The Sherwood Foresters in the Second World War

Summary of where the Sherwood Foresters served in World wAR TWO

The Sherwood Foresters fought in:

  • Norway
  • France/ Belgium,
  • Retreat to Dunkirk,
  • Singapore,
  • North Africa
  • Italy.

In total 1520 men killed in action, 26,940 served in the Regiment and there was 1 Victoria Cross awarded. 401 awards for Gallantry and outstanding service.  

nORWAY 1940

Germany launched Blitzkrieg in April 1940 and Norway was invaded. 10,000 German troops who were trained for operations in the snow invaded. British forces went in to prevent the invasion. But the Germans seized capital city Oslo and the main ports. 8th Foresters arrived in Norway on 18th April equipped and unprepared for what lay ahead of them. By April 22nd the Foresters surrounded, they began their retreat. All units ordered to withdraw to Tretten.

On 23rd April, at 1pm the Battle of Tretten began. Fierce fighting took place. The Foresters ran out of ammunition, suffered heavy causalities and taken as Prisoners. Those that were able, were evacuated back to Britain.

dUNKIRK

The 2nd Foresters landed in France in the later stages of 1939 and built defences, known as the Maginot line. The Foresters ordered to retreat. The Battalion evacuated through Dunkirk and reorganised back in Britain. Other Battalions of the Foresters formed a vital part in communications. The 1/5th Foresters defended positions at Fecamp before retreating back to Le Havre. The 9th & 2/5th Foresters met. Then together moved to defend the Dunkirk perimeter whilst evacuation took place.

sINGAPORE 1941

In 1941 the Japanese began to attack British locations in the Far East and the Pacific, this included Singapore.  The American port of Pearl Habour was attacked by the Japenese in a sign of aggression.  America and their ally Britain declared War on Japan & Nazi Germany.   The 1/5th Battalion The Sherwood Foresters landed 31 January 1942. British forces surrendered on 15th February. All the Sherwood Foresters taken as Prisoners.

North Africa

11th June 1940, Italy declared war on Britain and looked to expand Italy’s Empire by taking Egypt. In February 1941 German forces forced the British back to the Egyptian Border. The 1st Foresters arrived at Tobruk in December 1941. On 20th June, the Germans attacked Tobruk in huge numbers by air & land. The 1st Foresters were overrun, by 6pm surrounded the Foresters taken as Prisoners. The garrison of Tobruk surrendered on 21st June to General Rommel’s Afrika Korps.

The German Army surrendered on 13th May 1943 following heavy fighting. The 14th Foresters fought with General Montgomery’s Eighth Army in the Battle of El Alamein. The battle took place 23rd October-4th November 1943 and saw supplies ran out. The Battle ended in the defeat of the Afrika Korps. The battle for North Africa was over.

 

Italy

Churchill considered Italy the backdoor into Germany. The 2nd, 2nd/5th and 14th Foresters all then took part in the long and hard-fought campaign in Italy. The 2nd/5th landed at Salerno, which was a hard-fought battle. The 2nd and 14th Foresters fought in the worst fighting of the war at the Anzio Beachhead (22nd January-23rd May 1944). By 3rd February they had their lines of communication cut by the enemy from shelling. Anzio was the most severe battle in Italy for the Foresters. They had one of the highest casualties.

Greece

In December 1944 the 5th Battalion was dispatched to Greece to try and maintain order in the Civil War, which had started there after the German withdrawal.

At the end of the War the 2nd Battalion was in Palestine and the 5th back in Italy from where they moved into Austria with the liberation armies. The 1st Battalion was meanwhile re-forming in England.

The Battalions

Liked what you have read?

If you have liked what you have seen and learnt then please donate to our museum fund in the link below. As a museum we are a registered charity (No.1001226) and rely heavily on monetary donations to keep the museum going. Help us to keep the museum and its collection going for future generations and keep sharing the history of The Sherwood Foresters, WFR & Mercian Regiment!