The division fought at the battle of the Ypres – Comines Canal between 26 and 28 May 1940 whilst under the command of II Corps. The division was evacuated from Dunkirk in Late May 1940. On its return to the United Kingdom, the division was re-equipped before the 13th and 17th Brigades were detached for the invasion of Madagascar in April 1942. The rest of the division went to India, where the units were reunited in August 1942. The division was only in India for a short period, leaving on 20 August 1942 to travel by sea to Iraq. On arrival on 28 August 1942, it came under command of III Corps in Iraq, later moving to Persia. It left on 31 January 1943 to travel by land through Syria to Egypt, where it joined XIII Corps in preparation for the landing in Sicily on 10 July 1943. It fought throughout the campaign, moving to Italy on 3 September 1943 under the command of XIII Corps. It transferred to X Corps and took part in the battle for the River Sangro between 19 November and 3 December 1943. The following month, on 17 January 1944, the division launched a crossing of the River Garigliano. Casualties were heavy as the division battled until 31 January to secure a salient in the German Line. It was withdrawn from the mainland and landed in the Anzio beachhead on 12 March 1944, under the command of U.S. VI Corps. It fought through the battle for Anzio and onto the battle for Rome. The division was withdrawn from the line and left for Egypt on 3 July 1944. It did not stay in Egypt long, moving into Palestine in late July 1944. In March 1945, it arrived in North West Europe becoming part of the British Army of the Rhine, under the command of XXX Corps.
FIFTH BRITISH DIVISION 1939-1945
The story of the Fifth British Division 1939-1945 begins with the division in the BEF in France in 1940 which it joined from reserve division status. It returned to the UK and underwent training before taking part in the Madagascar operation. Then it went to India and Persia before moving to the Middle East Theatre in 1943 where it took part in the conquest of Sicily before moving into Italy. It fought through much of the Italian Campaign before finishing the war in Lubeck, having made the final move to France and then Germany shortly before the end of the war.