Late Valentines, courtesy of The Black Watch

A Valentine Mk I/II tank with the earlier two-man turret, carrying infantry of the Black Watch, North Africa, March 1943.

Armed with a 40mm main gun and a .303 machine gun, around 8,000 Valentines were produced, making it the most numerous tank in British Army history. Photo by McLaren (Lt), No 2 Army Film & Photographic Unit. Imperial War Museum photo IWM NA 1670, colorized by Monochrome Spectre. 

The image was captured north of Gabes, Tunisia, and specifically shows the 5th (Angus) Battalion, Black Watch Highlanders aboard a tank of the 23rd Armoured Brigade. In the Tunisian Campaign, the latter brigade served as an independent armored formation under XXX Corps, with Monty’s Eighth Army, and fought in most of the battles of the campaign.

The above image could be the same tank seen in the below shot:

A Valentine tank of the 23rd Bde’s 50th Royal Tank Regiment carries infantrymen of the 5th Battalion, Black Watch, March 1943. IWM NA 1139

Formed originally in 1939 with only a handful of light vehicles– a few cranky old armored cars– by November 1941 the 23rd Bde would be armed with three battalions of early Valentines (120) and a company (18) of Matilda IIs, which it would take to North Africa to fight Rommel.

Shortly after the above images were snapped, the “Liver Bird” brigade would be pulled from the line and re-equipped with Lend-Leased American-made M4 Shermans that it would soon put to good use in Italy and Greece.

As for the 5th Black Watch, part of the reformed 51st Highland Division, they fought as leg infantry at El Alamein, Mareth, and Wadi Akarit, landed in Sicily, got their feet wet again in Normandy on or shortly after D-Day, on 6 June 1944, and continued into Germany, crossing the Rhine in March 1945.

As both the Angusmen and the Liver Birds were Territorial units, VE Day soon brought disbandment.


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