Chain of Command:Abyssinia – Royal Tank Corps

The Royal Tank Corps

Middle East command was to gain an Infantry Tank Brigade and to this end two independent armoured car companies were amalgamated into the new 6th Battalion Royal Tank Corps in 1933. One was in fact a light tank squadron, while the other was actually equipped with armoured cars, which were surrendered to bring the 11th Hussars to full strength. Four Vickers Medium Tank MK.IIA ‘Tropicals’ (clad in asbestos sheets) had been sent for trial in Egypt and these formed the initial ‘heavy’ component of the new battalion.

In the UK the existing battalions of the RTC (2nd, 3rd & 5th) had their light tank companies removed and amalgamated to form 1st (Light) Battalion RTC. The remaining 4th Battalion RTC was at this point in time an armoured car battalion. A period of training was planned for the new 1st Battalion before being sent to Egypt, but events would not wait for this to be completed and the battalion, along with more light and medium tanks, was sent to Egypt to bring the brigade up to strength.

The organisation of the two battalions was fundamentally different. The 1st Battalion consisted of three companies, each with a company headquarters of a single light tank and two sections each of five light tanks. The bulk of the vehicles were two-man Vickers Light Tanks MK.II or III, but a number of three-man Vickers Light Tank MK.V were also sent, but it is not known whether these joined 1st or 6th Battalion in the event. The MK.Vs were however in platoons of three vehicles, rather than five.

6th Battalion which still only had two companies, was formed into mixed companies with the arrival of the additional medium and light tanks. Each of these had a medium and a light tank for the company HQ and a recce section of two Vickers Carden-Loyd tankettes. There were two medium sections of two tanks each and two sections each of five Light Tanks MK. II & III, or three MK.V light tanks, depending on the actual deployment of the new vehicles.

While the force seems quite scant, all of the RTCs light tanks were now deployed overseas (if the independent companies in India are considered), barring a few training vehicles, around half of them in Egypt itself, along with a tenth of its mediums. With a two front war seeming very likely, the decision whether to deploy a battalion to the South and if so which one, was a problem being wrestled with by Middle East Command.

Chain of Command British Royal Tank Corps army list

2 thoughts on “Chain of Command:Abyssinia – Royal Tank Corps

  1. Pingback: Chain of Command Abyssinia: The Royal Tank Corps – Lard Island News

  2. Pingback: British Royal Tank Corps - Lardy Lists

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