2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade

Formed as 2nd Army Tank Brigade on 26 January 1942, this formation consisted of the Voltigeurs de Québec (replaced in June 1942 by The 16/22 Saskatchewan Horse), the Halifax Rifles, and the Grey and Simcoe Foresters. Equipped with Ram II tanks, in the autumn of 1942 the brigade trained at the newly opened Meaford AFV range on Georgian Bay where the Halifax Rifles had the honour of conducting the first field exercise.

In June 1943 the brigade was dispatched to the United Kingdom. The following month came an intensive inspection of the units of this brigade and of the 3rd Canadian Army Tank Brigade by Lieutenant-General H.D.G. Crerar, General Officer Commanding I Canadian Corps. The purpose of the inspection was to determine which of the two brigades would remain on the order of battle since there was only room for one such formation. The brigade chosen was the 3rd; the 1st Hussars, The Fort Garry Horse, and the Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment.
The 3rd Army Tank Brigade was raised on 1 January 1943 following a reorganization of the Canadian Armoured Corps in Britain. It adopted the designation 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade (2 CAB) after it was selected by Lieutenant-General Crerar to remain on the order of battle. In August 1943 it was selected to be part of the D-Day invasion force in support of the units of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division.

The Brigade’s three regiments landed in Normandy on D-Day. Unlike their peers in 4th Canadian Armoured Brigade, who were usually paired with their division’s 10th Canadian Infantry Brigade, the 2nd was paired with any infantry who were in need of armour support.

This formation rarely fought as an entity, its primary role was infantry support and thus its regiments were usually individually tasked out to infantry units to participate in particular operations. One of the occasions when the Brigade did undertake an operation on its own, Le Mesnil-Patry / Rots on 11 June 1944, ended with only a partial success and severe losses to the Canadians. 2 CAB fought in North West Europe longer than any other armoured formation, from D-Day to VE Day, suffering 435 fatal casualties in total.

For further reading see: John Marteinson and Michael McNorgan, The Royal Canadian Armoured Corps: An Illustrated History, Robin Brass Studio, 2000.

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