Question about British infantry div WWll

Did British infantry divisions have attached armored battalions similar to US inf div (WWII)? :thinking:

Infnatry Divisions did not have any integral armouued support within their organisation (Order of Battle); however, the independent Tank/Armoured Brigades existed for this very purpose and would be assigned as necessary for whatever operation was underway.

The infantry-tank brigades (Matilda, Valentine and Churchill) fulfilled that role. However, I don’t believe that they were as “habitually” associated or attached to the same infantry divisions in the way that US independent tank and TD battalions were.

(Even US independent tank and TD battalions were shifted around within and occasionally between corps, so their “habitual” relationships were also not as “fixed” as it might seem at first glance.)

My impression is that the British I-tank brigades were shifted around more frequently and that attachments to infantry divisions were more “campaign” and “operation” based than long-standing.

However, the mysteries of British regimental affiliations are often incomprehensible to me. I freely admit that I could be wrong here.

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Just to add that the independent brigades were also equipped with Shermans (and in the case of 33 Bde from '44 onwards also Buffaloes and Kangaroos).


One thing the infantry divisions did have was an anti-tank regiment. For those regiments which had self-propelled guns, there was a certain amount of pressure to deploy the SPs (M10s or Archers) to support the infantry (if the SPs were available). That wasn’t really an official part of their job but the various regiments seem to have had different opinions on that.

I regret I have no idea what point you are making:

“…to deploy the SPs (M10s or Archers) to support the infantry (if the SPs were available).”

Meaning what? The whole idea of the integral Anti-Tank regiment - wihtin the Infantry Div - was to support the very Div it belonged to.

Depending on whether the SPs already had a job at the time, like watching the division’s flanks in case of enemy counter-attack.

edited PS - or being kept as a mobile reserve against a counterattack.

I think what Chris is trying to say is that (at least in Normandy) while the A/T guns (both SP and Towed) were intended to go static and hold ground, the SPs were sometimes pressed to function as substitute tanks in an offensive role to which they were not technically suited (unlike STUGs). I understand that - also in Normandy - until they were withdrawn or repurposed AA units were used to give infantry fire support against ground targets (although I don’t know if SPAA were used offensively).



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Right; gotcha. I take the point that an armoured vehicle is an armoured vehicle. I suspect that it’s unlikely as they’d be subordinate to the Divisional CRA (Commander Royal Artillery) and be seen as an Artillery asset only, and we know how hidebound the British Army was at that time - especially doctrinally. However, I suppose if you’ve got someone like 12 SS or 1 LAH breathing down your neck then I imagine it would have been all hands to the wheel.

I suppose it might be worth scouring the respective Div histories to try and find any action where such subordination took place - if it was ever recorded.

Apologies for my “Duh” moment(!)


Er, just an afterthought: did the Infantry Divs even have SP Anti Tank? I thought all the SP stuff was with the Armoured Divs.

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“Did the Infantry Divs even have SP Anti Tank?”
Normally, No: but as usual there were exceptions. I know that 102 (Northumberland Hussars) Anti-Tank Regt RA. which was involved in the D-Day landings had replaced its towed 17pdrs with M10 tank destroyers to support the anticipated fast advance from the beaches. They still had them in December 1944 when they transferred from the 50th (Northumberland) Inf. Div which was returning to the U.K., to the 15th (Scottish) Inf. Div. They were later equipped with “Valentine SPs” (Archers?) as well as towed 17pdrs.



I’d forgotten about Archers (even though Chris mentioned them - I’m not having a good start to the week!) I’m assuming then that as Archers came into service they replaced the towed 17 Pdrs in the Infantry Div Anti Tank regiment.

As others have said, British Independent Armoured Brigades were used to in support of whichever infantry division needed them, although they would primarily work with one division.

Example of ‘typical’ operational assignment:
In Normandy, 27th Armoured Brigade primarily worked with 3rd British Infantry Division. 13/18 Hussars supported 8th Infantry Brigade within the division, East Riding Yeomanry supported 9th Infantry Brigade and Staffordshire Yeomanry supported 185th Infantry Brigade. The support was further broken down, with each Squadron within the tank regt being assigned to support a specified infantry battalion within the brigade.

It wasn’t a fixed or permanent arrangement and 27th AB was sometimes reassigned (in full or in part) to support other divisions or brigades for specific operations as the need arose.

In answer to Boots’ question - yes, infantry divisions did have an organic SP Regt in the latter part of WWII (from memory, I think they were only partially ‘SP’, with two batteries of SP guns and two of towed guns, but I’m open to correction on that).

On D-Day the German armoured counter-attack close to Sword Beach was mauled by a mix of Shermans from Staffs Yeo and M10s from 76th Field Regt (SP), the latter from 3rd British Inf Div. They were successful in part because a month prior to D-Day, the Staffs Yeo commander predicted to a colleague (OC, 7th Field Regt RA) when and where he expected to see a counter-attack and stated that he would be ready for them.

“In answer to Boots’ question - yes, infantry divisions did have an organic SP Regt in the latter part of WWII (from memory, I think they were only partially ‘SP’, with two batteries of SP guns and two of towed guns, but I’m open to correction on that).”
I think you are right about that, in the case of the 102 Anti-Tank Regt I mentioned before when they received the “Valentine SPs” they replaced their carrier-towed 6pdrs with towed 17pdrs; these were hauled by M14 SPAA half-tracks which had been stripped of their AA guns, used because (unlike some other half-track variants) these were invariably fitted with a winch often necessary to recover a gun from its emplaced position (and, I think, a more powerful engine). I understand that troop establishment was reduced from four to three guns at the same time, not a popular measure.



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'Always something to learn on this site - which is one of its great strengths.

This discussion is all very similar to the topic of how US Army infantry divisions employed the independent tank battalions and tank destroyer companies attached to them. These units were corps support assets and not organic to the divisions. However, once they were attached to the infantry divisions, the infantry commanders made very little distinction between the tanks and the tank destroyers. Most TD’s were employed as if they were tanks under the assumption that if it “clanks like a tank” it must be a tank.

Of course, the TDs were not designed with things like hull and turret coax MGs and they were supplied with only limited amounts of HE. Unfortunately, high explosive rounds and machinegun fire were the things that the infantry usually wanted most from tanks, so the TDs were often criticized as well as being misemployed.

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There were also SP anti-tank weapons in independent regts attached at Corps level. There is a well known M10 17pdr with 1 Corps markings that was captured in Normandie and which I think had Fallschirmjaeger on it. Such units could be allocated for specific ops in the same way as the armd and tank bdes.

Sorry to come back to this so much later!

For M10s in British/Canadian service on D-Day, there were 3 regiments. I think the 102nd already mentioned, 20th Anti-Tank Regiment of 3rd Division, and 3rd Canadian Anti-Tank Regiment of 3rd Canadian Division. I think all of these only had 3" M10s. When Archers came in these regiments actually had to hand in their M10s - military bureaucracy! (With the gunners not very happy about the change.) I think these regiments had M10s and towed 6- and 17-pounders (1/3 each) while the other infantry div regiments had 2/3 6-pounder and 1/3 17.

Then fwiw around December they start to switch to 1/3 Archer, 1/3 17-pounder, 1/3 6-pounder and in February to 1/2 Archer 1/2 17-pounder.

(Probably the M10s were refitted with 17 pounders and issued to other regiments)