8th Rifle Brigade - from Normandy to the Baltic - June 1944 - May 1945

ORGANISATION AND EQUIPMENT – VEHICLES AND WEAPONS

All photos of vehicles and weapons shown on this page are actual 8th Rifle Brigade examples.

VEHICLES

VEHICLE MARKINGS: all vehicles within the battalion (i.e. the 8th Rifle Brigade) usually had three types of marking: the divisional symbol (the black bull), a tactical sign, showing their position as ‘motor battalion’ within the division and within the 29th Armoured Brigade, and a geometrical shape representing the individual company to which the vehicle belonged.

HALF TRACKS: the 8th Rifle Brigade was a ‘Motor Battalion’, which means all its units were transported in armoured vehicles. The protection of these meant the battalion’s infantry could be moved right up to the front, fast, at the moment and place where they were needed. There were three Motor Platoons in each of the three Motor Companies (F, G and H Company). Each section had its own half track. Half tracks (and other types of vehicles) were also used by Battalion HQ. All half tracks used by the battalion (and in fact, it is understood, by the British Army) were produced by International Harvester. 

8RB, F Coy half track, Normandy, 29 June 1944 - IWM B6194
F Coy, 6 Platoon half tracks, Normandy, 18 July 1944 - IWM B7537
8RB Half track, Achel, Belgium, 20 September 1944 - IWM A70 164-8
8RB HQ Company half tracks - Sgt. White collection
G Coy, 12 Platoon men, next to their half track - Musee Percee du Bocage
8RB Half track, Presles, 2 August 1944 - IWM A70 110-5
8RB Half track during liberation of Antwerp, September 1944 - Harkness coll.
8RB half track, Achel, Belgium 20 September 1944 - IWM A70 164-8

CARRIERS: the battalion used various types of carriers – tracked, fast and lightly armoured vehicles – such as Bren Carriers for scouting, Mortar and Machine gun carriers and Loyd Carriers for towing the support company’s 6 Pounder Anti-Tank guns. 

8RB, E Coy Lloyd carrier, possibly 17 Pl., Hill 112, Normandy - Source unknown
G Company mortar carrier 'Rene' - Sgt. Fruin collection
E Coy, 21 Platoon, MMG Carrier, Deurne, 26 September 1944 - IWM B10362
E Company carrier with 6-pounder Anti-Tank gun - Rfn. Heron collection
8RB Bren carrier, Amiens, 30 August 1944 - Arch. municipales d'Amiens
Another shot of 'Rene' (apparently replacement version) - Sgt. Fruin coll.
Final shot of 'Rene' - Sgt. Fruin collection
F Coy carrier, possibly Germany May 1945 - Sgt. White collection

ARMOURED CARS: armoured cars (or scout cars) were probably used by officers such as the Commanding Officer (of the Battalion) and officers in command of companies. 

8RB Humber scout car, Holland, 20 September 1944 - IWM A70 164-8
F Coy Humber scout car, possibly Germany May 1945 - Capt. Fiennes coll.

LORRIES AND OTHER SOFT SKIN VEHICLES: apart from armoured vehicles, also jeeps, motorcycles and probably also lorries, for supply, were used by the battalion. More photos of these are wanted! 

HQ Coy Motor Cycle, near Wesel, 28 March 1945 - Fiennes coll.
O.C. G Coy, Major Noel Bell's Jeep 'Smudger', 1944 - Fosdike coll.

WEAPONS

INFANTRY WEAPONS: infantry platoons in F, G and H Motor Companies used regular infantry weapons: Lee Enfield rifles, Sten guns and Bren guns. Next to these, their half tracks and Bren carriers often had Browning machine guns fitted.

Lee Enfield rifles and Bren gun, Normandy, 29 June 1944 - IWM B6184
8RB Rifleman and Bren gun, Heeze, Holland, 22 September 1944 - IWM B10247

MORTARS: all three Motor Companies (F, G and H) had two 3″ Mortars, transported in Mortar carriers. Next to these the platoons in these companies also had 2″ mortars at their disposal. 

G Coy Mortar Sgt. Fruin, 3" mortar left, Sten right - Sgt. Fruin coll.
G Company 3" mortars - Sgt. Fruin coll.

MEDIUM MACHINE GUNS: carrier mounted water cooled Vickers MMGs were used by 19, 20 and 21 Platoon, E Company.

E Coy, 21 Platoon, MMG Carrier, Deurne, 26 September 1944 - IWM B10362
8RB, E Coy carrier and MMG, Holland, November 1944 - Fruin coll.

ANTI-TANK WEAPONS: next to PIATs (Projector Infantry Anti Tank), used by the Motor Companies, E (support) Company had two dedicated Anti-Tank platoons, 17 and 18 Platoon, which were equipped with 6-Pounder Anti-Tank guns. 

6 Platoon, F Coy men and PIAT, Normandy, 29 June 1944 - IWM B6185
8RB, E Coy, 17 Pl. and one of their 6 Pdr. Anti-Tank guns - Rfn. Jefferson coll.
8RB, E Coy carrier. 6 Pounder gun barrel in foreground - IWM B10245