British WW2 80th Armoured Division?

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Typhoon66
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British WW2 80th Armoured Division?

Post by Typhoon66 » 05 Jun 2020 19:16

In Mark Bevis´ excellent book about British and Commonwealth Armies 1939-45 (Supplement Vol. 2) the author mentions the existence of an 80th Armoured Division from October to December 1942. After the book, the Division´s main combat elements were 20th Armoured Brigade (until April 29 1942 part of 6th Armoured Division, then independent) consisting of 1st Gloucestershire Hussars and 1st and 2nd Northants Yeomanry and 161 RAC as Divisional Recce Regiment.

Does anybody have some more information about this unit (source)? Was it a deception formation or a paper Division which was supposed to materialise, but never really did? Or did it really exist, but only for this short period of two month (without Infantry Brigade/Artillery Regiments)?

I know there was a 80th Infantry Division in 1943 (a deception unit), but this division seems to be something different.

Maybe someone can help, thanx in advance.

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Re: British WW2 80th Armoured Division?

Post by Sheldrake » 05 Jun 2020 22:30

Typhoon66 wrote:
05 Jun 2020 19:16
In Mark Bevis´ excellent book about British and Commonwealth Armies 1939-45 (Supplement Vol. 2) the author mentions the existence of an 80th Armoured Division from October to December 1942. After the book, the Division´s main combat elements were 20th Armoured Brigade (until April 29 1942 part of 6th Armoured Division, then independent) consisting of 1st Gloucestershire Hussars and 1st and 2nd Northants Yeomanry and 161 RAC as Divisional Recce Regiment.

Does anybody have some more information about this unit (source)? Was it a deception formation or a paper Division which was supposed to materialise, but never really did? Or did it really exist, but only for this short period of two month (without Infantry Brigade/Artillery Regiments)?

I know there was a 80th Infantry Division in 1943 (a deception unit), but this division seems to be something different.

Maybe someone can help, thanx in advance.
It isn't included in Joslin's Orders of Battle. It never formally existed. Maybe it was a deception or unofficial designation.

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Re: British WW2 80th Armoured Division?

Post by Richard Anderson » 06 Jun 2020 01:58

Something very wrong there. 20th Armoured Brigade was disbanded 30 April 1943.
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Re: British WW2 80th Armoured Division?

Post by Gary Kennedy » 06 Jun 2020 03:01

As noted, there's no trace of an 80th Armoured Div in Joslen's Orders of Battle, which should include every formation raised or created.

161 RAC served in the UK as a Recce Regt during 1944-45, first with 55 Inf Div then 45 Inf Div. Joslen doesn't place it with any other formations prior to Jan 1944.

Prior to its disbandment in April 1943, 20 Armoured Brigade is shown with the following history, all locations in the UK;

03Sep39 to 09Sep39 - WO control
10Sep39 to 30Jun40 - Southern Command
30Jun40 to 15Oct40 - 1 Armoured Division
16Oct40 to 23Apr42 - 6 Armoured Division
24Apr42 to 08Jun42 - Eastern Command
09Jun42 to 29Apr43 - Southern Command
30Apr43 - Brigade HQ disbanded in UK

The Brigade became a Training Formation 15Jan43 for Armoured Recce Regiments.

Possibly there was a 'local' identification when it was part of Southern Command, but no sign of a deliberate deception scheme, and definitely not an actual Division.

Gary

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Re: British WW2 80th Armoured Division?

Post by Typhoon66 » 07 Jun 2020 19:58

Thank you for your kind support. I´m still wondering how the author came to this strange bit of information. Maybe I should send an e-mail to the publishers...

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Re: British WW2 80th Armoured Division?

Post by Andy H » 11 Jun 2020 18:51

Hi

Agree with all before that it didn't exist as a normal Division or even as a Deception entity.
As mentioned by Gary I'd suggest that the 80th was a local identification symbol or at a stretch a Training establishment.

You may want to contact the archivist at the Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum in Winchester, as the 2nd Rangers which became 10Bn KRRC was part of the OoB mentioned by Bevis in belonging to the 80th Armoured Division. I imagine the Bn history may well yield more results than trying to contact the author.

Regards

Andy H

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Re: British WW2 80th Armoured Division?

Post by Typhoon66 » 11 Jun 2020 21:32

That´s a good hint, thank you!
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Re: British WW2 80th Armoured Division?

Post by Martin_Schenkel » 20 Jun 2020 22:16

I don't have my books handy, but IIRC "The British Armies in WW2 - An Organizational History" (Ryan, et al), in their Armoured Divisions volume, list the British 79th, 80th, and 81st Armoured Divisions. The 79th survived and became what we know it to have been, while the 80th and 81st existed fleetingly either only administratively on paper or as a proposal loosely based on a surplus Brigade or two that remained at the time. When Armoured Divisions were reduced from 2 to 1 Armd Bdes around that time, there were a number of excess Brigades and a brief excess of administrative optimism about what to do with all these unemployed Brigades. I don't believe any HQ or command structure for the 80th and 81st ever existed.

I'd recommend the "British Armies in WW2 - An Organizational History" series, available from the Nafziger bookstore. I wish most of my books weren't buried in boxes at the moment...

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Re: British WW2 80th Armoured Division?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 21 Jun 2020 07:27

Typhoon66 wrote:
05 Jun 2020 19:16
In Mark Bevis´ excellent book about British and Commonwealth Armies 1939-45 (Supplement Vol. 2) the author mentions the existence of an 80th Armoured Division from October to December 1942. After the book, the Division´s main combat elements were 20th Armoured Brigade (until April 29 1942 part of 6th Armoured Division, then independent) consisting of 1st Gloucestershire Hussars and 1st and 2nd Northants Yeomanry and 161 RAC as Divisional Recce Regiment.

Does anybody have some more information about this unit (source)? Was it a deception formation or a paper Division which was supposed to materialise, but never really did? Or did it really exist, but only for this short period of two month (without Infantry Brigade/Artillery Regiments)?

I know there was a 80th Infantry Division in 1943 (a deception unit), but this division seems to be something different.

Maybe someone can help, thanx in advance.
No such formation, event as a deception force, according to Joslen's Orders of Battle.

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Re: British WW2 80th Armoured Division?

Post by Typhoon66 » 21 Jun 2020 18:31

Martin_Schenkel wrote:
20 Jun 2020 22:16
I don't have my books handy, but IIRC "The British Armies in WW2 - An Organizational History" (Ryan, et al), in their Armoured Divisions volume, list the British 79th, 80th, and 81st Armoured Divisions. The 79th survived and became what we know it to have been, while the 80th and 81st existed fleetingly either only administratively on paper or as a proposal loosely based on a surplus Brigade or two that remained at the time. When Armoured Divisions were reduced from 2 to 1 Armd Bdes around that time, there were a number of excess Brigades and a brief excess of administrative optimism about what to do with all these unemployed Brigades. I don't believe any HQ or command structure for the 80th and 81st ever existed.

I'd recommend the "British Armies in WW2 - An Organizational History" series, available from the Nafziger bookstore. I wish most of my books weren't buried in boxes at the moment...
So it was mostly just an idea of a Division which might have materialized but never did. Thank you very much for this information. I tried to get the proposed book, but haven´t been successfull yet. Some US sellers don´t send to Europe/Germany, but I´ll keep on trying :) .

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Re: British WW2 80th Armoured Division?

Post by Martin_Schenkel » 13 Jul 2020 06:31

I finally managed to dig out some of my books...

My memory was off a little, but still close 8-)

So, "The British Armies in World War Two: An Organisational History, Volume One, British Armoured and Cavalry Divisions (D Hughes, J Broshot, and A Philson, 1999) talks about an "X, Y, Z Plan" for new Armoured Divisions to be created from the resulting surplus Armd Bdes when Armd Divs were reduced to 1 Armd Bde in late 1942. The X part of the plan resulted in the 79th Armoured (formed in Aug 42). The Y part was the 80th Armoured, which was to be based on the 20th Armd Bde (surplus from 6th Armd Div) with the 1st Royal Gloucestershire Hus, 1st Northamptonshire Yeo, 2nd Northamptonshire Yeo, and 10th Bn, KRRC. The only other unit assigned was 161st Bn, RAC as Armd Car Regt. Infantry and support elements were never assigned, and the Div was on paper for more or less two months (~Sep/Oct 42). An (unrelated?) 80th Inf Div was formed a few months later as a training formation.

The Z part of the plan (presumably the 81st Armoured Div), was apparently to be based around the surplus 6th Gds Armd Bde which ended up as an independent Tank Bde instead.

Again, I recommend this series of books (there's also volumes for all Commonwealth Armies), and they also have a supplement series of OOB books, detailing OOBs of all major British and Commonwealth operations during the war.

I'm not sure where these folks got their information to get the above histories, but from what I can see in their volumes seem to be well done. There is an email listed in the book for mhughes@the_wire.com. No idea if it's still active. David Ryan who contributed notably to the series hangs around here: http://ww2talk.com/index.php (perhaps asking about the 80th Armoured there might result in other info?) and he has been very generous and helpful for some of my own research recently.

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Re: British WW2 80th Armoured Division?

Post by Gary Kennedy » 13 Jul 2020 18:36

Good to get it resolved, thanks for checking your books for the answer. I did post the query over of WW2Talk but answer came there none...(well a nod towards 80th Inf Div but nowt else).

Gary

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Re: British WW2 80th Armoured Division?

Post by Typhoon66 » 18 Jul 2020 11:34

Thanks again for your suggestions, I managed to get a copy of "British Armies in WW2 - An Organizational History", a very helpful source of information for general as well as detailed information.

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