Guardsmen in Churchill Tanks

“No Tank unit has ever been handled with greater dash and determination” – General Sir Richard O’Connor, G.O.C. 8th Corps; 1944

The Churchill tank is a rugged beast; heavily armoured, decently armed, with an engine that can propel it just about anywhere (so long as you’re not in a hurry to get to that anywhere).
 One of the most successful Brigades outfitted with the Churchill was the 6th Guards Tank Brigade and as such I’ll be looking into how to field this famous and highly decorated force using the new British D-Day book.

The 6th Guards used the 151, 152, 153 and 154 Divisional markings. My own formation are Scots Guards, and so are marked ‘154’.

The formation

The organisation of the  Churchill Squadron remains largely unchanged from the previous edition; five troops containing three tanks in each, supported by an attached platoon of Crusader AA tracks, and a Stuart Recce Troop to give a bit of scouting support. The HQ though gains the option to take a single Churchill (75mm) as your Command tank, whilst previously the HQ must have a 95mm armed Churchill V somewhere in the mix; and of course there’s always the option to boost that lone Churchill (75mm) into the Churchill (Late 75mm), and benefit from a significant boost in both Front and Side Armour.  Of course, it can be accompanied by up to two CS tanks armed with the stat boosted 95mm; now AT8,  “Brutal” and FP2+ at the cost of being RoF1.

 As I’m trying to follow the 6th Guards I would probably not be taking any Churchill (Late 75mm) [colloquially called the Mk VII]; The only mention of a Mk VII in the Scots Guards appears to be the Regimental HQ “Ben Nevis”. The rest of the troops were arranged in the standard pattern of two 75mm armed Churchills, and a single 6pdr armed Churchill.

 It is also at this point that I despair that I do not have the proper name decals to hand to Christen my Churchills. A sample from Patrick Forbes book ‘6th Guards Tank Brigade’ gives a handy list of the names of each tank that served in the brigade. As my lads are going to be ‘C Squadron’; Scots Guards, then the table below is what they should be named (After Scottish rivers.

Squadrons were usually identified by their battlefield location, hence ‘C’ Squadron were the Left Flank Squadron.

The list

With a self imposed points limitation of a nice round one hundred, I’ll put together a list to reflect this Squadron (even if it’s not competitive, it’s still flavourful, and historical).

 HQ – Being brave, and/or stupid, I am going to elect to only the a long Churchill (75mm) as the HQ tank. My readings, and a slightly blurry picture identify ‘Esk’ as a 75mm armed Churchill VI.

Formation – I like a nice solid core of Churchills, able to survive light, medium, and muscle through heavy rounds; 
– 11 Troop – Dee, Don, and Deveron
– 12 Troop – Annan, Beauly, Findhorn
– 14 Troop – Spey, Clyde, Garry

And with that, I’m already 6/10ths of the way through filling out my Force. Now onto integrated support; Crusader AAs, and Stuart Recce. The Scots Guards didn’t seem to have Crusader AA allocated to them during their advance through France and the Low Countries, so that option has to be dropped. Stuarts though; the Scots Guards had twelve of these US built scout tanks to distribute amongst their Squadrons.
 In come ‘Tullocghorm’, ‘Reel-o’-Tulloch’, ‘Duntrune’, and ‘Sheepwife’.

At least the Brits knew to use Stuarts as Scouts…

  We are 68pts into our list, and now need to look at wider support options for our Churchills. And of course all you need to look at is the designation of the Churchill to know what to add next; ‘Churchill Infantry Tank’.

The 15th Scots were pivotal in their support of the 6th Guards Tank Brigade

There is some very nice Command Card synergy between the 15th Scots and 6th Guards in the D-Day British Book. Alas, I am not taking an entire Rifle Company, so cannot take the 15th Scots Card.
 I can however, take the lads themselves; a full strength platoon in support. From Arromanches all the way to Germany, the 15th Scots found themselves being placed side by side with the Guards through thick and thin, and so it would be a great disservice not to have them support the Churchills on the battlefield.

 The Scots keep the Churchills safe from dastardly German Panzer-‘insert-suffix-of-harm-here’

So now we have the infantry support in place, we now need something a bit heavier to deal with the Panthers and Tigers that will be lurking in barns all over France (Which happened a lot more than you’d think). I’m finding it difficult to locate any accurate reference to anti-tank support that the Guards could call forward, so can only assume it will be in the form of OQF 17-pdrs, and so a battery of four will be brought forward from Divisional Support.

 This leaves me sitting with 11pts to play around with, but some of those are earmarked for the Command Card that will turn these Churchills from 34th Tank Brigade into the 6th Guards Tank Brigade;

A bit of good old British stubbornness to make the list complete.

Now that our Guardsmen in tanks are proper Guardsmen, we need something a bit more high flying and disruptive for the remaining points. Fire up the props and release the chocs as the RAF swoop in for a little bit of aerial support for the lumbering Churchills.

The force stands at:

Title Card – 6th Guards Tank Brigade
HQ – 1 Churchill (75mm)
Troop 1 – 2 Churchill (75mm), 1 Churchill (6pdr)
Troop 2 – 2 Churchill (75mm), 1 Churchill (6pdr)
Troop 3 – 2 Churchill (75mm), 1 Churchill (6pdr)
Trrop 4 – 4 Recce Stuarts

Support
Full strength rifle platoon
Full strength 17pdr troop
Typhoon fighter bomber flight

Summary

And with that, our Churchills are ready to deploy into Northern France, and begin the long arduous push into Germany. A nice looking historical list from one of the newer books, and one that looks stunning on the table once the game gets going. And the best thing is; this army is one-hundred percent plastic! No more carting about a carry case weighing more than a rifleman’s kit bag!

Category: BritishD-DayFlames of WarLate WarV4

3 comments

  1. In terms of support, my researches show that Achilles SP 17-pdr were often assigned to Churchill formations to provide an overwatch capability. This makes good sense, but that is what we should expect from the pragmatic British Army!

    1. Hi Luigi, could you link me the articles confirming this? I’d love to read them, I know the 97th Anti-tank were in support, but information on them is limited.

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Article by: Mark Goddard