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The 7th Armoured Division Memorial stands at the entrance to what was once a busy army camp. The memorial is a tribute to the ‘Desert Rats’ who were based here. The Division was only in the UK for five months during its entire existence and most of that time was spent here at High Ash Camp. The camp was a hive of activity being similar in size to a small town, with a cinema, cookhouses, NAAFI, workshops and huts to house all the men.
The Forestry Commission has waymarked a walk that leads round the forest showing the positions of some of the features that remain of the old camp, along with information boards detailing their history and significance.
The main memorial consists of a Cromwell tank mounted on a plinth between two flagpoles on a traffic roundabout at the camp entrance. The plinth carries two plaques; the main one reads:
7th ARMOURED DIVISION
FROM EL ALAMEIN TO BERLIN
NORTH AFRICA - ITALY - THETFORD FOREST - FRANCE -BELGIUM – HOLLAND
THE 7TH ARMOURED DIVISION WAS STATIONED IN THETFORD FOREST BETWEEN JANUARY AND MAY 1944 WHILE THEY PREPARED FOR THE INVASION OF NORMANDY. THIS WAS THE ONLY TIME THE DIVISION WAS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM IN IT'S [sic] ENTIRE EXISTENCE. THE DIVISION SAILED FROM FELIXSTOWE ON THE 5 JUNE 1944 WITH THE FIRST TANKS LANDING ON GOLD BEACH ON THE EVENING OF 6 JUNE 1944.
MAY YOUR GLORY EVER SHINE, MAY YOUR LAURELS NEVER FADE, MAY THE MEMORY OF THIS GLORIOUS PILGRIMAGE OF WAR YOU HAVE MADE FROM ALAMEIN, VIA THE BALTIC, TO BERLIN NEVER DIE, IT IS A MARCH UNSURPASSED THROUGH ALL THE STORY OF WAR.
MAY THE FATHERS LONG TELL THE CHILDREN ABOUT THIS TALE.
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T189873 (not original): “T 189873” painted on turret sides, nose and hull rear.
“LITTLE AUDREY I” painted on turret sides.
Red square markings painted on turret sides. 7th Armoured Division markings painted on nose and hull rear. Plaque fixed to lower hull rear.
This Cromwell is mounted on a brick plinth as part of the 7th Armoured Division memorial. It has a plaque fixed under the hull rear that reads:
|THIS CROMWELL TANK WAS RESTORED|
BY R.H. BARRELL ENGINEERING LTD. TO
REPRESENT CROMWELL MKIV T189873
‘LITTLE AUDREY II’ WHICH SERVED IN ‘B’
SQDN. 1ST. BATT. ROYAL TANK REGIMENT,
HERE IN THETFORD FOREST AND TOOK
PART IN THE INVASION OF NORMANDY IN
JUNE 1944. THE FOUNDER OF THIS MEMORIAL,
MR. LES DINNING SERVED AS GUNNER IN