George Dring was born on May 28th 1917 the son of the village blacksmith at Fulbeck Lincolnshire. He went to the local school, worked on the land and became a fearless horseman, riding in point-to-point, hunting and showed the impulsive nature which characterised his way in the regiment. When he enlisted in the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry as a farrier in 1935 the regiment was still mounted. The Earl of Yarborough who had commanded it in the First World War, and the Master of the local hunt, was still in command when the regiment was mustered at his seat Welbeck Abbey in 1939.
Sgt George Dring MM
Sgt Dring (left) with his tank crew in Normandy in summer 1944
The regiment left for Palestine where it trained as coastal artillery, then being split up, going to Bengazi, Tobruk and Crete. His many exploits were noted by his Squadron Leader, Major Stanley Christopherson (Later Lt Col SD Christopherson DSO MC TD) in his diary:-
Saturday 12th October 1940.
"After mounting the guard we had some boxing in the hanger. We had some excellent tuition. I sparred with him and also with Cpl Dring. It has given me a sore jaw and I have bitten my lip twice, otherwise it was great fun."
23rd October 1941.
By then George had become a Corporal in No4 troop “A” squadron in a Crusader III one of nine tanks in the squadron. "He was one of the few tanks left in the Squadron at the end of the day. He had some quite good shooting with his 6pdr." It was during this time that George developed his practice of leaving the tank to take a shufti over the crest of hills to see where the enemy were.
12th November 1942.
"The Brigadier came around each squadron and talked to tank crews- Sgt Dring and Main his gunner. They both had a good shoot with their 6pdr against enemy tanks on the first day of the battle. Trooper Main has actually taken part in this battle in a Grant tank and also Crusader."
1st March 1943.
Dring was Troop Sergeant of 2nd Troop.
Sunday 21st March 1943, Tebaga Gap
"Contacted the main enemy position, which was protected by a wide minefield. It was Donny Player’s first day of battle and he commanded the Regiment extremely well. The Squadron did some indirect shooting with the heavies and we claimed to have knocked out one of our 25pdrs. which they had captured, and some enemy transport. Sgt. Dring was operating on the right flank and did some good work in extricating some carriers belonging to the Buffs which had gone forward to probe the enemy front. The New Zealanders attacked during the night and cleared a passage through the minefield." Dring was awarded the Military Medal for this.
Wednesday 7th April 1943.
"The going was extremely good and we managed to move at quick speed. As a result the Squadron captured some enemy transport and some Italian prisoners, including two Italian officers. Unfortunately we lost the opportunity of procuring for the Regiment three German People’s Cars. The Staffs, who had their Recce Troop with them, took over the cars before I could obtain drivers from B.1 Echelon. In the evening the Staffs and ourselves were attacked by approximately thirty enemy tanks consisting of Tigers, Mk. IV Specials and some captured Shermans. We held some very favourable high ground and waited for the Germans to follow up their attack. However, they did not do so and remained in hull down positions about two thousand yards away. The fire from the Tigers, both HE and AP, was extraordinarily accurate."
"We had no tanks knocked out but Sgt. Dring received a very close HE shell and he himself was wounded and had to be evacuated.(As he made his way back to the Medical Officer the Colonel shook his fist at him for taking risks and received a V sign in reply. Within half an hour George was back in action) The Brigade, less the 3rd Tanks, formed up after dark and proceeded to move in a Northerly direction until 0100 hours in order to contact 3rd Tanks, who had worked forward a good many miles on our left flank. We must have been moving parallel to the German tank force, which had made off in the same direction after dark."
Wednesday 21st April 1943.
"The Regiment moved up to support the infantry behind Takrouna Colonel Donny wanted to find out whether we could work round a narrow valley on the south side of the village so I took Sgt. Dring and Sgt Butler with me to see what we could find out. We passed a Troop of B Squadron heavy tanks and pushed forward to the next ridge. From there we got an excellent position and view of the far side of Takrouna Hill, which was still in the hands of the enemy. We also picked up a couple of enemy machine gun posts on the far side of the valley and we conducted a very successful indirect shoot with B Squadron.On our way up my tank broke down so I changed on the Sgt. Dring’s tank. Sgt. Dring and I went on the left of the valley and Sgt. Butler on the right. Sgt. Dring tried to do a recce on foot but was immediately machine gunned and had to return to the tank as soon as he could. Sgt. Dring in whose tank I was now travelling had an excellent shoot with his Besa gun on some Germans whom we had disturbed with the HE fire from the heavy tanks."
"The BBC have made mention of the extraordinarily fierce fighting in the battle of Takrouna and quoted some of the incidents. Sgt. Dring and myself came in for some AP shooting from our left flank. We could not, however, see from where it came but we could follow the line of the shell as it passed over our heads to the other side of the valley. We thought that all the shells had gone over our heads owing to our excellent position in the small depression. However, we found later that three shells had gone through the back of the tank, narrowly missing the petrol tank. These, however, were of very small calibre. We drew back into leaguer as it grew dark. The sniping from the high ground on either side of the valley was most unpleasant and they still had O.P.s, which can bring down unpleasant and accurate shell fire."
June 1944, Normandy.
When the Sherwood Rangers landed in Normandy they found the close, heavily wooded country an unsettling experience compared to the desert. On the morning of 9th June Pt:103 became most uncomfortable and appeared to be the main target of German mortar and shell fire. Enemy tanks had also appeared on the scene. Although the trees on Pt:103 gave some cover from view, it was quite impossible for the tanks to find a hull down position and each time they came forward to engage from the top of the hill they became a sitting target for the German Tanks in the village, especially for one German tank which cleverly and continually ran up and down a deep lane in the valley which afforded natural cover and in which alternative fire positions were plentiful. However, after watching his movements very carefully, Sgt. Dring eventually scored five hits with his 17 pdr. and blew him up but not before he had caused us some damage.
"The attack on Raury commenced in the late afternoon of 26th June when “C” Squadron led for the first 800 yards, after which “A” Squadron passed through it and met very strong opposition on the outskirts of Raury; however, the Squadron had a most successful shoot and knocked out approximately 13 enemy tanks, of which Sgt. Dring bagged four." For this Dring was awarded a Bar to his Military Medal. (i.e. a second M.M.)
While doing a quick reconnaissance Sgt. Dring spotted a couple of Tiger tanks. He directed his tank into a fire position from the flank and brewed one up. The German crew from the other Tiger must have deserted their tank, which on arrival was found to be bogged down but complete with kit and rations, which were immediately requisitioned by the members of “A” Squadron.
Not long after winning the Bar to his M.M. he was refused permission to rescue his badly wounded troop commander because there were some Germans facing him in a strongpoint. According to a newspaper report “A few minutes later Sergeant Dring was seen lying on the ground pointing his revolver at eight Germans and beckoning them towards him. He passed them back and crawled towards the troop commander and pulled him out of the burning tank."
On another occasion Sergeant Dring was spotting for the gunners. Major Peter Seleri came up on the wireless: "Aren't you under a misapprehension about the target - surely it is cow? Over." From Drings's tank came the reply: "I've never seen a cow with a turret on it before. Off." It was at this point that the 'cow' opened fire. The German Mk 4 tank was forthwith brewed up by an armour piercing shell from Sgt. Dring.
18th November 1944.
Sgt. Dring of “A” Squadron received a nasty wound in the hand when he was doing a recce on foot. He came across a Panther which he thought had been knocked out, but when he approached the Tank it was very much alive and engaged him with high explosive. He was fortunate as a shell landed right beside him.
Without any doubt he was one of the Regiment's most experienced Tank Commanders and Troop Leaders. He appeared to be gifted with a sixth sense and always spotted an enemy Tank long before anybody else, or before he was seen. He was an expert gunner; deadly accurate and quick with his tank 75 mm. He and his gunner knocked out more German tanks than any other member of the Regiment. His wound gave him subsequent trouble, which prevented him returning to the Regiment. However he had fought among the leading tanks of the Regiment from El Alamein to the Siegfried Line, and he was one of the very few N.C.O. Tank Commanders of a Sabre Squadron who had survived so much action.
George was badly affected by his experiences, for years he refused to talk about his army career or watch a war film, sometimes to frightened to walk alone along country roads at night. Following his discharge from the army he worked with prisoners of war, learning to speak German and French, later working for the Immigration service.
Citation for the Military Medal
556048 WS/Corporal DRING George Notts (SR) Yeomanry
On March 21st (1943) during the attack on the TABAGA-EL MADJALA position Sgt. Dring, realising that the advance of the right hand Squadron was being held up by heavy fire from a fortified position in the area south of Pt.209, with great skill and initiative and disregard to his personal safety pushed round to a point from where he was able to control and direct the fire of the heavy Squadron. In moving round he drew heavy fire on his own tank, but he managed to reach the vantage position, and then continued undeterred to direct the fire of the heavy Squadron and thereby destroy a 50mm gun and infantry position. By this daring action he enabled the advance to be resumed throughout the whole Squadrons front and the tactical situation in this area was materially affected. His dash, initiative, and complete disregard to his personal safety throughout this action was an inspiration to all ranks.
Citation for the Distinguished Conduct Medal
556048 W/Sergeant DRING George Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry
On 11 Jul 44, Sgt. Dring was Tp. Sgt. In No. 3 Tp in “A” Sqn, which was the leading tp in the attack on RAURAY. “A” Sqn, was approaching a wood which concealed some enemy tks, and Sgt. Dring immediately spotted these tks which were cleverly camouflaged, engaged them and knocked out four. This was entirely due to quick observation and immediate action on the part of Sgt Dring and regardless of his own personal safety. As a result of this, the whole Regiment was able to move forward and enter FONTENAY.
Awarded Bar to M.M.