ritish Armoured Division
Commander in Staff Car or Tank (C3) [Tac HQ]. [May include Comd RA and RE]
Morris Signals Van (C3) [Main HQ].
0-1 (Carrier + 2 Rifles Defence Company) (F3*) [Main HQ- as manpower became short these might reinforce rifle companies].
Divisional Reconnaissance Regiment
1-3 Armoured cars (@R1)
Brigade HQ x 2-3
Commander in Staff Car or Tank (C3) [May include Comd RA and RE]
0-1 Morris Signals Van (C3)
Armoured Regiment x 4-6
1-2 Tanks (CF3 or F3) (See notes below)
From right to left above: An A11, A13 and Crusader, all 2Pdrs.
A Matilda II (Left) and Valentine Infantry Tank (Right). Both 2 Pdrs.
Motor Rifle Battalion (North Africa)
Comd in Carrier or Lt Truck + MMG + 3″ Mortar (CS3*)
2 Rifle bases (may have AT Rifle capability) + Carrier or Lt Truck (F3*)
Carrier or Lt Truck + 2pdr Atk (or may be portee mounted) (S2)
Artillery Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (RHA)
18pdr or 4.5″ Howitzer, later 25pdr (S3) + limber (L3)
Bofors 40mm AA (S3) + limber (L3)
2pdr, later 6pdr, (may be portee) (S3) +Limber (L3)
Engineer Regiment Royal Engineers (RE)
Comd (CE1) [May be included at brigade level without being modelled]
3 Engineer Stands (@E1)
1 Truck (L3) + optional Bridge Trailer (L3)
Logistics Companies: Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) and Royal Corps of Transport (RCT)
Ammo Truck (L3)
POL Truck (L3)
Supply Truck (L3)
1-3 RMP (@C1)
Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) Field Ambulance
1 Ambulance Vehicle (L3)
* House Rule: Carrier mounted troops may drive through enemy infantry positions that have no effective anti-tank support, as tanks do, to take advantage of the “tank terror ” rule. (I have no cited examples of this happening in WW2, and only one for the Arab-Israeli conflict in the 6 Day War, so any evidence for or against would be welcomed)
In the Western Desert, the terrain was ideal for armoured operations. In early 1940, A9s to A13s were to be seen, together with MkVIs, Valentines and Matilda IIs.
The British suffered early on in North Africa from not mixing enough supporting infantry in with their armour. A 1940 armoured division comprised 2 armoured brigades with no organic infantry, and only two motor battalions grouped into a support group with a Royal Horse Artillery (RHA) regiment.
Crusaders, Honeys, Grants, Shermans and Churchills were introduced as they became available. Failure to learn that Axis anti-tank guns were the main tank killer cost the British dearly, early on, but they compensated by having excellent artillery and ground to air coordination as the war progressed. In Europe, the mix of infantry increased to one infantry brigade to two armoured brigades with sufficient artillery engineer and logistic support.
This summary from the regimental website of 1st The Queens Dragoon Guards is indicative of the sort of progression that armoured regiments experienced in their equipment. For this reason, I have not specified what sort of tank should be used in the orbat as this changed as the war progressed. I use a mix of whatever tanks that I have.
The terrain in Asia did not lend itself to large armoured operations, but tanks provided excellent service supporting infantry, and where they met Japanese armour, they proved themselves superior. The Plains of Burma during the capture and siege of MEIKTILA (1) probably saw the largest concerted use of British armour, with 255 Tank Brigade (see Below). Stuarts and Grants were the mainstay of British armoured forces in Burma. In Asia, armour tended to be spread out as infantry support, as the opposing Japanese armour posed relatively little threat. The information below is quoted verbatim from Units in Burma (2)
This link gives useful information on Allied armoured vehicle markings.
Armoured Brigades [In Burma]
150th Regiment, Royal armoured Corps (raised from 10th battalion York and Lancaster Regiment)
- 7th Armoured (Spring 1942)
- 50th Indian Tank
- 254th Indian tank
- 255th Indian tank
- 254 Tank Brigade had two Regiments of Lee/Grants + one Regiment of Stuarts.
- 255 Tank Brigade was composed of two Indian Cavalry Regiments, Probyn’s Horse and Royal Deccan Horse.
- Probyn’s Horse 1 squadron each of Punjah Mussulmen, Sikhs and Dogras.
- Royal Deccan Horse 1 squadron each of Punjah Mussulmen, Sikhs and Jats.
Armoured Indian Regiments that fought in Burma
- 5th King Edward VII’s Own Lancers (Probyn’s Horse)
- 7th Light Cavalry
- 9th Cavalry (Royal Deccan Horse)
- 11th Light Cavalry (Prince Albert Victor’s Own) Frontier Force(PAVO)
- 16th Light Cavalry
- 19th King George V’s Own Lancers
- 45th Cavalry
Armoured British Regiments that fought in Burma
- 3rd Carabiniers
- 7th Queen’s Own Hussars(Spring 1942)
- 2nd Royal Tank Regiment(Spring 1942)
- 25th Dragoons (raised from 3rd Carabiniers)
- 116th Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps (raised from Gordon Highlanders)
- 146th Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps (raised from Duke of Wellington’s Regiment)
- 149th Regiment, (raised from a battalion King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry)
(1) Allen L. (1984) Burma. The longest war 1941-45. London: Phoenix Press.
(2) Webb A. (1996) Units in Burma. Available at: http://www.wolftree.freeserve.co.uk/Burma/Burma.html [Accessed on 7th May 2012]
- Clarifying Mechanised Orbats (notquitemechanised.wordpress.com)
- “Orbats are for Beginners” (notquitemechanised.wordpress.com)