Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Charging Stag

After the closure of the Falaise Pocket the Germans began to fall back from the Allies, and the pursuit across France began. The Germans did defend where possible, mainly leaving delaying forces so there was a line of skirmishes across France. The first major obstacle the Allies encountered was the Siene River, surprisingly the Allies managed to bridge this with some speed, despite some casualties, at several locations. At Elbeuf the Canadians bounced across on the 28th of August, despite the destruction of the original bridge.
 Over the next two days the Canadians began to push forward to pursue the Germans. However the Germans fortified every little hamlet they could as a delaying tactic to try and form a new front line. As a result of this, progress was slow. On the 30th of August the Canadian 4th Armoured was advancing, and leading them was the 18th Canadian Armoured Car Regiment. The Regiment was spread out along either side of the 4th Armoured’s line of advance, with small patrols, each consisting of a platoon of Staghounds up front, on their own and unsupported.
Their advance began well, driving forward all morning then about midday they hit trouble. First in trouble was B Squadron, in the centre of the screen. They ran into a battery of three PAK-40's and lost two armoured cars near Samonville.
D Squadron was deployed to the right of B squadron. French civilians told the advancing Canadians that the village of Denis-Thibault was clear of German forces, so a troop was sent forward. The first Staghound was destroyed by a concealed anti-tank gun and the rest of the troop was taken under a ferocious barrage of small arms fire from a large number of German infantry. In the following fire fight another Staghound was damaged and had to be abandoned.

Meanwhile "C squadron was advancing well, in particular 13 Troop led by Lieutenant W Liard. As they approached Bierville Lt Laird was in the lead with Sergeant Ross J Bell following him. Suddenly from a mere ten feet away a German appeared with a Panzerschreck and promptly destroyed Lt Laird's Staghound. Stuck on a narrow road with no way to turn about and with the ambushing German reloading his Panzerschreck, Sgt Bell had only one possible course of action. This was to blow through the German ambush and hope they didn't have a cut off group waiting for him. Accelerating as fast as the narrow lanes would let them, Sgt Bell's Staghound roared forward. That was the last his unit saw of him.
Sgt Bell's adventure had just begun, as his car raced forward Sgt Bell frantically looked for a way to turn around and return to friendly lines. However the narrow sunken road thwarted his efforts. They cannoned down the sunken road, at times reaching speeds of fifty to sixty miles per hour. As they rounded one bend they found themselves face to face with a column of infantry. The Germans were marching to the front unaware that Sgt Bell and his Staghound were in the area. The armoured car rocketed forwards ramming into the column of men at full speed with both Browning machine guns chattering. The car smashed the standing Germans down with its mass and hardly slowed. Like Sgt Bell, the German infantry were trapped in the sunken road. At the rear of the column were three anti-tank guns being hauled to support the infantry, again the speeding Staghound rammed these obstacles out of the way, smashing them and then they carried on along the road.

The Canadians continued deeper into occupied territory. The next corner held another surprise. A Tiger tank was moving forward, and its huge bulk blocked most of the road. But neither side fired. The Tiger politely pulled a little to the side in the road that was now slightly wider, allowing the Staghound to pass. Obviously the Germans inside the tank didn't realise the bloody and dented armoured car was hostile!
Now Sgt Bell found himself beyond Bierville and ducked into some cover on a slight rise to work out what to do next. It soon became obvious, he could see a horse drawn artillery column moving north east. The lone Staghound began to engage and shoot up the column. Horse drawn guns are horrifically vulnerable as that column found out. Sgt Bell estimated that he killed about seventy horses, with the only one to escape being the one ridden by the units commanding officer. In the midst of this battering from the Staghound the Germans did try to bring one of their pieces into action, but as they began to unlimber it Sgt Bell spotted the danger and quickly silenced it with his 37mm gun.
Decamping from this new battlefield Sgt Bell now found himself far behind enemy lines and almost out of ammunition. Luckily as he was wondering what to do next he was found by some Frenchmen, all carrying guns. These belonged to the Free French of the Interior (the FFI). These Frenchmen were able to shelter and feed the crew, and hide their Staghound overnight. The next morning Sgt Bell set about trying to rejoin C Squadron, a feat he achieved about 1030. He was immediately ordered back to RHQ to give a full debriefing, and he arrived about 1300.
Sgt Bell received the Military Medal for his actions.

Further pictures and images, including Lt Lairds Staghound, can be found here.

Image credits:
anzacsteel.hobbyvista.com, ww2live.com, www.diggerhistory.info and www.warwheels.net

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