British 9th Armoured Brigade
The 9th Armoured Brigade was a British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 brigade formed during the Second World War.

The 9th Armoured Brigade was formed from the redesignation of the 4th Cavalry Brigade, a 1st Line Yeomanry
Yeomanry is a designation used by a number of units or sub-units of the British Territorial Army, descended from volunteer cavalry regiments. Today, Yeomanry units may serve in a variety of different military roles.-History:...

 (horse riding) brigade in the Territorial Army which had been part of the 1st Cavalry Division. It was converted to an armoured role on 3 August 1941 in the Middle East, and joined 10th Armoured Division
British 10th Armoured Division
The 10th Armoured Division was a British Army armoured division active from 1941-44 and 1956-57. It was formed from the 1st Cavalry Division, a 1st Line Yeomanry unit. The 1st Cavalry Division had been serving in Palestine...


El Alamein

During the North Africa campaign the Brigade was commanded by Brigadier J.C.Currie
John Cecil Currie
Brigadier John Cecil Currie DSO & two Bars, MC was an officer in the British Army during World War II.As part of Iraqforce , Brigadier Currie commanded the 9th Armoured Brigade during the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Persia. His brigade was part of Hazelforce commanded by Brigadier J.A...

 and fought at the Second Battle of El Alamein
Second Battle of El Alamein
The Second Battle of El Alamein marked a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. The battle took place over 20 days from 23 October – 11 November 1942. The First Battle of El Alamein had stalled the Axis advance. Thereafter, Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery...


The Brigade was nominally independent, but was placed under command of 2nd New Zealand Division specifically for the El Alamein battle. The NZ infantry gained their objectives, but as with Operation Lightfoot on the first day of the battle, lanes could not be cleared through the minefields until night was almost over. 9th Armoured brigade was forced to make its attack silhouetted by the early daylight. As dawn came on 2 November, tank after tank was hit by the German 88 mm guns that kept firing through seven air attacks. The 9th never made it to their objective. In fact, they took 75 percent casualties and lost 102 of their 128 tanks. Nevertheless, they breached the gun line and the British 1st Armoured Division of X Corps, under the command of Raymond Briggs, was now able to engage.

After the Brigade's action, Brigadier Gentry of the 6th New Zealand Brigade went ahead to survey the scene. On seeing Brigadier Currie asleep on a stretcher, he approached him saying, 'Sorry to wake you John, but I'd like to know where your tanks are?' Currie waved his hand at a group of tanks around him, replying 'There they are.' Gentry was puzzled. 'I don't mean your headquarters tanks, I mean your armoured regiments. Where are they?' Currie waved his arm and again replied, 'There are my armoured regiments, Bill.’

Nevertheless, the assault of 2nd New Zealand Division had drawn in both 15 and 21 Panzer Divisions, with the result that there was a wide gap in the Axis lines to the south west. Through this gap Montgomery pushed the remainder of his armour, breaking the Afrika Korps line and pushing westwards into its rear areas and supply lines. By 4 November the battle was won and Montgomery was entertaining the captured Afrika Korps commander, von Thoma
Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma
Wilhelm Josef Ritter von Thoma was a German officer who served in World War I, in the Spanish Civil War, and as a General der Panzertruppe in World War II.-Early life:...

 to dinner in his caravan.

In an account of the battle published to mark its 25th anniversary, Montgomery wrote:

I must mention the magnificent fight put up by 9th Armoured Brigade - 3rd Hussars, Wiltshire Yeomanry, Warwickshire Yeomanry.... If the British armour owed any debt to the infantry of 8th army, the debt was paid on 2 November by 9th Armoured Brigade in heroism and blood....

General Bernard Freyburg
Bernard Freyberg, 1st Baron Freyberg
Lieutenant-General Bernard Cyril Freyberg, 1st Baron Freyberg VC, GCMG, KCB, KBE, DSO & Three Bars , was a British-born New Zealand Victoria Cross recipient and soldier who later served as the seventh Governor-General of New Zealand.A veteran of the Mexican Revolution, he became an officer in the...

, the NZ Division's commander, also paid tribute to the gallant support provided by the brigade.

Post Alamein

After the battle the Brigade, reduced to a handful of running tanks, the 9th was withdrawn to Syria to regroup and undertake internal security duties. In 1944 the Brigade (with the same three constituent Regiments) fought in the Italian Campaign
Italian Campaign (World War II)
The Italian Campaign of World War II was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war in Europe. Joint Allied Forces Headquarters AFHQ was operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the Mediterranean theatre, and it planned and commanded the...

 in support of 78th Infantry Division, and the Indian 4th and 10th Infantry Divisions.

After the reformation of the Territorial Army in 1947, the Brigade was reformed as an independent brigade within Northern Command
Northern Command (United Kingdom)
-Nineteenth century:The District Commands of the British Army in Great Britain and Ireland first appear in print in 1840, at which time Northern Command was held by Maj-Gen Charles James Napier, appointed in 1838. During his time the troops stationed within Northern Command were frequently deployed...

. It was almost certainly disbanded by the time the Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve formed in 1967.

Further reading

During Operation Supercharge
  • Field Marshal Lord Carver, El Alamein’' Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New Ed edition, 2000
  • Hector Bolitho, The Galloping Third: The story of the 3rd the King's Own Hussars, 1963
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