Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The 78th Div just won't lie down !

I have recently made contact with an Italian family who came from the hill town of Carovilli where 78 Div was "snowed in" during January 1944.

In the correspondence that we have started between us, a younger member of the family has been able to send me GOOGLE EARTH map co-ordinates and I have been able to see their actual house and locate my billets.....Oh...the wonders of the internet !. The green line shows the walk from my billets to the Fiocca house)
I have also, through the good offices of Peter, managed to send a letter to the commandante of a barracks in Trieste asking if I may visit there later this year.

In the course of this recent correspondence I have spent much time looking at war diaries of the 49th LAA and their position in the 78th Div and now have a question for Tom.

Do you know who the various Div commanders were and where did Keightley fit in?




Blogger Tomcann said...

Oh the tragedy of command, but what a wonderful holiday you will have in Trieste.
This is real history as the 78th were founded specifically for the North African campaign in which it was envsisaged that this Anglo American force led by a Commander who had never commanded anything larger than a battalion - would squeeze the German Africa Corps led by Field Marshal Rommel between them and the victorious 8th army led by Gen. Montgomery. The initial plan was to meet 8th army at or near Tripoli.
The 78th were led by Maj.Gen Evelegh of the DCLI regiment and he was extremely capable in his handling of that division all through the Battles of Beja- Longstop - Medjez el Bab and Mejerda and the blitz on Tunis where the Irish Bde were first into that City. This exceptionl handling was also recognised in the Siclian campaign with the various successful Battles of Bronte - Adrano and many others.
During the Italian Invasion the 78th were prominent in the landing at Bari with 4th armoured bde and the fast capture of the important Foggia Airfields.
Then the slog towards the River Sangro just as the weather broke,
when some Brain of Britain decided that it would be a good idea for an interchange of Comanders and so Evelegh was moved to command 6th Armoured Div and Keightly took over the 78th Div.
Unfortunately the 6th armoured did not perform too well at Cassino 11 and onto Lago Trasemino and so Evelegh's next command was of a desk in London, a tremendous waste.
Keightly of the Inniskilling Dragoons, went from strength to strength with the Infantry and soon was made Lt.Gen and took over from Lt Gen Allfrey at V corps.
Brig Arbuthnott of 11th bde, took over and brought the Division back from Egypt in time for Maj Gen. Butterworth, from the U.K. to take command - with such dire results that he almost had a mutiny of his hands with three Brigadiers of great experience in warfare.
Brig Arbuthnott was made up to Maj Gen and led the Division successfully through the Gothic Line and the spring campaign finishing up in Austria, before disbanding in June 1946.

Wednesday, 14 February, 2007  
Blogger Tomcann said...

as always Ron - I am now getting the dates backwards - I said you would have a great holidy in Trieste - that is if you went there but of course Carovilli is closer to Cassino.. and no doubt you will be going there in the summer and not to re -create the "sustained awfulness' of that period in your life !
I am half planning on a final trip also this year and doing a pilgrimage from Lucera - Presenzaro - Cassino - Frosinone - Velletri - Siena - Fabriano - Urbano and Riccione et al - hopefully it will come off !

Wednesday, 14 February, 2007  
Blogger Ron Goldstein said...


Many thanks for the 78 Div history.

As far as my travels are concerned, regrettably, Carovilli will remain unvisited !

I had originally planned to visit there in 2005 on my Monte Cassino trip, but the heat and fatigue conspired against me and so I will just have to rely on my memories.

Trieste & Venice are scheduled for later this year and in the fullness of time I will bore you all with a report from the front

Wednesday, 14 February, 2007  
Blogger Peter G said...

I have just seen this thread, being otherwise engaged in trying to sort out PC problems. :)

Here is the complete list of 78th Div. commanders:

14.6.42 Maj-Gen V. Eveleigh
13.12.43 Maj-Gen C. F. Keightley
9.7.44 Brig. R. K. Arbuthnot (acting)
30.7.44 Maj. Gen. F. Keightley
1.8.44 Brig. R. K. Arbuthnot (acting)
21.8.44 Maj. Gen. D.C. Butterworth
10.10.44 Brig. R. K. Arbuthnot (acting)
17.11.44 Mag. Gen R. K. Arbuthnot

Thursday, 15 February, 2007  
Blogger Tomcann said...

According to peter's timetable it would appear that Keightley took over near the river Sangro - left at Trasimano when you went to Egypt - he missed that trip - obviously having meetings on his promotion - so Arbuthnott wa in charge all through the Egypt trip - Keightley being in command for one day prior to taking over 5th Corps - then Arbuthnott brought you back in time for Butterworth to take you through the Gothic in the 19th Corps near Florence - Arbuthnott being made up when you were into the Romagna ?

Thursday, 15 February, 2007  

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