3rd Mechanised Division (United Kingdom)
|3rd Mechanised Division|
Insignia of the 3rd Division
|Active||Since 18 June 1809|
|Part of||Land Forces|
Battle of Sabugal
Battle of Orthez
Battle of Nivelle
Battle of Fuentes de Onoro
Battle of Badajoz (1812)
Battle of Vitoria
Battle of Bussaco
Battle of the Pyrenees
Battle of Quatre Bras
Battle of Waterloo
Battle of Alma
Siege of Sevastopol (1854–1855)
Second Boer War
First World War
Battle of Mons
Battle of the Somme
Battle of the Ancre
Battle of Delville Wood
Battle of Arras 1917
Second World War
Battle of Belgium
Battle of France
Battle of Normandy
Operation Market Garden
Overloon and Venraij
|Major General James Cowan|
|British Army Infantry Divisions (1914–present)|
|2nd Infantry Division||4th Infantry Division|
The 3rd Mechanised Division, known at various times as the Iron Division, 3rd (Iron) Division or as Iron Sides; is a regular army division of the British Army. It was created in 1809 by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, as part of the Anglo-Portuguese Army, for service in the Peninsular War, and was known as the Fighting 3rd under Sir Thomas Picton during the Napoleonic Wars. The division is also sometimes referred to as the Iron Division, a nickname earned during the bitter fighting of 1916, during the First World War. The division's other battle honours include: the Battle of Waterloo, the Crimean War, the Second Boer War, the Battle of France (1940) and D-Day (1944). It was commanded for a time, during the Second World War, by Bernard Montgomery. The division was to have been part of a proposed Commonwealth Corps, formed for a planned invasion of Japan in 1945-46, and later served in British Mandate Palestine.
During the Second World War, the insignia became the "pattern of three" — a black triangle trisected by an inverted red triangle.
Napoleonic Wars 
Peninsular War 
The Division was part of the British forces that took part in the Peninsular War and fought in the Battle of Sabugal, Battle of Orthez, Battle of Badajoz (1812), Battle of Salamanca, Battle of Nivelle, Battle of Fuentes de Onoro, Battle of Vitoria, Battle of Bussaco and the Battle of the Pyrenees
Peninsular War Formation 
- 1st Brigade (Maj-Gen Thomas Brisbane)
- 2nd Brigade (Maj-Gen Charles Colville)
- Power's Portuguese Brigade (Maj-Gen Manley Power); See Military history of Portugal#Peninsular War (1807–1814)
- 1/9th Portuguese Line
- 2/9th Portuguese Line
- 1/21st Portuguese Line
- 2/21st Portuguese Line
- 11th Caçadores
According to Picton, the fighting by the 3rd was so intense at the Battle of Vitoria, that the division lost 1,800 men (over one third of all Allied losses at the battle) having taken a key bridge and village, where they were subjected to fire by 40 to 50 cannons, and a counter-attack on the right flank (which was open because the rest of the army had not kept pace). The 3rd held their ground and pushed on with other divisions to capture the village of Arinez.
Waterloo Campaign 
The 3rd Division was also present at the Battle of Quatre Bras and the Battle of Waterloo.in the Waterloo campaign under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Alten K.C.B. (Count Carl von Alten)
Battle of Waterloo formation 
5th Brigade 
Major-General Sir Colin Halkett K.C.B.
- 2nd Battalion, 30th (Cambridgeshire) Regiment of Foot
- 1st Battalion, 33rd Regiment of Foot
- 69th (South Lincolnshire) Regiment of Foot
- 73rd Regiment of Foot
2nd Brigade, King's German Legion 
Brevet Colonel Baron Christian Freiherr von Ompteda
- 1st Light Battalion
- 2nd Light Battalion
- 5th Line Battalion
- 8th Line Battalion
1st Hanoverian Brigade 
Major-General Friedrich, Graf von Kielmansegge
- Field Battalion Bremen
- Field Battalion 1st Duke of York's
- Light Battalion Grubenhagen
- Light Battalion Lüneburg
- Field Battalion Verden
- Field Jaeger Battalion (two companies)
Lieutenant Colonel John Samuel Williamson
- Lloyd's Field Brigade R. A. 5/390 5x9lb guns 1x5.5 inch Howitzer
- Cleeves' Field Brigade King's German Legion 6/209 5x9lb guns 1x5.5 inch Howitzer
Crimean War Formation 
- Commanding General:Lieutenant-General Sir Richard England
- 5th Brigade: Brigadier-General Sir John Campbell
- 6th Brigade: Brigade-General William Eyre
- Two field batteries Royal Artillery
Second Boer War 
During the Second Boer War (1899-1902) the division began under the command of General Gatacre but was subsequently partially absorbed into the Natal Field Force under the command of General Francis Clery.
First World War 
During the First World War it was a permanently established Regular Army division that was amongst the first to be sent to France at the outbreak of the war. It served on the Western Front for four years. During this time, it was nicknamed "The Iron Division". Its first commander during the war, Major-General Hubert Hamilton, was killed by shellfire near Béthune in October 1914.
WWI Composition 
During WWI 3rd Division's composition was as follows:
- 7th Brigade (to 18 October 1915)
- 3rd Battalion, The Worcester Regiment
- 2nd Battalion, The South Lancashire Regiment
- 1/4th Battalion, The South Lancashire Regiment
- 1st Battalion, The Wiltshire Regiment
- 2nd Battalion, the Royal Irish Rifles
- 1/1st Battalion, the Honourable Artillery Company
The brigade moved to the 25th Division in October 1915 and was replaced by the 76th Brigade.
- 2nd Battalion, the Royal Scots Regiment
- 8th (Service) Battalion, The East Yorkshire Regiment
- 7th (Service) Battalion, the King's Shropshire Light Infantry
- 1st Battalion, the Royal Scots Fusiliers
The following battalions joined the brigade for periods in 1914 and 1915.
- 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment (from August 1914 to March 1915)
- 4th Battalion, The Middlesex Regiment (from August 1914 to November 1915)
The following battalions joined the brigade for periods in 1915 and 1916.
- 13th (Service) Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment) (from October 1915 to April 1916)
- 1/5th (City of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (from October 1915 to February 1916)
The following battalions left the brigade for the 76th Brigade when it joined the division in October 1915:
- 2nd Battalion, The Suffolk Regiment (from October 1914)
- 1st Battalion, the Gordon Highlanders (from August 1914)
- 1/4th Battalion, the Gordon Highlanders (from February 1915)
- 1st Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers
- 4th Battalion, the Royal Fusiliers
- 12th (Service) Battalion, The West Yorkshire Regiment (from November 1915)
- 13th (Service) Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment) (from April 1916)
Other battalions to serve with the brigade were:
- 1/10th (Scottish) Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment) (from November 1914 to January 1916)
- 1st Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment (from August 1914 to November 1915)
- 1st Battalion, the Royal Scots Fusiliers (from August 1914 to April 1916)
The brigade moved to the 28th Division for a brief period in early 1915.
- 76th Brigade (from 15 October 1915)
- 8th (Service) Battalion, The King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment)
- 13th (Service) Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment)
- 10th (Service) Battalion, the Royal Welch Fusiliers
- 2nd Battalion, The Suffolk Regiment
- 1st Battalion, the Gordon Highlanders
- 1/4th Battalion, the Gordon Highlanders (until February 1916)
The brigade joined the division from the 25th Division in October 1915.
After the end of the First World War, the division was stationed in southern England where it formed part of Southern Command. In 1937, one of its brigades was commanded by Bernard Montgomery. He assumed command of the division shortly before Britain declared war on Germany.
Second World War 
Composition 1939–40 
- 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards
- 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards
- 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards
- 7th Infantry Brigade (Guards) Anti-Tank Company
- 1st Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
- 2nd Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment
- 2nd Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment (until 5 February 1940)
- 4th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment (TA) (from 5 February 1940) (replaced by 1st Battalion South Lancashire Regiment after Dunkirk).
- 8th Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company
- 2nd Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment
- 1st Battalion, King's Own Scottish Borderers
- 2nd Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles
- 9th Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company
- 15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars (until 31 March 1940)
- 7th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
- 23rd Field Regiment, Royal Artillery (until 5 March 1940)
- 33rd Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
- 76th (Highland) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery (TA) (from 5 March 1940)
- 20th Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery
- 246th Field Company, Royal Engineers
- 248th Field Company, Royal Engineers (until 2 November 1939)
- 253rd Field Company, Royal Engineers
- 17th Field Company, Royal Engineers (from 2 November 1939)
- 15th Field Park Company, Royal Engineers
- 3rd Division Signals, Royal Corps of Signals
- 8th Battalion, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers (TA) – Motorcycle battalion
- 2nd Battalion, Middlesex Regiment – Machine Gun battalion (CO: Lt-Col Brian Horrocks)
Composition 1940–44 
For over a year after Dunkirk the composition of 3rd Division remained largely unchanged (except that the motorcycle battalion was converted into 3rd (Royal Northumberland Fusiliers) Reconnaissance Regiment). Then, in September 1941, 7th Brigade (Guards) was transferred to the Guards Armoured Division, and the following November 37th Independent Infantry Brigade HQ joined 3rd Division and was renumbered 7th Brigade with the following composition:
7th Infantry Brigade
- 2nd Battalion, South Wales Borderers
- 2/6th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment
- 6th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment
- 7th Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company
The brigade anti-tank companies were disbanded during 1941 and 92nd (Loyals) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, joined the division in March 1942.
In June 1942, 3rd Division was reorganised as a 'Mixed' Division, with 33rd Tank Brigade replacing 7th Infantry Brigade:
33rd Tank Brigade
By early 1943, the experiment with 'mixed' divisions was abandoned, and 3rd Division reverted to being an infantry formation, 33rd Tank Brigade being replaced by 185th Infantry Brigade from 79th Armoured Division:
185th Infantry Brigade
- 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- 1st Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment
- 2nd Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry
Thus the division had attained the organisation with which it went into action on D-day.
3rd Division was the first British formation to land at Sword Beach on D-Day. For the assault landing, 3rd Division was organised as a Division Group, with other formations temporarily under its command. These included 27th Armoured Brigade (Sherman DD amphibious tanks) and 22nd Dragoons (Sherman Crab flail tanks), 1st Special Service Brigade and 41 (Royal Marine) Commando, 5th Royal Marine Independent Armoured Support Battery (Centaur IV close support tanks), 77 and 79 Assault Squadrons of 5th Assault Regiment, Royal Engineers (Churchill AVREs), plus additional Royal Engineers, Royal Artillery and Royal Army Service Corps.
The division's own artillery were all self-propelled (field regiments: M7 Priest; anti-tank regiment: M10 tank destroyer) and the SP field guns and RM Centaurs were able to fire from their landing craft during the run-in to the beach. In addition, 3rd Division had 101 Beach Sub-Area HQ and Nos 5 and 6 Beach Groups under command for the assault phase: these included additional engineers, transport, pioneers, medical services and vehicle recovery sections. 3rd Division's brigades were organised as brigade groups for the assault, with 8 Bde Group making the first landing, followed by 185 Bde Group and 9 Bde Group in succession during the morning and early afternoon.
After D-Day 
After D-Day 3rd Division fought through the Battle of Normandy, the Netherlands and later the invasion of Germany. For the campaign in Normandy, the division was commanded by Major General Tom Rennie until 13 June 1944; Major General Lashmer Whistler, a highly popular commander, took command on 23 June 1944.
During the often intense fighting from Sword Beach to Bremen, the Division suffered 2,586 killed.
Post Second World War 
Postwar, the Division was reformed on 1 April 1951, in the Suez Canal Zone, under the command of Sir Hugh Stockwell. The division became part of Middle East Land Forces. It consisted of three recently reraised brigades, the 32nd Guards, the 19th Infantry, and the 39th Infantry. It served in the UK for many years; in 1968 it was part of the Army Strategic Command, comprising 5th, 19th, and 24th Brigades. It was an armoured division in the British Army of the Rhine from 1977 to 1991. When its sub-units were Task Force Echo (TFE) and Task Force Foxtrot (TFF), these changed around 1980 to 6 Armoured Brigade and 33rd Armoured Brigade.
Current formation 
The division was re-raised in the mid-1990s after 3rd Armoured Division disbanded in BAOR. It providing the headquarters for Multi-National Division (South-West) in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995 / 1996 and again in 1998. For a time it comprised 1st Mech Bde, 5th Airborne Brigade, and 19th Mechanised Brigade.
On 1 September 1999 the Division was freed from its administrative and regional responsibilities and it became a deployable or "fly-away" division.
As 3rd (UK) Mechanised Division it is now the only division at continual operational readiness in the United Kingdom (the other at operational readiness being 1st (UK) Armoured Division in Germany). It is based at Picton Barracks, Bulford Camp, in Wiltshire and reports to the Commander Land Forces at Andover.
Under the divisional command were four ready brigades, now three. 4th arrived from Germany while 19th disbanded.
- 1 Mechanized Brigade
- 4th Mechanized Brigade
- 12 Mechanized Brigade
- 3rd Division Headquarters and Signal Regiment
- 5 Regiment Army Air Corps (Lynx)
- 36 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers
- 3 Regiment, Royal Military Police
Recent Commanders 
Recent Commanders have been:
GOC 3rd Division
- 1907-1910 Major-General William Franklyn
- 1910-1914 Major-General Henry Rawlinson
- May 1914-Oct 1914 Major-General Hubert Hamilton
- Oct 1914 Major-General Colin Mackenzie
- 1914-1916 Major-General Aylmer Haldane
- 1916-1919 Major-General Cyril Deverell
- 1919-1922 Major-General Robert Whigham
- 1922-1926 Major-General William Heneker
- 1926-1930 Major-General John Burnett-Stuart
- 1930-1932 Major-General Harry Knox
- 1932-1934 Major-General Walter Pitt-Taylor
- 1934-1936 Major-General Robert Gordon-Finlayson
- 1936 Major-General Cecil Heywood
- 1936-1939 Major-General Denis Bernard
- 1939-1940 Major-General Bernard Montgomery
- 1940-1941 Major-General James Gammell
- 1941-1942 Major-General Eric Hayes
- 1942-1943 Major-General William Ramsden
- 1943-1944 Major-General Tom Rennie
- 1944-1947 Major-General Lashmer Whistler
- 1951-1952 Major-General Hugh Stockwell
- 1952-1954 Major-General Nigel Poett
- 1954-1957 Major-General John Churcher
- 1957-1959 Major-General George Gordon-Lennox
- 1959-1961 Major-General Charles Harington
- 1961-1962 Major-General Vivian Street
- 1962-1964 Major-General Michael Carver
- 1964-1966 Major-General Cecil Blacker
- 1966-1968 Major-General Anthony Deane-Drummond
- 1968-1970 Major-General Terence McMeekin
- 1970-1972 Major-General Glyn Gilbert
- 1972-1974 Major-General Richard Worsley
- 1974-1976 Major-General Robin Carnegie
GOC 3rd Armoured Division
- 1976-1978 Major-General Michael Walsh
- 1978-1980 Major-General Henry Dalzell-Payne
- 1980-1982 Major-General Norman Arthur
- 1982-1984 Major-General Anthony Walker
- 1984-1987 Major-General David Ramsbotham
- 1987-1988 Major-General Edward Jones
- 1988-1990 Major-General Michael Wilkes
- 1990-1992 Major-General Christopher Wallace
GOC 3rd (UK) Division
- 1992-1994 Major-General Hew Pike
- 1994-1996 Major-General Mike Jackson
- 1996-1999 Major-General Cedric Delves
GOC 3rd (UK) Mechanised Division
- 1999-2000 Major General Richard Dannatt
- 2000-2003 Major General John McColl
- 2003-2005 Major General Graeme Lamb
- 2005-2007 Major General Richard Shirreff
- 2007-2009 Major General Barney White-Spunner
- 2009-2011 Major General James Everard
- 2011-2013 Major General John Lorimer
- 2013-present Major General James Cowan
See also 
- 1914-1918 War: 3rd Division
- Joslen, pp. 43–4.
- Keegan, pp. 148–165.
- Montgomery, pp. 49–70.
- Joslen, p. 243.
- Joslen, p. 246.
- Joslen, p. 247.
- "RA 1939-45 76 Fld Rgt". Ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-19.
- Horrocks, pp. 76–92.
- Keegan, pp. 225–241.
- Joslen, p. 286.
- Joslen, p. 206.
- Joslen, pp. 30, 360.
- Ellis, p. 542.
- "RA 1939-45 7 Fld Rgt". Ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-19.
- "RA 1939-45 33 Fld Rgt". Ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-19.
- Ellis, p. 546.
- "RA 1939-45 20 A/Tk Rgt". Ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-19.
- Ellis, pp. 173, 184–6.
- Joslen, pp. 584–5.
- Paradata: Michael J. H. Walsh
- Conrad, John (2011). Scarce Heard Amid the Guns: An Inside Look at Canadian Peacekeeping. Natural Heritage Books. ISBN 978-1554889815.
- Soldier Magazine, December 1998, p.13
- Army basing plan
- Army 2020 Brochure
- Army Commands
- Gregory Blaxland, The Regiments Depart: A History of the British Army 1945-70, London: William Kimber, 1971.
- Richard Cannon, Historical Record of the Seventy-fourth Regiment (Highlanders), Parker, Furnivall & Parker, 1847. http://books.google.ca/books?id=DMkJ3xvg34AC
- Patrick Delaforce, Monty's Iron Sides, Stroud: Alan Sutton, 1995, ISBN 0-7509-0781-9,
- Major L.F. Ellis, History of the Second World War: United Kingdom Military Series: Victory in the West, Volume I: The Battle of Normandy, London: HMSO, 1962/Uckfield: Naval & Military, 2004, ISBN 1-845740-58-0.
- Lt-Gen Sir Brian Horrocks, A Full Life, London: Collins, 1960.
- Lt-Col H.F. Joslen, Orders of Battle, United Kingdom and Colonial Formations and Units in the Second World War, 1939–1945, London: HM Stationery Office, 1960/Uckfield: Naval & Military, 2003, ISBN 1843424746.
- John Keegan (ed), Churchill's Generals, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1991.
- Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery, Memoirs, London: Collins, 1958.
- 3rd (UK) Division- on British Army official website
- The Long, Long Trail: The British Army in the Great War
- The Royal Artillery 1939–1945