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2/6th Armoured Regiment
|Crew Commander Lt Heap (survived)
Turret Gunner L/Cpl Rowland (survived)
Wop/Loader Tpr John Curwen, NX49687 (survived) Balmain, NSW
Driver Cpl Thomas (survived)
Hull Gunner Tpr Baird (survived)
Built in the United States as M3 General Stuart Tank hull number 2561. Shipped across the Pacific to Australia.
Assigned to the Australian Army, 2/6th Armoured Regiment. No known nickname, nose art or markings. Shipped to Milne Bay then transported by barge to Buna.
On January 12, 1943 at 8:00am this tank commanded by Lt Heap, M3 Stuart (hull known) commanded by Cpl Boughton and M3 Stuart 2565 commanded by Sgt Kenneth A. MacGregor advanced from a replenishment area along the Sanananda Track towards Sanananda.
After moving roughly 60 yards (180' / 54.8m) a concealed Japanese Army 37mm Anti-Tank Gun / Type 94 (1936) "Rapid Fire Gun" opened fire on the lead tank. This tank was hit by a shell that struck the driver's front flap that caused the visor to spring open. The second round hit the gunner's visor also causing it to spring open. Next, two more shells hit the tank. Damaged, Lt Heap ordered his driver to move off the track allowing this tank commanded by Cpl Boughton to advance. Heap continued fighting in his tank, eventually becoming bogged off the side of the track
Immediately, the same Japanese gun opened fire on M3 Stuart (hull known) with one round penetrating the driver's visor injuring four of the crew including Boughton and Lynn. Although wounded in the face, driver Lynn managed to turn the tank around and limp back to the replenishment area. Although Boughton received medical attention, later that day he died of his wounds.
Meanwhile, M3A1 Stuart 2565 commanded by MacGregor continued to move forward unseen to charge towards the Japanese positions. Out of view of Australian Army troops, this taken apparently swerved suddenly into an enemy position and was possibly targeted or hit by a Japanese pole mine. Afterwards, the Japanese managed to throw a fire bomb "Molotov cocktail" onto the tank that caused a fire that burned out the tank. The crew members who were not killed in the explosion or fire were shot as they attempted to bail out from the disabled tank.
The entire action lasted 45 minutes and was the last time Allied tanks encountered enemy fire during the Sanananda campaign. The ultimate fate of this tank is unknown.
WW2 Nominal Roll - John Curwen, NX49687 (N274622)
The Vital Factor: A History Of 2/6th Australian Armoured Regiment 1941-1946 (1999) by Paul Handel as details on the crew and wartime history of this tank
Thanks to Daniel Leahy for additional information
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