Purpose of this blog

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

Sunday, September 23, 2018

RAM Kangaroo Ram

There is some confusion about the Kangaroo armoured personnel carriers of the Second World War. This comes mainly from pictures of a turret-less Stuart tank in North Africa, it is claimed these were Kangaroos. This picture has been attributed to many different versions of the Stuart. Well I can now shed some light on that picture. Stuarts without their turrets were borrowed from armoured brigades by engineer formations, for use when the engineers were working alongside the armoured brigade. However, it is not known if these vehicles were called "Kangaroos". Identical conversions later in the war in Europe were used for reconnaissance when the turrets were removed from the Stuarts in some armoured regiments, and these were called Stuart "Jalopies".

This picture is often captioned as a Stuart "Kangaroo", when there's nothing to back up such a name.

The first vehicles to be officially called Kangaroos were M7 Priests, modified at Workshop Kangaroo near Bayeux Normandy. The objective of this workshop was to convert as many Priests as possible to APC's, with the target date for the work to be completed as the 9th of August 1944. As well as routine maintenance overhauls the main gun of the Priest was removed. The resulting opening was filled with a plate of armour taken from a wrecked tank. Or when that source ran out two sheets of mild steel with the space between filled with gravel or sand. Thus, the armouring of Priests was down to what was on hand. There is one report that the Admiralty complained to the army that Canadian soldiers were cutting up stranded landing craft on the D-Day beaches.
The last of the 72 machines ordered were completed on the night of the 6th (or 7th depending on source). The next morning the Kangaroos were thrown into battle where they proved an immediate success, allowing fast moving columns of men to capture important objectives and opening up mobile warfare. During the war the Kangaroos were regarded as more armoured trucks than dedicated APC's as we would see them today. The main use was to transport infantry close to the objective (a suggested number in one source is about 200 yards) where they would dismount to launch the assault. Once the infantry had dismounted then the Kangaroos would retire to a rally point then either collect more men to bring them forward, or remain there holding supplies for the troops they had just delivered.

Some of the problems with Kangaroo deployments were the large volume of vehicular traffic they caused, both in the approach march and during the battle. Equally as the war progressed some officers decided to create new and unusual drills and uses with the Kangaroos, which it is claimed after the war, lessened their impact.

Another problem was German prisoners of war. When a column of Kangaroos encountered a German unit that wished to surrender they had no space, time or manpower to take them prisoner, nor could such be spared. The only recourse the infantry in the Kangaroos had was to disarm the Germans, place them under their NCO's and give orders to continue back down the line of advance until they met a unit more able to properly take them prisoner.

To close off today's article, I wanted to share a extract from the 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Regiment war diary. By this stage of the war the regiment had been re-equipped with RAM Kangaroos.

Image Credits:
www.warlordgames.com, www.tanks-encyclopedia.com, Canadian National Archives, UK National Archives