X Corps (United Kingdom)
X Corps insignia.
Richard L. McCreery
The X Corps was a corps-size formation of the British Army that served in the First World War on the Western Front before being disbanded in 1919. The corps was later re-formed in 1942 during the Second World War and saw service in the North African Campaign, later serving in the Italian Campaign where it came under command of both the U.S. Fifth Army and the British Eighth Army.
First World War
X Corps was formed in France in July 1915 under Thomas Morland. In the autumn of 1916 the corps took part in the Battle of the Somme and in 1917 X Corps, formed a part of the Second Army and included the 29th and 30th Divisions followed by others as the Second Army was reinforced for the Flanders operations after the Battle of Arras. In June 1917 it took part in the Battle of Messines. and participated in the Battles of Ypres 31 July – 10 November. In May and June 1918, it was commanded by William Peyton. Later in 1918 it came under the command of Reginald Stephens.
Second World War
X Corps was reformed in 1940 as part of Home Forces in the United Kingdom.
Order of Battle Autumn 1940
- 54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division
- 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division
- Royal Artillery
X Corps first went on active service in Syria under the command of Major-General William Holmes. In summer 1942, Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery decided it should join British Eighth Army to become a mobile corps to exploit infantry breakthroughs in North Africa. It then comprised two armoured divisions (1st and 10th) with parts of a third (8th) divided between them, and the 2nd New Zealand Division. From 1942, its commander was Lieutenant General Herbert Lumsden, albeit not Montgomery's preferred choice. Lumsden was later dismissed because of a perceived reluctance to pursue the retreating Afrika Korps and replaced by Brian Horrocks.
X Corps were heavily involved at the Second Battle of El Alamein. The original plan was to be simultaneous attacks by XXX Corps and XIII Corps to clear corridors for X Corps' armour to exploit. Events affected the plan and on the 5 October, it was decided to attack simultaneously with both XXX and X Corps.
The New Zealanders rapidly captured Miteirya Ridge. While XIII Corps pressed forward, X Corps was to strike northwestwards to distract and defeat Erwin Rommel's Panzers. By November 4, X Corps was in full pursuit, but heavy rain bogged the armour down and Rommel escaped.
The corps was active through the remainder of the campaign with Eighth Army until the Axis forces surrender in Tunisia in May 1943.
Italy and Greece
The Corps was not involved in the Sicily campaign but became part of Lieutenant General Mark Clark's U.S. Fifth Army to take part in the landings at Salerno, Italy on 9 September 1943, where it had under command the 46th Infantry Division, 56th (London) Infantry Division and later 7th Armoured Division. Here it was commanded by Lieutenant-General Richard McCreery. After Salerno it continued to fight on the Fifth Army's left wing including taking part in the first Battle of Monte Cassino in January 1944.
In the spring of 1944 the corps was relieved by the French Expeditionary Corps and switched back to the Eighth Army, taking position on the right of British XIII Corps. The corps had a minor role in the fourth and decisive battle of Cassino but was involved in the Allied advance north through the summer to the German Gothic Line defences.
In September 1944 the corps played a holding role on the left flank of Eighth Army during Operation Olive, the autumn offensive on the Gothic Line.
When the Axis forces withdrew from Greece, from October British troops under Lieutenant-General Ronald Scobie were sent there to maintain internal stability. In late 1944 Hawkesworth and X Corps HQ were sent to Greece to assume control of military operations so that Scobie could concentrate more on the highly complex and sensitive political aspects of the British involvement.
By March 1945 Hawkesworth and his HQ had returned to Italy. X Corps was in a reserve role and not involved in the Allies' final offensive in April 1945 culminating with the surrender of Axis forces in Italy in early May.
By this time it had become apparent that Hawkesworth was suffering from a serious heart condition. He died on the way home to Britain, when he suffered a heart attack while on board his troopship which lay at Gibraltar, on 3 June 1945.
General Officers Commanding
Commanders have included:
- Jul 1915 – Apr 1918 Lieutenant-General Thomas Morland
- May 1918 – Jun 1918 Lieutenant-General William Peyton
- 1918 – 1919 Lieutenant-General Reginald Stephens
- Jun 1940 – Aug 1942 Lieutenant-General William Holmes
- Aug 1942 – Dec 1942 Lieutenant-General Herbert Lumsden
- Dec 1942 – Apr 1943 Lieutenant-General Brian Horrocks
- Apr 1943 – May 1943 Lieutenant-General Bernard Freyberg
- Aug 1943 – Oct 1944 Lieutenant-General Sir Richard McCreery
- Nov 1944 – May 1945 Lieutenant-General Sir John Hawkesworth
- The British Corps of 1914–1918
- William Eliot Peyton at the web site of the CENTRE FOR FIRST WORLD WAR STUDIES online at bham.ac.uk (accessed 19 January 2008)
- Invision Zone
- 10 Corps
- 121 (West Riding) Field Regiment RA (TA)
- 1 Medium Regiment RA
- Corps Orders of Battle
- Mead (2007), p. 197
- Army Commands
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- Keegan, John (1991). Churchill's Generals. London: Cassell. pp. 153–155. ISBN 0-304-36712-5.
- Mead, Richard (2007). Churchill's Lions: A Biographical Guide to the Key British Generals of World War II. Stroud: Spellmount. ISBN 978-1-86227-431-0.