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England 1943 Pt. 4

The fall of 1943 was a very busy time for the Regiment. Troop and squadron level combined arms and amphibious training continued day and night. The tank crews now began to do "Live-fire battle-runs”. Where all previous training had involved firing at stationary targets from stationary positions, they now were firing all of their weapons and different types of ammunition at various types of targets while their tanks were manoeuvring over rough terrain. As might be expected the early scores were not particularly impressive with the first troop through scoring a mere 15 out a possible 125. However, Hussars being Hussars by the time the training ended 4 days later scores were in the high 80s.

Battle Run on the range

It was also during this time that we began to receive our first Sherman tanks and many training courses were conducted on the new vehicles concentrating on the 75mm main gun and diesel engines. On the 13th of September the first fifty Hussars fired a familiarization shoot with the 75mm and were delighted with its performance commenting that they felt that they could do “Great things” with it. The training in Scotland culminated with the regiment demonstrating the devastating effect of massed Shermans firing 75mm high explosive rounds. This foreshadowed a mission that would become an important routine for the Regiment a year later.

Sherman tanks were not the only new vehicles received by the Regiment at this time. The Regimental Headquarters troop also received 8 new Crusader III anti-aircraft tanks. Mounting two highly effective Oerlikon 20mm cannons capable of firing between 500 and 650 rounds a minute these were formidable vehicles. During their first shoot with these new weapons the troop scored a very impressive 78%.

Crusader III Anti-Aircraft Tank

When the unit returned to Worthing on October 4 the Germans welcomed them home with an air raid and a 1000-pound bomb which landed in the C Squadron lines. Fortunately for all, it failed to explode. The majority of October was spent in the field practising troop and squadron level tactics, battle runs, range work, and gas drills. In one notable incident Lieutenant Sarre along with Sgt. Lilley deployed tear gas without notice in the middle of a lecture. Donning their masks quickly, several soldiers found that they had issues breathing as they had forgotten to remove the plugs. This was a very important lesson.

Another exercise ended with the Regiment breaking harbour and moving back to Worthing starting at 2:30 in the morning. To just to make matters a little more challenging, information was received en-route that several bridges had been destroyed and the Recce troop had to find alternative routes. In spite of unfamiliar terrain and darkness this was done quite handily and the Regiment entered harbour in time for breakfast.

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