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1st Armoured Division
Insignia of the 1st Armoured Division
Active 1939 - 1945
1976 - Present
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type Armoured Division
Size Second World War
14,964 men[1][nb 1]
Part of Land Command
Garrison/HQ Herford, Germany
Engagements Second World war
Battle of France
North African Campaign
Italian Campaign
Post War
First Gulf War
Iraq War
Battle honours 26 May–21 June 1942 Gazala[2]
26–30 June 1942 Mersa Matruh[2]
1–27 July 1942 Defence of Alamein Line[2]
23 October–4 November 1942 El Alamein[2]
21–30 March 1943 Tebaga Gap[2]
6–7 April 1943 Akarit[2]
22–26 April 1943 El Kourzia[2]
5–12 May 1943 Tunis[2]
3–15 September 1944 Coriano[2]
Major General A J Bradshaw CB OBE[3]
Herbert Lumsden
Willoughby Norrie
Richard Hull
Rupert Smith

The 1st Armoured Division is an armoured division of the British Army. Originally formed in October 1937 as the Mobile Division, it saw extensive service during the Second World War, was disbanded afterward, was reconstituted in 1976, and remains in service today. It should not be confused with 1st Infantry Division which saw service in the Second World War as a separate formation.


Second World War

The 1st Armoured Division was a regular division in the British Army at the outbreak of the Second World War. It had formerly been designated The Mobile Division. It first saw service in incomplete form under the second British Expeditionary Force sent to France in 1940. It landed in France on 14 April 1940 and was evacuated on 16 June, having served south of the River Somme, isolated from the other British formations.

For the rest of 1940 and up until 27 August 1941, the division was stationed in the United Kingdom on anti-invasion duties. It then embarked for Egypt under the command of Major General Herbert Lumsden. Arriving in Egypt on 13 November 1941, it took part in many of the major battles of the later part of the campaign against Rommel including Gazala, Mersa Matruh, 1st El Alamein, 2nd El Alamein, Tebaga Gap, Akarit, El Kourzia and Tunis.

From the end of the Tunisian campaign the division remained in North Africa until May 1944. It then transferred to Italy, fighting one last battle at Coriano in the fighting on the Gothic Line before ceasing to be an operational unit on 28 October. The division was disbanded on 1 January 1945.


Second World War formation


  • 2nd Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery 24/08/42-26/09/44
  • 4th Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery 21/09/42-25/10/43
  • 11th Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery 24/08/42-26/09/44
  • 60th Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery 01/04/44-26/09/44
  • 76th Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery 22/09/42-31/03/44
  • 42nd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery 26/09/42-05/10/44


  • 1st Field Squadron, Royal Engineers 01/02/40-04/02/42; 02/09/42-29/09/44
  • 7th Field Squadron, Royal Engineers 23/10/40-19/03/42; 01/10/42-20/08/44
  • 627th Field Squadron, Royal Engineers 21/08/44-29/09/44
  • 1st Field Park Squadron, Royal Engineers 03/07/40-25/08/44
  • 631st Field Park Squadron, Royal Engineers 26/08/44-29/09/44
  • 1st Field Park Troop, Royal Engineers 01/08/40-02/07/40
  • 27th Bridging Troop, Royal Engineers 18/10/43-25/08/44


Scouting Forces


  • 2nd Light Armoured Brigade 03/09/39-14/04/40
  • 1st Heavy Armoured Brigade 03/09/39-14/04/40
  • 1st Support Group 03/09/39-11/02/42
  • 2nd Armoured Brigade 14/04/40-25/09/44
  • 3rd Armoured Brigade 14/04/40-04/10/40
  • 22nd Armoured Brigade 14/10/40-07/11/41
  • 200th Guards Brigade Group 12/02/42-20/05/42
  • 201st Guard Brigade Group 21/05/42-14/06/42
  • 7th Motor Brigade 23/09/42-19/07/43
  • 18th Lorried Infantry Brigade 20/07/43-16/02/44
  • 18th Infantry Brigade 05/10/43-16/02/44; 17/08/44-28/10/44

Post Second World War

Ground operations during Operation Desert Storm, showing the 1st Armoured Divisions movements.

It was not until 1976 that the Division re-emerged in the British Army. It was reformed by the re-designation of the British 1st Infantry Division, and has been stationed in Germany ever since as part of the British forces committed to NATO. During the 1970s, the division consisted of two "square" brigades, the 7th Armoured Brigade and 11th Armoured Brigade. After being briefly reorganised into two "task forces" ("Alpha" and "Bravo"), in the early 1980s it consisted of the 7th, 12th, and 22nd Armoured Brigades.

Divisional formations and units have deployed on many other operations such as internal security in Northern Ireland, The Falkland Islands, Belize and United Nations tours in Cyprus, Bosnia and Kosovo. The Divisional Headquarters itself has also taken its full share of operational deployment in command of the Multi-National Division (South West) in Bosnia in 1996 – 97 and 1998 – 99.

The headquarters of the division was deployed to Saudi Arabia in 1990 to command British land forces. It had two brigades under its command, 4th and 7th Armoured Brigade. During the war it came under the US VII Corps and was part of the great armoured left-hook that destroyed many Iraqi Republican Guard formations. The two brigades in the division alternated heading the advance.

Current formation

Structure 1st Armoured Div.

In 1993 HQ 1st Armoured Division was disbanded and the 1st (UK) Armoured Division formed from the 4th Armoured Division.

The Division headquarters again deployed to the Gulf area in 2003. It again commanded British forces in the area, this time with three full brigades under its control. Those were 7th Armoured Brigade again, along with 16th Air Assault Brigade, and 3rd Commando Brigade. In a combined arms operation the division secured southern Iraq, including the city of Basra during the invasion. It came under I Marine Expeditionary Force during the 2003 conflict.

The 1st (UK) Armoured Division is currently the only British division to be stationed in Germany. The headquarters is stationed in Herford. The Division currently reports to Commander Field Army within Headquarters Land Command at Wilton.

The divisional badge dates from 1983, and combines the hollow red triangular "spearhead" badge of 1st Infantry Division with the charging rhinoceros badge of 1st Armoured Division as displayed in World War II.

The following brigades make up the 1st (United Kingdom) Armoured Division.

Divisional Units:

Recent Commanders

Recent Commanders have been:[4]

See also


  1. ^ This is the war establishment, the on-paper strength, of the division for 1944/1945; for information on how the division size changed over the war please see British Army during the Second World War and British Armoured formations of the Second World War.
  1. ^ Joslen, p. 129
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Joslen, p. 15
  3. ^ AFF
  4. ^ Whitaker's Almanacs


  • Joslen, Lieutenant-Colonel H.F (1960) [1960]. Orders Of Battle Second World War 1939-1945. Naval & Military Press Ltd. ISBN 978-184342-474-1.  

External links


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