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Order of Battle of 7 Armoured Brigade for Operation CRUSADER

June 21, 2010

7 Armoured Brigade had a short and exciting (in the Chinese curse sense of the word) Operation CRUSADER. Mauled at Sidi Rezegh just days after the operation started, it was withdrawn from battle and returned to the Delta, except for some smaller composite units that remained engaged in the battle for another fortnight, such as composite squadron NEMO of 2 RTR. From the report written after the battle, here is some information that may be of use to wargamers. This OOB differs from Nafziger’s OOB for the battle which can be found at this link. The most important difference is the absence of the Northumberland Hussars (102 AT Rgt. RA) from this OOB. Maybe someone can comment on that.

Order of Battle – 7th Armoured Brigade 18 November 1941

(based on WO201/514)

Unit Commander Equipment
Brigade HQ Brigadier Davey Cruiser Mk.II (A10) tanks
3 Squadron 7 Armoured Division Signals Major H.W.C. Stethem
7 Hussars Lt.Colonel F.W. Byass DSO MC (killed at Sidi Rezegh) Cruiser M.II (one squadron), Mk.IV and Mk.V tanks
2 Royal Tank Regiment (RTR) Lt.Colonel R.F.E. Chute Cruiser tanks (probably Mk.IV and Mk.V)
6 RTR Lt.Colonel M.D.B. Lister (killed at Sidi Rezegh) Cruiser tanks (probably Mk.IV and Mk.V)
LRS (Light Recovery Section?) Cpt. N. Barnes
OFP (Supply??) Cpt. C.C. Lambert
Reconnaissance Section Capt. T. Ward Probably carriers and armoured cars?
‘A’ & ‘B’ Sections 13 Light Field Ambulance Capts. Hick and Williamson
4 Royal Horse Artillery (less one battery) Lt. Col. J. Curry 16 25-pdrs
F Battery RHA Major F. Withers MC 8 25-pdr
DD Battery RHA Major O’Brien.Butler 8 25-pdr
‘A’ Company 2
Rifle Brigade
Major C. Sinclair MC
Det. 4 Field Sqdn Royal Engineers Corporal Lee (sic!)
‘A’ & ‘B’ Troops 1 Lt. AA battery 1 Lt. AA Regiment Royal Artillery Major Edmeads Bofors 40mm light anti-aircraft guns

The total number of tanks on this day was 129, consisting of 26 Cruiser Mk. II (A 10) which formed one squadron in 7 Hussars and equipped Brigade HQ, and at least 16 Mk.IV (A13 Mk.II). There were also Mk.V Crusader tanks. These 16 tanks had been issued as replacements for 16 Mk. IV tanks which had to be sent to base workshop in October, and were reported ‘unfit for action’ by the commander of 2 RTR, because they were missing essential kit, but they were nevertheless taken along. Other shortages reported were wireless (throughout the Brigade) and Bren guns (particular in 6 RTR which had issued theirs to the Polish units going to Tobruk in October). Mechanical reliability seems to have been a serious issue – on 19 November 7 Armoured Brigade was down to 123 tanks, and on 20 November to 115, without really having seen much combat.

Training state was reported good except in Squadron and Troop maneuver, which was restricted by mileage restrictions and the wireless silence before the operation.

Any comments on the above, in particular relating to the tank composition, would be very much welcome. Note there are discrepancies between the original report and various information found on the web.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 16, 2010 8:29 am

    I feel like picking a nit; esp. a clear winner: Brig. Davy (according to his book, at any rate) spells his name D-A-V-Y.

    • Andreas permalink*
      August 16, 2010 9:19 am

      I’ll grant you that one. ;) correction tonight. Work has blocked access to the site for me.

  2. ken griffin permalink
    June 21, 2011 9:07 pm

    Andreas

    Were most of crusader tanks in Operation Crusader Early production vehicles with “semi-internal” cast gun mantlet, or the better protected big cast mantlet with three vertical slits?

    • Andreas permalink*
      June 22, 2011 8:20 am

      I really don’t know much about the Crusader, but my guess is these would all have been early production, since they either came on the TIGER convoy in May 41, or were issued to 22 Armoured Brigade in summer 41.

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