The Sherwood Foresters in the Second World War
Summary of where the Sherwood Foresters served in World wAR TWO
The Sherwood Foresters fought in:
- France/ Belgium,
- Retreat to Dunkirk,
- North Africa
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On the outbreak of the war this battalion was stationed at Haifa in Palestine, with the 16th Infantry Brigade of the 8th Infantry Division moving to P&TJ in January 1940: On the 10.6.1940 it moved to Cyprus.In February 1941 one company under Major L.C. Cooper, took part in an action on the island of Castelorizo. They were moved to Cairo in Egypt on the 5.2.1942 where they became a motorised Battalion with 1st Armoured Div. On the 3.6.1942 they were moved into the Tobruk Perimeter and on the 20.6.1942, the survivors were captured when Tobruk fell. In January 1943 the 16th Battalion Sherwood Foresters was re-designated 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters, being then with the 222nd Infantry Brigade of the 76th Infantry Division. In November 1943 the battalion joined the 213th Brigade 76th Division They were to remain in England for the remainder of the war and on the 7.5.1945 they were based near Maresfield, serving with the 183rd Brigade of the 61st Lt Div., moving to the 184 Infantry Brigade in June 1945.
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