Standards,History & Battle Honours
On the 17th November, 1916, "E"Company, Heavy Section Machine Gun Corps, Formed in May under Major N H Nutt, Royal Naval Air Service, became "E" Battalion, Heavy Branch Machine Gun Corps, Commanded by L/Colonel E B Hulke, at Bovingdon Camp. Having sent a detachment to Palestine, which fought at Gaza, the Battalion left for France on the 25th June 1917 under L/Colonel J C Burnett, DSO. arriving in time for the third battle of Ypres, Only two companies took part, the remainder in Corps Reserve. In November however, "E" Battalion worked with the 29th and 51st Divisions and, all the other units of the Tank Corps throughout the battle of Cambrai, being withdrawn two days before Christmas 1917. It was renamed the 5th Battalion in January 1918. Shortly after the beginning of the German offensive in March, all tanks had become casualties, and the Battalion fought the rest of the second battle of the Somme as Lewis Gun Detachments. After re-equipping in may, it fought at Amiens, Baupaume and Arras in support of 3rd Canadian Division, at Epehy with 23rd Division, and at St-Quentin and the Hindenburg line with the 32nd, 46th and 115th (French) Divisions. In March 1919 the Fifth, reduced to Cadre strength returned to Bovingdon to Disband in June. It was reformed 0n the 3rd September. In March 1920 "B" company was detached to Germany, rejoining in November 1923. Meanwhile the Battalion moved, in April 1922 from Bovingdon to Perham Down, its station until 1939, and where, in May 1938 it provided the cadre on which the Eighth Battalion was reformed.
On 28th May 1940 the Fifth sailed for Cherbourg, but arrived too late to influence the disastrous situation there. It withdrew in contact across the Somme and the Seine, eventually re-embarking at Brest for England. Some six months later the Regiment sailed via the Cape for Suez. From March 1941 the Fifth fought throughout the North African Campaign in 7th Armoured Division, taking part in the first defence of Tobruk, the Sidi Rezegh and Gazala battles, with withdrawl to and defense of the Alamein Line, Alamein itself, and the long advance afterwards. The Fifth led the 8th Army into Homs; After Tripoli and Mareth the Fifth came under 1st Army for the attack on Tunis, being the first troops to enter the town. On the 15th September 1943, the Regiment landed at Salerno, but after the Volturno crossing, it returned to England with the rest of 7th Armoured to prepare for North West Europe. The Fifth landed in Normandy on the 7th June 1944 and, after heavy fighting in the “Bocage” the Fifth took part in the Great Advance through France and Belgium. By December 1944 the Fifth was in Germany, crossing the Rhine in March and reaching Hamburg by May.
The Fifth remained in Germany for the next eight years at; Wilster, Brunsbuttel, Hamm and Hohne. The Fifth was the first Armoured regiment to be issued with Centurion Tanks. In September 1953 the Regiment left Germany, breaking 12 years continuous service in 7th Armoured Division, for Korea as part of the 1st Commonwealth Division. A year later it moved to Barce in Libya, remaining there until April 1957. Although placed on 24 hours notice to move against Egypt in July 1956, the Fifth was in the end was only employed on local internal security duties.
The Regiment moved to Catterick in May 1957, to take over the role of Armoured Basic Training Unit, this was the Fifth’s first duty on home soil for 17 years. Two years later in November 1959 the Regiment moved to Germany to join the 7th Armoured Brigade Group.
On the 1st July 1960, The Fighting Fifth amalgamated with the 8th Royal Tank Regiment at Fallingbostel, the amalgamated regiment retained the title of the 5th Royal Tank Regiment.
On the 27th October 1960, in company with her sister Regiments the Fifth were honoured by Her Majesty The Queen, when she presented them with their first Standard at Buckingham Palace.
To be Continued