FORMATIONS IN WHICH 9 RTR SERVED, 1941-1945

 

Units of battalion or regimental size were normally part of a larger formation. The assignment to the larger formation generally lasted for a significant period of time. During WWII 9 RTR was a part of two formations only, 31 and 34 Army Tank Brigades. The designation “Army Tank Brigade” changed twice during the war, and the War Establishment (WE, the composition of the formation in men and equipment) also changed to meet changing circumstances and needs.

 

BRIGADE-STRENGTH INFANTRY-SUPPORT TANK FORMATIONS

 

Principal changes in designation  and WE

 

                1. Army Tank Brigade                                         October      1939

 

                2. Army Tank Brigade                                         April           1941

 

                3. Tank Brigade                                                    August        1942

 

                4. Tank Brigade                                                    November   1943

 

                5. Standard Armoured Brigade                          January        1945

 

 

1.  October 1939:   Army Tank Brigade

The WE of an Army Tank Brigade HQ did not authorize Fighting, Recce and Admin groups because the brigade’s basic role was close support of infantry formations. The equipment of the HQ in AFVs, apart from one armoured command vehicle, varied in kind and number according to the circumstances.

 

 

HQ Army Tk Bde (approx 4 tanks, see note above)

 

                Three Army Tank Battalions (HQ 2 Inf tanks, 4 Light tanks)

               

                Each of: Three companies (A, B, and C), each comprising:

                                 

                                Coy HQ (1 Inf Tk, 1Lt Tk) and 5 Sections, each of  3 Inf Tks

 

                                Total tanks in Battalion (50 Inf, 7 Lt)                                =   57

                               

                                Total tanks in Brigade                                                         =  175

 

 

2. April 1941: Army Tank Brigade

In April 1941 a Brigade HQ Squadron was authorized. This contained 4 Cruiser tanks as the brigade fighting  headquarters, and Recce and Admin groups. At the same time companies of Army Tank Battalions were redesignated  squadrons, and the sections were redesignated troops;  and the tank establishment of the battalion was slightly changed.

 

HQ Army Tk Bde (4 Cruiser tanks)

 

                Three Army  Tank Battalions (HQ 4 Inf tks)

 

                Each of Three squadrons (A ,B, and C), each comprising:

 

                                Squadron HQ (1 Inf tk, 2 CS Inf tks) and 5 troops each of 3 Inf tks

 

                                Total tanks in Battalion                                                       = 58

 

                                Total tanks in Brigade                                                         = 178

 

 

3. August 1942:   Tank Brigade

 

From June 1942 Army Tank Brigades were redesignated Tank Brigades on allotment to Mixed Divisions or became Independent Tank Brigades as circumstances required.  Brigade HQ was allotted two AA armoured cars. Tank Battalion HQ was given a Recce Troop of 10 scout cars, and an AA Troop of 8 AA tanks.

 

 

                  

Tank Brigade HQ (4 Cruiser tks and 2 AA armoured cars)

 

                Three Tank Battalions (HQ 4 Inf tks, 8 AA tks)

 

                Each of: Three Squadrons (A, B, and C), each comprising:

 

                                Sqn HQ (1 Inf tk, 2 CS Inf tks) and 5 troops , each of 3 Inf tks

 

                                Total tanks in Battalion                                       =   66

 

                                Total tanks in Brigade                                         =  202

 

 

4. November 1943:   Tank Brigade

 

 

WE of a Tank Brigade HQ was allotted 2 AA tanks instead of 2 armoured cars, as well as 3 bridge-laying tanks.  HQ of a Tank Battalion  was given 2 OP tanks; and the AA tanks (6 instead of 8) were now allotted to its HQ  Sqn. The HQ Squadron was also given the Recce Troop (now of 11 Light tanks) in addition to an Intercommunication Troop of 9 scout cars.

 

 

Tank Brigade HQ and Bde HQ Sqn (4 Cruisers, 2 AA tks, 3 bridge-laying tks)

 

                Three Tank Battalions (HQ 4 Inf tks, 2 OP tks; HQ Sqn 11 Light tks and 6 AA tks)

 

                Each of: Three squadrons (A, B, and C) each comprising:

 

                                Sqn HQ (1 Inf tk, 2 CS Inf tks) and 5 troops each of 3 Inf tks

 

                                Total tanks in Battalion                                       =   77

 

                                Total tanks in Brigade                                         =  240

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. January 1945:   Standard Armoured Brigade

 

During 1944 the only basic change in the organization of a Tank Brigade was the allotment in March of 8 OP tanks to the Brigade HQ Squadron, and the deletion of 2 OP tanks from the HQ of a Tank Battalion.

On 18 January 1945 the decisions of the Standardisation Conference were approved by which Tank Brigades were to be redesignated Armoured Brigades. Tank Battalions became Armoured Regiments, and this Standard Armoured Regiment was equipped with either cruiser or infantry tanks. This re-organization paved the way for the introduction of a “Universal Tank” which could be used both for exploitation or infantry support. The first tank to fill this universal role was the Centurion.

 

Armoured Brigade HQ and HQ Squadron (7 Inf tks, 8 OP tks, 2 AA tks)

 

                Three Armoured Regiments (HQ 4 Inf tks, HQ Squadron 11 Light tks, 6 AA tks)

 

                Each of Three squadrons ( A, B, and C), each comprising:

 

                                Sqn HQ (2 Inf and 2 CS Inf tks) and 5 troops each of 3 Inf tks

 

                                Total tanks in Regiment                                                      =  78

 

 

                                Total tanks in Brigade                                                         =  251

 

 

 

31 ARMY TANK BRIGADE

Emblem: Green on green diabolo

 

15 January    1941 Formed in United Kingdom

 

     May         1942  Redesignated  31 Tank Brigade

 

   2 February 1945 Redesignated  31 Armoured Brigade

 

9 RTR was in 31 Army Tank Brigade from 15 January 1941 until 31 August 1944. Details of the Brigade’s history are given below. In broad terms it had the role of Tank Brigade supporting infantry with gun tanks from its original formation until 3 September 1944. Its three initial battalions were 9 RTR, 10 RTR, and 141 RAC (The Buffs). 10 RTR was redesignated 7 RTR on 1 April 1943 to replace the 7 RTR lost at Tobruk.

141 RAC was selected to be equipped with Crocodile flame-throwing tanks, and after that time its operations were separated from those of 7 and 9 RTR, although it remained under command of 31 ATB. After the success of Crocodiles in Normandy it was decided to make 31 ATB a Crocodile Brigade. 7 RTR and 9 RTR left the brigade to join 34 Tank Brigade, and other units, as shown below, joined 31 Tank Brigade and were trained in flame-throwing.

 

 

Commander

 

15 January    1941 Brig  T.D. Murray

 1  March      1941 Brig  T.R. Price

24 August    1942 Brig  G.S. Knight

 

 

Units

 

Unit                                        From                       To

 

9 RTR                                     15.01.41                  31.08.44 

10 RTR                                   15.01.41                  21.02.43

141 RAC                                08.11.41                  21.06.44

                                                04.09.44                  01.02.45

7 RTR                                     22.02.43                  17.08.44

144 RAC                                23.08.44                  31.08.44

1 FF Yeo                                02.11.44                  01.02.45

11 RTR                                   02.11.44                  22.12.44

49 APC Regiment                 22.12.44                  01.02.45

1 Cdn APC Regiment           22.12.44                  01.02.45

                                                                                               

 

Higher Formations served under

                                                               

                                                                From                       To                          

 

Northern Command                             15.01.41                  28.11.41

South Eastern Command                    29.11.41                  16.05.42

53 Mixed Division (Welsh)                 17.05.42                  10.09.43

12 Corps                                                10.09.43                  20.12.43

30 Corps                                                20.12.43                  20.01.44

12 Corps                                                20.01.44                  30.01.44

2 Army                                                   31.01.44                  08.04.44

8 Corps                                                  09.04.44                  22.06.44

15 (Scottish) Inf  Div                           22.06.44                  25.07.44

12 Corps                                                26.07.44                  05.08.44

1 Corps                                                  06.08.44                  12.08.44

2 Cdn Corps                                          13.08.44                  14.08.44

1 Corps                                                  15.08.44                  03.09.44

79 Armoured Division                         04.09.44                  01.02.45

 

 

Theatres

 

United Kingdom                                   15.01.41                  18.06.44

North-West Europe                             19.06.44                  01.02.44

 

 

Battles

 

1944        25 June – 2 July                    The Odon             

                 4 July – 18 July                    Caen

 

NOTE: In the records from which this information was collected, the definition of a “battle” seems rather strange. No mention is made of some very significant battles, eg, clearance of the Channel ports.

 

 

It can be seen that no “to” date in the above tables goes beyond 2 February 1945. On that day 31 Tank Brigade was redesignated 31 Armoured Brigade, and as such it remained with 79 Armoured Division for the rest of the war. It provided support to other divisions with flame-throwing tanks and armoured personnel carriers (APCs) , and on 2 February 1945 consisted of five armoured regiments: flame-throwers 141 RAC, 1FF Yeo, 7 RTR; APCs 49 APC Regt, 1 Canadian APC Regt.

As a matter of interest 79 Armd Div was by far the largest division in the British Army at that time, consisting as it did of five armoured brigades with a total of seventeen armoured regiments.

 

34  ARMY TANK BRIGADE

Emblem: A red shield with a yellow diagonal stripe; on the shield as a whole a mailed fist

                holding a mace is superimposed

 

 1 December    1941              Headquarters formed by conversion and redesignation of HQ 226 Independent

                                                Infantry Brigade

    June              1942              Redesignated 34 Tank Brigade

 2 February      1945              Redesignated 34 Armoured Brigade

 

Commander

 

 1 December    1941              Brig J.N. Tetley

 3 July               1943              Brig W.S. Clarke

 

Units

 

Unit                                        From                       To           To (as 34 Armd Bde)

 

North Irish Horse                 01.12.41                  03.09.42                 

147 RAC*                              01.12.41                  01.02.45                  30.06.45

153 RAC                                01.12.41                  24.08.44

151 RAC                                03.09.42                  30.12.43

107 RAC*                              30.12.43                  01.02.45                  31.08.45

    9 RTR*                               04.09.44                  01.02.45                  01.07.45

    1 FF Yeo                            06.06.45                                                  31.08.45

    4 RTR                                 09.06.45                                                  31.08.45

 

* These units were in 34 Tank Brigade when its title changed to 34 Armoured Brigade

 

 

 

Higher formations served under

 

                                                                From                       To

 

Southern Command                             01.12.41                  07.06.42

1 Mixed Division                                  08.06.42                  02.09.42 

43 Mixed Division                                03.09.42                  10.09.43 

12 Corps                                                10.09.43                  16.09.43

59 Infantry Division                             16.09.43                  22.01.44

12 Corps                                                22.01.44                  15.06.44

21 Army Group                                     15.06.44                  07.07.44

1 Corps                                                  08.07.44                  09.07.44

12 Corps                                                09.07.44                  02.09.44

1 Corps                                                  03.09.44                  18.09.44

1 Canadian Army                                 19.09.44                  06.10.44

1 Corps                                                  07.11.44                  29.11.44

12 Corps                                                30.11.44                  26.12.44

30 Corps                                                27.12.44                  01.02.45  (from here on as 34 Armoured Bde)

53 Infantry Division                             02.02.45                  19.02.45

52 Infantry Division                             20.02.45                  07.03.45

30 Corps                                                07.03.45                  08.03.45

52 Infantry Division                             08.03.45                  11.03.45 

2 Army                                                   12.03.45                  03.04.45

1 Corps                                                  04.04.45                  21.05.45

12 Corps                                                22.05.45                  31.05.45

1 Corps                                                  01.06.45                  07.07.45

HQ 19 Sub-Area                                   08.07.45                  31.08.45

 

 

Comment

 

The records for 34 Army Tank Brigade and 34 Armoured Brigade are kept separately, but are here collated. The brigade was in the UK and  NW Europe theatres. The only battles it is credited with are The Scheldt (Roosendaal etc) and The Rhineland (the Reichswald etc). This ignores several very gallant actions in Normandy and after.

The lengthy list of higher formations shows the rapidity and frequency of the operational and administrative changes a Brigade staff had to cope with. It is not surprising that there seemed to be occasional foul-ups.