Second World War: 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade

The 1st Canadian Tank Brigade was formed on 4 February 1941. The Ontario Regiment and The Three Rivers Regiment were transferred from the incomplete 1st Canadian Armoured Division to provide the nucleus of the 1st Canadian Tank Brigade in February 1941. In March, The Calgary Regiment joined the new brigade from 2nd Division. The Fort Garry Horse were also originally part of the brigade, but transferred to the 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division in May 1941. The 1st Tank Brigade moved to the United Kingdom in the summer of 1941; personnel arrived in the Clyde on 30 June and were promptly moved to Salisbury Plain where they were issued sufficient Churchill tanks for training. The Calgary Regiment participated in the disastrous Dieppe landing in 1942. Issued brand new M4 "Sherman" tanks, the entire brigade moved to the Mediterranean, with The Three Rivers Regiment participating in the assault landing at Pachino. The remainder of the brigade landed with the follow-up convoy of 13 July and served alongside the Three Rivers Regiment for the final weeks of the Allied invasion of Sicily. The 1st Tank Brigade's role in the latter operations was largely one of fire support, the rugged terrain limiting the role of the armoured corps. The fight for Sicily ended with 1st Tank in reserve.

Preparing for Operation Baytown, the Allied invasion of Italy, it was redesignated 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade in August 1943. Although reorganized as an armoured brigade, no motor battalion served under command. Having established a reputation for both courage and skill, the Canadian tankers were in constant demand by senior British commanders. The brigade took part in the landings of the Eighth Army on the toe of Italy in Operation Baytown in September 1943. Its regiments participated in the Battles of Potenza, Termoli, Ortona. During the fourth and final Battle of Monte Cassino in May 1944, the brigade helped break the Winter Line (Gustav Line), crossing the Gari River in support of the 8th Indian Division. Its regiments helped the 1st Canadian Division and the 78th Division in breaking the Hitler Line. It cooperated with the XIII Corps in the Battle of Lake Trasimeno. It was active in the crossing of the Arno River and later fought on the Gothic Line.

Combined with the 1st Canadian Infantry Division and 5th Canadian Armoured Division as part of I Canadian Corps, the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade was moved from the Italian Front and joined the First Canadian Army in Northern Europe at the beginning of 1945. Here it participated in the crossing of the IJssel River. In its two incarnations as 1st Tank and 1st Armoured, the brigade's service at Dieppe, France, in Sicily, Italy and Northwest Europe earned it the distinction of the longest and widest service of any brigade of the Canadian Army during the Second World War.

Commanding Officers

Major General F. F. Worthington (5 March 1941- 28 January 1942)

Brigadier General R.A Wyman (28 January 1942- 27 February 1944)

Brigadier General W. Murphy (27 February 1944 - )

1st Canadian Armoured Brigade Order of Battle, from 4 February 1941

1st Canadian Armoured Brigade Headquarters Squadron (The Prince Edward Island Light Horse)

11th Armoured Regiment (The Ontario Regiment)

12th Armoured Regiment (Three Rivers Regiment)

14th Armoured Regiment (The Calgary Regiment)

A (& later B) Squadrons, 25th Armoured Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment)

1st Canadian Armoured Brigade Signals (RCCS)

1st Canadian Armoured Brigade 83 Company (RCASC)

1st Canadian Light Field Ambulance(No. 2 CLFA) (RCAMC)

1st Canadian Armoured Brigade Workshop (RCEME)

1st Canadian Armoured Brigade Ordnance, PG PK (RCOC)

1st Canadian Heavy Recovery (RCEME)

1st Canadian Army Tank Troops Workshop (RCEME)

1st Canadian Assault Troop (CAC)

II Canadian Corps Defence Company (The Prince Edward Island Light Horse)

During the Second World War, the PEI Light Horse on 27 February 1941 mobilized an Armoured Squadron which formed the Headquarters Squadron of the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade. They would later on 1 November 1943 be reorganized as the 2nd Canadian Corps Defence Company (The Prince Edward Island Light Horse). On 6 July 1944, the PEI Light Horse landed in France and served as part of the II Canadian Corps until the end of the war in Europe in May 1945

11th Armoured Regiment (The Ontario Regiment)

The regiment landed in Sicily on 13 July 1943, as part of the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade, and in Italy on 3 September 1943 in support of 17th Brigade, 5th British Division. On 8 March 1945 the regiment moved with the 1st Canadian Corps to North-West Europe as part of Operation Goldflake, where it fought until the end of the war. The overseas regiment was disbanded on 15 December 1945.[

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3208394)

Crew from 11th Armoured Regiment Ontario Tanks, Lt. H.S. Nixon (on top), Sgt. T.W. McCutcheon (at side), and Tpr. E. Kobarnynka (in tank) driving in tank from Germans who had left it because of lack of gasoline, 10 May 1945.

12th Armoured Regiment (Three Rivers Regiment)

On 21 June 1941 it embarked for Britain. The regiment landed in Sicily on 10 July 1943 and in Italy on 12 September 1943 as part of the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade. On 8 March 1945 the regiment moved with the I Canadian Corps to North-West Europe as part of Operation Goldflake. There it fought until the end of the war. The overseas regiment disbanded on 30 November 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3209253)

A Churchill tank of the Three Rivers Regiment taking part in Exercise SPARTAN, England, 8 March 1943.

(Stuart Phillips Photo)

14th Armoured Regiment (The Calgary Regiment)

On 16 February 1941, the 14th Army Tank Battalion (Calgary Regiment) was mobilized at Mewata Barracks.[5] When the Canadian Armoured Corps was created, the Calgary Regiment lost its status as an infantry regiment and transferred to the new corps. A reserve regiment remained in Calgary. The regiment was composed of 400 members of the reserve battalion, drawing also from reinforcement personnel from The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada and the Edmonton Regiment. The original 'A' Squadron was drawn from Olds and district, 'B' Squadron from Stettler area, 'C' Squadron from Red Deer, and Headquarters from Calgary, High River, and Okotoks district.  In March 1941 the regiment moved to Camp Borden, becoming part of the First Army Tank Brigade and in June 1941 sailed for Great Britain. Matilda tanks were initially used on the Salisbury Plains, but these were replaced later in the year by the first manufactured Churchills.

The overseas unit trained on various vehicles in Canada and the United Kingdom, and in August 1942 took the Churchill tank into battle for the first time at Dieppe. During the battle, the Battalion suffered casualties: two officers and eleven men were killed, 33 men and officers were wounded and taken prisoner with 143 other men; Only five of 181 men returned to England after the battle. A notable casualty was Lieutenant Colonel "Johnny" Andrews, who was killed in action.  In the spring of 1943, Lieutenant-Colonel C.H. Neroutsos took command of the regiment. The new unit went to Sicily in 1943 with the First Canadian Army Tank Brigade, re-equipped with the Sherman tank.  

In late February 1945 the regiment was moved to Leghorn and embarked to Marseilles, France, where it moved by rail to the North West Europe theatre. The regiment moved to the Reichswald Forest and on 12 April 1945 fought in the Second Battle of Arnhem, supporting the 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division to Ede, the Netherlands. The regiment's final actions of the Second World War were in support of the 1st Belgium Brigade in clearing the resistance between the Nederrijn and Waal Rivers. When the overseas unit returned to Canada in 1945, it was disbanded, and the Calgary Regiment continued its service as a reserve armoured unit.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3202266)

Technical Quartermaster O.T. Hanson of the Calgary Regiment checking tank parts as the regiment re-equips with Sherman Vc Firefly tanks, Dottignies, Belgium, 22 March 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3524684)

Canadian tanks of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division moving out of LST at arrival in Marseilles, France, 6 March 1945.

Headquarters and F Squadron, 25th Armoured Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment) Canadian Armoured Corps (CAC).

In 1942 it was designated as the 25th Armoured Regiment (The Elgin Regiment). In 1943 it became the1st Canadian Tank Delivery Regiment, laterthatsme year renamed the 25th Canadian Tank Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment).  From 1943 to 1945 it served as the 25th Armoured Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment).  "A" & "B" Squadrons were attached to 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade.  "C" Squadron was attached to 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade.  "D" Squadron was attached to 4th Canadian Armoured Division. "E" Squadron was attached to II Canadian Corps. "F" Squadron was attached to First Canadian Army.  "G" Squadron was attached to 5th Canadian Armoured Division, and "H" Squadron was attached to I Canadian Corps.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No.)

A Sherman from the Canadian 25th Armoured Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment) rolls down the road in France, 1944.