The brigade was formed on 1 December 1941 as one of ten Brigades to be equipped with Churchill tanks. In June 1942, it became part of the 1st Mixed Infantry Division. The 34th was transferred to the 43rd Mixed Infantry Division in September 1942 and a year later it returned to independent status (attached to XII Corps), when the concept of mixed divisions was abandoned.
The first two and half years of the Brigade’s existence were spent in training in southern England and it saw its first active service in Normandy on D-day + 10 (16 June) but the entire Brigade was not gathered together in France until early July. Its first combat was in support of the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division in Operation Greenline from 15 to 18 July, to enlarge the Odon bridgehead and advance beyond Hill 112. The enemy held a strong position and 153 Armoured Regiment suffered particularly severe casualties, including its commanding officer. Overall, the Brigade lost 30 Officers and 156 Other Ranks in this action. The Brigade continued in active service in Normandy until late August.
After a 14-day rest and reorganisation and now under the First Canadian Army, the Brigade crossed the River Seine on 4 September to prepare to assault Le Havre. The defenders’ morale was low and victory was completed on 12 September with minimal casualties. A troop of 7 Royal Tank Regiment, entered the fort and captured Colonel Hermann-Eberhard Wildermuth, the Garrison Commander, his whole staff and 400 prisoners.
On 29 September. the Brigade’s 300 Churchills, heavily loaded with munitions, moved on tracks northwards to Desvres, near Boulogne. On 2 October, the 7th Royal Tank Regiment, was detached to assist the containment of Dunkirk by 51 (Highland) Division, where it took a successful part in the siege.
By 6 October, the Brigade all regiments were immediately deployed into the front line around Eindhoven. In February, 1945, 34th Armoured Brigade provided armoured support to infantry units during the Battle of the Reichswald, in appalling ground conditions that caused more damage to its tanks than the enemy. It’s active service ended with the Rhine crossings.
STORY OF 34 ARMOURED BRIGADE 1941-45
A very scarce Brigade history in its original form, the large format and tightly typeset pages pack much useful information. The 34th Armoured Brigade was formed in 1941 as the 34th Army Tank Brigade and subsequently redesignated as the 34th Tank Brigade in February 1945. It then became part of the 79th Armoured Division. Equipped with Churchill tanks it provided close support for infantry assaults. The Brigade served in both the First Canadian Army and the British Second Army. It was disbanded in early 1946. Losses totalled 682 killed & wounded, with 272 tank losses of which 85 ‘brewed up’. Complete with Orders of Battle and awards roll.