The Indian 10th Infantry Division was a war formed Indian division during the Second World War. In four years, the division traveled over from Tehran to Trieste, fought three little wars, and fought two great campaigns: Anglo-Iraqi War, Invasion of Syria-Lebanon, Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran, North African Campaign, and Italian Campaign.
World War II
The Indian 10th Infantry Division was formed in Iraq
in early 1941 under Major-General W.A.K. Fraser
. Command was passed in May 1941 to Major-General William "Bill" Slim
when Fraser fell ill.
The division first fought in Iraq, in Syria, and in Iran against forces potentially barring the road from Europe to India.
In March 1942 command of the division passed from Major-General Slim to Major-General T.W. "Pete" Rees when Slim was ordered to India to take command of Burma Corps, the kernal that would eventually become the Fourteenth Army.
The division then moved on to North Africa for the battle for Libya. Initially the division was committed piecemeal with units involved El Adem and Sidi Rezegh during the Battle of Gazala. In June the division, with 2nd Free French Brigade under command, was ordered by William Gott, the XIII Corps commander, to hold a position near the Egyptian border with Libya for 72 hours during the Eighth Army's retreat to El Alamein. Rees responded that the division had only just concentrated and that defensive works were as yet inadequate. He believed therefore that the division was unlikely to be able to withstand a full-scale attack from Rommel. Gott immediately visited Rees and relieved him of command of the division, telling him he lacked resolution. Command passed to Major-General John Nichols and as Rees had foretold, the division was overrun at the Mersa Matruh defenses. Rees was posted to command Indian 19th Infantry Division in Burma.
The division then went to Cyprus for regrouping and hill training under Major-General Alan Bruce Blaxland and then to Iraq to join Tenth Army, part of Paiforce. In July 1943, Major-General Wilfrid Lloyd took command when Blaxland was promoted and in January 1944, command passed to Major-General Denys Reid when Lloyd was killed in an air crash. Reid remained in command until the end of British involvement in the division in 1947.
After nearly a year of relative inactivity and training, the Indian 10th Infantry Division was sent in March 1944 to Italy to join Eighth Army on the Adriatic front. The division fought the rest of the Italian Campaign, facing hard fighting northwards through central Italy with the Eighth Army. Numerous mountain battles and river crossings followed with Operation Olive on the Gothic Line and then the spring 1945 offensive. The division earned many battle honours and decorations and suffered many casualties before final victory in Italy in May 1945. Security tasks on the Yugoslav border around Trieste completed the Division's war service.
Upon partition the division was allocated to Pakistan. The 10th Infantry Division is now stationed in Lahore as part of IV Corps Pakistan Army. The formation has a distinguished record in the defence of the city of Lahore from the numerically much superior Indian Army in both the 1965 and 1971 wars.
Division Formation in World War II
General Officers Commanding:
- Major-General W.A.K. Fraser (January 1941 to May 1941)
- Major-General William Slim (May 1941 to March 1942)
- Major-General T.W. Rees (March 1942 to June 1942)
- Major-General J.S. Nichols (June 1942 to July 1942)
- Major-General A.B. Blaxland (July 1942 to July 1943)
- Major-General W.L. Lloyd (July 1943 to January 1944)
- Major-General D.W. Reid (January 1944 to end of war)
- Commanders Royal Artillery: Brigadier R.P. Waller (to August 1942); Brigadier W.R. Goodman March 1943 onwards)
- 68,97 & 154 Field Regiments RA
- 13 Anti-Tank Regiment
- 30 Light A.A. Regiment RA
10 Indian Division Signals1st (MG) Bn The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers
- 5 Field Company King George's Own Bengal Sappers and Miners
- 10 & 61 Field Companies Queen Victoria's Own Madras Sappers and Miners
- 41 Field Park Company King George's Own Bengal Sappers and Miners
- Officers commanding:
- Brigadier William Slim (September 1939 to January 1941)
- Lieutenant-Colonel B.C. Fletcher (January 1941 to March 1941)
- Brigadier T.W. Rees (March 1941 to March 1942)
- Brigadier C.H. Boucher (March 1942 to June 1942)
- Brigadier A.W.W. Holworthy (July 1942 to October 1942)
- Brigadier J.A. Finlay (October 1942 to February 1944)
- Brigadier T.N. Smith (February 1944 to end of war)
- Officers commanding:
- Brigadier D. Powell (September 1940 to March 1942)
- Brigadier L.E. MacGregor (March 1942 to June 1943)
- Brigadier J.B. MacDonald (June 1943 to end of war)
- Officers commanding:
- Brigadier R.G. Mountain (February 1941 to July 1942)
- Brigadier A.E. Arderne (July 1942 onwards)
- Royal Indian Army Service Corps
- 10 Indian Division Troops Transport Company
- 10, 20 & 25 Brigade Transport Company
- 22 Indian Supply Company
- Medical Services
- 14,21,&30 Indian Field Ambulances
- 10 Indian Division Provost Unit
- Indian Army Ordnance Corps
- 10 Indian Division Ordnance Field Park
- Indian Electrical & Mechanical Engineers
- 125,126 & 127 Infantry Workshop Companies
- 10 Indian Division Recovery Company