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NA 75

by: David Morrell

Major Percy Hulme Morrell MBE 

Operation “WHITEHOT”

 

THE BACKGROUND RAISON D’ETRE

The 21st and 25th Tank Brigades, which were incidentally, the first two brigades in the British Army to be equipped 100% with Churchill tanks, took a pretty sever beating in the battles which led up to the fall of Tunis. In fact it was apparent that the Churchill was anything but an unqualified success. It was heavy and well armored, and had many of the attributes of a successful ‘I’ or infantry support tank, but it had two grave disadvantages. It was under gunned – it’s six -pounder gun with an AP range of 800 yards and nil HE performances, had proved to be no match for the 75 and 88mm guns of the ‘hull down’ or dug in German tanks they encountered during the advance up the Medjarda Valley.

In addition to being under gunned, the gun mounting in the Churchill turret had an inside ‘mantlet’ – the gun and coaxial Besa machine gun protruded through a large square hole in the front of the turret, the inside of the tank being protected by a slab of armour riding in slots and rising and falling as the gun was elevated and depressed. Although this arrangement afforded a degree of protection, it was anything but impervious to machine gun ‘splash’, and being situated some 8 inches or so behind the front face of the turret, in the bright light and shadow of North Africa, it showed up as a distinct black patch on the front of the turret. This patch was, for the German gunners, a convenient aiming mark, and it is a fact that some 60% of the Churchill casualties in the Medjarda Valley. .battles, were hit on or around the mantlet. 

It was not surprising therefore, that in spite of the attraction of heavier armour, the Army Commanders and indeed many of the armoured formations themselves preferred the more lightly armoured American Sherman because of it’s 75mm gun with it’s range of 7,000 odd yards, and an outside mantled which cast no inconvenient shadow. 

After the fall of Tunis, the two brigades were withdrawn, together with their supporting troops to the area around Bona, where they were to sit for almost a year whilst the rest of the 1st and 8th Armies went off to Sicily and Italy to get on with the war. 

The frustration level was high, and continuous exercises and war games did little to dispel this – the brigades which had put up a terrific show in North Africa felt that the war had passed them by. Montgomery had little use in his current tasks for a tank which had to approach so close to the enemy before it could inflict any damage, that the enemy gunners could wait literally until they could see the “whites of it’s eyes, or at least the black patch on it’s turret”, before picking it off at will. 

Captain Morrell with a Liberated Hotchkiss

THE IDEA

I was, at that time a Captain in command of a detachment of 665 Tank Troops Workshop R.E.M.E. which had been in support of 21st Tank Brigade during the battle for Tunis. The detachment moved with the brigade back to Bone, where it was attached to 16 Base Workshop R.E.M.E. to assist in tank repairs, purely to keep the unit in employment. 

The change from active service in the field, to a static, almost factory like Base workshop was just as frustrating to the detachment as their non-combatant role was to the brigades. A frustration which was hardly relieved by the order in December 1943 to rejoin the parent 665 T.T.W. then under the command of Major C.H.Bevan at Le Khroub some 20 miles west of Constantine. 

I became second in command to Major Bevan, and the detachment was reabsorbed into the parent workshop. The unit was engaged in Le Khroub in the ‘reduction to produce’ (scrapping) of large numbers of battle casualty armoured vehicles which were beyond economical repair. These were tha wash up of the North African campaign, and included Churchill’s, Valentines, and large numbers or the various marks of Sherman fitted with 75mm guns. 

As the scrapping process proceeded, I noticed that very often, the least damaged part of the scrapped tanks was the main armament, and examination of the armament records, which were in many cases available, showed a useful remaining life of up to 85%. 

It seemed ironic, having just left two complete Tank brigades sitting down eating their hearts out for want of a really good tank gun, that I should now be engaged in cutting up dozens of exactly the type of gun they needed. 

Was it possible to adapt the Sherman 75mm to the Churchill? And if so would the powers that be, be interested in such an adaptation ? 

I was in an unique position to investigate the possibilities – the tank park at Le Khroub contained almost every mark of both Churchill and Sherman tank. After a great deal of measurement and pondering, I became convinced that it was at least physically possible to accommodate the Sherman 75mm in the cast turret of the Mk IV Churchill, and I drafted a letter to Col. Green, DDME North Africa District, outlining the idea. 

In fact, that particular letter was never dispatched and the rest of the story, and , incidentally, the creation of the ‘NA 75’ was purely fortuitous. 

In the C.O.’s office of 665 TTW, I shared a 6’ square table with Chris Bevan, sitting at opposite sides. On an unexpected visit of the DDME, I gave up my chair and left the office whilst the Colonel talked to Bevan. The draft of the letter was on the table, and the DDME noticed it, and seeing that it was addressed to him, read it. On my return to the office, I was quizzed by the DDME, who was impressed with the possibilities of the adaptation and suggested that the letter should in fact be written and forwarded to him, and he would personally refer the matter to AFHQ. 

THE PRELUDE.

The letter was written and dispatched, against the counsel of Chris Bevan who was of the opinion that there were too many snags in the proposed conversion to make it a practical proposition, and of other officers in the company whose dictum was that if it were possible to mount a 75mm gun in a Churchill tank – it would have been done before. 

A couple of weeks later, things started to happen. John C. Jack, a civilian technical representative of Vauxhall Motors, the manufacturers of the Churchill, arrived at Le Khroub, briefed by the D.M.E. A.F.H.Q. to listen to my ideas, assess their potential, and report back. 

This was a fortunate choice of emissary. John Jack and I were old acquaintances, having mat initially in England, and on several occasions during the North Africa campaign. We were both technicians, we had both known the Churchill since it arrived in the service, we had a good rapport, and respected each other’s judgment. 

In a very short time John Jack was able to report to D.M.E. that (a) the Churchill turret would physically accommodate the Sherman 75mm, and (b) that the turret ring and mounting of the Churchill was, if anything, stronger than that of the Sherman, and better able to withstand the shock of recoil, and (c) that although the conversion bristled with complications, there was a strong possibility that the 75mm could be fitted into the Churchill, and that it could probably be made to work. 

John Jack dispatched a signal to D.M.E. to this effect. 24 hours later a return signal instructed him to return to A.F.H.Q. and to bring me with him. A dawn start the following day got us to Algiers by mid-afternoon, the journey being accomplished in my personal transport-an elderly ‘Liberated’ Hotchkiss coupe which, like the roads we traveled on, had seen better days. 

On arrival we were conducted directly to the D.M.E. Major General W.S. (Bill) Tope, who was in overall command of all REME services in the Central Mediterranean theatre of war. The D.M.E. was a blunt, direct, no nonsense engineer, being an old Territorial soldier, and in civilian life, the Chairman of one of Great Britain’s major engine manufacturers.

He was very straight – the idea that a 75mm gun could be fitted to the Churchill, that large numbers of such guns were readily available, and that the conversion could be undertaken with existing workshop services within the theatre, was, quite frankly, too good to be true. He did not suffer fools gladly, and before he wasted either his or any one else’s time on such a project, he would have to be convinced that there was at least an outside chance of the thing being a success. He grilled us both, individually and together until well into the evening. He produced drawings of the Churchill and Sherman turrets, ballistics data on the gun, specifications and technical data on the traverse mechanisms and other ancillaries connected with laying and firing. He went through every step of the proposed conversion, covering the methods I had conceived to counter the obvious snags, and produced snags I had not even thought of. Eventually he closed the meeting, instructing me to report back to his office at 8.00 am the following morning, and not to discuss the matter with anyone in the interim. 

After anything but a restful night, I was on the mat again at 8:00 the next day. The General was again very direct, and I remember his words very clearly. “I have decided” he said, “to give you the opportunity to prove that your theories are tenable. You will return to your unit today. I will arrange with R.A.O.C. to release to you a new Churchill Mk IV tank. I will ask your C.O. to allow you to use such workshop facilities and personnel as may be necessary to your purpose, and you will proceed to replace the Churchill 6 pdr. gun with a 75mm taken from a battle casualty Sherman. At this stage, your efforts will be confined to fitting the gun, and making it work properly – all questions of ammunition stowage etc will be held over until the gun and it’s functions have been proved out in the Churchill. The project will be classified as ‘Top Secret’ and will be given the code name “White Hot” 

The D.M.E. then closed the interview by saying “Morrell” – I have been looking at your record. You were commissioned from warrant rank less than two years ago. Today, probably because promotion tends to be rapid in a theatre of war, you are a captain and second in command of your unit. If you can make a success of this project, which I warn you is pooh poohed by several of the A.F.V. experts I have referred it to, I will see that you do not lose by it. If, on the other hand, you are unable to make a job of it, and in the process you render unserviceable a tank which cost the British Taxpayer a great deal of money, you can take it that your career has advanced just about as far as it is going to! As a parting shot, he added “don’t waste any time. I think you can do it. Go back to Le Khroub and get on with it, and the best of Luck”. 

THE PROTOTYPE

On my return to Le Khroub, I found that both the new Churchill from R.A.O.C. and clear instructions from A.F.H.Q. had preceded me. I was met with little enthusiasm. The C.O and several other officers in the Company were regular soldiers. Being of a conservative nature, they were dubious about the project, and diffident about being connected with what they thought was an almost certain failure, which could have unfortunate repercussions on their future careers. I was given to understand quite clearly, that whereas I would be given every possible assistance, all decisions regarding the conversion were my affair- I was in fact completely on my own. 

By this time somewhat daunted, but irretrievably committed, I got to work. A corner of the main workshop was roped off, the new Churchill was put into it, and a crew of Artisans was selected and detailed to the job. Fortunately the diffidence of the officers’ Mess did not extend to the ranks. Armament Sgt, Major Sim Verity, an armament artificer (guns), L/Cpl Lowry, a welder, and a couple of other fitters from my old field detachment, were more than enthusiastic, and were delighted to have the opportunity to do something out of the ordinary, which could prove constructive to the war effort. Throughout the production of the prototype, and later when the job went into quantity production, these men, particularly Sim Verity, were to prove a tower of strength. 

It was decided that the first step would be to mount the gun in the Churchill turret, purely to prove out the space problem. The 6 pdr. Was removed together with it’s mantled and auxiliary gear, the turret was cleared, and the internal guide ribs for the 6pdr mantlet were cut out. A gun complete with mantlet and mounting was removed from a Sherman. The mantlet/ mounting of the Sherman gun had a flat peripheral flange which was bolted to the front face of it’s turret. To accommodate this, a large hole was marked off on the front of the Churchill turret, and cut out with oxy/ acetylene. 

The die was now well and truly cast – the British Taxpayers’ money was being cut to ribbons – and my nerves were in pretty much the same state. 

The front face of the Churchill turret was curved in the vertical plane, whereas the Sherman was flat, and it was necessary to rebate the cheeks on either side of the hole to accept the flat flange of the Sherman mantlet. When a satisfactory seat was obtained, the Sherman, mantlet complete with gun was offered up and arc welded into position. The only arc welding equipment available was the standard single operator workshop set, and the largest electrodes available were 8 s.w.g. it took many hours of work and some 400 electrodes before the mantlet was satisfactorily appliquéd. 

At this stage, all the people working on the job took fresh heart. It looked right, the 75mm in the Sherman looked a bit top heavy-the 6 pdr in the Churchill looked ridiculously small. The 75mm and the Churchill were proportionally suited and the consensus of opinion was that ‘they were meant for each other’. 

The accuracy of the preliminary measurements was confirmed. The gun was pulled back on to full recoil with ample clearance, and there was quits enough room around it not to interfere with the normal crew positions, and to permit of the gun being served and fired. 

The physical fitting of the gun was only a start. Many other aspects had to be covered, and modifications devised and executed before the tank could be considered a viable fighting machine. Most of these arose from the diametrically opposed crew positions in the Churchill as opposed to the Sherman, and the different configuration of the turrets.

The first and most obvious snag was in the limit of elevation of the gun. In the Sherman the front face of the turret and consequently the gun mounting was laid back from the vertical some 30 degrees. The gun barrel protruded through the mantlet and moved in a slot. The effect of welding the mantlet to the front face of the Churchill turret was to limit the elevation to a little over the horizontal, and to permit depression to a much greater degree than was required. To compensate for this came the simple expedient of elongating the top of the slot by some 8” and welding the piece which was cut out, back into the bottom of the slot. 

The major snag, and the factor which gave rise to the bulk of the modifications necessary, derived from the respective national origins of the Churchill and the Sherman. The American Sherman was left hand drive. The driver sat to the left of the centre line, with the loader behind him and the gunner to the right with the tank commander behind him. Consequently the breach opening of the 75mm gun faced to the left hand side. The English Churchill was right hand drive. The crew positions were reversed and the breach opening of the 6 pdr, faced to the right. 

Many solutions which would have the effect of turning the breach of the gun through 180 degree were considered, but all presented complications, most of which involved extensive rework of the gun and mounting, and called for machining facilities which just did not exist. The job hung fire for nearly two days. Brains were exercised to the limit. Eventually I came up with the solution off, turning through 180 degrees, and welding back, only that portion of the mounting which enclosed the breech. Leaving the main portion of the mounting as original. The mounting consisted of a large boss mounted in trunnions. Through the centre of the boss, a bore some 10” in diameter was extended rearwards into a tube fitted with a phosphor bronze liner. The barrel of the gun was supported in the liner, and slid in and out as the gun recoiled and ran up. At the rear of the mounting were extensions carrying cam tracks for the semi automatic function of the gun, firing mechanism etc, and it was these extensions which overlapped the breach. 

The plan was to remove and replace at 180 degrees, the rear portion of the tube carrying the extensions. This really called for a very large lathe with something like a 2’ clearance, which we just did not have. The method used was, even to my mind, conditioned as it was by years of field improvisations, a bit ‘Heath Robinson’, but – it was successful. 

The gun was removed from its tube. The rear and of the tube was marked off with a circumferential line-many methods of scribing this line were tried with varying degrees of accuracy, until we hit on the idea of using an oversize pipe cutter which gave us a deep groove around the circumference with complete accuracy. The rear end of the tube was then cut off by hacksaw a laborious process. The edges of the cut were chiseled to a chamfer, the piece was reinserted with the breach turned to the right, and the rear and of the tube turned through 180 degrees, and the cut was stitch welded at interval of 2” around the circumference to secure it in position. To avoid damage to the piece, it was again removed, and the cut was arc welded around the circumference. All very primitive, but it worked. 

We now had the breach opening facing the right way, with the auxiliary mechanisms of the gun functioning correctly. The remaining problem with the main armament were in laying and firing from the left hand side.

Sighting was relatively simple. It was possible to accommodate the Sherman ‘Peritelescope’ in a circular hole in the Churchill turret situated over the Gumner’s head which normally carried a fume extractor, to link the ‘Peritelescope’ with the gun mounting via an adjustable link, and to re-site the fume extractor elsewhere in the turret roof. Firing was also easy. The Sherman gun was fired by either a foot operated cable or by an electric solenoid, and re-siteing the controls for these on the left hand side presented no problems. 

Elevation and depression did pose problems. The elevating gear was at the right of the gun and the repositioning of the arc of operation of the gun i.e. more elevation and less depression, meant that the toothed quadrant of the elevating gear was now misplaced. The toothed portion of the quadrant was carefully cut off, repositioned further around, and welded back with a strengthening gusset. The elevating gearbox was turned over in it’s mounting to bring the operating hand wheel shaft higher up, an extension shaft was mounted in a bracket welded to the turret roof, and the hand wheel repositioned closer to the Gunner on the left hand side. 

The only remaining problem was the co-axial machine gun. This in the Sherman mounting was a Browning. 300- as opposed to the Churchill’s Bessa. The configuration of the Browning was such that at full elevation, the butt grounded on the Churchill power traverse mechanism. The Browning mount was modified so that it followed the main gun up to the point where it grounded and then remained static whilst the main gun went on to it’s full elevation. Although this limited the elevation of the co-axial m/c gun, the degrees of elevation was considered adequate. To standardize ammunition, the lap machine gun, also a B essa The gun was now fitted and ready to fire. 

THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING 

The fabrication of the prototype had taken about ten days, and AFHQ were notified that it was ready. They instructed that it should be taken to the RAC Training Depot some 15 miles or so south of Le Khroub, and that firing trials would be organised 

Again we were fortunate. I was very friendly with Major ‘Dick’ Whittington then gunnery instructor at the school. He had seen the prototype in preparation, and was more than enthusiastic. He offered to conduct the firing trials himself, and it was so arranged. 

On the appointed day the tank was driven out to the RAC ranges. What were apparently all the top flight of the armoured formations in North Africa, plus several flown in from Italy and elsewhere, assembled. As Whittington said - ‘Red-tabs and staff Badges were as thick as fleas on a dog’s back. 

The trials were an unqualified success. Having got the ‘feel’ of the gun with a few preliminary shots, Whittington bracketed a deserted Arab village which was ranged at some 8,000-8,500 yards, and then brought down round after round of H.E. on top of it. He said that because the Churchill provided a much more solid firing platform than the Sherman, and did not ‘rock’ to the recoil of the gun to anything like the same extent, the accuracy was greater, and the range increased. 

The real job starts. 

The experts were suitably impressed, and as from that afternoon things began to move. 665 TTW was moved to Bone, and attached to 16 Base Workshop. REME, where a large shop was given over to the conversions. Several 300 amp double operator arc welding sets were brought across from the Middle East, together with ample supplies of the larger size electrodes. Special arrangements were made for an ample and continuing supply of oxygen and acetylene. It was arranged that any internal works order on the machine shops and other ancillary sections of 16 B.W which bore the tag ‘Whitehot’ would be given immediate and overriding priority, and work began in earnest. 

RAOC and the reserves tank pools kept up a steady supply of battle worthy tanks, and sound 75mm guns from casualty or otherwise unserviceable Shermans were fed in at a comparable rate. The bulk of the 167 B.W. tank shop artisans reinforced by 665 TTW were put on two twelve hour shifts, work proceeded round the clock, and in the three months to June ’44 some 199-200 conversions were effected. If was hard work made doubly laborious by the heat and humid weather, but everybody concerned threw themselves into the task with enthusiasm, and despite the long hours and tensions there was no friction between the diverse sections employed, and the job went well. 

An incident occurred in late May which, if indeed it were needed, put renewed heart into the men working on the conversions. I with several others was doing final checks on a line of newly converted tanks lined up outside the workshop, when a convoy of vehicles carrying elements of the 21st Tank Brigade passed en route to the docks and Italy. Suddenly a voice cried from the convoy-‘Hay- them’s our new tanks – aint they luverly and round after round of cheers went up until the convoy was past. 

AFTER 

The conversion task was completed during June. A few weeks later 665 TTW was embarked for Italy. On arrival in Naples, I was notified that I was promoted Major, and was to join Major Gen. Tope’s staff at AFHQ as DADME (“A” Vehicles Tech) 

Some weeks later I received the award of the MBE. In Sept I received a letter from Major Gen Tope containing an extract from a report by Brigadier 21 Tank Brigade which read “I should be glad if you would congratulate the REME concerned on doing a quick job which has been most valuable to this Brigade” – The above report was based on some 3-4 weeks fighting between Arezzo– Florence. 

P.H.M.

CHURCHILL CONVERSION WHITEHOT.

Illustration No.2. CHURCHILL CONVERSION WHITEHOT.

The turret having being lifted clear of the tank, the trunnion studs of the six pounder mantlet- mounting, previously slackened, are removed. The complete six pounder assembly is moved to the rear, and supported on timbers. The turret is then lifted clear of the assembly as shown in the illustration. This method of removing the assembly complete shows a great saving in time and effort over the normal method of stripping the equipment with the turret position, and removing piecemeal, and subsequently re-assembling for return to Ordinance. 

 

Illustration No. 3 

Showing the turret mounted on timber supports with the portion to be cut away marked out. The two interior webs which normally carry the six pounder trunnions have been out. Strips of 1” x 1” x ¼” angle have been spot welded to the face of the turret to act as cutting guides. The turret is positioned in the horizontal plane as shown, to facilitate the cutting out of the interior webs and the marking out of the face. To facilitate the cutting of the frontal aperture, the turret is stood on its rear face as shown in the following illustration. 

Illustration No. 4 

Showing turret stood on its rear face, with operator engaged in cutting frontal aperture. At ‘A’ is shown an angle iron cutting guide. Two sheets of ½” metal are positioned as shown at ‘B’ to carry away the dross from the cut, and to act as chutes for the pieces cut. The left hand portion of the cut had been made, and the resulting piece is shown at ‘C’. 

Illustration No. 5 

The frontal aperture having been cut, the turret is again placed in the horizontal position, and the sides of the aperture are rebated to take the side flanges of the Sherman manlet. The illustration shows the operator engage in effecting the left hand rebate. The turret shown is one of the later type of Mr. IV turrets, having the fume extractor placed centrally. This necessitates the cutting of a further aperture to the right of the fume extractor looking from the front. This aperture will be located within the chalked ring marked ‘A’. It will be observed that a hole has being blown with the cutting torch to facilitate the beginning of the cut. The cut is made up with the aid of a trammel.

It is interesting to note in this photograph that notwithstanding the heat to which the turret has been subjected due to the cutting of the main aperture and the rebating, heat transference to the main mass of the turret is the slight that mass of the turret is so slight that the original paint has been to a distance of only “½ / 1/5" from the cut. 

Illustration No. 5 

Showing turret with frontal aperture cut and rebated. It will be seen that a flat face has now been prepared to receive the Sherman manlet. To ensure as close a fit as possible, this flat face is now ground by means of a flexible shaft grinder. To receive the gun assembly, the turret will again be stood on its rear face. 

Illustration No. 7

Showing the modified gun and mantlet Assembly being lowered into position. The weight of the assembly is sufficient to hold it in position during the arc welding operation as shown in the following illustration

 

Illustration No. 8 

Showing arc welding of mantlet to turret in progress. Two operators are used, working on opposite sides of the manlet. Thus, it has been found, obviate the possibility of cracking in the complete weld, due to unequal contraction. At ‘A’ is shown the aperture for the ‘Peritelescope’ housing. 

Illustration No. 9 

The turret has been returned to the horizontal position. In this position, the interior welding of the manlet is effected. The ‘Peritelescope’ housing has been welded into position, and all the internal accessories are fitted before the turret is returned to the tank. It will be noted that during the fitting and welding of the assembly, the position of the turret has been charge several times.

Without the very adequate lifting tackle at present available, this would of course be very difficult, but under the circumstances, it has been found by experiment, that the positions as shown result in quicker cleaner, and more satisfactory job.

Illustration No. 10

Showing the 75mm. M3. Gun assembly as received into the workshops before modification. The first stop in the conversion is the reduction of this assembly to its component parts. Each part is marked to ensure its return to the same assembly. It will be note from this picture, that the breach ring loading aperture faces left. Note also the position of the elevating toothed quadrant in relation to the rotor. 

Illustration No. 12 

Showing gun rotor in course of modification. The piece and recuperators have been removed from the rotor, and a cut has been made by hacksaw approximately 2½ from the front face.The edges of the cut ‘A’ have been chipped to a chamfer, include angle of 90 degrees. The rear portion of the rotor has been received through 180 degrees. 

The piece and recuperators will now be re-assembled to the rotor, and the cut will be spot welded. With the piece and recuperators again removed the cut will be complete welded up with the portions of the rotor in the new portion. 

Illustration No. 13 

Showing the complete modified gun assembly ready for fitting to the tank. Note that the S.A. mechanism is now underneath the breach ring, and the firing linkage on top. The breach ring loading aperture now faces to the right. 

Illustration No. 14 

Showing the modification of and fitting of remote control finding gear to turret cal. .300 Browning machine gun. At ‘A’ is shown complete gun with butt plates removed. At ‘B’ it will be seen that the butt has been cut along the dotted line shown in ‘A’ and that the existing ½ hole has been used to support a ½ bolt carrying the bell crank lever which operate the trigger. 

Two of the existing tapped holes have been used to secure a cable bush. At ‘C’ is shown the bell crank lever, and the cable bush and bracket. 

Illustration No. 15 

At ‘A’ is shown co-driver’s machine gun mounted on bracket adapting it to Besa mount. Detail of bracket is shown at ‘F’. At ‘B’is shown firing foot pedal, cables, and charge over mechanism giving optional firing of gun by the same pedal. The foot pedal mounting bracket is shown at ‘J’. 

At ‘C’ is shown the travelling link bracket and pins. The pin attached to the link by a chain, is taken from the travelling link assembly of the Sherman. At ‘D’ is shown the depression stop arm designed to limit the depression of the gun when it is pointing to the front or rear of the tank. The reverse side of the mounting bracket is shown at ‘E’. 

At ‘I’ is shown the modified turret machine gun mount. It will noted that the keyway has been extended. At ‘G’ is shown the ‘Peritelescope’ bracket and arm. The adjustable link connecting this bracket to the gun, together with it’s trunnions and studs is shown at ‘K’. At ‘H’ is shown the plate used in the re-positioning of the power traverse controller. 

Illustration No. 18 

This is a view of the interior of a converted tank, with the gun at an elevation of approximately 18 degs. ‘A’ Sorbo head guard of ‘Peri-telescope’. ‘B’ Elevating heard wheel. Note that knob has been reduced in diameter to prevent the gunner’s hand fouling the turret. C’ link connecting gun to the ‘Peritelescope’. ‘D’ ‘Bracket supporting elevating shaft. ‘E’ Elevating shaft. ‘F’ Note modified position of elevating the gear box. ‘G’Note new position of toothed portion of elevating quadrant. ‘H’Forward modified mortar bomb bin. 

‘I’ browing feed tray. ‘J’ Co- axial browning fitted with remote control firing gear. Note that browning is on max. Elevation of 12 degs, and has fouled and been brought to the rest by power traverse gear box. ‘K’ Change over mechanism. ‘L’ Browning spent cartridge chute. ‘M’ Recoil guard. ‘N’ 39 round ammunition trays. 

 

A NASTY MESS 

              

                   

 

4th Infantry Troop Workshop (Type “B”) 

Formed : Bestwood Nottinghamshire UK January 1943

OC: Major Ashton

Moved to: North Africa 11th April 1943

Personnel Landed: Algiers.

Equipment landed at Bone.

Personnel moved to Bone by rail in cattle trucks and used as labor force loading RAOC vehicles until workshop vehicles landed at Ghardimaou July 1943.

OC Major Barr

Tank workshop detailed to Medjez El Bab. Workshop HQ and Infantry section moved to El Keseur22nd August 1943. The Tank Workshop moved to Bone 23rd August 1943 sharing site with 21st Tank Brigade workshop. The Tank Workshop later (October 1943) moved to 16 base Workshops. The HQ and Infantry section of workshop moved to Le Kroub on 23rd November 1943 and moved into the 16 Base workshops site on19th December 1943. The Tank section moved to Le Kroub on 28th December 1943. Unit re-designated 4th Infantry Troops Workshop (Type “A”) on 1st January 1944. OC Major Jollife from January 1944. Surplus personnel transferred to 21 Tank Troop Workshops January / February 1944.

4th Infantry Troops Workshops (Type”A”)

OC Major Jollife

Formerly 4th Infantry Troops Workshops Type “B” at Le Kroub re-designated type “A” on 1st January 1944.

Surplus personnel from the Type “B” workshops were transferred to 21 Tank Troops Workshop during January / February 1944.

The workshop moved to Bone on the 8th March 1944 and embarked for Naples on 12th March 1944. From Naples the unit moved to Presenzano arriving there on the 6th April 1944.

The workshop occupied an Olive grove situated some 15 miles from the Cassino fighting line

The workshop was re-designated 656 Infantry Troops Workshop on 7th April 1944.

21st Tank Troops Workshops

OC Major Bevan

Formed at Constantine from part of 4th Infantry Troops Workshops Type “B” on 1st January 1944 when it was re-organised to a Type “A” workshop. In September 1944 it absorbed further personnel from 4th Infantry Troops Workshop Type “A” . It was re-designated 665 Tank Troop Workshops on 17th April 1944 at Le Kroub and handed its commitments over to 613 Italian LFC Workshop on 25th April 1944.

684 Tank Troops Workshop 

OC Major Daniels

Formerly 333 British Tank Troops Workshop at Pratella. Re-designated 684 tank Troops Workshop in May 1944 under Polish 2 Corps.

Moved to Porto St. Elpedio on 7th July 1944 and to Recanati on 28th July1944.

On the28th December 1944 moved to Savignano until the beginning of February and then leaving a detachment at Savignano to clear outstanding work returned to the previous site at Recanati.

OC’s

Captain Kirby wef 25th February 1945

Major Morrell wef 7th March 1945

During March 1945 the workshop was employed on the top priority task of converting 14 Priests to Kangaroos.

The workshop moved to Sant Arcangelo on the 11th April 1945and to Faenza on the 20th April 1945.

The workshop moved to Sforzacosta on the 11th August 1945.

OC’s

Major Thundercliffe wef 8th October 1945

Major Morrell wef 18th November 1945

Major Petherick wef 10th April 1946

 

The Unit disbanded on the 21st August 1946 





 
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