Major General Pip Roberts with Grant
Major-General George Philip (Pip) Bradley Roberts, MC, DSO and Bar, CB, was the British Army’s youngest Major-General at 37, and perhaps their best armoured commander.
Roberts joined 3 Royal Tanks as a subaltern at the age of 19, spending 13 years in Egypt apart from a stint instructing at the Tank Driving and Maintenance School. When the war broke out in 1939, he was promoted to Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General (DAQG) to the Desert Rats. As DAQG he was responsible for ensuring that they had enough supplies to fight.
By late 1940, Roberts was the Brigade Major of 4th Armoured Brigade winning the Military Cross against the Italians in Operation Compass.
A year later he was Assistant Quartermaster General to XXX Corps for Operation Crusader against Rommel. He then asked his Corps commander for a regiment, and to his delight was given his old regiment, 3 Royal Tanks.
His first task was to develop tactics for the new Grant tanks. Roberts’ contacts at HQ meant that he got his new tanks delivered immediately! Roberts won the DSO commanding 3 Royal Tanks at Gazala where he was unhorsed when his tank ‘brewed up’.
After recovering from wounds, Roberts was promoted to Brigadier commanding 22nd Armoured Brigade. His brigade was responsible for stopping Rommel at Alam Halfa and then took part in the pursuit after El Alamein winning a bar to his DSO.
Robert’s next appointment was CO of 26th Armoured Brigade in Tunisia. He led the Brigade at Fondouk where the Shermans of the Death or Glory Boys made their famous charge.
His crowning achievement was leading the 11th Armoured Division to victory in Europe.