78th British Infantry Division - "The Battleaxe Div"

Discussion in 'Higher Formations' started by Ron Goldstein, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Would one of the moderators kindly check to see if there is another thread devoted purely to this Div ?

    If there is one, could you point me in the right direction ?

    If there is not one then I would like to start this one :)

    Thanks !

  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    It looks like we now have a thread devoted entirely to 78 Div matters so my first duty is to post a link to a previous thread that Owen found for me:

    What I now intend to do, in my spare time, is to trawl the forum looking for 78 Div items and post the links on this thread.

    All 78 Div admirers are more than welcome to post similar stories/links on this thread.

    Many thanks for your help !


    Here we go !
    Battleaxe Division Troopship
    And early days, pre North Africa, in Scotland here:
    78th division in scotland
    Ken P likes this.
  3. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Then there was this thread:
    Italy. November 1943. Sangro River.
    with an item from "Condie" which said

    Hi All, Hi again Tom,
    RJL - what is Geoff's search engine?? Does it show those type of statistics?

    For reference: The 78th Division (Maj Gen V.Everlegh) was composed as below:-

    11th Infantry Brigade (Brig. E.E.E.Cass)
    2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, 1st Surreys, 5th Northamtons

    36th Infantry Brigade (Brig. B. Howlett)
    6th Royal West Kent, 5th The Buffs, 8th Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders

    38th (Irish) Infantry Brigade (Brig. N.Russell)
    6th Inniskillings, 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers, 2nd London Irish Rifles

    56th Reconnaissance Rgt, R.A.C; 17th, 132nd & 138th Field Rgts R.A.
    64th Anti-tank Rgt, R.A; 49th Light A.A rgt R.A;
    214th,237th, 256th Field Companies, R.E; 281st Field Park Company R.E;
    1st Kensingtons (M.G)

    Taken from the Mediterranean and Middle East Volume V Brig CJC Molony p.152

    I know you will forgive me if I highlight my own old unit :)

    The 78 Div Order of Battle (pic below) is in the Appendix of Ken Ford's book.

    Attached Files:

    Ken P and RosyRedd like this.
  4. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Ron, I have some material I will post here in due course. I have been lucky to go back to Italy with a number of 78th Div veterans - had two on my last tour (2/LFs and Royal Signals). This is one of them, Alf Heywood ex-2/LF.

    Ken P likes this.
  5. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    A very proud division indeed ron! And don't forget the 1st Guards Brigade who were with them in tunisia... for all of four months.;)
  6. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    A very proud regiment indeed ron!

    I know you meant Div, rather than Rgt, but no argument with the word "proud" .

    Just thought that I might have to start another thread to honour the 56th Div, or perhaps some other good soul would like to do the necessary ?

  7. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    In digging around in the Regimental Diaries of the 49th LAA Rgt. I found this entry describing the eventual disbandment of the regiment and the end of it's 78 Div association.

    On 3 Nov the CO saw the CRA and was told that the regt was to leave 78_Div and move to Tavernelle, near Lake Trasimeno, for reorganisation on undisclosed lines. The possible changes could include disbandment. All personnel on miscellaneous duties were to be replaced by 26 Armd Bde and a LAA Bty was to take over any AA tasks. However requests for men and vehicles continued to come in.
    On the 4th there was another request for more stretcher bearers. This was becoming very difficult as the target date for the move of the regt was 7 Nov, this having been notified in a message from 13 Corps on the 4th. REME Workshops was informed that it would not be accompanying the regt. The CO then decided that Lt McGrath, in charge of the Stretcher Bearers, would have to make arrangements for moving his men to Tavemelle under separate arrangements. HQRA 78 Div then arranged for three 3 tonners to be sent to Lt McGrath to move his command to the new area.
    On 6 Nov the relief of the regt, in its multifarious tasks, started, apparently with less difficulty than had been expected.

    On 7 Nov the regt left 78 Inf Div after serving with it for 2 years and 5 months of which two years, to the very day, had been spent on foreign soil in Algeria, Tunisia, Sicily, Italy and Egypt. During this period 9.546 rounds had been fired in action, resulting in the confirmed destruction of 43 enemy aircraft and one tank. The regt came under command 5th Army. The move began at 0600 hrs by btys and RHQ by single vehicles owing to road problems. At 1125 hrs the RHQ Office Truck, the last vehicle, left the Div. At 2100 hrs the office truck arrived at Tavernelle. The regt was accommodated in buildings in circumstances of greater comfort than had been known since the regt left AA Command in April 1942. The regt was under Florence Command for local Admin. The CO had called in at Florence to attempt to secure leave facilities for the regt. No such help was forthcoming.. The Regt Workshops arrived at Tavemelle, the previous instructions having been cancelled.
    On 10 Nov the MGRA, AAI, Maj Gen A Homby inspected the regt and in his address afterwards announced with regret that the regt was to be disbanded and the personnel used as reinforcements as required in arms for which they were suited.
    On the 7th those ORs selected for other RA units or the RASC Garrison Bn and REME were despatched.
  8. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    There's an awful lot of Recce "stuff" on this forum that should be linked (if not posted) to this thread so come on Tom (Smudger), Gerry and all you other 78 Div experts, please lets have some articles or at least links on this thread.

    Ideally I'd like to make this the definitive thread on all matters relating to the Div and I would hate it to become simply an homage to the 49th LAA :)

    Cracking photo from Paul of Alf Heywood.

    Thanks in advance for lots more like it !

  9. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  10. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

  11. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    RASC soldier in 78th Division.

    Mark Surridge and Ken P like this.
  12. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    RASC men in 78th Division.

    Ken P likes this.
  13. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    5th Northants, 78th Division.

    Ken P likes this.
  14. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    8th Argylls, 78th Division.

    Ken P likes this.
  15. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    John Dray, ex-5th Northants, 78th Division, at Snakeshead Ridge, Cassino.

    Mark Surridge and Ken P like this.
  16. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Unusual 78th Division grave at Faenza War Cemetery.

  17. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    © IWM (NA 9122)
    Two Royal Artillery signallers of 78th Division creep forward on line maintenance duties near the Sangro river, mindful of the advice on a nearby sign to keep off the skyline, 25 November 1943.

    © IWM (NA 9413)
    Soldiers from the 78th Division enjoying tea and cakes served by a Salvation Army van in the forward area, 28 November 1943.

    © IWM (NA 1079)
    An Army pilot of No. 651 (AOP) Squadron RAF confers with an artillery officer of the 78th Division at Teboursouk, Tunisia, before setting off on an observation sortie.
  18. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Brilliant !

    Please keep them coming.and thanks for the links chaps :)

  19. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

  20. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Last edited by bexley84; 14-11-2010 at 08:25 PM.

    "a" as in "as I was about to say when the front door bell rang and it was a letter from the pools to tell me I had just won £2 million and so I've stopped writing to forums" ?


Share This Page