Montgomery to 3rd (Iron) Division

Mon, 08/28/1939
General Sir Bernard Montgomery talking to WOII Kelly during a visit to the 2nd Battalion The Royal Ulster Rifles near Portsmouth in the run-up to D-Day. Note the 3rd Division flash and the two bars for 9 Brigade on WOII Kelly's upper sleeve. (Click to enlarge)

When Major General Bernard Montgomery assumed command of the 3rd Division on 28 August 1939, it was, by his own reckoning, a natural selection (‘I am the only man fitted to command it’) - and especially as he had commanded one of its brigades in 1937.

The Division had been known as the ‘Iron Division’ during the First World War and it’s new commander decided that it should carry forward this nom de guerre into the next war; as a formation it was unofficially referred to as ‘the Ironsides’. He introduced a new divisional flash with three black triangles surrounding an inverted red triangle. There were three brigades, 7 Brigade, 8 Brigade and 9 Brigade - he had commanded the latter brigade in 1937 at Portsmouth. By 1943, the Division consisted of 8, 9 and 185 Brigade.

He would often refer to 9 Brigade as the ‘International Brigade’ as it included the (English) Lincolnshire Regiment, the (Scottish) Kings Own Scottish Borderers and the (Irish) 2nd Battalion The Royal Ulster Rifles. The Brigades would later wear one or more bars below the triangle, and the Riflemen of 2 RUR could be identified as a unit of 9 Brigade with their two bars appearing below the Ironside’s divisional flash.