The 1st Armoured Infantry Brigade is an infantry brigade of the British Army with a long history including service during both World War I and World War II. It is based at Tidworth Camp.
Previously it has been designated 1st (Guards) Brigade, 1st Infantry Brigade, 1st Mechanised Brigade (from the 1990s), and under Army 2020 will take up the 1st Armoured Infantry Brigade title.
Initially designated as the 1st (Guards) Brigade, the brigade was part of 1st Division during the First World War. Upon creation of the Guards Division in August 1915, the brigade lost 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards and 1st Battalion, Scots Guards, both to 2nd Guards Brigade, and was redesignated without the Guards reference in its title as the 1st Brigade. It was with the 1st Division on the Western Front throughout the war. It saw action at the Battle of Mons and subsequent Great Retreat, the First Battle of the Marne, the First Battle of the Aisne, the First Battle of Ypres, the Battle of Loos, the Battle of Aubers Ridge, the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Passchendaele, the Battle of Pozières and the Battle of Épehy, part of the final Hundred Days Offensive, which broke the back of the German Army, leading to an Armistice.
The brigade was composed as follows during the war:1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards (until August 1915)
1st Battalion, Scots Guards (until August 1915)
1st Battalion, Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment)
2nd Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers (until August 1914)
1st Battalion, Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders (from September 1914)
1/14th Battalion, London Regiment (from November 1914, left February 1916)
10th (Service) Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment (from August 1915, disbanded February 1918)
8th (Service) Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment (from August 1915, left February 1918)
1st Machine Gun Company, Machine Gun Corps (formed 26 January 1916, moved to 1st Battalion, Machine Gun Corps 28 February 1918)
1st Trench Mortar Battery (formed 27 November 1915)
1st Battalion, Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) (from February 1918)
Remaining active during the interwar period as the 1st (Guards) Brigade, the brigade, still part of the 1st Infantry Division, was sent to France in September 1939 during World War II as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and it later took part in the Battle of France in May–June 1940 and the subsequent Battle of Dunkirk and were evacuated to England, spending the next few years on home defence anticipating a German invasion of England.
On 11 April 1942 the brigade was redesignated and reorganised as 1st Independent Brigade Group (Guards), with its own support units, until August when it was transferred to the 78th Infantry Division. In late 1942 it took part in the North African Campaign in Operation Torch: the Allied landings in French North Africa, arriving in Algiers in November 1942.
The brigade participated in the Run for Tunis and was transferred to the 6th Armoured Division in early 1943 and saw action in the Tunisia Campaign at the Battle of Fondouk, Battle of El Kourzia and Battle of Tunis in April and May 1943. Subsequently, the 1st (Guards) Brigade served on the Italian Front for the rest of the war under command of various divisions, seeing action in the Battle of Monte Cassino (where the brigade played a holding "hinge" role during Operation Diadem) and the Battle of Liri Valley in May 1944. The brigade then fought on the Gothic Line and in the Spring 1945 offensive in Italy.
The 1st (Guards) Brigade was constituted as follows during the war:3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards
2nd Battalion, Coldstream Guards
2nd Battalion, Hampshire Regiment (until 1 June 1941, rejoined 10 September 1941 until 25 November 1942, rejoined 18 February 1943, left finally 22 February 1943)
1st Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company (disbanded 31 December 1940)
8th Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (from 25 December 1942 until 16 February 1943)
3rd Battalion, Welsh Guards (from 1 March 1943)
1st Battalion, Welch Regiment (from 9 March 1945 until 29 June 1945)
Between 11 April 1942 and 7 August 1942 the following units formed the 1st Independent Brigade Group (Guards):8th Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
1st Independent Brigade Group Machine Gun Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers
1st Independent Brigade Group Reconnaissance Company, Reconnaissance Corps
17th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
204th Anti-Tank Battery, Royal Artillery
136th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, Royal Artillery
214th Field Company, Royal Engineers
1st Independent Brigade Group Company, Royal Army Service Corps
152nd Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
1st Independent Brigade Group Ordnance Company, Royal Army Service Corps
The following officers commanded the brigade during the war:Brigadier M.B. Beckwith-Smith (until 31 May 1940, again from 3 June 1940 until 14 July 1940)
Lieutenant Colonel L. Bootle-Wilbraham (acting, from 31 May 1940 until 3 June 1940)
Brigadier F.A.V. Copland-Griffiths (from 14 July 1940 until 14 April 1943)
Brigadier S.A. Foster (from 14 April 1943 until 24 July 1943)
Brigadier P.G.S. Gregson-Ellis (from 24 July 1943 until 18 January 1944)
Lieutenant Colonel A.G.W. Heber-Percy (acting, from 18 January 1944 until 3 February 1944)
Brigadier J.C. Haydon (from 3 February 1944 until 29 July 1944)
Brigadier C.A.M.D. Scott (from 29 July 1944 until 21 January 1945, again from 13 February 1945 until 11 March 1945)
Lieutenant Colonel E.J.B. Nelson (acting, from 21 January 1945 until 13 February 1945)
Brigadier G.L. Verney (from 11 March 1945)
After the War the brigade, having lost its 'Guards' title, was transferred to Palestine for internal security duties and then to Egypt for a few months before going back to Palestine in April 1946. Two years later as the British mandate over Palestine ended the brigade and division returned to Egypt. In October 1951, British forces pulled out of Egypt outside of the Suez Canal Zone, and later the brigade returned to the United Kingdom, though it was in Cyprus during the EOKA insurgency for a period in 1957-8.
By the early 1980s the brigade, having been based in the UK for many years, formed the nucleus of the UK Mobile Force earmarked to reinforce Allied Forces Northern Europe in the event of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe. After the end of the Cold War it was reassigned as part of the new 3rd (UK) Division and subsequently became a Mechanised Brigade. In 1996 it was deployed to the Former Republic of Yugoslavia, with Multi-National Division (South-West), in 2000 it deployed to Sierra Leone and in 2002 it deployed to Kosovo.
More recently it deployed to Iraq on Operation Telic.
The brigade was deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Herrick XVIII It then deployed again in 2014, commanded by Brigadier Rupert Jones.
Under Army 2020, it was renamed as 1st Armoured Infantry Brigade and remained at Tidworth Camp, forming part of the Reaction Force. Brigade units in 2015 were:Household Cavalry Regiment (Formation Reconnaissance)
Royal Tank Regiment (Armoured)
1st Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (Armoured Infantry)
1st Battalion, Mercian Regiement, (Armoured Infantry)
4th Battalion, The Rifles (Mechanised Infantry)
The Royal Wessex Yeomanry (Armoured Reinforcement)
Recent commanders have included:1946-1947 Brigadier JNR Moore
1947-1949 Brigadier GF Johnson
1952-1954 Brigadier GC Gordon-Lennox
1997-1999 Brigadier J McColl
1999-2000 Brigadier JP Riley
2001-2002 Brigadier S Mayall
2012-2014 Brigadier RTH Jones