8th (Indian) Division
Colours: Yellow on Red
Formed in the Secunderabad area in 1940, by Major-General C. O. Harvey, the Division took part in 1941 in the operations in Iraq and Persia. During 1942 the 18th Brigade was rushed to Libya to help stem Rommel's advance, but was overrun and destroyed by German tanks. Early in 1943 the Division, now commanded by Major-General D. Russell, moved into Syria, being transferred to Egypt in June.
It landed in Italy in September 1943 and forced the crossings of the Trigno and Sangro rivers. In May 1944 it broke the German line on the Rapido river and advanced steadily northwards, Florence being entered on August 12.
The Gothic Line was pierced on September 15, and a prolonged battle began for the passes over the Apennines. For two months the Division fought its way slowly across the watershed, finally executing the turning movement that cleared the way for a general advance. In December two brigades were rushed to the Serchio valley, on the U.S. 5th Army front, where they blocked a threatening German advance. During April 1945 the Division made two more bitterly opposed river crossings – those of the Senio and Santerno – then took part in the dash to envelop the town of Ferrara.
It headed next for Padua and Venice; but the German collapse was now imminent and the Divisional Reconnaissance Regiment, racing forward, caught up with one of the Division's toughest opponents, the German 1st Parachute Division, and received the surrender of 11,000 men. As a Division this formation never failed to take its objective. It was adjudged to be one of the finest in the Mediterranean theatre. Up to June 1945 four Victoria Crosses had been won by members of the Division, and the number of approved honours total of 635, convincing proof of the formation's distinguished record.