Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Team Yankee - Iron Division - Resources

The next release in the Battlefront's Team Yankee project are the British, and its fairly easy to make out which formation of the 3rd Armoured Division they are basing the release on - the 4th Armoured Brigade...

I thought it might be interesting for me, and possibly useful for you, if I put together some information and resources about the 3rd Armoured Division and 4th Armoured Bde. On the cards Battlefront have already released to the  WWPD The British are Coming preview, its clear what the main combat units are,

but not so far the support units, so I have investigated the BAOR order of battle for August 1985 to fill in those gaps where possible...I will also provide a potted history and some nicknames and known equipment for these units.

So starting from the top, we have the British Army of the Rhine, BAOR, which as the Cold War developed, grew out of the garrison of the occupied British sector of Germany, in the North West of Germany. Appropriate given the ancestral links between the British Royal family and Hanover! The BAOR badge is that of the WW2 21st Army Group - 2 Crusader's swords on a blue cross on a red shield. In heraldry, a downward pointing sword equates to defence and protecting the weak. All I knew as a snotty nosed garrison brat is that growing up in a BAOR garrison meant meat on the table, as opposed to the poverty stricken 1970's UK! General Sir Martin Farndale, KCB, was CinC BAOR in Aug 1985, based in Rheindahlen
Under BAOR was its single Corps, 1(BR) Corps, based in Bielefeld, was commanded by Lt-Gen Sir Brian Kenny, KCB, CBE. In 1985 his Corps commanded an Artillery Brigade and 2 Armoured Divisions in Germany, the 1st Armoured Division as well as our 3rd Armoured Division, and the 2nd Infantry division, located back in the UK which would transfer to Germany upon concentration/mobilisation.

So back to our 3rd Armoured Division!

Its divisional level assets were considerable:

3rd Armoured Division HQ and Signal Squadron, Royal Signals, based in Soest, Nord-Rhine Westfalia.

1st Queen's Dragoon Guards. This was the divisional Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment. 1 QDG enjoyed a variety of nicknames from their various previous regiments, probably the most relevant was the Welsh Cavalry from their recruiting area, also the rusty buckles, the bays (from The Queen's Bays). On a personal note, my unit worked with these chaps for the Cardiff Royal Tournament of 1985, and I have to say a merrier and more hospitable bunch of troopers you could never meet!

It was equipped with the CVR(T) family, mainly Scimitar 'light tanks', of which there would have been 48, divided amongst 4 Medium Reconnaissance squadrons, each of 3 Troops of 4 x Scimitar. Its worth remembering, when designing scenarios, that as well as recce, the role of the Armoured Recce Regiment was also to secure the Division's flanks, independent raids, and fire support to infantry, amongst others.

2nd Field Regiment Royal Artillery, equipped with M109 155mm medium self propelled guns.

Its 3 constituent batteries might have been lent out to brigades, or kept under Divisional command: L, N, O Field Batteries RA.

19th Field Regiment Royal Artillery, equipped with Abbot 105mm light self propelled guns. Its 4 constituent batteries would have been loaned out to the brigades and battlegroups: 5,13, 25 and 28 Field Batteries RA.

46th Air Defence Battery RA, equipped with Blowpipe MAPAD SAMs.
Royal Artillerymen are generally referred to as Gunners of course, or, 'dropshorts' if one is being unkind, or the Royal Regiment if you're trying to cadge a drink...good luck with that...

J Battery Royal Horse Artillery, equipped with FV438 Swingfire LRATGW.

I'm going to be careful what I say about the horse gunners, cos my Baz was one - lets just say their regimental march is Bonnie Dundee - make of that what you will...I daresay with the horizon filled with oncoming Soviet armour the rest of the Bde would be just be grateful for their missiles and forget they sing about a cake...

26 Engineer Regiment - 5, 25, 30 Field Squadrons Royal Engineers. Engineers are know as Sappers, or 'Ginger Beer's'...

3rd Regiment Army Air Corps - 653, 662, 663 Squadrons AAC.

Plus of course crucial support elements from the Royal Corps of Transport, Royal Electical and Mechanical Engineers, Royal Army Ordnance Corps, Royal Corps of Military Police and sundry other technical and logistics detachments.

Before we get onto 4 Armd Bde, a word about its sister Bde the 6th Airmobile Bde. This was something of an experimental set up in 1985, equipped with a larger than average  complement of Milan ATGW, 42 firing posts per battalion rather than 26, to be moved by Pumas of 203 Squadron RAF or Chinooks of 18 Squadron RAF, and employed in the path of the major Soviet thrust in the Division's area, once identified, in the counter penetration role.


So finally to drill down to 4th Armoured Brigade and its regiments:

The 17th/21st Lancers were obviously amalgamated from the 2 antecedent Lancer regiments. Lancers were introduced into the British army immediately after the Battle of Waterloo, so impressed was the army with the performance of the French and Polish lancers. Perhaps the greatest moment of glory for this regiment was its part in the Charge of the Light Brigade. As well as 'the death or glory boys', the were also referred to as 'the grey lancers' cos of their No1 uniform facing colours, or 'the Horse Marines' from a period serving at sea in the West Indies in 1785...

 As a Type 57 Armoured Regiment it would have field 57 Chieftain MBT and 8 Scorpion CVR(T) in its Recce Troop. There were 4 armoured squadrons, each with 2 HQ MBTs and 4 Tank Troops of 3 MBTs each.

Exactly the same organisation for the Queen's Royal Irish Hussars, QRIH, who sport a very individual style of headgear, know as Tent Caps, which do not feature a badge as everyone who's anyone should know who they are...
Their nickname was The Crossbelts.

And so we come to the infantry component of 4 Armd Bde,

which at this time was provided by the 1st Battalion the Irish Guards - the Micks.

Now its rumoured that in Team Yankee they are going to give British Infantry suitably high quality attributes, and of course there can be no better Regiment than the Micks to represent the cream of British Infantry!

As a Type A Mechanised Infantry Battalion, the Micks would have fielded 3 Mechanised Companies and a Fire Support Company, as well as HQ Company.

The Fire Support Coy. had 3 elements, an Anti Tank Platoon of 5 sections amounting to 24 Milan Firing Posts, Recce Platoon of 8 Scimitar CVR(T), and a Mortar Platoon of 8 x Mortars, probably carried in FV432 APCs.

The 3 Rifle Companies would each have had 3 Platoons, of 3 sections each with its own FV432 Armoured Personnel Carrier.

Sources - Books:

I'm lucky to have acquired quite a collection of books from this era, not all of which may be in print - rather than list them all, these are the key ones I have used for this post:

G.E Watson & R.A. Rinaldi; The British Army in Germany (BAOR and after): An organizational History 1947-2004; 2005, Tiger Lily pubs.

Terry Gander; Encyclopaedia of the Modern British Army, 3rd Ed, 1985, Guild Publishing London.

Robin McNish; Iron Division, the History of the 3rd Division 1809-2000, 3rd Ed, 2000, Ian Allan.
Online blogs and websites

There are several really well researched and useful websites, often run by veterans:


OK I think that's it for now - I hope this has been useful!


  1. Thanks. Wow That brings back memories. As a boy I used to live near the West Riding Barracks in Dortmund.
    Later on I was near the Bradbury barracks in Krefeld. Great write up

  2. Thanks so much mate! We used to live around Osnabruck...

  3. Its been pointed out to me that just prior to 1985 the Swingfire LRATGW has transitioned from the Royal Artillery to the Royal Armoured Corps, so instead of the RHA unit you should give 9 X Swingfire to the armoured Regiment. That said, I know of at least one wargamer who will be retaining the RHA element!

  4. I was stationed at West Riding Barracks with Q Bty, 5th Heavy Regt.

    1. Yes 5th did have the M110.
      Before we joined them (5th) we was in a Locating Regt as 73 Loc Bty, 94 Loc Regt RA as corps asset's. When we joined 5th we took over the 'Q' title, dropped the 73 ( sad day ) but we was still a Locating Battery. The gun bunny's did not like us much at first. We could use words with more than 4 letters in them. This confused them.

    2. My bad they had M 107's not M 110

  5. really useful precis Sparker ! ..thanks for the briefing !

  6. Thanks for the brief Sparker. I've just purchased copies of the recommended reading :)