The 78 Division – known from its divisional emblem as ‘the Battleaxe Division’ – was formed in Scotland in 1942 with the aim of landing in North Africa later that year. Within six months, the disparate elements had been welded together and were on their way to take part in ‘Operation Torch’ – the Anglo-American landings in Algeria. From there, the division fought its way east into the hotly defended defiles and deserts of Tunisia – where their formidable opponents were the battle-hardened Afrika Korps. The division held the line against German counter attacks through the long and bitter winter of 1942/43 before liberating Tunis and preparing for landfall on the European mainland by way of Sicily. The hard-fought slogging match of the Italian campaign followed, with the 78th taking part in the battle of Cassino, the liberation of Rome and the final push through the mountains of north-east Italy into Austria. Based on divisional war diaries, this is an exceptional history of a gruelling series of campaigns fought by a unit that learned on the job.
ALGIERS TO AUSTRIA The 78th Division in the Second World War
A history of the British 78 Division – the ‘battleaxe division – that fought its way from Algeria to Austria via Tunisia, Sicily and Italy – is some of the most gruelling campaigns of the Second World War.