Supriya Ghosh

2nd Infantry Division (South Africa)

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Country  South Africa
Type  Infantry
Branch  South African Army
Size  Division
2nd Infantry Division (South Africa)
Active  23 October 1940 – 21 June 1942
Allegiance  Allied forces of World War 2

The South African 2nd Infantry Division was an infantry division of the army of the Union of South Africa during World War II. The Division was formed on 23 October 1940 and served in the Western Desert Campaign and was captured (save for one brigade) by German and Italian forces at Tobruk on 21 June 1942. The remaining brigade was re-allocated to the South African 1st Infantry Division.

Contents

Formation

The division was formed on 23 October 1940 with its divisional HQ at Voortrekkerhoogte, South Africa. On 21 June 1942 two complete infantry brigades of the division as well as most of the supporting units were captured at the fall of Tobruk.

Bardia and the Western Desert

The Division capture of Bardia was part of the Libyan campaign against Rommel's Afrika Corps from November 1941 to January 1942. They defeated a numerically superior Axis force in a strongly fortified position with a combined infantry and tank force.

Order of Battle

21 September 1941

  • 3 S. A. Inf Bde. -
  • Comd. Brig. C. E. BORAIN MC VD
  • Tps.
  • 1 I.L.H.
  • 1 R.L.I
  • 1 KAFF R. (under comd from 1000 hrs 25 Dec. 41)
  • B & C Coys D. M. R.
  • 2 S. A. Fd Coy less one sec.
  • One Sec 10 S. A. Fd Coy.
  • One Pl 4 Bde Sig Coy. Under comd from 1000 hrs 26 Dec.
  • 5 Bde Sig Coy less one pl.
  • 3 S. A. Bde 'Q' Services Coy.
  • Three dets 14 S. A. Fd Amb. (Under comd from D.-1)
  • with in support:
  • One Regt 1 Army Tank Bde.
  • Arty as arranged by C. R. A.
  • Task.
  • To attack BARDIA through perimeter defences as described in Para 6 (a) and in Operation Instruction No. 21 (Appx 'A').
  • NORTHFORCE
  • Comd. Lt. Col. J. BUTLER-PORTER VD 1 R.D.L.I.
  • Tps.
  • 1 R.D.L.I.
  • Sec 2 S. A. Fd Coy.
  • Pl 5 Bde Sig. Coy.
  • Det 16 Fd Amb. Under comd from 1000 hrs 26 Dec.
  • with in support:
  • N. Z. Div Cav Regt, less one sqn.
  • Tasks.
  • To contain and demonstrate against enemy forces within the perimeter along the gen line of enemy defences from incl 51143960—incl 51554030, in accordance with Operation Instruction No. 22 (Appx 'C'). [5]
  • KINGFORCE
  • Comd. Lt. Col. W. KINGWELL MC D. M. R.
  • Tps.
  • D.M.R. less B. C. & D. Coys and one pl A. Coy.
  • Two Pls 7 S. A. Armd Recce Bn.
  • Det 4 S. A. Fd Coy (Under comd from 1000 hrs 26 Dec.).
  • with in support:
  • One Sqn N. Z. Div Car Regt.
  • Task.
  • To contain and demonstrate against enemy forces along the gen line of the perimeter defences from incl 51973860—excl 51143960, in accordance with Operation Instruction No. 23 (Appx 'D'). [5]
  • SOUTHFORCE
  • Comd. Maj. P. J. JACOBS, 7 S. A. Armd Recce Bn.
  • Tps.
  • 7 S. A. Armd Recce Bn, less one Coy and two pls.
  • Det 4 S. A. Fd Coy
  • Det 14 S. A. Fd Amb. (Under comd from 1000 hrs 26 Dec.)
  • Task.
  • To contain and demonstrate against enemy forces along the gen line of perimeter defences from incl MARSA ER RAMLA 52423868—excl 51973860, in accordance with Operation Instruction No. 24 (Appx. 'E'). [5]
  • RESERVES
  • Comd. Lt. Col. R. J. PALMER, 1 S. A. P.
  • Tps.
  • One Regt 1 Army Tank Bde.
  • 1 S.A.P.
  • Sec 4 S. A. Fd Coy.
  • Det 14 S. A. Fd. Amb.
  • Initial Operational Deployment: 2 December 1941

    On 18 September 1941 the Division was re-allocated from X Corps command to falling under General HQ command and were responsible for protecting the railway and water supply lines between Alexandria and Mersa Matruh. On 11 October, the The Kaffrarian Rifles were detached from the division and deployed to protect the landing fields in the Daba-Fuka-Bagush area. On taking over responsibility for the Frontier area on 2 December 1941 the divisional order of battle, as part of the 8th Army was:

  • HQ 2nd Infantry Division (Maj-Gen I.P. de Villiers)
  • One Squadron 6th South African Armoured Car Regiment
  • Braforce (Brig. Medley)
  • 2nd South African Infantry Brigade (Brig. W.H.E. Poole)
  • 4th South African Infantry Brigade (less one battalion) (Brig. A.A. Hayton)
  • 4th Field Regiment, S A Artillery
  • One Battery, 5th Field Regiment, S A Artillery
  • One Troop, 67th Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery
  • One Troop, 68th Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery
  • C and D Companies, Die Middelandse Regiment
  • 3rd South African Infantry Brigade (Brig C.E.Borain, MC, VD):
  • Imperial Light Horse
  • 1st Royal Durban Light Infantry
  • Rand Light Infantry
  • 5th Field Regiment, S A Artillery (less one battery)
  • 6th South African Infantry Brigade (Brig. F.W. Cooper):
  • 2nd Transvaal Scottish
  • 1st South African Police Battalion
  • 2nd South African Police Battalion
  • 1st Field Regiment, Cape Field Artillery
  • Railhead Force (Lt. Col. G.E.L. L'Estrange VD):
  • Umvoti Mounted Rifles
  • Die Middellandse Regiment
  • Detachment TDS (approx 30 "I" Tanks)
  • 10th Field Company, South African Engineering Corps
  • 5th New Zealand Infantry Brigade Group
  • Order of Battle: The Fall of Tobruk

    Order of Battle as at 20 June 1942

  • Division Troops
  • Die Middelandse Regiment (Machine-gun battalion)
  • 7th South African Reconnaissance Battalion
  • 2nd Field Regiment, Natal Field Artillery, South African Artillery
  • 3rd Field Regiment, Transvaal Horse Artillery, South African Artillery
  • 6th Anti-Tank Battery, South African Artillery
  • 2nd Light Anti-aircraft Regiment, South African Artillery
  • 4th & 10th South African Field Companies, S A Engineers
  • 4th South African Infantry Brigade
  • 2nd Royal Durban Light Infantry
  • Umvoti Mounted Rifles
  • The Kaffrarian Rifles
  • Blake Group (a composite battalion ex 1 SA Div)
  • 6th South African Infantry Brigade
  • 1st S.A. Police Battalion
  • 2nd S.A. Police Battalion
  • 2nd Transvaal Scottish Regiment
  • Note: After the capture of the rest of the division, 3rd South African Infantry Brigade and the 1st Field Regiment of the Cape Field Artillery became part of the South African 1st Infantry Division.

    Theatres of operation

    The theatres that the division served in were as follows:

  • South Africa: 23 October 1940 to 20 April 1941
  • At Sea: 20 April 1941 to 6 June 1941
  • Egypt: 6 June 1941 to 22 March 1942
  • Libya: 22 March 1942 to 21 June 1942
  • Battles, actions and engagements

    The division took part in the following battles, actions and engagements:

  • Bardia: 31 December 1941 to 2 January 1942. Some 8,000 Allied prisoners of war were freed and some 6,000 Axis prisoners were taken.
  • Clayden's Trench (Sollum): 11 January 1942 to 12 January 1942
  • Gazala: 26 May 1942 to 21 June 1942
  • Tobruk: 20 June 1942 to 21 June 1942. The number of South African prisoners taken at Tobruk has been recorded as 10,772
  • References

    2nd Infantry Division (South Africa) Wikipedia


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