Lack of Territorial Memorials in Normandy

Went on hols there last year. On Omaha beech the Americans have erected one large National Guard memorial and the area contains others dedicated to their reserves.

Moving accross to Juno Beach you find Reserve/Militia/Regular memorials t o units every 100 metres or so.

Admittedly we do have some, but many of these are hidden in the Bocage (e.g. 43 Wessex Div @ Hill 112, 49 West Riding Div @ Fontennay, ). Shouldn't we have one near the main tourist areas recognising what our predescessors did (and they weren't over in the UK in the Dads Army).
I think you've got the wrong idea Polar. Nearly all of this country's soldiers post -Dunkirk were Territorials, so the monuments you see all over Europe to the Brits who died in WW2 are in fact dedicated to the Territorials. It might not have 'TA' or 'V' written on the inscription, but that doesn't hide the fact that the vast majority of those headstones indicate where a Territorial soldier lies.

(Now don't you STABS think that I'm getting all chummy and want to exchange PMs here. I'm just saying how it is, thats all).
stevie_r said:
i think you've both got the wrong idea. what makes a civilian a territorial just because he was called up to serve his country?
The vast majority of units involved in Normandy were Territorial and existed on 1st Sept 1939. However the Territorials had a very large number of recruits in 1939 and doubled in size. (E.g 49 West Riding and North Midland Division split in late 39 into 46 North Midland and 49 West Riding. The same happened to the Anti Aircraft Divisions).
So many classing themselves as pre war civlians volunteered or signed on as Territorials. Therefore a Territorial memorial would honour the civilian volunteer.
(Quite a few Divs entering Normandy were green and so many may have been 1939 vols).

Anyone know where did the conscripts went? Did they get a choice
Memories of Mr. R B Blatchford MBE said:
Conscription was reintroduced for young men, with an option of joining the Territorial Forces to get evening and weekend training, and the Territorial Army was doubled. I was affected by this and, being in the middle of exams, elected to join the 6th Battalion Devonshire Regiment T.A. at Barnstaple Drill Hall - a culture shock as a private being mixed in with all sorts and sizes.
Not very clear what happened in 39 but conscription started in Apr (was joing the TA an alternatice for working classes to get out of conscription ?), with first intake to be in July 39.

I think this page answers my original post. The TA ceased to exist in Sept 1939 with TA and regulars being brought upto strength by reservists.

Still not sure 2nd line TA Divisions being conscripts, other sites mention large numbers of voluteers in 1938, but the army didn't expand its number of Infantry Divisions as soon as conscription started. So where did the conscripts initially goto once trained? The artillery?
In July 39, 18 year were conscripted into the milita for 6 month military service to be followed by 3 years in the TA or 3 in the reserves....

These Guys must have been well pissed in the Sept.
There was a sort of British muddling through, as the TA was doubled in size not long beforehand, and then in June, 1939 the "compulsory training" thing came in before, on the 1st September 1939, general mobilisation and conscription began.

Wasn't the principle of the 1st and 2nd Line TA that the 1st line divs would form on mobilisation, leaving a cadre to form another (2nd line) formation of conscripts and reservists?
Yes. Three 2nd Line TA Infantry Divisions (strain brain, strain brain, err...the 12th, 23rd and 46th I think) were ordered to France in the months prior to the German invasion. They were officially described as "labour" divisions, but it was intended that they would complete their training in the BEF rear whilst providing manpower for labour tasks. Once training was complete and their full equipment sets had arrived they were to join BEF as operational divisions. The rationale was to give them some training in slightly more operational conditions than in the UK and to supply rear area manpower for BEF in the short term, as it was assumed that the western front was stable.


After the 15th of May breakthrough and the exploitation that followed, it became increasingly clear that the Panzer Corridor approaching the area Amiens/Abbeville/Doullens was a major threat to the BEF rear, as if they could pass through the lower Somme valley before the BEF's flank was extended to the south they might cut off the BEF (and the French 1st Army) from the coast. The three "labour" divs were deployed around those three towns in the hope that they might slow down the German advance in a delaying action, despite an extreme shortage of anti tank and artillery.
Despite lacking kit and training, they fought out a number of very sharp actions that held up the Panzers' march considerably. Most of these fights consisted of a battalion size or bigger defence of a river crossing or road centre with a couple of the few guns available. They were cut up pretty badly, but the whole incident did help a great deal in covering the BEF re-deployment to the south and west.

That any good?
Escape-from-PPRuNe said:
Three 2nd Line TA Infantry Divisions (strain brain, strain brain, err...the 12th, 23rd and 46th I think)
23rd got broken up to keep its 1st Line cousin going (or was that the scots TA)???

Noticed the 46th North Midland was in the centre of line during the last days of Dunkirk..... Were these being sacrificed ????
Just checked my sources! The "labour" divisions were indeed 12th, 23rd and 46th. David Fraser, And We Shall Shock Them:
Four more divisions of the BEF would also be caught up in the battle, three of them divisions in little more than name - the "labour" divisions, 12th, 23rd and 46th, which had been sent out for pioneering work and to "complete their training", and which lacked most of the support which the word division should imply, including any artillery.
As the LoC ran back to Western France, not the channel ports, due to Navy concerns about mines and German air power, there was plenty to be going on with in "sending your laundry forward" country and I suppose the assumption was that there was no danger.

I was wrong about the involvement of 46th Divn in the Somme valley fighting - according to Alastair Horne, To Lose a Battle - France, 1940, it was 12th and 23rd. He records that the West Kents and Royal Sussex were wiped out and even a Mobile Bath Unit was used as infantry. According to Fraser, the decision was taken on the 17th May to deploy the three labour divisions. 12th covering Amiens, 23rd on the canal du Nord, 46th around Lille. At the same time MACFORCE was set up with a brigade from 42nd Div, two arty regiments and various odds'n'sods to cover the Scarpe. A garrison was formed for GHQ at Arras ("one battalion, assorted base units, 18 field guns and a squadron of armour from depots"). On the 18th, Maj-Gen Petre of 12th Div was put in command of these outfits and the 23rd Div as PETREFORCE. 1st Panzers were unable to get through Peronne all day, the defence consisted of one battalion and 4 field guns!

On the 20th May, a brigade of 23rd was caught by 8th Panzer whilst marching from Peronne back towards Albert and smashed. 200 survived. 37th Bde was destroyed in Amiens and Albert by 1st Panzers, 35th in Abbeville by 2nd (Vienna) Panzers. What was left was put in with Petreforce, being besieged in Arras by 7th Pz and the Totenkopf Div. They stuck it out until the night of the 23rd, when they and the rest of 5 and 50 Divs (after their counter attack) were withdrawn north.

It's not surprising after that and Dunkirk that the 12th and 23rd were broken up.

New Posts

Latest Threads