7th Armoured (The Desert Rats)


1/6th Bn Queens Royal West Surrey Regt

Cyril John Jackman (Pround to say My Granddad)

Taken outside the Roman ruins of Old Pompei, the ruins lay further back. An old man dashed out into the street camera complete and offered to take the pictures of his victorious allies in return for his liberation from the Germans and this is how the photo was taken. The following day we made the final thwrat and drove the Germans out of Naples.

This flag was carried by my Granddad throughout his time in North Africa.

Here you have the 1/6th Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment entering Tobruk


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1/5th Bn Queens Royal West Surrey Carrier Platoon


Carrier Platoon Photo

Captain George Frederick Arthur Cole of the 1/5th Bn Queens Royal West Surrey Carrier Platoon

This is a quite an interesting story, and the following is just a little and maybe a bit sketchy as I am awaiting further details from the Queens Museum.

Captain Cole was part of the 7th Armoured Division heading towards their major goal Berlin. From what I have been able to research so far is that he was wounded while repelling a German attack to blow up a Bridge at Halen just West of Bramsche. In a document I have it says he was wounded in the right thigh, this must have played him up after the war as there is alot of correspondense regarding disabilities and pensions.


In a letter he wrote to his wife dated 18th January 1945 3 months before he was wounded. he gives a little insight into what life was like in North West Europe.

A few bits of what are in the letter

Leave in Europe does count as overseas service darling in my case, because ironically my service in Blighty is regarded as part of my overseas tour and offically I havent been home since 1940.

If the boy Bowlyer was home on leave these last few days he missed a very sticky show, his sapper unit had a bad time and suffered accordingly.

"Wotty" is quite well these days heard his unit is in Ghent.

The Jerry Artillery has been quite busy today and slapped a few into the place including one in the roof of this almost ruined house I am in. The Village is in a dreadful state from our Artillery and there isnt a single house with a complete roof or window in it.


When the parts of the above letter were written the 1/5th Queens Royal West Surreys were part of the Victory of the Roer Triangle and operation "Blackcock" January 16th-24th 1945. The weather was dreadful, thick snow lay on the ground and it was bitterly cold. The operation had to be delayed 12 hours due to think fog, caused by a smoke screen freezing in the cold air. The operation opened its attack on January 16th and went on for 9 days of very fierce fighting before the triangle was cleared.


Short History Booklet of the 7th Armoured Division

Captain Coles release book

His Field Service Pocket Book - Abbreviations 1944

Ministry of Pensions - Confirming his wounds and the amount he'll be paid.

Letter from Ministry of Pensions telling him that he has been awarded the Kings Badge. This was awarded to members of the Armed Forces, the Merchant Navy, Home Guard and the Civil Defence Organisations who where disabled as a result of war service.

Kings Badge


A little bit more from Capt Coles adventures, When reading his Officers release book I found that his enlisting rank was Lieutenant George Frederick Arthur Cole, so this led me to doing a little more searching and I found this while reading Robin Neillands "The Desert Rats 7th Armoured Division 1940-45", below is an extract from that book.


"1/5th Queens 13th April 1943 Enfidaville Aggressive Patrolling"

"After a few strolls at night, tentively probing for the German positions, there came our big night. With Lt. George Cole as my 2 i/c, Iwas to take my platoon, 30 strong, out about a mile into No Man's Land on a compass bearing, and there established a firm base. From there, I was to take out a fighting patrol (2 sections) to a point where Mitch thought the Germans would have a position, and bring back the "odd Bosche". Down and up steep wadis, we reached a strip of golden sands, about 100 yards wide - bright moonlight - deathly silence - 22 of us looked across the sands to the bushes where the Germans were supposed to be. Remembering my training in England in Fighting Patrols and the request for the "odd Bosche", I whispered the orders, "Up on your feet - fix bayonets - at the Double - Follow me!" I just stopped myself saying, "Don't make a noise." The stuck to me like glue till we reached the bushes on the other side, breathless but relived to find nothing and nobody there. "Unfix your bayonets, we'll go home"' I said, or something fatuous like that. We returned to the firm base and now it was Lt George Cole's turn.

'Mitch had said that in the unlikely event of the Fighting Patrol finding nothing, George Cole was to take a Reece Patrol on a divergent bearing to establish the absence of the Germans from a different area. So off George went, eyes down on his compass, escorted by "Foxy" Pavitt, the Company Barber, armed with a Sten Gun. We never saw much of Foxy, but he must have annoyed the Sgt. Major, who had winkled him out for this patrol. We had only just settle down, no more than ten minutes, when there was a lot of firing to our front. The Germans sent up a succession of Verey lights - Spandaus firing tracer on fixed lines - running feet, heralding the return of George and Foxy in full flight. After George had expressed his opinion of the Brigades Intelligence, he explained that he was so intent on the compass, he had stumbled over the prone body of a sleeping German soldier, who had woken up, shrieked out the alarm, and presumably reached for his weapon. Foxy had emptied the Sten magazine into him and the Patrol then withdrew in some haste, but in good order. When asked if there were other Germans there, George replied, with some heat, "I never stopped to find out, but those Spandaus were not being fired by the fairies, that's for sure."


Royal Artillery/Royal Armry Ordnance Corps/Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Unit photo Cpl White highlighted (Most probably REME)

The following has quite a bit of scope and covers 3 services of the British Army. The Soldier was Corporal H W White 985685, his service spanned from 13/06/40 to 07/05/46


Royal Artillery 13/06/40 - 05/03/41

Royal Army Ordnance Corps 06/03/41 - 30/09/42

Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers 01/10/42 - 07/05/46


These next three photos are from Cpl Whites Royal Artillery days on an exercise

Into the Desert to Take on Rommel and the Italains

Boys of the LAD (Light Aid Detachment) in Leager(A defensive formation)at Bir Thalata (quite an array of uniforms)

Taking a break (kit bags and Lee Enfields at the ready)

June 22nd 1942 Doing my smalls near Fuka Aerodrome, we found some buckshee water.

In Leager(A defensive formation)12 miles South of El Aden June 9th 1942. We called this place sleepy valley, but it wasn't so sleepy after a while.(note the burning tourch and lifting gear in the back of the truck)

Life in Tobruk for Cpl White and the Lads

Drawing water from the well at Tobruk

Tobruk Town seen from the Spanish Farm where we were camped

A corner of the Spanish Farm with some of our lads working

Spanish Farm with the two dogs

Stukka raid in progress on Tobruk as seen from Spanish Farm

Cpl White getting a haircut in the hanger with S/Sgt. Wheatly looking on.

Tobruk - Sidi Rezegh Corridor from the Bardia Rd end. N Hall and A Scott in the picture

Time for a bit of leave for Cpl White and the Lads

Sorting out Kits ready for moving from Thalata.

Goods train on which we travelled 360 miles from Thalata to Alex

Monument at Vimy Ridge.

Len Lambert and George Carter at the Sphinx May 1942, I took this photo.

Back in the Line

Cpl White-Taken 5 miles East of El Alamein Oct 30th 1942

Crashed British plane near Sidi Rezegh June 1942(After some help from the Guys a www.ww2talk.com I now know this to be from 450 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, nicknamed the "Desert Harassers" Identified by the "OK S" numbers on the side).


Original letter from General MontGomery

Eighth Army

Sicily

18.8.43

Many thanks for your kind letter - it was good of you to write - I am most interested to hear about (James, John can't make out the name) - He has helped to keep up the great record of the 1st R.T.R. (Royal Tank Regiment) Good luck to you.

B.L.Montgomery

General

Eighth Army


All I can imagine from the above letter is that maybe Cpl White had written to Montgomery to put forward a recomendation for some sort of award - MM - MID etc...


Monty and King George VI

General Montgomery and His Majesty, King Gearge VI somewhere in the UK. The driver with the patch of the 21st Army Group


Cpl White famous 7th Armoured patch


The 7th Armoured into North West Europe with Cpl White and REME

Loading at West India Docks London for the Invasion of France

L.S.T's (landing Craft) Standing of the invasion beaches of Arromanches

Bayeux. Normandy (with a sign post to Caen and Paris in the photo)

Ruined houses at Caen in Normandy

Railway embankment blown by Jerry at Lens North France (Located in the north of France close to Lille and the Belgian border).

French and Belgium frontier post at Lens

Repairs on a Cromwell tank belonging to 5th Royal Tank Regiment C squadron

History of the unit 5th Royal Tank Regiment was part of the British Expeditionary Force in France May 1940. In 1941 they sailed to the Middle East and fought at Tobruk and the Battleaxe and Gazala battles. With reorganization the 5th RTR joined the 22nd Armoured Brigade at El Alamein. In October 1942 the 22nd AB joined the 7th Armoured Division until the end of WWII. In 1940 the 7th AD adopted the Jerboa a desert rat as the Divisional Sign and became “The Desert Rats”. The 22nd AB used the stag head as its badge.

5th RTR C Sqn Cromwell

5th RTR C Sqn Cromwell

Truck at repair yard

Square in Brussels


Non Fraternisation Orders



After the War - 7th Armoured The Desert Rats All Ranks Re-Union Invited

This was Held at the Victory Club London W2


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5th Royal Tank Regiment

The following documents belonged to Trooper Kenneth Harness of the 5th RTR

Trooper Harness - Note the famous 'Desert Rat' patch on his arm for the 7th Armoured Division.

Permanent pass

A shield made by Trooper Harness with him in the center on guard duty.

His Soldiers Service and Pay Book, which is full of information:- Details of personal sized garments, particulars of trainining, training reports, medical information, protective inoculation details, next of kin and will forms

War department driving permit

Soldiers Class A release book


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