100 Years of the Royal Tank Regiment

The Royal Tank Regiment will be celebrating one hundred years of being granted the distinction of using the title of `Royal’ in their name on 18th October 2023.

The granting of Royal status in 1923 by King George V ensured the future of The Royal Tank Regiment.

The War Office was considering whether the Corps should be split into two separate Corps, one for infantry support and one for exploitation, or subsumed into the Royal Engineers. The demise of the Machine Gun Corps in 1922 due to cost cuts added to the fear that the Tank Corps would fold.

In the early 1920s, the remaining tank units and newly formed armoured car companies were on a mission to emphasise their capabilities in domestic issues, civil unrest, Ireland, and overseas deployment. The presence of tanks in Germany was seen as specifically enhancing the prestige of the occupying forces in the eyes of the Germans.

The Tank Corps did have one enamoured supporter, King George V, who had visited the tanks on numerous occasions and had noted “Our Tank Corps splendid work’ during the Great War, becoming the Tank Corps Colonel-in-chief in October 1918.

The Tank Corps first turreted tank, the Vickers Medium tank Mark I entered service in 1923, and the Royal Tank Corps design for a new item of headgear was royally approved and would become the Tankies famous black beret that was worn from March 1924, accompanied by a new RTC cap badge with the tank now moving to the left.

His Majesty King George VI, and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the future Queen Mother, watch a mock tank battle at Littlecote, 30th July 1941.

In 1923, King George bestowed the privilege of Royal status to the Tank Corp. ‘His Majesty, George Vs. “Will and Pleasure that the Corps shall enjoy the distinction of “Royal” and henceforth be known as our “Royal Tank Corps”, this was a momentous honour.

His Majesty the King and Colonel-in-Chief, heads a party of high ranking R.T.C officers including Colonel Lindsay, Colonel Broad and Major-General Capper, during his tour of the Royal Tank Corps, Bovington Camp, 24th April 1928.

The Army confirmed the Tank Corps as a permanent institution in the same year. The securing of this confirmation and the granting of the “Royal” status was incredibly significant for those serving and for tank advocates such as J.F.C. Fuller to the future of the Royal Tank Regiment.

As a powerful advocate of the Tank Corps, King George V’s visit to Bovington Camp in April 1928 was met with a joyous response, and the appreciation of his support was cemented with the naming of the main road to Bovington Camp as King George V Road.

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