In June 1944, the 43rd Division was sent to Normandy, soon after after the Allies invaded France on 6 June, where it joined the British Second Army and was initially earmarked as a reserve for Operation Epsom during the Battle for Caen.
In July, it launched an attack against the German 9th SS Panzer Division at Hill 112, though it was beaten back after both sides had suffered horrendous casualties. The Division performed well in Normandy, and was considered by many senior British officers to be one of the best divisions of the British Army in World War II.
It was the first British formation to cross the Seine river, with an assault crossing at the French town of Vernon opposed by the German 49th Infantry Division. This crossing enabled the armour of XXX Corps, under Lieutenant General Brian Horrocks, to thrust across northern France into Belgium.
Still with XXX Corps, the Division later played a major role in Operation Market Garden as the support to the Guards Armoured Division. During Market Garden, a battalion, 4th Dorset’s of the 130th Infantry Brigade, successfully crossed the Rhine as a diversion, so that the battered remnants of the airborne troops of 1st Airborne Division could withdraw more safely; yet the cost was high as many men of the 4th Dorset’s were themselves left behind on the north bank of the Rhine when the Division was forced to withdraw. The division later played a comparatively small part in the mainly American Battle of the Bulge, where it was placed on the river Meuse as a reserve. The 43rd later played a large part in Operation Veritable attached to First Canadian Army still as part of XXX Corps.
They then crossed the River Rhine as the Allies invaded Germany itself. By the end of the war in Europe, the 43rd Division had reached the Cuxhaven peninsula of northern Germany.
From June 1944 to May 1945 the 43rd suffered well over 15,000 casualties, with over 3,000 dead.