Some Australian LP1 carriers were also on issue, characterised by their
truck headlights, double stowage bin on the right and long stowage tray at
the rear (see title pjoto). It appears that some of these may have been
finished in the Caunter scheme.
A Vickers Light Tank Mark VIB of 7th Division Cavalry Regiment in Syria. No markings are evident on this vehicle.
In Syria it took over other Australian equipment, including very well used Vickers Light Tanks Mark VIB, Universal carriers and Renault R35 tanks.
Shortly after their arrival in Palestine in mid 1941 the unit was
warned out to participate in the forthcoming Syrian campaign. Because the
unit had already done armoured training in Australia, and were probably
the best prepared of the Divisional Cavalry Regiments at the time of
embarkation, the short time between arrival and being committed into
action did not appear to be a problem.
As with the other regiments, the 9th Division Cavalry Regiment were equipped with Vickers Light Tanks Mark VIB and various types of Machine Gun Carriers. Contact was first made with the Vichy French Forces at Jezzine on 14 June 1941. The unit acquired some Vichy French Renault R35 tanks, small but heavily armoured, and these were take into action at Barada Gorge. Some of the carriers carried the Divisional sign, an Platypus over a boomerang, along with the unit sign.
|A Vickers Light Tank Mark VIB of 9th Division Cavalry Regiment after the Syrian campaign. This vehicle displays the unit and divisional signs and a spare roadwheel is carried on the side of the turret.|
At the completion of the Syrian Campaign, the Regiment returned to Palestine for rest and re-training. In January 1942 they were moved back to Syria, engaging in reconnaissance work and patrolling of northern Syria. The 9th Division Cavalry was sent to Egypt after the German advances in July 1942, accompanying their parent formation.
Here, for the first time in the Middle East campaign, an Australian Cavalry Regiment was equipped with modern armour, in the form of British Crusader Mark 2 Cruiser tanks, M3 Stuart Light tanks as well as the ubiquitous Machine Gun Carriers. They provided two squadrons for the protection of the Headquarters of the 9th Australian Division, becoming involved in several tank versus tank engagements. During these actions several Universal Carriers were destroyed and some Crusaders were damaged.
|The crew of a Crusader tank of 9th Division Cavalry Regiment working on their vehicle prior to El Alamein. The tank is relatively “clean”, with little stowage evident.|
At the time of the battle of El Alamein in October 1942, the Regiment had on strength 5 M3 Stuart Light Tanks, 15 Crusader Mk 2 Cruiser Tanks and 52 Universal Carriers. The Cavalry did not play a major role during the battles of Alamein, being held in divisional reserve. In early November the regiment was chosen as the advance guard to lead the division in the westward advance. The Eighth Army's advance, however, was too fast, and as the 9th Division was being withdrawn to serve in South West Pacific theatre, the Cavalry did not take part in the pursuit of the Afrika Korps.
No photographic evidence has yet been found of the Crusaders and Stuarts carrying Australian unit or divisional signs. Most appear to have the British T number on the left front of the turret.
Each of the Division Cavalry Regiments produced their own form of
history, all now out-of-print. For the researcher and modeller, the
starting point for vehicle photos should be the Photographic Database of
the Australian War Memorial (
www.awm.gov.au ). There are many photos of each of the regiments
during their service in the Middle East and later in Australia.
The photos in this article are from the Author’s own files, contemporary journals, soldiers’ own photos or the relevant Regimental History.
A recent book by this author was published by the RAAC Memorial and Army Tank Museum. Entitled DUST, SAND and JUNGLE - A History of Australian Armour 1927 to 1948, it tells the story of Australian Armour during training and operations from 1927 to 1948. It includes details of the formation of the Corps and the School, training and operations, unit histories and vehicle developments.
Its title reflects the many locations in which Australian armour trained and fought – the dust of Puckapunyal, Singleton, Narrabri and Western Australia; the sand of the Middle East, although much of the action took place in the mountainous terrain of Syria; and the jungles of the Pacific, where Australian armour achieved so much.
This hardback book of over 210 pages contains 95 illustrations, 6 maps and 8 scale drawings. The recommended retail price is AUD$40.00 plus postage. It can be obtained from the RAAC Memorial and Army Tank Museum, Hopkins Barracks, Puckapunyal, Victoria 3662, Australia. Telephone is (03) 5735 7285 and Fax (03) 57931735, Email address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
the thumbnails in the table below to view the images full size.
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|DivCav03 – An Australian LP1Carrier entering Beiruit after the Syrian Campaign. The crew are wearing Australian Slouch hats, indicating that it may not be a vehicle of a cavalry regiment.|
|A Universal Carrier Mark 1, probably of the 6th Division Cavalry Regiment, entering Beiruit. It mounts a Vickers machine gun with the water can for the cooling water stowed on the front left trackguard. A Bren gun is mounted in the rear compartment.|
|A Universal Carrier of 6th Division Cavalry Regiment in Palestine. It mounts a Vickers machine gun and a radio set.|
|A captured French Dodge Armoured car used by the regimental Medical Officer of 9th Division Cavalry Regiment. The canopy over the open rear body and the Red Cross markings are believed to have been added by the Australians. The vehicle was not is service for very long.|
|A parade in Syria by 9th Division Cavalry Regiment. The variety of Carriers and Light Tanks can be seen. The differing camouflage patterns – Caunter, sand, Khaki Green with added splotches – show the miscellany of vehicles and paint schemes used by Australian Forces in the Middle East|
Article Text and Photographs Copyright ©
2003 by Paul D.
Page Created 25 April, 2003
Last Updated 25 April, 2003
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