3rd (UK) Division
3rd (UK) Armoured Division
"The Iron Division"
The 3rd (UK) Division is the only division at continual operational readiness in the United Kingdom. Based in Bulford, Wiltshire, England, the Division is made up 1st Mechanized Brigade, 4th Mechanized Brigade, 12th Mechanized Brigade, and 19th Light Brigade. It is also supported by the 101st Logistic Brigade, technically assigned to Headquarters, Theater Troops, as well as its own divisional troops.
On 2 July 1809, the 3rd Division was formed tactically on the frontier of Portugal and Spain. This was part of developments in the early years of the Peninsular War, when the future Duke of Wellington decided to adopt, for the first time in the British Army, a permanent divisional structure to help him combat the French. By the winter of 1811, the 3rd Division was generally known by the nickname 'The Fighting Division', since it always seemed to be in action against the French enemy. Between 1809 and 1815, the 3rd Division took part in the following battles: Talavera on 28 July 1809, Bussaco on 27 September 1810, Torres Vedras during Winter 1810-1811, Sabugal on 3 April 1811, Fuentes D'Onoro on 5 May 1811, Cuidad Rodrigo on 19 January 1812, Badajoz on 6 April 1812, Salamanca on 22 July 1812, Burgos between September and October 1812, Vittoria on 21 June 1813, Pyrenees on 30 July 1813, Quatre Bras on 16-17 July 1815, and Waterloo on 18 July 1815.
The 3rd Division, along with the rest of the British Army, had a rather uninspired campaign in the Crimea between 1854 and 1855. The Division participated in 3 battles during the conflict: Alma on 20 September 1854, Inkerman on 5 November 1854, and Sebastopol during 1854-1855.
The 3rd Division deployed to southern Africa to participate in the Boer War between 1899 and 1900. During that conflict, the Division participated in another 3 battles: Stormberg on 10 December 1899, the advance into the Orange Free State on 12 March 1900, and Reddersburg on 3 April 1900.
The 3rd Division deployed to France during the Great War and it was during that war that the Third Division's gained the nickname 'The Iron Division'. During the Great War, the Division was present at numerous battles, including Mons in 1914, Ypres in 1915, the Somme in 1916, Arras in 1917, and was finally part of the occupation force of the Rhineland during 1918 and 1919.
The Division's participation in the Second World War had 2 distinct phases. Firstly it was part of the British Expeditionary Force to France to stem the German advance, but having fought hard yet ultimately unsuccessfully, it was evacuated from Dunkirk in 1940. The Division went on to lead the assault on Sword Beach on the coast of Normandy, France on D-Day. The Division participated in the fighting around Caen during the breakout from the beachhead. After the landing and the breakout, the Division continued fighting as part of 21st Army Group across northern Europe. It went on to participate in Operation Goodwood and Operation Market Garden. The Division ended the war with fighting in the Rhineland in Germany in 1945.
In the post war years, the Division had many roles. The Division saw service in Palestine from 1945 and 1947, at which point it was disbanded. In 1951, the Division was reformed and became part of the Army Strategic Command, an element of the UK's Strategic Reserve. As part of the Army Strategic Command, the unit deployed for the Suez Crisis in 1956 and for peacekeeping duties in Cyprus in 1964.
In 1978, what had become the 3rd (UK) Armoured Division had moved to Korbecke on the Mohnesee in the Federal Republic of Germany to become part of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) with 3 armoured brigades, the 4th, 6th, and 33rd Armoured Brigades. There it remained until the decision was made following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990 to dramatically reduce the size of the BAOR. The unit was subsequently restructured to a mechanized division and relocated to Bulford, Wiltshire, England.
The Division was deployed as part of peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s and as a headquarters to Kabul, Afghanistan in 2001. The Division headquarters was also deployed to Iraq in 2003, 2006, and 2008.
The headquarters also force generated and prepared 12th Mechanized, 52nd Infantry, 19th and 11th Light Brigades for operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan and took command of 4th Mechanized Brigade on their return from Operation Herrick's rotation 13 in 2011.
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