Following the Normandy landings of early June 1944, The Canadian and British Armies learnt that the number of infantry casualties were reduced when they worked with armoured vehicle during an assault, rather than a traditional infantry assault.
It was therefore made a requirement in preparation of the attack on Falaise by Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds, commander of the II Canadian Corps, that Canadian infantry would be transported under the protection of dedicated armoured transporters during the attack.
Scheduled for August, an Army Workshops Detachment codenamed “Kangaroo” hastily converted surplus M7 Priest self-propelled guns in to these dedicated armoured transporters.
The American M7 Priests were based initially on the M3 Lee and later on M4 Sherman tank chassis, with a howitzer gun mounted in a superstructure and ammunition storage, replacing the tanks turret.
The Priests had their howitzer and ammo storage removed, the gaps in the superstructure after their removal then had armoured steel welded across them and handles as wells foot grips mounted so infantry could dismount the vehicle.
An impressive total of 72 Priests were converted in to the new APC named the Kangaroo.
They proved so successful in their first engagement during the attack on Falaise, the 1st Armoured Carrier Squadron was formed in late August 1944 and several months later, expanded in to the 1st Canadian Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment.
To meet the demand for the number of Kangaroos required by not only the Canadian Army, but also the British Army 49th Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment, Canadian RAM tanks (also based on the M3 Lee) were converted into Kangaroos as were some early M4 Sherman’s and British Churchill Tanks.
They contributed to multiple operations in Europe during the remainder of the war providing the 11 troops it carried (+ up to 2 crew) protection from machine gun fire and artillery shell splinters. They helped to significantly reduce infantry casualties and allowed the infantry to keep pace with advancing tanks.
This concept of Armoured Personnel Carrier was continued after the war and is still used today, with such vehicles as the American M113 and British FV432.