7th Support Group (United Kingdom)

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7th Support Group
Active 1938 - 1942
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type Armoured Support Group
Role Armoured Division Support
Size Brigade
Part of 7th Armoured Division (until October 1942)
1st Armoured Division (from October 1942)[1]
Nickname Desert Rats[citation needed]
Engagements Western Desert Campaign
Commanders
Notable
commanders
William Gott[2]
John Campbell
Edward Williams
Insignia
Identification
symbol
Red Desert Jerboa[citation needed]

The 7th Support Group was a brigade size formation within the British 7th Armoured Division.

History[edit]

The 7th Support Group (or "pivot group") provided whatever support the division's armoured brigades needed for the operation in hand. It was able to provide motorised infantry, field artillery, anti-tank artillery or light anti-aircraft artillery as needed.

After the 8th Army was re-organised in preparation for El Alamein, the support group ceased to be and became either a motor brigade or lorried infantry brigade to support the armour in greater strength.[3]

Commanders[edit]

  • Brigadier William Gott - Until 3 September 1941
  • Brigadier John Charles Campbell - It was when in command of the 7th Support Group that "Jock" Campbell was awarded his Victoria Cross.

Official VC Citation[edit]

War Office 3rd February, 1942.

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS to Brigadier (acting) John Charles Campbell, DSO, MC (135944), Royal Horse Artillery,

in recognition of most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty at Sidi Rezegh on 21st and 22nd November 1941.

On the 21st November Brigadier Campbell was commanding the troops, including one regiment of tanks, in the area of Sidi Rezegh ridge and the aerodrome. His small force holding this important ground was repeatedly attacked by large numbers of tanks and infantry. Wherever the situation was most difficult and the fighting hardest he was to be seen with his forward troops, either on his feet or in his open car. In this car he carried out several reconnaissances for counter-attacks by his tanks, whose senior officers had all become casualties early in the day. Standing in his car with a blue flag, this officer personally formed up tanks under close and intense fire from all natures of enemy weapons.

On the following day the enemy attacks were intensified and again Brigadier Campbell was always in the forefront of the heaviest fighting, encouraging his troops, staging counter-attacks with his remaining tanks and personally controlling the fire of his guns. On two occasions he himself manned a gun to replace casualties. During the final enemy attack on the 22nd November he was wounded, but continued most actively in the foremost positions, controlling the fire of batteries which inflicted heavy losses on enemy tanks at point blank range, and finally acted as loader to one of the guns himself.

Throughout these two days his magnificent example and his utter disregard of personal danger were an inspiration to his men and to all who saw him. His brilliant leadership was the direct cause of the very heavy casualties inflicted on the enemy. In spite of his wound he refused to be evacuated and remained with his command, where his outstanding bravery and consistent determination had a marked effect in maintaining the splendid fighting spirit of those under him.[4]

6 pounder Anti-Tank Gun

Order of battle[edit]

Western Desert Force 1939[edit]

Operation Compass[edit]

  • 4th Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery
  • 1st Kings Royal Rifle Corps
  • 2nd Rifle Brigade

Order Of Battle - June 1941 (Operation Battleaxe)[edit]

Order Of Battle - November 1941 (Operation Crusader)[edit]

  • 3rd Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery
  • 4th Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery
  • 1st Kings Royal Rifle Corps
  • 2nd Rifle Brigade
  • 60th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
  • One Bty, 51st Field Regiment, Royal Artillery

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ *Paterson, Ian A. "History of the British 7th Armoured Division: 7th Support Group". [dead link]
  2. ^ Playfair, p. 205 The 7th Support Group was under the command of William Gott during the Italian invasion of Egypt
  3. ^ Paterson, Ian A. "Regiments That Served With The 7th Armoured Division". Retrieved 2009-05-08. [dead link]
  4. ^ The London Gazette: Charles Campbell/page/545 no. John Charles Campbell. p. 545. 30 January 1942. Retrieved 22 January 2013.

References[edit]

  • Playfair, Major-General I.S.O.; and others (2006) [1954]. Mediterranean and Middle East Volume I: The Early Successes Against Italy (to May 1941). History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series. Naval & Military Press. ISBN 1-84734-426-7. 

External links[edit]