Products mentioned in this Article
Gothic Line August 1944
25 Tank Brigade (Churchills)
North Irish Horse
51st Battalion Royal Tank Regiment
142nd Battalion Royal Armoured Corps
1st Armoured Division (Disbanded in late 1944)
Canadian 5th Armoured Division
5th Canadian Armoured Brigade (Shermans)
2nd Armoured Regiment (Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians))
5th Armoured Regiment (8th Princess Louise’s (New Brunswick) Hussars)
9th Armoured Regiment (The British Columbia Dragoons)
21 Tank Brigade (Churchills)
12 Royal Tank Regiment
48 Royal Tank Regiment
145 Regiment RAC
2nd New Zealand Division
2 New Zealand Armoured Brigade (Shermans)
18 Armoured Regiment
19 Armoured Regiment
20 Armoured Regiment
22 Motor Battalion
2 Polish Armoured Brigade (Shermans)
4 Polish Armoured Regiment
6 “Dzieci Lwowa” Armoured Regiment
1 Krechowiecki Uhlan Regiment
9 Armoured Brigade (Shermans)
3rd (Kings Own) Hussars
Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry
The Warwickshire Yeomanry
1 The King’s Royal Rifle Corps
6th South African Armoured Division
11 South African Armoured Brigade (Shermans)
1st Pretoria Regiment
Prince Alfred’s Guard
Markings in Italy
The armoured vehicles in Italy carried a number of markings including the usual geometric tactical symbols on the tank turret or hull side, a brigade or division unit sign and a arm of service flash.
The following illustrations show the markings of the units in Italy with appropriate notes before each diagram.
The Armoured Divisions
Three “British” Armoured Divisions served in Italy in 1944-45. The 7th Armoured Division did serve in early 1944 but was sent back to Britain to prepare for D-Day, leaving the 7th Armoured Brigade in Italy. The 5th Canadian, 6th and 6th South African Armoured Divisions fought during most of the Italian Campaign.
For a short period the 1st Armoured Division arrived from Southern Tunisa to join 5th Corps at the Gothic line, but owing to the fact that they had not been in battle since March 1943 they did not perform very well and were disbanded in late in 1944.
Additionally the Poles formed an armoured division in early 1945 based around the 2nd Polish Armoured Brigade, but the war ended before it saw serious combat.
4 New Zealand Armoured Brigade
Though this brigade was part of the 2nd New Zealand Division it was also often used to support other Allied units. The New Zealanders combined their arm of service symbol and the unit sign (the New Zealand silver fern). They used an arm of service series unique to them. The "odd" numbering was taken from the mid war shortlived British experimental composite infantry divisions with an integral armoured brigade - a sort of British Panzergrenadier division. None of the British versions of this saw service outside of the UK, but the Kiwis adopted it when they added the armoured brigade.
Right: New Zealand Shermans in November 1944.
1 Canadian Armoured Brigade
The Canadians’ had a large presence in the Italian theatre, and as well as the 2 and 5 Armoured Brigades in the 5th Canadian Armoured Division they had the 1 Armoured Brigade Serving independently supporting other Canadian divisions. They used the 172 to 175 arm of service series on a blue over brown box. Their unit sign was a black-red-black horizontally divided rectangle. A yellow maple left was laid over the design. This brigade had no Motor Battalion.
Left: A Canadian Sherman of the 12 Armoured (Three Rivers) Regiment.
The Tank Brigades
21 Tank Brigade
Like all the tank brigades the diabolo played an important part in the unit sign. Initially this was just a simple blue diabolo, but by 1944 a yellow background circle with a red devil wrapped around the diabolo was added. They used the 172-175 arm of service series on a yellow over red box.
The numbering system used for the 21st Tank Bragade was changed from that illustrated on 22 August 1944 when they were changed enroute to the Gothic Line battle to support 2nd brigade of the Canadian 1st Division. The colours of the Arm of Service numbers were changed to those of the 1st Canadian Armoured Bragade.
Right: Churchills in Italy.