Bishop, 8th Army
The British were greatly impressed by the use of self-propelled guns by the Germans in Africa. Marder’s and various SP infantry guns played an important part in the German success’s and the British saw the potential in this development.
In 1941 the 8th Army HQ requested similar equipment and the boffins went into overdrive.
It was decided to use an existing tank chassis to mount a 25pdr and the job went to the Birmingham Carriage & Wagon Company. They used the Valentine II tank as the basis for the new vehicle.
The new vehicle was simply an armoured superstructure sat on top of the Valentine chassis with the 25pdr mounted inside. It entered trials in August 1941.
Trials proved successful and a few minor changes were made to the crew protection before it was put into production. 100 were ordered with a plan for a further 200.
Meanwhile the British commission in charge of sourcing lend-lease equipment in the US discovered the M7 Priest and it was decided to take the US built SP 105mm Howitzer. The second order for 200 Bishops was cancelled.
In July 1942 a further 50 Bishops were ordered, to join the 80 already in service and the 20 still under construction. The Bishop served in the desert until 1943.
Most Bishops were initially assigned to 121st Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. They were usually found supporting the all-Valentine 23rd Armoured Brigade from Alamein and onwards. Batteries 275 (3rd West Riding) and 276 (11th West Riding) were equipped with the Bishop in October 1942.