|Airlanding Light Tank Squadron
6th Airborne Division
Airborne Light Tank Squadron PDF
|1 Tetrarch & 1 Tetrarch CS Headquarters||105|
|3 Tetrarch Air Landing Light Tank Platoon||155|
|3 Cromwell IV Armored Troop||365|
|3 Cromwell IV Armored Troop||365|
|1 Section Airlanding Recce Platoon||105|
|3 Squad Parachute Platoon||240|
|2 Section Airlanding Anti-Tank Platoon||175|
|2 Squad Assault Platoon||150|
|Belgium Armoured Car Platoon||90|
|1.||German||Free for All||6||loss||1||6|
|2.||Jon Halter||Fighting Withdrawal||11||loss||1||6|
|3.||Jack Francis||Hold the Line||14||loss||3||4|
|6.||Rob Wallace||Dare to Win||10||loss||2||6|
Amidst the action on June 6, 1944, twenty Hamilcar gliders successfully arrived at Landing Zone 'N' just outside of Ranville along with other elements of the 6th Airborne Division. Overall, Operation Mallard was a success. Lost in the excitement of Pegasus Bridge and the Merville batteries, the Tetrarch tanks of the 6th Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (6AARR) quietly joined the Normandy campaign, the result of the largest air landing of armored vehicles in WWII.
6AARR was a constant presence on the Allied left flank for 82 days. Remaining in the vicinity of Ranville, the regiment was constantly active identifying enemy positions and, on occasion, participating in minor engagements with German forces.
As July came to a close, the regiment was placed under the command of 5 Para Brigade. On August 17th, the 6 Airborne Division's breakout began. With the Seine River and Pont Audemer as objectives, the division moved out and, by day's end, St. Pair had been reached. 6AARR held this position while the 3rd and 5th Parachute Brigades launched major assaults against enemy forces blocking the advance past Dozule.
Orders were received on August 20th to proceed to the River Touque to search for bridges in the Pont L'Eveque area. Passing to the south of Dozule, the advance was threatened by German positions. With A Squadron unable to cross over the Dives River, B Squadron was left to lead the effort.
August 21st found the enemy retreating with frequent engagements occurring as 6AARR advanced into the hilly country beyond Dozule. Joined by the 1st Belgian Reconnaissance Squadron, the recce elements spread out to the east with B Squadron working to the south. As they approached Pont L'Eveque, reports made it obvious that a company of Germans were scattered throughout the area, roads had been mined, and anti-tank guns had been positioned to receive the advance.
By 0900 on August 22nd, reports on the bridges in and around Pont L'Eveque were being received. The River Touque took two channels through the town and the east bank was strongly held. 6AARR pulled back to allow the 5th Parachute Brigade to assault then enemy. No. 1 Troop, A Squadron was utilized to provide cover for bridging operations before supporting 13th Battalion's advance. Finding that the western bridge could not support the Cromwell IVs, 1 Troop could only wait while an armoured bulldozer created a ford. Once across, the Cromwell tanks advanced into the church square to find that the Germans had set several buildings on fire. While engaging several targets, including the destruction of a pillbox, it was discovered that they would be unable to cross to the east bank. Faced with anti-tank guns and the increasing threat posed by the burning buildings, they were forced to disengage.
The 7th and 13th Parachute Battalions attempted another assault on the 23rd, requesting the support of the Cromwell tanks around 1245 hours. Once again forced to retreat, the tanks of 6AARR provided covering fire.
A third attempt was not needed as the Germans retreated during the night, leaving Pont L'Eveque open on the 24th. 6AARR was given priority to cross the river, but the eastern channel of the river was bridged only by an 18-inch wide girder. As the regiment sought out an alternative crossing, the Royal Engineers set to work. By 1420, a crossing was found well to the north of town which was taken by most of the regiment. B Squadron, however, did not follow until it was obvious that it would take longer for the Engineers to complete their work than the time needed to take advantage of the new-found crossing and rejoin the regiment.
With the end of the 45 mile advance in sight, efforts were concentrated to reach Pont Audemer. Spread out over an eight mile front, contact with the enemy was reported from Fiqufleur to south of Beuzeville, the latter town being held by the enemy in a delaying action. No. 1 Troop, A Squadron was once again called upon to support the infantry and was sent south of the town under 8th Parachute Battalion in an attempt to outflank the Germans.
The troop provided support during an attack on a farm held by the Germans. The obstacle had to be removed and, while the attack was successful, Captain Rennith was wounded by machine gun fire, leaving Sgt. Cressy in command. As they moved on a second farm, the 75mm gun known to be hiding there fired upon the lead tank. Returning fire, the gun was knocked out. After shelling a neighboring wood held by the Germans, troop command was assumed by Lt. K.T. Robertson. Elsewhere, the Canadian Centaur's fired 60 rounds per gun in indirect support of 3rd Parachute Battalion.
On the morning of August 26th, every vehicle that could be mustered provided transport to Pont Audemer for "all possible infantry" in hopes of cutting off any German troops falling back towards the town. 6AARR carried the Royal Netherlands Brigade, setting off at 0730. Traveling from Beuzeville to Pont Audemer, they found that the Germans had blown all the bridges. A Squadron was sent to block the southern entrance to the town until the regiment received orders to concentrate in preparation to withdraw. By August 28th, 6AARR was making preparations to embark and return home for a well-deserved rest.