78th Infantry Division (United Kingdom)

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78th Infantry Division
78 inf div.jpg
Formation sign of the 78th Infantry Division
Active 1942–1945
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Type Infantry
Size Division
Nickname Battleaxe Division
Engagements World War II
Battle honours Monte Cassino
Sicily
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Major General Vyvyan Evelegh
Major General Charles Keightley

The British 78th Infantry Division, also known as the Battleaxe Division, fought in the Second World War in North Africa and Italy.

History[edit]

The 78th was formed specifically for Operation Torch from regular British Army units, landing at Algiers in 1942. Thereafter it had a prominent role in the Tunisia Campaign, gaining a formidable reputation, then through the Allied invasion of Sicily, up the length of Italy, arriving in Austria for the end of the war. Units also saw action in Greece, Palestine, and Egypt. Notable engagements include in Tunisia the Battle of Longstop Hill, in Sicily the Battle of Centuripe and in Italy the assaults on the Viktor Line (Battle of Termoli), the Barbara Line and the River Sangro (Gustav Line) as well as the Battle of Monte Cassino, the Trasimene Line, the Gothic Line and Battle of the Argenta Gap.

The Division gained notoriety when on rest in Egypt, by starting the Cairo riots. Some divisional signs are known to have included 'Cairo' as a mock battle honour.[1]

Commanding officers[edit]

Composition[edit]

Order of battle from 1942 composed from units of Force 110.[2]

11th Infantry Brigade[edit]

2nd Battalion The Lancashire Fusiliers
1st Battalion The East Surrey Regiment
5th Battalion The Northamptonshire Regiment

36th Infantry Brigade[edit]

Main article: 36th Infantry Brigade
5th Battalion The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)
6th Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment
8th Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
7th battalion Royal West Kent Regiment

1st Infantry Brigade (Guards) (until March 1943)[edit]

3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards
2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards
2nd Battalion The Hampshire Regiment

38th (Irish) Infantry Brigade (from March 1943)[edit]

6th Battalion, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (until August 1944)
2nd Battalion, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (from August 1944)
1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victoria's)
2nd Battalion, The London Irish Rifles (Territorial Army)

Support units[edit]

56th Reconnaissance Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps

1st Battalion, Princess Louise's Kensington Regiment (Machine gun battalion)

Royal Artillery

17th Field Regiment
132nd Field Regiment (Welsh)
138th (City of London) Field Regiment
64th (Queen's Own Royal Glasgow Yeomanry) Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery
49th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment (until November 1944)

Royal Engineers

214th Field Company
237th Field Company
256th Field Company
281st Field Park Company

Royal Army Medical Corps

11th Field Ambulance
152nd Field Ambulance
217th Field Ambulance
47th Field Ambulance

Bibliography[edit]

  • Ford, Ken (1999). Battleaxe Division. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton. ISBN 0-7509-1893-4. 
  • Fulton, Fergus (2011). A Waggoner's War. Woodfield Publishing. ISBN 1846831164. 
  • Ray, Cyril (1952). Algiers to Austria. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode. OCLC 6845975. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fulton (2011), pp.92-94
  2. ^ Ford (1999), pp. 274–275.

External links[edit]