61 Infantry Division - assault division for D-Day

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by andrewgfrench, Nov 20, 2013.

  1. andrewgfrench

    andrewgfrench Member

    I have an extract from 145 (Berks Yeo) field Regiment War Diary for 1943 and the 509 Bty Secret orders file

    S E C R E T
    To O.C., 395, 396, 509 Btys 3 Jul 43
    From R.H.Q.Subject:- Training
    All training from now on will be done with our new Assault role as a background
    The men may be told that we are training as an Assault Division. No reference will be made to any higher formation to which we may or may not be allocated.
    The essential features of the Assault training are :-
    (i.) Toughness
    (ii.) Aggressiveness
    (iii.) To be completed, at home both in the dark and in water.
    EHA Jackson
    Lt.Col. R.A.
    Comd. 145 (Berks Yeo) Field Regt R.A.
    509 Bty Secret file

    14th June 1943


    Assault Division

    The Divisional Commander addressed all officers of the Brigade and informed them that the Division was now one of the three Assault Divisions of the British Army.

    145 (Berks Yeo) Field Regt RA War Diary
    Later that summer they were told they were now to be a "follow up division" and finally in September 1943 they were not to be part of 2nd Army at all, but once again as "Home Forces"

    I'm sure some answers will be found in brigade and divisional war diaries, but can anyone throw any light on why this series of events occured.?

    Andrew French
    Asst Curator
    Berkshire Yeomanry Museum
  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Andrew

    I am also looking into this as my father was in the 2/7th R Warks Reg (part of 182nd Inf Bgde - part of 61st Infantry Div)

    61st Inf Div:

    182nd Infantry Brigade
    183rd Infantry Brigade
    184th Infantry Brigade
    Support Units

    Royal Artillery
    • 119th Field Regt.
    • 120th Field Regt.
    • 145th (Buckingham and Berkshire Yeomanry) Field Regt.
    • 63rd (Worcestershire and Oxfordshire Yeomanry)Anti-Tank Regt.
    I am in the process via Drew (another member) of obtaining the War Diaries for his Regiment, to find out where they were etc. So if you find any info, or I have some details that fit your needs we can perhaps pass them between us. It is my intention to write up the history of his Regiment (posting on this forum) and then perhaps that will grow into the Brigade then the Division, that's my initial intentions anyway where I get to is for the future.

  3. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Don't know if it was intended for division to tale part in landing on D-Day but here a (very) short summary of it's war history

    On 15 April 1940 the Commander and Staff of Div. HQ formed HQ MAURICE FORCE and went to Norway. A new commander and staff were appointred to the Division on 26 April. The Division was part of Home Forces and served in Northern Ireland between 26 June 1940 and the beginning of February 1943. It was responsible for internal security and was widely dispersed, first over the counties of Londonderry and Antrim, later over Armargh, Tyrone and Fermanagh. On return to the UK it was mobilized for service in North West Europe but was stood down and became a training and drafting formaton. In August 1945 it was re-mobilized as a Light Division for service in the Far East but the Japanese surrender came before it moved overseas. The Division was disbanded in 1946.

  4. andrewgfrench

    andrewgfrench Member

    Bottom of Form

    Hi TD
    Thanks for reply. Yes I'd like to stay in touch and share information with you. Have you come across any reference to their becoming an Assault Divisions in 1943
    We have copies of the regiment's home war diary 1939-1944 to when they were posted to India in January 1945. Plus a lot of Bty diaries, Part One & Two Orders and the adjutant's files, so quite a lot to material to work through
    What I would like to research when I have the time is the war diaries for 61HQRA and 183 Infantry Brigade at Kew.
    Could I just correct a couple items in your RA ORBAT. As I'm sure you know the TA was doubled in 1939 and each unit became two units. As regards 61 Div. the Regt were
    • 63 (Oxfordshire Yeomanry) A/Tk Regt RA
    • 145 (Berkshire Yeomanry) Field Regt RA
    The [53?] (Worcs. Yeo) Anti Tank Regt RA and 99 (Bucks Yeo) Fd Regt RA stayed with 48 Division
    The following follows on from my first post
    To... O.C., 395, 396, 509 Btys.
    Herewith extracts from Divisional Commander's speech for verbal communication to all ranks by Btys.

    RB Verney

    Capt R.A. Adjt.
    145 (Berks Yeo) Field Regiment R.A.
    Wootton Underwood

    Owing to the present man power situation it has been necessary to transfer the Division from Second Army back to Home Forces.

    Our role and all training and preparations are to aim at a return to the Continent of Europe at the earliest opportunity.

    Owing to all you efforts we have a very fine Divisional spirit and that is something that should be cherished and improved by every means in our possession. Every one of us who is not smart and happy and does not show that he is proud of himself and of the Division whose sign he wears is doing harm not only to himself but to the reputation and then potential fighting qualities of the Division.

    Next week we go on a big exercise; let every individual do that little bit more than he thinks he can manage, to show the world what a good Division we are.
    509 Bty secret file No.110
    Finally do you have anything on the GOC Major-Gen A Carton de Wiart VC , quite a character as recorded here
    John Puxley: When we’d been in Ireland about six months and nothing was going on, the senior officers went and saw Carton de Wiart, said, “Would it alright if we bring our wives over as there’s nothing doing here”? So he said “Bring your”? “What”? “Well if you like you wife I suppose you better bring her over. I loathe mine, I’m not going to have her”. Operation Recall
    Best regards
    ( I would add you to my friends if I knew how – still learning I only joined today)
  5. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Andrew,

    I have as yet found nothing re 61st Inf Div, 182nd Inf Bgde, or 2/7th RWR being trained as assault troops. My fathers service records show him being in Northern Ireland with 61st in 1941 & 42. The last entry at that point shows him going off on leave to become married - which happened in Londonderry with a honeymoon in Portrush, actually have the invoice for the B&B. Then there is absolutely nothing until June/July 1945 when he is moved to 22 Holding Co in Little Chart, Kent, and from there demob in Jan 1946. So I am trying to fill in the blanks from June 1942 until June 1945, and the only bit of info I have is the 'stories' (which I believe) of him being in or around Dover Castle, sending out false signals presumably for Operation Quicksilver. Hence the reason I am awaiting the Regimental Diaries which 'should' help fill in the blanks. I have tried tracing the movements of 61st and 182nd, but there seems a black hole on that, it has been a frustrating and fruitless task so far.

    The questions we should have asked years ago :(

  6. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    The 2nd/7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment left Northern Ireland in February 1943 and moved to Essex. The following month they participated in Exercise ‘Spartan’, one of the largest exercise in Britain up to that time. They seemed to be preparing to be frontline troops but in the Autumn of 1943 they moved to Dover, where they learned that the 61st Division would no longer be mobilized. In June 1944 their invasion task was to look after unwounded survivors who were landed back in Dover. They moved to Ashford in October 1944, where they did infantry training for the returning wounded and ex-anti-aircraft personnel. They continued in this role until the end of the war.
  7. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    This is a bit of a guess but their designation as an assault division in summer/autumn 1943 may relate to an 'Operation' STARKEY - a dress rehearsal of a major amphibious assault that climaxed on 9 Sep 1943 when the largely-empty 'invasion' fleet sailed out into the channel, turned round and sailed back to port. The Army's element was HARLEQUIN and it's chief value was in testing the movement of troops and equipment down to the embarkation ports. Given the subsequent fate of the division, they may simply have been actors in the piece, rather than being serious contenders for the assault role.
  8. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Its not that surprising from evidence in Divisional documents its clear that many units conducted training and practice to see who would become an Assault Division or Follow-Up et al.

    Divisional and Corps/Army et al records would probably explain more.
  9. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    I have information about this somewhere, but can't recall where. If I find it I will revert!

    My recollection is that the 61st Infantry Division was training to fight in NW Europe, but were relegated to 'Home Forces'. I have no information that suggests that they were to be an assault Division on D-Day.

    My interest derives from the 61st Recce Regiment, which transferred from the 61st Infantry Division to the 50th (Northumbrian) Division in January 1944. The 61st Recce Regiment, as part of Fifty Div, did have an assault role on Gold Beach on D-Day.

    Fifty Div's original Recce Regiment, 50th Recce (ex-4th Bn Royal Northumberland Fusiliers) had been permanently detached to 1st Armoured Division in approximately January 1942. The 50th Recces eventual replacement were the Yorkshire Hussars. They had only been attached to Fifty Div for a short while when they were replaced by 61st Recce, with the I believe the Yorkshire Hussars going in the opposite direction. This makes sense, as the 61st Recce was fully trained and equipped, whereas the Yorkshire Hussars required retraining and equipping.

    The CO of 61st Recce had lobbied hard for this move. He was one Lt-Col. Sir William Mount, Bt.T.D., who prior to transfer to the 61st Recce had coincidently been a Bty Commander in the Berkshire Yeomanry and is (or was) a grandfather of our current Prime Minister.


  10. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    In the preparations for D-Day, a large number of units were posted from Home Forces divisions to assault formations--not only combat units, but RE, RAMC, etc. The 50th Division alone received units from the 48th, 61st, and 9th Armoured.

    Somewhere in the course of my research I read an original document that said that 61st Division was scheduled for re-activation and transfer to the Far East in a combat role. If the war with Japan had lasted, the 61st might have gotten into action.
  11. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi TTH,

    If you ever come across that document again I would be very happy to receive a copy of it - thanks :)


Share This Page