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34 Armoured Brigade movements in Europe
This map shows the movements of 34 Armoured Brigade from 24 June 1944 when Dad landed in France, to 9 February 1945 when 23 LFA returned to England. (The brigade frequently operated as separate tank regiments supporting other infantry regiments, and at this point I cannot tell whether 23 LFA stayed with the main Brigade or was split up to support individual regiments. Hopefully the RAMC unit diaries, if they exist, will clarify this.)
Immediately on landing at Arromanche they needed to take Caen to secure the flank of the US forces, and were part of Operation Green Line at Bougy with very hard fighting. Le Havre was needed as a deep-water port to support the push. They moved East, and North, and in mid-September, with no RASC to move stores, they moved everything within the tanks to Desvres, where they used transporters to arrive in Eindhoven in early October. Here they protected the flank of the Canadian Army in their push through Antwerp.
3 Sep 1944 he wrote to his mother-in-law describing the conditions:
" I have seen quite a few heart-breaking sights here in Normandy which I hope never to see again. Villages and towns just flat to the ground. Men turned into children mentally by exhaustion. Some have been brought back from death and others have passed over never to return. God has been good to us and may He continue until the end!"
He also mentions German POWs and regarded the ones he encountered as gentlemen. "They worked with a will at their jobs and displayed a good team spirit. They were from a 'Christian Division' in the German army with a stiffening of SS troops."
But despite the war he enjoyed the scenery in Normandy.
At Loenhout in October, he managed to find a wedding anniversary card to send home. During November they rested and trained around Roosendaal, before splitting up and moving down the River Meuse at Blerick, Maastricht to Dinant.
(Again, it is not yet clear how 23 LFA supported this split into three fighting groups.)