1st Royal Tank Regiment Historical & Interest Notes
Of A More Topical Nature Than The Official History

Started: September 2003 Back to Page 1 - Click Here
Updated 28 June 2005

http://www.firstroyaltankregiment.com/index2.html

1. Cemetery at El Alamein
2. Images found on the net - origin unknown but all 1 RTR.  Possibly from  Les Dinning ?
3. 1 RTR Go To War. Message from the CO to the lads.
4. General Ellis Battle Flag
5. Steve "Cleckheaton" Smith - Memorial - Palace Bks, Ulster
6. Regimental Standards
7. Silver Tank  In Bootle Town Hall
8. Herford & Hildesheim, newpaper images
9. Jeff Lyman's MBE Notice in London Gazette - 1991
10. A Sqn Hong Kong Snippet
11. Korea - Page From a Book
12. Cambrai Lunch 1994 - Image
13. Tankie Officer Hid Under German Tank
14. General Sir Jeremy Blacker RIP
15. Major General Ian Baker CBE
16. Extract from a book. 1 RTR in Aden
17. RAC in VE Day Parade London

1. The British Army Cemetery at El Alamein

The British Cemetery has thousands upon thousands of rock hewn tombstones arranged in straight rows amidst a fenced garden. Most of the soldiers were British 8th Army led by General Montgomery.  The Battle began on October 23, 1942 and lasted until November 4th.  In all, 35,476 British and Commonwealth soldiers lost their lives in the three years of the North African campaigns of WW II. Allied Forces involved at Alamein Beach:

7th Armoured Division

Royal Scots Greys 
4th Queen's Own Hussars 
8th King's Royal Irish Hussars 
2nd Derbyshire Yeomanry 
3rd Royal Horse Artillery Regiment 
1st Bn King's Royal Rifle Corps
1st Bn The Royal Tank Regiment 
5th Bn The Royal Tank Regiment 
4th County of London Yeomanry 
4th Field Regiment 
97th Field Regiment 
1st/5th Bn Queen's Royal Regiment 
1st/6th Bn Queen's Royal Regiment 
1st/7th Bn Queen's Royal Regiment 
53rd Field Regiment 
57th Anti-Tank Regiment 
11th Field Company Royal Engineers
11th Hussars
7th Armoured Divisional Signals

1st Armoured Division

The Queen's Bays 
9th Queen's Royal Lancers 
10th Royal Hussars 
1st Bn The Rifle Brigade (mot) 
11th Royal Horse Artillery Regiment 
88th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery 
44th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery RA
3rd Bn Coldstream Guards 
2nd Bn Scots Guards 
9th Bn The Rifle Brigade 
12th Royal Lancers 
2nd Royal Horse Artillery Regiment

10th Armoured Division 

Nottinghamshire Yeomanry 
Staffordshire Yeomanry 
3rd Bn The Royal Tank Regiment
1st Bn The Buffs 
41st Bn The Royal Tank Regiment 
45th Bn The Royal Tank Regiment 
47th Bn The Royal Tank Regiment 
11th Bn King's Royal Rifle Corps 
2nd Bn Royal Sussex Regiment 
4th Bn Royal Sussex Regiment 
5th Bn Royal Sussex Regiment 
1st Bn Royal Northumberland Fusiliers 
1st Royal Horse Artillery Regiment 
104th Royal Horse Artillery Regiment 
98th Field Regiment
84th Anti-Tank Regiment 
53rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment 
1st Royal Dragoons

9th Australian Division 

20th Brigade
2/13th Battalion, 2/15th Battalion, 2/17th Battalion 
24th Brigade
2/28th Battalion, 2/32nd Battalion, 2/43rd Battalion
26th Brigade
2/23rd Battalion, 2/24th Battalion, 2/48th Battalion

2nd New Zealand Division 

21st NZ Infantry Btl
22nd NZ Infantry Battalion 
23rd NZ Infantry Battalion 
28th Maori Battalion 
24th NZ Infantry Battalion 
25th NZ Infantry Battalion 
26th NZ Infantry Battalion 
4th NZ Artillery Field Regiment 
5th NZ Artillery Field Regiment 
6th NZ Artillery Field Regiment 
7th NZ Anti-Tank Regiment 
14th NZ Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment 
2nd NZ Div Cavalry Regiment 

51st Highland Division

1st Btn Black Watch Highlanders Rgt
5th Btn Black Watch Highlanders Rgt
7th Btn Black Watch Highlanders Rgt
2nd Seaforth Highlanders Btn 5th Seaforth Highlanders Btn
5th Btn Queen's Own-Cameron Highlanders
1st Gordon Highlanders Btn 
5/7th Gordon Highlanders Btn
7th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Btn
Middlesex Regiment

50th Infantry Division

69th, 151st Infantry brigades
1st Greek Brigade group
74th, 11th, 124th, 154th Field Royal Artillery Rgts
102nd Antitank Artillery Rgt
34th Anti Aircraft Artillery Rgt

44th Infantry Division

131st, 132nd, 133rd Infantry brigades
7th Chelshire Btn
53rd, 57th, 58th,65th Royal Field Artillery Rgts
30th Anti aircraft Artillery Rgt

4th Indian Division 

5th, 7th, 161st Infantry Brigades
1st, 11th, 32nd Field Royal Artillery Rgts
149th antitank Rgt
57th antiaircraft Rgt

1st South African Division 

1st, 2nd, 3rd Infantry Brigades
3rd AFV South African Rgt
1st President Steyn Rgt
1st, 4th, 7th SA Field Artillery Rgt
1st antitank SA Rgt
1st antiaircraft SA Rgt
8th Royal tanks Rgt
Free French Brigade
1st Naval Infantry Btn
2nd Naval Infantry Btn
13th Foreign Legion Rgt
French Pacific Btn

Source: http://www.touregypt.net/britishcemetery.htm

2. Some  images of 1 RTR from World War Two I found on the net from the late Les Dinning


NAAFI Break 1944

Conkey Harland

Cromwell
Men of 1 RTR enjoying a pint or two in Brussels on short leave from the front. Arthur Davies MM, my original tank commander mortally wounded together with the wireless operator, Tafffy Glenton, in Holland 1944 Conkey Harland DCM. Still with us. Sgt. John Mcconnichie MM and his tank Diana crossing the Orne Bridge in Normandy

3. Message from CO 1 RTR on deployment to Iraq 2003

Message from Lt Col Kidd to the lads on 21 March 2003: TO ALL RANKS JT NBC REGT (alias 1 RTR)

AS WE APPROACH H HOUR ON THE EVE OF THE REGIMENT’S FIRST DEPLOYMENT INTO BATTLE IT IS APPROPRIATE THAT THIS SPECIAL OCCASION IS MARKED. YOU ARE A REGIMENT MADE UP OF VERY DIFFERENT PEOPLE, BROUGHT TOGETHER, IN SOME CASES, AT VERY SHORT NOTICE. YOU HAVE BEEN REQUIRED TO WORK HARD IN SOME VERY CHALLENGING CIRCUMSTANCES TO PULL TOGETHER AS A TEAM AND TAKE ON THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR A CAPABILITY IGNORED BY MANY OVER THE YEARS. THIS YOU HAVE ACHIEVED THROUGH YOUR OWN SKILL, DEDICATION AND PRIDE. YOU ARE NOW REGARDED AS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL TO THE SURVIVAL OF THE FORCE. YOU ARE PREPARED TO OPERATE IN CONDITIONS THAT MANY WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO COPE WITH AND THAT YOU DO THIS WITH SUCH CONFIDENCE HAS CAPTURED THE ADMIRATION AND IMAGINATION OF MANY. REMEMBER, THAT AT A CERTAIN TIME AT A CERTAIN PLACE THE PART THAT YOU WILL PLAY WILL BE THE MOST IMPORTANT ANYWHERE ON THE BATTLEFIELD. FEAR NAUGHT. P J KIDD LIEUTENANT COLONEL COMMANDING OFFICER.
 http://www.firstroyaltankregiment.com/html/news.asp

4.

http://www.firstaif.info/fffaif/tanks.htm is the site where I found this, the original General Ellis RTR Battle Flag. Unfortunately they have had it hanging upside down all these years. There is no way of knowing if it is the genuine article as it was purchased from a shop in France by the current, Australian, owners.

http://www.palacebarracksmemorialgarden.org/Royal%20Tank%20Regiment.htm

5. Contains reference to Steve Smith, who died in Hannover as a result of a car bomb 2 July 1989

6. Regimental Standards

1 RTR - Retained
 
2 RTR - Retained
 
3 RTR - Laid up in St Peter-upon-Cornhill on 13 September 1992.
 
4 RTR - Laid up in St Peter-upon-Cornhill on 12 September 1993.
 
5 RTR - Laid up in St Peter-upon-Cornhill on 16 November 1969.
 
North Somerset Yeomanry /44 RTR - Laid up and subsequently retained by the National Army Museum in 1969.
 
Westminster Dragoons - Laid up in Westminster Abbey 23 October 1966
 
40/41 RTR - Laid up in Bootle Town Hall on 16 August 1975.

7. Silver Tank



Spotted in Bootle Town Hall, a silver tank. Presented to Col Jim Finigan by Vickers apprentices

8. Herford & Hildesheim

 

9. Jeff Lyman's MBE Award London Gazette 1991
 

http://www.1rtr.net/mbe.html

10. A Sqn Hong Kong Snippet

 

1st RTR Hong  Kong

From Claude Kent

This is an article from a regimental news- letter 1957/58. It is copied word for word. If my memory serves me right it was written by the Adjutant Capt Beede-Cox. 

During the months before squadron training began our three tiny and parched training areas hung with clouds of dust above each shaan (hill). In preparation for the sallying forth of “ B “ Squadron, who were first to brave the triple-headed monster, the gods sent down a sharp short shower of rain. And so without so without so much as a shower of dust to give reason for a gaily coloured neck-scarf, the boys gaily set out.  Alas!  The short sharp shower was in no way a preparation: it was a warning. Seven days later a damp looking procession splashed their way back to the tank park.

The rain no longer came and “ C “ Squadron, though mindful of the weathers treachery, set out in good order, capes and ground sheets well stowed. They were not to know that Hong Kong temperature could drop to such an impossible low level. How could they if they had never wintered here? Seven days later, faces frozen blue (dare one say ashen), softly swearing they returned.

Somewhat thoughtfully “ A “ Squadron, vehicles laden with clandestine blankets and ground sheets, trod the twice bitten trail. Quite gently a philosophical Chinese sun peeped through to warm the blue- eyed boys to give them a cherry pink complexion and to nurture their apple blossom haloes. Some days after their return their sun-tans were still visible

11. Korea, Page from a Book

12. Cambrai Lunch 1994

origin unknown

13. Tankie Officer

Daily Sketch Mon 3rd June 1940

14. General Jeremy Blacker
 

General Sir Jeremy Blacker KCB CBE 1 RTR

Died 17 March 2005

An officer and a gentleman hardly begins to describe him. Sadly missed by all who had the honour to know him.


The text is reproduced below:

GENERAL JEREMY BLACKER – OBITUARY

As a young officer in the 1960s, Jeremy Blacker came to the appreciation that while, short of war with the 3oviet Union, large-scale tank engagements were unlikely, the technical aspects of armoured warfare offered another a challenge and an outlet for his formidable intellect and energy.

He saw active service in the Middle East and Northern Ireland and commanded 1st Royal Tank Regiment in Germany, while the Warsaw Pact forces were still the major threat to peace, and subsequently 11th Armoured Brigade in the same theatre. But while ‘us technical expertise drew him remorselessly into that field — and almost certainly denying him command a division — his consequent contribution to technical development and procurement brought him great credit.

Anthony Stephen Jeremy Blacker was born in Singapore in 1939, the son of Kenneth A. Blacker, and educated at Sherborne and RMA Sandhurst, from where he was commissioned into the Royal Tank Regiment in 1959. He applied his technical bent early by taking an in-service degree in mechanical sciences at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, graduating BA in 1964. &side from this break, he served for eight years with 1st Royal Tanks; first in Hong Kong, the garrison of which then included a regiment of Comet tanks to help to deter any Chinese border incursion, then with Centurions in Germany and in the Western Aden Protectorate, where an armoured presence was required in support of the civil power in 1966, and finally in Bahrain.

He returned to England as an instructor at the Royal Armoured corps Signal School at Bovington in 1968, before attending the one-year :technical staff course at the Royal \4ilitary College of Science at Shrivenham and then the Staff College, Camberley; his showing there led to us selection for the Military Operations Directorate in the MoD.

When he returned to his regiment  in 1974, it had converted to armoured cars, of which he commanded a squadron in the “bandit country” of Omagh, Tyrone and Fermanagh for 20 months before going to Cyprus.

Promoted lieutenant-colonel in 1976 at the early age in peacetime of 37, he became the military assistant to the Vice-Chief of the General Staff. This was a exacting assignment to an invariably exacting individual; in Blacker’s case, first to the shrewd and calm Lieutenant-General Sir William Scotter and then, from early 1978, to the articulate and vigorous Lieutenant-General Sir John Stanier. Blacker’s composure suited these two quite different generals rather well. It was certainly good on-the-job training for high military office.

He took command of 1st Royal Tank Regiment, still in the armoured reconnaissance role, in Germany in 1979. Equipped with Scorpion and Scimitar tracked armoured vehicles, his command offered opportunity for flair in the fight for information, even on exercises. He rose eagerly to the situation, taking a regiment with an already good reputation to new levels of performance. Although he was professional and ambitious, care for his soldiers and the welfare of their families stood equally high in his priorities.

Promoted colonel in 1981, he went to the Royal Military College of Science as director of studies. This absorbed his interests, but he took care to avoid any re-emergence of the “absent-minded professor” reputation earned at the Staff College— when he once promised someone a game of squash, went to change and promptly forgot all about it.

Command of 11th Armoured Brigade in the 1st Armoured Division in Germany at the end of 1982 confirmed that he was under consideration for the Army’s higher echelon. Competition was intense and often pursued with no quarter given, but in the assessment of the divisional commander he emerged as the most decisive and quick-thinking of his brigade commanders, with a remarkable sense of how to use the ground to best tactical advantage. The 11th Armoured Brigade was also particularly self- confident and happy at this time, because of the same caring attitude he had consistently shown when commanding his regiment. From 1985 to 1987 he was principal staff officer to the Chief of Defence Staff; for the first few months to the always considerate and innovative Field Marshal Sir Edwin Bramall and then to Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Fieldhouse. Both men placed heavy demands on him and he thrived on the challenge. He was advanced to CBE in 1987, having been appointed OBE on conclusion of his time as military assistant to the Vice-Chief of the General Staff.

On promotion to major-general in 1987, he went back to Shrivenham as commandant, a post to which he was admirably suited by experience and personality, but he felt it might mark the end of his chances for further promotion.

Return to Whitehall as Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Operational Requirements) while very much his mark was still in two-star rank and offered no promise of preferment. Then, two years later, he was appointed Master-General of the Ordnance, a post dating from 1414.

Since the 1960s the incumbent has been responsible for the procurement from industry of the Army’s weapons and fighting equipment At the time of his appointment in 1991 it carried the rank of lieutenant-general, membership of the Army Board and almost certain promotion to 4-star rank. He was knighted KCB in 1992 and retired with the rank of general in 1995.

He was Colonel-Commandant of the Royal Mechanical and Electrical Engineers, 1987-92, of the Royal Tank Regiment, 1988-95 and of the Royal Armoured Corps, 1993-95 and Honorary Colonel of the Royal Yeomanry and Westminster Dragoons from 1997 to 2004.

After leaving the Army, he lived in Wiltshire playing golf and the stock market, both with success,  until his death from cancer. He married Julia Mary Trew in 1973. She survives him with two daughters. General Sir Jeremy Blacker, KCB, CBE, Master-General of the Ordnance, 1991-95, was born on May 6, 1939. He died on March 17, 2005, aged 65.

A memorial service for the late General Sir Jeremy Blacker was held at the College Chapel, RMA Sandhurst, Camberley on Tuesday 17th May. There were a lot of members of the regiment there who served with him from the 1960s onwards. Mike Seymour, Barry McCombe, Rob McAffee, H Robinson and others attended. The above text was also repeated in The Tank Vol 87 No 772 June 2005.

15. Major General Ian Baker CBE, MBE

On occasions Ian Baker’s unrelenting enthusiasm could have a disconcerting effect on less-energetic people around him. Yet nothing deterred or slowed him down; and he had much to show for his efforts. He could laugh at his enthusiasms too and would tell the story of how the dynamic leadership of his tank squadron along a German highway necessitated extensive and expensive repairs. Ian Helstrip Baker was the son of Capt H H Baker, who, after enlisting underage with a group of school friends, fought with E Battalion of the Tank Corps at Cambrai in November 1917. He was educated at St Peter’s School, York, and attended the short wartime course at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, before joining the first post war intake at RMA Sandhurst. He was quick to make his mark there and, in the absence of any cadet hierarchy from more senior terms, commanded one of the four companies on parade for the presentation of academy colours by King George VI in June 1947. He was considered a strong runner for the Sword of Honour and it came as a surprise to many when it went elsewhere. He was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in July 1948 and served with 10th Field Regiment and then 2nd RHA in the British Army of the Rhine before transferring to the RTR in 1955. He attended Staff College, Camberley, in 1959 and went to Malaya to join HO 17th Gurkha Division for the final year of the communist insurrection. On his return he was given the challenging command of the only parachute-delivered squadron of the RAC. This was an experimental enterprise intended to provide newly landed paratroops with a heavier and longer range antitank capability than was available within the infantry. The Malkara guided weapons systems launchers were dropped on platforms each sustained by four 66ft parachutes, whilst the operators descended using the customary one. As one can imagine there was plenty of difficulties to be overcome but Baker had the unit operational on schedule and was appointed MBE for his pains. He returned to Camberley as a member of the DS in 1965 and was promoted brevet lieutenant colonel after a year, giving him a status above his regimental peers, then going to the MOD to join the Chiefs of Staff Secretariat, where inter-service conflicts of interest could be seen at first hand. Command of 1 RTR, a stint as Regt Colonel and command of 7th Armoured Brigade in BAOR followed in rapid succession. Whilst in the latter post he instituted an experiment entitled ‘Square Rat’ from the brigade’s Desert Rats nickname, to test the square brigade structure. This was a move away from the three company organisations of the armoured regiments and mechanised infantry battalions that constrained tactics and impaired performance after casualties, by substituting a four and four structure. Results showed the effectiveness of Baker’s proposals decisively; his recommendations were sent to MOD by his divisional commander, Maj Gen (later Field Marshal Lord) Bramall, and were eventually accepted as standard practice.

After a year at the Royal College of Defence Studies in London, he went to HO UK Land Forces, Wilton, as BGS, for which service he was advanced to CBE. He left before completion of his tenure to undertake a short service fellowship at St Catherine’s College. Cambridge. He was promoted Major General in 1978 to become Assistant Chief of the General Staff (Operational Requirements) responsible for the acquisition of new weapons and equipment. This was an immensely important and indeed difficult task to undertake with success, presenting as it did a constant conflict between needs and financial resources. Baker tackled it with his customary vigour, undertaking detailed research into each project to achieve a timely result. Inevitably, given the slow pace of development of new systems, it was left to his successors to reap the benefit of his efforts.In 1980 he returned to York as GOC of the extensive NE District stretching from the Borders south to the Humber. While he was there, a strike of prison officers, called for the deployment of regular troops to ensure prison security This was a most unpopular task, not the least because the pay of the striking prison staff was significantly higher than that of the troops substituted for them. Baker visited every prison daily where his troops were on duty, giving forthright briefings to the press clamouring around each site with a force and passion seldom heard in such circumstances. Nothing escaped his notice or comment, with the result that the Army received much favourable coverage. As his record suggested that further advancement may have been on the cards, his retirement at 54 came as a surprise to some of his contemporaries. Yet, no doubt with happy recollections of his two brief experiences of university life, he applied for and was selected as secretary and head of administration of University College, London. There followed nine of possibly the most rewarding years of his active life. His involvement with all aspects of life at UCL and with individuals of all ages and disciplines set an example that brought widespread admiration. The visit of HM The Queen to open the work designed by Sir Hugh Casson for completion of the Front Quad in 1985 found him in his element, insisting on meticulous timing and a full dress rehearsal by every member of staff involved. On leaving UCL, he undertook a degree course in modern history at the Open University, graduating with a first in 1995. He had been a Colonel Commandant of the AIR from 1981 to 1986 but latterly he gave much of his time to regimental affairs and history. He was also proud to be a Rotarian and worked tirelessly to help raise money for local and international charities. He married Susan (Sally) Lock in 1956. She survives him with a son and daughter. Their elder son predeceased him.

16. Copied from a book and passed to me

17. Victory Parade - London

Caption reads: Cars of the Royal Armoured Corps passing the Tower of London were followed by latest types of Cruiser tanks. Much of this armour
was designed specially for European operations and came into use for the first time after the D Day landings.
Taken from The War Illustrated Vol 10 No 236 dated 5 July 1946.

http://www.warlinks.com/armour/6th_royal_tank/index.html - 6 RTR War Diary

http://www.geocities.com/hallersarmy/tank.html our Polish brothers in their 1 RTR