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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.

Further information on each of the units and formations can be found in the sections as below:

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