Priest Kangaroos of ‘A’ Squadron the 4th Hussars, lifting units of the 38th Bde.
At the end of October 1944, 4th Hussars joined 9th Armd Bde and were given Kangaroo Armoured Personnel Carriers. The Kangaroo was a battle tank with its turret and ammunition stowage removed to allow as much room in the hull as possible for carrying infantry and their battle equipment across the fire-swept ground.
There were various types, General McCreery had been so impressed by reports of their use in northern France that he gave orders in October 1944 for local conversions to be carried out. The Sherman was used first; later the more roomy hull of the Priest, a self-propelled gun, was converted.
The War Office promised to send out the equivalent of an infantry battalion lift from the United Kingdom but failed to meet its obligation. In the end, all 8th Army’s armoured personnel carriers had to be produced in its own R.E.M.E workshops. For the Spring offensive, R.E.M.E modified 75 Sherman and 102 Priests, giving a lift to some four infantry battalions. A battalion lift of Kangaroos (4th Hussars) was ready for the 8th Army’s December offensive but conditions were unsuitable for their deployment. They were first used in 56th Division’s successful though brief operation in January 1945 (4th Hussars).
The Armoured Personnel Carriers were operated by the 4th Hussars and the 14th/20th Hussars. The organization finally agreed to in March 1945 was:
- ‘A’ APC Squadron: 53x Sherman Kangaroos
- ‘B’ APC Squadron: 56x Priest Kangaroos
- ‘C’ Armoured Squadron: 17x Sherman gun tanks
The 4th Hussars trained with Kangaroos at Pesaro. On 17th March they moved forward to the 5th Corps to train with the British 56th, 78th and 8th Indian Infantry Divisions.
From 10th April, 45 onwards, the 4th Hussars, along with the 2nd Armoured Brigade and 38th (Irish) Infantry Brigade, along with supporting arms, formed “The Kangaroo Army”.