97th anti-tank regiment.

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by chrisj, Aug 20, 2009.

  1. chrisj

    chrisj New Member

    Hello there,
    I am trying to find out any information I can about this regiment. My grandad was in it in 1944 where he won a MM during operation Epsom.
    Any links or information would be very gratefully received including:
    Where could i find the history of the regiment?
    Where would the war Diary be held for this regiment?
    What is the difference between a "field regiment" and an anti-tank regiment?
    Why would a man who ( according to my uncle) joined the Royal Horse Artillery in his home town of Liverpool end up in what appears to be a Kent regiment?
    How could I find any details of the fighting at Le Valtru on the 29th June 1944 during operation Epsom?
    If anyone could help with any of these questions I would be grateful.
  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Hi Chris and welcome ! :)

    I can't answer all your questions I'm afraid but thought maybe some of this maybe of interest !!

    29 June
    With the weather improving over the United Kingdom and Normandy, Hausser's preparations for his counter stroke came under continual harassment from Allied aircraft and artillery fire, resulting in the start time being pushed back to the afternoon From the number of German reinforcements arriving in VIII Corps' sector and aerial reconnaissance VIII Corps commander Lieutenant-General Richard O’Connor suspected that the Germans were organising a major offensive - XXX Corps was still some way to the north, leaving VIII Corps' right flank vulnerable, so O'Connor postponed the planned attacks by I Corps and ordered VIII Corps to adopt a defensive posture. Lieutenant-General Miles Dempsey, commanding the Second Army and privy to ULTRA decrypts of intercepted German signal traffic, knew of the planned counterattack and approved O'Connor's precautions.
    Having moved to the defensive, VIII Corps began to reorganise in order to meet the attack when it came. Supply echelons for Hausser's divisions were located in the Évrecy–Noyers-Bocage–Villers-Bocage area, and were the focus of RAF fighter-bomber attention throughout the morning and early afternoon; the RAF claimed the destruction of over 200 vehicles - VIII Corps also launched spoiling moves. At 0800 a battalion of the 43rd Division assaulted Mouen. Without armour, but supported by an artillery barrage, by 1100 the battalion had evicted the 1st SS Panzer Division's panzergrenadiers, following which a second battalion moved up and dug in on the Caen–Villers-Bocage road - The 43rd Division's 129th Brigade swept the woods and orchards around Tourville-sur-Odon, before crossing the river north of Baron-sur-Odon and proceeding to clear the southern bank - Other initiatives were less successful. An attempt by the 15th Division's 44th Brigade to advance towards the Odon and link up with the force holding the Gavrus bridges failed, leaving this position isolated, and in the salient the 44th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment failed to capture Hill 113 north of Évrecy, after clashing with 10th SS Panzer and losing 6 tanks. Endeavouring to strengthen their position, elements of the 11th Armoured Division launched a failed attack to take Esquay-Notre-Dame, west of Hill 112, but a combined infantry and tank attack on the southern slope of the hill was more successful, driving the Germans from the position
    Hausser intended for his II SS Panzer Corps' 9th SS Panzer Division—with Kampfgruppe Weidinger protecting its left flank—to cut right across the British salient north of the Odon, while the 10th SS Panzer Division was to retake Gavrus and Hill 112 south of the river. 9th SS Panzer's attack began at 1400, heavily supported by artillery. Two regiments of the division, supported by Panthers, Panzer IV's and assault guns, attacked Grainville, le Haut du Bosq, and le Valtru, aiming for Cheux as their final objective - A British company was overrun and tanks and infantry penetrated into le Valtru, but anti-tank guns knocked out four German tanks within the village and artillery fire forced their supporting infantry to withdraw. Heavy and confused fighting, at times coming down to hand-to-hand combat, took place outside Grainville. Panzergrenadiers captured a tactically key wood, but were forced back after a British counterattack. The panzergrenadiers claimed they also captured Grainville, but no British sources support this, and by nightfall British infantry were in firm control of the village.
    At around 1600 - the British captured an officer of the 9th SS Panzer Division - who was conducting a reconnaissance mission - He was found to be carrying a map and notebook containing details of upcoming attacks. Nevertheless, at around 1830 the Germans launched renewed strikes against the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division's right flank. One unit was in the process of relieving another, and in the confusion German tanks and infantry slipped through the British defences, with some units advancing 2 miles (3.2 km) before running into heavy resistance. By 2300, 9th SS Panzer had been stopped. Additional supporting attacks against the British eastern flank had been planned, but the German tank concentrations assembling in the Carpiquet area had been so severely disrupted by RAF fighter-bombers during the afternoon that the attacks never materialised
    The 10th SS Panzer Division launched its attack, behind schedule, at 1430. Following clashes earlier in the day the British were ready and waiting, but after five hours of intense combat the Scottish infantry defending Gavrus had been pushed back into a pocket around the bridge north of the village. An artillery bombardment caused the Germans to withdraw, but the British did not reoccupy the village. Moving towards Hill 113, elements of 10th SS Panzer ran into British tanks and infantry within Évrecy - thwarting their attempt to occupy the hill. Dealing with this obstacle took the remainder of the day, so the division's planned attack on Hill 112 was postponed. The Germans claimed the destruction of 28 tanks, while the British record the loss of only 12.
    Believing the aggressive German actions throughout 29 June indicated further major counterattacks for the following day, Dempsey reinforced the Odon bridgehead with a brigade of the 43rd division and pulled in its perimeter. The 159th Infantry Brigade, of the 11th Armoured Division, was placed under the command of the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division - and acceding to O’Connor’s wishes for additional infantry, Dempsey attached the newly arrived 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division to VIII Corps; the lead brigade arrived near the Epsom start line during the night. In order to retain possession of Hill 112, Dempsey recognised that he would also need to hold Évrecy and Hill 113; a task that, for the moment, he did not have the resources for. He therefore ordered the 29th Armoured Brigade to abandon the hill.Convinced that the key position to retain was between Rauray and the Odon, after dark Dempsey withdrew the 29th Armoured Brigade north, across the river, to be in a position to meet the expected renewed German offensive.

    Operation Epsom - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  3. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Operation Epsom

    Operation Epsom was a British attack intended to outflank and seize Caen in France during the Battle of Normandy during the Second World War. It did not achieve its overall objective but forced the Germans to abandon their offensive plans and tied most of their armoured units to a defensive role.

    To be certain of anticipating any German attack Epsom was launched on 26 June. Although held up on parts of the front by infantry of the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend, the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division and the 31st Armoured Brigade gained four miles on their left flank. Further to their left the 43rd (Wessex Infantry Division also gained ground. John Keegan described their advance:

    "…The division was attacking two brigades up, which meant that six of its infantry battalions were in the first wave, with the other three waiting in the rear to support the leaders. As each brigade also attacked two up, however, this meant there were in fact only four battalions on the start line, each strung out along a front of about 1000 yards. And since each battalion, about 750 men strong, likewise kept two of their four companies in reserve, the true number of men who started forward into the cornfields that morning was probably no more than 700. They are best pictured, as they would have looked from the cockpit of any passing spotter aircraft, as 24 groups of 30 riflemen, called platoons, separated by intervals of about 150 yards…Each platoon consisted of three smaller groups, called sections, which were led by a corporal, and were based on the Bren machine gun which gave them their firepower…".

    On 27 June, after repulsing small armoured counter-attacks, the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division gained more ground and captured a bridge over the River Odon. The 11th Armoured Division passed through to capture Hill 112, a mile to the southeast. This deep penetration alarmed the German command and General Hausser was ordered to commit his units to contain and eliminate the Allied salient. The German command was in some disarray, as General Dollmann, commanding the German Seventh Army died immediately after ordering Hausser to mount the counter-attack and Field Marshals Rommel and von Rundstedt were en route to a conference with Adolf Hitler and out of touch with their headquarters.


    97th Anti-Tank Regiment RA served under the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division 15.08.1942-05.12.1944

    And these two Officers were the Commanding Officers in 1943 - 1944 .... sometimes ( although its the long way round ) it maybe easier to follow the officers when the regiment is difficult to find !

  4. chrisj

    chrisj New Member

    Thank you very much for this, it's brilliant! My grandfather won his medal for helping repulse the counter-attack at Le Valtru. Presumably he helped take out those 4 tanks mentioned!
  5. Dave Barlow

    Dave Barlow Member

    97th Anti-Tank Regiment RA

    Hi Chris - it wouldn't hurt to add your granddad's details to this thread. It will make it easier to find any available info on him if we know his full name, service number and/or date of birth etc.
  6. chrisj

    chrisj New Member

    His details are

    W/sgt Edward Jeremy
    Army no.770358

    I sent for the citation on his medal. It says he was in 46 Brigade 15(S) Division 8 Corps
    Unit: 97th Anti-tank regiment R.A. in support of 7 Seaforths.

    What seems strange to me is how he came to be in this regiment at all. He joined up in Liverpool. He used to tell me things when I was a kid. I remember he told me he fought in the desert -at Leptis Magna- for one place, and I think he landed in Greece. If anyone could help with more detail, that would be great!
  7. Dave Barlow

    Dave Barlow Member

    97th Anti-Tank Regiment RA


    The Military Medal

    No. 770358 Sergeant Edward Jeremy, Royal Regiment of Artillery (Liverpool).


    Order of Battle - Operation Epsom - 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division - HQ and 346th Battery, 97th Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery (part of the Divisional Troops)

    (I presume that by this stage of the war the anti-tank regiments would have been using 17-pounder a/t guns, instead of the old 6-pounders)


    The 97th Field Regiment appears to be an unrelated unit (a field regiment would most likely have used the 25-pounder medium gun / howitzer) -

    It joined 7th Armoured Division in July 1942 and remained with it until December 1942. In 1942 it was re-titled as the 97th (Kent Yeomanry) Field Regiment, RA, and in October 1943 it re-joined 10th Indian Division, serving in North Africa, Palestine and Italy, until the end of the war.


    Also not to be confused with the 97th HAA Regiment (The London Scottish) - Heavy Anti-Aircraft with 3" guns (??)
  8. Dave Barlow

    Dave Barlow Member

    The Battle for Estry - MM material (?)


    (http://www.rhf.org.uk/Books/GH Newsletter 6.pdf)

    Along the 15 (Scottish) Division's front, during the third phase of Operation "Bluecoat", August 1944, the Germans had established a number of "hedgehog" positions. With these they would stem the flow of the Allied advance.

    Having moved off at 0930 hours a unit of the 9 SS Panzer Division, believed to be at least 400 strong, had fortified the village with tanks, 88mm guns, nebelwerfers and machine guns.

    For nearly two more days the battalion would remain on the slopes of Hill 208 with the enemy dug in all around them.

    Machine guns of 1 Middlesex Regiment beat off an attack on the area of Au Cornu, which included two Mark IV tanks, and which got within 800 yards of the La Caverie crossroads which were destroyed by guns of the 97 Anti Tank Regiment.

    The History of the Borderers recalls: A large concentration of the enemy were seen about eight hundred yards south west of the village, they were engaged by the tanks, thus enabling the lead companies to cross the main road. The support tanks failed to reach their start lines. The Germans attacked with three tanks and infantry and pushed the Royal Scots Fusiliers back over the crossroads.

    The Troop Commander of 97 Anti Tank Gun Regiment brought forward a single gun and destroyed with his second and third shots two of the Mark IV Panzers, the third retreating with the infantry.
  9. Dave Barlow

    Dave Barlow Member

    97th anti-tank regiment

    The 97th anti-tank regiment appears to have been a short-lived unit. According to the CWGC it lost 36 members, all in 1944. Two died in the UK in Feb and April - probably in training.

    The rest died in the period June to October 1944. They must have been in action shortly after DDay and then went through the July and August breakout battles like Epsom etc.

    September and October saw them in action in The Netherlands. As far as I can tell the unit was disbanded around the end of 1944.
  10. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    I'm glad you found it helpful Chris !

    have you tried for his service records by any chance ? you can obtain his service history from the MOD - all the necessary info and forms are available from this site !

    Service records - Army

    Annie :)
  11. chrisj

    chrisj New Member

    Thank you to everyone for being so helpful. There is so much information I would never have found. I do want to get his service record but the problem is this: I am not his direct next of kin. His oldest son is still alive but old and I have lost touch with him. My dad is dead. How terrible would it be if I ignored these and just ticked grandchild? What checks do they make?

    With the regard to regimental numbering: I am surprised that there are 3 97ths! I thought the numbers would be unique to avoid confusion.

    Here is an extract from grandad's medal citation

    "During the enemy counter attack on the Le Valtru bn locality on 29th June 1944 Sgt Jeremy was acting as Troop sgt of the 6pr gun troop which was in support of the 7 SEAFORTHS. when enemy tanks had penetrated the position he not only successfully organised the defence of the remaining guns but on two occasions drove in a jeep on his own initiative and under heavy mortar and MG fire, across to the Tp comd of the 17 pr troop in order to inform him of the location and routes of the enemy tanks. on one of these occasions he successfully employed a captured MG from his jeep as a means of clearing his way through infiltrating enemy infantry."

    It shows they were using 17 pr and 6 pr guns. Does anyone know why they would have 2 different size guns. I would have thought the bigger the better when it came to stopping tanks!

    Would anyone know what the Machine Gun it says he captured and used on the jeep would be? Does it mean small arms or the one that usually needs 2 men to fire?

    Thanks again everyone for all your help.
  12. Dave Barlow

    Dave Barlow Member

    Glad you're finding this helpful Chris. It's good to get feedback from someone happy with the help received.

    While I hate the idea of telling fibs to a helpful government agency, I think this is a good time to tick the wrong box and get what you want as it is a valid need you have for this info.

    It's easier to apologise later if needs be than try to find your missing uncle.

    As for the numbering of three different units of artillery as the 97th - no-one has ever accused the British army of doing things logically.

    His anti-tank regiment obviously had troops with different size guns, I will have to look this up but I would guess the reasons are varied. 17-pounders were still in short supply and their ammo was heavier and took more effort to produce etc. Also, the smaller guns still had their uses against the lighter vehicles and as "bunker-busters". I don't know the precise make-up of his sort of unit, but most artillery was organised into a couple of guns to a troop, four troops to a battery and three batteries to a 24-gun regiment (I think).

    The reference to a MG could mean anything. To me, it means a crew-served weapon like a MG42 - but it could have been a "machine-pistol" like the so-called MP40 "Schmiesser"......

    Either way, it makes for an interesting medal citation.
  13. jcs

    jcs New Member

    hello please could you tell me anymore about the german officer of the 9th panzer division
    thank you

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