WW II, a British focus  



A Short History of the 8th Armoured Brigade



Hanover and the End of the "Fox".

The battle was over but the Brigade, who had seen the chaos of Bremen, the pathetic mass movements of the displaced persons and the horrors of Sandbostel, realised that a fresh task lay ahead. There were very few who found it easy to attune themselves to the new life. There was so much to forget and so much to learn; the days of hurried moves at night, of order groups in damp barns or by the Squadron Leader's tank, the days of great achievements and hilarious welcome, the days of deep sorrow and acute depression, of danger and exhaustion were over. Instead we had to learn how to administer and control large masses of displaced persons, how to guard and disband whole divisions of the German Army and how to set a severely shocked civilian population who had no other guidance on the right road to sanity

In the minds of most, the thought of when demobilisation would come and what life in the England of the future would hold was uppermost, but everybody set out on the task of the next months cheerfully and with the determination to serve the Fox in peace as well as they had in war.

The war had ended in the dismal Cuxhaven peninsular with an anticlimax, but the first task of the peace was a great thrill. Driving past one of our oldest enemies, the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division parked along the roadside, representative detachments from the Brigade joined in the Victory Parade of the 51st (Highland) Division in Bremerhaven. The salute was taken by Lieutenant-General Horrocks.

During the ten days that followed some relaxation was at last possible, the sun shone brightly and the 12th Battalion The King's Royal Rifle Corps mounted the first post war Ceremonial Guard on Brigade H.Q. It was now possible to look back over the months of continuous fighting and to appreciate not only the deeds of those who had fought but also the untiring devotion of the Services which had maintained the fighting machine in the field. Since D-Day the Brigade Workshops had repaired 702 tanks and 989 wheeled equipment while the Forward Delivery Squadron had handled 1046 tanks and 1159 reinforcements.

News now came that the 8th Armoured Brigade was to proceed South and take over Hanover from the United States Army. Brigade H. Q. moved to the city on the 17th May, the Regiments on the 19th, and the Brigade took over the responsibility for Hanover Stadtkreis and Landkreis on the 22nd from the 84th United States Infantry Division, who, old friends of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry at Geilenkirchen, were also incidentally the Division which had captured the city.

The situation in Hanover is worthy of description. The town which had housed 475,000 inhabitants was now 75 % destroyed and still held 300,000 Germans. All rail communications were severed and canals were filled with bridge wreckage, all important roads were cratered or interrupted by demolished bridges. A critical food situation was not simplified by the lack of officials, all prominent Nazis having decamped, and the roaming hordes of vengeful displaced persons who thronged the streets in search of food and loot. Shots were to be heard throughout the hours of darkness and the civil population experienced a deservedly harrowing time.

When some order had been restored it was found that the Brigade was responsible for 45,000 displaced persons of 22 nationalities in 361 camps. All were in rags and hungry; sanitation was a thing of the past and most of their huts were suffering from bomb damage. In addition there were 2.000 Polish Ex-Prisoners of War whose condition was hardly better than the DPs and 22,000 German P.W.

Such was the situation which confronted the soldiers of the 8th Armoured Brigade and a much depleted Military Government Detachment. The answers were, as always, provided by the common sense and hard work of the soldier on the ground.

From the end of the war until their departure to England for the Far East the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards never returned to the Brigade's area, though many members of the Regiment visited the Brigade frequently. The Regiment's last parade with tanks which was taken by General Horrocks was a most impressive spectacle. No less splendid was the final parade of the Essex Yeomanry in June, held at Hanover before the Regiment went North to join 8th Corps; the sight of the glittering S.P. 25 pounders as they thundered past the Army Commander vividly reminded everyone present of the debt owed by the Brigade to the Regiment for its magnificent support.

The remaining Regiments settled down during the summer and autumn to the job of occupying Germany. There was much coming and going of units but contact among all members of the Brigade was never lost. The tanks disappeared and under the guidance of the Riflemen, the tank crews successfully learnt the role of mounted infantry. For the Brigade these were months of change but not of decay; there was enough, indeed sometimes too much work to do, but almost every aspect of the work was absorbingly interesting and increasingly rewarding.

To replace the losses and changes the 107 Heavy AA Regiment, 113 Light AA Regiment, 5 Reconnaissance Regiment and 4th (Durham) Survey Regiment Royal Artillery came under command of the Brigade at varying times and played their part admirably. At the beginning of the winter the Staffordshire Yeomanry made a welcome return to the Brigade; the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, who said farewell to their tanks at a most impressive parade at Einbeck in the foothills of the Harz Mountains, also rejoined the formation at Hanover. The l3th/l8th Hussars had shortly before left to join 5th Infantry Division in a permanent post-war role of Divisional Cavalry.

Demobilisation was now in full swing and daily more well known faces disappeared. For most of the Brigade Christmas 1945 was the last Christmas in the Army. The 552 Company Royal Army Service Corps did wonders in providing large quantities of ducks, chickens, turkeys and plum pudding and the three days of holiday were a tremendous success.

Soon the tragic news was received that the Brigade was to disband and that the Yeomanry Regiments were to pass into a state of what was called "suspended animation". At the end of January the 12th Battalion The King's Royal Rifle Corps disbanded and during February all ranks of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, the Staffordshire Yeomanry and the 265 Forward Delivery Squadron were posted away or discharged.

The Headquarters disbanded on the 20th March, leaving the 552 Company Royal Army Service Corps, the Brigade Workshops and the Ordnance Field Park to continue the wearing of the Fox. Three units whose unobtrusive efficiency had done so very much to make possible the deeds of the Brigade - a Brigade which had established a reputation upon the battlefield of which every officer and man can be justly proud and a comradeship which thrived in the atmosphere of a very happy family.

Service and not Self Interest
Duty and not Rights
Self Sacrifice and not Self Preservation

1939	6th Cavalry Brigade

		Warwickshire Yeomanry 
		Staffordshire Yeomanry, 
		Cheshire 'Yeomanry

1941	8th Armoured Brigade

		The Household Cavalry Regiment
		The Royal Scots Greys
		The Notts (Sherwood Rangers) Yeomanry
		The Staffordshire Yeomanry

1942		3rd Bn the Royal Tank Regiment
		The Notts (Sherwood Rangers) Yeomanry
		The Staffordshire Yeomanry
		1st Royal Horse Artillery
		1st Bn The Buffs

1944-45	4th/7th Dragoon Guards
		24th Lancers (disbanded August 1944)
		l3th/l8th Hussars (from August 1944)
		The Notts (Sherwood Rangers) Yeomanry
		147 Field Regiment RA (Essex Yeomanry)
		12th Bn The King's Royal Rifle Corps.


168 (City of London) Light Field Ambulance RAMC Jan 1940 to July 1945
552 Coy RASC Nov 1941 to 1946
8th Armoured Brigade Workshops REME Feb 1942 to 1946
265 Forward Delivery Squadron March 1944 to 1946
8th Armoured Brigade Ordnance Field Park Jan 1940 to 1946


	1939	Brigadier H.O. Wiley, M. C.

	1940	Brigadier J. Crystal!, D. S. O.

	1941	Brigadier L. S. Lloyd, M. C. 
		Brigadier E. C. N. Custance, D. S. O.

	1943	Brigadier C. B. Harvey, D. S. O.
		Brigadier O. L. Prior-Palmer, D. S. O.
		Colonel R. C. Joy, D. S. O.
		Brigadier J. M. Anstice, D. S. O.

	1944 	Brigadier H. J. B. Cracroft, D. S. O. 
		Brigadier G. E. Prior-Palmer, D. S. 0.

Record of the Principal Engagements of the 8TH Armoured Brigade in the Middle East.
Date Place Formation supported
1 & 2 Sept Bir Ridge 10th Armoured Division
3--7 Sept Himeimat (Pursuit battle) 10th Armoured Division
23 Oct - 3 Nov El Alamein 10th Armoured Division
5 Nov Ghalah Station 10th Armoured Division
6 Nov Fuka Aerodrome 10th Armoured Division
8-10 Nov Mersa Matruh 10th Armoured Division
6 Dec Suera 7th Armoured Division
15-16 Dec El Agheila 7th Armoured Division
28Dec-1Jan43 Sirte 7th Armoured Division
12 Jan Wadi Thamet 7th Armoured Division
13 Jan Wadi Chebir 7th Armoured Division
]5 Jan Wadi Zem-Zem 7th Armoured Division
16 Jan Sedada 7th Armoured Division
19 Jan Tahouna 7th Armoured Division
22 Jan Castel Benito 7th Armoured Division
4-6 March Medenine 7th Armoured Division
21 March The Left Hook Operation and the Roman Wall 2nd New Zealand Division
23 March Captured Bj. Tebgar 2nd New Zealand Division
26 March Battle of El Hamma 2nd New Zealand Division
28 March Wadi Metaba 2nd New Zealand Division
29 March Oudref 2nd New Zealand Division
30 March Fan Fatnassa & Bouman 2nd New Zealand Division
6-7 April Wadi Akarit 2nd New Zealand Division
8 April Chebket Nouiges & Capture of Sousse 2nd New Zealand Division
12 April Kala Speira, Kala Karina and Sidi Bou Ali 2nd New Zealand Division
19--24 April Capture of Enfidaville and Takrouna 2nd New Zealand Division and 56 Lowland Division

Record of the Principal Engagements of the 8th Armoured Brigade in North-West Europe.
Date Place Formation Supported
6 Jun 44 The landing at Arromanches and le Hamel 50 Div
8 Jun 44 Bayeux 50 Div
9-11 Jun 44 Point 103 30 Div
14 Jun 44 Lingevres 49 Div
16 Jun 44 Cristot 49 Div
17 Jun 44 Le Parc du Bois-Londes 49 Div
19 Jun 44 Hottot 50 Div
25 Jun 44 Tessel Wood and Fontenay le Pesnil 49 Div
26 Jun 44 Rauray 49 Div
2 Jul 44 Queudeville 49 Div
30 Jul 44 Ste Germaine d'Ectot, Orbons 50 Div
31 Jul 44 Cahagnes 43 Div
2 Aug 44 Amaye sur Seulhes 50 Div
6 Aug 44 Mont Pincon 43 Div
9 Aug 44 Conde sur Noireau 50 Div
12 Aug 44 St Pierre 30 Corps
13 Aug 44 Proussy 30 Corps
15 Aug 44 River Noireau crossed 30 Corps
18 Aug 44 General advance to area Sentilly 50 Div
23 Aug 44 Laigle 30 Corps
24 Aug 44 Foret de Laigle 30 Corps
26 Aug 44 Vernon 43 Div
28 Aug 44 River Seine crossed 30 Corps
29 Aug 44 Fourges 11 Armd Div
29 Aug 44 Dangu 30 Corps
30 Aug 44 Gisors, Beauvais, Villers Wood 30 Corps
1 Sep 44 Somme crossed at Amiens, Doullens 30 Corps
3 Sep 44 Arras, Lens, Carvin, Seclin, Lille 50 Div
8 Sep 44 Albert Canal, Genemburg, Oostham 30 Corps
12 Sep 44 Bourg Leopold 30 Corps
20 Sep 44 Aalst, Eindhoven, Zon, St Odenrode, Grave Guards Armd Div
23 Sep 44 Neder Rijn 43 Div
82 US Airborne Div
12 Nov 44 Geilenkirchen 43 Div
84 US Inf Div
22 Nov 44 Beeck and Wurm 84 US Inf Div
23 Nov 44 Hoven 43 Div
17 Jan 45 Susteren, Dieteren Hongen 7 Armd Div
52 Div
19 Jan 45 Konigsbosch 7 Armd Div
24 Jan 45 Heinsberg 52 Div
8 Feb 45 Reichswald 43 Div
10 Feb 45 Cleve 43 Div
11 Feb' 45 Matterborn 43 Div
1 Mar 45 Attack on Weeze 53 Div
3 Mar 45 Kevelaer, Geldern 53 Div
4 Mar 45 Issum 53 Div
6 Mar 45 Wesel pocket 51 (H) Div
24 Mar 45 crossing the Rhine 51 (H) Div
28 Mar 45 Megehels 43 Div
29 Mar 45 Anholt, Dinxperloo 43 Div
30 Mar 45 Sunderen, Nieudorf, Silvolde 43 Div
31 Mar 45 Vaarseveld 43 Div
1 Apr 45 Barchem 43 Div
2 Apr 45 attempted crossing of Twente canal 43 Div
3 Apr 45 Hengelo 43 Div
4 Apr 45 Deldern 43 Div
10 Apr 45 Flechum 43 Div
11 Apr 45 Loningen, Vinden 43 Div
12 Apr 45 Lastrup, Undern 43 Div
13 Apr 45 Leeste 3 Br Div
16 Apr 45 Brinkum 3 Br Div
23 Apr 45 Ahausen 43 Div
25 Apr 45 Bremen, 3 Br Div 43 Div
29 Apr 45 Quelkhorn, Wilstedt 43 Div
30 Apr 45 Hepstedt 43 Div
3 May 45 Ebersdorf, Glinstedt 51 (H) Div 43 Div
4 May 45 Bederkesa 51 (H) Div

Casualties - African Campaign Period 23 Oct 42 to 28 Apr 43
  Killed Wounded Missing
Unit Offrs ORs Offrs ORs Offrs ORs
3 R Tks 5 24 14 81 - 4
Notts Yeo 13 76 20 134 1 3
Staffs Yeo 7 38 38 120 3 29
1 Buffs 4 32 12 192 1 12
HQ Sqn 8 Armd Bde 2 1 3 15 - -
Bde Sigs - 1 - 13 - -
552 Coy RASC 1 8 - 12 - 7
911 Coy RASC - 1 - 4 - -
168 Lt Fd Amb 1 - - - 4 - -
Rec Sec - - - 1 - -
  33 181 87 576 5 55

Killed and wounded

From 6 June 1944 to 5 May 1945
Battle Dates Officers ORs
THE BEACH-HEAD 6 Jun 44 to 8 Jul 44 73 359
15 Jul 44 to 2 Sep 44 34 348
ALBERT CANAL 9 Sep 44 to 13 Sep 44 13 94
THE "ISLAND" 18 Sep 44 to 28 Oct 44 7 83
GEILENKIRCHEN 9 Nov 44 to 9 Dec 44 17 84
16 Jan 44 to 1 Feb 45 9 85
8 Feb 45 to 14 Mar 45 29 222
24 Mar 45 to 5 May 45 17 124

Total battle Casualties - All Ranks - 6 June 44 to 5 May 45
Killed Wounded Missing
Offrs ORs Offrs ORs Offrs ORs
54 372 175 1226 10 163

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