Monty's Northern Legions: 50th Northumbrian and 15th Scottish Divisions at War 1939–1945

Author(s): Patrick Delaforce 

ISBN: 9781781553992
The story of how 50th Northumbrian and 15th Scottish Divisions from the North of England and Scotland helped turn the war – first in North Africa then in Europe after D-Day.

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​This is the story of two British Army infantry divisions that were very highly regarded by Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery, and whose gallant roles in the Second World War deserve to be much better known.

50th Northumbrian or Tyne-Tees Division was recruited from Durham, north and east Yorkshire and later from the Scottish borders, Lancashire and Shropshire. It fought with the British Expeditionary Force in 1940 in the Arras counter-attack. In North Africa, the division went from Gazala, El Alamein and Mareth to Tunis and won an astonishing three Victoria Crosses. Montgomery regarded the division as one of his ‘desert legions’ and took it to Sicily. He then gave 50th Division the dangerous honour of attacking on D-Day in the first wave ashore on ‘Gold’ Beach. The only D-Day Victoria Cross was awarded to CSM Hollis of 50th Division’s 6th Battalion, The Green Howards. Next came the deadly bocage fighting and later ‘Market Garden’. During the Second World War the division suffered over 21,000 casualties, and Winston Churchill was greatly distressed when it had to be disbanded in December 1944. Lieutenant-General Brian Horrocks described it as the ‘most experienced battle-fighting division in the British Army’.

15th Scottish Division was one of the nine ‘virgin’ divisions Monty considered vital for the British Liberation Army to win the attritional battles in Normandy. Operations ‘Epsom’, ‘Jupiter’, ‘Greenline’ and ‘Bluecoat’ were followed by ‘Market Garden’, brutal battles in the Dutch ‘Peel’ country, ‘Veritable’, the Rhine crossing in ‘Plunder’, ‘Torchlight’ and the advance through Germany to the River Elbe. The cream of Scotland – Argylls, Cameronians, Gordons, Seaforths, Glasgow Highlanders, Highland Light Infantry, KOSB, Royal Scots Fusiliers and Royal Scots – fought and 1,500 of them died in North West Europe.

Patrick Delaforce, himself a Second World War veteran, has interviewed officers and men of both divisions to tell the story of two of Britain’s finest divisions in combat.

BOOK ISBN 9781781553992
FORMAT 234 x 156 mm
BINDING Paperback
PAGES 208 pages
PUBLICATION DATE 15 September 2014
ILLUSTRATIONS 63 black and white photographs




Patrick Delaforce was educated at Winchester College. During the Second World War, aged 17, he was in Churchill's Home Guard and witnessed the London Blitz of 1940 and 1941. Later he served as a troop leader in Normandy with the Royal Horse Artillery of the 11th Armoured Division.

Hitler's Wehrmacht blew him up with their mines in Holland, and he was again wounded by a rifle grenade on the banks of the River Elbe. He was with the first battle group into Bergen- Belsen concentration camp in April 1945, was twice mentioned in despatches, and was awarded the Bronze Cross of Orange-Nassau.

In autumn 1945 he served on a War Crimes Tribunal in Hamburg and tried many concentration camp guards. Finally, he was an official British Army of the Rhine witness when Mr Albert Pierrepoint, the British hangman, executed 13 convicted war criminals in Hameln on 13 December 1945.

After leaving the army, he worked as a port wine shipper and ran an advertising agency in New York, before becoming a professional writer, mainly on historical and military subjects.

40 books by him have been published with 100 editions (including in Russia).