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  #1  
Old 16-01-19, 04:29 AM
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Default 34 Armoured Brigade FS

I think most of us are familiar with the formation sign that Howard Cole attributed to 34th Armoured Brigade- the mailed fist and mace on a red/yellow shield (see photo).

If the attached link is consulted it shows the frontispiece of the Brigade history, as reproduced by Naval & Military Press. On this is a blue and black diablo, of the design attributed to all the other Armoured Brigades. I cannot see blue/black assigned to another Brigade The thought crossed my feeble brain that his may have been the original FS adopted by the 34th. It would seem reasonable to presume that initially all the Brigades adopted diablos, and 34th went their own separate way subsequently.

Can anyone enlighten me please.

Stephen.

https://www.naval-military-press.com...igade-1941-45/

PS- if anyone has either the printed or Brabant weave versions of the 34th Brigade FS to sell/ swap I am interested.
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  #2  
Old 16-01-19, 09:20 AM
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Stephen,
Super post.
As an ex Gloster I only recently became interested in the world of armour due to writing a book about the cloth formation badges worn by the various Gloucestershire Regiment battalions AND converted units during WWII.
Our old 6th Glosters became 44 RTC / 44 RTR and 50 RTR soon followed. It was whilst researching these two units that I became aware of the word "diabolo" and it's significance within the WWII tank brigade world.
My initial purchase of Howard Cole's super book seemed to explain everything to this former Infanteer, and I learnt that the 21st ATB Diabolo was yellow. Easy - simple.
However, thanks to WO information discovered by Mike Jackson, and follow up work by others including 'Fearnaught' and 'RAC1944' on this site, suggests that it was in fact dark blue and NOT yellow!
As a former Infanteer, I know that we like to keep things simple (!) and so the ubiquitous Tank Brigade diabolo, in different colours for each Brigade seemed to be a stroke of genius on the part of our armoured friends. No complicated heraldic, commanders initials or symbolic interpretation badges needed, all of which often require complicated or costly production, just two (or one) piece of felt and a tin or two tins of paint needed to kit out a Brigade, at home or in the field. Even moving brigades would take 5 minutes to change all Insignia. Genius! You have the common colours of red, blue, green, brown, yellow, black, white, etc, etc... Then you could go into different combinations of these colours. Give me five minutes and I could come up with countless different Tank Brigade diabolo combinations. I'll just make a note of it and have it published. Bingo! What could go wrong?
So why then are we still confused by a simple shape and it's colours? I know it was a turbulent time in our history, and I know mistakes are made. But how did dark blue ever become yellow?
What I do know is that I'm so very proud of all fellow collectors who strive to get these important historical facts verified and corrected, because without you, and the efforts you go to, this misinformation would prevail. In the short time I have been a member of this forum I have learnt so much from so many different likeminded individuals who think nothing of sharing what ever information they have with complete strangers for the greater good of all.
I do hope we can crack the diabolo mysteries, once and for all. Ken
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  #3  
Old 16-01-19, 10:08 AM
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Default Diablo

Ken,

Your comments appreciated.
Are you a member of the Military Heraldry Society. There are many senior members of it who know a lot but don't use the internet so rely on pen and paper.

PM Postwarden or check out the website.
http://militaryheraldrysociety.com/index.html

Stephen.
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Old 16-01-19, 01:12 PM
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Stephen,

You're absolutely correct, 34TB did have the black/blue diabolo prior to the mace badge. The history you mention states the diabolo was worn up to about May 1944 when they adopted the 2nd Army shield for the Normandy invasion and some time soon in the bridgehead they adopted the mace shield, so perhaps from July 1944? What I've not been able to pin down is whether 34ATB, i.e. prior to becoming 34TB, wore the black/blue diabolo.

As to other TBs, 21TB changed from a diabolo to the Gremlin with diabolo badge in June 1944 and 25TB changed to a shield based design but they also morphed into an engineer brigade at the beginning of 1945.
John
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Old 16-01-19, 02:07 PM
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Hi, John is correct that it initially wore the diabolo but when it changed from Army Tank Brigade to Tank Brigade on joining the new mixed divisions, 1st then 43rd they wore the divisional signs with arms of service stripe. In the Autumn of 1943 the mixed divisions were abandoned and the 34th became an Independent Brigade under 12th Corps H.Q. If anyone has details of what they wore at this point I would be keen to hear. When they went to France, as John said, they were wearing Second Army signs. They changed to the "mace and shield" sign in Normandy and became the 34th Armoured Brigade. The red and yellow was chosen as the original regiments were all R.A.C. regiments. In the photos I've shown the history with my 34th badges, I'm not sure where the painted shield fits into the time scale of wear, I'm inclined to think earlier than later as the 9th RTR history shows the same design which is also available as a Brabant weave, hope this helps Mike
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File Type: jpg DSC05118.jpg (37.7 KB, 28 views)
File Type: jpg DSC05119.jpg (39.2 KB, 17 views)
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  #6  
Old 16-01-19, 10:33 PM
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Default Diablo

Thanks all,
Your help appreciated.

Stephen.
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Old 17-01-19, 03:55 PM
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I don't have the reference in front of me but I seem to recall that on the cover of the post-VE Day Second Army Thanksgiving Order of Service, the red and yellow of the 34 Armd Bde sign were reversed. A strange error!
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Old 17-01-19, 08:25 PM
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Like this.

Jon
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Old 18-01-19, 05:37 AM
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Precisely. I'm surprised nobody has had some made up and offered on eBay as a "very rare variation"!
The German intelligence publication, "Das Britische Kriegsheer - Feb 44" (amended up to 20 May 44) lists diablo signs for four Tk Bdes: 1 Tk Bde - Red, 21 Army Tk Bde - Yellow, 23 Tk Bde -Green (designation amended 20 May 44 to 41 Tk Bde, 25 Tk Bde - Black. It is probable that the designation 41 Tk Bde was "fed" to German intelligence as part of a deception plan - eg the notional 42 Tk Bde was notionally in India. The mention of the yellow diablo is interesting - did the Germans get it from a 21 Tk Bde PoW or from the painted sign on a knocked out tank in Tunisia?

Last edited by Mike Jackson; 18-01-19 at 06:01 AM.
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Old 18-01-19, 07:38 AM
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Mike, that's a hugely interesting post re the yellow diabolo. What's your gut feeling re the 21st being blue or yellow?
You quite rightly makes mention of deception, and this may be the case here too? Also, the Germans had spies everywhere, just like us, and it's possible they obtained a copy of the early WO (yellow diabolo) communication and it was never updated with blue? So many variables, but all guesses. However, surely the diabolos must have been accurately recorded here in the UK somewhere? As a last resort, do you know if any of the 21st ATB RTR units still have an accociation? We could ask any surviving veterans?

Last edited by Glosters Cloth; 18-01-19 at 07:47 AM.
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Old 18-01-19, 10:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glosters Cloth View Post
Mike, that's a hugely interesting post re the yellow diabolo. What's your gut feeling re the 21st being blue or yellow?
You quite rightly makes mention of deception, and this may be the case here too? Also, the Germans had spies everywhere, just like us, and it's possible they obtained a copy of the early WO (yellow diabolo) communication and it was never updated with blue? So many variables, but all guesses. However, surely the diabolos must have been accurately recorded here in the UK somewhere? As a last resort, do you know if any of the 21st ATB RTR units still have an accociation? We could ask any surviving veterans?
This image shows a Tiger captured by 48 RTR, 21 Tk Bde in Tunisia. The signs applied prior to inspection in Tunisia by the King are First Army and, I assume, 21 Tk Bde. Whilst the latter is a dark shade, maybe dark blue I believe that due to some quirk in WW2 period BW photography the colour yellow could come out in a BW image as being a darker colour. A photographic expert could confirm or deny this. The North Irish Horse are, in my opinion the best source of information about 21 Tk Bde.
Tiger captured in Tunisia.01.jpg
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Old 18-01-19, 11:19 AM
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Is that the "Bovington Tiger" (the basis for model kits such as the Tamiya ones back in the 70's and identifiable by the field workshop applied "step" lower right of the tracks fitted across the glacier plate, possibly just visible by the right hand man's leg)?
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Old 18-01-19, 11:40 AM
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Yes - and I believe that the Museum have painted over the historically very significant British formation signs. Absolute vandalism if true!
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Old 18-01-19, 05:28 PM
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I believe they repainted the Bovington Tiger years ago, I'm not in favour of prettyfying such things - build and paint a shiny new replica instead.
Edit - just googled, yes repainted, nice neat new camo, little in the way of insignia although some superficial damage remains.
I have strong feelings about such "improvements" to such historical items but won't go on about it.
YouTube videos show it in motion.

Last edited by leigh kitchen; 18-01-19 at 05:34 PM.
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Old 18-01-19, 05:59 PM
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With regard to the colour of the 21st Army Tank Brigade's sign there is an official record of the colour change.

The official War Office pamphlet GHQ, Corps and Divisional signs 1940 has an Amendment 1 dated January 1941 which list the sign of 21 Army Tank Brigade as Two yellow equilateral triangles meeting at apices, the upper one inverted. So originally yellow.

However Amendment 2 to the pamphlet dated June 1941 states Against 21 Army Tank Brigade under Sign for yellow substitute blue .

So if the sign was worn on uniform it officially lasted just six months.

Jon
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