|Royal Tank Regiment|
Cap badge of the Royal Tank Regiment
|Active||28 July 1917–present|
|Part of||Royal Armoured Corps|
1st Regiment—Warminster/RAF Honington
|March||Quick: My Boy Willie
Slow: The Royal Tank Regiment Slow March
*Cambrai, 20 November
World War II
|Battle honours||see Battle Honours|
|Colonel-in-Chief||HM The Queen|
|Colonel-Commandant||Lieutenant General A D Leakey CMG CBE|
|Hugh Elles Percy Hobart|
|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). The official regimental motto is Fear Naught while unofficial motto (signified also by the colours of the tactical recognition flash) is "From Mud, Through Blood to the Green Fields Beyond."
In the nineteenth-century (and before) British Army, regiments of infantry raised several battalions, which were often deployed separately. This practice remained into the modern era—in the First World War, it was common to see twenty or more battalions with a single regimental title. However, this practice did not hold for the cavalry regiments, which traditionally were only of limited size; in the modern era, this meant that each regiment would only constitute one battalion.
As a result, it became traditional for a battalion-level unit of cavalry to be referred to as a "regiment". 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 regiment to do so was the 11th Hussars, in 1928; the last 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. However, as a result of the above, both its "battalions" are formally titled regiments. This can cause some confusion, with the regiment currently being composed of two regiments.
The Royal Tank Regiment's formation followed the invention of the tank. Tanks were first used at Flers 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 lettered A through H; another seven battalions, I through O, were formed by January 1918, when they all were converted to numbered units. On 28 July 1917 the Heavy Branch was by Royal Warrant separated from the rest of the MGC and given official status as the Tank Corps, meaning that by the beginning of 1918 the fifteen units were changed from letters to numbers as 1st Battalion to 15th Battalion, Tank Corps. More battalions continued to be formed, and by December 1918, 26 had been created. (At this time there were only 25 tank battalions, however; the 17th had converted to using armoured cars in April 1918). The first commander of the Tank Corps was Hugh Elles.
The Corps saw heavy action through 1917 and 1918, with special note being given to the Battle of Cambrai (1917), which the regiment continues to commemorate annually. During the war, four members of the Corps were awarded the Victoria Cross. However, heavy losses and recurrent mechanical difficulties reduced the effectiveness of the Corps, leading the Bovington Tank School to adopt a doctrine that emphasised caution and high standards of maintenance in equal measure.
In 1923 it was officially named Royal (making it the Royal Tank Corps) 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. The word Corps was replaced in 1939 with Regiment to give the unit its current name, the Royal Tank Regiment.
In 1920, twelve Armoured Car Companies were set up as part of the Tank Corps, absorbing units from the Machine Gun Corps; eight were later converted into independent Light Tank Companies. All disbanded before the outbreak of the Second World War.
In 1933 the 6th Battalion, Royal Tank Corps, was formed in Egypt by combining the personnel of two of these companies; in 1934, the 1st (Light) Battalion, Royal Tank Corps was formed in England with personnel from three of the existing battalions.
With the preparations for war in the late 1930s a further two regular battalions were formed; the 7th in 1937 and the 8th in 1938. The 40th, 41st, 42nd, 43rd, 44th & 45th battalions were raised in 1938, being converted from Territorial Army infantry battalions; the 46th, 47th, 48th, 49th, 50th and 51st were likewise activated and converted in 1939. The twelve Yeomanry Armoured Car Companies of the RTR were all 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.
At the outbreak of war, the Regiment consisted of eight regular battalions.
In addition, there were a large number of territorial battalions, as well as hostilities-only battalions such as 9 RTR.
The regiment was again expanded such that there were numerous units of the RTR that 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. Higher-numbered battalions of the Regiment included the 40th, 41st, 42nd, 43rd, 44th, 45th, 46th, 47th, 48th, 49th, 50th, and 51st Royal Tank, and battalions were redesignated as regiments in 1945.
11 RTR formed part of 79th Armoured Division (aka Hobart's Funnies), equipped initially with CDL (tactical searchlight) tanks, but converted not long after D-Day to Buffalo (US LVT aka Amtrac), 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.
After World War II, the RTR was reduced through various amalgamations, first in 1959-60:
In 1969, 5RTR was disbanded, while under Options for Change, 4RTR amalgamated with 1RTR, and 3RTR with 2RTR.
The current Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Tank Regiment is Queen Elizabeth II.
Today, there are two regiments, the 1st and 2nd Royal Tank Regiments (1RTR and 2RTR). Today, half of 1RTR forms part of the Joint CBRN Regiment (together with No. 27 Squadron RAF Regiment) at RAF Honington 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 Mechanised Brigade at Aliwal Barracks,Tidworth.
The Royal Tank Regiment has continued to see action, including playing a role in 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 are still deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq carrying out both Armoured and Infantry taskings.
The Royal Tank Regiment uses a variety of vehicles, including:
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
Al Basrah, Iraq 2003
The Queen's Royal Lancers
|Cavalry Order of Precedence||Succeeded by:
Last in the Cavalry
Order of Precedence