Independent Brigades

A number of Independent Brigades, under Tactical Command of 21st Army Group, took part in the Normandy Campaign. These included Special Services Brigades (Commandos) which took part in the D Day Landings attacking objectives of particular importance – viz. gun batteries threatening the landing beaches, and Armoured and Tank Brigades used to reinforce Armoured Divisions as necessary – viz. Operation GOODWOOD.

These Independent Brigades were:


4th Armoured Brigade.  

The brigade landed in Normandy on 7th June 1944, under the command of I Corps. It came under the command of VIII Corps for the battle of the Oden between 25th June and 2nd July and the battle for Caen between 4th and 18th July 1944. It was transferred to I Canadian Corps for the battle for Mont Pincon between 30th July and 9th August, then returning to VIII Corps. The brigade joined XII Corps on 12th August 1944 in order to take part in Operation Market Garden, which occurred between 17th and 27th September 1944.

Headquarters, 4th Armoured Brigade & Headquarters Squadron.

The Royal Scots Greys (2nd Dragoons).
3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters).
3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) from 29th July.
44th Royal Tank Regiment.
2nd Bn. The King’s Royal Rifle Corps.


44th Royal Tank Regiment.
2nd Bn. The King’s Royal Rifle Corps.

4th Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery.
No. 271 Forward Delivery Squadron, Royal Armoured Corps.
4th Armoured Brigade Signals, Royal Corps of Signals.
5th Company, Royal Army Service Corps.
14th Light Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps.
4th Armoured Brigade Ordnance Field Park, Royal Army Ordnance Corps.
4th Armoured Brigade Workshops, Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers.


6th Guards Tank Brigade .

The Brigade landed in Normandy on 18th July. Initially under command of 2nd Army, it supported the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Brigade from 28th July, until 10th August 1944 in the fighting for Mont Pincon. As part of VIII Corps, it supported the 3rd Infantry Division between 10th August and 19th October 1944.

Headquarters, 6th (Guards) Tank Brigade & Headquarters Squadron.

4th (Tank) Bn. Grenadier Guards.
4th (Tank) Bn. Coldstream Guards.
3rd (Tank) Bn. Scots Guards.

6th (Guards) Tank Brigade Signals Section, Royal Corps of Signals.
No. 261 Forward Delivery Squadron, Royal Armoured Corps.
229th Company, Royal Army Service Corps.
11th Light Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps.
6th (Guards) Tank Brigade Ordnance Field Park, Royal Army Ordnance Corps.
6th (Guards) Tank Brigade Workshops, Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers.
6th (Guards) Tank Brigade Field Post Office, Royal Engineers
Y.M.C.A. Mobile Canteen


8th Armoured Brigade.

The Brigade landed in Normandy on 6th June 1944, supporting the 50th Infantry Division. The Nottinghamshire Yeomanry and 4th/7th Dragoon Guards were both equipped with DD Sherman tanks, and the 24th
Lancers with deep wading Sherman tanks. The brigade took part in the battle of the Oden between 25th June and 2nd July under command of XXX Corps. The brigade took part in the battle for Mont Pincon between 30th July and 9th August 1944,

Headquarters, 8th Armoured Brigade & Headquarters Squadron.

4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards.
24th Lancers.
The Nottinghamshire Yeomanry (Sherwood Rangers).
12th (Queen’s Westminsters) Bn. The King’s Royal Rifle Corps.

8th Armoured Brigade Signals Section, Royal Corps of Signals.
No. 265 Forward Delivery Squadron, Royal Armoured Corps.
502nd Company, Royal Army Service Corps.
168th Light Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps.
8th Armoured Brigade Ordnance Field Park, Royal Army Ordnance Corps.
8th Armoured Brigade Workshops, Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers.
8th Armoured Brigade Field Post Office, Royal Engineers.
Y.M.C.A. Mobile Canteen.


27th Armoured Brigade.

The 13th/18th Hussars and Staffordshire Yeomanry were equipped with DD Sherman tanks, and the East Riding Yeomanry with deep wading Sherman tanks, for the invasion of Normandy on 6th June 1944. The brigade then took part in the battle for Caen between 4th and 18th July 1944. On 30th July 1944, the brigade was disbanded due to high casualties sustained by British formations in Normandy, and the lack of replacements.

Headquarters, 27th Armoured Brigade & Headquarters Squadron.

13th/18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary’s Own).
The Staffordshire Yeomanry (Queen’s Own Royal Regiment).
The East Riding Yeomanry.

27th Armoured Brigade Signals Section, Royal Corps of Signals.
No. 266 Forward Delivery Squadron, Royal Armoured Corps.
90th Company, Royal Army Service Corps.
11th Light Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps.
27th Armoured Brigade Ordnance Field Park, Royal Army Ordnance Corps.
27th Armoured Brigade Workshops, Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers.
27th Armoured Brigade Field Post Office, Royal Engineers.
Y.M.C.A. Mobile Canteen


31st Tank Brigade.

Equipped with Churchill tanks, the Brigade landed in Normandy on 21st June 1944 – the 141st Regiment, R.A.C. had already arrived in Normandy equipped with Crocodile (Flame Throwing) Churchill tanks. Initially under the command of the 15th Infantry Division, the brigade came under the command of XII Corps on 26th July 1944. The 141st Regiment, R.A.C. operated effectively as an independent unit, as it was the only Crocodile equipped unit in North-West Europe at this time. Elements of 141st Regiment, R.A.C. fought in Normandy, the assault on Brest, and the
capture of the Channel Ports. The brigade took part in the battle for the Odon between 25th June and 2nd July, and the breakout towards Falaise.

Headquarters, 31st Tank Brigade & Headquarters Squadron.

7th Royal Tank Regiment. Transferred to 34th Tank Brigade on 17th August.
9th Royal Tank Regiment.
141st Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps.

34th Tank Brigade Signals Section, Royal Corps of Signals. No. 269 Forward Delivery Squadron, Royal Armoured Corps.
16th Company, Royal Army Service Corps.
21st Light Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps.
31st Tank Brigade Ordnance Field Park, Royal Army Ordnance Corps.
31st Tank Brigade Workshops, Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers.
31st Tank Brigade Field Post Office, Royal Engineers.
Y.M.C.A. Mobile Canteen.


33rd Armoured Brigade.

The Brigade, equipped with Churchill tanks, landed in Normandy on 13th June 1944. It took part in the battle for Caen under the command of I Corps.

Headquarters, 33rd Armoured Brigade & Headquarters Squadron.

1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry.
144th Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps.
148th Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps.

33rd Armoured Brigade Signals Section, Royal Corps of Signals.
No. 262 Forward Delivery Squadron, Royal Armoured Corps.
380th Company, Royal Army Service Corps.
22nd Light Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps.
33rd Armoured Brigade Ordnance Field Park, Royal Army Ordnance Corps.
33rd Armoured Brigade Workshops, Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers.
33rd Armoured Brigade Field Post Office, Royal Engineers.
Y.M.C.A. Mobile Canteen.


34th Tank Brigade.

The Brigade landed in Normandy on 3rd July 1944. It came under the command of I Corps.

Headquarters, 34th Tank Brigade.

107th Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps (King’s Own)
147th Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps
153rd Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps.
7th Royal Tank Regiment.

34th Tank Brigade Signals Section, Royal Corps of Signals.
No. 267 Forward Delivery Squadron, Royal Armoured Corps..
170th Company, Royal Army Service Corps.
23rd Light Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps.
34th Tank Brigade Ordnance Field Park, Royal Army Ordnance Corps.
34th Tank Brigade Workshops, Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers.
Y.M.C.A. Mobile Canteen.


56th Infantry Brigade – transferred to 49th Division wef 20th July.

2nd Battalion, South Wales Borderers.

2nd Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment.

2nd Battalion, Essex Regiment.


1st Special Services Brigade.

The plan was for 1st Special Service Brigade to land at Ouistreham  No 4 Commando were augmented by 1 and 8 Troops (both French) of No 10 (Inter Allied) Commando.

The 1st Special Service Brigade, under the command of Brigadier Lord Lovat, were piped ashore in the second wave led by No 4 Commando with the two French Troops first. The British and French personnel of No.4 Commando had separate targets in Ouistreham—the French a blockhouse and the Casino, the British target were two batteries which overlooked the beach. The blockhouse proved too strong for the Commandos’ PIAT weapons, but the Casino was taken with the aid of a Centaur tank. The British Commandos achieved both battery objectives only to find that the guns had been removed. Leaving the mopping-up to the infantry, the Commandos withdrew from Ouistreham to join other units in their brigade, moving inland to join-up with the 6th Airborne Division.

Lovat’s forces pressed on, Lovat himself advancing with parts of his brigade from Sword to Pegasus Bridge, which had been obstinately defended by men of the British 6th Airborne Division who had landed in the early hours. The commandos arrived almost exactly on time, (late by about two minutes), for which Lord Lovat apologised to Lieutenant Colonel Richard Geoffrey Pine-Coffin, of 7th Parachute Battalion. The commandos ran across Pegasus Bridge, to the sound of Bill Millin’s bagpipes. Despite rushing across in small groups, twelve men were killed by sniper fire, mostly shot in the head; the men crossing the bridge wore helmets rather than berets from then on. They went on to establish defensive positions around Ranville, east of the River Orne. The bridges were relieved later in the day by elements of the British 3rd Infantry Division.

During an attack on the village of Bréville on 12 June, Lord Lovat was seriously wounded while observing an artillery bombardment by the 51st (Highland) Infantry Division.

On 1 August, the Brigade was ordered to seize and hold a section of high ground by dawn the following day. This was in support of a further advance to Dozule, by 6th Airborne Division. No.4 Commando led with Nos.3, 45 and 6 following. The Brigade infiltrated the enemy line and reached their objective before the Germans realized it. There were four counter-attacks throughout the day but the brigade held firm.

1st Special Service Brigade returned to England on 8–9 September 1944.

No. 3 Commando.

No. 4 Commando

No. 6 Commando

No.45 Commando (Royal Marines).

No. 10 Commando (Inter-Allied).


4th Special Services Brigade.

No. 41 Commando (Royal Marines).

No. 46 Commando (Royal Marines).

No. 47 Commando (Royal Marines).

No. 48 Commando (Royal Marines),.