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Dated:  May 2,  2008

Organization of
British
& Other Nationalities
This page provides general details of the organization of the British 8th Army during the Italian Campaign, including the other nationalities of the British Commonwealth.   The intent of my website limits a full review of all the units and organization during the entire period.

Commanding Generals:
      Gen Bernard "Monty" Montgomery commanded during Sicily and landings in Italy.
      Lt.-Gen Sir Oliver Leese-   31 Dec 1943 -  1 Oct 1944.
      Gen Sir Richard L. McCreery-  from 1 Oct 1944 - end of war.
Desert Air Force was a British Royal Air Force command for all the air forces located in N. Africa and Italy.

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For general organization of 5th Army, Return To Main Menu

Invasion of Sicily and southern tip of Italy.

   13th Corps - Operation BAYTOWN landing on 3 Sept 1943 on southern tip of Italy.
   5th Corps - Operation SLAPSTICK landing on 1 Sept 1943 at Taranto.

The British 50th & 51st 'Highland' Division were transferred to England for Normandy preparations soon after Sicily was under Allied control.  Later the 231st Brigade returned to England,  followed by the US 1st and 9th Divisions from the 7th Army.

 


SALERNO Landings -  Operation AVALANCHE
September 9, 1943

A simple Organizational Table of 5th Army in Salerno.  
5th Army
        US 6th Corps 
3rd US Infantry Division 
34th US Infantry Division 
36th US Infantry Division 
45th US Infantry Division
      82nd US Airborne Division
  British 10th Corps
46th North Midland Infantry Div
 56th London Division
 7th Armored Division
 23rd Armored Brigade
       1, 3 & 4 US Rangers
       2 & 41 Commandos
 The 6th Corps at Salerno was commanded by Maj. Gen. Ernest J. Dawley.

British soldiers
                 British troops displaying their souvenir.



The landing at Salerno was considered an American operation, however it included the British 10th Corps with support from Colonel Darby's 1st, 3rd & 4th Ranger Battalions and the 2nd and 41st British Commandos .  The following is an organizational table for the British 10th Corps at Salerno.  I've included the 23rd Armored Brigade under the 7th Armored Division, as some references show it this way but it might have been directly under command of 10th Corps.   Each division included support troops that consisted of several artillery regiments, engineer companies,  a recon troop, a signal company and a machine gun company.  I try to list these but there are many discrepancies between references on the support units.  See comment below about Designations of British units.
 
British 10th Corps
Gen. Richard McCreery
46th North Midland Infantry Division
Gen. John L. I. Hawkesworth

128th Infantry Brigade
Gen. M. A. James
1/4 The Hampshire Regt
   5 The Hampshire Regt
   2 The Hampshire Regt


138th Infantry Brigade
Gen. JG. P. Harding
   6  Lincolnshire Regt
   2/4 King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
   6 The Yorks and Lancashire Regiment


139th Infantry Brigade
Gen. R. E. H. Stott
   2/5  Leicestershire Regt
    5   Sherwood Foresters
   16  Durham Light Infantry
56th London Division
Gen. G. W. R. Templer 
(or?) Douglas A. H. Graham

201st Guards Motor Brigade
Gen. J. A. Gascoigne
   3 Coldstream Guards
   6 Grenadier Guards
   2 Scots Guards


167th Infantry Brigade
Gen. C. E. A. Firth 
   8 Royal Fusiliers
   9 Royal Fusiliers
   7 Oxforshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry


169th Infantry Brigade
Gen. L. O. Lyne
   2/5 West Surrey
   2/6 West Surrey
   2/7 West Surrey
7th Armored Division
(a.k.a. 'Desert Rats')
Gen. George W. E. J. Erskine

22nd Armored Brigade
Gen. W. R. N. Hinde
  4 County of London Yeomanry
   1 Royal Tank Regiment
   5 Royal Tank Regiment
   1 Berkshire

23rd Armored Brigade
   (reported directly to 10th Corps)
  Gen. R. H. B. Arkwright
   40 Royal Tank Regiment
   Royal Scots Greys
   King's Dragoon Guards

131st Lorried Infantry Brigade
Gen. L. C. Whislter
   1/5 West Surrey
   1/6 West Surrey
   1/7 West Surrey
      Divisional Troops
 Royal Artillery
   70, 71 & 172 Field Regiments
    58 Anti-tank Regiment
    115 Light Anti-tank Regiment
 Royal Engineers
     270, 271 & 272 Field
              Companies
    273 Field Pack Company
 46 Division Royal Signals
 46 Reconnaissance Regiment
 Machine-Gun Company, 2 Northumberland Regiment
     Divisional Troops
 Royal Artillery
   64, 65 & 113 Field Regiments
   67 Anti-tank Regiment
   100 Light Anti-tank Regiment
   Royal Engineers
    42, 220, 221 & 501 Companies
    563 Field Pack Company
 56 Royal Signals
 44 Reconnaissance Regiment
  4 Machine-gun Company, 6 The Cheshire Regiment
     Divisional Troops
 Royal Armored Corps,
      11 Hussars
 Royal Artillery
    3 & 5 Royal Horse Artillery
    146 Field Regiment
    65 Anti-Tank Regiment
    15 Light Anti-Tank Regiment
Royal Engineers
      41 & 621 Field Squadrons
      143 Field Pack Squadron
Royal Signals, 7th Armored Div.
    Machine-gun Company 'C', 1 The Chesire Regiment


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British 8th Army
Order of Battle
Gothic Line
25th August 1944

After the fall of Rome, the Germans retreated back across the Arno River and into the natural defenses of the Appenine Mountains.  Several experienced Allied divisions were pulled out of Italy and sent to southern France.  The Allied Army launched an attack against the well-prepared GOTHIC Line defenses without a man-power superiority required for victory.
The Germans were able to hold the Allied advance and prevent them from entering the Po Valley before the fall rains and winter came.  This is the organization of the Corps and Divisions during the fall of 1944.  The commanders names are listed in (paranthesis).
 
 

EIGHTH BRITISH ARMY
(Leese)

V CORPS           (Keightley)
1ST ARMOURED DIVISION   (Hull)
4TH INFANTRY DIVISION     (Ward)
4TH (INDIAN) INFANTRY DIVISION    (Holworthy)
46TH INFANTRY 'NORTH MIDLAND' DIVISION    (Hawkesworth)
56TH INFANTRY 'LONDON' DIVISION    (Whitfield)
7TH ARMOURED DIVISION -
25TH TANK BRIGADE

II POLISH CORPS           (Anders)
3RD CARPATHIAN RIFLE DIVISION  (Duch)
5TH KRESOWA INFANTRY DIVISION  (Sulik)
2ND ARMOURED BRIGADE

I CANADIAN CORPS     (Burns)
1ST INFANTRY DIVISION     (Vokes)
2ND NEW ZEALAND DIVISION  (Freyberg)
5TH ARMOURED DIVISION  (Hoffmeister)
21ST TANK BRIGADE
3RD GREEK MOUNTAIN BRIGADE

X BRITISH CORPS              (McCreery)
10TH (INDIAN) INFANTRY DIVISION     (Reid)
9TH ARMOURED BRIGADE
<>

 

Spring Offensive 1945

5th Army consisted of IV Corps in the west, under Maj. Gen. Willis D. Crittenberger,
and the U.S. II Corps in the east, under Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Keyes
    34th Infantry Division
    85th  Infantry Division
    88th Infantry Division
    91st  Infantry Division
    92nd  Infantry Division
    10th Mountain
    1st Armored Divisions,
     442d Regiment
    1st Brazilian Infantry Division
     Italian Legnano Combat Group
     6th South African Armored Division

British Eighth Army, commanded by General Sir Richard L. McCreery, included the 2nd Polish  Corps and the British 5th, 10th, and 13th Corps, and it included eight divisions from four different nations, as well as four Italian battle groups and a Jewish brigade.
 

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Explanation of British Regiments

Designations of British units:  Each British Regiment contained 4 or 5 Battalions, or even as many as 12. Unlike the US divisions, the British Reigment was identified only by its name-- not a number-- and the battalions of a regiment did not serve in the same division.  Therefore, one battalion of one regiment might be sent to Italy, another to Pacific and another to France.  I presume the purpose was ensure each division had diversified units so as to utilize combined arms.  Another reason is that regiments generally raised troops from one local area and if that regiment received heavy casualties, then that would have a devastating impact on the local community.  This was a lesson that was learned in World War 1.
    Prior to WW2, a regiment would consist of 3 battalions: one used for home defense, one deployed overseas and one 'home' unit that provided a a flow of trained replacements.  Regiments that existed before 1939, generally consisted of 1 or 2 regular battalions and 2 or 3 Territorial Army battalions for training and replenishment.  As the requirement for more divisions grew, the TA battalions duplicated themselves, thus creating a 1/6 and 2/6 battalion designation.  These new battalions were group together to form new TA brigades and new divisions and fought together.  Towards the end of the war, the British converted to a system similar to the Americans that trained all replacments and assigned them to units as needed.
     Each Regiment was identified by their name.  However, most references will have a number preceeding the name that identifies the specific battalion of that regiment.
Examples:
   6 Grenadier Guards stands for the 6th Battalion of the Grenadier Guards.
  40 Royal Tank Regiment is the 40th Regiment, as there were many tank regiments.
  1/6 West Surrey is the 1st Battalion of the territorial West Surrey Regiment.  The second battalion of the Territorial Army was designated as 2/6th West Surrey.

 The Brits preferred to designate corps using arabic  numerls, whereas the Americans used Roman numerals. Thus sometimes you will see it written as "X Corps" and other times as "10th Corps", depending whether the source is American or British.   The British divisions and some brigades were issued shoulder patches.  The division adopted a name or title that described their heritage or origin; i.e., North Midland Division or Highland Division.  The British regiments did not have shoulder patches.  Each regiment and branch(such as Engineers) had a distinctive cap badge and, in some cases, a shoulder title either of metal or cloth strip.

Also, the Brit's spelling of "armor" is "armour".   My spell-checker prefers the American English spelling.

Formation Patches

Examples of shoulder patches of the British Army:
Corps Patches
 British 8th Army ,  X Corps(resembles a "10" on its side) & XXX Corps.

British Division Patches
British Divisions: 4th, 5th, 51st 'Highlander', 46th 'Midland' & 56th 'North London' .
 

Shoulder unit titles:
British flashBritish Commando flash
These cloth flashes were worn on top of sleeve.  Some titles were brass.
No. 6 Commando is an example from my collection; this unit did not serve in Italy.

EXAMPLES FROM MY COLLECTION

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Numbers & Statistics

Casualty Count
Salerno - Sept 9 -16, 1943   British deployed twice as many troops as the Americans
   British X Corps      531 KIA    1,915 WIA    1,561 MIA
   U.S.  VI Corps        225 KIA       835 WIA        589 MIA
 

British 1st Division at Anzio over 6 months
  Officers             100 KIA   295 WIA
  Enlisted Men   1,030 KIA   4,653 WIA

For more statistics, go to:  Statistics



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US Units
Canadians
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Polish Brazilians

German

      
Go to US Divisions - Regiments & Supporting Units, for a complete list of US Divisions and the Regiments with illustration of each should patch.  Also includes examples of Distinguishing Unit Insignia pins of units that fought in Italy.

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