British Guards Armoured Division, 1944

Matchbox Sherman Mk.V tank of 1st (Armoured) Battalion Coldstream Guards

Sherman Mk.V tank of the Guards Armoured Division. The vehicle has been converted from a Sherman Mk.V Firefly by shortening the gun barrel. The yellow triangle tactical sign indicates that the vehicle is from A Squadron 1st (Armoured) Battalion Coldstream Guards, the second armoured regiment in the brigade. Armoured regiments and infantry battalions of the division were cross-attached to form battlegroups like the Irish Guards Group which spearheaded the advance of 30th Corps toward Arnhem, or the Coldstream Guards Battlegroup which captured Lingen on the Ems river in 1945. Vehicles carried numbered and colour-coded Tac Signs on the right fender. The two-coloured tac signs shown below were actually arranged with the first colour above the second colour, not adjacent to each other.

Guards Armoured Division 1944

  • Major-General Allan H. S. Adair
  • Divisional Headquarters (white tactical signs) 40
  • Divisional Troops (white tactical signs)
    • 2nd Armoured Reconnaissance Battalion, Welsh Guards, 41
      Similarly organised as the armoured regiments of the 5th Guards Brigade, but with the main difference that the unit was equipped with three Cromwells and one A30 Challenger tank per troop. Later in the campaign the Challengers were gradually replaced by Firefly tanks.
    • Royal Artillery
      • Headquarters 40
      • 55th Field Regiment (R.H.A.)
        • 24 towed 25 pdr Field Guns
      • 153rd Field Regiment (R.A.)
        • 24 Priest or Sexton Self-Propelled Guns
      • 21st Anti-Tank Regiment (R.A.) 77
        • 17 pdr Anti-Tank Battery (towed)
        • 17 pdr Anti-Tank Battery (towed)
        • 17 pdr M.10 Anti-Tank Battery (self-propelled)
        • 17 pdr M.10 Anti-Tank Battery (self-propelled)
      • 94th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment (R.A.)
    • Royal Engineers
      • Headquarters
      • 14th Field Squadron (R.E.)
      • 615th Field Squadron (R.E.)
      • 148th Field Park Squadron (R.E.)
      • 11th Bridging Troop (R.E.)
  • Irish Guards Battlegroup
    • Lieutenant-Colonel J. O. E. Vandeleur
    • 2nd Armoured Battalion, Irish Guards, 53 (see 5th GAB below)
    • 3rd Battalion, Irish Guards, 62 (see 32nd Guards Brigade)
      The Irish Guards Battlegroup led the advance of the British 30th Corps in the 1944 Arnhem campaign.
  • 5th Guards Armoured Brigade 50
    • Brigadier N. W. Gwatkin
    • Brigade Headquarters
    • 2nd Armoured Battalion, Grenadier Guards (red tactical signs) 51
    • 1st Armoured Battalion, Coldstream Guards (yellow tactical signs) 52
    • 2nd Armoured Battalion, Irish Guards (blue tactical signs) 53
    • 1st Motor Battalion, Grenadier Guards (green tactical signs) 54
      • Battalion Headquarters
      • Support Company
      • 3 Motor Companies (Infantry in half-tracks)
        • Company Headquarters
        • 3 Motor Platoons
        • 1 Scout Platoon (mounted in 13 Bren Carriers)
  • 32nd Guards Brigade (Infantry)
    • Brigadier G. F. Johnson
    • Brigade Headquarters 60
    • № 1 Independent Machinegun Company,
      Royal Northumberland Fusiliers 64
      • Machine Gun Platoon
      • Machine Gun Platoon (same as above)
      • Machine Gun Platoon (same as above)
      • Mortar Platoon
        • 4 × 4.2″ Mortars
        • 4 Universal Carriers
      • Wasp Flamethrower Platoon (1945)
    • 5th Battalion, Coldstream Guards 61
    • 3rd Battalion, Irish Guards (see Irish Guards Group above) 62
    • 1st Battalion, Welsh Guards 63
      • Battalion Headquarters
      • Headquarters Company
        • Motor Platoon
        • Carrier Platoon (mounted in 13 Bren Carriers)
        • Anti-tank Platoon
        • Engineer Platoon
      • 4 Rifle Companies
        • Company Headquarters
        • 3 Infantry Platoons

Troop and vehicle numbers were normally displayed inside the colourcoded squadron tactical sign. Some vehicles carried only the squadron tactical sign, others displayed the troop/vehicle numbers on the rear of the turret stowage bins. It is important to remember that the Guard Armoured Battalion followed the organisation of an Armoured Regiment.

Francis Liew

British Miniatures of World War Two