Reorganising 7 Support Group for the Pursuit – 13 Dec 1941

Reorganising 7 Support Group for the Pursuit – 13 Dec 1941

Background

On 12 December 1941 it had become clear that the Axis forces were withdrawing westwards, and it was expected that they would fight rear-guard actions while doing so. In consequence, 7 Support Group received a new task, namely to (i) keep touch with the withdrawing enemy; (ii) to harass him as the opportunity offers; and (iii) to act as harassment screen in front of 4 Armoured Brigade, the main armoured force of the 8th Army at this stage in the operation. On 13 December, 7 Support Group HQ therefore issued an order to reorganize, which is contained as appendix 11 to the December 1941 war diary (WO169/1185). This is given in full below. I have tried to preserve the original formatting, as much as the blog software allows this.

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25-pdr advancing, date and unit unknown. IWM.

Jock Columns


The document gives a nice overview of the constitution of the so-called ‘Jock’ columns. It also shows quite clearly that they were weak units, not able to carry out sustained fighting, but mobile, and therefore rather good at hit-and-run. The only striking power they had lay in their artillery. The infantry component was too weak to take or hold anything, and would only have served as local protection. As JonS points out below, 3 RHA was an AT Rgt, equipped with 2-pdr AT guns. So contrary to my first impression, the columns were well equipped in anti-tank artillery, with up to 12 guns each, and all or most of them would have been Portees, I guess.

Battle HQ
7 Sp Gp
13 Dec 41
O.C.    11 Hussars
CURRIE Coln.
WILSON ”
MAYFIELD ”
102 (NH) A.Tk.RGt.
Hugo Coln
B Ech.
————————————-

  1. W.e.f. 14 Dec Sp Gp will be organized into 3 colns.
  2. 11 H, 2 S.G., 203 Bty, 51 Fd Regt RA will join GDS BDE by 1400 hrs 14 Dec.
  3. 102 (NH) will join 4 Armd Bde by 1400 hrs 14 Dec.
  4. In consequence of the above, following will take place at last light tonight.
    1. 2 S.G. will pull out and R.V. 2 miles East of 7 Sp Gp H.Q.
    2. Two tps 102 (NH) will R.V. 1 mile East of DOUBLE BLUE
    3. HUGO Coln will take over remainder of MAYFIELD Coln – 60 Fd Rgt RA in support – except for tp 3 Bty, 1 L.A.A. Regt RA which will join CURRIE Coln at last light.
    4. 203 Bty will R.V. with 2 S.G.
    5. One Coy 2 R.B. HUGO Coln to CURRIE Coln
  5. Two tps 102 (NH) now with B Ech will move direct to B Ech 4 ARMD BDE as soon as possible after first light tomorrow.
  6. 11 H will join GDS BDE by 1400 hrs 14 DEC. (illegible handwriting)
  7. Colns will be constituted as follows after the above re-organisation:-
    1. CURRIE Coln

      RHQ, 4 RHA

      M Bty 3 RHA

      F and DD Btys 4 RHA

      Tp 4 Bty 1 Lt. A.A. Regt.

      Tp 3 Bty 1 Lt. A.A. Regt.

      One Coy 2 R.B.

      Det R.E.

    2. WILSON Coln

      RHQ 3 RHA
      C Bty 4 RHA
      One tp D Bty)
      One tp J Bty)    3 RHA
      One tp 2 Bty 1 Lt. A.A. Regt.
      One Coy 2 R.B.

    3. HUGO COln

      H.Q. 2 RB
      60 Fd Rgt R.A. (not sure about the number)
      One tp D Bty 3 RHA
      One tp J Bty 3 RHA
      One tp 2 Bty 1 Lt. A.A. Regt.

      Det R.E.

      One Coy 2 R.B.

  8. Locations GDS BDR and 4 ARMD BDE notified later.

Signed (unreadable)
Maj.
Bde Maj.

Notes

Some explanation on the abbreviations:

HQ/H.Q. Headquarters

O.C. – Officer Commanding

Coln – Column

102 (NH) A.Tk.Regt. – 102 (Northumberland Hussars) Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Horse Artillery

B Ech – Service elements of the brigade (A Ech are the fighting elements)

W.e.f. – with effect from

11 H – 11 Hussars armoured car regiment

Bty – battery (8 or 12 guns) two or three batteries make up a field regiment, four batteries an anti-tank or light anti-aircraft regiment

2 S.G. – 2 Scots Guards infantry battalion

Fd Rgt RA – Field Regiment Royal Artillery

L.A.A. – Light Anti Aircraft, usually 40mm Bofors, sometimes captured Italian 20mm Breda, or 37mm Bofors guns.

GDS BDE – Guards Brigade

4 Armd Bde – 4 Armoured Brigade

R.V. – rendezvous

Tp – troop (4 or 6 guns) two troops make up a battery

2 R.B. – 2 Rifle Brigade infantry battalion

RHQ – Regimental Headquarters

RHA – Royal Horse Artillery

Det – Detachment

RE – Royal Engineers