Battles with Panzers: Monty’s tank battalions 1 RTR & 2 RTR at war
By Patrick Delaforce
The story of Britain’s Royal Tank Regiment is one of struggle, triumph and achievement.
It may be relatively young, but this regiment’s years have seen the stalemate of trench warfare overcome, the restoration of battlefield mobility and the establishment of armoured and mechanised forces as a dominant factor in battle.
During the First World War, the 1st Royal Tank Regiment won two Victoria Crosses and were victors in the first-ever tank-versus-tank engagement, while 2 RTR fought in all the key Western Front battles from Messines in June 1917 to the armistice. Both formations took part in the massed armoured attack at Cambrai on 20 November 1917, a key encounter in the history of the tank.
During the Second World War, 1 RTR saw action in the North African desert, in Italy and in North-West Europe, forming the spearhead of 7th Armoured Division in the campaigns of 1944 and 1945. Following service with the British Expeditionary Force in France in 1940 and later in North Africa, 2 RTR fought a heroic rearguard action in Burma during 1942. During 1944 and 1945, 2 RTR took part in the Italian campaign, before ending its war in Austria.
Battles with Panzers draws upon interviews with some forty veteran officers and men of both battalions to tell the inspiring story of Britain’s two premier tank battalions at war. The narrative is interwoven with extensive interviews with these veterans, including the late Field Marshal Lord Carver who was a young tank commander with 1 RTR stationed in North Africa at the outbreak of war in 1939.