With Canadian Thanksgiving just around the corner, we thought we’d highlight one of their great contributions to the Commonwealth war effort. The Kangaroo APC allowed the infantry to keep pace with their tanks and afforded excellent protection from incoming fire.
In July 1944, the Commonwealth forces in Normandy found themselves confronted with spiralling casualty rates as bloody fighting across Bocage country took its toll. While some British and Canadian units had access to the American-made M3 Halftracks, these were in short supply, and the Universal Carrier’s low transport capacity made it unsuitable despite the huge numbers available.
What the Commonwealth did have in abundance were Sherman tanks and M7 Priest self-propelled guns. As these were sitting idle, Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds devised the Kangaroo as a makeshift alternative to purpose-built APCs.Later on, as the Priests were returned to the Americans, Kangaroos were converted out of Canadian-built Ram tanks, British Churchills and American Shermans.
The modifications were essentially the same, whichever chassis was used. The main armament, turret and ammunition stowage was stripped out. Bench seats were fitted around the turret ring and the driver’s compartment was sectioned off. Hull machine guns were kept, and jury-rigged pintle mounts were often fitted to provide additional firepower. Climbing runs were added to the exterior hull to make embarking and disembarking easier.
Officially, a Kangaroo was supposed to carry 8-12 soldiers, but it was more common to cram in as many troops as could fit without any falling off.
Priest Kangaroos were first used south of Caen on 8th August 1944, to supplement the M3 Halftracks already in service. The Ram Kangaroo would enter service a month later in September. By December, all these units had been combined into the 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Regiment. They would see service up until the end of the war in 1945.
The Kangaroo in Bolt Action
Late-war Commonwealth players looking for a way to improve the survivability of their infantry units should consider investing in some of these fantastic units. Both Priest and Ram versions are remarkably tough and have a large carrying capacity, allowing you to ferry troops straight into action.
The optional medium machine gun provides decent fire support, but be wary as the open-topped special rule makes the Kangaroo particularly vulnerable to infantry assault and artillery fire.
We’ve produced a couple of handy quick-reference cards for use during your games of Bolt Action.
We’ve found this excellent guide on converting our M7 Priest kit into a Priest Kangaroo from last year, so we’d encourage you to grab a Priest from the webstore and get stuck in!
The Ram Kangaroo is available in our webstore.