Employment of tank and armoured brigades 1944-45

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wwilson
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Employment of tank and armoured brigades 1944-45

Post by wwilson » 19 Jun 2020 18:06

So 21st Army Group had a number of tank and armoured brigades during the campaign in NW Europe.

Not thinking about 79th Armoured Division here.

How were these brigades employed -- as entire units, or were their regiments parceled out to provide support as necessary to the infantry divisions?

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: Employment of tank and armoured brigades 1944-45

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 19 Jun 2020 22:13

Hi,

I think normally as a tank or armoured brigade to each infantry division for a specific operation. Then each regiment of the brigade would be used to support an infantry brigade with about a squadron supporting each infantry battalion. That doesn't take into account those infantry units kept in reserve of course and there were undoubtedly a hundred and one different ways in which that actually turned out in practice. For example, at the beginning of Totalise I think the regiments of 33rd Armoured Brigade each supported one infantry battalion of the leading brigade of 51st Infantry Division.

Regards

Tom

wwilson
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Re: Employment of tank and armoured brigades 1944-45

Post by wwilson » 20 Jun 2020 05:12

Thanks for that, Tom.

I had thought that would have to be the case for the tank brigades, but I had no idea about the armoured brigades.

Typhoon66
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Re: Employment of tank and armoured brigades 1944-45

Post by Typhoon66 » 20 Jun 2020 12:35

Independent Armoured Brigades were mostly used as a support for Infantry Divisions/Battalions/Squadrons similar to Tank Brigades as explained in #2. Those who took part in the D-Day-Landings were all there for infantry support. As a result, in the beginning of 1945 all Tank Brigades were converted to Armoured Brigades (but without Motor Battalion), because there was no more difference in the use of the two kinds of Brigades (if there ever was...). Even the Armoured Divisions adopted a similar kind of immediate Platoon/Squadron-Support with the Combat-Team-Structure they introduced in Normandy in Mid-1944.

It was a hard lesson to learn for the British Army that tanks always need close protection by infantry and the other way round, too. In Italy, from some point all Armoured Divisions (6th, 5th Canadian, 6th South African) received a second Infantry Brigade for protection against german Infantry with their hidden A/T-Guns and Panzerfäuste which were much more dangerous than the german tanks. 2nd NZL Division in Italy had the same structure, but worked as an Infantry Division (two Infantry/one Armoured Brigade).

But there were other cases too were Armoured Brigades supported Armoured Divisions. During Market Garden, 8th Armoured Brigade was the rearguard of Guards Armoured Division, but Market Garden was a very special operation...

Gary Kennedy
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Re: Employment of tank and armoured brigades 1944-45

Post by Gary Kennedy » 20 Jun 2020 16:01

This thread rang a little bell re 33rd Armoured Brigade, which had been a Tank Brigade in the UK (presumably equipped with Churchills?) until March 1944. 27th Armd Bde had been part of 79th Armd Div in the UK until late 1943, before being selected to support 3rd (Br) Div for the assault landings.

4th and 8th Armd Bdes were the only two Independent Bdes to include a Motor Battalion. As noted above both the Indep Armd Bdes and the Tank Bdes tended to be used for support of an Inf Div. This could be provided on the basis of one Squadron out to each Inf Battalion, or be more concentrated with say one Squadron supporting one each leading Rifle Company in a 'main effort' Battalion operating with two Rifle Coys up. 4th Armd Bde did have brief spells working with the three Armd Divs, and a longer period in replacement of 29th Armd Bde as it changed over to Comets in early 1945.

Gary

wwilson
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Re: Employment of tank and armoured brigades 1944-45

Post by wwilson » 20 Jun 2020 17:41

Thank you Gentlemen, enlightening comments.

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Martin_Schenkel
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Re: Employment of tank and armoured brigades 1944-45

Post by Martin_Schenkel » 20 Jun 2020 21:37

Typhoon66 wrote:
20 Jun 2020 12:35
It was a hard lesson to learn for the British Army that tanks always need close protection by infantry and the other way round, too. In Italy, from some point all Armoured Divisions (6th, 5th Canadian, 6th South African) received a second Infantry Brigade for protection against german Infantry with their hidden A/T-Guns and Panzerfäuste which were much more dangerous than the german tanks. 2nd NZL Division in Italy had the same structure, but worked as an Infantry Division (two Infantry/one Armoured Brigade).
AFAIK, the addition of a second Inf Bde to the Armd Divs in Italy had more to do with the lack of combat value the standard Armd Div structure had in mountainous Italy, where infantry was at much more of a premium. In essence, the Armd Divs in Italy were basically reduced to Divisions with a single bloated infantry Bde, which didn't give much combat value. Adding a second Inf Bde gave them more useful capabilities.

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