From Arromanches to the Elbe

From Arromanches to the Elbe

Charles More
ARRSE Rating
4.5 Mushroom Heads
The book covers the period of immediately before D Day in England and until the weeks following the end of the War in Europe. 144 Regt landed in Normandy on the 14th of June, eight days after the initial D Day Landings. They certainly had all action thereafter. Though this is a Regimental History, It is mostly a Squadron history which covers the Unit’s role as a Cavalry unit and thereafter converted to The 4th Royal Tank Regiment and as such they ended the war. Sandwiched between both those roles they took over the amphibious role of using DUCWs (or the real term ‘Buffalos’ ) for the Rhine crossing then back to Tanks again. In addition along the way they used some of ‘Hobarts Funnies’ in the way of ‘Crocodiles and Flails’.

The book is also interesting for its detailed coverage of events in England leading up to D Day, describing its time moving slowly towards Portsmouth and it’s embarkation, often along country and town roads’ and being looked after by the local population to the extent of being fed and given soft beds for the night, meanwhile they listened to the rumble of heavy Naval Gunfire out to sea.

As the war moves on into Europe, much is written about the ‘actions’ and events involving the characters in the unit, some good points some bad, there is lots of humour and detail. Looting was quite rife, this trait is not often admitted in other publications. The practice of having a Company of Infantry riding into action on a squadron of tanks allowed the Tankies to see Infantry methods of operation, also to watch the casualties mount.

The Unit was operational for much of the time with the 51st Highland Division , a close liaison followed between the armoured and Infantry troops. A typical story is of a Sergeant from the Gordons who was a ‘looter extraordinaire’, he was heard briefing his platoon as follows. “I want no indiscriminate shooting, be careful not to hit their Watches and their fountain pens." The conversations between tank crews and German prisoners is also interesting, so is the units reception by German civilians immediately that the war ended.

I recommend the book in particular to those interested in Tank Warfare some very descriptive actions are found in this book, also those particularly interested in the Normandy Campaign, this book cover some of the most bitter fighting of late summer and autumn 1944. 144 Regiment had in their ranks the Trooper that killed the German Tank Ace Michael Whitman. He was Trooper, Elkins of 144 Regt, who felt that ‘Whitman was slack about his ‘flank protection. And that his previous successes must have been pure good luck.

I recommend the book and award it 4.5 mushroom heads.

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