Flower POWER


There was something highly unusual about the Sherman driven by Coldstream Guard Alfred Osborn: Tulip rockets mounted on the turret. Craig Moore spoke to him about this innovative addition to its arsenal

“The Germans would let six or seven Shermans go by, and then open fire with anti-tank guns. When we went through, the tanks were stopping to help blokes who were wounded or just trying to get out of damaged tanks. Then the call would come over the radio: ‘Keep moving, keep moving’.”

That was the situation facing Guardsman Alfred Osborn – known as Roger – as elements of the Guards Armoured Division pressed toward Arnhem in September 1944. I had the honour of interviewing Roger (by telephone) during the COVID-19 lockdown. At the time he was 95, but sharp. I would ask a question, he’d answer, and then recount his varied experiences. “I did my first training at the Guards Depot,” he recalled. “They wanted people to go into tanks, so I went down to Pirbright Camp [Surrey] to do my tank training. You were taught the four main jobs on the tank and you had a week on each. You started by driving lorries for a week, then you spent a week operating wireless sets and so on. This helped them decide what job you would get; only then did you complete full training. We had to learn two jobs in case someone was injured or killed. So, I was a gunner-mechanic.

Want to read more?

This is a premium article and requires an active subscription.

Existing subscriber? Sign in now

No subscription?

Pick one of our introductory offers