Thomas Gerard Vose
11 March 1919 - 31 May 1970
Tom was a 'desert rat' in the second world war. He wrote home of seeing the cream of German youth lying dead in the desert, and I believe that terrible experience was to stay with him through the rest of his life. The photo of him in the desert was taken with a Leica camera taken off a dead German officer.
Tom rode the First tank into Tobruk.
He was with the troops who fought their way up through Italy. Family lore has it that he fought at the battle of.Monte Cassino and after the battle he became godfather to two children in a church there. That Tommy was at the Battle of Monte Cassino (Jan-May 1944) is extremely unlikely as his regiment was on its way back to England in January 1944. It is just possible he was one of the men left behind and somehow was involved in the battle, however it is more likely that his godfather duty took place after one of the earlier battles in which his tank regiment took part - in Sicily or in Southern Italy.
The regiment fought through France and into Germany. Of the forty men he trained with, only eight survived the war. Fourteen of his tank commanders were killed.
His letters, descriptive but forthright letters of a soldier at war, were unfortunately too salty for his sister, Theresa, who destroyed them.
The photos that Tom left us show that he was a soldier in the 3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) regiment who
" .. served throughout the North African Campaign (notably at El Alamein), before moving on to Sicily (3rd CLY) and Italy. [They] returned to the United Kingdom in time to prepare for the opening of the Second Front.
"Due to losses, and a shortage of replacement personnel and equipment, the [3rd and 4th CLY] regiments were amalgamated in August 1944 ... The regiment went on to serve throughout the North-West Europe Campaign, ending the war in Germany."
Tom survived a number of hard fought campaigns, See for example:
Some extracts from the CLY War Diaries
Mid-day rest, Crusader tanks of A Squadron, 3rd C L Y [source]
|August 14||Arrived Avonmouth and embarked on HMT Orion at 1230 hours. Strength on Embarkation - 40 officers, 603 ORs.|
|August 15||Avonmouth.1000 hours, Regiment sails. Anchors off Barry and sails again at evening. During night joins rest of convoy.|
|August 28||Arrived at Freetown, Sierra Leone.|
|September 11||Arrived Capetown..|
|September 26||1600 hours arrived Aden.|
|September 29-30||At Sea.Preparations for disembarkation.|
|October, 1941||and first half of November - Diary entries missing..|
[Operation_Crusader - November 18 - December 30, 1941 - Wikipedia]
|Jan. 2||Bivouacs erected. The Regiment resting and reorganising.|
|Jan. 7||Regimental Strength - officers 24, ORs 475.|
|April 18||Move to desert location in progress.|
|April 25 - 29||General maintenance. Regimental strength - officers 33, ORs 568..|
[Battle of Gazala - May 26 - June 21, 1942 - Wikipedia]
[1st Battle of El Alamein - July 1-27, 1942 - Wikipedia]
|August 20||It was learned during the morning that the Prime Minister was visiting troops in the desert and one officer and six ORs were sent from the Regiment to meet him.|
|August 31||.. 3rd CLY was to fight a rearguard and then fall back .. The enemy tanks broke through the minefield in force at about 1300 hours, some striking north-east towards Deir El Ragil where 100 were counted. A force of about 25 attacked 3rd CLYs position. .. There was continual activity to our front all night, caused by patrols and by sappers blowing up enemy tanks.|
|Sept. 1||At first light the 21 Panzer Div attacked the Regiment on our left|
|Sept. 2||.. the enemy were discovered to have withdrawn from the high ground. B Squadron was heavily shelled, and then moved forward preceded by Crusader Squadron. There was no further action though about 60 enemy tanks appeared to be forming up for an attack at 1700 hours. These were heavily shelled from the rear and appeared to abandon the idea of an attack. ... The enemy were severely bombed all day and all night.|
|Sept. 3||By first light the enemy had again withdrawn and Crusaders reported no sign of him .. It was later known that the enemy was in full retreat.|
|Sept. 17||Moved to Samaket Gaballa, and then to Deir El Agram. Tanks handed over to 4th CLY. 3rd CLY, less 10 tank crews left under command 4th CLY, ordered to move to Mareopolis to refit.|
[2nd Battle of El Alamein - October 23 - November 11, 1942 - Wikipedia]
"One squadron of 3CLY joined 4CLY to defend the Alam El Halfa ridge when the Germans launched their last all-out offensive. After two days of bitter fighting, the Sharpshooters held on forcing Rommel to withdraw marking the turning point in the desert campaign." [source]
|January 25||Regimental move from Khatatba to Cowley Camp, Cairo. Strength 37 officers, 2 attached officers, 625 ORs|
|June 6||3rd CLY personnel loaded onto 8 LSTs with mixed loads of tanks .. sailed from Alexandria in a convoy bound for Tripoli.|
|June 29||The convoy arrived at Tripoli harbour where personnel were despatched to a transit camp approx 15 miles along the Tripoli road running North.|
|Jun. 30 - Jul. 6||This period was spent in the transit camp where the troops bathed and lived generally under very trying conditions.|
|July 7||The Regiment re-embarked on their LSTs and the night was spent in Tripoli harbour..|
|July 8||At approx 1000 the convoy sailed due East to meet the convoy of merchant ships and LSIs from Alexandria and Port Said. .. As soon as the LSTs sailed all personnel were told that the convoy was bound for Sicily and last minute orders, preparations and issuing of maps were carried out. An order of the day issued by General Montgomery was read out to all personnel by the OC Troops of each ship.|
|July 10||At 0245 the assault landing was made by 15th and 17th Infantry Brigades on .. George Beach and on How Beach ..
At first light the LST convoy was well in sight of the Southeast coast of Sicily and it sailed at reduced speed until approx 0900 when it hove-to and lay off the coast. At this juncture naval personnel manoeuvred into position the 2 pontoons attached to the 4 LSTs and made general preparations for the landing. Tank crews and echelon personnel unshackled their tanks and vehicles and warmed up the engines. ..
[Allied invasion of Sicily - 'Operation Husky' - July 9 - August 17, 1943 - Wikipedia]
|Sept. 21||Sailed at 0600 for Taranto [Italy], uneventful voyage. Catering arrangements were very bad.|
[The Italian Campaign - Liberation of Italy, 1943 - Wikipedia]
|January 1||Italy. Training. The commanding Officer was informed that the Regiment would be moving to a new theatre of war.|
|January 23||The regiment, less C Sqn, marched to station .. and entrained at 1200 leaving Taranto for Naples via Poenza and Salerno at 1400.|
|January 27||.. a long halt in the centre of Naples and it was 1800 before the whole Regiment had completed embarking. The ship was the MV Tegelberg and most of the troops on board consisted of HQ 4th Armd BDE, The Greys and 3rd CLY. Capt Pearson had to remain in Italy as a rear party to collect any officers and men of the Regiment who had not rejoined us up to this time.|
|February 8||Moved up Clyde and docked at St. George's dock at 1500.|
|February 9||Day spent with Customs and sorting baggage. No-one was allowed ashore.|
|February 11||The Regiment was billeted in unfurnished houses in East Worthing, Sussex.|
|February 12-29||Regiment was on leave.|
|July 5||Waterproofing was continued, moneys changed into Francs ... During this period no-one was allowed out of camp unless under the supervision of an officer who had to obtain a pass.|
|July 6|| .. moved down to Gosport to embark. .. When loaded the LCTs joined a much larger convoy and lay off shore from 1 to 3 hours, finally sailing sometime during the afternoon.
We sailed throughout the hours of darkness and had an uneventful crossing except that one LCT containing RAF personnel was sunk, believed by an E-Boat.
|July 7||At first light, about 0500, land was sighted and the convoy was now amid a mass of other shipping lying offshore. ... Coasting East we were finally told to go in off Mont Fleury La Riviere, about 5 kilos West of our allotted beach. This caused some confusion, the tide being on the make but about half way up.
With the exception of one scout car and three 3-ton lorries all vehicles landed safely, the deepest wade being about 4ft 6ins. .. eventually all assembled in the Assembly area at Banville
|Sept. 1||Moved on from the crossroads at St. Clair .. towards the Somme. Cleaned up several villages en route and took about 300 POW. At 1600 A Sqn attacked Airainnes .. Very strong resistance and some A/Tk guns, two of which were knocked out. One tank was hit and brewed up. The Sqn withdrew at last light and the attack continued by a stronger formation of the Canadian Army. Casualties:- 1 OR killed, 1 wounded.|
|Sept. 2||Moved across Somme at 1230 with C Sqn leading. Contact made with the enemy North of Elexecourt .. when C Sqn observed a troop of 88mm guns shelling across the Somme. The gun position was overrun and many prisoners taken. The advance was continued ..|
|Sept. 5||.. crossing the Belgian frontier South of Roubaix.|
|Sept. 6||.. NW of Audenarde .. Contact was made with the enemy at the villages of Wortegem, Knock and Nokere, many guns and lorries were destroyed and many prisoners taken. A Sqn pushed on to the town of Cruyhauten, killing a large number of enemy infantry. .. The town was full of enemy troops hiding in the houses and it proved impossible to deal with them without adequate infantry support. One of a large number of prisoners surrounding a tank threw a hand grenade into its turret, killing two of the crew. Later a German tank managed to position itself unseen and knocked out 2 of our tanks. Eventually the Sqn was forced to withdraw as it could no longer hold the town without further infantry support. ..|
|Sept. 7||Took up position again on the high ground facing NW. C Sqn took over 200 POW from a column attempting to escape East of Knock. Local members of the Belgian Resistance Movement were usefully employed in escorting prisoners and in patrol work. B Sqn shot up a number of HDT and MT. In the late afternoon 6 enemy vehicles attempted to break through Knock but were shot up and several prisoners taken.|
|Sept. 8||Moved to Antwerp and took up positions, A Sqn patrolling East bank of Sheldt with members of the Resistance movement. B Sqn in the dock area, C Sqn East of the city with a troop in the village of Wyneghem .. Some shelling and mortaring but no casualties.|
|Dec. 21||Maintenance and training. Leave to Brussels had proved very popular with all ranks and another party left today.|
|Dec. 25||Regiment at 1 hours notice to move. The men's Christmas Dinner was consumed in the various Sqn canteens with due traditional ceremony, but as the Regiment was at short notice, conviviality was restricted.|
The regiment fights its way into Germany
|May 4||The Regiment moved into Hamburg. ... There were no incidents.|
|May 7||1400 - The Commanding Officer visited each Squadron in turn to tell them of the unconditional surrender of the German Forces and State to the Allies with effect one minute past midnight of the night 8/9 May.|
"The Sharpshooters received 42 battle honours for World War II, a total exceeded by only one other Cavalry or Yeomanry regiment. Individually Sharpshooters received one George Medal, 9 DSOs, 42 MCs, 8 DCMs and 71 MMs. The regimental roll of honour records 381 names." [source]
Tom died relatively young, aged 51 in 1970, three months before his mother. He shares a grave with his parents in St. Mary's, Little Crosby.
Birth: Mar 1919, Vose, Thomas G, mother: Leatherbarrow, W.Derby, 8b 52
From Death Register:
Thomas Gerard Vose, born 11/3/1919; Death: Apr/Jun 1970, Liverpool, Ref: 10d 467