British Motor Battalion (WWII)

The Motor Battalion was a rare beast in the British Army in NW Europe. It was an organic armoured infantry battalion integral to Armoured Brigades, both those in Armoured Divisions and in Type A Independent Armoured Brigades.

It was fully mechanized in tracked lightly-armoured vehicles so that it could keep up with the tanks. It had considerable integral support capability, but it was short on infantry. In an Armoured Division only 1 of its 4 infantry battalions was a Motor Battalion, the other 3 were standard Infantry Battalions with trucks for long distance movement.


These were the Motor Battalions deployed in NWE '44 to '45

Motor Battalion Parent Unit
Serial Number
Main Tank Type
1st Grenadier Guards Guards Armoured Division
Serial Red 54
1st Rifle Brigade 7th Armoured Division
8th Rifle Brigade 11th Armoured Division
2nd Kings Royal Rifle Corps 4th Armoured Brigade
12th Kings Royal Rifle Corps 8th Armoured Brigade
DD Sherman
(for D-Day)
Polish 10th Dragoons 1st Polish Armoured Division
Canadian Lake Superior Regiment 4th Canadian Armoured Division
The Westminster Regiment (Motor) 5th Canadian Armoured Division
(mainly fought in Italy, in NWE from March '45)
1st Czechoslovak Motor Battalion 1st Czechoslovak Independent Armoured Brigade Group

Therefore only 8 motor battalions compared out of over 100 normal infantry battalions in the British Army in NWE.

Main Tank Type, refers to the predominant type of tank in the Parent Formation. British and Polish Armoured Divisions had an Armoured Recce Regt, equipped with Cromwells and Challengers later in the campaign. The Cromwell equipped formations also had Sherman Fireflys.

Motor Battalion TO&E

At a one stand to one platoon scale a Motor Battalion would consist of the following:

The combat units in summary were:

Tactical Markings

Within an Armoured Division the Motor Battalion was the 4th Regiment of the first Brigade, this meant a red square with a white 54 was the Serial Number. Green tactical marks could be use to identify the companies of the battalion.

White stars seem to have been quite common on the sides of half-tracks, but far from universal.



FoW British Tank Markings in Normandy and discussion