11th Armoured Division Patch

The 11th Armoured Division was formed in March 1941 under the leadership of the innovative Major General Percy Hobart. Most of the 11th Armoured Division landed on Juno Beach on 13 June 1944 (D+7), seven days after the 3rd Canadian Division had landed on D-Day. It was deployed in all major operations of the British Second Army, including Operations Epsom, Goodwood, and Bluecoat, and the battles around the Falaise Gap. The 11th Armoured Division, as part of the VIII Corps, was committed to action on 26 June 1944 as part of Operation Epsom. It entered the Scottish ‘corridor’, opened beforehand by the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division. Despite mistakes in navigation, which slowed down the 159th Infantry Brigade in Mouen, the 11th managed to seize the bridges at Grainville and Colleville. It then progressed southward to Hill 112 (a dominant feature in the Normandy landscape near the village of Baron) and succeeded in capturing and holding this high ground against increasingly intense German counter-attacks. However, a renewed attack by fresh SS-Panzerdivisions transformed what was intended as a breakthrough into a battle for position. Before the German reinforcements could attack, General Bernard Montgomery ordered a withdrawal from the hilltop.

The 11th Armoured was then moved to the east of Caen to spearhead Operation Goodwood. Planning and execution errors, coupled with strong German defences, led to a tactical British defeat. Goodwood was cancelled on 20 July, with the 11th Armoured being withdrawn from the front line to rest and refit. In only two days of fighting, it had lost 126 tanks.

The men of the 11th Armoured Division that fought in Normandy wore the divisional insignia of a charging bull on a yellow background and today we are looking at one such badge, finely embroidered on yellow felt:

Turning the patch over we can see that the badge is backed by an open weaved piece of hessian that offers some strength and makes it easier for the complex embroidery to be done by machine on the relatively soft felt of the patch:

The same badge was also painted on the tanks of the division and can be seen here on this Sherman of the 23rd Hussars at Deurne in September 1944:

The 11th Armoured Division would go on to have an active war for the remainder of its time in Western Europe until VE Day, including fighting through Belgium and the Netherlands, Holding the line during the German Ardennes offensive and pushing into Germany in early 1945 and ending the war on occupation duties in the Schleswig-Holstein region of Germany.

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