Highland Light Infantry 52nd Lowland Division

Discussion in 'Higher Formations' started by zak14, Jun 9, 2009.

  1. zak14

    zak14 Junior Member


    Lost my Dad last year, he was nearly 90 and really always avoided talking about the War, even when I was a child. I would like to know more about where his unit were if possible and wondered if anyone on this site could help me. He was in "C" (Charlie) company of the Highland Light Infantry 52nd Lowland Division, and i will tell you what I know of my Dad's war.

    I have his training record and identity card, and he was demobbed at the end of 1946 as I recall but could have been beginning of 1947. He trained in Wales around Neath and Kimmel Bay and also the mountains of Scotland and completed "advanced infantry training" along with a lot of other things.

    I believe he landed at Ostend just after D Day, crossed the Rhein and mentioned being near Magdeburg in the old East Germany at some point. I did get hold of a very short history of the HLI 52nd Lowland Division which only had about 5 pages on WW2 but it confirmed that the 52nd was landed at Ostend about 10 days after D Day. Apparently this was because they were going to be dropped by glider in support of the Parachute Regiment at Arnheim but for obvious reasons this never happened. When I mentioned this to Dad he did remember the camp being "locked down" as he referred to it due to an operation that they were told was cancelled due to bad weather, he was never told what the operation was !. The book also mentioned Walchren Island and Dad seemed to remember that, but he was always vague about the war which was deliberate I think as he preferred to forget it.

    Before I send for Dads war records, does anyone have more information about the HLI 52nd Lowland Division and what they did or perhaps someone has the full history of the regiment or could point me in the right direction.


    von Poop likes this.
  2. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Hi John and welcome to the Forum.

    2 Battalions of the HLI (5th & 6th) were indeed at Walcharen and here is a link to Operation Infatuate which gives a detailed account and the units involved.


    I'm sure other more well informed Forum members will chip in with something about the HLI and the 52nd Division.

    I'd recommend you apply for your Dad's service record and when you find out which battalion he was in, try to see the war diaries as well.

    I visted Walcharen 4 years ago (Westkappelle in particular) to seek out any remains of the conflict from WW2. They have a small museum, but no english was spoken and there is a Sherman Tank at the top of the Dyke commemorating the assault.

    It is now a very popular holiday spot for German families. Don't know why, but I got funny looks when speaking english. Apart from Middleburg, it really does not have a lot to offer as a tourist destination.

    Regards - Robert
  3. BWilson

    BWilson Member

    Hello, the 5th and 6th Battalions of the HLI were assigned to two infantry brigades of the 52nd Division for practically the entire war. The 5th spent the bulk of its time with the 157th Infantry Brigade, and the 6th was with the 157th Brigade until February 1945, at which time it was moved to the 155th Infantry Brigade. The brigades are credited in Joslen's work with participation in the battles of the Scheldt, the Rhineland, and the Rhine.

    While both brigades spent the bulk of their time with the 52nd Division, they were at times subordinated to other units such as the 7th Armoured Division, 1 Airborne Corps, etc.

    Hope this helps a bit.


  4. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

  5. zak14

    zak14 Junior Member

    Thank you for your prompt responses and help

  6. pete

    pete Junior Member

    Just a quick note on this. You may be interested in this link about the formation of the 52nd (Lowland) Division in WW2. :
    Have you checked to see if your father kept his shoulder patches from the war. The 52nd ( Lowland) Div after their mountain training had a patch with the word "Mountain" on and the St Andrews Cross above it. Also some volunteers from the 52nd ended up in the Army Commandos - mainly No.1 Cdo.

  7. China Hand

    China Hand No Longer A Forum Member

    The div history of the 52nd, Mountain and Flood by George Blake, published 1950, is a classic of its kind, and is available secondhand, although it's no cheap !

    Worth trying your library, depending where you are. Or, I have a copy and am happy to photocopy it, or relevant parts, and send to you.
  8. tom6383

    tom6383 Junior Member

    Both my Grandfathers were in the 52nd during the war and in fact came into contact with each other, not meeting again until my parents met in the 1970's. Quite remarkable as my maternal Grandfather was from Glasgow, and my paternal Grandfather was from Hull. I never met my paternal Grandfather but through my Dad have heard a few of the more outrageous of his exploits, and I sat for hours listening to my Grandpa tell me about what the division did during the war. I know he owned a copy of Mountain and Flood, but nobody can seem to find it. I would love a copy and was wondering if there was anywhere other than amazon where they are available? Not sure if anybody on here would remember them but my Paternal Grandfather was Thomas Hirst, and my maternal Grandfather was David Jackson who if I remember rightly was a sergeant major later rising to captain. Just really interested in anything to do with the 52nd and any info would be much appreciated.
    Many thanks
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Tom and welcome to the forum - There'll be a load of war diaries from individual units at the National Archives if you can get there. I have most of the ones from 1940 when they briefly deployed to France.

    Prices start at just over £65 for the book:

    George Blake - Mountain and Flood - AbeBooks
  10. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

  11. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

  12. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

  14. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

  15. nickelby

    nickelby Member

    Please note the 1st & 2nd Battalions of the Glasgow Highlanders were also of the Highland Light Infantry. Of which the 1st Bn. Glasgow Highlanders were in the 52nd Lowland Division.
    My Dad was in the 1st Bn. Glasgow Highlanders and his service card was only marked HLI.
    Took me ages to work out his actual regiment.
  16. 1947ian

    1947ian Junior Member

    Hi there
    My Father may have been to some of the same places. He is still alive and would be keen to assist.. You can email me on ian@tstd.co.uk
    Kind regards
  17. nickelby

    nickelby Member

    Hi Ian,
    Can you tell us what Regiment he served in, name, rank, battalion, company, right down to platoon? This is great interest to many of us tracking the history and with this we can ask the right questions to pinpoint and join some dots.
    My particular focus is with the 1st Bn Glasgow Highlanders, HLI which my Dad served in "A" Company, 7 Platoon as Lance Corporal.
  18. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    Fascinated to hear that, Nick. Did the Glasgow Highlanders have oddly lettered companies, as otherwise it would be unusual to have 7 platoons in A Company. In my battalion 7 platoon would have been in C Company!
  19. Just asking the question but does anyone know if any part of the HLI were billeted in Kendal from around August 1943?
  20. nickelby

    nickelby Member

    Hi Chrisgrove,
    Going through the 1st Bn Glasgow Highlanders War Diaries, I see "A" Company with 3 rifle platoons 7, 8, 9. "B" Coy with 10, 11, 12.
    Better still will attach a page from the diaries with beginning of defence of Dorset Wood listing some of the Companies.

    Attached Files:

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