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1st Infantry Division


At the outbreak of war in September 1st Infantry Division was a regular army formation based at Aldershot but had moved to France before the end of the month. The division was commanded by Major-General H. Alexander who was later to be 15th Army Group commander in Italy.

The division remained in the UK until February 1943 when it was transferred to Tunisia, arriving in March. It saw heavy fighting in the latter part of the Tunisian campaign and elements of the division also took part in the occupation of the island of Pantelleria. The division remained in North Africa until December 1943 when the division was transported to Italy. 

On 22nd January 1944, as part of US VI Corps, the division landed at Anzio as part of Operation Shingle. The division's belated advance from the bridgehead was stopped and it sustained heavy losses in the subsequent German counterattacks. The division was involved in heavy defensive fighting throughout February against repeated German assaults and it suffered high casualties in containing these. As a result, 24th Infantry Brigade (Guards) was replaced in early March with 18th Infantry Brigade which was transferred from 1st Armoured Division in North Africa. German offensive operations petered out in early March and the division settled down into static, low-level attritional operations that continued to the end of May. On 28th May when the division began its breakout from the Anzio bridgehead advancing to the southwest of Rome. Upon reaching the River Tiber on 7th June the division was withdrawn for rest and refit.

The division re-entered operations in mid-August near Florence where, as part of 13th Corps, it relieved 4th Infantry Division. It advanced to the n the Apennines and participated in the assault on the Gothic Line from mid-September. By mid-October 5th Army offensive operations had come to halt through a combination of German resistance, weather and the mountainous terrain. At the start of November, the division took over the Monte Grande sector from 88th US Infantry Division and spent the next two months in defensive positions in the mountains.

On the 9th January 1945 the division started to be relieved by 85th US Infantry Division and this was completed by 17th January. The division was then transferred to Palestine for rest and refit and was still there at the end of hostilities in May 1945. 

1st Infantry Division Formation Sign

Higher Formations

The following are the higher formations that 1st Infantry Division served under during its service in Italy from December 1943 to January 1945.

15th Army Group05 December 1943 - 20 January 1944
VI US Corps20 January 1944 - 21 May 1944
5th US Army22 May 1944 - 30 June 1944
5th Corps02 July 1944 - 04 August 1944
8th Army01 August 1944 - 05 August 1944
13th Corps05 August 1944 - 16 January 1945
HQ AAI17 January 1945 - 27 January 1945

Commanding Officers

The following were the Commanding Officers of 1st Infantry Division during its service in Italy from December 1943 to January 1945.

15 October 1943 - 17 February 1944Major-General W.R.C. Penney OBE, CBE, DSO, MCWounded in the back by shrapnel.
17 February 1944 - 23 February 1944Major-General G.W.R. Templer DSOCommanding Officer of 56th Infantry division, he commanded both divisions until Major-General Penney returned.
23 February 1944 - 04 May 1944Major-General W.R.C. Penney OBE, CBE, DSO, MCTook sick leave due to previous injuries sustainfed in February.
04 May 1944 - 24 May 1944Major-General J.L.I. Hawkesworth CBE, CB, DSOActing commander due to Major-General Penney taking sick leave. Returned to take command of 46 Infantry Division.
25 May 1944 - 14 June 1944Brigadier C.F. Loewen CBEActing commander due to Major-General Penney taking sick leave. Reliquinshed command when Major-General Penney returned.
14 June 1944 - 24 July 1944Major-General W.R.C. Penney OBE, CBE, DSO, MCDue to continung ill health he reliquished command.
24 July 1944 - January 1946Major-General C.F. Loewen CBEAwarded the DSO and CB in 1945.


On arrival in Italy in December 1943 the division was organised as below. Subsequent changes are noted.

24th Infantry Brigade (Guards) (left 7th March 1944)

  • 1st Battalion Scots Guards
  • 1st Battalion Irish Guards
  • 5th Battalion Grenadier Guards

Due to heavy casualties at Anzio the Brigade was replaced by 18th Infantry Brigade on 8th March 1944.

2nd Infantry Brigade

  • 1st Battalion Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire)
  • 2nd Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment
  • 6th Battalion Gordon Highlanders

3rd Infantry Brigade

  • 1st Battalion Duke of Wellington's Regiment
  • 1st Battalion King's Shropshire Light Infantry
  • 2nd Battalion Sherwood Foresters

18th Infantry Brigade (joined 8th March 1944 and left 16th August 1944)

  • 1st Battalion Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)
  • 9th Battalion King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (Yorkshire Dragoons)
  • 14th Battalion Sherwood Foresters

In March 1944, 18th Infantry Brigade was transferred from 1st Armoured Division in North Africa to replace 24th Infantry Brigade (Guards). On 16th August it left the division and returned to 1st Armoured Division, which had recently arrived in Italy, in preparation for Operation Olive, the assault on the Gothic Line.

66th Infantry Brigade (joined 16th August 1944)

  • 2nd Battalion Royal Scots
  • 11th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers
  • 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment

66th Infantry Brigade was new formation created in Italy consisting of infantry battalions that had been on garrison duties in Malta and Gibraltar. It was assigned to 1st Infantry Division to bring the division back up to strength when 18th Infantry Brigade departed. 

Royal Artillery

  • 2nd Field Regiment
  • 19th Field Regiment
  • 67th Field Regiment
  • 81st Anti-Tank Regiment
  • 90th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment (left 7th November 1944)

Royal Engineers

  • 23rd Field Company
  • 238th Field Company
  • 248th Field Company
  • 6th Field Park Company
  • 1st Bridging Platoon

Support/Machine Gun Battalion

  • 2/7th Battalion Middlesex Regiment


  • 1st Reconnaissance Regiment

Royal Army Service Corps

  • 40th Company (Divisional Troops)
  • 7th Company (Infantry Brigade)
  • 42th Company (Infantry Brigade)
  • 295th Company (Infantry Brigade) (left 16th August 1944 for 1st Armoured Division)

Royal Army Medical Corps

  • 2nd Field Ambulance
  • 3rd Field Ambulance
  • 137th Field Ambulance (left 14th August for 24th Guards Brigade)
  • 18th Field Hygiene Section

Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

  • 2nd Infantry Brigade Workshop
  • 3rd Infantry Brigade Workshop
  • 24th Guards Brigade Workshop (left 
  • 18th Infantry Brigade Workshop (joined 8th March 1944 and left 16th August 1944)
  • 66th Infantry Brigade Workshop (joined 16th August 1944)

Other Divisional Units

  • 1st Infantry Division Signals
  • 1st Infantry Division Ordnance Field Park
  • 3th Field Security Section
  • 1st Infantry Division Provost Company
  • 11th Field Cash Office
  • 1st Infantry Division Postal Unit

National Archives Files

The following are the files in the UK National Archives that cover the service of 1st Infantry Division during its service in Italy from December 1943 to January 1945.

TNA File NameDescriptionDates
WO 169/86881 Infantry Division: GS1943 July - October, December
WO 169/86891 Infantry Division: Royal Artillery (RA)1943 July - December
WO 169/86901 Infantry Division: Royal Engineers (RE)1943 July - December
WO 169/86911 Infantry Division: Signals1943 July- December
WO 169/86931 Infantry Division: Commander Royal Army Service Corps (CRASC)1943 July - December
WO 169/86941 Infantry Division: Commander Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (CREME)1943 July - December
WO 169/86951 Infantry Division: Ordnance Field Park (Ord Fd Pk)1943 July, August, October - December
WO 169/86961 Infantry Division: Light Recovery Section REME1943 July, August
WO 169/86971 Infantry Division: Provost Company1943 July - December
WO 169/86981 Infantry Division: Postal Unit1943 July - December
WO 170/3751 Infantry Division: G.1944 January
WO 170/3761 Infantry Division: G.1944 February
WO 170/3771 Infantry Division: G.1944 March
WO 170/3781 Infantry Division: G.1944 April
WO 170/3791 Infantry Division: G.1944 May, July
WO 170/3801 Infantry Division: G.1944 August, September
WO 170/3811 Infantry Division: G.1944 October
WO 170/3821 Infantry Division: G.1944 November
WO 170/3831 Infantry Division: G.1944 December
WO 170/3841 Infantry Division: A.Q.1944 March- October
WO 170/3851 Infantry Division: R.A.1944 January - June
WO 170/3861 Infantry Division: R.A.1944 July - December
WO 170/3871 Infantry Division: R.E.1944 January - December
WO 170/3881 Infantry Division: Signals1944 January - June
WO 170/3891 Infantry Division: Signals1944 July - December
WO 170/3901 Infantry Division: C.R.A.S.C.1944 January - December
WO 170/3911 Infantry Division: C.R.E.M.E.1944 January - December
WO 170/3921 Infantry Division: Ord. Fd. Pk.1944 April - December
WO 170/3931 Infantry Division:Ord. Fd. Pk. Sub-Pk.1944 January - March
WO 170/3961 Infantry Division:Provost Coy.1944 January - December
WO 170/3971 Infantry Division:Postal Unit1944 January - December
WO 170/43131 Infantry Division: G1945 January
WO 170/43141 Infantry Division: Counter Mortar Org.1944 June - 1945 February
WO 170/43151 Infantry Division: R.E.1945 January
WO 170/43161 Infantry Division: Signals1945 January
WO 170/43171 Infantry Division: C.R.A.S.C.1945 January
WO 170/43181 Infantry Division: Ord. Fd. Pk.1945 January
WO 170/43191 Infantry Division: R.E.M.E.1945 January
WO 170/43201 Infantry Division: Postal Unit1945 January, February
WO 170/43211 Infantry Division: Provost Unit1945 January
WO 177/375A.D.M.S. 1 Infantry Div.1944 January - 1946 June
WO 204/72131 British Infantry Division: formation and narrative of operations1944 August
WO 204/72141 British Infantry Division: Signals narrative of operations from the River Arno to Mount Grande1944
WO 204/72151 British Infantry Division: Engineers narrative1944 August - November
WO 204/7602Mountain Warfare: 1 Infantry Division instruction1943 November - December
WO 204/7805Movements: 1 and 5 Infantry Divisions1945 January, February
WO 204/8239The Anzio campaign1944 January - June
WO 204/8240Divisional artillery at Anzio: narrative1944
WO 204/8241Order of battle during Anzio beachhead period1944 January - June
WO 204/8242The defences of the divisional sector at Monte Grande1944 December


The following published literature includes coverage of 1st Infantry Division during its service in Italy from December 1943 to January 1945.

First Division. History of the First Division. Anzio Campaign: January - June 1944. Cairo: Schlinder's Press, 1945. 179 pp.

First Division. History of the First Division. Florence to Monte Grande: August 1944 - January 1945. Cairo: Schlinder's Press, 1945. 174 pp.