View Full Version : 6 RTR 24th NOV 1941

03-22-2010, 06:33 PM
Hi everyone

I have joined this group to ask a question for my own personal research into one man who earned his Military Cross for his actions on the evening of 24th November 1941. WW2 is not my field nor is Tanks or North Africa so I apologize for my ignorance and request your patience.

2nd Lt Jack William Stiddard 6 R.T.R.

Recommendation for his M.C. comes from Brigadier D.A. Pienaar 1st South African Infantry Brigade

During evening 24 Nov 2/Lt. D.S. Bowling-Smith 22 Armd. Bde. and 2 Lieut. Stiddard, J.W. of 6 R.T.R. arrived in our defended perimeter with 3 serviceable and 2 derelict tanks in tow. The following day this Bde. was engaged in repulsing a determined tank attack and the above mentioned Officers at a very critical stage, on their own initiative, went into action against a vastly superior force of tanks. It is considered that this gallant action led by these two Officers materially influenced the enemy in retiring. In addition the action of these tanks acted as a stimulus to a number of troops who were being heavily attacked by tanks for the second time that day. I consider that the highest courage and great devotion to duty which in my opinion saved many casualties and it is strongly urged that this gallant action should receive official recognition.

Can anyone provide any information or avenues of research for me to explore?


03-23-2010, 03:49 PM
Hi Andrew,

What is it you want to know? Once one has an idea of what questions you'd like answered, I may be able to point you in the right direction.

Why don't you list the type of questions, or specific questions you have.


03-23-2010, 04:00 PM
Hi Saxon

I'm interested in any account of the fighting that took place that night - who were the Axis forces? Any Battalion or Divisional diaries to seek out; personal accounts of the fighting that night or anything to build up a bigger story for what looks as if it was quite desperate fighting. I would like to know what kind of tanks the British would have been fighting in (I know I can look these up on the internet but it is much better to ask the experts).

I fully admit that I know very little about Tanks or even WW2 battles (my main research interests have been based in WW1 Infantry Battalions on the Western Front so I understand that when someone poses such an open non specific question it can be frustrating to know what exactly is required but it is equally difficult to know what I want when I don't know what there is available!

Any help always greatly appreciated


03-23-2010, 04:11 PM
To which Squadron would Lt. Stiddard be serving with and would this have changed during his service? Did people get moved around? Lt. Stiddard served in Italy and NW Europe after Africa - again would this be in the same unit is there anyway of checking?


03-25-2010, 05:50 PM
I did a little research for fun. Beats the latest sodoku ;)

War Dairies

Here are the war dairies for almost the entire war (except about 5 months) for 6 RTR:

Unfortunately the Nov 1941 dairies are one of the months that are “missing”.

2nd Lt. Stiddard - and his MC - are mentioned in the 1942 dairies here:

Here is some the ‘missing’ portion, but I think it only goes up to the 23rd Nov. (Isn’t that always the way ;-) But perhaps not surprising, as Stiddard may have been one the few 6RTR officers to survive the previous few days:


1st South African Infantry Brigade

The war diaries of this brigade may be more helpful, if you can find them. In Nov 1941 the brigade was made up of the following 3 infantry battalions, plus one company:

1st Royal Natal Carabineirs
1st Transvaal Scottish
1st Duke of Edinburgh's Own Rifles (1 DEOR)
1st Company, Regiment President Steyn (machinegun co)

These South African regiments probably all have web sites. You may want to contact them for info/war diaries.

Regiments are usually made up of several battalions; the “1st” refers to the first battalion of the Regiment. Battalions (in the British Army) are separated from their regiments and ‘brigaded’ together to form a brigade. The regiment is just an admin formation, the BA doesn’t field regiments as a formation.

Here’s one site for the 1st Transvaal Scottish:

The battalion was next sent to Egypt, taking part in the relief of Tobruk. In November 1941 the 1st Brigade, with which 1 Transvaal Scottish was serving, was attacked by a strong German force at Taib-el-Essem; it held its ground, however, in a decisive defensive action. In the Gazala Line it repulsed several attacks before joining the Eighth Army's retreat to the Alamein Line in Egypt (although a portion of the battalion was trapped and taken prisoner at Tobruk). 1 Transvaal Scottish now joined the great October 1942 offensive which had the Axis armies in North Africa finally on the run.http://www.jocks.co.za/


Stiddard is mentioned as a troop leader in Normandy here:

Military Cross

Here is where Stiddard was Gazetted (he’s the second one listed on page 330):

Military Service

Men would almost always remain with the same regiment throughout their service. As a junior officer I think it’s likely that Stiddard would stay in the 6th battalion of the RTR. It’s possible that Stiddard stayed in the same squadron throughout the war, but I wouldn’t bank on it. One of 6RTR squadrons was disbanded during the war; and officers may be moved over to other squadrons to fill vacancies.

In November 1941 6RTR was part of the 7th Armoured Brigade (heavy armoured brigade), which was part of the 7th Armoured Division which was part of the 8th Army. See here:


6RTR had 49 Crusader (cruiser) tanks in Nov 1941.

British tank battalions had about 4 squadrons (companies) of tanks

I think a full strength ‘cruiser’ squadron would be 15 tanks.

A 2nd Lt. would be a troop leader. A troop of tanks would likely be 3 tanks in 1941. A squadron would have a HQ troop, led by the squadron commander (a Captain or Major) and 4 other troops under him, each led by a Lt. or 2nd Lt. ideally.

Crusader tank:

November 1941

It (6RTR) then served in 7th Armoured Brigade, during the 'Operation Battleaxe' and later during Operation Crusader. During the battles at Sidi Rezegh they were virtually wiped out by German 88mm anti-tank guns on 21st November 1941, but the survivors continued to fight on under 'Jock' Campbell's command.

The CO of 6th RTR had led his RHQ, plus 'B' and 'C' squadrons in an attack across the Trigh Capuzzo and in the valley north of the airfield where they ran into strong defensive positions and started to lose tanks. Despite this several tanks did reach the escarpment beyond Trigh Capuzzo, but as it was not possible to hold the position, they withdrew. Only 6 tanks from 6th RTR returned to the British lines and the losses were severe with the CO, the 2i/c, the two squadron commanders missing (later reported as killed), and four other officers, along with many tank crews, after the regiments 'Charge of the Light Brigade' in their attack north to meet the Tobruk force at El Duda. By the end of the day 6 RTR were reduced to only seventeen tanks under command of Captain Longworth, from 'A' Squadron.

While 6th RTR had suffered heavy losses, 7th Hussars had been overwhelmed in a fierce fight with 21st Panzer Division. At about 08:00 news had been received news of a pending attack by German armour from the south west, so after leaving 'A' Squadron of 6th RTR to support the infantry around the airfield the other two regiments of 7th Armoured Brigade turned to face the assault.

Interesting discussion – that includes info about the ‘missing’ dairies - here:

To read about the overall situation on the 24th Nov read this here:

Axis Forces

On the 24th, 1 SA Brigade was attacked by the Ariete Armoured Division at Taib el Esem and were able to extracate themselves only after assistance from Gatehouse and the 4th Armoured Brigade.[53]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1st_Infantry_Division_(South_Africa)#Sidi_Rezeg:_N ovember_1941

So the above source suggests the Ariete Armoured Division on the 24th, but the earlier SA source suggests the Afrika Korps.



This lot should keep you busy for a while.


03-25-2010, 06:37 PM

Thank you very much for that especially the explanation on the tank formation and probable service of the officers in their respective tank Regiment (I know I could look this up but it sometimes is better explained by someone) I've found a lot of the same links that you have and I too found the Axis Forum discussion about the Ariete Division interesting (it is exactly this level of intense interest that I am looking for to maybe decipher through the official versions using peoples own knowledge and understanding of what happened from differing sources...and of course their own thoughts)

I have also checked out the other chap 2/Lt. Bowling-Smith M.C. but didn't get too much information.

I'll try the Tank museum and attempt to track down the mysterious 24th November Diary entry - if someone states the November diaries don't exist and they are then on the net in some degree then maybe the rest exist...some more digging.

This is what I did find already after sending my post - and what you've subsequently backed up for me...thank you.

Jack William STIDDARD M.C.

7th Armoured Brigade
7th Armoured Division
30th Corps
8th Army

Born 05.12.1917
Married Oct quarter 1944 Weston Super Mare, Somerset vol 5c p. 941 – spouse ALEXANDER
Death June quarter 1986 Weston Super Mare, Somerset aged 68 vol 22 p.1244

Father Albert J. STIDDARD
Married Bristol vol 6a p.138 Sept 1915
mothers maiden name Mabel BEVAN

Became a solicitor in the Bristol/Weston-Super-Mare area
Lived Rectory Farm, Locking, Banwell (1956)

London Gazette

L.G. entry 08.08.41 p.4560
The undermentioned Cadets to be 2nd Lts. 13th July 1941:-
Jack William Stiddard (200023)

L.G. entry 20.01.42 p.330
Second-Lieutenant Jack William Stiddard (200023), Royal Tank Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps (25, Conway Road, Brislington, Bristol).

L.G. entry 06.03.47 p.1102
The following officers are awarded the Efficiency Medal (Territorial)
Royal Tank Regiment
Lt. (Hon. Capt.) J.W. Stiddard (200023).

Military Cross commendation – W0 373/18

During evening 24 Nov 2/Lt. D.S. Bowling-Smith 22 Armd. Bde. and 2 Lieut. Stiddard, J.W. of 6 R.T.R. arrived in our defended perimeter with 3 serviceable and 2 derelict tanks in tow. The following day this Bde. was engaged in repulsing a determined tank attack and the above mentioned Officers at a very critical stage, on their own initiative, went into action against a vastly superior force of tanks. It is considered that this gallant action led by these two Officers materially influenced the enemy in retiring. In addition the action of these tanks acted as a stimulus to a number of troops who were being heavily attacked by tanks for the second time that day. I consider that the highest courage and great devotion to duty which in my opinion saved many casualties and it is strongly urged that this gallant action should receive official recognition.

Recommended by Brigadier D.A. Pienaar Commander 1 S.A. Infantry Bde.

3rd County of London Yeomanry
Second-Lieutenant Derrick Sidney Bowling-Smith (137520) Royal Armoured Corps (Yeomanry) (Woodvale, Endcliffe Glen Rd., Sheffield)


For the rest of the Division there were no major engagements or no heavy casualties. The 4th Armoured Brigade was sent during the morning to support the 1st South African Brigade at Taieb el Essem where the latter had just repulsed an attack by fifty tanks from the Italian Ariete Division, who were now being observed by 'B' Squadron 4th SAACR. The arrival of the Armoured Brigade deterred the enemy from renewing his efforts and caused them to retire to the north in the evening, but there could be no question of pursuit, as many of the drivers were falling asleep due to the fatigue within the tank crews. Elsewhere, columns from the Support Group spent the day harassing the enemy and in the evening they caused a good deal of damage to the troops withdrawing from the South African position where they had been repulsed. One of the most important of the day's activities was the collection of damaged or bogged tanks from various parts of the battlefield. The 11th Hussars record that no less than seventy were recovered in the southern part of the area on this one day, while 'B' squadron, who were operating with the 22nd Brigade south of Sidi Rezegh, were similarly occupied and competing with parties of Germans and Italians engaged on the same task. This valuable work meant that a number of dismounted crews could be sent into action again. Later in the war, the process of recovery became a well-organised and well-equipped feature of all operations. In the Desert where there was always a shortage of tanks and transport, so where the supply of new equipment was never easy, recovery was of vital importance.


War Diary 6 R.T.R. – January 1941
13/1/42 Under orders from GHQ MEF, Major SDG Longworth, Lt KJH Macdonald and 2Lt J Stiddard with MC, with 79 ORs left by road for Cairo en route to an unknown destination.
A Sqn was disbanded by posting the remaining officers and men to HQ, B & C Sqns.
Lt GP Jackson took over duties of Regtl Int Officer.

Order Of Battle - November 1941 (Crusader and Sidi Rezegh)

4th Armoured Brigade
2nd RHA
8th Hussars
3rd Royal Tank Regiment
5th Royal Tank Regiment
2nd Scots Guards

7th Armoured Brigade
7th Hussars
2nd Royal Tank Regiment
6th Royal Tank Regiment

22nd Armoured Brigade *
2nd Royal Gloucestershire Hussars
3rd County of London Yeomanry
4th County of London Yeomanry

Support Group
3rd RHA
4th RHA
1st Kings Royal Rifle Corps
2nd Rifle Brigade
60th Field Regiment RA
203 Bty, 51st Field Regiment RA

Divisional Troops
102nd RHA
King's Dragoon Guards
11th Hussars
4th South African Armoured Car Regiment
1st Light AA Regiment RA
Division Signals

Royal Engineers
4th Field Squadron
143rd Field Park Troop

No. 5 Company
No. 30 Company
No. 58 Company
No. 65 Company
No. 67 Company
No. 550 Company

2nd Light Field Ambulance
13th Light Field Ambulance
15th Light Field Ambulance
7th Light Field Hygiene Section

Divisional Workshops
Divisional Ordnance Field Park
Light AA Regiment Workshops
In each Brigade and Support Group
One Light Repair Section
One Light Recovery Section
One Ordnance Field Park

* Attached from 13 Corps as 1st Armoured Division had not arrived in North Africa at this time.

All the informatin taken from the www will have a link to where it came from - I have no wish to claim this information as mine in any way.

I think the order of battle may be lacking

1st South African Division
1st South African Infantry Brigade
5th South African Infantry Brigade

22nd Guards Brigade

9th battalion Rifle Brigade
3rd battalion Coldstream Guards

Best regards


03-25-2010, 06:38 PM

6th RTR: When the Mobile Division was formed in 1938 6th RTR was one of the original units that formed what was then called The Heavy Brigade which was then to become 4th Armoured Brigade in December 1939. It took part in the British offensive in late 1940 which re-captured Sidi Barrani from the Italians, and then patrolled the Tobruk - Bardia area during most of January, before being taken out of the line on 18th January 1940, handing over its vehicles to 1st and 2nd RTR. It then spent a month in Cairo before returning to Tobruk in mid February 1941. It then took over a large number of Italian M13 tanks captured at Beda Fomm in late February, spending most of March in the Beda Fomm area learning to handle these captured tanks. At this time it came under the command of 3rd Armoured Brigade and was involved in a fighting withdrawal when Rommel first attacked in April 1941. During this withdrawal which many of the captured Italian M13 tanks had to be destroyed as they were in poor shape and unlikely to make the journey back to Tobruk, let alone Egypt. The regiment fell back on Tobruk with the last of it embarking on 14th April 1941, returning to Alexandria two days later. Here it re-equipped returning to the desert in June of that year under the command of 4th Armoured Brigade. It then served in 7th Armoured Brigade, during the 'Operation Battleaxe' and later during Operation Crusader. During the battles at Sidi Rezegh they were virtually wiped out by German 88mm anti-tank guns on 21st November 1941, but the survivors continued to fight on under 'Jock' Campbell's command.
In mid February 1942 6th RTR joined 1st Armoured Brigade and was re-equipped with Honey and Grant Tanks ready for the Gazala battles of than year at one time being amalgamated with 1st RTR due to losses. It fought near the 'Knightsbridge Box' before withdrawing with the rest of the 8th Army to El Alamein. It was still re-equipping during the Battle of El Alamein, and in December 1942 to moved to Jordan and then Iraq, where it served for all of 1943, with brief periods in Syria and Palestine, joining 7th Armoured Brigade upon its return from Burma, in September 1943.
As part of 7th Armoured Brigade, 6th RTR arrived in Italy landing at Taranto on 4th May 1944. It then took over from 40th RTR in supporting 10th Indian Division. It then served as a 10 Corps unit with both 4th and 10th Indian Divisions, serving alongside the 2nd and 8th RTR, in 7th Armoured Brigade, for the rest of the war. It continued to fight its way through Italy, find itself near Padua when the German forces in Italy surrendered in May 1945. It then moved onto Austria as the rounding up of the surrendering German Army continued. This was the end of 6th RTR's war. There is one final epitaph to the work 6th RTR did with 10th Indian Division, because on 21st May 1945, 6th RTR received a letter from Major General D. W. Reid CBE DSO MC, Commander 10th Indian Division.
“Will you please excuse the grave delay in writing to you. I think this is now the third time you have worked with 10th Indian Division. I think you know what our chaps, British and Indian troops alike, think of you and your very fine fellows in the 6th Royal Tank Regiment.
It has always been a case of smiles on all faces when it has been known that it was the 6th Royal Tank Regiment who were going to play with us.
Many, many thanks to you all for all you did for us last winter and again in this last recent and final affair. Will you please tell your officers and men how grateful we all are in 10th Indian Division.
In the meanwhile, all good fortune to you all and the very best of luck”.

The rest of the links that wouldn't fit on the page


03-25-2010, 06:44 PM

There has been an assumption on the internet that the war diary of 6 RTR for Operation CRUSADER has been lost. This does in fact not appear to be the case, and it seems simply to be the case of Liddell-Hart being a bit careless in filing… As before, great thanks are due to the staff and volunteers at the Tank Museum Archives, Bovington, UK.
6 RTR was one of the three armoured regiments in 7th Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Division, 30 Corps, 8th Army. The Brigade advanced along the centre line of the division and pushed furthest during the initial phase of the advance, reaching almost to the German siege lines of Tobruk when it seized the Sidi Rezegh airfield on 19 November. After an already exciting day on 20 November, on 21 November the regiment was put into an attack that saw it being annihilated, in a classic screw-up of war. The remains of the regiment left the airfield on 23 November and passed out of CRUSADER into the rear area of 8th Army and to Egypt. It is quite likely that individual crews of the regiment and officers were assigned to replacement tanks joining the battle, but the regiment itself was spent, and would not see action again until May/June 1942.
It is difficult to comprehend what the commanders on Sidi Rezegh (Brigadiers Campbell of Support Group and Davey of 7th Armoured Brigade) were thinking when they ordered 6th RTR to undertake this attack into what must have been known to be a strong position. While Davey after the war appears to blame Campbell (who by then was conveniently dead, as was the Division’s GOC, Gott, meaning they could not defend themselves), his own report written shortly after the operation notes it as a mistake that he allowed 6 RTR to attack, because it split his tank force (with drastic consequences for 7th Hussars (see this older entry), and the battle itself). There is a good discussion at the Axis History Forum on this link.
November 1941 -Missing [see RTR/6RTRdesert.doc]
What appears to be an original is in a separate/older and has ink annotations, probably by Liddel-Hart.
Diary. 6th Royal Tank Regiment. November 1941.
1.-10 Training by Squadrons with emphasis on gunnery.
6.11.41 Major G M Warren joined the Regiment and took over the duties of regimental 2 i/c.
11.11.41 Regiment moved to area Alam el Rs.
12.11.41 Gunnery practice.
13-16 Training by Squadrons.
Operation Order No 4 issued (Appx A); Regimental intention to move to area 440378 with a view to taking up battle positions there
1000. Replenishment party left for Pt 181.
At last light regiment moved into close leaguer. Regimental strength 40 tanks.
0530: Regiment left leaguer area in close column moving out into trident (C Sqn leading) at first light.
0930: Crossed the wire south of gap 75.
1000: Regiment reached Pt 181 and replenished by squadrons.
1200: Regiment continues to advance along divisional axis in the same formation.
1730: Regt arrived at Gabr Fatma (446372) and leaguered for the night with DD Battery RHA.
0600: Regt moved out into open leaguer where necessary maintenance and refueling was carried out. [L-H note: Why so long delays?]
1200: Verbal orders issued for move to Sidi Resegh. C Sqn leading B Sqn protection left, RHQ & A Sqn. Lorry camouflage was dropped.
1630; Aerodrome to south-east of Sidi Rese h, on which enem aircraft could be seen, spotted by leading troop ofC Sqn. Regt attacked and captured aerodrome, little resistance being offered by the defenders. One aircraft shot down in attempting to escape; two transport planes, 17 fighter aircraft and 60 prisoners captured, several other aircraft already destroyed upon the ground.
1800. Regiment leaguered on NE edge of aerodrome with HDD battery RHA and A Echelon. During the night the leaguer was approached by a German patrol which was driven off and 6 prisoners taken by scout car troop under Sgt Hopwood. Enemy movements all night, they appeared to be working quite openly, with no regard to noise made, and seemed to be bringing up guns of some sort from the valley to the north of the regiment’s position. Three times during the night small arms fire was directed into the leaguer and was returned by sentries. All this activity kept everybody awake and inside their tanks.
0500 approx: small arms fire and A/T fire of considerable intensity was directed into the camp from the NE. A Verey light put up from C Sqn revealed a considerable concentration of infantry and A/T guns to the NE. A/T guns and tanks also opened fire at extreme range from NE. another Verey light was put up from rear of the regiment which revealed our position clearly. The regiment engaged the enemy position with MG fire. DD Battery RHA withdrew to the south and took up a position. Several B vehicles ofA1 echelon were destroyed. Two tanks were hit, 2/Lt Hancock, A Sqn, Cpl Hallahan A Sqn and Tpr Bulbick C Sqn were killed.
0600 approx: an attack was carried out on the enemy positions to the East by a troop of A Sqn under Lt Jackson. 15 enemy AT weapons being destroyed. One tank of ours was knocked out and towed out of action. The Regiment continued to engage the enemy until 0930, when they were ordered to withdraw to the south of the aerodrome. Later in the morning the regiment took up position in defence of the aerodrome, A Sqn facing west, B Sqn north, C Sqn east. During the rest of the day the regiment stayed in these positions, whilst an artillery duel took place between our gunners and the Germans, our tanks helping to observe.
During the day B Sqn destroyed one German Mk 1 tank and some infantry. During this action Lt Permuy, Sgt Dunning and Cpl Baker were wounded.
A troop of C Sqn under Lt K Fidler was sent out to investigate the right flank and destroyed one medium gun. Two of our tanks were put out of action, but were towed out safely. L/Cpl Knott was killed. Several tanks rejoined the regiment in the afternoon
after having been repaired by their crews.
At dusk the regiment leaguered on the SE corner ofthe aerodrome with A Company 2 RB. B Echelon was attacked b a formation of diver bombers, SSM Cowie being killed.

03-25-2010, 06:46 PM
0600: Regiment moved out of leaguer and took up the same positions as the previous day. Orders received for and attack to be made to the NW with 2 RB with orders to seize and hold the cross-roads at Sidi Resegh and make contact with 38th Bde [this is definitely wrong] who were to attack from Tobruk towards Ed Duda. Start line was from SW corner of aerodrome. A Sq’s task was to occupy Pt 167 (432404), establish 2 RB in that area and protect the left flank of 60th [KRRC] who were making a similar attack on our right with 7th Hussars (though this regiment was later withdrawn to meet an enemy attack from the east.) B & C Sqns were then to go through, capture the cross-roads and link up with 38th Bde at Ed Duda.
0830: Regiment crossed the start line. A Sqn reached their objective with 2 RB. 5 Mk II German tanks, one M13, one 105 mm gun, several AT guns destroyed and 300 prisoners taken. 2/Lt Mitchell’s tank was knocked out and Lt Jackson wounded. The remainder of the Regiment in order RHO, B Sqn, C Sqn, then passed through. Strong enemy gun positions were encountered in the valley to the north ofthe aerodrome, some guns were destroyed, but the attack was stopped after several tanks had reached the escarpment north of Trigh Capuzzo.
During this action the following were killed, wounded or missing:-
LtCol M D B Lister, commanding officer
Major G M Warren, 2 i/c
Capt J R Cuttwell, Adjutant
Lt E Delson, Intelligence officer
2/Lt T R Price, HQ Troop commander
Major F C K M Laing, MC. commanding C Sqn
Major E Miler, commanding B Sqn
Lt M S Hutton, B Sqn.
Several tanks from C Sqn and two from B Sqn were left. these rallied with A Sqn at Pt 167 making a total force of 17 tanks under the command of Capt S D G Longworth OC A Sqn.
1200. The Regiment being now out of touch with 7th Armoured Bde was put under orders of the Commander Support Group. It was reported that some enemy tanks were approaching from NE. The Regiment formed line ahead and attacked, a brief action took place in which some of the enemy tanks were destroyed, the remainder withdrew rapidly. The Regiment rallied on the aerodrome having suffered no casualties.
Later in the afternoon a large force of German tanks was reported to the south. A patrol of5 tanks under Capt Ainsley was sent out by the Regiment to observe. The patrol reported approximately 100 enemy tanks approaching the aerodrome from the south, they were engaged by our artillery and the Regiment who had taken up a position in line to the south of the aerodrome.
After this engagement which had taken place at extreme range, the enemy withdrew to the SE and continued to shell our positions with artillery and Mk IV tanks. 5 of our tanks had been destroyed in this action. Capt Ainsley was killed. Later most of the enemy tanks withdrew out ofsight to the east, although a few could still be seen supported by a large force of infantry.
In the evening the enemy tanks were again reported to be approaching from the south. The Regiment, now consisting of 12 tanks, was ordered to attack and to prevent them from reaching the aerodrome, until the 22nd Armd Bde could arrive to support us. The Regiment formed battle line and engaged the enemy from a range of about 1,000 yds, our artillery and AT guns also engaged the enemy tanks. The action lasted for approximately 20 minutes in which time three of our tanks were destroyed and four were forced to withdraw with hits in vital parts. It was difficult to ascertain what casualties had been inflicted on the enemy owing to rain which had reduced visibility and the tendency of the German tanks not to catch fire. 5, however, were definitely burning and several more left behind when the enemy again withdrew to the east.
HQ 7th Armd Bde was now located and the Regiment rallied on them. The Regt’s strength was now about 7 tanks, 3 of which were on tow and only 1 fit for action. The night was spent in leaguer with HQ 7 Armed Bde to the south of the aerodrome.
At first light the Regt moved out to take up a defensive position to the SW of the aerodrome, the one fit tank, with 2/ Lt Stainton, was sent on to the aerodrome and was put under the orders ofthe Commander Support Group. 3 other tanks of the Regt which had been in Ordnance [under repair in the workshop], continued to operate with 22nd Armd Bde and 4th Armd Bde. Later in the morning the Regt moved 5 miles south and joined HQ 7th Armd Bde where recovery vehicles could be found. The Regiment spent the remainder of the day in this area, doing what maintenance was possible and having the first meal since before the occupation of the aerodrome. Three more tanks under Capt E L S Gjemre MC [spelling?] now arrived back from Ordnance and were used to escort 600 German and Italian prisoners back from the area of the aerodrome. During the day B Echelon was attacked by a formation of tanks, several vehicles were lost and some of the drivers reported missing.
The Regt moved back along the Divisional axis to B Echelon area Gabr Gatma, escorting prisoners who were handed over to RASC. Leaguered in that area for the night. Major E C Mitford, MC, rejoined the Regiment and took over command.
Below some info from the Axis side:
Combat report excerpt of A.A.3 for 20/21 November 1941
20 November
Difficult night march via Via Balbia and Axis Road up to Belhamed and from there further east into the left flank of the troops deployed on the Jebel escarpment to take over their flank protection. For this purpose the 2./Flak 18 is subordinated to the battalion.
21 November
Battalion engages tanks which broke through between the positions and receives new instructions from General Rommel. – Return march with continuous tank combat to the Belhamed. – From here battalion is deployed during the afternoon to engage tanks which broke out from Tobruk. 8.8 cm AA destroys six tanks during this. General Rommel drives along amongst the point vehicles of the battalion. At 14.30 hours marching off from Belhamed to Via Balbia to Jebel ascent south of Gambut to secure and hold this. Arrival and subordination of a company from Pz.Pi.200 (engineer battalion of 21.Pz.Div.).


03-28-2010, 02:11 PM
I've found a lot of the same links that you have and I too found the Axis Forum discussion about the Ariete Division interesting (it is exactly this level of intense interest that I am looking for to maybe decipher through the official versions using peoples own knowledge and understanding of what happened from differing sources...and of course their own thoughts)


Mystery solved!

The Ariete Division was of course a part of the Afrika Korps. :oops:

For some reason I automatically think of Germans when I think of the Afrika Korps. But I double checked, and the Ariete Division was certainly a part of the Afrika Korps.


Rich C
02-13-2015, 03:45 PM
Hi everyone, Jack William Stiddard was my grandfather.

I am the third child of his only surviving child, his daughter. I have just found this and may I say thank you for all this insight into my grandfathers time in WW2. My mother will love reading this.

If there is anything more you would like to know about him, please feel free to ask.

Many thanks,