43rd Division Formation Patch

Tonight we have another family heirloom, my grandfather’s 43rd Division patch:imageAs can be seen the 43rd Division adopted a yellow wyvern on a blue background as its formation sign, based on the ancient coat of arms of the Kingdom of Wessex. Both printed and embroidered examples of this badge were in use, but I inherited an embroidered version so clearly that was what my grandfather was given. My grandfather, Harold Paradise, joined the Division as part of the Somerset Light Infantry in the dying days of the Second World War and fought with them through into Germany.

The 43rd Division had been reformed in the Second World War after a distinguished record in the First. The newly re-formed 43rd division was initially made up of territorial units and was all set to join the BEF in France in 1940 when the Dunkirk evacuations stopped those plans. The unit was to remain in Great Britain training until the Normandy Invasions. The unit was not one of those involved in the assault on the beaches, but did land shortly afterwards and fought as part of the British Second Army. It was regarded as one of the best divisions in the British Army and Montgomery used it at the vanguard of attacks throughout the war- its morale was felt to be better than that of some veteran units. Below a soldier from the 5th Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, part fo the 43rd Division, carries a PIAT in Northern Europe, 18th November 1944:weapon_piat7The following units formed the 43rd Division:

128th Infantry Brigade (until 6 June 1942)

  • 1/4th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment
  • 2/4th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment
  • 5th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment
  • 128th Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company (formed 19 June 1940, disbanded 20 December 1941)

129th Infantry Brigade

  • 4th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry
  • 4th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment
  • 5th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment
  • 129th Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company (formed 14 May 1940, disbanded 20 December 1941)

130th Infantry Brigade

  • 7th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment
  • 4th Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment
  • 5th Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment
  • 130th Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company (formed 17 May 1940, disbanded 20 December 1941)

25th Tank Brigade (from 1 June 1942 until 2 September 1942)

  • 51st (Leeds Rifles) Royal Tank Regiment
  • 11th Royal Tank Regiment
  • 142nd Regiment Royal Armoured Corps
  • 151st Regiment Royal Armoured Corps

34th Tank Brigade (from 5 September 1942 until 10 September 1943)

  • 147th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps
  • 151st Regiment Royal Armoured Corps
  • 153rd Regiment Royal Armoured Corps

214th Infantry Brigade (from 5 September 1943)

  • 7th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry
  • 5th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry
  • 9th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry (until 30 September 1943)
  • 1st Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment (from 30 September 1943)

Divisional Troops

  • 1/8th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment (Vickers machine guns and 4.2″ Mortars) (Machine Gun Battalion) (from 18 November 1941, became 8th Battalion on 1 October 1943)
  • 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment, Reconnaissance Corps (from 20 November 1941)
  • 94th (Queen’s Own Dorset Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
  • 112th (Wessex) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
  • 141st (Queen’s Own Dorset Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery (to 8 June 1942)
  • 179th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery (from 9 June 1942)
  • 59th (Hampshire) Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery
  • 110th (Dorset Regiment) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery (from 23 March 1942)
  • 204th (Wessex) Field Company, Royal Engineers
  • 260th Field Company, Royal Engineers
  • 553rd Field Company, Royal Engineers
  • 207th (Wessex) Field Park Company, Royal Engineers
  • 13th Bridging Platoon, Royal Engineers (from 1 October 1943)
  • 43rd (Wessex) Divisional Signals, Royal Corps of Signals

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