141 Regiment R.A.C. (The Buffs)

The history of The Buffs in World War 2 would not be complete without reference to 141 Regiment Royal Armoured Corps (The Buffs).

In 1941 orders were received for the conversion of 7th Bn The Buffs into a unit of the Royal Armoured Corps (R.A.C.) and training began.  By November 1941, 141 Regiment R.A.C. had assembled at Folkestone, the old companies became squadrons and platoons became troops.  The officers and men insisted that they retained the Buff Dragon cap badge, and special permission was granted except that the badges had to be in silver, (an R.A.C. tradition).  The title of the regiment, The Buffs, was retained after R.A.C. as a clear indication of the proud origins of this unique unit.

141 Regiment were the first R.A.C. unit to be equipped with Churchill tanks that had been converted into flame-thrower tanks for the role of close infantry support.

Two troops of ‘C’ Squadron took part in the assault on ‘D’ Day with the remainder of the regiment following over the next few days.  Within minutes of landing on the Normandy beaches the troops were in action and over the next 11 months, until the war ended, elements of 141 Regiment R.A.C. (The Buffs) were continually in action in support of British, Canadian and American infantry.

It is not possible in the space available to detail every action in which this gallant regiment took part but special mention should be made of the assault on Le Havre which was successful due in large part to the close support of ‘A’ and ‘C’ squadrons,

‘B’ Squadron’s daring and costly close support of 1st Battalion 116th US Infantry’s assault on the heavily defended port of Brest further enhanced the reputation of the regiment.  After the German surrender of the port the Americans paid tribute to the men of ‘B’ Squadron in a special memorandum issued by 12 US Army Group which mentioned “the splendid co- operation between The Buffs and the US Infantry, the great courage displayed by the flame-thrower personnel and the skill with which the Crocodiles were handled.”

The subsequent awards of the US Silver Star Medal to Lieut. Ward, who also received the Military Cross, the US Bronze Star Medal to Major Ryle, Captain Moss, 2/Lieut. Hare, Sargent Morley, Sargent Cowe, Troopers Adams and Clare bear testimony to the bravery of these Buffs.

The operations at Caen, the campaign west of the Maas river, The Scheldt, S’Hertogenbosch, Geilenkirchen, the Siegfried Line, the Reichswald, Xanten and the Rhine Crossing tell a similar story.

During these operations this single unit lost 64 men killed, 136 wounded with 4 missing, and nearly all were tank crew whose establishment was only 290.