Units & Formations 1930 - 1956:
The armoured regiments of the British Army during the Second World War saw significant evolvement and development during the six years of conflict. Pre-war, there was a debate about the direction of how armoured forces would develop with the decision taken to have three types of tanks. These were:
Light Tanks – equipped with machine guns and intended for reconnaissance purposes;
Cruiser Tanks – medium sized, moderately armoured, tanks equipped with a 2 pounder gun and intended to exploit a breakthrough enemy lines in a manner similar to cavalry;
Infantry Tanks – slow moving and heavily armoured vehicles equipped with a 2 pounder gun and intended to support set-piece infantry assaults.
The light and cruiser tanks were issued to cavalry regiments, with infantry tanks being used by the Royal Tank Corps (which became the Royal Tank Regiment). In addition, some cavalry regiments had been converted into armoured car regiments intended for rapid reconnaissance. During the Second World War, this distinction continued throughout the war, the concept of a universal tank only coming to fruition post-war.
The basic structure of an armoured regiment during the war was an Headquarter Squadron, and three armoured or tank squadrons. Each armoured or tank squadron had a Squadron Headquarters, and five troops; each troop comprising three tanks. There were changes in equipment and establishment during the war, however, each regiment would usually comprise about seventy-two tanks, with thirty-six officers and six-hundred and thirty other ranks.