pressure. A South African Division nearby was overrun, the South African gunners staying at their guns firing at point-blank range until they were killed.
In the confusion only 6 tanks escaped. Amazingly casualties consisted of one killed in action: Trooper M.Young. and one wounded: Trooper P.Pearce.
Captured: Lieutenants R.E.Adlard, M.C. H.Snell. Corpls D.Gardner. A.Otterburn. L/Cpl R.G.Nunn. Troopers T.Bowers. F.Chalkley. O.Ellis. A.J.Heggie. H.Porter. R.M.Smith. H.Tibbles. P.Mallon. R.M.Sims.
24th November the remaining vehicles headed back towards the Libyan border. Near the Sheferzen gap Major Sinnott was shot in the chest and died in German hands, he had been with the RGH for 17 years.
On the 29th the RGH were ordered back to refit. For actions over this period of time Sergt. C.E.Jeffes was awarded the Military Medal, along with Trooper L.J.Huxford. The M.C. was awarded to Captain M.G.Ling and the D.S.O. to Major W.A.B.Trevor.
On December 1st the Regiment was at Bir El Gubi, re-eqipped with 52 Honey tanks. 10th December the Regiment moved to 'Knightsbridge', 2 German fighters attacked the column and Sergt. G.White was killed. On the 13th they ran into a German anti-tank position and lost 9 tanks and 5 men were killed:
Sergts C.Constable. C.E.Jeffes, MM. Corpl E.W.Haines. Troopers F.Collier. C.L.Harnden.
Wounded: Troopers N.G.Chew. R.Hoskin. T.F.Rich,MM. Wilkinson. E.Woods. A.Dimambro. G.B.Townsley.
Captured: Corpl M.Randall. Troopers W.Booy. A.Pool.
For this action Trooper Rich was awarded the MM. Another MM was awarded to Trooper R.D.Drake.
'H' Squadron joined the 22nd Guards Brigade in attack near Antelat. On the 23rd December Major D.M.Reinhold was killed. In further actions over the Christmas period the following casualties were sustained:
killed: 2nd Lieut. A.Mitchell. Sergt E.T.Rumsey. Trooper G.How.
Captured: Troopers L.Pratchett (died).