During the battle for the river crossings from the River PO to VENICE this officer was Sqn Comd of the D.D. tanks acting in support of 169 Brigade (The Queen’s).
The advance of this Bn to VENICE covering over 70 miles in two days was very largely due to this officer. Had the tanks failed to cross any of the many rivers, had the crews not carried on fighting for some 36 hours on end, had the maintenance of tanks or the provision of diesel failed, the advance of the Bns would have been stopped.
This would then have stopped in turn both 169 Bde, 56 Div and even 5 Corps as the bridges captured formed the only means of inter-communication and follow-up routes.
In the battles the tactical skill of this officer was more than outstanding. In at least two cases – one east of ROVIGO and one at BRENTA – the tanks were opposed by batteries of 75mm A/Tk guns. Yet no tank was lost by enemy action and every tank finally reached the ultimate objective.
These tanks were operated across rivers with superb skill, the manoeuvre of floating Sherman tanks being very new. They transported infantry by carrying a full Pl on each tank.
Special mention should be made of the crossing of the PO with 2/6 Queen’s and the capture of a series of bridges to the north: with 2/5 Queen’s the capture of ROVIGO and the south bank of the ADIGE. The crossing of the ADIGE with 2/7 Queen’s. The subsequent advance with 2/5 Queen’s to LONGEVE to the R.BACCHIGLIONE. The crossing at BRENTA 5123 entailing the capture of two bridges intact. The advance to PONTE LONGO, the capture the bridge passable to tanks at CODEVIGO. Finally the quick advance to VENICE including the stiff street fighting in the house area at DOLO 4949 during which time several bazookas were encountered and their crews destroyed.
During all these engagements this officer was always at the forefront of the battles, skillfully directing and advising his Troop Commanders, passing essential information back to Infantry Coys, Arty Rep and his own Regtl Commander and at all times considering the handling of his few reserves and his supply problems.
If this officer had not maintained the pace bridges would have been destroyed in front of him.
Yet, had he not used outstanding judgement his tanks would have over-run mines or ran into A/Tk guns, become destroyed and blocked further progress.
Maj R Close Brooks DSO
Comd. 2/5 Queen’s