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England 1942 Part 1

Updated: Aug 17, 2021

The beginning of 1942 found the Hussars becoming acclimatized to their new home. Aldershot was a cold, dreary, and generally uninviting place. Driving on the wrong side along the narrow, and winding country roads of southern England especially at night in blackout conditions required much emphasis on map reading and convoy driving. A rather more pleasant learning experience involved “Local Libations”. Apparently the weak tasting English beer packed a significant punch especially when taken in accordance with local custom with a “We drop of gin or the wine of Scotland”

Initially tank training was a real problem as the Regiment was allotted only 4 of the American M 3 General Lee tanks. As a result, considerable time was spent on the RYPA gunnery training device. The title stood for Roll, Pitch, Yaw, and Alteration of course. Here the gunner could sit in a simulated turret that moved in all directions simulating a tank on the move while firing a pellet gun at miniature tanks on a model landscape. As would become the norm the 1st Hussars excelled in this training winning a 1st Brigade competition beating out 29 other teams.

A constant source of concern for any armored unit was maintaining a cadre of qualified tradesmen, fitters, motor mechanics, driver mechanics, gunner operators, and loader operators. In the first quarter of 1942 hundreds of Hussars were dispersed throughout England on various training courses. Very quickly the Regiment set a record for the brigade by achieving and maintaining a nearly perfect quota of trained personnel.

Maintainers train on Valentine tank

On Feb 11 1942 Lieutenant AB Conron (later to command the Regiment) became the first Hussar to see action against the enemy as he had unfortunately chosen to take leave aboard a British destroyer that became involved in the action to prevent the German Battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau sailing up the English Channel.

Lieutenant Conron went on to command the Regiment

On the 8th of March the BBC broadcast a ½ hour program of music performed by the regimental band which was later rebroadcast to Canada. By the end of March things began to look up for the Regiment as it had received its first two Canadian built Ram tanks and all ranks were eagerly anticipating a move out of the dreary confines of Aldershot and into bucolic beauty of the Surrey countryside.

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