Moved South of Daba. Made contact with a small column of enemy forces, with anti-tank guns, but managed to put these to flight, also two Italian tanks left behind, lack of petrol. ‘A’ Squadron 8th Hussars remained in our same role – 1Tp, Lt Chapman, leading; 4Tp, Lt Young, on the right flank. Had a very steady run during the day. Halted at 1530hrs for brew and dinner.
Leaguered at Duk. Had a very remarkable attack just before midnight. Could get very little detail but a large amount of small arms fire was put down on us from the rear. ‘A’ Squadron went to investigate but the enemy had moved off. It was believed to be a small party of Germans that were trying to rejoin their own unit. Our jeep received a bullet in the sump, but we managed to get it along with us.
The Bde was now well ahead of the retreating enemy on the coast road and in spite of the fact that the leaguer was only some 10 miles South of it, the enemy made no attempt to harass or attack the leaguer during the night, neither was there any sight of them at daybreak. The Bde waited for the Echelon to refuel themselves and the Tanks, which was not completed until about 1300 hours and the advance was continued in a North Westerly direction. Heavy rain started to fall the going soon became very slow for the wheeled vehicles. Tanks were ordered to pull them out when they stuck; even Bde Tac HQ got into trouble, which caused considerable confusion. The whole Bde were soon hard at work towing their Echelon. About 5 Tanks became unfit for action, and the Regt leaguered at dusk in area 769315, having made little headway.
Moved out and had an early breakfast. Informed that we were not going to Daba, but to push on towards Mersa Matruh, still keeping South of the road. Arrived at Pt125 about 1000hrs.
1000hrs – The Bde was ordered to move to area 730322. Owing to the heavy rain the Regt reached area 730316 at approx 1800 hours. During the day all ‘B’ vehicles had to be towed at some time or other, and many of the most of the time.
At 1030hrs had orders that a column of Italians was trying to pass us further South.
‘A’ Squadron leader (8th Hussars) then gave us orders to form a battle line and to proceed steadily until contact was made. This came soon. Results were HQ and 2nd and 3rd Troops attacked, but the enemy gave in without a fight. 1st and 4th Troops moved further South and gave chase to three lorries, three Opels and one staff car. Made a good bag but could not get the staff car. Total prisoners were 130. There were 75 Germans, all of them paratroops in a very bad state.
They were completely broken in spirit; health was awful. The remainder were Italians, who were rather pleased to be captured and showed it in their willingness to give themselves up. Our total bag (in vehicles) two lorries – runners – one destroyed; two Opel light cars destroyed by 1st Troop and one motorcycle tractor.
At about 1730hrs we started our advance through the minefield, which then was under heavy gunfire, but luck again as with us. The squadron leader took the lead. We had got halfway through when our own guns got the range of the enemy guns and this gave us our free passage. We spent the night in this area and got down very early to sleep. It was very much needed by this time.
A new day, and what a day! Started to rain just before we moved off at 0830hrs. By mid-day, we had covered about six miles, when we had orders to move South for about two miles, make the telegraph wires and follow them to the Siwa track.
1300hrs – The Regt moved off and reached area 729321 at 1700 hours. Just East of this area the going again became very bad and all B vehicles had to be towed. This was all right but the ground by this time was like a mud bath.
At 1600hrs our wheeled vehicles had become bogged and by the time our tanks neared the wire we had six bogged – Lt Dill’s, Capt Hararis’s and Lt Chapman’s were in the mud up to the driver’s seat. Water everywhere. One tank under the command of Cpl Pickersgill was a complete write-off. By 1800hrs the Squadron was again complete after a hard day’s digging. At dusk, the Echelon had still failed to arrive and there was a grave shortage of petrol in the Regt. The Echelon arrived at Bde at about 2330 hours.
0545hrs – The Regt having reached better going, which had also dried out considerably during the night, a move was made across the desert to CHARING CROSS, just West of which refuelling took place. For approx 15 miles West of CHARING CROSS, the Regt was moving through other troops of the 8th Army, incl 2nd Armd Bde. After about 15 miles the Bde was again leading the advance of the 8th Army.
1130hrs – the Brigadier, having gone on ahead of the Regt, made arrangements for 2 petrol bowsers of the RAF to be made available for the Regt to refuel at Kilo 100. This was duly done and the Regt was able to proceed again with full tanks. Had a good brew-up at mid-day, and an early dinner.
1300hrs – At Kilo 117 an enemy strong point was encountered. This strongpoint had been previously reported by the Derby Yeomanry and consisted of approx six 88mm guns, eight 105mm guns and several smaller A/Tk guns. This time ‘A’ Sqn was the leading Sqn and was ordered to advance as far as possible. ‘C’ Sqn was ordered to the South of the road in order to find the enemy flank. During the out-flanking movement, ‘C’ Sqn definitely destroyed one enemy 6pdr Portee (whose crew was also captured), 2 more guns and several MET. Two MET and 25 PoW were taken, all of whom were Germans from the 90th Lt Div. During this action, 2Lt AH Cartmell and 1 OR were killed and 3 ORs wounded, 2 of whom died of their wounds. One Tank of ‘C’ Sqn was set on fire.
1630hrs – The enemy were seen to be withdrawing from their strong point and M Battery 3rd RHA laid a concentration on the road. At the same time ‘A’ Sqn, together with D Coy KRRC, advanced. Between them, 150 PoW were taken, all from the 90th Lt Div. ‘A’ Sqn continued their advance until they met considerable A/Tk fire in the area of the aerodrome at Kilo 126. By this time it was almost dusk and the Regt was ordered to leaguer North of the road at Kilo 120, approx 10 miles East of SIDI BARRANI.
Had new orders to move West from MR805306 to Bir Sheirida, then to follow the telegraph wire to Bir el Himla at MR765320. This was carried out under heavy conditions owing to the bad going, ie mud and with a lot of towing of bogged vehicles, but arrived at our new position without any sign of the enemy.
- A short history of 3rd The King’s Own Hussars
- A short history of The 4th Queen’s Own Hussars
- A short history of The 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars
- Middle East (Egypt and Libya) timeline
- Vickers-Armstrong Mk VIB light tank
- A10 Cruiser tank
- A13 Cruiser tank
- A15 Crusader tank
- M3 Stuart ‘Honey’ tank
- M3 General Grant tank
- M4 Sherman tank
- Object: 2pdr Armour piercing round