British Armoured formations of the Second World War
The British Armoured formations of the Second World War refers to the Armoured Divisions and Independent Armoured and Tank Brigades deployed by the 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...

 during the Second World War. They had two types of armoured vehicle. The Infantry tank
Infantry tank
The infantry tank was a concept developed by the British and French in the years leading up to World War II. Infantry tanks were tanks designed to support the infantry in the attack. To achieve this they were generally heavily armoured compared to the cruiser tanks, to allow them to operate in...

 which was heavily armoured and slow, designed to support infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 movement. The Cruiser tank
Cruiser tank
The cruiser tank was a British tank concept of the inter-war period. This concept was the driving force behind several tank designs which saw action during the Second World War....

 was faster and only lightly armoured with its aim being to exploit any breakthrough in an attack.


At the start of the Second World War, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 already possessed two armoured divisions; a further nine would be raised by the British Army during the war, of which only two would not see service. The first formation formed had been the Mobile Division in October 1937 followed a year later, in the wake of the Munich Crisis
Munich Agreement
The Munich Pact was an agreement permitting the Nazi German annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. The Sudetenland were areas along Czech borders, mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans. The agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Munich, Germany, among the major powers of Europe without...

, by the Mobile Division (Egypt). In April 1939 the Mobile Division was renamed the 1st Armoured Division and the Mobile Division (Egypt) was named The Armoured Division (Egypt) on the outbreak of war before being renamed the 7th Armoured Division on 16 February 1940.

Following the outbreak of war one armoured division was formed during 1939, on 15 December the headquarters of the 2nd Armoured Division was activated; the first troops only being attached to the division the following month and then in part from forces released from the 1st Armoured Division following a divisional reorganisation. During 1940 a further three armoured divisions were formed; the 6th Armoured Division on 12 September, the 8th on 4 November and followed by the 9th on 1 December. Four more divisions were activated during 1941; the 11th Armoured Divisions on 9 March, and the Guards Armoured Division on 17 June. The 10th Armoured Division was formed on 1 August following the reorganisation and renaming of the 1st Cavalry Division. The final division formed that year was the 42nd Armoured Division
42nd Armoured Division (United Kingdom)
The 42nd Armoured Division was a First Line Territorial Army formation during the Second World War. It was formed by converting an infantry division into an armoured role...

, activated on 1 November, after the 42nd (East Lancashire) Infantry Division was similarly converted to armour. The final armoured division raised during the war was the 79th Armoured Division, established on 14 August 1942; the following April the division was assigned to the development and use of specialised armour
Hobart's Funnies
Hobart's Funnies were a number of unusually modified tanks operated during World War II by the United Kingdom's 79th Armoured Division or by specialists from the Royal Engineers. They were designed in light of problems that more standard tanks experienced during the Dieppe Raid, so that the new...

 and never acted as a division.

Divisional structure

Between May 1939 and May 1945 there was nine changes in the organisation of the divisions. In most instances the changes were made before or after their authorisation. When first formed the Mobile Division had six light tank regiments in two cavalry brigades and a tank brigade of three medium regiments. The division was supported by a Pivot Group of two motorised infantry battalions and two artillery regiments. Mobile Division (Egypt) consisted of a light armoured brigade, a cavalry brigade, a heavy armoured group of two Royal Tank Regiment
Royal Tank Regiment
The Royal Tank Regiment is an armoured regiment of the British Army. It was formerly known as the Tank Corps and the Royal Tank Corps. It is part of the Royal Armoured Corps and is made up of two operational regiments, the 1st Royal Tank Regiment and the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment...

s and a Pivot Group. On 25 May 1939 the Army decided that the organisation should change to an armoured division of a light and a heavy armoured brigade, each of three armoured regiments, totalling 349 tanks; 159 light cruisers, 108 light tanks, 58 heavy cruisers, and 24 close support tanks. The two armoured brigades would have a Support Group that contained the division’s artillery regiment, a mixed light anti-aircraft/anti-tank regiment, two motorised infantry battalions and the division’s engineers.
The next change (on paper) was made in April 1940; the established tank strength of the division was reduced to 340 tanks by changes in the armoured regiments, the two armoured brigades now became homogeneous, dropping their prefixes and the division’s engineers were removed from the Support Group becoming divisional troops under their own headquarters. Following the Battle of France
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

 the Army realised that mixing light and cruiser tanks in the same brigade had been a mistake and that there were insufficient infantry and support units within the division. In October changes to the armoured division's organization were authorised. The Support Group’s motorised infantry battalions were transferred to the armoured brigades, each receiving one while the Support Group was given a lorried infantry battalion, increasing the infantry strength of the division to three battalions. The mixed anti-aircraft/anti tank regiment was replaced by two specialised regiments. More engineers were added to the division. In the United Kingdom an Armoured Car regiment was placed under the command of the division but not in the Middle East. While these theoretical changes were made, they did not reflect the armoured divisions' composition; in July the 7th Armoured Division only had 65 cruiser tanks, lacking spare parts (some even lacking proper armament) while the division was operating two armoured regiments in each of its brigades. In January 1941 the 1st Armoured Division, the best equipped armoured division in the United Kingdom, was 30 per cent below its tank establishment and was equipped with many obsolescent light tanks.

In 1942 the Army decided that an infantry brigade was needed in each division and on 27 February 1942 the next change was made for divisions operating in the Middle East; an armoured brigade would be replaced by an infantry brigade. The Support Group would be disbanded while an armoured car regiment would be added to the division. For tactical reasons the battle formation in the Middle East became the Brigade Group
Brigade group
A brigade group is a term used primarily in armies of the Commonwealth of Nations for an ad hoc arrangement of forces and not a permanent organisation whereas, with a capital G, a Brigade Group is....

, the division would now operate two Brigade Groups. The armoured Brigade Group would have three armoured regiments, a motor battalion, an artillery regiment (including an anti-tank battery of 16 guns (either 2 pounders
Ordnance QF 2 pounder
The Ordnance QF 2-pounder was a British anti-tank and vehicle-mounted gun, employed in the Second World War. It was actively used in the Battle of France, and during the North Africa campaign...

 or 6 pounders
Ordnance QF 6 pounder
The Ordnance Quick-Firing 6-pounder 7 cwt, or just 6 pounder, was a British 57 mm gun, their primary anti-tank gun during the middle of World War II, as well as the main armament for a number of armoured fighting vehicles...

) ) as well as its three batteries of 25 pounder
Ordnance QF 25 pounder
The Ordnance QF 25 pounder, or more simply, 25-pounder or 25-pdr, was introduced into service just before World War II, during which it served as the major British field gun/howitzer. It was considered by many to be the best field artillery piece of the war, combining high rates of fire with a...

 howitzers, a light anti-aircraft battery of 18 guns, a field squadron of Royal Engineers and various other administration units. The infantry Brigade Group would consist of three motorised infantry battalions, an artillery regiment also with an integrated anti-tank battery, a light anti-aircraft battery, Royal Engineers and administration units. The division’s headquarters was given more staff and signal units and a headquarters was formed to control the artillery. Due to some armoured regiments being re-equipped with American tanks the establishment of the division could vary between 130 and 150 tanks. In the United Kingdom the Brigade Group was not adopted but the Support Group was abolished and an infantry brigade was added to the division to replace the second armoured brigade. The two artillery regiments, the anti-tank regiment and light anti-tank regiment were placed under the command of an artillery headquarters unit while additional administration units were attached to the division. Further changes were made to the armoured regiments and anti-aircraft tanks were incorporated into the division bringing the established strength to 227 tanks; 26 anti-aircraft tanks, 18 close support tanks and 183 cruiser tanks. Prior to the Battle of Alam el Halfa the armoured divisions in North Africa were again authorised to change; the armoured division became the basic battle formation again and the Brigade Groups were reorganised as they had previously. The artillery, anti-tank and anti-aircraft regiments would be put under the control of the Royal Artillery divisional headquarters and would be reinforced with additional batteries, the Royal Engineers would be reinforced and returned to the divisional engineer headquarters. The division’s tank establishment was increased and anti-aircraft tanks were also allocated to the division, the tank establishment now set at 186 tanks.

In April 1943 the Armoured Car Regiment was removed from the division structure and replaced with an Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment. Additional troops were allocated to the infantry brigade. The artillery regiments were also reorganised, one would now be equipped with self-propelled guns while the other would keep towed guns. The tank establishment was increased to 278 tanks; 214 cruisers, 34 anti-aircraft tanks and 30 close support tanks. In the United Kingdom the 7th Armoured Division was re-equipped with Cromwell tank
Cromwell tank
Tank, Cruiser, Mk VIII, Cromwell ,The designation as the eighth Cruiser tank design, its name given for ease of reference and its General Staff specification number respectively and the related Centaur tank, were one of the most successful series of cruiser tanks fielded by Britain in the Second...

s, the only division to use them as their main battle tank while the others would use M4 Sherman
M4 Sherman
The M4 Sherman, formally Medium Tank, M4, was the primary tank used by the United States during World War II. Thousands were also distributed to the Allies, including the British Commonwealth and Soviet armies, via lend-lease...

 tanks. The Cromwell was used also by the armoured reconnaissance regiments of the 7th, 11th and Guards Armoured Divisions.

During March 1944 further amendments were made; the additional troops allocated to the infantry brigade the year before were removed while, for the divisions allocated to the 21st Army Group, an Independent Machine Gun company was allocated to the division. Various changes were made to the armoured and armoured reconnaissance regiments increasing the tank establishment of the division to 343 tanks; 223 cruisers, 25 anti-aircraft tanks, 24 close support tanks, 63 light tanks, and 8 Observation tanks. The self propelled artillery regiment consisted of 24 25 Pounder self-propelled guns, the anti-tank regiment consisted of 48 6 pounder or 17 pounder guns
Ordnance QF 17 pounder
The Ordnance Quick-Firing 17 pounder was a 76.2 mm gun developed by the United Kingdom during World War II. It was used as an anti-tank gun on its own carriage, as well as equipping a number of British tanks. It was the most effective Allied anti-tank gun of the war...

, and the light anti-aircraft regiment consisted of 54 Bofors 40 mm guns. During the Battle of Normandy
Operation Overlord
Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe during World War II by Allied forces. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings...

, the 7th Armoured Division instituted a flexible structure prior to the Battle of Villers-Bocage
Battle of Villers-Bocage
The Battle of Villers-Bocage took place during the Second World War on 13 June 1944, one week after the Allies landed in Normandy to begin the liberation of German-occupied France. The battle was the result of a British attempt to improve their position by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in...

 in early June 1944. Similar structures would not be adopted by the other armoured divisions until after Operation Goodwood
Operation Goodwood
Operation Goodwood was an attack launched on 18 July 1944, during the Second World War, by the British army to the east of the city of Caen...

, when Lieutenant-General Richard O’Connor ordered the Guards and 11th Armoured Divisions to organise themselves similarly. The divisions operated from then on as two brigade groups; each of two combined arms
Combined arms
Combined arms is an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different branches of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects...

 teams, both made up of one tank regiment and one infantry battalion; the armoured reconnaissance regiment was matched with the armoured brigade’s motor battalion to provide the fourth group. Towards the end of the Normandy campaign the 11th Hussars
11th Hussars
The 11th Hussars was a cavalry regiment of the British Army.-History:The regiment was founded in 1715 as Colonel Philip Honeywood's Regiment of Dragoons and was known by the name of its Colonel until 1751 when it became the 11th Regiment of Dragoons...

, an armoured car regiment, was placed back under the command of the 7th Armoured Division. The final authorised change came in February 1945 but was not implemented until May 1945, following the end of the war in Europe; the division would retain the organisation approved in March 1944 but the armoured reconnaissance regiment would be converted into a fourth armoured regiment but not placed within either brigade. The tank establishment was also lowered to 338 tanks; 234 cruisers, 44 light tanks, 28 anti-aircraft tanks, and 9 Observation tanks.

In 1939 the armoured division comprised 9,442 men all ranks, this increased to 14,964 men all ranks by 1944; however of this latter figure the division had a combat strength of around 7,000 men with only 3,400 of these men being in the division's nine rifle companies compared to a combat strength of around 5,000 men in the American armoured division, of which 3,000 were in the rifle companies. This resulted in a numerical inferiority to the number of infantry available to a Waffen-SS
The Waffen-SS was a multi-ethnic and multi-national military force of the Third Reich. It constituted the armed wing of the Schutzstaffel or SS, an organ of the Nazi Party. The Waffen-SS saw action throughout World War II and grew from three regiments to over 38 divisions, and served alongside...

 Panzer Divisions; the 1st and 12th SS Panzer Divisions, at the beginning of June 1944, were both around 20,000 men strong with a combat strength of around 12,000 men of which roughly 7,000 men were based within the 24 infantry companies. In 1944 the British armoured division could field more medium tanks than the 186 tanks of the on-paper average strength German Panzer Division or the 168 medium tanks of an American armoured division (251 tanks in total).

Role and tactics

The doctrine of the British Army in 1938 was for Army Tank Brigades, attached as Corps troops, to work alongside the Infantry divisions and break into
Penetration (warfare)
Penetration is a term in warfare referring to the breaching of, and moving past, a defensive military line. The term is associated with both ground and aerial combat.-Ground combat:...

 the enemy defensive positions. The Mobile Division, supported Territorial Army Motor divisions each of two motorised infantry brigades supported by two artillery regiments but no tanks, was to then to create a breakthrough
Breakthrough (military)
A breakthrough occurs when an offensive force has broken the enemy defensive line, and is rapidly exploiting the gap.Usually, large force is employed on a relatively small portion of the front to achieve this...

. Initially the mechanized cavalry regiments, of the division, were designed as reconnaissance not fighting formations. The motorised infantry, according to John Burnett-Stuart
John Burnett-Stuart
General Sir John Theodosius Burnett-Stuart GCB KBE CMG DSO was a British Army General in the 1930s.-Military career:Educated at Repton School and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, John Burnett-Stuart was commissioned into the Rifle Brigade in 1895. He saw service on the North West Frontier of...

 on 8 September 1937, was not meant to fight side by side with the tanks they were to protect them during resting and replenishing periods.


Historian David French states that the Army's intention had been to create balanced all-arms formations; however following the formation of their first armoured divisions they had instead created tank-heavy divisions with too few infantry or supporting arms. He also notes that the reforms that took place in 1940 forfeited yet another opportunity to transform the tank-heavy armoured divisions into a balanced all-arms force.

Brigade and regiment structure

Like the division the armoured brigades went through nine changes to its basic organisation while the tank brigades went through four changes before a complete conversion of its role. However these authorised changes to the basic structure did not mean the brigades conformed to each on-paper reorganisation and the actual changes sometimes took place prior or after their authorisation.

The two basic armoured brigades at the start of the war were the light and the heavy brigade. The light armoured brigade would be made up three light armoured regiments each consisting of 22 light cruisers, 36 light tanks, 4 officers
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

, and 492 other ranks
Other Ranks
Other Ranks in the British Army, Royal Marines and Royal Air Force are those personnel who are not commissioned officers. In the Royal Navy, these personnel are called ratings...

. The brigades headquarters had six light cruisers and four heavy cruisers allocated to it while each regimental headquarters had four light tanks. The three Sabre squadron
Sabre squadron
A sabre squadron in the British Army's Royal Armoured Corps and Household Cavalry is an operational squadron of tanks or other armoured fighting vehicles, as opposed to a headquarters or support squadron....

 of each regiment consisted of two light tank squadrons, made up of five troop
A troop is a military unit, originally a small force of cavalry, subordinate to a squadron and headed by the troop leader. In many armies a troop is the equivalent unit to the infantry section or platoon...

s of three tanks and a squadron headquarters of three tanks, and one light cruiser squadron, made up of five troops of three light cruisers, and a squadron headquarters of three tanks. The heavy armoured brigade, laid out the same as the light armoued brigade, was authorised to consist of 157 tanks, with each regiment made up of 26 light cruisers, 15 heavy cruisers, 8 close support tanks, 30 officers and 573 other ranks. Each regiment contained a headquarters with two light cruisers and two close support tanks, three squadrons each made up of a squadron headquarters, of one light cruiser and two close support tanks, a light squadron, with three troops of two light cruisers with a squadron headquarters of one light cruiser, and a heavy squadron, of two troops of two heavy cruisers, and squadron headquarters of one heavy cruiser.

In May 1940 the armoured brigades became homogenous and were reorganised; all now would contain 10 cruisers within the brigade headquarters while the regimental headquarters would have four cruisers. Each regimental headquarters would control a headquarter squadron and three sabre squadrons; each of which consisted of a squadron headquarters, with two cruisers and two close support tanks, and four troops each comprising three cruisers. In total each regiment would consist of 46 cruisers and 8 close support tanks, 31 officers and 546 other ranks, with the brigade being able to muster 166 tanks. The October 1940 authorised changes allocated an infantry battalion to the brigade but made no other changes.

The early 1942 Brigade Groups have already been described, however the regiments were organised on two basis: those equipped solely with American tanks and those equipped with a mixture of American and British. The American equipped regiments, totalling 44 tanks, were organised as such: four M3 Stuarts allocated to the regimental headquarters, which controlled three sabre squadrons; one squadron of four troops of four Stuarts and a headquarters with a further four Stuarts, and two squadrons composed of M3 Grants
M3 Lee
The Medium Tank M3 was an American tank used during World War II. In Britain the tank was called "General Lee", named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and the modified version built with a new turret was called the "General Grant", named after U.S. General Ulysses S. Grant.Design commenced...

 each consisting of three troops of three tanks and a squadron headquarters of a further three Grants. The mixed regiments were laid out the same except with one squadron made up of Grants and two squadrons made up of Crusader tank
Crusader tank
The Tank, Cruiser, Mk VI or A15 Crusader was one of the primary British cruiser tanks of the early part Second World War and perhaps the most important British tank of the North African Campaign...

s bringing the total to 48 tanks; 36 Crusaders, and 12 Grants. The changes in late 1942 reverted the structure of the brigade and regiments to their 1941 layout but also increased the regiment to 52 tanks, 4 anti-aircraft tanks, 54 officers and 600 other ranks. The regiments were to be equipped with M4 Sherman
M4 Sherman
The M4 Sherman, formally Medium Tank, M4, was the primary tank used by the United States during World War II. Thousands were also distributed to the Allies, including the British Commonwealth and Soviet armies, via lend-lease...

s as they became available. The brigade headquarters would now only have 8 tanks alloacted to it while the regimental headquarters remained the same, but they were each given four anti-aircraft tanks. In the United Kingdom and the 6th Armoured Division two additional troops were attached to each Sabre Squadron along with eight anti-aircraft tanks being attached to the regimental headquarters bringing the regiment’s strength up to 55 cruisers, 6 close support tanks, 8 anti-aircraft tanks, 36 officers and 644 other ranks.

The November 1943 organisation removed a number of anti-aircraft tanks from each regiment and added a reconnaissance troop to the regiment bringing its strength to 55 cruisers, 6 close support tanks, 11 light cruisers, and 6 anti-aircraft tanks. Each regiment would be manned by 37 officers and 655 other ranks. By June 1944 the sabre squadrons, in North West Europe, were operating four tank troops. All Sherman equipped units, including the 7th Armoured Division’s sabre squadrons, but excluding the Armoured Reconnaissance Regiments were equipped with Sherman Firefly
Sherman Firefly
The Sherman Firefly was a World War II British variant of the American Sherman tank, fitted with the powerful British 17 pounder anti-tank gun as its main weapon...

s; 36 were generally provided to each brigade, enough to equip each troop with one. Later in the campaign as more Fireflys became available the troops were issued with two. The final change to the brigade and regiment was authorised on 18 January 1945 but was not implemented till May; it was to standardise all armour and tank brigades and regiments. No changes were made to the layout of the regiments however three tanks were removed from the brigade headquarters, two anti-aircraft tanks would be added and eight Observation Post tanks would also be allocated to the brigade.

The initial April 1938 Tank Brigade establishment was for the brigade to muster 175 tanks; each of its three battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

s comprising 57 tanks, 29 officers, and 484 other ranks. The brigade headquarters would contain four tanks but could vary depending on the situation, while the battalion headquarters would contain two infantry tanks and four light tanks. Under the command of the battalion was three companies
Company (military unit)
A company is a military unit, typically consisting of 80–225 soldiers and usually commanded by a Captain, Major or Commandant. Most companies are formed of three to five platoons although the exact number may vary by country, unit type, and structure...

; each consisting of a headquarters, issued with one infantry tank and one light tank, and five sections
Section (military unit)
A section is a small military unit in some armies. In many armies, it is a squad of seven to twelve soldiers. However in France and armies based on the French model, it is the sub-division of a company .-Australian Army:...

, each mustering three infantry tanks. On 7 April 1941 the first change was made; the formations would drop army terminology and adopt cavalry terms. The brigade would now be able to muster 178 tanks, with each battalion made up of 58 tanks, 35 officers, and 547 other ranks. The brigade headquarters was issued four cruiser tanks and the battalion headquarters four infantry tanks. The battalion’s three squadrons would comprise five troops, each of three infantry tanks, and a squadron headquarters of one infantry tank and two close support infantry tanks. The battalion remained the same through to August 1942 when each battalion headquarters was given an anti-aircraft troop of eight anti-aircraft tanks raising the battalions strength to 66 tanks, 37 officers and 588 other ranks.

In November 1943 each brigade was allocated two anti-aircraft tanks and three bridge laying tanks while each tank battalion headquarters had its anti-aircraft tanks taken off it and allocated two observation tanks. The headquarters of sabre squadron was allocated six anti-aircraft tanks as well as 11 light tanks while the squadrons themselves remained unchanged. Each battalion could not muster 52 infantry tanks, 11 light tanks, six close support tanks, six anti-aircraft tanks, two observation tanks, 38 officers and 670 other ranks. The brigade totalling 240 tanks. Later in the year the observation tanks would be removed from the battalion headquarters and eight would be assigned to the brigade headquarters. In January 1945 the final change was made to the tank brigade, they were to be redesignated armoured brigades and be reorganised along to the final armour brigade structure as authorised on 18 January.

Independent armoured and tank brigades

The independent armoured brigades could in most cases trace their formation to an armoured division, 4th and 7th brigades to the 7th Armoured, 8th Brigade was part of 10th Armoured, before it was disbanded. 23rd Brigade part of 8th Armoured and 27th Brigade the 9th Armoured. Only 33rd Brigade was not originally part of an armoured division but was a tank brigade converted to an armoured brigade.

The difference between an armoured and tank brigade were the tanks they were issued. Armoured brigades used Cruiser tanks, while the tank brigades used Infantry tanks.

Armoured Divisions

Unit Name Formed Disbanded Notes
Guards Armoured Division  17 June 1941 12 June 1945 Division reorganized as the Guards Division
Guards Division (United Kingdom)
The British Guards Division was formed in France in 1915 from battalions of the elite Guards regiments from the Regular Army. The division served on the Western Front for the duration of the First World War...

1st Armoured Division  October 1937 11 January 1945 Division ceased operations on 28 October 1944
2nd Armoured Division  15 December 1939 10 May 1941 Divisional Headquarters captured on 8 April 1941
6th Armoured Division  12 September 1940
7th Armoured Division  Autumn of 1938 Formed as the Mobile Division (Egypt), redesignated as The Armoured Division (Egypt) on outbreak of war and the 7th Armoured Division on 16 February 1940.
8th Armoured Division  4 November 1940 1 January 1943 Division never operated as a single formation during its time overseas
9th Armoured Division  1 December 1940 31 July 1944 Division did not serve overseas
10th Armoured Division  1 August 1941 15 June 1944 Formed from the reorganization and designation of the 1st Cavalry Division
11th Armoured Division  9 March 1941
42nd Armoured Division
42nd Armoured Division (United Kingdom)
The 42nd Armoured Division was a First Line Territorial Army formation during the Second World War. It was formed by converting an infantry division into an armoured role...

1 November 1941 17 October 1943 Formed from the 42nd (East Lancashire) Infantry Division and never served overseas
79th Armoured Division  14 August 1942 Never acted as a division.

Independent armoured brigades

Unit Name Formed Disbanded Notes
1st Armoured Brigade  Pre-War 21 November 1942 Fought as an independent armoured brigade, under Eighth Army
Eighth Army (United Kingdom)
The Eighth Army was one of the best-known formations of the British Army during World War II, fighting in the North African and Italian campaigns....

 and XXX Corps, during 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...

2nd Armoured Brigade  Pre-War Fought as an independent armoured brigade, under Eighth Army and XIII Corps
XIII Corps (United Kingdom)
XIII Corps was a British infantry corps during World War I and World War II.-World War I:XIII Corps was formed in France on 15 November 1915 under Lieutenant-General Walter Congreve to be part of Fourth Army. It was first seriously engaged during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. On the First day on...

, from 5 May 1945 till the end of the war
4th Armoured Brigade  Pre-War Became an independent formation in June 1942
7th Armoured Brigade  1938 Detached from 7th Armoured Division at the end of 1941 and acted independently thereafter.
8th Armoured Brigade  1 August 1941 Reorganized as an independent armoured brigade on 19 November 1942
9th Armoured Brigade  3 August 1941 Reorganised as an independent formation from 19 March 1942 till 12 November 1942, then again from 28 May 1943
20th Armoured Brigade  3 September 1939 30 April 1943 An independent formation from 24 April 1942 until it was disbanded, never saw service outside of the United Kingdom
23rd Armoured Brigade  1 November 1940 Reorganised as an independent formation on 12 July 1942
27th Armoured Brigade  26 November 1940 30 July 1944 Reorganised as an independent formation on 15 October 1943, under I Corps, to lead Normandy landings
33rd Armoured Brigade
33rd Armoured Brigade (United Kingdom)
The 33rd Armoured Brigade was a British Army brigade active in 1944-45, in the 1970s, and in 1980-92.- Normandy :The brigade was formed in the UK on 17 March 1944 by re-designating of the 33rd Tank Brigade. The brigade took part in the Normandy campaign and landed on Gold Beach on 6 June 1944...

17 March 1944 22 August 1945 Formed by renaming the 33rd Tank Brigade and acted as an independent unit from formation
34th Armoured Brigade  2 February 1945 Formed from the 34th Tank Brigade and acted as an independent unit from formation
137th Armoured Brigade  20 July 1942 26 September 1943 Formed from the 137th Infantry Brigade; acted as an independent unit from formation but was never deployed overseas

Independent tank brigades

Unit Name Formed Disbanded Notes
1st Army Tank Brigade  Pre-War 18 November 1944 Brigade operated independent of divisions during various periods of the war, on 23 April 1944 the brigade was redesignated 1st Tank Brigade and placed in suspended animation on 18 November 1944 after its personnel were provided to other units as reinforcements.
6th Guards Tank Brigade
6th Guards Tank Brigade (United Kingdom)
The 6th Guards Tank Brigade was formed in 1941 as the 6th Guards Armoured Brigade when Great Britain was under the threat of invasion and more armoured formations were required, permission was granted from King George VI and the Colonels of the Regiments involved and over the summer of 1941, the...

15 September 1941 17 June 1945 Reformed from an armoured brigade on 15 January 1943 and became an independent formation in September 1943
10th Tank Brigade  25 July 1942 25 November 1943 Formed from reorganisation of 10th Armoured Brigade, operated independently during various periods of its existence; it never served overseas
21st Army Tank Brigade  3 September 1939 11 June 1945 Independent formation bar when attached to 4th Infantry Division
4th Infantry Division (United Kingdom)
The 4th Infantry Division is a regular British Army division with a long history having been present at the Peninsular War the Crimean War , the First World War , and during the Second World War.- Napoleonic Wars :...

 between 6 April 1942 to 12 December 1943; was redesignated as the 21st Armoured Brigade on 11 June 1945
23rd Army Tank Brigade  3 September 1939 1 November 1940 Independent formation from formation but did not serve overseas, was redesignated as the 23rd Armoured Brigade and reorganised
24th Army Tank Brigade  3 September 1939 1 November 1940 Independent formation from formation but did not serve overseas, was redesignated as the 24th Armoured Brigade and reorganised
25th Army Tank Brigade  3 September 1939 5 January 1945 Independent formation for most of its existence, the brigade headquarters was redesignated as the 25th Armoured Assault Brigade Royal Engineers on 5 January 1945
31st Army Tank Brigade  15 January 1941 2 February 1945 Became an independent formation following September 1943, was reorganized as an armoured brigade in February 1945
34th Army Tank Brigade  1 December 1941 2 February 1945 Redesignated 34th Tank Brigade in June 1942, it became an independent formation following September 1943 and was reorganised into an armoured brigade on 2 February 1945
35th Army Tank Brigade  1 December 1941 14 July 1945 Indepentant formation from creation, was formed from conversion of 225th Independent Infantry Brigade and was converted into an armoured brigade on 14 July 1945. It never served overseas.
36th Army Tank Brigade  1 December 1941 31 July 1943 Formed from conversion of 205th Independent Infantry Brigade and was disbanded on 31 July 1943 having never been posted overseas

See also

  • Australian armoured units of World War II
    Australian Armoured Units of World War II
    Armoured units made a relatively small, but important, contribution to Australia’s war effort during World War II. While Australia formed three armoured divisions and two independent armoured brigades during the war, Australian armoured units only saw action as independent regiments and companies...

  • British Army during the Second World War
  • Panzer division
    Panzer Division
    A panzer division was an armored division in the army and air force branches of the Wehrmacht as well as the Waffen-SS of Nazi Germany during World War II....

  • Italian armoured divisions during the Second World War
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