United Kingdom 1944 - 1947

By the beginning of 1944, the threat of invasion to the United Kingdom had all but melted away. Instead, the U.K. had become a base from which the Allies were preparing to invade France to open up the second front so long demanded by the Soviet Union.

The formations stationed within the U.K. were either earmarked for service with 21 Army Group in North West Europe or became training, draft finding and reserve formations.

The issue of providing reinforcements for formations on active service was to prove crucial if Britain was to continue to play a significant role in the victory over Germany. In addition to providing reinforcements to 21 Army Group, the campaigns in Italy and Burma also demanded trained soldiers from the United Kingdom.

The British, Canadian and American forces landed in Normandy in June 1944, and the first three months saw a high number of casualties as the Allies fought to breakout from Normandy. in the case of the British Army, this brought the issue of reinforcements to crisis level, particularly for the infantry units. In the 21 Army Group, this led to the disbanding of the 59 (Staffordshire) Infantry Division, and the 50 (Northumbrian) Infantry Division being reduced to Reserve status.

In the United Kingdom itself, the Reserve formations were all significantly reorganised in September 1944. Units were trawled for suitable personnel to be posted to 21 Army Group, and several anti-aircraft units were either disbanded or converted into infantry units. These and other measures managed to keep the formations deployed in North West Europe more or less up to strength.

The armistice in North West Europe in May 1945 was the end of five and half years of war that had drained the suitable pool of manpower for the British Armed Forces to almost breaking point. By this time, however, the new Labour Government had introduced a reduction in the period of service overseas for servicemen that prompted a crisis in personnel in the Far East. It was another three months before the Second World War ended, but, it was not until early 1947 that the British Army began the process of demobilisation on a large scale to place the Army on a peacetime establishment.

Higher Formations

By 1944, the threat of invasion to the United Kingdom had melted away. The balance of power had irrevocably changed. The Allies were now building up their forces in the United Kingdom in order to open up the second front as demanded by Josef STALIN. The 21 Army Group was ...view details

British Armoured Formations

In the United Kingdom, two armoured formations were retained into 1944 for training and draft finding roles. The 9 Armoured Division had been formed on 1 December 1940, and was based in the United Kingdom throughout it existence. Initially, it comprised the 27 Armoured Brigade, 28 Armoured Brigade and 9 ...view details

British Infantry Formations

By the beginning of 1944, there were nine British infantry divisions in the United Kingdom that had not been designated to become part of the 21 Army Group for the forthcoming invasion of France. Three of these divisions still had some form of operational responsibilities. The 38 (Welsh) Infantry Division ...view details

Territorial Army Formations 1947

The principle of the United Kingdom maintaining a relatively small Regular (or permanent) Army during peacetime, supported by a larger part-time Territorial Army had been in place for many years. The origins can be found in the raising of various militia or yeomanry regiments on a local basis, often for ...view details

Polish Formations

With the defeat of the Polish nation in September 1939, about 80,000 men reformed the Polish Army in Exile in France.  A Polish Government in Exile was also formed (Poland being the only country captured by the Germans in which a puppet government was never formed). Two infantry divisions were ...view details