148th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps
|148th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps|
|Active||1941–27 August 1944|
|Part of||Royal Armoured Corps|
|Engagements||World War II|
|Disbanded||27 August 1944|
148th Regiment RAC was formed at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire, on 22 November 1941 by the conversion to the armoured role of the 9th Battalion, Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire), a war service battalion raised in 1940 that had been serving in 215th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home). Surplus personnel were transferred to other battalions of the Loyals or to 148th Independent Reconnaissance Squadron. In common with other infantry battalions transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps, the personnel of 148 RAC would have continued to wear their Loyals cap badge on the black beret of the Royal Armoured Corps.
148 RAC was assigned to 33rd Tank Brigade (later 33rd Armoured Brigade) for training in the United Kingdom, and remained with this formation for most of its service. Serving in the brigade were 144 RAC and 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry.
Equipment and training
148 RAC was initially equipped with Churchill I and II infantry tanks. These early models were later replaced by Churchill IIIs, IVs and Vs equipped with 6-pounder guns and 95mm howitzers, but in March 1944 the regiment exchanged these in turn for Sherman I and Sherman Vc Firefly medium tanks. At the same time 33rd Tank Brigade was redesignated 33rd Armoured Brigade, reflecting the re-equipment of its regiments. The M10 Achilles was used for training teenagers.
In fact, although equipped with medium rather than infantry tanks, the brigade's role did not change. As an independent brigade under GHQ, 33rd Armoured could be assigned to support any infantry division that required the assistance of tanks, the regiments forming brigade groups with the infantry, with squadrons assigned to support individual battalions.
148 RAC landed in Normandy on 15 June 1944 (D+9). 33rd Armoured Brigade had been delayed in arrival, and its absence was sorely felt by the British Second Army during the tough fighting around Villers-Bocage (13–16 June). Once in Normandy the brigade moved between various Divisional, Corps and Army commands as required, but usually it operated with 51st (Highland) Infantry Division.
On 10–11 July 1944 148 RAC supported 153 Brigade of 51st (Highland) Division in Operation Stack, an attack on the Colombelles factory area of Caen, 'but it was much stronger than expected, and the attack failed miserably'. Two troops of 'A' Squadron in close support of the 5th Battalion, Black Watch found themselves engaged by Panzer IV and Tiger I tanks, and although one Sherman scored six hits on a Tiger and stopped it firing, 9 out of the 10 Shermans were knocked out. For Operation Goodwood (18 July) and Operation Totalize (8 August) 148 RAC again supported 51st (Highland) Division. During Totalize, 'B' Sqn attacked the village of Tilly la Campagne, which was 'browned' with the tanks' Browning machine guns. This induced many members of 1055 Grenadier Regiment to surrender. 'B' squadron knocked out three assault guns for the loss of one Sherman, and 'C' Squadron brewed up two Panther tanks for no loss.
Apart from battle casualties, there was a steady trickle of casualties from German shellfire and mortars, and misdirected Allied bombs. On 13 August the regiment was shelled while relieving 144 RAC, and the commander of 'B' Squadron and several other ranks were wounded. Later that day the regiment's 'harbour' was heavily shelled and the Commanding Officer, Lt-Col R.G. Cracroft, MC, was killed.
On 15 August the regiment was ordered to disband, due to a severe shortage of manpower in the British Army at the time. The regiment handed its tanks over to the 1st East Riding Yeomanry, which was to take its place in 33rd Armoured Brigade. The officers and men were posted to other regiments in the brigade or to replacement holding units. This process was completed on 27 August 1944, when the regiment ceased to exist.
- 148 RAC War Diary November–December 1941, The National Archives, Kew, file WO 166/1436.
- Forty pp. 50–51.
- Joslen p. 183.
- 148 RAC War Diary November–December 1941, The National Archives, file WO 166/1436.
- 148 RAC War Diary March 1944, The National Archives file WO 171/880.
- Joslen, pp. 183, 206.
- 148 RAC War Diary June 1944, The National Archives file WO 171/880.
- Ellis pp.255–64.
- 148 RAC War Diary June–July1944, The National Archives file WO 171/880.
- 148 RAC War Diary July1944, The National Archives file WO 171/880.
- Lindsay, p. 19.
- 148 RAC War Diary July–August 1944, The National Archives file WO 171/880.
- 148 RAC War Diary August 1944, The National Archives file WO 171/880.
- Major L. F. Ellis, "History of the Second World War: United Kingdom Military Series: Victory in the West", Volume I: "The Battle of Normandy", London: HMSO, 1962/Uckfield: Naval & Military, 2004, ISBN 1-84574-058-0.
- George Forty, "British Army Handbook 1939–1945", Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1998, ISBN 0-7509-1403-3.
- Joslen, Lt-Col H.F. (2003) . Orders of Battle: Second World War, 1939–1945. Uckfield: Naval and Military Press. ISBN 978-1-84342-474-1.
- Lt-Col Martin Lindsay, So Few Got Through, London: Collins, 1946/Arrow Books (pbk; nd)/Leo Cooper, 2000, ISBN 0-85052-754-6. Page references are to Arrow edition.