18 Battalion infantrymen on an M4 Sherman tank

Members of the 18th Battalion hitch a ride in a Sherman tank belonging to the 4th New Zealand Armoured Brigade during the advance through northern Italy in late 1944.

Due to the threat of Japanese invasion, New Zealand could only support one armoured brigade to reinforce the 2nd New Zealand Division in the Middle East. In late 1942 the 4th New Zealand Infantry Brigade was converted to an armoured brigade, the 4th New Zealand Armoured Brigade. After several months training on a few Crusader and Grant tanks, the Brigade began to receive new Sherman medium tanks. Fast and reliable, with a stabilised 75-mm gun and usually two machine-guns, the M4 Sherman was the first British or American tank that could engage German tanks on a reasonably equal footing, despite the disadvantage of a high silhouette. At full strength, the brigade possessed about 160 Shermans. The 4th Armoured Brigade served with the 2nd New Zealand Division in Italy, where rugged terrain and the static nature of operations limited the effectiveness of tanks. Mud, mines and well-camouflaged German positions exacted a heavy toll on the New Zealand tanks, and the Shermans were mainly used as infantry support weapons or as mobile artillery.

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Geoff Williamson

Posted: 13 Jul 2021

My father Alan Williamson was radio operator-gunner in C company 18th Armoured. aEgypt .Italy and finished in Trieste. Tanks buried in Bolgonia after war assisted at Cassino. he went back for 2 celebrations to Cassino.