Shortly after D-Day it was found
that an Armoured Fighting Vehicle, preferably tracked, should be employed
for carrying Infantry into battle. Thus, long fatiguing approach marches
and unnecessary casualties could be avoided.
The Canadians improvised APCs by taking the gun out of U.S. Priest M7 105mm Howitzer Motor Carriages. The Priests had become surplus to requirements when they were superseded by the Canadian built Sexton 25pdr SP Gun. These 'Unfrocked Priests' or 'Priest Kangaroos' were capable of going wherever the tanks could go. It provided adequate protection to carry 20 infantry right up to the objective.
Before any organising or training could take place, these vehicles and their drivers went into action at the Falaise Gap. Because this experiment proved a great success, a Kangaroo Squadron was organised.
When the Priests had to be returned to the U.S. Army, they were replaced by modified Ram Cruiser Tanks. With their turrets removed the Rams proved suitable for their new role. The infantry still had to disembark over the side, but they were much lower than the Priests. Although the Ram Kangaroos were uneconomical in that they only held a section of infantry (8 soldiers and a driver and commander/ wireless operator), they covered the ground to the objectives speedily, gave cover to the infantry on the way and were able to fight their way forward under the fire of their own .30" hull mounted machine-gun.
The British were quickly convinced
of this weapon and equipped 49 RTR with Ram Kangaroos. Being specialised
armour, both the British and Canadian regiment served under the 79th Armoured
Division in NW Europe.
After the good experiences in NW Europe, the British Eight Army in Italy also converted 75 Sherman IIIs and 102 Priests into Kangaroos.
Note: follow these links for a short history of the
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