Churchill AVRE Personal Stories
Our battle tanks began to arrive, proper AVREs at last.
However they were without machine-guns or Petards. These
arrived in dribs and drabs later on. The Petard ammunition
did not arrive until just before D-Day.
the end of April Captain Grant told me to take my tank and
reel in some of the derelict signal cable which was running
across the heath. We had reached the middle of the heath
when an explosion occurred, just behind the turret; we had
run over a mine. The area had been used by the flails to
practice flailing live mines, they must have missed this
Before my tank could be repaired the formation for D-day
was decided. Two Landing Craft were available for each Troop.
The bridge and fascine tanks required a lot of room and
with the flails and an armoured bulldozer there was only
room for five AVREs. One from each troop would have to be
Lance Sergeant Wells RE, 80 Assault Squadron.
Tank Museum photo No. 2116/A/5
first job was to train the individual crew members in the
separate skills of tank commander, driver, co-driver, radio
operator and demolition NCO (the last named being a lance
corporal) thus making up a six-man crew for the Churchill
which was , originally, a five-man tank. So the demolition
NCO had a very blind and cramped position but was responsible
for all the explosives.
The Royal Armoured Corps drivers at first thought that
they were just to help with training but were soon surprised
and shocked to be compulsorily transferred to the Royal
Engineers. Although they wore our badge they were very reluctant
to give up their black berets!
Major R E Ward, 42nd Armoured Engineer Regiment.
Tank Museum photo No.
was trained at Catterick in the Royal Armoured Corps on
Churchill tanks. When it came to be posted some of us were
told that we were to join a Royal Engineers unit in Suffolk.
We started training with crews made up of Royal Armoured
Corps and Royal Engineers. The Royal Engineers were in the
crew to take care of explosives when necessary.
We started training with Landing Craft and would make landings
around the coast of England, Scotland and Wales, getting
ready for D-Day. We were always the first to go in on landings.
Driver W E Beeton, 79th Armoured Engineer Squadron.
Tank Museum photo No. 1779/A/5