5th Infantry Division
The letter Y denoted Yorkshire and was chosen to mark the Division’s pre-war association with Northern Command. A second pattern of the badge was adopted after WW2 in 1946, retaining the white Y but on a black circular background. The 5th (or “Reserve”) Division has the doubtful privilege of being perhaps the most widely travelled British formation of WW2. In September 1939 it was a regular formation based at Catterick under Northern Command. At this time it comprised just two brigades, 13th and 15th, both of which went to join the BEF as independent formations in October 1939.
Divisional HQ and 17 Brigade joined the BEF in late December when the Division was reformed on a full three brigade basis. In April 1940 15 Brigade was withdrawn for employment in the Norwegian campaign and did not rejoin the Division until July. The Division and its two remaining Brigades fought with the BEF throughout the 1940 campaign. Together with 50 Division and 1 Army Tank Brigade they formed Frankforce, under command the Divisional Commander, Major General Franklyn. As such they were part of the force that participated in the Arras operation on 21 May and the crucial battle of the Ypres-Comines Canal 26 – 28 May, protecting the withdrawal of the BEF into the Dunkirk perimeter.
After serving in England and Northern Ireland the Division re-mobilized in 1942 and was posted to India. En route, 13 and 17 Brigades were detached as part of Force 121 to assist as required in the capture of Madagascar, May – June 1942. The Division was in India for barely three months before being posted back to the Middle East where in August 1942 it came under command of 3 Corps as part of Persia and Iraq Command (Paiforce). At the beginning of February 1943 the Division moved to Egypt and came under command of 13 Corps for the invasion of Sicily.
In September 1943 the Division moved to Italy and took part in the Anzio operation in January 1944. The Division was withdrawn to Palestine in July 1944. It returned to Italy in February 1945 but after just one month it was moved to Belgium. Under command of 21 Army Group the Division took part in the closing stages of the campaign against Germany. The Division was disbanded in 1946 but reformed as part of BAOR in April 1958 by the conversion of 7th Armoured Division.