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Ever wonder where Kangaroos came from?

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  • Ever wonder where Kangaroos came from?

    The name for the Allied APC's of WWII fame that is:

    by Charmion Chaplin-Thomas

    In Normandy, Major G.A. Wiggan of the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers receives a set of orders that both excites and daunts him. His unit, a 250-man Advanced Workshop Detachment codenamed “Kangaroo”, has been tasked with ensuring that II Canadian Corps has enough armoured vehicles to transport the entire assault wave of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division and the 51st Highland Division through the first phase of Operation TOTALIZE. Troops must be in place to cross the start line by nightfall on August 7, which gives Maj Wiggan’s technicians and mechanics precisely four days to create a new kind of armoured fighting vehicle.

    Op TOTALIZE is the third “big push” mounted by II Canadian Corps under Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds since the fall of Caen on July 9. Its objective is to break through the German positions to the south and east of Caen and advance down the road to Falaise. The farther the Canadians get, the more German formations will be trapped against Second British Army to the north; if the Canadians reach Falaise, a very large German force will be enveloped, their escape route to the east cut off. But LGen Simonds has learned two lessons during the last three weeks: first, tanks can’t win a battle without infantry to deal with mortars and anti-tank artillery—Second British Army demonstrated this in Op GOODWOOD—and, second, infantry can’t advance against tanks and emplaced artillery without protection. During Op SPRING, German artillery and tank fire in the battles for Bourgebus, Verrières Ridge and Tilly-la-Campagne shredded the battalions of the 2nd Division; at Verrières, the Black Watch all but disappeared in an uphill advance straight at a group of tanks armed with 88-mm guns. LGen Simonds can’t afford to keep losing infantry at such a rate, so in his instructions to divisional commanders for Op TOTALIZE he wrote, “The infantry accompanying the armour to the first objectives in Phase One must go straight through with the armour. Arrangements have been made for about 30 stripped Priest chassis to be made available …for this purpose. …The essentials are that infantry shall be carried in bullet and splinter-proof vehicles to their actual objectives.”

    While armour and engineer units across the Corps are canvassed for all the half-tracks and White scout cars they can spare, the men of the Advanced Workshop Detachment get to work scrounging armour plate wherever it can be found. (Naval officers on the assault beaches are soon enraged by the sight of soldiers with blow-torches cutting apart stranded landing craft.) Meanwhile, General Harry Crerar himself, the commanding officer of First Canadian Army, is on the telephone to his American counterpart to ask permission to tear apart the Priest self-propelled guns lent to the Canadians before D-Day. To convert a Priest into an armoured personnel carrier, the Kangaroo men remove its guns and mantlets and weld slabs of armour over the openings; when the supply of armour plate runs out, they use two sheets of mild steel (one welded to the inside of the hull and the other outside), and fill the gap with sand. The prototype is ready for presentation to LGen Simonds by nightfall on the first day of work, and by the morning of August 6, 76 “defrocked Priests” are ready for battle.

    The usefulness of armoured personnel carriers is so obvious that they quickly enter the allied inventory, and in honour of Maj Wiggan’s Advanced Workshop Detachment, APCs made by cannibalizing other armoured fighting vehicles are known throughout the British and Canadian armies as Kangaroos.

    C.P. Stacey, The Victory Campaign – The Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War, Volume III (Ottawa: Queen’s Printer, 1960).
    Terry Copp and Robert Vogel, Maple Leaf Route: Falaise (Alma, Ont: Maple Leaf Route, 1983).
    Dominick Graham, The Price of Command: A Biography of General Guy Simonds (Toronto: Stoddart, 1993).

    FYI Cheers,
    Eternal War(gaming) Armoured Struggle Car Bob

    History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis.
    Lazarus Long

    Draw the blinds on yesterday and it's all so much scarier....
    David Bowie

  • #2
    I've read that material, but, the Kangaroo, was also based on turretless Canadian Ram tanks as well (the Canadian made version Sherman).
    Life is change. Built models for decades.
    Not sure anyone here actually knows the real me.
    I didn't for a long time either.


    • #3
      It was where the name came from I thought interesting to those fimilar was Kangaroos, I always thought it had to do with modified armour carrying troops in their armoured "pockets".
      Eternal War(gaming) Armoured Struggle Car Bob

      History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis.
      Lazarus Long

      Draw the blinds on yesterday and it's all so much scarier....
      David Bowie


      • #4
        Thank God the first sentence of this topic did not read: "First Mommy and Daddy Kangaroo loved each other very much...."

        Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

        Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

        by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"


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