|Royal Tank Regiment|
Cap badge of the Royal Tank Regiment
|Active||28 July 1917–present|
|Part of||Royal Armoured Corps|
Quick: My Boy Willie |
Slow: The Royal Tank Regiment Slow March
World War I|
*Cambrai, 20 November
World War II
|Battle honours||see Battle Honours|
|Colonel-in-Chief||HM The Queen|
Hugh Elles |
|Tactical Recognition Flash|
|Tartan||Hunting Rose (1st Regt pipers kilts and plaids)|
The Royal Tank Regiment (RTR) is an armoured regiment of the British Army. It was formerly known as the Tank Corps and the Royal Tank Corps. It is part of the Royal Armoured Corps and is made up of two operational regiments, the 1st Royal Tank Regiment (1RTR) and the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment (2RTR). On 5 July 2012, it was announced that these two regiments would be amalgamated to form a single regiment, to be called simply The Royal Tank Regiment. The official regimental motto is Fear Naught; while the unofficial motto (signified also by the colours of the tactical recognition flash) is "From Mud, Through Blood to the Green Fields Beyond."
Since the 19th century, an infantry regiment in the British Army has been a purely administrative unit, raising several battalions, which were more often deployed separately. In the First World War for example, it was common to see twenty or more battalions with a single regimental title. However, traditionally, a cavalry regiment did not have subordinate battalions; a "regiment" in the cavalry was in fact a battalion level operational unit, as well as a ceremonial and administrative one. This was not as confusing as it may seem, since where other armies would use "regiment" for a unit of two to four battalions, the British Army used "brigade". Hence, an infantry brigade could consist of three battalions of infantry but a cavalry brigade of equivalent size would have three regiments.
In the inter-war period the British Army began to mechanise, with cavalry regiments giving up their horses in favour of armoured cars or light tanks. The first to do so was the 11th Hussars in 1928; the last was the Royal Scots Greys in 1941. As a result, it became common to refer to any armoured unit as a "regiment" rather than a "battalion" - the 11th Hussars were not merely an armoured-car battalion but the whole of the regiment. In 1945, this usage became formal; all armoured battalions were henceforth referred to as regiments.
The Royal Tank Regiment is itself a regiment of the British Army, part of the Royal Armoured Corps (RAC). However, as a result of the above, both of its "battalions" are formally titled regiments. This can cause some confusion, with the regiment currently being composed of two regiments. When the Royal Tank Regiment is reduced to only one battalion strength unit in the upcoming arm restructuring, this will cease to be a matter of confusion.
- 1st Royal Tank Regiment
- Merseyside, Blackburn, Burnley, Oldham, Leeds, Halifax, Wakefield, Scotland
- 2nd Royal Tank Regiment
- Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, Greater London, South-East London, Somerset, Devon, Dorset, Cornwall
- 3rd Royal Tank Regiment
- Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Avon
- 4th Royal Tank Regiment
The Uniform of the Royal Tank Regiment is unique in many ways to the rest of the Royal Armoured Corps and British Army:
The Black Beret
Much of the uniform and equipment of soldiers during World War One was quite impractical for use inside a tank. In particular, the vision apertures in a tank were so small that it was necessary to keep the eyes very close to them in order to get even a limited vision. Thus, any headdress with a peak was entirely unsuitable.
In May 1918, General Elles and Colonel Fuller were discussing the future of the Tank Corps and its uniform and General Elles tried on a beret of the 70th Chasseurs Alpins who were billeted nearby. A black beret was selected as it would not show oil stains.
No change in uniform was possible during the war, but after a prolonged argument with the War Office, the back beret was approved by King George V on 5 March 1924.
The black beret remained the exclusive headdress of the Royal Tank Corps until its practical value was recognised by others and its use extended to the majority of the Royal Armoured Corps in 1940. On the introduction of the blue beret in 1949, the Royal Tank Regiment reclaimed its right to the exclusive use of the black beret, which may not be worn by any other Regiment or Corps with the exception of the Berkshire and Westminster Dragoons Squadrons of The Royal Yeomanry.
The wearing of black overalls is a custom reserved to the Regiment by Material Regulations for the Army, volume 3, Pamphlet No 4 (Code 13251). It stems from the Royal Review held at Aldershot in the presence of King George V on 13 July 1935 on which occasion black overalls were worn on parade by all ranks of the Royal Tanks Corps. The practice lapsed during World War II but was re-introduced in the 1950s.
The Ash Plant
During World War I walking sticks were often carried by officers. Such sticks came to have a new and greater use with the introduction of tanks which often became 'bogged' on battlefields, particularly in Flanders. Officers of the Tank Corps used these sticks to probe the ground in front of their tanks testing for firmness as they went forward. Often the commanders led their tanks into action on foot. To commemorate this, officers of the Regiment carry Ash Plant Sticks instead of the short cane customary to other Arms.
World War I
The formation of the Royal Tank Regiment followed the invention of the tank. Tanks were first used at the battle of Flers-Courcelette in September 1916 during the Battle of the Somme in World War I. At that time the six tank companies were grouped as the Heavy Branch of the Machine Gun Corps (MGC). In November 1916 the eight companies then in existence were each expanded to form battalions (still identified by the letters A to H); another seven battalions, I to O, were formed by January 1918, when all the battalion were changed to numbered units. On 28 July 1917 the Heavy Branch was separated from the rest of the Corps by Royal Warrant and given official status as the Tank Corps. The formation of new battalions continued and by December 1918, 26 had been created though there were only 25 battalions equipped with tanks, as the 17th had converted to armoured cars in April 1918. The first commander of the Tank Corps was Hugh Elles. The Corps saw much action in 1917 and 1918, with special note being given to the Battle of Cambrai, where Arthur George Griffiths's tank squadron became the 5th Royal Tank Regiment after the huge success of the tanks. The regiment continues to commemorate this annually. During the war four members of the Corps were awarded the Victoria Cross. Losses and recurrent mechanical difficulties reduced the effectiveness of the Corps, leading the Bovington Tank School to adopt a doctrine that emphasized caution and high standards of maintenance.
During the early 1920s, the Tank Corps was augmented by 20 Armoured Car Companies: twelve Regular Army, created using MGC elements; and eight Territorial Army (TA) created by the reduction and conversion of Yeomanry Regiments. Eight of the Regular Army Companies were later converted into independent Light Tank Companies; all twelve Companies had been disbanded by the outbreak of the Second World War.
On 18 October 1923, it was officially given the title Royal making it the Royal Tank Corps (RTC) by Colonel-in-Chief King George V. It was at this time that the motto, "Fear Naught", the black beret, and the unit badge were adopted.
In 1933, the 6th Battalion, RTC was formed in Egypt by combining the personnel of the 3rd and 5th Regular Army Armoured Car Companies. In 1934, the 1st (Light) Battalion, RTC was formed in England with personnel drawn from the 2nd, 3rd & 5th Battalions.
With the preparations for war in the late 1930s, two more Regular Army Battalions were formed: the 7th in 1937 and the 8th in 1938. In the latter half of 1938, six TA Infantry Battalions were converted to Tank Battalions; with a further six created in 1939 following the "duplication" of the TA.
|Territorial Army Battalions of the Royal Tank Corps||Origin|
|40th (The King's)||conversion of 7th Btn, The King's (Liverpool) Regiment|
|41st (Oldham)||conversion of 10th Btn, The Manchester Regiment|
|42nd (7th (23rd London) Btn, The East Surrey Regiment)||conversion of 7th (23rd London) Btn, The East Surrey Regiment|
|43rd (6th (City) Btn, The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers)||conversion of 6th Btn, The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers|
|44th||conversion of 6th Btn, The Gloucestershire Regiment|
|45th (Leeds Rifles)||conversion of 7th (Leeds Rifles) Btn, The West Yorkshire Regiment|
|46th (Liverpool Welsh)||duplicate of 40th RTC|
|47th (Oldham)||duplicate of 41st Btn|
|48th||duplicate of 42nd Btn|
|49th||duplicate of 43rd Btn|
|50th||duplicate of 44th Btn|
|51st (Leeds Rifles)||duplicate of 45th Btn|
On 4 April 1939, the Royal Tank Corps was renamed the Royal Tank Regiment and became a wing of the newly created Royal Armoured Corps.
The eight Yeomanry Armoured Car Companies of the RTR were activated and transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps.
Before the Second World War, Royal Tank Corps recruits were required to be at least 5 feet 4 inches tall. They initially enlisted for six years with the colours and a further six years with the reserve. They trained at the Royal Tank Corps Depot at Bovington Camp, Dorset for about eight months.
World War II
At the outbreak of war, the regiment consisted of 18 battalions, 8 regular and 10 territorial.
- Regular Army
- Territorial Army
11 RTR formed part of 79th Armoured Division (a specialist group operating vehicles known as "Hobart's Funnies"), initially equipped with "Canal Defence Light" tanks, it converted to "Buffalo" (the British service name for the US Landing Vehicle Tracked) not long after D-Day and participated in the assault crossing of the Rhine. Prime Minister Winston Churchill was ferried across the Rhine in a Buffalo from 'C' Squadron, 11RTR.
The Regiment's numerous units took part in countless battles in World War II, including the Battle of Dunkirk, El Alamein and D-Day. Field Marshal Montgomery would frequently wear the regiment's beret, with his Field Marshal's badge sewn on next to the regimental cap badge, as it was more practical whilst travelling on a tank than either a formal peaked hat or the Australian slouch hat he previously wore.
After service in the Korean War, the RTR was reduced through various amalgamations, firstly, in 1959-60:
- 3RTR and 6RTR amalgamated as 3RTR
- 4RTR and 7RTR amalgamated as 4RTR
- 5RTR and 8RTR amalgamated as 5RTR
In 1969, 5RTR was disbanded, while, under Options for Change, 4RTR amalgamated with 1RTR, and 3RTR amalgamated with 2RTR.
Today, there are two regiments, the 1st and 2nd Royal Tank Regiments (1RTR and 2RTR). Currently, half of 1RTR is located with No. 27 Squadron RAF Regiment) at RAF Honington after recently handing over their CBRN role, with the other half as a training unit at Harman Lines, Warminster; while 2RTR retains its role as an armoured regiment as part of 1 Mechanized Brigade at Aliwal Barracks, Tidworth. This CBRN role has shifted solely to the RAF as of 2011.
The Royal Tank Regiment has continued to see action, including missions in Bosnia and Kosovo. Elements of 1RTR were deployed to Afghanistan in 2002; and both regiments were involved in the invasion of Iraq, with the 2RTR battlegroup playing an important role in the capture of the city of Basra. Squadrons of both Regiments have continued to deploy in Afghanistan and Iraq carrying out both Armoured and Infantry taskings.
In July 2012, under the Army 2020 reorganisation following the SDSR, it was announced that 1RTR and 2RTR would merge to form a single Royal Tank Regiment in 2014. This would bring the RTR into line with the structure of the rest of the Royal Armoured Corps, i.e. having the administrative and operational parts as a single regiment. The regiment will be equipped with Challenger 2 tanks and based at Tidworth and slated to be part of the Reaction Force, coming under 1st Armoured Infantry Brigade.
The Royal Tank Regiment uses a variety of vehicles, including:
- Challenger 2 (introduced in 1998; the regiment's primary vehicle)
- FV107 Scimitar
- FV105 Sultan
- FV103 Spartan
- FV104 Samaritan
- Land Rover
The Great War
- Somme 1916 '18, Arras 1917 '18, Messines 1917, Ypres 1917, Cambrai 1917, St. Quentin 1918, Villers Bretonneux, Amiens, Bapaume 1918, Hindenburg Line,
, France and Flanders 1916-18, Gaza
The Second World War
- North-West Europe 1940
Sidi Barrani, Beda Fomm, Sidi Suleiman, Tobruk 1941, Sidi Rezegh 1941, Belhamed, Gazala, Cauldron, Knightsbridge, Defence of Alamein Line, Alam el Halfa, El Alamein, Mareth, Akarit, Fondouk, El Kourzia, Medjez Plain, Tunis
Primosole Bridge, Gerbini, Adrano
Odon, Caen, Bourguébus Ridge, Mont Pincon, Falaise, Nederrijn, Scheldt, Venlo Pocket, Rhineland, Rhine, Bremen
Post War Years
Notable former members
- Jack Hargreaves
- John Le Mesurier
- Keith Floyd
- Chris Bonington
- Percy Hobart
- Frederick Hotblack DSO & Bar, MC - first Intelligence officer
Name Colonel Commandant Representative Major General Sir John Capper KCB KCVO 1917-1923 (Director General) Major General Sir John Capper KCB KCVO 1923–1934 Major General Sir Ernest Swinton KBE CB DSO 1934–1938 1934–1938 Field Marshal Sir Archibald Montgomery-Massingberd GCB KCMG LLD ADC 1934–1939 General Sir Hugh Elles KCB KCMG KCVO DSO 1934–1945 1939 Major General G M Lindsay CB CMG DSO 1938–1947 1940–1943 Lieutenant General Sir Charles Broad KCB DSO 1939–1948 1944–1947 Field Marshal The Viscount Montgomery of Alamein KG GCB DSO DL 1939–1948 1944–1947 Major General Sir Percy Hobart KBE CB DSO MC 1947–1951 1948–1951 General Sir John Crocker GCB KBE DSO MC 1949–1961 Major General N W Duncan CB CBE DSO 1952–1959 1952–1957 Major General H R B Foote VC CB DSO 1957–1964 1958–1961 Lieutenant General Sir Harold Pyman KCB CBE DSO 1959–1965 Major General H M Liardet CB CBE DSO DL 1961–1967 1962–1967 Major General Sir Alan Jolly CB CBE DSO 1965–1968 General Sir Michael Carver GCB CBE DSO MC ADC 1968–1973 1970–1971 Major General P R C Hobart CB DSO OBE MC 1968–1978 1971–1974 General Sir Richard Ward CB DSO MC 1970–1976 1974–1976 Lieutenant General Sir Allan Taylor KBE MC 1973–1980 Major General J G R Allen CB 1976–1981 1977–1980 Major General R L C Dixon CB MC 1978–1983 1982–1983 Lieutenant General Sir Richard Lawson KCB DSO MC 1980–1982 1980–1982 Major General I H Baker CBE 1981–1986 Major General R M Jerram MBE 1982–1988 1983–1985 General Sir Antony Walker KCB 1983–1987 1985–1991 Major General Sir Laurence New CB CBE 1986–1992 General Sir Jeremy Blacker KCB 1988–1994 Name Deputy Colonel Commandant Colonel Commandant Major General R W M McAfee CB 1993–1994 1995–1999 Brigadier A C I Gadsby 1994–2000 Lieutenant General A P Ridgway CB CBE 1995–1999 1999–2006 Lieutenant General A D Leakey CMG CBE 1999–2006 2006–2010 Major General P Gilchrist CB 2000–2008 Major General C M Deverell MBE 2006–2010 2010- Brigadier S Caraffi MBE ADC 2008- Brigadier P J Allison 2010-
Order of precedence
The Queen's Royal Lancers
Cavalry Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Last in the Cavalry
Order of Precedence
- Canada: 12e Régiment blindé du Canada
- Australia: 1st Armoured Regiment
- New Zealand: Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps
- New Zealand: Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles
- India: 2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse)
- Pakistan: 13th Lancers
- Royal Navy: HMS Kent
- The Dorset Yeomanry
- The Westminster Dragoons (2RTR)
- The Royal Devon Yeomanry (2RTR)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Royal Tank Regiment.
- History of the tank
- 'The British Garrison Berlin 1945-1994' W. Durie, ISBN 798-3-86048-0685-5, Vergangenheits Verlag, Berlin 2012.
- Crow, Duncan. British and Commonwealth Armoured Formations 1919-46 (Profile Publications Ltd, Great Bookham, no date), p.2.
- War Office, His Majesty's Army, 1938
- "History of the Royal Tank Regiment". http://www.army.mod.uk/documents/general/RAC_History_Royal_Tank_Regiment.
- "Regular Army Basing Plan - 5 Mar 2013". Ministry of Defence. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/136406/regular_army_basing_plan.pdf.
- "Modernising to face an unpredictable future: Transforming the British Army, July 2012". army.mod.uk. p. 14. http://www.army.mod.uk/documents/general/Army2020_brochure.pdf.
- "10 November 2005" House of Commons col. 21WS–22WS http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmhansrd/vo051110/wmstext/51110m01.htm
- Royal Tank Regiment Association
- 1RTR homepage (Official Army site)
- 2RTR homepage (Official Army site)
- History of 4th and 7th RTR
- History of 4 and 7 Royal Tank Regiments revised 2011
- 3RTR - Armoured Farmers
- Merseyside RTR (Brian Gills website)
- British Army Locations from 1945 British Army Locations from 1945
- Military Genealogy
- RTR Engagements 1946-2005
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