78th British Infantry Division - "The Battleaxe Div"

Discussion in 'Higher Formations' started by Ron Goldstein, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Bexley 84
    The 11th Armoured regiment supporting the 78th Div at Trasemeno was in fact the Ontario Tank regiment from 1st Cdn Armoured Bde who were along with the 12th (Three Rivers regt - and the 14th Calgary Tanks represented Canada from East to West which was a common attitude of most Divisions - the 1st Cdn then spent the rest of the Italian Campaign with various British Divisons- after Ortona while the two British Tank bde 21st and 25th supported the Cdn 1st Inf. Div from Ortona to the time they left in Feb '45 for Belgium - odd - but it worked !
    Cheers
     
  2. Wendy

    Wendy Junior Member

    Interesting to see the references to books Algiers to Austria..Cyril Ray and Battleaxe Division Ken Ford. I have both these books as my father was in 78th Division Battleaxe...In the book Algiers to Austria, Prologue page xix, my father has written in the margin paragraph beginning.. ...All October troops poured up to the Clyde and into the ships.Stores were loaded and K.M.S (1) sailed a week or more before K.M.F (1) (fast) carrying the assault force..father has written.. L13 Empress of India... Can anyone tell me..is this the name of one of the ships that went to Algiers? Has anyone a picture of this ship? As my father has made a note of the name of this ship I am assuming this is the ship he went out on?....
     
  3. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Hello Wendy and a warm welcome to the forum.
    My father was also in the Battleaxe Division in the 56 Reconnaissance Corps. He sailed on the SS VICEROY of India in October 1942. Could you tell us which unit he was in? Have you any photos you would like to post here?
    I cannot help you with the ships name-I am sure there is a list of ships which sailed from the Clyde on here, but other members who have more knowledge than me about these ships will be along soon I am sure.

    Lesley
     
  4. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

  5. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

  6. Wendy

    Wendy Junior Member

    Thank you for your replies..
    My father Clarence James Francis 170678 was a driver in the RASC attached to 57 coy 11th inf bde. He was in England until 14th Oct 1942 when he was posted to North Africa 15.10.42 - 17.2.46 He was awarded the 1st army clasp along with his medals. His service record states he was in North Africa for 9 months..Sicily 4 months..Italy twenty something months hard to read the last figure, could be a 2 making it 22months and Austria 7 months. In Algiers to Austria page 22 he has written 30thNov/1st Dec they were in a farm just below Tebourba. Apart from the ship he was on I would like to know a) as he was awarded the 1st army clasp did he meet up with the 8th army? his service record states 2nd EOH BNAF 8th army 9/43 can you tell me what this means and b) was his division ever at Monte Cassino?
    Thank you, sorry if its a bit confusing, the service records are not the easiest to read!
    Wendy
     
  7. Wendy

    Wendy Junior Member

    Tony thank you for that link, seems it could well have been Viceroy of India. As my father wrote the name of the ship some 50 years after the event its easy to see how names can get confused. Wendy
     
  8. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Thank you for your replies..
    ... Apart from the ship he was on I would like to know a) as he was awarded the 1st army clasp did he meet up with the 8th army? his service record states 2nd EOH BNAF 8th army 9/43 can you tell me what this means and b) was his division ever at Monte Cassino?
    Thank you, sorry if its a bit confusing, the service records are not the easiest to read!
    Wendy

    All the dates fit well - sounds like your father left Austria around the end of 1945.

    Stop me if I'm stating the obvious on the question about "Cassino":

    - 11th Brigade as part of 78th Division, joined the 8th Army for the invasion of Sicily, and remained with them for the rest of the war in Italy.

    - 11th Brigade spent an unhappy April 1944 on the back side of the Cassino massif, and then were part of the Liri Valley breakthrough in mid May 1944. One of their number Fusilier Jefferson of 2 Lancashire Fusiliers was awarded a Victoria Cross for his conduct on 16th May 1944.
     
  9. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Hi Wendy
    Would you like to post the records on here if it is not too personal? There are a couple of veterans on here who will be able to fill in the gaps for you.

    Lesley
     
  10. Wendy

    Wendy Junior Member

    Thanks again for your replies..
    I shall get on to the task of putting my fathers service records on here.
    I have been looking through this site and am amazed at the amount of information on it!
    Bexley84 thank you for that snippet have made a note of it and added it to my fathers file.
    Wendy
     
  11. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Thought this might help in showing 78 Div movements between April 1943 and December 1944.


    October 1942 to March 1947

    Oct ‘ 42 Bury St.Edmunds, Called up on Thursday Oct 1st, aged 19, and posted to 53rd Primary Training Wing for 6 weeks basic training.
    Nov ’42 Whitby, Yorkshire. Posted to 52nd Anti Aircraft Driver Training Regiment, R.A to be trained for 12 weeks as a Driver/Wireless Op.
    Dec ’42 Training at Whitby
    Jan ’43 Training at Whitby
    Haltwhistle, Northumberland. Posted to 112th L.A.A. Regiment.
    who were just starting a 2 week’s battle training course.
    Mar’43 Hove, Sussex, Congleton, Cheshire. our Bty guns were protecting the Hove coastline. Then taken off strength of 112 Rgt and posted to Congleton where the overseas draft REAYK assembled. Posted to Woolwich and sent home for 7 days embarkation leave.
    Apr’43 Liverpool, Embarked on S.S.Frankonia, the troopship that took us to North Africa. Algiers. Posted to 49th Light Anti Aircraft Rgt, stationed at Tunis
    May ’43 War ends in North Africa on May 13th.
    June ‘43 Carthage, Guelma, Hammamet. Boarded ship for Sicily.
    July’ 43 Syracuse, Bronte, Adrano, Messina.
    Aug ’43 Sicily
    Sep’43 By landing craft to Reggio di Calabria, then onto mainland Italy, Crotone, Bari, Foggia, Termoli.
    Oct ’43 Italy
    Nov ’43 Italy
    Dec ’43 Carovilla, Cantalupo, Agnone, Riccia, Campo Basso, Bagnolia.
    Jan' 44 New Years Day 1944 Snowed in at mountain village of Carovilli.
    Feb ’44 Ortogna, Mignano, Cassino (Regiment responsible for smoke laying beneath the monastery), Caserta, Afragola, San Vittorio.
    Mar ’44 Two weeks in dock in Naples and not a wound to show for it
    Apr’ 44 Vanairo, Vanafro, Ceprano, Lake Trasimeno, Rome.
    May ’44 Italy
    Jun '44 Day leave in Rome
    Baschi, Tiber, Frosinino, Taranto. Pulled out of the line. 78th Div goes to Egypt to re-fit and re-form. S.S.Empires Pride (Ship that took us to Egypt).
    Jul’ 44 Alexandria,(Egypt), Cairo, Ishmalia, Amiryah. S.S.Homer Lee The American ship that took us back to Italy. Augusta, (Sicily) Assisi (Italy), Vasto,Termoli, Sangro, Pescara, Scarperia, Florence, Firenzuolo.
    Aug ’44 Italy
    Sep ’44 Italy
    Oct ’ 44 Sienna, Tavernelle, Naples, Ancona.
    Nov '44 Firenzuola
    Dec’ 44 The 49th LAA Rgt. disbanded and I was posted to Royal Armoured Corp Training Depot at Rieti for 12 week's re-training as a Tank Loader/Operator.
    Jan ’45 Training at Rieti
    Feb ’45 Training at Rieti
    Mar’ 45 Posted to “A” Sqdrn 4th Queen’s Own Hussars as SSM “Busty Thomas’s Loader/Wireless Op. Gubbio, Ravenna, Rocciano, Rimini.
    Apr’ 45 Comacchio, Traversare, Ferrara, Lugo, Santerno, Reno.
    2-4th April Operation “Roast”, Ray Jefford gets his MM
    May’ 45 War ends in Europe on 8th May. Venice, Ferndorf,(Austria). Set up a POW camp for SS Cavalry Division, Lienz, Spittal Paternion, Grafenstein, Trieben,Villach,
    Jun ’45 Austria. Unit involved in rounding up War Criminals
    Jul’ 45 Velden, Klagenfurt,Salsburg,
    Aug’45 Munich, Ulm in Germany. (One month running staging camp for troops going home on leave under LIAP. LILOP & PYTHON.
    Sep ’45 Opicina, in the hills above Trieste
    Oct ’45 Peacekeeping between Italians & Yugoslavs in the Trieste area.
    Nov’45 Udine, Milan, Brig, Calais, Folkestone,London, (First home leave since Apr’43) Folkestone, Calais, Milan, (Italy) Palmanova, Trieste,
    Dec ’45 Peacekeeping at Trieste
    Jan ’46 Peacekeeping at Trieste
    Feb ’46 Peacekeeping at Trieste
    Mar ’46 Trieste . Now “A” Sqn Tech Cpl.
    Apr ’46 Trieste
    May ’46 28 Days home leave (LIAP)
    Jun’46 Milan, Calais, Folkestone, London, (My second home leave)
    Trieste, (Italy) Monfalcone. Victory Celebrations, 8th June 1946
    Jul ’46 Monfalcone
    Oct’ 46 Now full Corporal in charge of “A” Squadron Tech Stores
    Milan, Dieppe, Dover London, Dover, Dieppe, Trieste (Regimental re-union with the Colonel , Winston Churchill in attendance)
    Nov ’46 Monfalcone
    Dec'46 Monfalcone, Our first Post-War New Year's Eve
    Jan’47 Back to the UK to prepare for Demob. Milan, Calais, Dieppe, London, Barnard Castle(Worst winter in the UK in living memory)
    Feb ’47 Barnard Castle
    Mar ’47 Received notification of impending release
    Apr ‘47 Released from RAC Depot, Barnard Castle, York and finally demobbed at York !. Home is now 16a Manor Rd., London N16
    Jul ’47 Transferred to Army Reserve
    Aug ’53 Taken off Army strength, I am now aged 30

    Ron
     
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  12. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Wendy
    You can't do much better at finding out what the 78th Division was up to from landing with "Torch " at Algiers with 1st Army - THEN joining 8th Army in Sicily - and after their contribution at Cassino in #3 Battle and their leading role in Diadem through the Liri Valley- on to Trasimeno with US 5th Army - on to Egypt for a well earned rest- and back once more to 8th Army for the final
    push from the Gothic Line and finishing up in Austria by reading Ron's posting # 71
    above

    Cheers
     
  13. Wendy

    Wendy Junior Member

    Thank you!
    I've scanned the service records, just checking on here to see how to attach
    I do remember my father saying he never went to Rome, he was in hospital at the time with bad boils on his arm!
    Wendy
     
  14. RickGlanvill

    RickGlanvill Junior Member

    My grandfather, Percy ‘Skip’ Boddington, was an ROAC driver in the 78th. He didn’t talk very much at all about his wartime experiences.

    In one rare conversation he told how his unit boarded a ship as
    part of a convoy (for which operation we don’t know, though my mother believes the story involved Algiers in some way).

    As it happened, the propellor of granddad’s ship was fouled and they did not sail as planned. He said that the convoy was attacked and, to his consternation, the ship that occupied the vacant slot in the convoy was sunk, with the loss of many lives.

    He never forgot that narrow escape, and felt guilt for those who ‘copped it instead’.

    I don’t know whether this incident can be identified from the minimal information provided, but I would be interested if people could point me towards he best sources to find out more.

    Many thanks.

    Rick Glanvill
     
  15. Wendy

    Wendy Junior Member

    Some of my fathers service records attached (I hope)

    Wendy
     

    Attached Files:

  16. Wendy

    Wendy Junior Member

    Service records of my father Clarence James Francis
    Wendy
     

    Attached Files:

  17. Wendy

    Wendy Junior Member

    I hope these have come out alright.
    I shall be grateful if someone could explain to me what the stripes are on my fathers sleeve.
    Many thanks for looking
    Wendy
     
  18. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Hello again Wendy. The records look just fine. That is a lovely photo of your father. I think the stripes are good conduct ones, but others will be along soon to help and decipher exactly what happened to your father. It looks as if he spent a bit of time in hospital. The vets on here understand all the abbreviations and can make plain English of it all!

    Lesley
     
  19. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    My grandfather, Percy ‘Skip’ Boddington, was an ROAC driver in the 78th. He didn’t talk very much at all about his wartime experiences.

    In one rare conversation he told how his unit boarded a ship as
    part of a convoy (for which operation we don’t know, though my mother believes the story involved Algiers in some way).

    As it happened, the propellor of granddad’s ship was fouled and they did not sail as planned. He said that the convoy was attacked and, to his consternation, the ship that occupied the vacant slot in the convoy was sunk, with the loss of many lives.

    He never forgot that narrow escape, and felt guilt for those who ‘copped it instead’.

    I don’t know whether this incident can be identified from the minimal information provided, but I would be interested if people could point me towards he best sources to find out more.

    Many thanks.

    Rick Glanvill

    Hello again Rick
    I think this is the best place to post as it is in the 78th Div thread.
    My dad sailed from the Clyde on 15 October 1942 to Algiers, so I imagine your grandfather was probably due to go around this time frame. Have you any more details on him or any photos you can post so other members can help you more?

    Lesley
     
  20. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

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