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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: August 2013

6 - We pressed on


The 9th and the 50th came home within a few weeks of each other at the end of 1943 and beginning of 1944. The 9th Australian Division reassembled around Ravenshoe on the Atherton Tableland, while the 50th encamped in East Anglia. Both began to prepare for the next and final campaigns of the war. Montgomery had brought the 50th back to Britain for Operation OVERLORD, the invasion of France on 6 June 1944, but the 9th Division had to wait until early 1945 before it saw action again in Operations OBOE I and OBOE VI on the islands of Tarakan, Labuan and Borneo.

Sidney Kirkman returned to Italy to lead XIII Corps early in 1944, and command of the 50th passed to Douglas A.H. Graham. The 50th was assigned to OVERLORD as a follow-up division for XXX Corps of British Second Army, while the 49th (West Riding) Division led XXX Corps’ assault on GOLD Beach. In February, however, Montgomery switched the more experienced 50th to the assault role. Faced with many objectives on GOLD and further inland, Graham requested substantial reinforcements. The 50th received two additional brigades (56th Brigade and 8th Armoured Brigade) for a total of five, almost too many for a single divisional headquarters to handle. Additional combat units included 47 Royal Marine Commando, several specialised ‘funny’ armoured units from 79th Armoured Division, three infantry ‘beach’ battalions of 104 Beach Sub-Area, and additional artillery and Royal Engineers (RE) field companies.