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New WW2 Military Coffee Mugs UK - Order Yours Now!
11 Oz tank regiment mug
The unit's origins lie in the six tank companies of the Heavy Branch of the Machine Gun Corps. These had risen to eight by November 1916, when they were each expanded into battalions and given the letters A to H. These eight battalions were officially split off from the Machine Gun Corps on 28 July 1917 by Royal Warrant to form the Tank Corps - its battalions thus switched from letters to numbers.
The new unit's first commander was Hugh Elles, who had already commanded Heavy Branch for a year. By the time of the Armistice, after only two years' existence, four officers in or attached to the regiment had been awarded the Victoria Cross and in 1923 it was granted the prefix 'Royal'.
By January 1918 the Corps had 15 battalions, rising to 26 by December the same year. However, far fewer tanks were needed for Britain's post-war commitments, so from 1919 onwards the 26 battalions were reduced to a depot battalion and four active battalions. However, three more regular battalions had been re-formed by 1939, giving a total of eight, supplemented by a large number of territorial battalions. In April that year, the Royal Tank Corps was renamed the Royal Tank Regiment and placed under the umbrella of the new Royal Tank Corps, alongside all the British Army's mechanised cavalry units.
The Royal Tank Regiment served on all fronts during the Second World War, but then underwent another set of amalgamations and disbandments, with the number of regular battalions falling to five in 1959, four in 1969 and finally two in 1994. The two remaining battalions are two of the regiment's oldest, tracing their ancestry back to B Battalion formed in 1917 and the 1st Light Battalion established in 1934.