109th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps
|109th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps (The Lancashire Fusiliers)|
|Part of||Royal Armoured Corps|
|Anniversaries||Minden Day (1 August)|
109th Regiment RAC was formed on 1 November 1941 by the conversion to the armoured role of 1/6th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers, a first line Territorial Army infantry unit. The battalion had been serving in 125th Infantry Brigade of 42nd (East Lancashire) Division, which were redesignated 10th Armoured Brigade and 42nd Armoured Division respectively. All three regiments in the brigade were drawn from the Lancashire Fusiliers and underwent simultaneous conversion to armour (the other two became 108 RAC and 143 RAC). In common with other infantry units transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps, personnel continued to wear their Lancashire Fusiliers buttons and the cap badge on the black beret of the RAC, but the rank of 'Fusilier' for private soldiers was replaced by 'Trooper', despite some resistance from the regiment. The regiment also continued to call itself '1/6th Bn The Lancashire Fusiliers (109th RAC)', but was later told to desist and adopt the official name.
In May–June 1942, 10th Armoured Bde (later 10th Tank Bde) became an independent formation, and moved from Barnard Castle, County Durham, to 'The Dukeries' area of Nottinghamshire to continue tank training. 109 RAC was based at Welbeck Abbey, and the following month the partly trained and partly equipped regiment was given the operational role (in case of enemy invasion) of providing HQ squadron and one tank squadron (drawn from all three of its squadrons) of Churchill and Valentine tanks for a composite battalion from the brigade.
In common with the other units of 10th Tank Bde, 109 RAC maintained Lancashire Fusilier traditions, celebrating Minden Day on 1 August each year. However, in August 1943, rumours began to circulate that 10th Tank Brigade was scheduled for disbandment. Members of Parliament for the Lancashire towns complained about the possible loss of their TA battalions, and a recruiting team arrived to persuade men to volunteer for the Parchute Regiment if the brigade disbanded. Although 10th Tank Bde moved to Wensleydale in September, with 109 RAC based at Leyburn, and became a holding and training formation for reinforcements, the impending disbandment was confirmed shortly afterwards. During November and December, 109 RAC's officers and men were progressively posted overseas or to 51st Training Regiment RAC at nearby Catterick. Disbandment was completed by the end of the year and 1/6th Lancashire Fusiliers went into a state of 'suspended animation' on 1 January 1944. Unlike 1/5th Lancashire Fusiliers after the disbandment of 108 RAC, the 1/6th Battalion has never been reformed.
- Joslen, pp. 164, 310.
- Forty pp. 50–1.
- 109th Regiment RAC War Diary, November 1941, The National Archives, Kew file WO 166/1426.
- 109th Regiment RAC War Diary, August 1942, TNA file WO 166/6929.
- Joslen, pp. 164, 198.
- 109th Regiment RAC War Diary, June & July 1942, TNA file WO 166/6929.
- 109th Regiment RAC War Diary, August 1943, TNA file WO 166/11102.
- 10th Armoured Brigade War Diaries August & September 1943, TNA file WO 166/10742.
- 109th Regiment RAC War Diaries, August & September 1943, TNA file WO 166/11102.
- 108th Regiment RAC War Diaries, November & December 1943, TNA file WO 166/11102.
- The Lancashire Fusiliers at Regiments.org
- George Forty, "British Army Handbook 1939-1945", Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1998, ISBN 0-7509-1403-3.
- Lt-Col H.F. Joslen, Orders of Battle, United Kingdom and Colonial Formations and Units in the Second World War, 1939–1945, Volume I, London: HM Stationery Office, 1960/Uckfield: Naval & Military, 2003, ISBN 1843424746.