Malta Tanks (Royal Tank Regiment)

The Malta Tanks was a unit designation for an independent Royal Tank Regiment (RTR) unit made of a mixture of British tank types deployed to Malta in World War 2.[1]

Malta Tanks, Royal Tank Regiment
ROYAL TANK REGIMENT.png
The Cap badge of the Royal Tank Regiment.
HeadquartersMalta
Manpower
ConscriptionRegular British Army
Deployed personnel1940
The crew of a Vickers Mk VIb Light Tank servicing one of their Vickers Machine Guns in the field. Note stone wall camouflage paintwork unique to Malta Command.
The crew of a RTR Valentine tank loading their 2 Pounder 40mm main gun (not a Malta Tanks' crew).
Two of the 6 RTR Cruiser tanks being unloaded from a convoy ship docked in Valletta in 1942.
A Malta Tanks Matilda being used to tow a Beaufort torpedo bomber which made a belly-landing at RAF Luqa after being damaged during an attack on the Italian Fleet, 16 July 1942.

Role and Deployment HistoryEdit

The first armoured unit destined for Malta was organised in 1940. Unit was formed with strength of 5 officers and 62 other ranks; and was attached to 44th Battalion RTR prior to its embarkation for Malta; the unit was part of Malta Command.

On 28 November 1940 1 Independent Troop, 44 RTR (commanded by Captain R E H Drury) arrived on the Island on Convoy R.45.[2] The Troop's heavy equipment included:[3]

  • Four Matilda Infantry Tanks (nicknamed: Faulknor, Gallant, Greyhound, Griffin)
  • Two Vickers Mk VIB Light Tanks
  • Four Motorcycles
  • Four Bedford OXD 30-cwt lorries
  • Two 15-cwt trucks
  • One 15-cwt truck (water bowser)
  • One Car Utility.

1942 the tanks of A Squadron 6 Battalion RTR (which had sailed from Alexandria) arrived on the Island. By 30 June 1942 the British armour was organised thus:[4]

  • One Troop of Vickers Light Tanks
  • Two Troops of Cruiser Tanks
  • One Troop of Matilda Tanks

The A Squadron 6 RTR group was made up of 3 officers (Major S D G Longworth, Lt K J H Macdonald and 2Lt J Stiddard and 79 other ranks.[5]

On 21 Dec 1942 A Squadron, 6 Royal Tank Regiment amalgamated with the Malta Tank Troop and is referred to was reported as “Malta Tanks” with effect from this date. The whole unit remained under Central Infantry Brigade for administration.[6][7] Malta Tanks was commanded by Major S D G Longworth.[8] X Squadron had set sail with 13 A13 Cruiser tanks but five were lost when the ship carrying them struck a mine and sank. Other tanks (Valentines) also arrived in 1942.

The unit never became larger than 19 vehicles and did not see action. It spent the war patrolling, boosting morale across central Malta and acting as tugs removing damaged aircraft from runways.

EquipmentEdit

Malta Tanks was equipped with five types of tank during its time on the Island.

Name Type Photo Armament & Numbers on Island
Vickers Light Tank (Marks VIb&c) Reconnaissance Tank Dual turret fit of a Vickers .5in and .303 or Dual turret fit of a Besa 15mm and 7.92 mm Machine Guns - Three Deployed
Matilda (Mark II) Infantry Support Tank 2 Pounder 40mm gun & Besa 7.92 mm coaxial machine gun - Four Deployed
Cruiser (Mark I or A9) Cruiser Tank 2 Pounder 40mm gun & 3x 0.303 Vickers machine gun - At least one Deployed
Cruiser (Mark III or A13) Cruiser Tank 2 Pounder 40mm gun & Besa 7.92 mm coaxial machine gun - Seven or less Deployed
Valentine (Mark III) Infantry Support Tank 2 Pounder 40mm gun & Besa 7.92 mm coaxial machine gun - Four Deployed

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ UK, National Archives. "Malta Command: Malta Tanks RTR, WO 169/14554". discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 15 July 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ UK, National Archives. "Malta Command: Royal Armoured Corps: 1 Independent Troop Royal Tank Regiment (RTR), WO 169/904". discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 15 July 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Brown, Peter (2012). "Malta Tanks". Military Modelling. 42 (2): 44.
  4. ^ "Advanced Dressing Stations". www.maltaramc.com. Retrieved 15 July 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Cull, Robert. "War Diaries of the 6th Royal Tank Regiment". www.warlinks.com. Retrieved 15 July 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ UK, National Archives. "Malta Tanks Royal Tank Regiment, WO 169/7395". discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 15 July 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Fitz, Gordon (28 October 2014). "Metal War Beasts of Malta". SWAG. Retrieved 15 July 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Allied, Newspapers (8 April 2012). "Luftwaffe's deadly return to Malta in 1942". Times of Malta. Retrieved 15 July 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External linksEdit