Second World War Desert Rats describe their disgust and sadness after it emerges that the celebrated tank unit would be left without any tanks as a result of the latest round of defence cuts.
Sign of the veteran Desert Rats, a British motorized brigade that won fame by its unequalled exploits in desert warfare. It included at different times the Rifle Brigade, K.R.R.C, R.H.A, R.A.S.C, R.E., R.A.M.C., Light A.A., 11th Hussars, K.D.G.s and S.A.A.C, and with armoured car regiments co-operated with it
The Desert Rats, famous for victories in battles including El Alamein, formed part of the Eighth Army. The major described how at the end of the war Montgomery had addressed the brigade. "He stood and said with great emotion in his voice '7th Armoured, I owe you so much.'" Now, crews fighting under the famous black and red badge will now only be equipped with wheeled reconnaissance vehicles. Rodney Scott, chairman of the Desert Rats Association, said it was "sad to think the tanks were no longer tied to the division". He said veterans were "mourning the loss of the tanks" and would always think of themselves as "tankies". "You can never separate the Desert Rats and the tanks and anybody that ever served in a tank will always think back to the battles in the desert in those tanks. "Those soldiers will always look back and say the tanks were part of the division's heritage and they are proud to be able to say that." He said soldiers who fought in the tanks themselves will be particularly upset by the changes. "Those who will feel sad are those who did fight in the tanks. There will be regret that they are not tied together anymore and there will be there will be people who will mourn the loss of the tanks." The 7th Armoured Divison was formed in 1938 to protect the Suez Canal and the brigade went on to find fame in North Africa under Montgomery. However, Mr Scott said that many of the veterans also understood that the army needed to adapt to changing circumstances both at home and in the battlefield. "The old boys will understand in the First World War they came in on horses and they probably said they didn't want to give up their horses until the enemy started lobbing shells," he said. "Then they probably said 'we're glad we're in a tank'. It'll be the same now when the way people fight changes." He added: "The tanks were never more than 50 per cent of the division anyway and it had it's own Navy and Air Force. "Tanks will still be there [from another division] when they are needed." Source: Telegraph.