34th Infantry Division

Discussion in 'General' started by gmyles, Sep 17, 2020.

  1. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Hi everyone.

    Just found a reference to the cancellation of 34 Inf Div being sent to Greece in late 1944.

    First time I have heard of this but can't find anything on this Inf Div apart from the US one.

    Was there a 34 Inf Div in Italy? Or maybe ME?

    Thanks in advance

    Gus
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2020
  2. Richard Lewis

    Richard Lewis Member

    From Joslen’s Orders of Battle, “24th to 35th Infantry Divisions not formed”.

    Richard
     
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  3. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Thanks for that.

    Greece was a British and Indian affair, so highly unlikely to be US one.

    Wierd.

    Gus
     
  4. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

  5. smdarby

    smdarby Well-Known Member

    It is worth mentioning that US divisions sometimes came under British command, such as US 7th Armored Div and 104th Div in The Netherlands in 1944. Therefore, even though "Greece was a British and Indian affair" as you put it, this might not be a reason for discounting the reference.
     
  6. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Hi

    Roosevelt was fuming about Churchill and Stalin secretly carving up post war Europe at Yalta, that he ordered that there be no US involvement in the Liberation of Greece.

    After much negotiation, they were allowed to use their dakotas and lease some landing craft.

    The only US personnel on the ground in Greece was an air traffic control unit at Elevsis.

    Maybe 34 US Inf Div got caught up in this.

    I will do some digging and get back.

    Gus
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
  7. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    It fell to Britain to organise the re-occupation on a German withdrawal. Planning for that started in Aug 1944 and Britain began deploying troops to Greece in mid-Oct 1944. The German withdrawal from mainland Greece was complete by the be beginning of Dec.

    The problem then was that a civil war broke out between the various Greek communist and royalist groups. That required deployment of further troops from 4th Indian Div in Dec in order to keep the peace. That tied up significant resources into 1945.

    This all precedes the Yalta Conference which didn’t take place until the beginning of Feb 1945. The agreement between Churchill & Stalin that gmyles refers to, took place at the Fourth Moscow Conference that took place from 2-11 Oct 1944, just a day prior to the first deployment of British troops.
    Docs – Middle East 1930-1947 – Greece 1944 - British Military History

    Percentages agreement - Wikipedia

    AFAIK the US 34th Infantry Div was involved in fighting on the Gothic line during this period. Those British units initially deployed to Greece were from those held in reserve in Italy (2nd Parachute Brigade) and the Middle East (23rd Armoured Brigade resting and refitting in Egypt).

    After 1943 American policy was clear. Their focus was on defeating Germany via an invasion of France. Operation Anvil / Dragoon went ahead as it furthered that end. Beyond that they had little interest in the Mediterranean theatre. I’d be surprised therefore if they seriously contemplated allowing their troops to be diverted to a sideshow in Greece.
     
  8. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Where did you see this reference ?
    Can you post an image if it ?
     
  9. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Hi

    Sorry got my conferences mixed up. I was away from my notes at the time of posting.

    All images from War Diary of 64 LAA Regiment.

    30 October 1944

    upload_2020-9-18_8-59-36.png

    11 November 1944

    upload_2020-9-18_9-3-38.png

    22 November 1944

    upload_2020-9-18_9-0-33.png

    upload_2020-9-18_9-1-12.png

    Gus
     
  10. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I see one of those mentions the checker board formation sign which was used by the British 34th Div in WW1.
    Quite often when divisions moved they would use fake div formation signs.
    Maybe there was a fake 34th Div to cover which units were actually going there.
     

    Attached Files:

  11. Richard Lewis

    Richard Lewis Member

    Well done Owen, you beat me to it!

    Joslen is a bit misleading. 34 Inf Div did exist, at least on paper. It was a deception unit with a “checker board” insignia.

    34 Inf Div.JPG

    See Fortitude
     
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  12. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Hi

    This is getting interesting. A bit like the ghost army in operation fortitude maybe?

    There were a lot of deception operations going on just prior to the landings in October 1944, including OPERATION UNDERCUT II. Which was aimed at grossly exaggerating the force size heading for Greece. This was achieved when a fake set of Top Secret Operation Orders was given to a double agent who in turn put them into the hands of the German SS. These orders suggested that allied troops were to be parachuted over ATHENS (KALAMAKI) airport (Codename – SPILLIKIN), with an armoured brigade landing at PIRAEUS and two infantry divisions being brought from Italy. It was hoped that this information would help to speed up the Germans withdrawal northwards out of ATHENS.

    But the timeline isn't quite right. There were only a handful of Germans left in Northern Greece by this time and there were being harassed by Lord Jellicoe's POMPFORCE.

    There is one other possibility and that this was part of a deception op intended to dissuade EAM/ELAS from undertaking a coup-d’état in Athens. This makes more sense now as I would have expected the Germans to have good enough intelligence to know the numbers of all the Divs the British Army. I doubt however that GHQ of ELAS had a similar intelligence capability. Also in November of 1944, a lot of the units undertook 'flag marches' driving in small columns of jeeps, throughout Greece. This unknown formation sign would definitely have ELAS spies asking "who are these troops from?"

    Gus
     
  13. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    Thesis here on Allied Deception plans in the Med. these were still continuing into late 1944 with 2 British armies, several corps and something like 12 British and Polish divisions (only unit numbers down to Corps level given. But in Aug the Germans believed that there were many more divisions in the Med than there really were.
    https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a168052.pdf

    Found it!
    In “The Deceivers. Allied military deception in the Second World War” is a list of deception units.

    34th Division with a checkerboard insignia four squares by four starting with white in top left (so not exactly the same as in WW1 shown above). Created in May 1943 as part of Cascade deception. The fictional story ran as follows:

    25/3/43 landed at Algiers from U.K.
    Jan 1944 transferred to Middle East as part of Plan Wantage.
    May 1944 part of the fictional XVI Corps of the then fictional 12th Army (this Army became a real unit in May 1945 in Burma)
    Part of III Corps in Second Undercut referred to above, to occupy Greece late 1944.
    Plan Penknife saw it in a notional transfer to Italy to replace the genuine British 1st Division which was withdrawn from Italy and transferred to the Middle East (Palestine?) in Jan 1945.


    List of 12th Army deception units here
    Twelfth Army (United Kingdom) - Wikipedia
     
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  14. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    That's absolutely brilliant.

    Many thanks for you help.

    Gus
     

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