The Churchill Armoured Personnel Carrier.
In July 1948 the shortage of spares led to the cessation of plans to convert further Sherman and Ram tanks into Kangaroos; as Cromwells were either unsuitable or unavailable that left the Churchill tank to be considered. Approximately 600 tanks had been retained, with 400 earmarked for conversion to Crocodiles, AVRE tanks and 'Western Union', leaving about 200.
In March 1949 a loose minute noted that as the APC on the six-wheeled armoured car chassis was expected to be a long-term project, the requirement for Target Force meant that the plan to use Churchill MkVII tanks should go ahead.
A paper produced by the School of Infantry in August 1950 set out a requirement for each APC to have a number 18 and a number 88 type B radio, with 1 in 5 APCs to have an extra 18 set for command use. A mounting point for a machine gun and smoke dischargers were required, along with inward-facing bench seats in the space created by the removal of the turret. A note that the bench seats should be fitted with some form of cushioning led to one officer to add a hand-written note "Is this a motor coach?" Obviously he had never been transported with full kit in a tracked vehicle.
There were a number of suggestions to provide overhead cover, but these were not taken up, and neither was the request for a three-inch high rim for the infantry compartment; all they got was a canvas tilt cover.
It was hoped to get a platoon into three Churchills, but it was accepted that a fourth would be needed for the HQ section.
In February 1951 a trial vehicle was tested, and it was found that it could only take eight men with light webbing small packs and personal arms; it was realised that it would only accommodate six men in full battle order. A trial carried out on 14 March, however, made it clear that eight fully equipped troops could be carried along with the two crew, along with the note that there was plenty of stowage available; presumably the design had been modified. Two APCs were required for the Company HQ. Dismounting of the infantry was simple but remounting less so; the fitting of step-rails and hand-grips was seen as necessary but it was considered an improvement over the Ram Kangaroo. The presence of the two escape hatches in the sides of the tank were seen as a distinct advantage.
Initially 150 conversions were ordered at a cost of £1,325 each in 1952/3. The second batch of 150 intended to be converted the following year was reduced to 75 to save money.
There is a note dated November 1956 approving for Saracens to replace the Churchill APCs on a one for one basis, but it was stated that the requested Saracen APCs could not be made available, and the request should be made again the following year.
It would appear that these APCs served in infantry use with little record except for a single photograph on the Wikipedia page for the churchill tank.
Source: TNA WO 32/13573.
This page copyright SR Jenkins November 2018; reproduction without prior approval is prohibited.
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