WHICH Allied Division saw the most days in Combat.

Discussion in 'Higher Formations' started by A Potts, Jan 23, 2008.

  1. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    The 6th Division was the first division formed for the Second AIF in the Second World War in September 1939.

    As a formation, the 6th Division fought in the campaigns in Libya, Greece, and the Aitape-Wewak region of New Guinea. Its individual brigades also fought on Crete, in Lebanon, along the Kokoda Trail and at the Japanese beachheads in Papua, and in the Wau-Salamaua region of New Guinea.

    Between 1943 and 1944 the Division was out of action and based in Australia.

    As as actual days in action that is up to interpretation.

    Spider
     
  2. ozjohn39

    ozjohn39 Senior Member

    Spider,

    The poor old 6th Div was fragmented quite a lot with a Brigade, or 2 perhaps, going to England in 1940 and some later going to Greece/Crete etc.

    Many of its battles were not as a complete Division structure.

    John.
     
  3. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    This question of how many days in action is always intriquing to me as invaribaly we have many of the guesses which are totaly wrong and misses some of the main participants

    For example we have mention of the 51st HD from France - Then Alamein( 30 months later) - via Tunisia and Sicily - D day to the end...

    Then there is the 4th Indian - from early 1940 to Beda Fomm - then Ethiopia - then Syria - then Tunisia - then all through Italy finally finishing the war in Greece ... would merit my votes.....

    .....but then there was the 50th TT division from France - Desert at Sidi Rezigh -Knightsbridge - the Cauldron - Gazala Gallop losing 150th Bde - EL Alamein - Tunisia - Sicily - D day - all through until exhaustion at Bremen - then to Norway

    ..... and of course there were the 1st -4th and 5th Divisions who saw afair bit of acrtion long before the Americans joined in ....and we mustn't forget the 7th Armoured ( I know they were called something else at the time but they became 7th Armoured) they first moved to the wire in December 1940 to stop the Italians from invading Egypt - most of all the battles in the Desert - Tunisia - Italy - then D day to Hamburg and finally Berlin for the big parade..... so the big votes would go to 4th Indian - 50th and 7th Armoured - in my book !
    Cheers
     
  4. Korps Steiner

    Korps Steiner Senior Member

    50 Div have got to be somewhere near the top of the pile as stated by Tom if any Div saw more days in action than them then they had a long , tough war,

    regards

    Paul
     
  5. Macca

    Macca Member

    I think that the original suggestion of 2NZDiv could well be accurate. Some units, chiefly transport and signal, accompanied O'Connor on his advance to Beda Fomm. As a larger unit (2 Brigades) they first saw action in Greece in April 1941 and apart from missing out on Sicily remained at the front until they occupied Triest in May 45. By my calculation a little over 1,400 days. Did they also advance the furthest?
     
  6. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    78 Div has to be in the running.

    Cheers
    Paul
     
  7. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Macca -
    you might have your wires crossed with the Kiwi's supporting O'Conner at Beda Fomm as the 2 nd NZ Div was not formed as a Division until Feb 41 - prior to heading for Greece and just after the Beda Fomm thing

    The Beda Fomm battle was essentially fought by 4th and 7th Armoured brigades of 7th Armoured Division - the Royal Horse Artillery and the KRRC - the 6th Australian Div was up around Derna and Barce chasing the Italians towards Beda Fomm - this Battle was fought between Jan 24th and Feb 6th and as there may well have been involvement by an isolated brigade of Kiwi's - there is no mention of them being near Beda Fomm at that time.

    Not taking anything away from 2nd Kiwi's they did a great job in Greece - Crete - back in the Desert and finally Italy where they took beatings at the Sangro - Cassino - where they were all but eliminated after two battles and never fully recovered and again later at the end of the Gothic Line all the way to Trieste.

    One of their members at Cassino asked a member of the 16/5th Lancers at the station - where the 28th brigade of Maoris' were taking a beating - "Do you know why they call us Kiwi's ?" - on getting a stunned silence he continued "it's because we cannot fly - we are blind - and fast becoming extinct around here " - he got that right.

    The 2nd New Zealand Division did a powerful job for 8th army since 1941 and have nothing to be ashamed of as I pointed out to the assistant Curator at Dunedin's Museum where I spied a painting of a scene at the Sangro tucked away in a dark corner - his ears were burning and that painting was front and centre all the following week !

    BUT - the 30th - 4th Indian and 7th Armoured shades them - even on mileage !

    Cheers
     
  8. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Recce Mitch -
    The 78th Div were no where near the the length of activity to the 30th - they were formed specifically for the North African Torch campaign on November 8th 1942 - fought well there and also as part timers in Sicily then onto Italy where - after Foggia - Termoli - Cassino - Liri Valley and Trasemino - they had a months long rest in Egypt until returning for the last part of the Gothic line - then through to the end and finished up in Austria along with 46th and 6th Armoured Divs from the same North African campaign.
    Cheers
     
  9. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    Sgt "Chip" Saunders of King Company 2nd Platoon spent 5 Years in Combat
     
  10. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    Spider,

    The poor old 6th Div was fragmented quite a lot with a Brigade, or 2 perhaps, going to England in 1940 and some later going to Greece/Crete etc.

    Many of its battles were not as a complete Division structure.

    John.

    Think you will find all the AIF Divisions were fragmented at some time during their existence for operational reasons (not sure how the UK and US Divisions were deployed) and the Bde's not brought together again as Divisions till 1944 onwards, with 3 separate campaigns in the Pacific

    18th Bde was re-allocated to the 7th Division in mid 1940 and the 19 Bde to the 6th Division.
     
  11. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    Think you will find all the AIF Divisions were fragmented at some time during their existence for operational reasons (not sure how the UK and US Divisions were deployed) and the Bde's not brought together again as Divisions till 1944 onwards, with 3 separate campaigns in the Pacific

    18th Bde was re-allocated to the 7th Division in mid 1940 and the 19 Bde to the 6th Division.

    Hi all,

    The 18th were diverted to the UK (landed June 1940) to assist in the defence of Britain and left for North Africa in November 1940 after the threat of the German invasion had passed. They were under the command of Morshead with the 25th raised in the UK and filled with part of the excess from the 18th.

    The 18th became part of the 7th division and fought with the 9th throughout the Tobruk seige as the back up Brigade.

    The 19th brigade became the third Brigade of the 6th division.

    The 9th division reached Tobruk remarkably unscathed after Rommel's counter offensive and fought as such at Tobruk and at El Alamein.

    The 7th were not together during that period however the Brigades were all in battle. 18th Brigade

    The 18th Brigade was formed in October 1939, one of the first three infantry brigades of the Second AIF, and became part of the 6th Australian Division. The designation of the new brigades began at 16 due to the fact that there were already 15 infantry brigades in the Australian Military Forces, not, as is popularly believed, because there had been 15 infantry brigades in the original AIF. The 18th Brigade originally consisted of four battalions: the 2/9th, recruited in Queensland; the 2/10th, recruited in South Australia; the 2/11th recruited in Western Australia; and the 2/12th, recruited in Tasmania and Queensland. In February 1941 the Second AIF was reorganised in accordance with the war establishments of the British Army. This resulted in the reduction of Australian infantry brigades from four to three battalions; shipping arrangements meant that the 2/11th Battalion subsequently became part of the 19th Brigade.

    While en route to the Middle East the convoy carrying the 18th Brigade was diverted to the United Kingdom to bolster the forces there following the German conquest of France. This had several repercussions for the organisation of the Second AIF. In the Middle East, the 19th Brigade took the 18th Brigade's position in the 6th Division. In the United Kingdom, the 18th Brigade provided a nucleus for a new brigade, the 25th, and both subsequently formed the basis of the 9th Division when it was raised in October 1940. The 18th Brigade finally arrived in the Middle East in early January 1941. One further reorganisation saw the 18th join the 7th Division in February 1941, where it remained until the end of the war. The brigade fought in the siege of Tobruk, at Milne Bay and Buna in Papua, and at Balikpapan in Borneo.

    21st Brigade

    The 21st Brigade was formed on 4 April 1940 and was composed of the 2/14th Battalion from Victoria, the 2/16th from Western Australia, and the 2/27th from South Australia. It was intended that along with the 19th and 20th Brigades it would form the 7th Australian Division. By the time the 7th Division was deployed operationally for the first time in April 1941, however, the 21st was the only original brigade that remained on its order of battle. Its sister formations were now the 18th and 25th Brigades, and would remain so for the rest of the war. The 21st Brigade's major campaigns were the invasion of Syria and Lebanon June-July 1941); the withdrawal on the Kokoda Trail (August-September 1942) and the destruction of the Japanese beachheads in Papua (December 1942-January 1941); the capture of Lae (September 1943) and the Ramu Valley-Finsterre Mountains advance (September 1943-February 1944) in New Guinea; and the Balikpapan landing in Dutch Borneo (July-August 1945). The 21st Brigade disbanded in 1946.

    25th Brigade

    The 25th Brigade was formed in the United Kingdom on July 1940, in response to the immanent threat of German invasion. Initially, it was only intended as a temporary formation and the troops for its three battalions were composed of 1,300 men from support units of the 6th Australian Division, and 459 infantry reinforcements intended for the infantry brigades in the Middle East. This manpower, however, was still only sufficient to form three rifle companies in each of the new battalions instead of the usual four. They were known as the 70th, 71st and 72nd Battalions but were later retitled the 2/31st, 2/32nd and 2/33rd Battalions respectively. In August it was decided that the 25th Brigade would become a permanent formation and in October it became part of the newly raised 9th Division. The brigade left the United Kingdom in January 1941, bound for the Middle East.

    In a reorganisation of the AIF in February 1941, the 25th Brigade was transferred to 7th Australian Division and it fought under its command for the rest of the war. Its major campaigns were the invasion of Syria and Lebanon (June-July 1941); the advance on the Kokoda Trail and the destruction of the Japanese beachheads in Papua (September-December 1942); the capture of Lae (September 1943) and the Ramu Valley-Finsterre Mountains advance (September 1943-January 1944) in New Guinea; and the Balikpapan landing in Dutch Borneo (July-August 1945). The 25th Brigade disbanded in 1946.
     
  12. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    This is the make up of the 6th division.

    16th Brigade

    The 16th Brigade was formed in October 1939, one of the first three infantry brigades of the Second AIF, and became part of the 6th Australian Division. Its designation was derived from the fact that there were already 15 infantry brigades in the Australian Military Forces, not, as is popularly believed, because there had been 15 infantry brigades in the original AIF. The 16th Brigade's four infantry battalions - 2/1st, 2/2nd, 2/3rd and 2/4th - were all recruited in New South Wales. In February 1941 the Second AIF was reorganised in accordance with the war establishments of the British Army. This resulted in the reduction of Australian infantry brigades from four to three battalions, and the 2/4th Battalion subsequently became part of the 19th Brigade. As a formation, the 16th Brigade fought in Libya, Greece, on the Kokoda Trail and Sanananda Track in Papua, and in the Aitape-Wewak campaign.

    17th Brigade

    The 17th Brigade was formed in October 1939, one of the first three infantry brigades of the Second AIF, and became part of the 6th Australian Division. The designation of the new brigades began at 16 due to the fact that there were already 15 infantry brigades in the Australian Military Forces, not, as is popularly believed, because there had been 15 infantry brigades in the original AIF. The 17th Brigade's four infantry battalions - 2/5th, 2/6th, 2/7th and 2/8th - were all recruited in Victoria. In February 1941 the Second AIF was reorganised in accordance with the war establishments of the British Army. This resulted in the reduction of Australian infantry brigades from four to three battalions, and the 2/8th Battalion subsequently became part of the 19th Brigade. As a formation, the 17th Brigade fought in Libya, Greece, and against the Japanese in the Wau-Salamaua and Aitape-Wewak campaigns.

    19th Brigade

    The 19th Brigade was formed in April 1940 as a result of a reorganisation of the Second AIF that saw its infantry brigades reduced from four to three battalions. The excess battalion from each of the three AIF brigades was used to form the 19th. Thus, the 2/4th Battalion joined the brigade from the 16th Brigade and the 2/8th from the 17th. Shipping arrangements, however, saw the 2/11th, and not the 2/12th, join from the 18th Brigade. As a formation, the 19th Brigade fought in Libya, Greece, Crete, and in the Aitape-Wewak campaign in New Guinea.
     
  13. ozjohn39

    ozjohn39 Senior Member

    Spidge,

    A small anecdote,

    The 'Queen Mary' was converted to a troop ship in Sydney. Her first trip was to Bombay with troops that became part of the 18th Brigade, 7th Div. The men were transferred to Dialali, outside Bombay for further infantry training, and at the end of that my father in law said "they would rather fight than eat".

    I spent 2 nights on the 'Queen Mary' in Long Beach, and stood at the same spot that a photo of Bob was taken beside a pallet of supplies was placed.


    John.
     
  14. Macca

    Macca Member

    Hi Tom- no wires crossed we Kiwis were involved almost from the start of hostilities in the desert. Firstly we made up the great bulk of the first LRDG patrols from June 1940 until Dec 1940 see comments by David Lloyd Owen and Bagnold himself about this in their respective works and these men were supplied by the Div Cavalry regiment. Secondly we 'loaned' 200 drivers and trucks from the Reserve Mechanical Transport unit of the NZA Service Corps. These men drove soldiers from both 4 Indian and 6th Aussies to Bardia, Tobruk and Derna and not content to be ferrymen they would grab rifles and take part in action (1 sergeant even won a DCM for leading an attack on a mg post). We also supplied a large number of signallers for the Western Desert Force until releived by RSC in Feb 1941.

    You are of course correct in stating that the Div was not constituted until all 3 echelons were united after 2nd echelon was sent from anti invasion preparations in Kent. I use as my authority on all this 'Warrior Nation: New Zealanders at the Front, 1900-2000' by John Thomson
     
  15. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Macca -
    I therefore stand corrected as I pointed out in my e-mail to you earlier - i am obviously reading the wrong books as I have no record of any Kiwi's being involved in the march towards Beda Fomm -the battle itself - or the clearing up afterwards - I will willingly accept your version taken from " The Warrior Nation" by John Thompson.....and I am also aware of the great and initial contribution of the Kiwi's in the LRDG for their skill as Farmers to "read' the countryside ...Technically - the 2nd NZ div did not start to fight until they landed in Greece - April '41

    Nevertheless - notwithstanding all their efforts in Greece - Crete - The Desert- before and after Beda Fomm - Italy until Trieste - the 2nd NZ Div. hardly compares with the activity's of the 4th Indian - 50th TT Div or the 7th Armoured who started fighting in early 1940 - in my opinion - and that is all that this thread is about - various opinions - hopefully backed up with facts.....

    Cheers
     
  16. Niccar

    Niccar WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi tom

    As a person that can only respect your superior knowledge as an historian of the highest calibre and the enormous amount of people you have helped over time with their enquiries I feel I must take issue with you over your comment=28 concerning the 78th Division being part timers in the Sicilian campaign. The battle for Centuripe was captured by the same men that had stormed up the infamous Longstop hill in North Africa with fixed bayonets not once not twice but four times I would hardly call the Division part timers. After the line had moved on the Div commander toured the streets of Centuripe with Gen Montgomery who remarked “ by capturing the position the men had performed a wonderful feat of arms and he doubted if any other Division in his army could have carried out this operation successfully “speculation maybe but food for thought incidentally Tom I have no interest in which division spent the longest time in action as just one day would have been enough for me but alas it wasn’t so

    Regards niccar
     
  17. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Niccar -
    After I sent it off and re-read it - I just knew that I would catch it from someone - happily it was you who at least know the truth of that action by the Agile and Sufferins - what I really meant was that - overall - their actions were not as extensive as the 50th TT - in any Campaign - I do know what the 78th Did in North Africa - Italy and Austria as I was never too far away from them as you know and I also know the feeling of how one day at the sharp end felt like whole year ....!

    Good to hear from you again
    Cheers - Tom
     

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