The 9th Armoured Brigade was formed from the redesignation of the 4th Cavalry Brigade, a 1st Line Yeomanry (mounted) 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 the 10th Armoured Division.
El Alamein[edit | edit source]
The Brigade was nominally independent, but was placed under command of the 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 reached their objective. In fact, they took 75 percent casualties and lost 102 of their 128 tanks. Nevertheless, they breached the gun line and the 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 Lieutenant General Bernard Montgomery, commander of 8th Army, 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, Wilhelm von Thoma 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....
Post Alamein[edit | edit source]
After the battle the Brigade, reduced to a handful of operational tanks, 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 in support of the 78th Infantry Division, and the 4th Indian and 10th Infantry Divisions.
After the reformation of the Territorial Army in 1947, the Brigade was reformed as an independent formation within Northern Command. It was almost certainly disbanded by the time the Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve formed in 1967.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- C.E. Lucas-Phillips, Alamein, (London: Heinemann, 1962) 358
- Hamilton, Monty, 147.
- The Times, 11 May 1967.
- 174 — General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence | NZETC
References[edit | edit source]
- Graham Watson, United Kingdom: The Territorial Army 1947, v 1.0, 10 March 2002
- 9 Armoured Brigade at Orders of Battle.com
Further reading[edit | edit source]
During Operation Supercharge (the battle of El Alamein):
- 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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