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7th Armoured Division

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A British Division created in Egypt in the late 1930s by Maj-Gen Hobart, the second armoured division to exist in the British Army. Became very famous during the Second World War due to a glorious and bloody record - took part in beating hell out of the Italians in Operation COMPASS, winter 1940, then spent two years fighting the German Afrika Korps under Erwin Rommel (who, oddly enough, commanded the German 7th Panzers in northern France in 1940). Notable engagements included Operation BATTLEAXE, Sidi Rezegh, Gazala, Alam Halfa, Second Alamein, the Mareth Line and the advance on Tunis. The Division, nicknamed the Desert Rats from the creature on their badge (not actually a rat), was then transferred to the UK in preparation for the invasion of Normandy.

Landing as a follow-up formation, it was first seriously engaged at the battle of Villers-Bocage, an attempt to turn the German Panzer Lehr division's flank that went to ratshit when the 2 (Vienna) Panzers turned up in reserve - the operation had been launched because this force was thought to have been held up by air action more than it had been. After a heroic defence against Tiger tanks of 501 (SS) Heavy and infantry, the division was pulled out into reserve.

Later in Normandy, it had a supporting role in Operation GOODWOOD and later took part in the breakout across the Low Countries. Not engaged at Arnhem, it was lent to help contain the Germans in the Ardennes offensive, before crossing the Rhine with 2nd Army and advancing to Bremen and Hamburg. The division was later part of BAOR, and was eventually disbanded. The nickname, glory, etc now resides with 7th Armoured Brigade, which was part of the original division until being shipped to Burma in the spring of 1942.