During Operation Totalize the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry and elements of the 51st (Highland) Division reached the French village of St. Aignan de Cramesnil during the early morning of August 8, 1944.While B Squadron stayed around the village, A and C Squadrons moved further south into a wood called Delle de la Roque.
C Squadron positioned themselves on the east side of the woods and the understrength A Squadron positioned themselves in the southern portion, with '3 Troop' on the western edge of the wood.
From this position they overlooked a large open section of ground and was able to watch as German tanks advanced up Route nationale 158 from the town of Cintheaux. Under strict orders from the troop commander, they held their fire until the German tanks were well within range.
Ekins, the gunner of Sergeant Gordon's Sherman Firefly (called Velikye Luki - A Squadrons tanks were named after towns in the Soviet Union), had yet to fire his gun in action.
With the Tiger tanks in range, the order was given to fire. What followed was an almost 12-minute battle that saw Ekins destroying all three Tigers that '3 Troop' could see (there was actually seven Tiger tanks in the area heading north, along with some other tanks and self-propelled guns).
A short time later, the main German counterattack was made in the direction of C Squadron. A Squadron (less Sgt Gordon, who had been wounded and had already bailed out of the Firefly) moved over to support them and in the resulting combat, Ekins destroyed a Panzer IV before his tank was hit and the crew was forced to bail out.
Following the battle and tankless, Ekins was reassigned to another tank within the squadron as a radio operator and remained in this position for the rest of the war.
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