Fort Garry Horse

DD Tank with canvas sides collapsed.The Fort Garry Horse tank regiment was from Winnipeg, Manitoba. The regiment was equipped with DD (Duplex Drive) tanks. The DD tanks were Shermans with twin propellers and collapsible canvas sides which provided floatation. The DD tanks were carried on LCT's (Landing Craft Tanks) to about 7000 yards from shore where they were launched into the water. The tanks would swim into shore and land with the charging infantry. The Shermans, equipped with 75 mm guns were outgunned by the German tanks, but very fast and maneuverable.

'C' Squadron, Fort Garry Horse landed at 'Nan Red' beach near St. Aubin in support of the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment. At 8:05 the LCT's came inshore and the order was given to launch. On their way into shore 4 tanks were knocked out in the water. One LCT was hit with the tanks still onboard and one sank in deep water. When the tanks landed they gave supporting fire in all directions from their beach positions, waiting for the AVRE's to clear an exit through a minefield. The squadron had lost 4 tanks and were down to 16 tanks remaining. There was a great deal of confusion and still no beach exit for the tanks. The squadron leader, Major William Bray made the decision to push through the minefield himself. He pointed his tank at the minefield and ordered the squadron to follow him. They lost 3 more tanks in the process but the remaining tanks got into St Aubin and were able to support the infantry there. Major Bray won the Distinguished Service Order for his determination to get the Canadians ashore that day. By late morning the North Shores had cleared all of St.Aubin except a strong-point. In the afternoon two Sherman tanks blew up two 75mm and two anti-aircraft guns and destroyed the strong-point.

The North Shores asked for tank support to take Tailleville and a tank troop from 'C' Squadron was sent up. The tanks advanced with the North Shores and gave them necessary fire and moral support to attack Tailleville. The tanks shot up a platoon of German infantry and destroyed a 75mm and an 88mm gun emplacement. Then the tanks attacked the strong German headquarters position within the village itself. In the afternoon a tank penetrated into the position and shot up the trenches and their defenders with high explosive shells at point blank range. By 1700 hours the remnants of the garrison, about 30 all ranks surrendered and the North Shores consolidated the position. At 23:30 'C' Squadron moved into position with the North Shores in Tailleville. Here in the dark the squadron laagered and passed an uncomfortable night constantly on the alert in expectation of a German counter attack.

'B' Squadron, Fort Garry Horse, commanded by Major J.A. Meindl landed at 'Nan White' beach near Bernières in support of the Queen's Own Rifles. The high waves forced the tanks to be brought in closer to shore by the LCT's, thus delaying the landing. The 'B' Squadron Shermans touched down on the sand and maneuvered their way through the belt of booby-trapped stakes and obstacles just off the beach. The DD's deflated their canvas screens and brought their 75mm guns and machine guns into action. They fired their 75mm guns steadily from their beach positions at the German pillboxes and strong-points. One company of the QOR suffered severely from enemy fire until 'B' Squadron arrived and provided supporting fire.

'B' Squadron remained on the beach until 9:30 when the Royal Engineers cleared a gap in the seawall. Then 'B' squadron moved up into Bernières in support of the QOR. After Bernières was taken, the QOR and 'B' squadron tanks formed up and moved south towards Beny-sur-Mer. The tanks took out several machine guns and two 88 mm guns to the southwest of Bernières.

Infantry advance with  Sherman tank.The LCT carrying Regimental Headquarters hit a mine damaging the ramp and the craft had to be put to sea again. It was not able to beach again until 1000 hours. The 'A' Squadron tanks landed at 900 hours and formed up with Le Régiment de la Chaudière. 'A' Squadron and the Chaudière's advanced to Beny-sur-Mer where they encountered considerable resistance. The 8th Brigade advanced up the Brigade center line in the following order: 'A' Squadron FGH, Le Régiment de la Chaudière, FGH Regimental Headquarters, 'B' Squadron FGH, the QOR and tactical H.Q. 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade. At noon Brigadier Blackader ordered a right flank guard. 'B' Squadron were taken away temporarily from the QOR and ordered to advance and converge on Colomby-sur-Thaon from the west. There were more German guns and well concealed defences inland than expected and these positions soon disclosed themselves.

Sgt John Shineton, 'B' Squadron: "The road was very congested with all kinds of traffic, including infantry on foot and on bicycles. After sizing things up the only thing I could see possible was to break through the hedge on the narrow road just past Beny-sur-Mer. We did and were then in the open fields. We pushed on with full speed heading for a height of land known on our maps as Hill 70, and because of the speed in which we broke into the open fields, we were able to surprise the Germans dug in along the hedgerows, causing them to panic. The first four troops were able to get through into the open fields without any problems, but by this time, the Germans were laying down some heavy shell fire catching 5th troop and HQ Troops just coming through."

Lt Brown & 4th Troop, Fort Garry Horse, B SqnWes Lane, 'B' Squadron: "There were three tanks in a troop. My troop leader's tank was hit and Lieutenant Brown was killed. This was the first tank in our squadron to be knocked out. We saw the gun flash from a nearby bush. We aimed all our tank guns at the location and fired. We knocked out several enemy guns here. On D-Day we fired at anything we thought might be enemy gun positions."

Major Meindl's tank was also shelled and he was badly wounded. The 'B' Squadron Shermans did a loop back patrol from Beny-sur-Mer past Fontaine Henri down to near Thaon and then back east to Anguerny. At about 15:00 they reached Hill 70 and could see the Carpiquet airfield. While holding the high ground here, they caught a group of German half-tracks trying to escape down the road toward Caen. They had a field day firing and setting them on fire.

At 1400 hours the 'A' Squadron Shermans were on the Brigade objective at Anguerny and were prowling about mopping up enemy resistance. They requested infantry support as soon as possible and shortly the QOR arrived and consolidated the position. That afternoon plenty of skirmishes went on as the QOR rifles mopped up in Anguerny and the Chaudière's moved up to Colomby-sur-Thaon. By nightfall 'A' and 'B' squadrons had assisted their battalions on to their positions and were supporting them as well as doing patrol work. The QOR history pays tribute to the Garry's: "The tanks ranged far and wide and did valuable work in locating and destroying pockets of the enemy. It was a tank-infantry fight against scattered nests of enemy resistance and never did the cooperation work more smoothly".

The Fort Garry Horse regiment was ordered back for rest and vehicle replenishment in Beny-sur-Mer, but the tanks stayed with their infantry late into the night. It wasn't until 01:00 the following morning that 'B' squadron made it back to Beny-sur-Mer while 'C' squadron stayed with the North Shores in Tailleville until the following afternoon. The Fort Garry Horse suffered 13 killed and 12 wounded casualties on D-Day.