Sunday, March 25, 2007
By the afternoon of 6 December 1941
Robert Crisp says that the planned attack by the 4th and 22nd Armoured Brigades was stopped, after several Crusaders and a Stuart were knocked out by the German anti-tank guns. They had been running their engines "for over six hours", so they needed to refuel. After an abortive attempt to bring the refuelling trucks forward, they had to send the brigade to the rear, by troop, to refuel. Robert says that he found a great deal of stress relief by leaving the firing range that they were in, "even for ten minutes". There were rumours of a large movement of Axis vehicles northward. They received unwelcome word, a bit later, that Brigadier Gatehouse wanted the 3rd RTR to make some sort of move ("a demonstration against the enemy") to see what sort of response they got. "'C' Squadron was well out on the left flank". As they were getting ready to move, they heard that there were several Pzkw IIIs that appeared to be probing around the flank. They went out and saw them, and saw that they were trying to rescue infantry who were caught in forward trenches. As they saw infantry, Robert, Harry Maegraith, and "his troop sergeant" opened fire. They hit one Pzkw III and saw the crew bail out. Soon, there was black smoke from the hatch. Another Pzkw III fired at them, and then had all three Stuarts shooting at it. They had knocked the second tank out, as well. Soon, they had attracted a good deal of unwanted attention, and accelerated towards their own position. When they arrived, Harry told Robert that his "sergeant's had it". They could see the disabled Stuart, and the shellfire it had attracted. Robert radioed his squadron commander to tell him what had happened. Suddenly, Harry called at Robert. He saw the missing crew running for their position. They pulled them aboard their two tanks and left the area. Robert's Stuart had its water tanks holed and was missing an entire bogie wheel pair. This is based on the account in Robert Crisp's book Brazen Chariots.