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August 2019
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British Army

I Was in the Ardennes

 
I Was in the Ardennes
 
I was in the 144th Regiment of the Royal Armoured Corps, when we used Sherman Tanks against the Germans.  I was a wireless-operator in a tank crew, and was in N°.1 Troop, (of four tanks), in "C" Squadron. 
 
The regiment was in the 33rd Armoured Brigade, with the Northants Yeomanry and East Ridings Yeomanry.  Quite often we supported the infantry battalions, ho carried out great actions. 
 
At the beginning of 1945 we entered the Ardennes supporting the 53rd Welsh Division..  I do not remember the exact details of happenings, but I do remember the disastrous ice and snow at the time.  Moving along we left the dangerous roads and drove over the land.  Going up the hills made difficulty for the tanks. 
 
 
 
At the earlier January, "C" Squadron was at Hotton, and N°.2 Troop went up a hill to support the 2nd Battalion of the Monmouthshire Regiment.  One tank went forward from the infantry to attack, I was told, and it was knocked out.  Apparently it was difficult to attack the Germans, so, the next early morning our N°.1 Troop had to go from Hotton, over a small bridge and up a steep wooded hillside, to reach the German defence. 
 
In severe ice and snow, and thickly wooded area, we were fired at by a few German infantry, who actually were out of sight.  Unable to get through later we had to turn round to get back.  Unfortunately, near the bottom, our tank slipped sideways and almost turned over.  One of the tracks was badly damaged and we were unable to drive.  It was going dark, so we had to spend the night in the wood. 
 
The following morning we were towed back to Hotton, (?)  I think, where the Tank specialist group did the repairing and stayed for several days.  Later the "C" Squadron were ordered to support the Black Watch Regiment at La Roche and we went quickly along the road into the village,(?).  One of the troops, N°.2, 3 or 4, must have been the support. 
 
I do not remember many details of that event.  On the edge of the village was a surprising German tank, pointing towards us but no-one in it.  I have not other memory of La Roche. I feel that the infantry must have carried out the important attack.  Our regiment certainly had some casualties, how many (?), more than seven killed and eleven wounded.  My mind suggests that the infantry battalions had many more casualties, because they did the more importance of the attacks, or defences. 
 
A member of "C" Squadron Tank Crews on the left, standing is: Corporal Tom Leech, all of them had been in the Ardennes 
 
Our regiment left Ardennes just after the 14th January, to go to Holland, at the River Maas (or River Meuse), where we had to train in amphibious tanks known as Buffaloes.  There was a plan to cross River Rhine, where we were to support the 51st Highland Division.  The name 144th Regiment Armoured Corps was changed to 4th Royal Tank Regiment. 
 
The Ardennes was a real experience in the terrible weather, and I think that the infantry regiments were the most important part of the Army.  We had casualties, but I think that infantry's had more.
 
 
 A Tank crew of "C" Squadron in Germany 1945
 
Lance/Sergeant Tom LEECH

"C" Squadron

144th Royal Armoured Corps

33rd Armoured Brigade

33rd Armoured Brigade

Campaigns:

Battle of the Ardennes,

Belgium