British 3rd infantry division

British 3rd infantry division Image

Printed 3rd Div patch. .
Single cloth strip and black patch, with small silver Rose for East Yorkshire regiment

The 3rd Mechanised Division, known at various times as the Iron Division, 3rd (Iron) Division or as Iron Sides; is a regular army division of the British Army. It was created in 1809 by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, as part of the Anglo-Portuguese Army, for service in the Peninsular War, and was known as the Fighting 3rd under Sir Thomas Picton during the Napoleonic Wars. The division is also sometimes referred to as the Iron Division, a nickname earned during the bitter fighting of 1916, during the First World War. The division's other battle honours include: the Battle of Waterloo, the Crimean War, the Second Boer War, the Battle of France (1940) and D-Day (1944). It was commanded for a time, during the Second World War, by Bernard Montgomery. The division was to have been part of a proposed Commonwealth Corps, formed for a planned invasion of Japan in 1945-46, and later served in British Mandate Palestine.

During the Second World War, the insignia became the "pattern of three" — a black triangle trisected by an inverted red triangle.

Composition 1940–44

For over a year after Dunkirk the composition of 3rd Division remained largely unchanged (except that the motorcycle battalion was converted into 3rd (Royal Northumberland Fusiliers) Reconnaissance Regiment). Then, in September 1941, 7th Brigade (Guards) was transferred to the Guards Armoured Division, and the following November 37th Independent Infantry Brigade HQ joined 3rd Division and was renumbered 7th Brigade with the following composition:

7th Infantry Brigade
2nd Battalion, South Wales Borderers
2/6th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment
6th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment
7th Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company

The brigade anti-tank companies were disbanded during 1941 and 92nd (Loyals) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, joined the division in March 1942.

In June 1942, 3rd Division was reorganised as a 'Mixed' Division, with 33rd Tank Brigade replacing 7th Infantry Brigade:

33rd Tank Brigade
43rd Royal Tank Regiment
144th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps
148th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps

By early 1943, the experiment with 'mixed' divisions was abandoned, and 3rd Division reverted to being an infantry formation, 33rd Tank Brigade being replaced by 185th Infantry Brigade from 79th Armoured Division:

185th Infantry Brigade
2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
1st Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment
2nd Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry

Thus the division had attained the organisation with which it went into action on D-day.

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