How to tell 1st from 7th RTR?

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by Retroliser, Jul 15, 2022.

  1. Retroliser

    Retroliser Member

    Hello, everyone! I apologise if this query has already been answered somewhere previously, but I could not find any trace of it.

    So, having looked at how, apparently, The Royal Tank Regiment didn't have a shoulder title like most other regiments of The British Army, but had up to 12 different battalions/regiments in operation throughout the war. One must ask, how do you differentiate one from another, if they did not have distinguishing marks, like having one, two, or three arm of service stripes to denote which brigade you're attached to, how does one tell a trooper from 2nd RTR from a trooper from 4th RTR?

    I may very well be missing something very obvious here, but I can't, for the life of me, see it. So, a helping hand would be much appreciated!

    Furthermore, I apologise if I've posted this in the wrong section. I had a good look at the list of sub-sections, and this one seemed to be the best fit.

    Best wishes to everyone,
    gash hand and 8RB like this.
  2. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    By shoulder flash. Every battalion had a shoulder flash of a different color. 1st RTR has red, 2nd blue if I am not wrong, 3rd green, 5th red over white or grey, not sure, 6th red over yellow, 7th red over green. Not sure what colors were used by other battalions/regiments.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2022
  3. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

  4. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member


    Some useful information here.

    British Formation Signs

    Each tank regiment would wear the formation of the Brigade or Division who they were under command.

    Each armoured brigade comprised of three tank regiments. Each Regiment would typically comprise of 4 Squadrons.

    Each tank would have a 2 or 3 number ID front left of tank the 'senior' regiment in the Army order of precedence, would be the lowest, next the next highest and next the highest (hope that makes sense)

    British Army order of precedence - Wikipedia

    Typically HQ Sqn was a Diamond., A Sqn had a Triangle on the turret, B Sqn had a Square and C Sqn had a circle.

    So if you had a pic of him sitting on a tank it would be easier to say what unit and squadron he was in.

    This is one of 40 RTR early on in the war so HQ symbol different but you catch my drift.


    Hope this helps

    Last edited: Jul 16, 2022
    gash hand, SDP and CL1 like this.
  5. Retroliser

    Retroliser Member

    Thank you, everyone, for the information you've provided. It's been most helpful! Apologies once more for not posting in the correct sub-forum, and thank you for transferring it.

    After I'd posted, I realised that a similar issue arises for basically every other regiment. The shoulder titles of an infantry regiment, like KOYLI for King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, doesn't include a number to state which battalion of the KOYLI an individual belongs to. Did the other regiments have a similar scheme of having shoulder flashes to distinguish between battalions, or was it reliant upon people having an intimate enough knowledge of the order of battle in the location they were in to determine it based off of the brigade and/or divisional insignia that they were also wearing?

    With a regiment that is ubiquitous by its own admission like The Royal Artillery, how does one tell one field regiment from another of the 3 that a standard infantry division possesses? Not to mention the fact that there were another 2 regiments, the aircraft and anti-tank regiments, which brings the total up to five for a single division.
    CL1 likes this.
  6. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    As far as I know, not really. The RTR and the Parachute Regiment are the only ones that I know, which battalions/regiments used different flesh sign color, and for Paras I only know for first three battalions, not sure if the rest had similar markings. But I think it is more an exception than rule. Some units could be recognised by specific markings, like for example 5th Seaforths used different badge on their tam o' shanter, but beside those, usually very little was worn except divisional/brigade/unit patch and regimental badge/sign and, in some cases, pieces of cloth. This, together with some knowledge of orbat could give a clue to which battalion some person belong, or at least narrow it down to couple of choices, if there is more battalion of the same regiment in that unit.

    Probably depending on origin of artillery units. Some of those were converted from infantry and some came from yeomanry regiments and they could keep using some things specific to their origin. But generally I am not aware of any rule that every unit needs to be have some specific marking on uniform, beside those of parent unit. Markings on vehicles are different story tho and usually this was enough to recognise which is which.
    CL1 likes this.
  7. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    To which should be added, in the case of 1RTR and 7RTR, tanks of 1RTR were given names beginning with the letter A (first letter of the alphabet) and tanks of 7RTR were given names beginning with the letter G (seventh letter of the alphabet).
  8. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    ...and the 3 within that A Squadron Triangle indicating the Valentine(?) was a member of 3 Troop...
    S54 likes this.
  9. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Never spotted that before.

    You learn a new thing every day here.

    Nice one. :)
    SDP likes this.
  10. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    The Troop number within the Squadron marking is often seen in RTR and Cavalry Regiments but was by no means ubiquitous - look on that particular marking as a helpful 'bonus'.
  11. S54

    S54 Junior Member

    You’re learning!
    SDP likes this.
  12. S54

    S54 Junior Member

    The 2nd’s colour was yellow, saffron to be precise, later it had a thin band of RTR colours (brown, red & green) running through the centre. The 5th’s was red over light blue! Note the 1st didn’t wear a red flash for very long as there was a South African unit in North Africa during their time there, who also wore a red flash so to save any confusion the 1st ceased to wear them! Here is a chart with all the colours used:-

    Last edited: Jul 18, 2022
    JeremyC, gash hand, SDP and 1 other person like this.
  13. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    You will now expect me to make some reference to Track Return Rollers - but I won't - oops, just did.

    Apologies to any passers by - an 'in joke' between me and S54
    S54 likes this.

Share This Page