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The 7th or "Desert Rats" was an armored division that served in the Royal Army during WWII. It was formed in 1938 as the Mobile Force (Egypt) but was renamed the 7th in 1940.

Commanders

The first commander of the 7th was Percy Hobart who commanded from 1938 to 1939. During the time that he had commanded, Hobart had disciplined the force into one that satisfied his wanting for an advanced armored unit despite the fact that the unit was given outdated equipment.

By late 1939, the 7th had been taken control of by Major General Michael O'Moore Creagh. Creagh remained in control until late 1941 in which he lead the 7th Armored Division through numerous early confrontations against Italy.[1] Following the command of several short-term commanders, the 7th was finally given to its most famous commander, Major "Jock" Campbell. Awarded numerous prestigious medals, Campbell led the divisions into some of the more rugged fighting of the campaign and even developed a new strategy known as "Jock Columns". Following Campbell's death, the division was given to commander Frank Messervy before James Renton and Field Marshal Lord Harding all in 1941. Lord Harding was a more notable commander because of his direction during the Battle of El Alimein and his great combat experience. 

After Lord Harding's command, the division was given to brigadier general Eskrine until 1944 and then finally Gerald Verney and Lewis Lyne who each served for several months.

7th Royal Armored Division

British trucks of the 7th Armored division traveling through the desert

Structure

The original structure of the 7th Armored Division was composed of the 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars, the 7th Queen's Own Hussars, the 6th Royal Tank Regiment, the 1st Royal Tank Regiment, and later the 2nd Prince Consort's Own Rifle Brigade.

Unit History

The 7th Armored Division's first combat experience was in 1940 during the prolonged fighting against the Italian forces. The Division fought further throughout the campaign in every famous battle fought. Most notably, the division took part in Operation Battleaxe and Operation Crusader. Following the campaign, elements of the 7th Armored division were sent to Italy and took part in the landings at Salerno. The division fought on up into inner Italy until it was recalled to regroup for the D-Day landings. From then on, it fought in the Western Front. However, due to large losses to German tank ace Michael Wittmann and lack-luster performance in the bocage country, the division was recalled. However, after a resupply period, the division was allowed back into combat and continued to fight up through France and Belgium and even served as a German occupation force after the war.[2]

References

  1. http://www.desertrats.org.uk/divcommanders.htm
  2. http://historywarsweapons.com/british-7th-armoured-division-desert-rats/
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