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Encyclopedia > British Eighth Army

The Eighth Army was one of the best-known formations in World War II, fighting in the campaigns in North Africa and Italy. It was British in name, and always commanded by a British general, although many of its component units were from British Empire countries, including Australia, India, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Rhodesia. There were also significant contributions from Free French units and Polish Polish II Corps. British units included the 7th Armoured Division (The Desert Rats) and the 51st Highland Division. Following the outbreak of the Pacific War, in December 1941, most of the Australian I Corps was recalled for home defence duties, although the 9th Division remained until mid-1943. This article is becoming very long. ...  Northern Africa (UN subregion)  geographic, including above North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent. ... The British Empire in 1897, marked in pink, the traditional colour for Imperial British dominions on maps. ... National motto: Sit Nomine Digna (Latin: May she be worthy of the name} Official language English Capital Salisbury Political system Parliamentary system Form of government Republic - Last President John Wrathall - Prime Minister Ian Smith Area  - Total  - % water 390 580 km² 1% Population  - 1978 est. ... The Free French Forces (Forces Françaises Libres in French) were French fighters who decided to go on fighting against Germany after the Fall of France and German occupation and to fight against Vichy France in World War II. General Charles de Gaulle was a member of the French Cabinet in... The Insignia of the Polish II Corps. ... The 7th Armoured Division (The Desert Rats) of the British Army was the most famous unit of its type in British service during World War II. It was a regular division in the Middle East, designated the Mobile Division at first, renamed the Armoured Division (Egypt) in September 1939, and... For the First World War unit, see British 51st (Highland) Division (World War I). ... US landings in the Pacific, 1942–1945 The Pacific War was the part of World War II that occurred in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, 1937 to 1945. ... I Corps of the Australian Army was the main frontline corps of the army during World War II. Various Australian and other Allied divisions came under its control at various times. ... The 9th Division of the Australian Army was formed to serve in World War II, as part of the Second Australian Imperial Force (AIF). ...

Contents


Overview

The Eighth Army was formed from the Western Desert Force in September 1941 and put under the command of Lt-Gen Sir Alan Cunningham. It got its number from the fact that the French had fielded seven armies previously in the same war, the British had fielded the British Expeditionary Force. It first went into action as an Army on November 17, 1941, when it crossed the frontier of Cyrenaica to meet the thrust of Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps. The Commander-in-Chief Middle-East, General Sir Claude Auchinleck, replaced Cunningham with Major General Neil Ritchie. Ritchie proved unable to halt Rommel and was in turn replaced when Auchinleck himself took command. The Afrika Korps were eventually stopped by Auchinleck at the First battle of El Alamein. Auchinleck proved unable to build on this success and was in turn replaced as Commander-in-Chief Middle-East by Lieutenant General Alexander and as Eighth Army commander by Lieutenant General Bernard Montgomery. Montgomery added to the Army's XIII Corps and XXX Corps by forming a pursuit formation, X Corps. The Western Desert Force, during World War II, was a British Commonwealth Army unit stationed in Egypt. ... For the movie, see 1941 (film) 1941 (MCMXLI) was a common year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1941 calendar). ... Alan Cunningham, British Army Officer Sir Alan Gordon Cunningham (1st May 1887 _ 30th January 1983) was a British Army officer noted for victories over Italian forces in the East African Campaign during World War II. He was the younger brother of the renowned Admiral Andrew Cunningham. ... The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was the British army sent to France and Belgium in World War I and British Forces in Europe from 1939 - 1940 during World War II. The BEF was established by Secretary of State for War Richard Haldane following the Second Boer War in case the... 17 November is also the name of a Marxist group in Greece, coinciding with the anniversary of the Athens Polytechnic uprising. ... For the movie, see 1941 (film) 1941 (MCMXLI) was a common year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1941 calendar). ... The Roman Empire ca. ... Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel ( ) (November 15, 1891 – October 14, 1944) was one of the most distinguished German Field Marshals of World War II and one of the greatest military leaders of all time. ... The seal of Afrikakorps The German Afrika Korps (German: Deutsches Afrikakorps, DAK ) was the corps-level headquarters controlling the German Panzer divisions in Libya and Egypt during the North African Campaign of World War II. Since there was little turnover in the units attached to the corps, the term is... Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck Field Marshal Sir Claude John Eyre Auchinleck, GCB, GCIE, CSI, DSO, OBE (June 21, 1884 - 1981), nicknamed The Auk, was a British army commander during World War II. // Early life and career Born in Aldershot, he grew up in impoverished circumstances, but was able through... General Sir Neil Ritchie (July 29, 1897 - December 11, 1983) was a British commanding officer during the Second World War. ... The First Battle of El Alamein 1–July 27, 1942 was a battle of the Western Desert Campaign of World War II, fought between the German–Italian Afrika Korps commanded by Erwin Rommel and the British Eighth Army, commanded by Claude Auchinleck. ... Field Marshal Harold Rupert Leofric George Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis, KG, GCB, GCMG, CSI, GCVO, DSO, MC, LL.D, PC, Legion of Honour (10 December 1891–16 June 1969) was a British military commander and Field Marshal, notably during the Second World War as the commander of the... Bernard Law Montgomery Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (November 17, 1887 - March 24, 1976) was a British military officer during World War II often referred to as Monty. ... The Western Desert Force, during World War II, was a British Commonwealth Army unit stationed in Egypt. ... The XXX Corps was an infantry corps in the British Army. ...


After losing ground the Eighth Army gained the initiative after the Second Battle of El Alamein under its new commander and participated in the ejection of the Axis forces from North Africa. Combatants British Commonwealth Poland Free French Greece Germany Italy Commanders Bernard Montgomery Erwin Rommel Strength 200,000 men 1,030 tanks 900 guns 530 aircraft 100,000 men 500 tanks 500 guns 350 aircraft Casualties 23,500 dead or wounded 710 tanks 12,000 dead or wounded 25,000 captured... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


The Eighth Army then participlated in the Italian Campaign (World War II) which began with Operation Husky on the island of Sicily. Elements landed in the 'toe' of Italy in Operation Baytown, and continued fighting its way up Italy on the eastern flank of the Allied forces. The Italian Campaign of World War II was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war. ... Husky was also the codename of Australian military support to Sierra Leone ending in February 2003. ... Sicily (Sicilia in Italian and Sicilian, Σικελία in Greek) is an autonomous region of Italy and the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, with an area of 25,700 sq. ... This article covers the invasion of mainland Italy by the World War II Allies in September 1943 during the Italian Campaign. ...


At the end of 1943 General Montgomery was transferred to Britain to begin preparations for the Normandy invasion. Command of the Eighth Army was given to Lieutenant General Oliver Leese. Combatants United States United Kingdom Canada Free France Nazi Germany Commanders Dwight Eisenhower (Supreme Allied Commander) Bernard Montgomery (land) Bertram Ramsay (sea) Trafford Leigh-Mallory (air) Gerd von Rundstedt (OB WEST) Erwin Rommel (Heeresgruppe B) Friedrich Dollmann (7. ... Oliver Leese (right) with Sir Henry Maitland Wilson. ...


During the stalemate on the Winter Line, in early 1944, the Eighth Army was removed from the shore of the Adriatic Sea to concentrate all forces, except the British V Corps, on the western side of the Apennines in order to punch through to Rome. Forces from 8th Army were those that finally captured the ancient monastery in the Battle of Monte Cassino. The Winter Line was a series of German military fortifications in Italy, constructed during World War II by Organisation Todt. ... A satellite image of the Adriatic Sea. ... This is about the terrestrial mountain range. ... Nickname: The Eternal City Map of Italy with the Region of Latium Coordinates: Region Latium Province Province of Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni Area    - City 1,285 km²  (496,1 sq mi)  - Urban 5,352 km² (2,066,4 sq mi) Elevation 37 m  (121,4 ft) Population    - City (2006[1... Combatants United States United Kingdom Poland New Zealand India Free France Morocco Brazil and others Nazi Germany Commanders Harold Alexander Albert Kesselring Frido von Senger Strength 105,000 80,000 Casualties 54,000 20,000 The Battle of Monte Cassino (also known as the Battle for Rome and the Battle...


Rome

After the capture of Rome, Eighth Army returned to the Adriatic coast. The end of the summer campaign found Allied forces butting up against the Gothic Line. The Gothic line was forced, but ultimately the Allied forces could not break into the Po valley before the onset of winter forced an end to serious offensive operations. During October, Leese was reassigned to South East Asia Command, and Lieutenant General Sir Richard McCreery replaced him. The Gothic Line, also known as Linea Gotica, formed Field Marshal Albert Kesselrings last line of defence along the summits of the Apennines during the fighting retreat of Nazi Germanys forces from Italy in the final stages of World War II. The Gothic Line developed as a result... The Gothic Line, also known as Linea Gotica, formed Field Marshal Albert Kesselrings last line of defence along the summits of the Apennines during the fighting retreat of Nazi Germanys forces from Italy in the final stages of World War II. The Gothic Line developed as a result... South East Asia Command (SEAC) was the body set up to be in overall charge of Allied operations in the South-East Asian Theatre during World War II. The initial supreme commander of the theatre was General Sir Archibald Wavell, initially as head of the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command... General Sir Richard McCreery, GCB, KBE, DSO, MC (1898-1967), was a career soldier, who was Chief of Staff to Field Marshal Harold Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis, at the time of the Second Battle of El Alamein and later commanded the British Eighth Army in Northern Italy during...


In the spring of 1945, Eighth Army resumed its offensive. It cut off and destroyed large parts of the opposing Army Group C during April and then made a rapid advance through northeast Italy and into Austria. Problems occurred where British and Yugoslavian forces met. Tito's forces were intent on securing control of the area of Venezia Giulia. They arrived before British forces, and were very active in trying to prevent the establishment of military government in the manner that had applied to most of the rest of Italy. They even went as far as to restrict supplies through to the British zone of occupation in Austria and tried to take over part of that country as well. On May 2, 1945 2nd New Zealand Division of the Eighth Army liberated Trieste, and the same day the Yugoslav Fourth Army together with Slovene 9th Corpus NOV entered the town. Yugoslavia (Jugoslavija in all South Slavic languages, Југославија in Serbian and Macedonian Cyrillic) is a term used for the three separate but successive political entities that existed during most of the 20th century on the Balkan Peninsula in Europe. ... Portrait of Tito by Paja Jovanović Josip Broz Tito (Bosnian & Croatian: Josip Broz Tito; Serbian: Јосип Броз Тито, May 7, (originally May 25th on the official birth certificate) 1892 – May 4, 1980) was the leader of Yugoslavia between the end of World War II and his death in 1980. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... May 2 is the 122nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (123rd in leap years). ... The New Zealand 2nd Division was that countrys major land formation during much of World War II. Commanded for much of its existence by Lieutenant General Sir Bernard Freyberg. ... Country Italy Region Friuli-Venezia Giulia Province Trieste (TS) Mayor Roberto Dipiazza (since 2001) Elevation 2 m Area 8,449 km² Population  - Total (as of December 31, 2004) 207,069  - Density 2,480/km² Time zone CET, UTC+1 Coordinates Gentilic Triestini Dialing code 040 Postal code 34100 Frazioni See...


In its early days, Eighth Army had seen many tribulations. However, since the Second Battle of El Alamein, the worst that could be said of its operations was that they degenerated into temporary stalemates. Its advance from El Alamein to Tunisia was one of the greatest military logistical feats of all time, and it had distinguished itself fighting under difficult conditions during the campaign in Italy. It ended its days by being redesignated British Forces in Austria; controlling the British forces occupying part of that country. Combatants British Commonwealth Poland Free French Greece Germany Italy Commanders Bernard Montgomery Erwin Rommel Strength 200,000 men 1,030 tanks 900 guns 530 aircraft 100,000 men 500 tanks 500 guns 350 aircraft Casualties 23,500 dead or wounded 710 tanks 12,000 dead or wounded 25,000 captured...


See also

The United Kingdom, along with France, declared war on Nazi Germany in 1939 as part of the United Kingdoms pledge to defend Poland to the invasion of Poland. ...

External links

  • Eighth Army Veterans (City of Manchester)

The website of one of the last remaining Branches of Eighth Army Veterans.


Veterans

After the war, veterans from the Eighth Army organized Annual Reunions at the Royal Albert Hall. Then, in the late 1970s, the Eighth Army Veterans Association was formed. At the height of its membership, there were over 35 branches, with a particular strength in the North West. Reunions were held at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. Eventually, in 2002 the National Association disbanded. However, the Manchester Branch decided to continue, under the title of Eighth Army Veterans, City of Manchester. It has an active membership, who hold regular meetings and events. Its newsletter, "The Manchester Veteran", is still distributed to 300 ex-servicemen and women, or their dependents, and is a lively forum for the community it represents. A facility exists for Schools Talks to be given, in the Manchester/North Cheshire area.


Correspondence is welcome and will be dealt with, in the first instance, by the Web Editor. Full details appear on the EAVM website.


 
 

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