British Infantry Divisions in Italy

Discussion in 'Italy' started by Chris C, Mar 11, 2018.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi all,

    I was trying to make a list of British infantry divisions in Italy in the timeframe in which the Valentine SP (Archer) was assigned to units.

    Based on a list from wikipedia (which is not liable to be correct, but who knows), from September 1944 onwards, the only British infantry divisions in Italy were:

    The 1st
    The 4th (but they departed for Greece at the end of the year)
    The 78th

    Is that correct?

  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    46th & 56th Division were there at that time too
    Dunno if they had SP 17 Pdr

    46th Div also went to Greece
    CL1 likes this.
  3. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Thank you, Owen! That's very helpful.

    Apparently I needed to do more than just search for the word "Italy" on that page, as it was not very well written - and I was overhasty.
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Would the Indian Divisions in Italy have been issued with SP 17 Pdr as their artillery units were British ?
    Chris C likes this.
  5. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    That is a very good question, Owen. And even if they theoretically might, did they in fact receive them?
  6. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    5th British Infantry Division was still in Italy by September 1944. It left for NW Europe in March 1945.
  7. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    September 44 they were in Syria & Palestine.
    Advance parties never returned to Italy until November.
    Just checked dates in divisional history.
    Most of the Div stayed in Middle East until returning to Italy early 45 on the way to NW Europe.
  8. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    My mistake, I didn't know that it left Italy for Palestine before move to NWE. I don't think there were many Archer units in the Italy. It was only used by the Royal Artillery units and the only one so far I could find that used Archers in Italy is 105th AT Regiment RA which was directly under 8th Army. Also seems that 7th AT regiment RCA, 1st Canadian Division also received them while it was in Italy.
  9. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    4th Indian Division requested the attachment (during operations) of one SP 3-inch M10 A-Tk-Bty from 5 Corps on 31/5/44, suggesting that they previously had not had one. The response (4/6/44) was that no such battery was available for permanent attachment, but the request would be revisited if future situations required their use.

    She regimental history of 149th Regt R.A. makes no mention of the SP 17pdrs as far as I can see (at a quick scan).
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
  10. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi Sol,

    Thanks for the input! What information are you drawing on - have you seen anything about for instance 64th Anti-Tank Regiment (of 78th Division) to indicate that they did not receive any?

    For some reason I have jotted down 105 AT Reg't RA as being the XIII Corps AT Regiment. Incorrect?

    The first appearance of Archers in Italy are a couple of field test vehicles which were first given to 93th AT Regiment. Their regimental history records the opinion "they were quite useless". They were very used to their M10s and very happy with them! The Valentine SPs "were got rid of by handing them over to the Canadians".

    7th Canadian AT Reg't records receiving 3 on September 14.
  11. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Source for 105th AT Regiment RA is this site

    The Archer | For the Record

    Sorry don't know for 64th AT Regiment RA. And you are right, 105th was under XIII Corps command.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
    Chris C likes this.
  12. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Thanks, sol!

    I will have to chase down the sources for that article. :) I had something VERY brief written down about the encounter between an Archer of the 105th AT and a Tiger, but I had no details.
  13. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    A bit of rehashing on my part but I never got round to posting last night.

    1st Inf Div (81 Atk Regt) in Italy Dec43 to Jan45, then to Palestine
    4th Inf Div (14 Atk Regt) in Italy Feb44 to Dec44, then to Greece
    5th Inf Div (52 Atk Regt) in Italy Sep43 to Jul44, then back for a short spell (15-27Feb) before transferring to 21AG
    46th Inf Div (58 Atk Regt) second spell in Italy Jul44 to Jan45 then back Apr45 to May45
    56th Inf Div (67 Atk Regt) second spell in Italy Jul44 to Aug45
    78th Inf Div (64 Atk Regt) second spell in Italy Sep44 to May45

    An Italian puzzle that's always had me wondering concerns the Corps Atk Regts. Joslen lists them as;

    Apr44 - 57, 87, 93 and 105
    Oct44 - 57, 60, 93 and 105
    May45 - 57

    60 Atk Regt had been with 1st Armd Div, but I assume was sent to Corps when the Div ceased operations. The run down of the Corps Atk Regts is quite dramatic in the winter of 1944, I don't know though precisely when and why 60, 93 and 105 vanished off the Orbat.

    In Jan45 there was a theatre specific WE issued for an Anti-tank Battery, Central Med, ref XII/158/1. This allowed two Tps of towed 17-pr and one Tp of SP M10s. I have wondered whether the Inf Divs received SP M10s, which were freed up by the reduction on Corps level Atk Regts, to replace their 6-pr guns. Those Corps Regts should have been on two towed and two SP Btys, with M10s in the latter, so there might have been 72 pieces to distribute?

    There should be AFV and ideally Arty returns for Italy that would shed some light, something on my to do list to look for but never did!

  14. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.


    6 British Armoured Division. 72 Anti-Tank Regiment R.A [ 36 57 mm Guns; 12 17- pounders ].

    6 South African Armoured Division. 1/11 South African Anti-Tank Regiment R.A. Ditto of above. Not sure if they both had the Valentine SP 17 ( Archer)? Same for the Division below.

    8 Indian Infantry Division. 4 Mahrattas Anti-Tank Regiment R.A. I'm not sure of the 10 Indian Infantry Division. I will check the Divisional History of the First Division. Florence to Monte Grande. Will reply if i can find anything. Is about time Wikipedia bought some books & War diaries. Its not has if they are short of money.
    Edit. 13 Anti-Tank Regiment R.A. For the 10 Indian Infantry Division.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
    Chris C likes this.
  15. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Thanks Stu! And Gary! (Whose post I haven't had a chance to read yet)

    So far as I know, Archers were only assigned to infantry divisions. Corps and Armoured Division AT regiments kept M10s (ideally with 17-pounders).
  16. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Gary, thank you for the rundown.

    I think it is completely safe to rule out any unit which was not serving in the Italian theatre from September 44 to the end of the war. I can probably rule out any unit which was not serving in January 1945. It depends on whether I am making a list of war diaries to retrieve... acquiring AFV Returns data first would be a much better approach.

    So, I mean, based on that, 1st, 4th, and 5th Inf Div are unlikely to have had Archers (except 5th within 21AG)
    46th Inf Div - a bit up in the air
    56th and 78th - might very well have had them.

    What you list about the Corps ATk Regiments is puzzling as you say. I know I have looked at the regimental history of the 93rd but I was really focused on Archers and not on the overall history of the unit.
  17. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    According to Concorde's "British Armour in Sicily and Italy" five regiments of RA have SP guns: 57th, 67th, 72nd, 93rd and 105th.

    57th (East Surrey) Anti-tank Regiment RA - M10 Wolverine
    67th Anti-tank Regiment RA - M10 Wolverine and 17pdrs Achillies
    72nd Anti-tank Regiment RA - partly M10 Wolverine
    93rd (Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders) Anti-tank Regiment RA - M10 Wolverine and 17pdr Achillies
    105th Anti-tank Regiment RA - one battery of M10 Wolverine, two battery of Archers and one battery of tower 17 pdr with remark that "The regimental history suggests that they were less then happy with the performance of the Archers"
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  18. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    That's brilliant, Sol, thank you very much!
  19. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Sol, nice one for that. Is that book a relatively new one, or was it printed a while back? I've never seen that before! It looks like a book to have in a collection.
  20. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    I actually felt like an idiot when I read Sol's message because I own it and I just didn't think to check it. It's not new, more of a booklet - I think it's primarily intended for modellers. (c) 2007.

    7068 - British Armor in Sicily and Italy

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