HC Deb 04 April 1939 vol 345 cc2601-2
25. Mr. Ivor Guest

asked the Secretary of State for War whether any reorganisation of the armoured units of the British Army is in contemplation?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

Yes, Sir. In view of the fact that all regiments of the Cavalry of the Line, except the Royal Dragoons and the Royal Scots Greys, have been, or are being, re-equipped with armoured vehicles, it has been decided, with the approval of His Majesty, to associate the 18 mechanised Regular cavalry regiments and the Regular and Territorial units of the Royal Tank Corps in a new corps to be known as the Royal Armoured Corps, with precedence in the Army immediately before the Royal Regiment of Artillery. The formation of the new corps will enable similarly equipped units to be similarly trained and administered, with increased military efficiency. The cavalry regiments will retain their existing designations, and the Royal Tank Corps will be re designated the Royal Tank Regiment.

The position of colonels-in-chief, colonels commandant and colonels of the regiments will remain unchanged. His Majesty, as colonel-in-chief of the Royal Tank Corps, is graciously pleased to become colonel-in-chief of the Royal Tank Regiment. All units will retain their badges and uniforms. I would like to emphasise that the cavalry regiments and the Royal Tank Regiment will continue with their traditions unimpaired and their battle honours recorded. The new corps is formed by association rather than amalgamation. Full details will be promulgated. They will not involve for the present any change in the system of posting or promoting officers, except that all Regular majors of the new corps will be eligible for consideration for appointment as commanding officer of any Regular unit of the corps; nor will they involve any change in the existing conditions of service of any Regular soldier now serving during his current engagement with the Colours, or of any man of the Supplementary Reserve or the Territorial Army. Enlistments into the Royal Armoured Corps will begin as soon as possible.

Mr. Guest

May I ask how this will affect the armoured units in the Territorial Army?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

The hon. Member will see that they are included.

Brigadier-General Clifton Brown

Will two armoured car units be included in the new organisation, and is it not a fact that the light tanks now supplied to Regular Cavalry Regiments are not so efficient as the armoured cars. If so, why should the armoured car regiments be re-equipped with tanks?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

The answer to the first part of the question is that armoured cars will be included, and the new organisation will promote increased military efficiency because all units will be available for the same purpose.

Brigadier-General Brown

Does it do away with their armoured cars, and put in light tanks?

Mr. Robert Gibson

What is to be the future position of the Scots Greys?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

They are not affected in any way.