159th Infantry Brigade (United Kingdom)
|159th Infantry Brigade|
|Active||1908 - 1946|
|Part of||11th Armoured Division|
|Engagements||Battle of Normandy
Operation Market Garden
Battle of the Bulge
The 159th Infantry Brigade was an infantry brigade of the British Army. It was a part of the Territorial Force and served with the 53rd (Welsh) Division in the Great War in the Middle Eastern theatre. It was disbanded after the war in 1920, as was the rest of the Territorial Force, but then reformed in the Territorial Army, still with 53rd (Welsh) Division. The brigade served with the division in World War II until October 1943 when it was transferred to be the motorised infantry brigade of the 11th Armoured Division. The brigade would serve with the division in North-west Europe from June 1944 to May 1945.
The creation of the 11th Armoured Division (which included this brigade together with 29th Armoured Brigade) was part of the British answer to the success of German panzer divisions in the previous years. In Poland in 1939 then in Western Europe in 1940, the German armoured elements had clearly displayed new tactics and methods of fighting; the Allied Forces now had to address those developments in Europe.
Originally part of the 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division, the brigade detached to form the 11th Armoured in October 1943, from thereon being involved in intensive training while gradually receiving new, more modern equipment.
Normandy to Belgium
The Brigade landed on Juno Beach in Normandy on 13 June 1944. During the campaign in Normandy the brigade took part in Operations Epsom, Goodwood, Bluecoat and the actions around the Falaise Gap. In August the Brigade, as part of the 11th Armoured Division, advanced into France participating in the "swan" to Amiens; the fastest and deepest penetration into enemy territory ever made until the 1991 Gulf War. The 11th Armoured Division then turned northward to Belgium and captured the city of Antwerp on 4 September.
Market Garden to Germany
The Brigade had a minor role in Operation Market Garden and went on to participate in the Ardennes.
Soon thereafter, the 11th Armoured Division pushed forward into the German-occupied Netherlands. In March 1945, it crossed the Rhine River and by the end of the war had advanced to the northeast and captured the German city of Lübeck on 2 May 1945.
As it drove into Germany, the Brigade occupied the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on 15 April 1945, pursuant to an 12 April agreement with the retreating Germans to surrender the camp peacefully. When the Brigade entered the camp, they found more than 60,000 emaciated and ill prisoners in desperate need of medical attention. More than 13,000 corpses in various stages of decomposition lay littered around the camp. Units of the Division and its higher formations were detached to oversee the work needed in the camp.
From the end of the war in Europe (8 May 1945) the Division was involved in the occupation of Germany until its disbandment in January 1946.
- 4th Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry
- 3rd Battalion, Monmouthshire Regiment
- 1st Battalion, Herefordshire Regiment