40th Division: 3rd Royal Tank Regt & 3 Commando Brigade

Discussion in 'Postwar' started by Charley Fortnum, Jun 2, 2017.

  1. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    No, but now I will.
  2. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    The site contains many photo albums etc. A good start might be the Fred Evans collection. Good luck because it's a massive collection!
  3. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Was digging around online and found a great photograph of a 40th Div marked vehicle--thought somebody might like to see it:

    Screen Shot 2018-10-07 at 23.56.06.jpg

    Photograph: Hong Kong 1955
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2018
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  4. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Time Magazine uploaded a brilliant set of British reinforcements for 40th Inf Div arriving in Hong Kong and be inspected by General Sir John Harding, Commander-In-Chief, FARELF.

    Music, beer and brass!

    Hong Kong Reinforcements
    Date taken:
    August 8, 1949
    Photographer: Jack Birns

    1bd1c9b689feab96_large.jpeg 3e089a52c83555dd_large.jpeg 7aa4a7844039e993_large.jpeg 07f1e7a3751a4f7d_large.jpeg 7ffae511676d929a_large.jpeg 31dce3deec32834f_large.jpeg 484e750e5668ff1c_large.jpeg 824d2cd9fbdd1707_large.jpeg 5860bf9e0a8eaafd_large.jpeg 45689ce808d4c1e1_large.jpeg 433385f1123e55e7_large.jpeg 01230717bf7a9d1c_large.jpeg b0941e8187fd52ad_large.jpeg b9769baba36431c8_large.jpeg bd78b420bb0f614e_large.jpeg c8e92ae3289ffa36_large.jpeg c85f4b19455c6f7e_large.jpeg c9540800261058dd_large.jpeg cddf2821b521b40d_large.jpeg ceb5b8fe14b3337b_large.jpeg d5f929d9af5d5050_large.jpeg e3baeaed1c4e9f75_large.jpeg ebd69a31170d89ec_large.jpeg ff0db0a8d127ee89_large.jpeg

    Hong Kong Reinforcements - Hosted by Google
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  5. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    This has come up on eBay. Can anybody figure out the cap badge? [Click to enlarge, but it isn't perfectly clear]

  6. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    RAF Regiment? As you say, it's difficult to make out on the photo but this looks a good chance.

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  7. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic


    Do you know precisely when the Hong Kong Comet tanks became part of 48 Gurkha Brigade rather than being part of 40 Division? Similarly what happened to 40Div at that time?...or am I confused? :)

    Apologies if we've already covered this point but I'm trying to iron out some itsy-bitsy details re vehicle markings and timeline
  8. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    I have only that B-Sqdrn arrived in Hong Kong around May '49 and the rest followed on in June, but you know that.

    48th Gurkha Brigade was formed in Nov-Dec '49, but in Pehang, Malaya and didn't move to the Hong Kong garrison until 1957 (I think).

    I have read that at some point at least some elements of 3 RTR were in Malaya on live-firing exercises, but I can't say when.

    I have 3 Royal Tank Regiment as 40th Div Un-brigaded in 1950 to early '51. 40th Infantry Division was disbanded in April 1952, having been denuded of much of its strength owing to the need to reinforce Korea and Malaya.

    So my assumption--and not a very helpful one--is that 3RTR joined 48 Gurkha at some point between April 52 and 1957, which is a large enough period to be of little help to anybody.
  9. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Thanks Charley. Appreciated.

    3RTR were replaced by 7RTR in about 1952 and them by 7th Queens Own Hussars in about 1955 and them by 1RTR in about 1957. I have a photo of dad's former tank (20ZR65) with the 7QOH and still showing the 40Div Cockerel emblem in 1955 then showing a Dragon emblem in 1957 and then the 48G Brigade marking in 1958. Curiouser and curiouser and, it would appear, the reason for my possibly circular question/answer!
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2018
  10. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles


    They didn't like repainting?

    Perhaps they were instructed to maintain the illusion that the division was in existence despite the defence having been downgraded.

    Andy is working on an order for me at the moment that includes a handful of the HK brigade files (alas 'diaries' doesn't really describe them) for 1949 & 1950. (Not 48 Gurkha Bde, I'm afraid).

    In the event that any other snippets turn up in them, I'll post the information here.

    Have you attempted to chase citations? If somebody in the unit was decorated during the period, the citation will have been passed up the chain of command and may give you a glimpse of the organisation--check the signatures and titles.

    Not so many medals floating around in the cold war, but officers often picked up gongs for good organisation, logistics and planning.
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  11. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Intriguing. Time for me to produce a timeline of tank numbers, names and markings! I'm fortunate in that, apart from it's time with 7RTR, I now have photos of dad's old Comet T335335 aka 20ZR65 broadly as follows:
    3RTR 1945 T335335 Celerity Germany showing 11th Armoured Division marking when dad was its Driver
    3RTR 1949 T335335 Calais Hong Kong (other markings not visible due to mud or camera angle)
    7QOH 1955 20ZR65 Hong Kong (tanks not named by 7QOH) showing Cockerel marking. (I'm in distant contact with its former Driver!)
    1RTR 1957 20ZR65 Hong Kong possibly named Alamein and showing a Dragon marking (I'm in contact with a REME chap who used to maintain it!)
    1RTR 1958 20ZR65 Hong Kong named Sidi Barrani showing 48 Gurkha Brigade marking (when it was maintained by the same REME chap) and also, sadly in a way but delightful in another way, a photo with it in the same markings while actually being scrapped!

    Incidentally, most of that information was gleaned by a combination of visits to the Tank Museum Library and the gwulo website I mentioned a few posts ago.
  12. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Going back to the original 40th Div order of battle project, this was a handy find:

    17/3/50 and no commando presence--must check that out.

    P8130398.jpeg P8130399.jpeg P8130400.jpeg

    WO 268-289 40 Infantry Division G Branch 1949 Jun-1950 Mar


    3 CDO BDE:

    1945: India. Hong Kong.

    1946.09.12: Hong Kong.

    1947.05.17: Left Hong Kong for Malta.

    1947.06: Malta (Jan to Apr 48: Elements of brigade HQ served in the Canal Zone)

    1949.08: Hong Kong
    (Dec 49: 40th Infantry Division. OOB - 40 Commando, 42 Commando, 45 Commando)

    1950.05: Malaya.
    (Dec 50: HQ Ipoh: OOB - Sqn/4th Hussars, 22 SAS, 40, 42 & 45 Commando RM).

    British Army units from 1945 on - 3 Commando Brigade
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2018
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  13. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Right, news.

    Although 3RTR were 'unbrigaded' in 40th Div, they were attached HQ 28th Brigade for 'local administration' from 29/3/50. They were also conducting exercises with this brigade. I'll be able to ascertain more details, but, unfortunately, this is the final quarter beyond which 'diaries/historical statements' were not retained for units not engaged in fighting; comparatively few such units have archived paperwork after spring 1950.

    WO 268/792: HQ 28th Inf Bde Jan-Mar 1950.
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  14. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Stumbled across a nice propaganda poster from 1950:

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  15. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Recently received an old journal in the post, it isn't much, but there are a few more snippets of interest in this brief article:

    The Journal of the Royal Artillery, Vol. LXXIX

    Scan 2.jpg
    Scan 3.jpg
  16. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    I was also helped out by dml34 of this parish who kindly supplied a FARELF Order of Battle for May '51 (from: WO 32/16318)

    FARELF Orbat May 51.jpg
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  17. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Nothing more than garnish, but finally a decent digital version of the divisional badge turned up on wikipedia.

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  18. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    I had a bit of a brain-wave and downloaded the full series of 1949 War Office maps from the National Library of Australia. Each sheet is a couple of hundred megabytes in size with more or less the same quality as the immaculate originals. We use a sign-maker for our business who has a printer the size of my bedroom, so I had him try three of the sheets at 1:1 scale (a little short of a metre long). I'd expected him to print on thick paper, but there was a bit of a communication glitch and he printed them on the heavy matte-plastic he uses for outdoor posters--and the result is better than I'd hoped. What's more, because they're quite weighty and they roll outward, they stay open on flat surfaces. About £8 per sheet and they look like this:

    SmartSelect_20200619-122419_Gallery.jpg SmartSelect_20200619-122539_Gallery.jpg
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2020
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  19. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

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  20. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    A couple of years ahead and slightly off topic, but the IWM have uploaded some lovely colour footage of 'the last Spitfires in Hong Kong':


    Object description
    Amateur film shot by Dick Labrum while serving with the Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force (HKAAF) Film Unit, featuring the final flight of four Supermarine Spitfires of the HKAAF, including Spitfire F.24 VN485, now on display at the Imperial War Museum's Duxford site in Cambridgeshire.

    Content description
    "The Spitfire Mk1 first flew on 5 March 1936. Nineteen years later on the occasion of the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 1955, four Spitfires of the Hong Kong Auxilliary Air Force flew past His Excellency The Governor Sir Alexander Grantham G.C.M.G. marking the end of their service with British Forces." Preparations are made for the four Spitfires to display. The pilots dressing in the crew room. Fuelling Spitfires on the airfield apron. A list of the aircraft appearing in the flypast is displayed on a blackboard, including Austers, Harvards and the Spitfires. Pre-flight checks are performed and the four Spitfires prepare for take off. The Spitfires taxi out and take off one by one [Aircraft are: two PR.Mk.19 models PS852 and PS854, and two F.24 VN318 and VN485]. Aerial views of the Spitfires in the air and flying over land. Ground views of the Spitfires, Austers and Harvards appearing at the ceremony, witnessed by Sir Alexander. Air-to-air views of the Spitfires, during which one of the Spitfire lowers and then raises its undercarriage. Scenes inside Air Traffic Control. One by one the Spitfires return to the airfield. The film ends with VN485 being towed into a hangar and the hangar doors then closed, signifying the end of the Spitfire's flying career.

    THE LAST OF THE FEW [Main Title]
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