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Cap badge the 1st Hussars Armoured Regiment

brass construction both lugs intact

€ 27,50

"Defence Scheme Number 3" was implemented on 1 September 1939 and saw the raising of 1st Canadian Division, Canadian Active Service Force. The 1st Hussars provided Divisional Cavalry for CASF (1st Division). In December 1939, the majority of 1st Division sailed for England, but the 1st Hussars stayed behind in London because there were not enough tanks to equip the regiment.

In January 1940, 1st Hussars contributed the Headquarters Squadron and 'C' Squadron to the First Canadian Cavalry Regiment (Mechanised) (1 CCR (M)). ('A' Squadron was mainly supplied by the Royal Canadian Dragoons and 'B' Squadron was filled by members of Lord Strathcona's Horse.). 1 CCR (M) was still part of the 1st Canadian Division. In May 1940, 1 CCR (M) left London for Camp Borden where they trained on the Carden-Loyd Machine Carrier, the Vickers Mk. VIB Light Tank and the American M1917 light tank. Although these tanks were obsolete, they served the purpose of training the regiment's members in tactics and vehicle maintenance.

In January 1941, the Squadrons of 1 CCR (M) returned to their respective units as they became mobilised as regiments.

The Canadian Armoured Corps (CAC) was raised in August 1940 and the 1st Hussars found themselves organised within it. In spring of 1941, 1st Hussars, now the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars) (6 CAR), became part of the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade, which departed to England in October 1941. The regiment took up residence in Aldershot where they continued their training. In early 1942, 6 CAR received some M3 Lee tanks and Canadian Ram Mk. Is and IIs. The Hussars remained a part of 1 CAB until January 1943, when they were reorganised into the 3rd Canadian Army Tank Brigade along with The Fort Garry Horse and the Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment. In July 1943, 3 CATB was re-designated the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade (2CAB), a designation which remained until the end of the war.

6 CAR continued training in the village of Elstead in southern England before moving to Combined Operations Training Centre in Inverary, Scotland where they prepared for an Amphibious assault. In December 1943, the First Hussars were introduced to "Duplex Drive" (DD for short) tanks. Initially the regiment was trained on the Valentine DD, until it was re-equipped with the M4A4 Sherman DD and Sherman Vc "Firefly" in April 1944.

D-Day and Normandy

The DD tanks of the 1st Hussars were amongst the allied forces to come ashore in Normandy. The Hussars were to support the infantry landing on the western half of Juno Beach.

At 07:15, 19 tanks of 'B' Squadron launched their Sherman V DDs from their landing-craft into the English Channel some 4000 meters from shore of Nan Green Beach. Of 'B' Squadron's 19 tanks, 15 made it to shore ahead of the Regina Rifles, whom they were tasked to support.

'A' Squadron launched some of their DDs some ten minutes later than 'B' Squadron, from approximately 1500 meters out and headed towards Mike Beach. Only two of the four LTCs carrying 'A' Squadron were able to launch all their tanks off shore. Of 'A' Squadron's 19 tanks, 10 were launched into the channel with seven of those making it to shore. Five tanks were landed directly onto the beach, and four were stranded on a landing craft which struck a mine. The tanks of 'A' Squadron were to support the Winnipeg Rifles, who were already fighting on the beach when they came ashore.

At the beach, many of tanks of the 1st Hussars stayed partially submerged just off shore in a hull down position. After dropping their screens, they began engaging the German antitank guns, machine-gun nests and other strong points, allowing the infantry to break the beach defences and make its way inland. 'A' Squadron made its way inland to the village of Graye-sur-Mer where the Winnipeg Rifles were attempting to capture bridges over the Suelles River. 'B' Squadron helped clear Courseulles-sur-Mer before breaking out into the countryside.

At 08:20, 'C' Squadron's Sherman Vc Fireflies and Sherman IIIs were landed directly onto Mike Red beach, along with the regimental Headquarters Squadron. By this time, resistance at the beach had been cleared.

After clearing Courseulles-sur-Mer, The regiment made its way inland. South of Reviers, 'B' Squadron encountered a German 88 which knocked out six tanks before being put out of action. Seven Hussar crewmen were killed in the engagement. Due to these losses,'B' squadron was pulled back to the beach after the encounter. As mentioned above, 'A' Squadron moved on to Graye-sur-Mer where the Winnipeg Rifles were fighting to secure the village. 'A' Squadron joined the fight in support of the Winnipegs, along with elements of 'C' squadron who were catching up. After the village was captured, 'C' Squadron pressed on, with 2nd Troop reaching the regiment's objective of the Caen-Bayeux Highway, becoming the only Allied unit to reach its D-Day objective. One survivor of D-Day said that "A German soldier actually saluted us on our way to the objective. I guess he was surprised to see us this far inland"[1] However, 2nd troop had to pull back, as they were too far ahead of the rest of the force and too few to hold the objective. At dusk, the regiment pulled back to the channel to rest. the 1st Hussars suffered 21 killed, 17 wounded during the actions of D-Day. 'A' Squadron was left with 9 tanks at the end of the day and 'B' Squadron was reduced to 4 tanks.

After D-Day, the 1st Hussars continued to support infantry as it advanced and faced German counter-attacks. On 9 June, the Hussars supported the Canadian Scottish as they re-took Putot-en-Bessin and engagedpanthers of the 1st Battalion, SS-Panzer Regiment 12 (of the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend), destroying 6.

Battle of Le Mesnil-Patry

Main article: Battle of Le Mesnil-Patry

On the afternoon of Sunday, 11 June, 'B' Squadron of the 1st Hussars was decimated during an abortive attack with The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada on the hamlet of Le Mesnil Patry, North-West of Caen.Panzergrenadiers, pioneers and tanks of the 12th SS Panzer Division were able to ambush the tanks of 'B' Squadron in part due to intelligence gleaned from the Hussar's own radio traffic after capturing wireless codes from a destroyed Canadian tank on 9 June. Using Panzerfausts, Panzerschrecks and anti-tank guns, the German forces were able destroy 51 Shermans, and inflict 61 killed or missing, 2 wounded and 11 captured on the 1st Hussars. The Queen's Own Rifles suffered 55 killed, 33 wounded and 11 taken prisoner during the attack. The attack is remembered as "The Black Day", "Black Sunday" and the "Black Sabbath" within the Regiment. It accounted for roughly one third of the 1st Hussars' dead over the entire war.

Capture of Caen[edit]

After the disaster at Le Mesnil Patry, the 1st Hussars were taken off the front lines to refit and regroup. After a few weeks of rest and training the Hussars were back in action on 8 July 1944 as part of Operation Charnwood, with the objectives of capturing the village of Cussy and the Ardenne Abbey. 'A' Squadron supported the Canadian Scottish in its attack on Cussy, 'C' squadron was assigned to support the Regina Rifles in their attack on the Abby while 'B' Squadron and The Royal Winnipeg Rifles were held in reserve. When the attack started at 18:30, the Hussars again found themselves opposing the 12th SS, including Panther tanks, anti-tank guns and infantry. 'A' Squadron and the Reginas had to first fight to secure their start line before proceeding to the Abbey. At around 23:45, the Abbey, which had been the headquarters of Kurt 'Panzer' Meyer and the site of the execution of 20 Canadian POWs who were captured a month before, was captured. By 9 July, portions of Caen north and east of the Orne River had been captured.

The 1st Hussars were again in action on 18 July during Goodwood which aimed to capture the portions of Caen South and East of the Orne. The Canadian portion of Goodwood was code-named Operation Atlantic, which aimed to secure a bridgehead over the Orne east of Caen. The Hussar's objectives during Atlantic included the capture of the steelworks at Colombelles on the east bank of the river, the eastern suburbs of Giberville and Faubourg de Vaucelles. By end of 19 July, all the Hussars' objectives were captured and the bridgehead was secure.

As Atlantic wound down, planning for an attack against Verrières Ridge began, known as Operation Spring. As the Canadian's pushed south towards the Start Line on 20 July, 'A' Squadron of the 1st Hussars was tasked with supporting the attack on Saint-André-sur-Orne and the Beauvoir and Troteval farms by Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal. Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal initially captured the village and the farms, but were pushed back by the counter-attacks of the 1SS Panzerdivision and 272nd Infantry Division. The Beauvoir and Troteval farms would be retaken later in the evening with the assistance of the Hussar's 'A' Sqn. Sporadic fighting continued for a few days as the lines stabilized below Verrières Ridge. During this time, the Germans reinforced their positions on the ridge under the cover of storms that kept allied attack aircraft grounded.

Operation Spring began on 25 July. 'C' Sqn of the 1st Hussars were to support the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry in their attack against the village of Verrières and then continue to Rocquancourt with the Royal Regiment of Canada. 'B' Sqn was to support the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, the Calgary Highlanders and the Black Watch as they attacked the villages of Saint-André-sur-Orne, Saint-Martin-de-Fontenay,May-sur-Orne and Fontenay-le-Marmion. Most of the attacks against the ridge met heavy resistance and were fought to a standstill by the Germans, with only the Village of Verrières being captured and held. The attack cost 'C' Squadron 14 of its 19 tanks and 27 casualties. These losses paled in comparison to those of the Black Watch who lost 310 of the 325 men who left the start line.

Cap badge the 1st Hussars Armoured Regiment

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  • Cap badge the 1st Hussars Armoured Regiment
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