Persia & Iraq 1941 - 1947

British Infantry Divisions



During the war, three British infantry divisions saw active service in Persia and Iraq, albeit at most only two were in the country at the same time. There were heavy demands on British infantry formations during 1941 and 1942 as the first divisions were released from the United Kingdom for service overseas as the threat of invasion receded.

The first division to arrive in Iraq was the 50 (Northumbrian) Infantry Division. Its stay was short as it arrived from Cyprus on 21 November 1941 and left on 13 January 1942 bound for Egypt.

The next to arrive was the 5 Infantry Division which landed from India on 28 August 1942. It came under command of III Corps. The 56 (London) Infantry Division was sent out from the United Kingdom arriving on the 4 November 1942. This division came under command of XXI Indian Corps. This period coincided with the threat of invasion by German forces through the Caucasus mountains. As this threat receded, the British divisions were transferred. Both moved to Egypt, with the 5 Infantry Division joining XIII Corps in Egypt to prepare for the invasion of Sicily and the 56 (London) Infantry Division continuing on its travels to Tunisia where it joined X Corps.