|The Kangaroo concept of
moving infantry units forward with the leading elements of armoured formations
quickly became a critical, integral aspect of armoured corps operations
in Northwest Europe, and later, in Italy.
markings and names
|The Canadian Armoured Corps,
which provided most of the personnel for the Kangaroos as well as the basis
for their administration and employment, was itself a relatively new service,
having only been constituted just a few short years before. Largely through
the efforts of one remarkable man, Frank Worthington, Canada was
able to field more than two complete armoured divisions during WW2. They
played a critical part in tthe campaigns in Italy and Northwest Europe,
fighting with equipment which was sometimes greatly inferior to that of
the enemy. The men of these units were proud, bold, and creative, as they
had to be - and they and their attitudes were the seed corn of the startlingly
simple, radical new concept of carrying the infantry under armour (more
may be read about the Armoured Corps on the Maple Leaf Up site, HERE).
The story of the Kangaroos
is of a unit which used what it could, wherever it could be found. The
vehicle chosen for their mission was initially the U.S. M7 Priest Self-propelled
Gun, which embodied a 105mm howitzer in an open body set on an early Lee/Grant/Sherman
chassis. As has been seen, in a momentous effort in the first week in August
1944, 76 of these vehicles were overhauled and modified as personnel carriers;
subsequently they went on to prove a concept which remains the cornerstone
of infantry operations to this day.
|Once the inherent
value of such a unit was realized, and official steps taken to expand it
into a full regiment, the Priests, which were by this time some 53 in number
through battle damage and general mechanical attrition, were replaced by
specially modified Canadian Ram tanks, which were available in quantity
in depots in England (having been superceded as battle tanks by the U.S.
Sherman, itself having been declared the standard of Commonwealth armoured
|Along with the
new Regiment came a significant headquarters infrastructure which also
required different vehicles for reconnaissance, logistics and general administrative
activities, which further changed the face of the unit as a whole.
|We will examine
each of these vehicles in turn, evaluating their performance, applicability
and usefulness in the accomplishment of the Kangaroos' mission. In addition,
we will touch upon the crucial endeavours of the unsung AWD and LAD detachments
of the First Canadian Army, the tireless efforts of which guaranteed the
success of this innovative unit.