VIII Corps (United Kingdom)

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VIII Corps
Active First and Second World Wars
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Field corps
Engagements

First World War[1]

Second World War

Commanders
Notable
commanders
Lt-Gen Sir Aylmer Hunter-Weston
Lt-Gen Sir Richard O'Connor

VIII Corps was a British Army corps formation that existed during the First and Second World Wars. In the latter, it took part in the Normandy Campaign in 1944, where it was involved in Operation Epsom and Operation Goodwood. It would later play a supporting role in Operation Market Garden and finish the war by advancing from the Rhine to the Baltic Sea.

Prior to the First World War

In 1876, a Mobilisation Scheme was published for the forces in Great Britain and Ireland, which included eight army corps of the 'Active Army'. The '8th Corps' was to be headquartered at Edinburgh and was primarily militia formation. In 1880, its order of battle was as follows:

  • 1st Division (Edinburgh)
    • 1st Brigade (Edinburgh)
      • Kerry Militia (Tralee), Northumberland Militia (Alnwick), Fermanagh Militia (Enniskillen)
    • 2nd Brigade
      • Antrim Militia (Belfast), Cavan Militia (Cavan), Donegal Militia (Lifford)
    • Divisional Troops
      • 50th Foot (Edinburgh), Ayrshire Yeomanry (Ayr)
    • Artillery
      • O/2nd Brigade RA (Glasgow)
  • 2nd Division (Glasgow)
    • 1st Brigade (Glasgow)
      • Highland Borderers Militia (Stirling), Highland Rifles Militia (Dingwall), Scottish Borderers Militia (Dumfries)
    • 2nd Brigade (Hamilton)
      • Cumberland Militia (Carlisle), 1st Durham Militia (Barnard Castle), 2nd Durham Militia (Durham)
    • Divisional Troops
      • Queen's Own Lanarkshire Yeomanry (Glasgow)
  • 3rd Division (Melrose)
    • 1st Brigade (Melrose)
      • East York Militia (Beverley), North York Militia (Richmond), Westmoreland Militia (Carlisle)
    • 2nd Brigade
      • 5th Lancashire Militia (Burnley), 6th Lancashire Militia (Richmond), 7th Lancashire Militia (Bury)
    • Divisional Troops
      • Northumberland and Newcastle Yeomanry (Newcastle)
  • Cavalry Brigade
    • Westmoreland and Cumberland Yeomanry (Penrith), Lanark Yeomanry (Lanark), East Lothian Yeomanry (Dunbar)

This scheme had been dropped by 1881.[2]

First World War

Gallipoli

VIII Corps was first formed at Gallipoli during the First World War. The main British battle front was at Cape Helles on the tip of the Gallipoli peninsula. As the battle became protracted, more British divisions arrived as reinforcements. In May 1915, these divisions were arranged as the British Army Corps, which was then redesignated as VIII Corps in June. The corps commander was Lieutenant-General Aylmer Hunter-Weston.[1] When Hunter-Weston relinquished command due to illness, the corps was commanded on a temporary basis by General Francis Davies.

During the Gallipoli campaign, the corps contained the following units:[3]

Western Front

After the evacuation of Gallipoli, the corps was reformed in France in March 1916, once again under the command of Hunter-Weston, and participated in the Battle of the Somme.

VIII Corps was disbanded in June 1918 when Hunter-Weston moved to the XVIII Corps; however, this corps was then redesignated as VIII Corps in July 1918.

Second World War

Home Defence

VIII Corps formed part of Home Forces in the UK during the early part of the Second World War. During the Autumn of 1940, it presided over the 3rd and 48th (South Midland) Divisions.[4] Later, it would also command the 77th Infantry Division.[5] It was based at Pyrland Hall near Cheddon Fitzpaine in Somerset and its mission was to command the defence of Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Bristol.[6]

North West Europe

VIII Corps fought on the western front in 1944 and 1945 as part of the Second Army. From January 21 to November 27, 1944, it was commanded by Lieutenant-General Richard O'Connor.

At the start of the Normandy Campaign, it comprised:

It played a major role in Operations Epsom, Jupiter, Goodwood and Bluecoat, before being reduced in size and moved to the reserve prior to the breakout from Normandy.

The Corps fought in a supporting role during Operation Market Garden on the east flank of XXX Corps with XII Corps to the west of XXX Corps, capturing the Dutch towns of Deurne and Helmond, and took part in the advance on Venray and Venlo. Then in Operation Constellation beginning on 12 October 1944. VIII Corps, now commanded by Lieutenant-General Evelyn Barker, later took part in Operation Plunder, crossed the Elbe and occupied Plön in Schleswig-Holstein.

Post-war

In the immediate post-war period, the corps formed VIII Corps District in Schleswig-Holstein before being disbanded in 1946. Its final composition was:[19]

General Officers Commanding

Commanders included:[20]

Notes

  1. ^ a b The British Corps of 1914-1918
  2. ^ Army List 1876–1881.
  3. ^ "Corps History - Part 14: The Corps and the First World War (1914-18)". Royal Engineers Museum. Archived from the original on 4 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  4. ^ 8 Corps
  5. ^ Joslen 2003, p. 100
  6. ^ "Second World War military buildings, Pyrland Hall, Cheddon Fitzpaine". Somerset County Council. Retrieved 13 February 2016. 
  7. ^ 8th Army Group RA
  8. ^ 25 Field Regiment RA
  9. ^ 61 (Caernarvon & Denbigh) Medium Regiment RA (TA)
  10. ^ 63 Medium Regiment RA (TA)
  11. ^ 77 (Duke of Lancasters Own Yeo) Medium Regiment RA (TA)
  12. ^ 52 (Bedfordshire Yeo) Heavy Regiment RA (TA)
  13. ^ Forty p 346.
  14. ^ 91 (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) Anti-Tank Regiment RA (TA)
  15. ^ Regiments.org
  16. ^ 121 (Leicestershire Rgt) Light AA Regiment RA (TA)
  17. ^ Regiments.org
  18. ^ 10th Survey Regiment
  19. ^ Watson & Rinaldi p.7
  20. ^ Army Commands
  21. ^ First World War Biographies

References

  • George Forty, British Army Handbook 1939-1945, Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1998 (ISBN 0 7509 1403 3).
  • Graham E. Watson & Richard A. Rinaldi, The British Army in Germany (BAOR and after): An organizational history 1947-2004, Tiger Lily Publications, 2005.
  • Joslen, Lt-Col H.F. (2003) [1960]. Orders of Battle: Second World War, 1939–1945. Uckfield: Naval and Military Press. ISBN 978-1-84342-474-1. 

External sources

  • The long Long Trail
  • Royal Artillery 1939-45
  • Regiments.org
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