Tank Standing Orders

The following Tank Standing Orders are reproduced from a copy found in the Regimental History of the Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians). This was an armoured regiment equipped with the Sherman Tank, which saw action as part of the 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division in 1944 and 1945, primarily in Italy, but also in North-West Europe in the last two months of the war. Abbreviations have been expanded here and minor changes in formatting have been made to make the text easier to read. Bear in mind that these standing orders may or may not have been strictly observed; as always, a caveat of dealing with period orders is the degree of rigidity to which they were subscribed, and the degree to which they may be applied to other units, even in the same formation or time period. Nonetheless, they provide and interesting insight into actual practices by Canadian tank crews in the Second World War.




Unidentified troopers of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) unloading brass casings from their tank after an exercise, England, 20 April 1943.


2nd Canadian Armoured Regiment (Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians)) 4th Edition, 5 Feb 1945

1. DRESS. Dress on going into action will be at Squadron Leader's discretion. Crew commanders, drivers and co-drivers will wear steel helmets.

2. PERSONAL. All personnel will carry shell dressing in a uniform place, throughout the Squadron, water sterilizing outfits and three mepacrine pills. Crew commanders will carry compass, binoculars and morphine syrettes, in a box, at all times.

3. KIT. Kit to be carried into action will be at Squadron Leader's discretion. Kit bags will NOT be carried. Crew commanders will be held responsible that unnecessary kit is not carried.

4. DOCUMENTS. Crews going into action will carry no personal documents other than their pay books and personal identity cards (MFM 182). Codes, code signs etc. will be limited to those actually required. When a tank is abandoned all maps, codes etc. will be removed by the crew commander who will, if there is any immediate danger of capture, destroy them.

5. AMMUNITION. Tanks will normally travel into action with 75mm gun loaded with one round High Explosive set at delay. Troop and Squadron leaders tanks may carry Armour Piercing or White Phosphorous Smoke if preferred.

6. ENGINES. Engines must be kept running whenever the guns are being fired.

7. HOMOLITES. Homolites must be kept running whenever the power traverse system is in use. The engine must be kept running whenever the homolite is running and the crew mounted.

8. TOW ROPES. Tow ropes will be attached in rear and a good shackle and pin in easy reach of the crew commander. Crew commanders will ensure that shackles and pins are easily detached before going into action.

9. PERISCOPES. All telescopes and periscopes will be wedged in for firmness against vibration and, iff possible, shellac or similar substance painted over the joints to stop dust settling.

10. TANKS LEAVING SCENE OF ACTION. No battle worthy tank will leave the scene of action without permission from the Squadron Commander or officer acting as such. A tank will NOT be evacuated because one member of the crew is hit. In all crews it will be laid down as a drill who is to take over, in the event of a casualty to the crew commander. This drill will be practiced as part of normal training.

11. POLICY re ABANDONING TANK. When a tank is holed or blown up on a mine the crew will remain with the tank and fight until all ammunition has been exhausted, the guns put out of action or the tank catches fire, unless orders to abandon it are given by the Troop Leader or in detached roles, the crew commander.

12. DRILL FOR ABANDONING TANK. When a tank is abandoned as a flamer the crew commander will be responsible for releasing the emergency fire extinguishers. At all other times the crew commander will ensure that the following drill is carried out -

(a) The gunner will remove the striker case and spare striker case of the 75mm and the bolts of the Browning

(b) The operator will put the set off net and remove the six point connector

(c) The bow gunner will remove the bolt and spare bolt from his Browning

(d) All personnel will take personal weapons with them. Stores removed from the tank will be turned over to the Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant at the first opportunity

13. PROTECTION OF KIT. Unless a tank is a complete brew-up or the tactical situation renders it impossible, the crew of an abandoned tank will remain in the vicinity in order to protect kit from the tank being looted. As soon as it is clear that the tank cannot be recovered under unit arrangements, the turret crew will report to the Regimental Aid Post or Officer Commanding A.1 Echelon as quickly as possible. The hull crews will remain with the tank until the kit is removed and the tank struck off unit charge, when they will report to Officer Commanding A.1 Echelon or to TD TP "G" Squadron 25 Canadian Armoured Delivery Regiment if the tank is evacuated to AWD.

14. POLICY CONCERNING DESTRUCTION OF TANKS. The decision to destroy a tank will invariably be made by the Squadron Leader. No tank will be destroyed unless absolutely necessary in order to prevent its falling into enemy hands. The tank can be set on fire by breaking the gas lead from the homolite and setting the petrol on fire or by any other means the crew commander desires.

15. DISMOUNTING. During action no man will dismount from his tank without permission from his Troop Leader. Personnel dismounting will invariably take their personal weapons. Personnel will on NO account leave the vicinity of their tanks without permission from their Troop Leader. This rule applies in all harbour areas.

16. HARBOURS. In harbour tanks will not normally be closer than 50 yards interval. This rule may be relaxed by troop and squadron commanders in order to make full use of cover. No tank will move within the harbour area without permission. Except in the event of direct attack, AA fire will not be opened without the orders of the Squadron Leader.

17. ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION. Immediately upon moving into harbour or when the order "Pass Adm" is given, crew commanders will report to the Troop Commander requirements of ammunition, POL, casualties and mechanical condition of vehicle. Troop Leaders will pass this information to Squadron Battle Captains who will consolidate it and pass it to the Adjutant by runner or in Slidex. Officer Commanding Reconnaissance Troop and Regimental Headquarters tanks will also submit this return. Information will include

(a) ammunition requirements (b) POL required (c) casualties suffered - showing if possible name and nature of casualty (d) tank state (e) other stores urgently required

18. INTERCOM IN HARBOUR. When Squadrons are not linked by line to Regimental Headquarters, continuous wireless watch will be kept.

19. REMAINING IN TANKS. Crews must NOT be allowed to remain in their tanks indefinitely or to sleep in them. Troop Leaders will ensure that crews dismount and dig in to rest, in spite of casual artillery or mortar fire.

20. HATCHES ETC. Crew commanders will NOT close both turret flaps except under very heavy mortar fire when the situation does not demand unrestricted vision. Drivers and co-drivers hatches will not be fastened. Safety belts will NOT be used.

21. MOVEMENT CONTROL. When in forward area, awaiting a movement order an all round watch must be kept. This is especially important when on a road or if wireless silence has been imposed and orders must be sent by messenger.

22. CAMOUFLAGE. At no time will a tank go into action without camouflage in the form of branches, shrubs, etc. unless a special order to that effect is issued by Commanding Officer or Squadron Leader. Troop Leaders and crew commanders will be held responsible that this order is complied with unless permission to the contrary is given by the Commanding Officer.

23. MAINTENANCE. Essential maintenance comes ahead of rest. Squadron and Troop Leaders and crew commanders will be held responsible that this order is complied with unless permission to the contrary is given by the Commanding Officer.

24. WIRELESS MAINTENANCE. Operators will carry out daily maintenance tasks and make appropriate entries in wireless logs.

26. REPORTING OF COMMUNICATIONS. Any communications faults affecting unit or sub-unit will be reported to Regimental Signals Officer through Battle Captain.

27. DISCIPLINE. Failure to obey these orders will be treated as a court-martial charge.



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