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Grenadier GuardsThe Grenadier Guards

Grenadier Guards

1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards was the Motor Battalion in 5th Guards Armoured Brigade, Guards Armoured Division.


Guards Armoured Division was a remarkable part of the British Army. It was formed in 1941 to increase the number of tank regiments available in the event of invasion but this did not please everybody. Some argued that the Guardsmen were too tall to fit in tanks and too rigidly disciplined to fight them with skill and initiative. And it did not help that their armoured regiments did not regard themselves as an integral part of the Royal Armoured Corps. Events were to prove the doubters wrong.

Tank Museum photo No. 2985/B/4
Tank Museum photo No. 2985/B/4 Half-tracks of 1st Grenadier Guards in France.

On the eve of D-Day, like most other armoured divisions, Guards Armoured consisted of one infantry brigade (formed from battalions of the Coldstream, Welsh and Irish Guards) and 5th Guards Armoured Brigade, which comprised Grenadier, Coldstream and Irish Guards in tanks plus 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards as the Motor Battalion. This was probably done on account of height since, on average, 1st Battalion, which included the King's Company, featured some of the tallest men in the British Army.

Tank Museum photo No. 2985/B/2
Tank Museum photo No. 2985/B/2 Half-track and Carriers in France.

The role of the Motor Battalion was to operate in lightly armoured vehicles, in close company with the tanks to provide them with immediate infantry support. The Motor Battalion was organised as three Motor Companies, which had twelve Half-Tracks to carry the infantry of three Motor Platoons and eleven Universal Carriers in the Carrier Platoon.

Tank Museum photo No. 4846/B/1
Tank Museum photo No. 4846/B/1 Churchill and Montgomery in a half-track of 1st Grenadier Guards at the end of the war - but they are inspecting 7th Armoured Division, the Desert Rats.

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