The History of the 15th Scottish Division by Lt. Gen. H.G. Martin CB, DSO, OBE.

The History of the 15th Scottish Division by Lt. Gen. H.G. Martin CB, DSO, OBE.

LT. Gen. H.G. Martin, CB, DSO, OBE
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The division was a second line Territorial Army Division, the duplicate of the British 52nd (Lowland) Division and served in the Second World War, where, among other actions, it was part of VIII Corps under Lieutenant-General Sir Richard O’Connor in Normandy and it ended the war on the Elbe River.

WW2 Divisional service included:
Operation Epsom, River Odon. Hill 112 - Operation Jupiter, Operation Bluecoat and then they fought virtually continuously from there on through Caumont, the Seine Crossing, the Gheel Bridgehead, Best, Tilburg, Meijel, Blerwick, Broekhuizen, the Maas and across the Rhine.

Their particular distinction was to be selected to lead the last set piece river crossing of the war, the assault across the Elbe (Operation Enterprise) on 29 April 1945 spearheaded by Brigadier Derek Mills-Roberts 1st Commando Brigade, after which they fought on to the Baltic occupying both Lübeck and Kiel. They were the only division of the British Army of the Second World War to be involved in three of the six major European river assault crossings; the Seine, the Rhine and the Elbe.

General Martin writes an excellent account of a division that Montgomery called his "Firemen". The book starts with a foreword by General Sir Miles Dempsey, General Officer Commanding 2nd Army. Both Dempsey and Montgomery held 15th Division in high regard. The book covers the wilderness years where the division was virtually a paper division while on "Lower Establishment" to its rapid growth, exercises and training at "Higher Establishment" in preparation for D-Day.

Written in almost diary form, with sketches, maps and black & white photographs, the book, in paperback form, contains 385 pages of facts, funnies and tragedies that befell an unblooded division. In the 11 months of continuous fighting from 6 June 1944, 15 Scottish Division suffered over 11,000 casualties but achieved every objective set for them.

Gen. Martin writes his history as only a soldier can. There is no pussy-footing around, he tells it how it was in all it's gory detail. He tells of the bravery of the untried territorial, the willingness to prove themselves on the battlefield and the desire to be the best, instilled into each soldier by their regimental officers. There is also a humane element which surfaces throughout the book; tales of soldiers befriending orphan children and keeping them safe until handed over to the Padres. There is also the uncanny knack of the "Jock" of finding hooch and getting "blootered" on it. Probably the most spine-chilling story is the one of the 187 Canadian prisoners murdered by Waffen SS troops and how the Jocks wanted to help their Canadian pals take their revenge.

The book finishes with five appendices, the first being eight pages long is the list of casualties by unit. Appendix B lists the GOC and Staff Officers of the Division; while Appendix C lists the orbats of the division. Appendix D list some very interesting statistics, including the fact that divisional linemen from the Royal Signals laid over 7,800 miles of cable!. Appendix E lists the awards and honours granted to the division, including 213 Military Medals and 554 Mentions in Despatches.

Anyone interested in the History of D-Day or even General History should read this story, I would recommend it to anyone, it is an invaluable resource for researcher and historian alike.

An excellent history of one of the famous infantry divisions of World War Two.

Top marks, five out of five.


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