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England 1943 Pt.1

1943 was both a stressful and momentous year for the Regiment. On 11 January a major reorganization of Canadian Armoured Corps took place which left the army with too many tank brigades. As a result, the Regiment left the 1st Armoured Brigade and the 5th Armoured Division, its home since Leaving Canada, to become the senior regiment in the newly formed 3rd Canadian Army Tank Brigade. This however was only a temporary formation, it was not formally authorized and the Regiment’s future was quite uncertain.

In January the Regiment began a period of night training in which the Regiment was put on DTT, (Divisional Training Time) or, as the troops put it, “Devilish Training Time.” First parade was at 20:00 (8 PM) and the troops worked throughout the night. This training culminated at the end of the month with a Brigade exercise in which the Hussars moved in blackout conditions to a new location to set up camp and carry out offensive and defensive drills. This exercise taught the Regiment a lot about the need to conduct a proper reconnaissance before setting up in a new harbour. The following morning 11 tanks, and 13 trucks had to be towed out of the swamp they had parked in.

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In the spring, the Regiment moved 4 times in 2 months, and twice in 4 days. However, all was not a total loss as the final move saw them back in Elstead, and after a brief but tumultuous period the men felt that they had returned to their “Home away from home.” Here the proximity to Hankley, Frensham, and Headley Commons and the now increasing numbers of tanks, allowed for not only troop and squadron level training but the beginnings of combined arms training with infantry and artillery. In March the intercommunications troop began exercising with Daimler scout cars and the reconnaissance troop began driver training on the new universal carrier which was a vast improvement over their previous mounts.

On 30 April 1943, Sgt. Roy Graham Lilley became the first of many 1st Hussars to receive a decoration for gallantry. On that day he was in charge of a group of soldiers practising with a Bren light machine gun. One of the soldiers suffered a seizure which caused the gun he was carrying to begin firing indiscriminately. Completely disregarding his own safety Sargent Lilley rushed the soldier and disarmed him while unloading and clearing the gun at the same time. For his actions which undoubtedly saved others from harm, Sgt. Lilley was awarded the British Empire medal.

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