Craig Moore investigates the Centaur Mk.IV, an up-gunned vehicle designed to provide close artillery support to British D-Day landing parties
‘The 95mm howitzer gun was intended to be fired from the landing craft at enemy fortifications on the beach’
The Centaur Mk.IV Close Support tank on display at the Pegasus Bridge Memorial Museum at Ranville, near Caen, was built to provide protective artillery fire to the Royal Marines landing on the coast of Normandy on D-Day June 6, 1944. Its 95mm howitzer gun was intended to be fired from landing craft at enemy fortifications on the beach. Built by the car manufacturer Leyland Ltd, this Centaur was part of V Troop, 5th Independent Battery, Royal Marines Armoured Support Group (RMASG). On D-Day it landed at Sword Beach between Hermanville-la-Breche and Lionsur-Mer. It came into contact with the enemy some five hundred yards from the beach and was forced to reverse up to a hedge. In the process, the tank was hit by mortar fire that set the bins and engine compartment on fire. The crew evacuated and the vehicle was left behind as the fighting moved on.