58th (2/1st London) Division

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58th Infantry Division
Active 1914–1945?
Country  United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type Infantry

The 58th (2/1st London) Division was an infantry division of the British Army, which was active in World War I and recreated during World War II as an imaginary 'deception' formation.

World War I[edit]

In late August 1914 the War Office issued instructions for all formations of the Territorial Force to form reserve units.[1] The men who had agreed to serve overseas were separated from the rest. Those left as 'home service only' were formed into 'second line' units, to create this reserve. In the London area, the 1st London Division became the first-line formation, while the second-line formation was given the designation 2/1st London Division. When many of the 'first line' units of the senior 56th (1st London) Division were sent overseas, that Division was temporarily disbanded and the rest of its units joined the 'second line' in the 2/1st London Division. In August 1915, the number 58 was allocated to the 2/1st London Division.[2][3]

World War II[edit]

The division was 'reformed' as a 'phantom division' created as part of 'Operation Fortitude North' as a replacement for the British 3rd Infantry Division which was going south to take part in a D-Day rehearsal. Unlike other 'phantom divisions' the 58ths number was chosen on the basis of Ultra reports that showed the Germans believed a 58th Infantry Division existed in the vicinity of Windsor.[4]

As part of the British Fourth Army's, II Corps, the division took the role of a mountain trained assault formation in 'Fortitude North' (HQ: Aberlour) and the role of follow up unit in 'Fortitude South' (HQ: Gravesend). It was disposed of by announcing that the division had moved to Hertfordshire and been disbanded in April 1945.,[4][5]

The formation's insignia, a stags face full on a black square was chosen to support the divisions fictional back-story, that it had been formed in the Scottish Highlands around cadres from combat experienced Highland regiments.,[4][5]

Imaginary formations assigned to the division included the 173rd Infantry Brigade, 174th Infantry Brigade, 175th Infantry Brigade, and support units.


  • Major General H.D. Fanshawe 1916 - 1917
  • Major-General A.B.E. Cator April 1917 – August 1918
  • Major-General F.W. Ramsay August 1918 -


  1. ^ The Long, Long, Trail, 58th (2/1st London) Division, accessed March 2012
  2. ^ Becke 1936, p. 146
  3. ^ Becke 1937, p. 14
  4. ^ a b c Roger Hesketh. Fortitude: The D-Day Deception Campaign. St Ermine. 1999. ISBN 0316851728
  5. ^ a b Thaddeus Holt. The Deceivers: Allied Military Deception in the Second World War. Phoenix. 2005. ISBN 0753819171


  • Becke, Major A.F. (1936). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 2A. The Territorial Force Mounted Divisions and the 1st-Line Territorial Force Divisions (42–56). London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 1-871167-12-4. 
  • Becke, Major A.F. (1937). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 2B. The 2nd-Line Territorial Force Divisions (57th–69th) with The Home-Service Divisions (71st–73rd) and 74th and 75th Divisions. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 1-871167-00-0.