A brief History of the Kangaroo
In July 1944 the Canadian 1st Army became concerned by manpower shortages due to the loss of Infantry being carried in vehicles with little or no protection and also having to be in open country long before they reached their objective. This lead to Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds, commander of the Canadian 11 Corps, coming up with the idea of the Kangaroo APC as a way of reducing infantry losses.
The first Kangaroos were converted from M7 Priest Self Propelled Guns of three field artillery regiments who were involved in the initial D Day assault on 6 June 1944. The M7 Priests were no longer needed, as these regiments were re-equipped with towed 25 pounder guns in late July. At a field workshop they were stripped of their 105mm guns, the front aperture welded over, then sent into service carrying up to twelve troops. They were first used on 8 August 1944 during Operation Totalize south of Caen to supplement the half-tracks available.
Due to a shortage of the Priest SPG other vehicles were used. The vehicle of choice was to be the Canadian Ram tanks (a Canadian development of the early Sherman). The name Kangaroo is thought to have been chosen because of the way the female Kangaroo carries its babies safely in her pouch and the name was applied to other similar conversions. In the fall of 1944 they were used in attacks on the various Channel ports, by the 1st Canadian Armoured Personnel Carrier Squadron and the 49th Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment under the 79th British Armoured Division (whose specialized vehicles were called “Hobart’s Funnies”). Kangaroos were then used throughout the remainder of the war in Europe and Italy by British and Canadian troops.
Having said that the Ram Kangaroos started to replace the Priests, 6th Gurkha Rifles still used the Priests at Medicina on the 16th April 1945 which were crewed by Troops from A Sqn 14th/20th King’s Hussars.