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78th Infantry Division (United Kingdom): Wikis


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78th Infantry Division
Active World War II 1942 - 1945
Country Great Britain
Branch British Army
Type Infantry
Role War Formed
Nickname Battleaxe Division
Battle honours Monte Cassino
Charles Keightley

The British 78th Infantry Division, also known as the Battleaxe Division, fought in the Second World War in North Africa and Italy.



The 78th was formed specifically for Operation Torch from regular British Army units, landing at Algiers in 1942. Thereafter it continued in Tunisia, gaining a formidable reputation, then through Sicily, up the length of Italy, arriving in Austria for the end of the war. Units also saw action in Greece, Palestine, and Egypt. Notable engagements include in Tunisia Longstop Hill, in Sicily the Battle of Centuripe and in Italy the assaults on the Viktor Line (Battle of Termoli), the Barbara Line and the River Sangro (Gustav Line) as well as the Battle of Monte Cassino, the Gothic Line and battle of Argenta gap.


Commanding officers

  • Maj.Gen. V.Evelegh (June 1942 - December 1943)
  • Maj.Gen. C.F.Keightley (December 1943 - August 1944)
  • Maj.Gen. D.C.Butterworth (August 1944 - October 1944)
  • Maj.Gen. R.K.Arbuthnot (October 1944 - ?)


Order of battle from 1942 composed from units of Force 110[1].

11th Infantry Brigade

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

36th Infantry Brigade

5th Battalion The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment).
6th Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment.
8th Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

1st Infantry Brigade (Guards) (until March 1943)

3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards.
2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards.
2nd Battalion The Hampshire Regiment.

38th (Irish) Infantry Brigade (from March 1943)

6th Battalion, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (until August 1944).
2nd Battalion, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (from August 1944).
1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victoria's).
2nd Battalion, The London Irish Rifles (Territorial Army).
56th Reconnaissance Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps.
1st Battalion, Princess Louise's Kensington Regiment.

Support units

Royal Artillery.

17th Field Regiment.
132nd Field Regiment (welsh).
138th Field Regiment (City of London) .
64th Anti-Tank Regiment (Queen's Own Royal Glasgow Yeomanry).
49th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment (until November 1944).

Royal Engineers.

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

Royal Army Medical Corps.

11th Field Ambulance.
152nd Field Ambulance.
217th Field Ambulance.
47th Field Ambulance.


  • Ken Ford (1999). Battleaxe Division. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton. ISBN 0-7509-1893-4.  


  1. ^ Ford, pp274-275

External links


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