Author(s): Patrick Delaforce
During the desperate days of May 1940 that ended with the fall of France, the 3rd Battalion Royal Tank Regiment was sent to Calais where it played a vital role in the week-long battle. In helping to stem the inexorable German armoured advance, the battalion was praised by Churchill for giving the British Expeditionary Force vital extra time to effect the crucial evacuation from Dunkirk's beaches. In the spring of 1941, 3 RTR fought the panzers once again in the ill-fated Greek campaign. They fought a costly withdrawal against the Germans, losing all their tanks, but inflicting heavy casualties. Hitler was furious: the six week Greek campaign delayed Operation "Barbarossa" which allowed the Soviets time to re-group before the Germans reached Moscow. Taking part in the D-Day invasion in June 1944, 3 RTR was in the thick of all the desperate Normandy battles. They took part in the "Great Swan" to capture Amiens and Antwerp, then provided right flank protection in Operation 'Market Garden' and helped halt the panzers in the Ardennes. Equipped with new Comet tanks 3 RTR swept across the Rhine and four other well-defended rivers to meet the Russians on the Baltic.