59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division
|59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division|
The insignia of the 59th Division
|Active||1939 - 1944|
|Size||Approximately 18,000 men|
|Battle honours||Battle of Normandy|
|Officer Commanding||Major-General Lewis Lyne|
The 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division was a 2nd Line Territorial Army unit of the British Army during the Second World War. It served as part of the 21st Army Group during the early stages of the North-West Europe campaign. It was one of two divisions (the other being 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division) of this army group that was disbanded due to the acute shortage of infantry reinforcements.
The 59th Division was reconstituted on 21 August 1939 as a duplicate of the 55th (West Lancashire) Infantry Division. Having been kept in Britain until mid-1944, the division's lead units landed in Normandy as part of the Second Army on 26 June. Attached to I Corps for Operation Charnwood, the division was employed in the north-western outskirts of Caen, fighting heavily against elements of the 12th SS Panzer Division. Subsequently the division was attached to XII Corps in the Odon Valley.
Montgomery named the 59th, along with seven other divisions, as one of the reliable divisions within 21st army group, bemoaning that divisions such as the 7th Armoured, 3rd Infantry and 51st Infantry were not combat worthy after their initial performance, inland, after landing.
It fought in Normandy until 18 August 1944 when, due to the severe casualties suffered by other British units in the British Second Army, it was disbanded and its men used as badly needed reinforcements for the rest of the Second Army. It was chosen because it was the most junior of the British divisions in Normandy.
The Division's last major action was in the town of Thury-Harcourt, where there is now a road named after the commander at the time: the Avenue du General Lyne. In the time after this period, 197th Brigade (containing 5th Bn East Lancashire Regiment, 2nd/5th Lancashire Fusiliers and 1st/7th Bn Royal Warwickshire Regiment) became a battlefield clearance brigade, tasked with tidying up parts of the Normandy battlefield and returning any ditched, dumped or lost but serviceable equipment.
Order of battle
This is the division's order of battle at the time of its disbandment on 18 August 1944.
- 6th Battalion, The North Staffordshire Regiment
- 7th Battalion, The Royal Norfolk Regiment
- 7th Battalion, The South Staffordshire Regiment
- 5th Battalion, The South Staffordshire Regiment
- 1st/6th Battalion, The South Staffordshire Regiment
- 2nd/6th Battalion, The South Staffordshire Regiment
- 5th Battalion, The East Lancashire Regiment
- 2nd/5th Battalion, The Lancashire Fusiliers
- 1st/7th Battalion, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment
- 7th Battalion, The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers
- 59th Reconnaissance Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps
- 61st Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
- 110th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
- 116th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
- 68th Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery
- 257th Field Company, Royal Engineers
- 509th Field Company, Royal Engineers
- 510th Field Company, Royal Engineers
Bibliography and Notes
- Knight, Peter, The 59th Division: Its War Story. Frederick Muller, 1954. No ISBN.
- 59th Division History and Order of Battle
- History of the 59th Division on memorial-montormel.org
- 59 (Staffordshire) Infantry Division at Orders of Battle.com?
- British World War II Military Data Base