1st Army Timeline

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by PeteT, Nov 27, 2013.

  1. PeteT

    PeteT Senior Member

    A few basic questions if I may (as this is outside my normal research area)

    Firstly, can anyone point me to a simple timeline that shows the activities of 1st Army only during the period December 1942 to May 1943? (I am particularly interested in 58 HAA if anyone has specific information on its activities)

    Secondly, was the campaign limited to Tunisia during this period?

    Finally, where was the 1st Army based after the campaign up until its disbandment?

    Any help would be much appreciated.


  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron


    In April 1943 I arrived in North Africa as a reinforcement to the 1st Army in Tunisia.

    By the time I had been sorted out in the depot in Algiers and posted to my unit (The 49th LAA Rgt.RA, 78 Div) the war in the Middle East was over.

    After the campaign finished in Tunisia, 78 Div was sent to Sicily, then to Italy, but by this time we were very much part of the 8th Army under Monty.

    Sorry not to be of much more help, this thread might be of some use:


    Some background here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/20/a7050520.shtml

    The pic shows details in my records.
    The campaign in Tunisia ended 12th May 1943, I didn't reach my unit until the 22nd of May even though I had dis-embarked on April 23rd.

    Attached Files:

  3. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member


    Unlike Ron, I'm not an RA expert, but would your 58 HAA reference refer to 58th (Duke of Wellington’s) Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery, who were with 46th Infantry Div in North Africa from Jan 1943 onwards? SEE BELOW CLARIFICATION FROM OWEN..

    No doubt individual units had different locations for relaxing /training after the end of fighting in North Africa.

    My own father was with 6th Armoured Div from Nov 1942 to March 1943 in Tunisia (on the Bou Arada front) and then moved over to 78th Division from March 1943 onwards (north of Medjez-el-Bab) ..

    Following their entry into Tunis in the middle of May, my father was stationed just outside Tunis before they were shipped back for a bath to Guelma, Algeria in late May where they stayed until they came back to Tunisia (Hammamet/Sousse) in the middle of July 1943.

  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    58 HAA = Heavy Anti-Aircraft , Richard

    edit: added link http://www.ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/haa/page21.html

    war diary for reference
    WO 175/384
    Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiments. 58 Regt.
    1942 Oct.- 1943 June
  5. PeteT

    PeteT Senior Member

    Thanks for the feedback; very much appreciated.

    I am trying to keep this at a high level at the moment, as the family I am assisting are not able to afford the cost of the war diary, but just want a rough idea of where their relatives were at various points in time. I recognise that 58 HAA may not have been involved at all times.

    I have extracted the following from WIKI (well it is a start) and added [FIRST] and [EIGHTH] where I can.

    Can anyone confirm its accuracy and fill in the blanks?


    22 December: First Army starts three day offensive towards Tebourba which fails [FIRST]
    25 December: Sirte captured by Eighth Army [EIGHTH]


    23 January: Tripoli captured by British Eighth Army [EIGHTH]
    30 January: Axis forces capture Faïd pass in central Tunisia [From First or Eighth?]
    4 February: Axis forces in Libya retreat to Tunisian border south of the Mareth Line [Retreating from First or Eighth?]
    14 February: Axis advance from Faïd to launch Battle of Sidi Bou Zid and enter Sbeitla two days later [First or Eighth?]
    19 February: Battle of Kasserine Pass launched by Axis forces [Against First or Eighth?]
    6 March: Axis launch Operation Capri against Eighth Army at Medenine but lose 55 tanks [EIGHTH]
    16 March: Battle of Mareth begins [First or Eighth?]
    19 March: Eighth Army launches Operation Pugilist [EIGHTH]
    23 March: U.S. II Corps emerge from Kasserine to match the Axis at Battle of El Guettar. Battle of Mareth ends. [?????]
    26 March: Eighth Army launch Operation Supercharge II outflanking and making the Axis position at Mareth untenable. Battle of Tebaga Gap takes place. [EIGHTH]
    6 April: Right wing of First Army links with Eighth Army. Battle of Wadi Akarit takes place [FIRST & EIGHTH]
    2 April: Allied forces launch Operation Vulcan [FIRST & EIGHTH]
    6 May: Allied forces launch Operation Strike [FIRST & EIGHTH]
    7 May: British enter Tunis, Americans enter Bizerte [FIRST & EIGHTH]
    13 May: Axis Powers surrender in Tunisia.

    I am aiming to plot the various locations on a map for the family, along with the timings, so that they can get a rough idea of the timeline. I will then try to repeat the process for their relatives time with the 8th Army in Italy.

    Thanks again for your help


  6. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member


    Not very good as far as First Army is concerned. It reminds me of the NAM public display that hardly mentions the First Army's contribution. Monty's history rules supreme.

    As a starter, First Army first landed in Algeria on the night of 7th/8th November 1943.

    Cyril Ray and Ken Ford's 78 Div/6th Armoured Div books are ones to read for the British version of the early part of the campaign and beyond.

    An overview map.

    Attached Files:

  7. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Here are some endpoints to work with:

    1st Army was raised at Largs, Scotland on 6 July 1942. It was disbanded in Tunisia on 25 July 1943.
  8. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Organisation of the 1st Army

    5th Corps

    Army Troops

    25th Tank Brigade
    51st Royal Tank Regiment
    North Irish Horse
    142nd Regiment Royal Armoured Corps

    Royal Artillery

    23rd ,75th, 102nd ,140th 166th, 183rd Field Regiments
    4th ,5th 58th 74th Medium Regiments
    5th ,8th Survey Regiments
    87th 93rd Anti-Tank Regiment
    54th, 56th Heavy Regiments
    58th ,80th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiments
    11th ,17th 45th 105th ,117th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiments

    1st (Independent) Parachute Brigade

    1st Parachute Bn
    2nd Parachute Bn
    3rd Parachute Bn

    Army Commandos

    No.1 Army Commando
    No.6 Army Commando

    78th ‘Battleaxe’ Infantry Division

    1st Infantry Brigade (Guards) (until 24.3.43)

    3rd Bn Grenadier Guards
    2nd Bn Coldstream Guards
    2nd Bn The Hampshire Regiment (replaced by 3rd Bn The Welsh Guards on 1.3.43)

    11th Infantry Brigade

    2nd Bn The Lancashire Fusiliers
    1st Bn The East Surrey Regiment
    5th Bn The Northamptonshire Regiment

    36th Infantry Brigade

    6th Bn The Royal west Kent Regiment
    5th Bn The Buffs (East Kent Regt)
    8th Bn The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

    38th (Irish) Infantry Brigade (from 24.3.43)

    2nd Bn The London Irish Rifles
    1st Bn The Royal Irish Fusiliers
    6th Bn The Inniskilling Fusiliers

    Royal Artillery

    17th Field Regiment
    132nd Field Regiment
    138th Field Regiment
    64th Anti-Tank Regiment
    49th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment
    456th Light Battery and 457th Light Battery (initially)

    Royal Engineers

    214th Field Company
    237th Field Company
    256th Field Company
    564th Field Company
    281st Field Park Company

    Royal Signals

    78th Division Signals

    Reconnaissance Regiment

    56th Reconnaissance Regiment

    6th Armoured Division

    Armoured Car Regiment

    1stDerbyshire Yeomanry

    26th Armoured Brigade

    16th/5th Lancers
    17th/21st Lancers
    2ndLothians & Border Horse
    10th Bn The Rifle Brigade

    38th (Irish) Infantry Brigade (until 24.3.43)

    Same composition as under 78th Div

    1st Infantry Brigade (Guards) (from 24.3.43)

    Same composition as under 78th Div

    Royal Artillery

    12th Royal Horse Artillery (Honourable Artillery Company)
    152nd Field Regiment
    138th Field Regiment
    72nd Anti-Tank Regiment
    51st Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment

    Royal Engineers

    5th Field Company
    8th Field Company
    625th Field Park Company

    Royal Signals

    6th Armoured Division Signals

    46th Infantry Division

    138th Infantry Brigade

    6th Bn The Lincolnshire Regiment
    2nd/4th The Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
    6th Bn The York & Lancaster Regiment

    139th Infantry Brigade

    2nd/5th Bn The Leicestershire Regiment
    2nd/5th Bn The Sherwood Foresters (later 5th)
    16th Bn The Durham Light Infantry

    128th Infantry Brigade

    1st/4th Bn The Hampshire Regiment
    2nd/4th Bn The Hampshire Regiment
    5th Bn The Hampshire Regiment

    Royal Artillery

    70th Field Regiment
    71st Field Regiment
    172nd Field Regiment
    58th Anti-Tank Regiment
    115th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment

    Royal Engineers

    270th Field Company
    271st Field Company
    272nd Field Company
    273rd Field Park Company

    Royal Signals

    46th Division Signals

    Reconnaissance Regiment

    46th Reconnaissance Regiment

    1st Infantry Division

    2nd Infantry Brigade

    1st Bn The The Loyal (North Lancashire) Regiment
    2nd Bn The North Staffordshire Regiment
    6th Bn The Gordon Highlanders

    3rd Infantry Brigade

    1st Bn The Duke of Wellingtons Regiment
    2nd Bn The Sherwood Foresters
    1st Bn The King’s Shropshire Light Infantry

    24th Infantry Brigade (Guards)

    5th Bn Grenadier Guards
    1st Bn Scots Guards
    1st Bn Irish Guards

    Royal Artillery

    2nd Field Regiment
    19th Field Regiment
    67th Field Regiment
    81st Anti-Tank Regiment
    90th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment

    Royal Engineers

    23rd Field Company
    238th Field Company
    248th Field Company
    6th Field Park Company

    Royal Signals

    1st Division Signals

    4th Mixed Division

    I0th Infantry Brigade

    2nd Bn The Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment
    1st/6th Bn The East Surrey Regiment
    2nd Bn The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

    12th Infantry Brigade

    2nd Bn The Royal Fusiliers
    6th Bn The Black Watch
    1st Bn The Royal West Kent Regiment

    21st Tank Brigade

    12th Royal Tank Regiment
    48th Royal Tank Regiment
    145th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps

    Royal Artillery

    22nd Field Regiment
    30th Field Regiment
    77th Field Regiment
    14th Anti-Tank Regiment
    91st Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment

    Royal Engineers

    7th Field Company
    59th Field Company
    225th Field Company
    18th Field Park Company

    Royal Signals

    4th Division Signals

    Reconnaissance Regiment

    4th Reconnaissance Regiment

    General Alexander (commander of the 18th Army Group) ordered the 8th Army to reinforce 1st Army during April 1943 under 9th Corps. The composition was as follows:-

    9th Corps

    1st Armoured Division

    Armoured Car Regiment

    12th Royal Lancers

    2nd Armoured Brigade

    The Queen’s Bays
    9th The Queen’s Royal Lancers
    10th Royal Hussars
    Motor Bn; The Yorkshire Dragoons

    7th Motor Brigade

    1st Bn The King’s Royal Rifle Corps
    2nd Bn The Rifle Brigade
    7th Bn The Rifle Brigade

    Royal Artillery

    2nd Royal Horse Artillery
    4th Royal Horse Artillery
    11th Royal Horse Artillery
    76th Anti-Tank Regiment
    42nd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment

    Royal Engineers

    1st Field Squadron
    7th Field Squadron
    1st Field Park Squadron

    Royal Signals

    1st Armoured Division Signals

    7th Armoured Division

    Armoured Car Regiment

    11th Hussars

    22nd Armoured Brigade

    1st Royal Tank Regiment
    5th Royal Tank Regiment
    4th County of London Yeomanry
    Motor Bn;1st Bn The Rifle Brigade

    131st Lorried Infantry Brigade

    1st/5th Bn The Queens Regiment
    1st/6th Bn The Queens Regiment
    1st/7th Bn The Queens Regiment

    Royal Artillery

    3rd Royal Horse Artillery
    5th Royal Horse Artillery
    146th Field Regiment
    65th Anti-Tank Regiment
    15th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment

    Royal Engineers

    4th Field Squadron
    21st Field Squadron
    143rd Field Park Squadron

    Royal Signals

    7th Armoured Division Signals

    4th Indian (Infantry) Division

    5th (Indian) Infantry Brigade

    1st/4th Bn The Essex Regiment
    4th/6th Bn The Rajputana Rifles
    1st/9th Bn The Gurkha Rifles

    7th (Indian) Infantry Brigade

    1st Bn The Royal Sussex Regiment
    4th/16th Bn The Punjab Regiment
    1st/2nd Bn The Gurkha Rifles

    Royal Artillery

    1st Field Regiment
    11th Field Regiment
    31st Field Regiment
    149th Anti-Tank Regiment
    57th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment

    Royal Engineers

    4th (Bengal) Field Company
    21st (Bombay) Field Company
    12th (Madras) Field Company
    11th (Madras) Field Park Company

    Royal Signals

    4th (Indian) Division Signals

    201st Guards Motor Brigade

    6th Bn Grenadier Guards
    3rd Bn Coldstream Guards
    2nd Bn Scots Guards
  9. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    if you're/they're anywhere the Arboretum, you can find this map:

    Attached Files:

  10. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    While not a simple timeline it has the advantage of being a timeline. From the US official histories the British (Br) First Army can be followed in good detail.


    Two entries for November 1942
  11. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Without going all through your posting- keep in mind that MAINLY 1st Army operated in Algeria until Kasserine which brought them into Tunisia as 8th were down around Medenine / Mareth area

    at that time….so all Battles in Tunisia were basically 8th Army - Wadi zig zag - Akarit - up to Enfidaville…..then Alexander was in charge of 1st and 8th Army or 18th Army group and he came up with

    the joint Army operation of Vulcan - which failed - Monty then"suggested" that he send 7th AD - 4th Indian - 22 Guards to join 6th AD 4th British - 21st and 25th Tank bdes - from Medjez el Bab

    under Horroks or Jorrocks - to finish Gerry off at Cap Bon - which they did in 36 hours - then the XXX corps of 8th Army were scheduled for Sicily along with 1st Canadian - straight from the UK and

    5th Brit Div from Egypt….after which XXX corps went home along with V111 Bde…. the Kiwi's - Polish - 56 th Div…4th - 8th and 10th Indian-1st Canadian of 8th Army joined with 78th -1st Div - 4th

    Brit- 46th Div - 5th Div then tackled Italy..and the rest is as they say - History...

  12. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member


    Don't normally contradict what you write but..(see highlighted)...you're not really saying that 1st Army weren't operating in Tunisia during November, December 1942, and January 1943, are you..are you ? There are over 1000 men from 1st Army, who are memorialised from those three months at Medjez and Massicault

    I suppose it depends on your definition of "MAINLY" and "BATTLE"....

  13. hutt

    hutt Member


    I think 58th HAA may have been part of the 22nd Anti Aircraft Brigade. They are mentioned as follows in the war diary of the 11th L.A.A. Regt Platoon RASC in War Diary WO175-986 as follows so I presume must have been in the vicinity of that unit.

    Souk El Arba
    Broke Bulk and delivery of rations to: to: to: 11 LAA Regt RASC Pln; Rear HQ 11 LAA Regt RA; 17 LAA Regt RASC Pln; RHQ 58 Regt HAA Regt RA; 208 HAA Bty RA; HQ 22 AA Bde; 22 AA Bde Coy RASC; 347 LAA Bty RA

    Souk El Arba
    Broke Bulk and delivery of rations to: to: to: 11 LAA Regt RASC Pln; Rear HQ 11 LAA Regt RA; 22 AA Bde Coy RASC; 17 LAA Regt RASC Pln; 208 HAA Bty RA; 347 LAA Bty RA; 22 AA Bde; RHQ 58 HAA Regt RA

    Souk El Arba
    Broke Bulk and delivery of rations to: to: to: 11 LAA Regt RASC Pln; Rear HQ 11 LAA Regt RA; 22 AA Bde Coy RASC; HQ 22 AA Bde; 17 LAA Regt RASC Pln; RHQ 58 HAA Regt RA; 346 LAA Bty RA

    Location not reported
    Lieut Crusha reported for duty from 1538 LAA Regt Pln RASC. Drew Bulk rations and delivered as below
    Broke Bulk and delivery of rations to: RHQ 17 LAA RA; 50 LAA Bty RA; 96 LAA Bty RA; 146 LAA Bty RA; 1532 LAA Regt Pln RASC; 207 HAA Bty RA; 208 HAA Bty RA; RHQ 58 HAA Regt RA; 146 LAA Bty RA

    Location not reported
    Nine lorries go to collect Predictors from Bone for delivery to 17 LAA Regt RA in Cap Bon area. Eighteen lorries tow guns from Souk el Khemis to Cap Bon for 17 LAA Regt RA. Drew Bulk rations and delivered as below. Broke Bulk and delivery of rations to: RHQ 17 LAA RA; 50 LAA Bty RA; 96 LAA Bty RA; 146 LAA Bty RA; 1532 LAA Regt Pln RASC; 207 HAA Bty RA; 208 HAA Bty RA; RHQ 58 HAA Regt RA;

    And in the diary of the 22nd AA Brigade Coy RASC (later renamed 465 Coy RASC) are the following entries. I think that the regiment's RASC Platoon could be assumed to be operating in close proximity to the regiment itself although I believe that the early close working relationships between RASC platoons and the LAA or HAA regiments of the same name had towards the end of the time in NA become less distinct, hence the reference to dock clearance below.. Again, locations will be for the RASC unit writing the diary. (WO175-372)

    Souk Ahras / Ben Bachir
    Left location at 07.00 hrs route through very mountainous country, passed over Tunisian border down very winding road to very flat country. O.C. met convoy at 11.00 hrs about 7 miles from Souk El Arba. Convoy ??? For 90 minutes while billeting party went on ahead with O.C. to arrange accomodation. H.Q now located in cactus grove near W/S & farm about 4 1/2 miles away 22 AA Bde HQ located at Ben Bachir. One D.R casualty on march, injured man take to 19 C.C.S at Souk El Arba. Location of unit forwarded to DDST 5 Corps. Instructions received 11th L.A.A. Regt Pln and 80 H.A.A. Regt Pl to come under command of this Coy. 17 L.A.A. Regt Pl and 58 H.A.A. Regt Pl attached for dock clearance works at Bone.

    Ben Bachir
    18.00 Special return & ??? Of vehicles forwarded to DDST 5 Corps. 10 H.P Utility car detailed on 3rd Jan returned to 80 H.A.A. pl. 18.00 Posting received Lieut ?.? Gullidge?? To 17 L.A.A. pl vice Lieut M.W. Beer. Detachment of W/S Pl forwarded to Bone for attachment to 58 H.A.A. pl. to maintain their vehicles.

    Ben Bachir
    18.00 Application was made today to DDST 5 Corps for return to this Coy of 58 HAA Regt Pl RASC for ??? B.S.A.

    Hope there's something of interest in there.

    And to support Bexley, even men from these RASC units were being killed.
  14. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I have been known to be in error now and again as i depend on memory a great deal - which at 89 can wobble a bit - especially on last nights dinner - but I think I am right in saying that the

    first time the 1st Army went deep into Tunisia was at Kasserine in the Feb '43 - as your Father was still in 6th AD at that time - when 8th were still down at Mareth into march '43 - Alex then came up

    with his Vulcan in the April '43 - and it all ended in May '43 - Pete is being picky and so I was merely outlining the MAIN areas of responsibility for both Armies as who knows where their relatives

    were in those heady days….21st TB was scattered back to Pentheverie near Bone Algeria and 25th went off a bit west at Ain Mockra…all the others were scattered all over until Sicily...

  15. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member



    but (off the top of my head) didn't a 1st Army spearhead force get to Djedeida, close to Tunis, in November 1942, then the 78th Division fought a bitter rear guard battle at Tebourba a few days later, and there was also Bald/Green Hill etc in the north, then the Coldstreams did their Grand Old Duke of York act at Longstop in late December.

    6AD then got involved in the muddy Two Tree Hill assault in early January 1943 and then repulsed the German attack north of Bou Arada on 18th Jan, and then my Dad's mob suffered the pt 286/279/Grandstand debacle on 19/20 January..

    Over 160 Irish Brigaders died in that Dec 1942/Jan 1943 period.....my Dad was pretty proud of the '1st Army' clasp - his set is now on my book case.

  16. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    of course there were many battles on the "wrong" side of the border but essentially for Pete's point of view the 1st operated in Algeria and the 8th in Tunisia - the spearhead toward Tunis might have

    been an embarrassment at the time as they were understrength and the US 2nd corps - reorganized with Patton and Bradley had failed to cut off the three Panzer Divs at Gabes an were heading

    deeper into Tunisia being held at Akirit - Enfidaville et al….until the joint 1st and 8th operation from Medjez - Cap Bon...

    Your Father had every right to be proud of his clasp as 6th Ad did a fine job - and his bde then went over to 78th for the Sicily - Italy do - they didn't call them the"Fire Bde " for nothing...

  17. hutt

    hutt Member

    Attached diary extract would seem to suggest that 58 HAA were ashore either on the 8th or 9th November so right at the start of Torch
    (from WO175-371 HQ 22 Anti-Aircraft Brigade 1942 Oct.- 1943 June)

    Attached Files:

  18. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I can't see the point of researching the entire First Army just to see what 58 HAA Regt might have been doing.
    For all we know they may have been defending the docks.
  19. PeteT

    PeteT Senior Member

    Thank you all once again for putting in the time and effort on this for me; very much appreciated as always.

    As Owen quite rightly says, without specific information about the regiment (I'm guessing the only source would be the war diary), it would not be possible for me to document its movements with any certainty.

    I will take stock tomorrow and decide how to proceed as I am clearly going to have the same problem when I try to research the Italian Campaign for the family.

    Regards (and thanks once again)

  20. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    I have a First Army Order of Battle in England on 22 July 1942 which does show 58th HAA Regiment, RA as one of the units of one of the three AA Brigades. It was actually raised on July 10th, 1942, having been previously known as the British Expeditionary Force (no not the same one from 1940).

    I have attached the Word document for 1st Army - 22 July 1942 - for those who are interested.

    Attached Files:

    hutt likes this.

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