25th Armoured Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment), and 1st Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment, 1944-1945

First Canadian Army in North West Europe, 1944-1945

"F" Squadron, 25th Armoured Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment), Canadian Armoured Corps (CAC)

1st Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment (1 CAPCR), CAC

Headquarters and F Squadron, 25th Armoured Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment) Canadian Armoured Corps (CAC).

In 1942 it was designated as the 25th Armoured Regiment (The Elgin Regiment). In 1943 it became the1st Canadian Tank Delivery Regiment, laterthatsme year renamed the 25th Canadian Tank Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment).  From 1943 to 1945 it served as the 25th Armoured Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment).  "A" & "B" Squadrons were attached to 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade.  "C" Squadron was attached to 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade.  "D" Squadron was attached to 4th Canadian Armoured Division. "E" Squadron was attached to II Canadian Corps. "F" Squadron was attached to First Canadian Army.  "G" Squadron was attached to 5th Canadian Armoured Division, and "H" Squadron was attached to I Canadian Corps.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No.)

A Sherman from the Canadian 25th Armoured Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment) rolls down the road in France, 1944.

(Doug Hall Collection, Author Photo)

1st Canadian Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment badge.

1st Canadian Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment (1st CAPCR)

The 1st CAPCR It was formed in October 1944 at Tilburg, with the original 1st Canadian Armoured Personnel Carrier Squadron as its core. It was the only Canadian regiment to be both formed and disbanded overseas. The new regiment's purpose was to serve as a specialized armoured unit equipped with modified tanks used to carry infantry safely to their objectives. The concept of such was an entirely new innovation, and it was through the 1CACR's efforts that their effectiveness was proven, revolutionizing the tactical handling of infantry in battle.

The decision to convert redundant tanks into personnel carriers was inspired by Allied experiences during the D-Day landings, where British and Canadian forces experienced much lower casualty rates by leading attacks on German lines with armour than did the Americans, who led with an infantry assault. To General Guy Simonds, who was ordered to follow up the D-Day attacks with an assault on Falaise, this experience suggested both the usefulness of such armour-first tactics, as well as the further benefits of using armoured vehicles to transport troops, leading him to stress the issue while planning his assault, deeming it essential "...that the infantry must be carried in bullet-proof and splinter-proof vehicles to the actual objectives." No such vehicles existed at that time, and this idea thus marked the advent of what are now called armoured personnel carriers. Carriers were made on the spot from extra M7 Priest 105-mm (4.1 in) self-propelled guns by removing the guns and welding steel plates across the gaps this left in the armour. These modified tanks were entitled "Kangaroos" partially after the codename of the Army Workshops Detachment that produced them, and partially because of the idea that infantry would be carried in the belly of the tank as safely as a young kangaroo in its mother's pouch.

The order to convert 72 Priests into carriers by the commencement of Operation Totalize on August 9 was given on 31 July by Brigadier C. M. Grant, the Deputy Director of Mechanical Engineering at Headquarters. Ultimately, 78 would be converted prior to the first engagement, in spite of the fact that the operation's start date had been advanced to 7 August, an impressive feat, as the full engine overhaul included was generally a seven-day operation. The drivers for the new vehicles were swiftly and secretly recruited from the Armoured Corps reinforcements, artillery units, and the Elgin Regiment, and were rushed into service with almost no training, first seeing action during the attack on Falaise on the night of August, 1944.

The attack on Falaise was carried out successfully, resulting in the capture of 200 tanks, 60 assault guns, 250 towed guns, and 2500 motored vehicles from the Germans, as well as an unhindered six-day advance. The lead brigades of the assault had all been carried in the new Kangaroos, allowing them to move swiftly and providing a significant reduction in casualties of the seven Canadian infantry battalions involved.

On 28 August 1944, General Simonds' requests were granted, and the 1st Armoured Carrier Squadron was formed. The unit was established as four troops of 25 carriers (though only 55 vehicles were then available), with personnel consisting of one commanding officer, four troop commanders, and 100 drivers, and was attached to the 25th Canadian Armoured Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment) for administrative purposes. When engaged in an operation, it would come "under command of various Infantry Brigades in turn." Each carrier had a .50-inch Browning machine gun, and approximately 60% of the vehicles were equipped with radios, however, there was no co-driver to fire the gun or operate the wireless set.

(Library andArchives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3209135)

Troops of 49th British Divison with their Universal Carriers inside a damaged factory, 13 April 1945.

After several months of operation, 21st Army Group concluded that the 1st Armoured Carrier Squadron was the best means to seize objectives and reduce infantry casualties, leading to their decision to form two armoured personnel carrier regiments—the British 49th Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment for British Second Army, and the 1st Canadian Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment for the First Canadian Army; both of which would belong to the 79th Armoured Division, with the 1CAPCR serving as the only Canadian regiment in the division. Official recognition of the change was delivered via the following proclamation:

"By authority of the GOC First Canadian Army, 19 October 1944, the 1st Canadian Armoured Personnel Carrier Squadron ceased to exist as a separate entity and became a squadron of the newly-created I Canadian Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment. The Regiment to be commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon M. Churchill, formerly 25th Canadian Armoured Delivery Regiment (Elgin Regiment) and 10 Canadian Armoured Regiment (Fort Garry Horse) with Major F.K. Bingham, Sherbrooke Fusiliers and First Hussars as Second-in-Command. Regimental Headquarters to be at 83 Van Ryswich St., Antwerp."

Due to the inclusion of the 1 CAPCR in the 79th, known for its wide array of specially modified armoured fighting vehicles (AFV), the regiment was also included in the 79th's classification as a secret operation, a principal reason for the scarcity of information regarding its activities.

After further petitioning on the part of Lieutenant-Colonel Churchill, the regiment was given its final title of the 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Regiment on 1 January  1945. The regiment was both formed and ultimately disbanded in the Netherlands, without attachment to any regimental home, city, or province, and its personnel were drawn from all over Canada. In spite of its lack of a personal history, however, the regiment's high degree of success quickly molded them into a cohesive unit of high morale.  The secret, foreign-born Canadian regiment that few would ever hear of ended its short history in the Canadian Army as of 11:59 pm (2359 hours) on 20 June 1945. (Wikipedia)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3607881)

Sherman ARV, Normandy, France, July 1944.

(DND Photo)

Ram Kangaroo c1944.

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