England 1943 Part 2

During May and June, the Regiment enjoyed some of the finest weather of the year and utilized this time to conduct extensive combined arms training with infantry and artillery units. The high point of this training came when a composite squadron of 1st Hussars led by Major W.D. Brooks travelled to Fargo Camp on the Salisbury plain and participated in a very impressive and successful live fire demonstration of a combined arms attack. Present to observe the exercise were representatives of most of the allied nations, the Senior Officers School, and the War Office. During the 25-minute battle the artillery fired over 6000 rounds.

Throughout June the Regiment spent a considerable amount of time on firing ranges refreshing their skills on some weapons and learning new ones. The gunners practised with the new and more powerful 6 pounder main gun, firing at both stationary and moving targets.

A notable event from this period came when the Regimental Sergeant Major Wilfred Jewkes received the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of his long service and status as the “Old man of the Regiment” - the RSM was one of the very few survivors of the “Old Contemptibles” These were members of the British Expeditionary Force that was virtually wiped out holding the line against the advancing Germans in the opening battles of World War 1. Surviving the war, he immigrated to Canada where he joined the Royal Canadian Dragoons before transferring to the First Hussars in 1940.

The 2nd of July found the regiment facing its severest test short of combat. On this day the General Officer Commanding the First Canadian Corps Lieutenant General Crerar inspected the Regiment on all aspects of their training and material readiness. This was likely to prove life or death for the regiments of the 3rd Brigade. Rumours were rife that these tests would determine which units of the 2nd and 3rd Canadian Army Tank Brigades would be retained and which would be disbanded. Most of July was spent back on the firing ranges at Linney Head in Wales where again, the Regiment demonstrated their professionalism. Firing at all of the various targets they might encounter in action, they once again established the standard for the brigade by setting a range record, scoring the highest hit percentage of all units using the facility.

The end of July found the Regiment with a renewed sense of optimism and purpose as on the 26th of July word was received that that all of the units of the 3rd Army Tank Brigade would be retained and form the newly established 2nd Armoured Brigade. The First Hussars once again became 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1H). At the same time, it was also strongly “intimated” that the Regiment would likely be among the first units to “assault the beaches” when the invasion of Europe actually happened.

Our final home, the Combat Brigade

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