Chieftain’s Hatch – Crusader Part I

Finally!

The Crusader was one of two key tanks supporting the Allied attack on the Axis forces that was code-named the same (the other being the American M3 Stuart). It equipped 22 Armoured Brigade (fully) and 7 Armoured Brigade (partially) in 7 Armoured Division in the initial battle, and 1 Armoured Brigade (partially) in 1 Armoured Division during the counteroffensive, when 7 Armoured Division had been withdrawn. The tank was much maligned for its mechanical reliability, and it is clear from contemporary records that it was considered problematic at the time, not just because of a major concern being the hitting power of the 2-pdr gun that was it’s main armament, but also because of its mechanical reliability.

 

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN NORTH AFRICA 1941

Crusader tanks moving to forward positions in the Western Desert, 26 November 1941. THE BRITISH ARMY IN NORTH AFRICA 1941 © IWM (E 6724)

I have posted information on the contemporary views in previous posts:

Mechanical Reliability of Allied tanks

Mechanical Reliability of Allied tanks II

Experience with Cruiser tanks in 1 Armoured Brigade

Artillery Units and Gun Numbers in UK 1 Armoured Division, 8 April 1942

Not directly relevant to CRUSADER, but I pulled the 1 Armoured Division Royal Artillery branch war diary (WO169/4056) at Kew, and found it only starts from April 1942. So this info is more for the folks who are interested in the Gazala position during the static period of 6 February to 26 May 1942.

Unit/Type of Gun 25-pdr 2-pdr Bofors (40mm AA) Miscellaneous
200 Gds. Bde.        
2 R.H.A. 16      
144 Fd Rgt  16 12    
76 A/Tk Rgt (237 Bty)   12    
274 Lt.A/A Bty.     10  
Post. Guns       6 (47mm) (1)
         
2 Armd. Bde.        
11 R.H.A. 24      
76 A/Tk Rgt. (239 Bty)   12    
76 A/Tk (1 Tp “C” Bty)   4    
82 Lt. A/A Bty     6  
         
Royals (2)        
76 A/Tk (1 Tp “C” Bty)   4    
         
Adv. Div.        
82 Lt. A/A/ Bty     3  
76 A/Tk (1 Tp “C” Bty)   4    
         
Rear Div.        
82 Lt. A/A/ Bty     3  
         
Free French Gp.        
197 Lt.A/A Bty     3  
         
Total 56 48 34 6 (47mm)
 

Free French Force

1st Regiment 24 75mm (3)
Post. Guns 7 50mm (4)
  6 47mm

Notes

102 A/Tk Rgt’s 288 Bty is struck through in the table, with its 12 2-pdr guns, and it appears these have been added to 144 Fd Rgt.

  1. Captured Italian guns
  2. Armoured Car Regiment
  3. Schneider Mle.1897 field guns
  4. Could be captured German Pak 38?

Abbreviations

A/A – anti-air

A/Tk – anti-tank

Bde – Brigade

Bty – Battery

Fd. Rgt. – Field Regiment

Lt. – Light

Post. – Positional (?) i.e. dug in or installed in fortifications

R.H.A. – Royal Horse Artillery