The Great War

TankCorps

With the formation of the Tank Corps from the Heavy Branch of the Machine Gun Corps on 28 July 1917, the Tank Corps took on their role; however, by the time the Tank Corps came into existence, the Mk I and Mk II tanks, which were armed with the Vickers MG, were largely no longer in use and the armament had been replaced with Hotchkiss and Lewis guns.

Published on the 28th July, 1917.

ROYAL WARRANT.

VI. – Tank Corps.

GEORGE R.I.

WHEREAS WE deem it expedient to authorize the formation of, and to provide rates of pay for, a corps to be entitled “Tank Corps”;

OUR WILL AND PLEASURE IS that the Tank Corps shall be deemed to be a corps for the purposes of the Army Act;

OUR FURTHER WILL AND PLEASURE IS that the Tank Corps shall consist of two parts, namely, technical personnel and non-technical personnel:-

1. The non-technical personnel, both officers and soldiers shall be granted the rates and pay laid down for their respective ranks in Our Royal Field Artillery and in addition thereto they shall be eligible for proficiency or service pay under the conditions applicable to Our Royal Field Artillery.

2. The Equipment Officers shall be granted the rates of pay laid down for their ranks in Our Royal Field Artillery.

3. The rate of additional pay for the Battalion Adjutant shall be 5s. a-day.

4. The daily rates of pay for officers, warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the technical section shall be as stated below. These rates are inclusive rates and no corps, proficiency or service pay is admissible in addition:-

Officers.

Major … 19s. 0d.

After 2 years’ service in that rank … 21s. 0d.

Captain … 15s. 6d.

After 3 years’ service in that rank (provided that he has at least 12 years’ service) … 17s. 6d.

Lieutenant … 10s. 6d.

2nd Lieutenant … 9s. 6d.

Other ranks.

Mechanist staff-serjeant-major … 6s. 0d.

Mechanist staff-serjeant … 5s. 3d.

Technical quartermaster-serjeant … 5s. 3d.

Tank mechanist-serjeant … 4s. 2d.

Tank mechanist, 1st Class.

Corporal … 4s. 0d.

Lance-corporal … 3s. 0d.

Private … 2s. 8d.

Tank mechanist, 2nd Class.

Corporal … 3s. 6d.

Lance-corporal … 2s. 6d.

Private … 2s. 2d.

5. Officers, warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men already serving in the Machine-Gun Corps, Heavy Section, shall, on transfer to the Tank Corps, be paid the rates of pay laid down in this Our Warrant, or if more advantageous they shall continue to draw the rates of which they are at present in receipt. On being promoted they will be eligible to draw the corresponding rate for their new rank if more advantageous than the rates laid down for the Tank Corps in this Our Warrant.

Given at Our Court at St. James’s, this 27th day of July, 1917, in the 8th year of Our Reign.

By His Majesty’s Command,

DERBY.

Army Order 239 of 1917.

VII.- Tank Corps.– 1. Army Order 357 of 1916 is hereby cancelled in so far as it refers to the Machine-Gun Corps (Heavy Branch). All officers, warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the Machine-Gun Corps (Heavy Branch) will be transferred to the Tank Corps from the date of this present Army Order.

2. The establishments of units will be as at present approved for the Machine-Gun Corps (Heavy Branch).

3. Officers will be obtained as follows:-

(i.) By the granting of commissions to select cadets from the Tank Corps Officer Cadet Battalion.

(ii.) From officers seconded or transferred from the Regular, Territorial and Reserve Forces, and New Armies.

4. The promotion of all officers serving with the Tank Corps will take the form of temporary promotion, and will be carried out on a general list of the Corps.

Temporary promotion granted to officers as above will only hold good as long as they are serving with the Tank Corps.

All promotions will be regulated by the War Office, and be governed by the approved establishments referred to in paragraph 2 above. They will be given to qualified officers, having due regard to seniority in the Corps.

Officers seconded or transferred to the Tank Corps will take seniority in the Corps in accordance with the substantive rank they held at the date of being seconded or transferred.

Any acting or temporary rank which has been granted to an officer while holding a specific position will automatically lapse on appointment to the Tank Corps.

Officers promoted in the Corps will take seniority in accordance with the date of each promotion.

Acting rank will be granted to officers when acting in command of units, under the same conditions as those which govern the grant of such rank officers temporarily performing the duties of a higher rank in units of other branches of the service.

5. The following officers will be regarded as belonging to the technical section of the Tank Corps:-

Salvage officers.

Workshop officers.

Technical officers attached to Headquarters Staff.

Technical instructional officers.

6. The rank of equipment officer on first appointment to a commission will be 2nd lieutenant, and promotion may be given up to the rank of captain according to his technical proficiency, which will be determined by tests to be laid down from time to time by the Director-General, Tank Corps.

7. The other ranks of the Tank Corps will be composed of warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men transferred from other units to the Tank Corps.

They will be on probation until passed by a Board at the Tank Corps Training Centre. Other ranks will be transferred in their permanent rank.

8. Promotion of other ranks will be governed by Army Council Instructions 288 and 717 of 1917, and by any other Orders and Instructions which may govern substantive, temporary and acting promotion.

9. The following will be included in the technical section as Tank Mechanists and will be graded as 1st or 2nd Class Mechanists according to their technical efficiency which will be determined by tests to be laid down from time to time by the Director-General, Tanks Corps:-

Acetylene welders.

Blacksmiths.

Boilermakers.

Coppersmiths.

Draughtsmen.

Electricians.

Fitters and turners.

Painters (camouflage).

Tank drivers.

Tractor drivers.

Wheelers.

Should a non-commissioned officer or man of this technical section fail to maintain the standard of efficiency laid down from time to time by the Director-General, Tank Corps, he will be reduced from Class 1 to Class 2 rate Tank Mechanist on the authority of the Officer Commanding Battalion with an E.F., Officer Commanding Central Workshops, of the General Officer Commanding Tank Corps Training Centre at home.

10. The records and pay of the Tank Corps will be dealt with by the Officer in charge of Machine-Gun Corps Records and the Regimental Paymaster, Machine-Gun Corps, respectively.

Army Order 240 of 1917.

The Tank Corps was formally added into the list of Corps for the purposes of the Army Act by virtue of Army Order 270 of 1917, published in September 1917.

Published on the 19th October, 1918.

V. – Tank Corps – 1. The establishments of units of the Tank Corps and of services attached thereto will be as at present approved, subject to such amendments as may be made from time to time by the War Office.

2. Officers for the Tank Corps will be obtained as follows:-

(i) By the granting of commissions to selected cadets from the Tank Corps Officer Cadet Battalion.

(ii) From officers seconded or transferred from the Regular, Territorial and Reserve Forces, and New Armies.

3. Officers seconded or transferred to the Tank Corps will take seniority in the corps in accordance with the substantive rank they hold at the date of being seconded or transferred, and all officers will join the Tank Corps in their substantive rank.

On transfer or on being seconded to the Tank Corps the date of an officer’s substantive rank only will be shown in the Army List, and when given temporary promotion in the corps the date of such promotion only will be shown.

4. All promotion will be regulated by the War Office and will be governed by the approved establishments referred to in paragraph 1.

For the purposes of promotion these establishments will be divided into three branches, viz.:-

(i) Executive.

(ii) Engineer.

(iii) Equipment.

A general list of each branch will be regulated by the War Office, and temporary promotions up to the rank of major to fill vacancies on the establishment in each branch will be given from time to time to officers in order of seniority, provided those next for promotion are recommended as being in every way fitted for promotion to the next highest rank. Promotions will be made on one general list for each of the three branches of the corps as vacancies occur in each branch.

Temporary promotion to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the Tank Corps will in all cases be by selection, having due regard to seniority in each case.

Should an officer next on the list for promotion not be recommended the full reasons for his supersession will be stated.

In all cases the existing regulations governing adverse reports will be adhered to before forwarding the correspondence to War Office.

The name of an officer who has been passed over for promotion will again be brought forward for recommendation when the next promotions are made.

The names of officers recommended for accelerated promotion may be forwarded from time to time in special cases where an officer is considered specially suitable for such promotion by reason of long or distinguished service in the Tank Corps or for some exceptional reason.

5. Acting rank may be granted to officers in the Tank Corps and will be governed by the regulations laid down for other branches of the service.

6. The “Technical Section” of the Tank Corps, referred to in Army Order 239 of 1917, will comprise Tank Engineer officers provided in the approved establishments of the corps referred to in paragraph 1 above.

7. The “other ranks” of the Tank Corps will be composed of warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men transferred from other units to the Tanks Corps, when necessary, and of recruits who may be posted from time to time.

They will be transferred in their permanent ranks.

8. Promotion of other ranks to substantive or temporary rank, or appointments to acting rank, will be governed by the existing regulations for the Machine Gun Corps.

9. The following will be included as Tank Mechanists in the Technical Section referred to in Army Order 239 of 1917, and will be graded as first or second class mechanists, according to their technical efficiency, as shall be determined by General Officers Commanding, Tank Corps, Expeditionary Forces, and the General Officer Commanding, Training Centre, England:-

Acetylene welders.

Blacksmiths.

Boilermakers.

Coppersmiths.

Draughtsmen.

Electricians.

Fitters and turners.

Painters (camouflage).

Rivetters.

Drillers.

Wheelers.

Should a non-commissioned officer or man of this technical section fail to maintain the standard of efficiency laid down from time to time he will be reduced from Class 1 to Class 2, Tank Mechanist, on the authority of the General Officers Commanding, Expeditionary Forces, or the General Officer Commanding, Training Centre, England, respectively.

10. The records and pay of the Tank Corps will be dealt with by the Officer in Charge of Tank Corps records, and the Regimental Paymaster, Machine Gun Corps, respectively.

11. Army Order 240 of 1917 is cancelled with the exception of paragraph 1.

Army Order 328 of November 1918

The Inter-War Period

The introduction of the new range of medium and light tanks in the 1920s and 1930s saw wide use of the Mk IVA, Mk IVB, Mk VI, Mk VI* and Mk VII Vickers MGs on tanks. These were crewed by the Royal Tank Corps which had been so-named on 18 October 1923. It then became the Royal Tank Regiment on 4 April 1939.


The Second World War

SAA-Tank
Tank special-to-arms badge

The start of the Second World War saw the British Army using medium and light tanks in service with the Royal Tank Regiment. Many of these were armed with the Mk VI, Mk VI* and Mk VII variants of the Vickers MG.

11th

Due to the lack of sufficient armoured vehicles and tanks at the start of the Second World War, this unit formed part of the 2nd MMG Bde. It joined the Brigade on 22 November 1940 and remained in it until 09 December 1940, when the Brigade was redesignated and reorganized as the 25th Army Tank Brigade.

43rd

Due to the lack of sufficient armoured vehicles and tanks at the start of the Second World War, this unit formed part of the 2nd MMG Bde. It joined the Brigade on 01 June 1940 and remained in it until 09 November 1940.

49th

Due to the lack of sufficient armoured vehicles and tanks at the start of the Second World War, this unit formed part of the 2nd MMG Bde. It joined the Brigade on 01 June 1940 and remained in it until 09 November 1940, when the Brigade was redesignated and reorganized as the 25th Army Tank Brigade.

57th

Due to the lack of sufficient armoured vehicles and tanks at the start of the Second World War, this unit formed part of the 2nd MMG Bde. It joined the Brigade on 01 June 1940 and remained in it until 09 November 1940, when the Brigade was redesignated and reorganized as the 25th Army Tank Brigade.

With the adoption of new models of tanks from 1942 onwards, the Mk VI, Mk VI* and Mk VII Vickers MGs were not introduced into the new vehicles: Besa and Browning machine guns were used instead. From that point, the Royal Tank Regiment did not have any routine official use of the Vickers.


Sources:

  • Joslen, 1960
  • The National Archives, WO 123/59, Army Orders 1917.
  • The National Archives, WO 123/70, Army Orders 1918.