In Memoriam  - 2nd Lieutenant Norman Perkins SHARPE (1933-1939)                                                Home

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NORMAN PERKINS SHARPE, born 26.10.1922, entered the School in September 1933.  He obtained the Oxford School Certificate in July 1938 and became a School Prefect.  He was a member of the 1st XV.  He left in June 1939 and joined the Staff of the Midland Bank Ltd. 

In 1942 he was an Officer Cadet R.A.C. at Sandhurst.  He was commissioned in the 2nd Northants Yeomanry R.A.C.  He was one of the first to go to Normandy and was killed on 30th June 1944.  He was buried Le-Gaule near Cheux and re-interred in St.Manvieu British Cemetery, France, ten miles south-east of Bayeux. 

He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. S. Sharpe, 24 College Street, Irthlingborough.  'In Memoriam' book

D Day Landings began on the 6th June 1944.  The 2nd Northants Yeomanry landed on Gold Beach on the 18th .   Their role was acted as the divisional reconnaissance regiment for the 11th Armoured Division -  ‘The Black Bull Divisional Sign’. This meant that they were often working with the enemy behind as well as in front of them.  Their job was to observe and supply information.  This would be the only regiment in the division to be equipped with Cromwells, 3 Sherman Fireflies and each squadron had an Armoured Recovery Vehicle….The ARV was manned by REME.   Norman died on te last day of Operation Epsom.

David Fletcher, Richard C. Harley, Andrew Berki, Peter Sarson Cromwell Cruiser Tank  1943-50, Osprey Books     ‘Something of their story is told in "Sixty-Four Days of a Normandy Summer” by Keith Jones (1990)    ISBN  070904240X.   

Sources for above.

http://airfixtributeforum.myfastforum.org/ftopic8311-0.php

http://www.battlefront.com/community/showthread.php?t=91&page=2;  http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/30/a4222630.shtml

http://home.vicnet.net.au/~wswa/bluecoat.htm

 

It's probable that Norman was in charge of a Cromwell tank.  It was the main tank in the reconnaissance regiments of British armoured divisions because of its superior speed, manoeuvrability and reliability - outflanking the heavier and more sluggish German tanks.  The advantage of the Firefly over the Cromwell was that its 17” gun matched the firepower of the Panther and Tiger Tanks.   Norman died on the final day of Operation Epsom.

 

History of the 11th Armoured Division      Operation Epsom        The Cromwell Tank        Sherman Firefly

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Additional Source to check:  War Diary from TNA at Kew.  WO 171/860   2 Northamptonshire Yeomanry 1944 Jan.- Sept. 

 

The Black Bull  – History of the 11th Armoured Division

Source:    http://www.flamesofwar.com/hobby.aspx?art_id=551

 

Normandy

11th Armoured Division was widely recognized as one of the best British armoured divisions in the second world war, earning its spurs in all of the most famous actions of the North West European campaign. Commanded by the desert legend Pip Roberts and incorporating the mighty 3rd Royal Tank Regiment, 11th Armoured was a flashing rapier that cut into the heart of German defences in many battles including Goodwood, Epsom, Market Garden, The Battle of the Bulge and many more.

 

Operation Epsom     Norman Sharpe died on the final day of the attack
The division got its first real blooding in Operation Epsom. The operation was designed as flanking move to unseat the Germans holding Caen.

 

The VIII corps, which consisted of 15th Scottish, 11th Armoured and the 43rd Wessex Divisions along with the 4th Armoured brigade, were charged with crossing the Orne and Odon rivers. 11th Armoured was let loose at around 12:30 on the 26 June 1944 on a wild charge to the Odon with 2nd Northants Yeomanry, the Cromwell armed Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment in the vanguard, supported by 23rd Hussars, 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry and 3rd RTR respectively. Unfortunately the attack was hampered from the start by the poor quality of maps and also the fact that, although the division had trained extensively in tight infantry/tank combined operations, there was none as such planned in this operation.

 

As 26 June progressed Cheux became a thorn in the divisions side. The 23rd Hussars were ordered to bypass the village, but ended up in thick bocage countryside. Fighting soon erupted around the Caen-Villers railway and Carpiquet aerodrome with the Northants Yeomanry losing a squadron of tanks whilst Fife and Forfars lost 9 tanks and the 23rd Hussars lost 4 tanks. The case was made worse by the fact that the 15th Scottish Division, 4th Armoured Brigade and the 11th Armoured were all operating in the same vicinity around Cheux and by days end the ill planned battle continued with little success and much bloodshed.

 

The second day of Epsom (27 June 1944) proved much more favourable to the 11th Armoured Division.

The 2nd Fife and Forfars fought hard around Grainville in a grinding battle whilst the division’s infantry regiments supported by the 75th Anti-tank Regiment fought a winning action against German Tigers and Panthers around Norrey-en-Bessin. The real cherry on the cake for the 11th Armoured during day two of the operation was the progress made by the 23rd Hussars. They managed to fight all the way to the Odon between Mouen and Mondrainville where they continued to pick off targets on the opposite side of the river, losing a few tanks to accurate 88 fire. Late in the afternoon the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of 15th Scottish Division captured an intact bridge over the Odon at Tourmauville and by 17:30 the leading elements of the 23rd Hussars swept across the river Odon. By 19:00 two squadrons were across and 8th Rifle Brigade were guarding the valuable crossing. By the end of the day the 23rd Hussars had been involved in some of the bitterest fighting east of Cheux and around Mondrainville and Tourmauville resulting in 24 killed, 24 wounded and 5 taken prisoner.

 

Day three of Epsom (28 June 1944) probably resulted in the most famous action of Epsom, Hill 112. 23rd Hussars and a company of 8th Rifles fought all day to dislodge stubborn defenders, including half a dozen well dug in Tigers. The units were strafed, shelled and assaulted continually all day long. By nightfall, 23rd hussars had been in their tanks continuously for 27 hours and were replaced by 3rd RTR in support of 8th Rifles. By nightfall, it was decided to pull of the hill in lieu the mounting casualties and material damage. The hill remained a no mans land continually bombarded by stonks from the Divisions 25 pdrs.

 

Day four of Epsom (29 June 1944)  led to much of the same for 8th Rifles. After fighting so hard the day before and then moving back during the night, they were ordered back up onto hill 112.  All day long all units were engaged in the Odon bridgehead ( as it had become known) 3RTR and 8th Rifles captured positions on the south of the hill whilst 2nd Fife and Forfars made headway to the East. The Herefords beat off a counter attack on the bridgehead from the south.

 

By daybreak of the next morning (30 June 1944, the day Norman Sharpe died), 11th Armoured were again ordered to come down off the hill as the operation ground to a halt. By the end of the operation 11th Armoured had had 240 men killed in action.

 

The Cromwell Tank     Source: http://www.tamiyausa.com/product/item.php?product-id=32528

One of the most successful tanks fielded by the British in WWII, the Cromwell compared favorably with tanks of similar weight such as the Sherman and Panzer IV. Most were armed with the 75mm Q.F. Mk.V/VA, which was based on the 6 Pdr. but chambered to fire American ammunition. This was a very good dual-purpose gun, able to destroy enemy anti-tank guns at long range, or penetrate the frontal armor of a Panzer IV at normal battle ranges. However it was less effective against German heavy tanks. The Cromwell first saw action during the Normandy campaign, where it was at a disadvantage as it could not use its superior speed and agility, but this changed after the fighting moved to open country.

Right:  One of a pair of Cromwells knocked out near a railway crossing, said to be at Villers Bocage.

 

Possible identification

2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry from 11th Armoured Division.   The location of the markings is consistent with theirs, the divisional bull on a yellow background would be behind the round container on the glacis. Small name above that is also seen on other 2NY vehicles, as is the hand painted number below the census number as seen on photos of their tanks in Flers.  Much of this depends on the date, as 2NY were replaced by 15th/19th Hussars on 17 August 1944.

http://www.network54.com/Forum/47208/thread/1107657967/Cromwell+ID------------

Glacis-bears number T499

 

 

Sherman Firefly     Source  Wikipedia

The Sherman Firefly was a World War II British variation of the American Sherman tank, fitted with the powerful British 17 pounder anti-tank gun as its main weapon. Originally conceived as a stopgap tank until future British tank designs armed with the 17 pounder came into service, the Sherman Firefly in fact became the most common tank fielded during World War II with the 17 pounder as its main armament followed by the 17 pdr SP M10 “Achilles”.

……. the Sherman Firefly represented the only available tank with firepower superior to the QF 75 mm gun in the British Army’s arsenal. Not surprisingly, it was given the ‘highest priority’ by Winston Churchill himself.  The nickname “Firefly” is however not found in wartime official documents. ………

 The most powerfully gunned tank fielded by the Allies during World War II was the Sherman Firefly. An ordinary American-built Sherman modified by the British, the Firefly had firepower that could finally match the awesome German tanks that had dominated Europe.

 

Commonwealth War Graves Commission: SHARPE, NORMAN PERKINS

Initials:

N P

Nationality:

United Kingdom

Rank:

Lieutenant

Regiment/Service:

Royal Armoured Corps

Unit Text:

2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry

Age:

21

Date of Death:

30/06/1944

Service No:

276063

Additional information:

Son of Sydney and Lily Sharpe, of Irthlingborough, Northamptonshire.

Casualty Type:

Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference:

 II. G. 12.

Cemetery:

ST. MANVIEU WAR CEMETERY, CHEUX