XIII Corps (United Kingdom)
XIII Corps was a British infantry corps during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...


World War I

XIII Corps was formed in France on 15 November 1915 under Lieutenant-General Walter Congreve
Walter Norris Congreve
General Sir Walter Norris Congreve VC KCB MVO DL was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces...

 to be part of Fourth Army. It was first seriously engaged during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. On the First day on the Somme
First day on the Somme
The first day on the Somme, 1 July 1916, was the opening day of the Battle of Albert, which was the first phase of the British and French offensive that became known as the Battle of the Somme...

, the corps held the southern flank of the British line. The corps objective was the village of Montauban
Montauban-de-Picardie is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.-Geography:The commune is situated on the D64 road, some northeast of Amiens.-First World War:...

. The two assault divisions — the 18th (Eastern)
British 18th (Eastern) Division
The British 18th Division was a New Army division formed in September 1914 as part of the K2 Army Group. The division landed in France on 25 May 1915 and spent the duration of the First World War in action on the Western Front, becoming one of the elite divisions of the British Army...

 and 30th Division
British 30th Division
The British 30th Division was a New Army division that was originally made up of battalions raised by public subscription or private patronage. The division was taken over by the British War Office in August 1915 and moved to France in December...

, both New Army formations — seized all their objectives.

World War II

On 1 January 1941 the Western Desert Force
Western Desert Force
The Western Desert Force, during World War II, was a British Commonwealth army formation stationed in Egypt.On 17 June 1940, the headquarters of the British 6th Infantry Division was designated as the Western Desert Force. The unit consisted of the 7th Armoured Division and the Indian 4th Infantry...

 while fighting the Italian Tenth Army
Italian Tenth Army
The Italian Tenth Army was one of two Italian armies in Italian North Africa during World War II. The Tenth Army in Cyrenaica faced the British in the neutral Kingdom of Egypt...

 during Operation Compass
Operation Compass
Operation Compass was the first major Allied military operation of the Western Desert Campaign during World War II. British and Commonwealth forces attacked Italian forces in western Egypt and eastern Libya in December 1940 to February 1941. The attack was a complete success...

 was redesignated XIII Corps. By February 1941, the remaining Italian forces in Cyrenaica
Cyrenaica is the eastern coastal region of Libya.Also known as Pentapolis in antiquity, it was part of the Creta et Cyrenaica province during the Roman period, later divided in Libia Pentapolis and Libia Sicca...

 were withdrawing down the Via Balbia
Via Balbia
The Libyan Coastal Highway is a highway that is the only major road that runs along the entire east-west length of the Libyan Mediterranean coastline...

 with the British 7th Armored Division and the Australian 6th Infantry Division close behind. When Operation Compass came to an end with the surrender of the Italian Tenth Army the corps HQ was deactivated in February and its responsibilities taken over by HQ Cyrenaica, a static command, reflecting the Allied defensive posture in the Western Desert as Middle East Command became obliged to focus on the campaign in Greece
Battle of Greece
The Battle of Greece is the common name for the invasion and conquest of Greece by Nazi Germany in April 1941. Greece was supported by British Commonwealth forces, while the Germans' Axis allies Italy and Bulgaria played secondary roles...


After the Italian forces in North Africa had been reinforced with the Africa Corps during Operation Sonnenblume
Operation Sonnenblume
Operation Sonnenblume was the deployment of German troops to North Africa in February 1941, during the Second World War...

, Lieutenant-General Philip Neame
Philip Neame
Lieutenant General Sir Philip Neame VC, KBE, CB, DSO, KStJ was a British Army officer and recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces...

, the commander in Cyrenaica, was captured during Rommel's advance and the Western Desert Force HQ was reactivated on 14 April to take command of British Commonwealth forces in the western desert and halt the Axis advance at the Egyptian-Libyan border.

In August 1941 Archibald Wavell was replaced as C-in-C Middle East by Claude Auchinleck
Claude Auchinleck
Field Marshal Sir Claude John Eyre Auchinleck, GCB, GCIE, CSI, DSO, OBE , nicknamed "The Auk", was a British army commander during World War II. He was a career soldier who spent much of his military career in India, where he developed a love of the country and a lasting affinity for the soldiers...

 and the British and Commonwealth forces were reinforced to create in September 1941 the Eighth Army. During this reorganisation Western Desert Force was once again redesignated as XIII Corps and became part of the new army. The corps remained part of the Eighth Army throughout the rest of the North African Campaign
North African campaign
During the Second World War, the North African Campaign took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts and in Morocco and Algeria and Tunisia .The campaign was fought between the Allies and Axis powers, many of whom had...

 which finished when the Axis forces in Tunisia surrendered in May 1943.

XIII Corps took part in the Allied invasion of Sicily
Allied invasion of Sicily
The Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, was a major World War II campaign, in which the Allies took Sicily from the Axis . It was a large scale amphibious and airborne operation, followed by six weeks of land combat. It launched the Italian Campaign.Husky began on the night of...

 in July 1943 and when Sicily fell, moved to the Italian mainland, campaigning with the Eighth Army on the Adriatic front
Italian Campaign (World War II)
The Italian Campaign of World War II was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war in Europe. Joint Allied Forces Headquarters AFHQ was operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the Mediterranean theatre, and it planned and commanded the...

 until the end of 1943. In May 1944 the corps had switched with much of Eighth Army's strength to the centre of the Allied front at Cassino and during the fourth Battle of Monte Cassino
Battle of Monte Cassino
The Battle of Monte Cassino was a costly series of four battles during World War II, fought by the Allies against Germans and Italians with the intention of breaking through the Winter Line and seizing Rome.In the beginning of 1944, the western half of the Winter Line was being anchored by Germans...

 was responsible for effecting a successful opposed crossing of the Garigliano and Rapido rivers, breaking into the heart of the German defenses in the Liri valley.

At the end of 1944 XIII Corps was transferred to the United States Fifth Army to become its right wing high in the Apennine mountains for the fighting on the Gothic Line
Gothic Line
The Gothic Line formed Field Marshal Albert Kesselring's last major line of defence in the final stages of World War II along the summits of the Apennines during the fighting retreat of German forces in Italy against the Allied Armies in Italy commanded by General Sir Harold Alexander.Adolf Hitler...

. By April 1945 the Corps had returned to Eighth Army for the Spring 1945 offensive in Italy
Spring 1945 offensive in Italy
The Spring 1945 offensive in Italy, codenamed Operation Grapeshot, was the Allied attack by Fifth United States Army and British 8th Army into the Lombardy Plain which started on 6 April 1945 and ended on 2 May with the surrender of German forces in Italy....

 which ended in May 1945 with the surrender of Axis forces in Italy. 2nd New Zealand Division, operating with the corps, confronted Yugoslav troops at Trieste, entering and capturing the city. The corps restored order in the strife-ridden city and enforced the Morgan Line
Morgan Line
The Morgan Line was the line of demarcation set up after World War II in the region known as Julian March which prior to the war belonged to the Kingdom of Italy. The Morgan Line was the border between two military administrations in the region: the Yugoslav on the east, and that of the Allied...

 from May 1945 to mid-1946.

General Officers Commanding

Commanders included:
  • 1915-1917 Lieutenant-General Walter Congreve
    Walter Norris Congreve
    General Sir Walter Norris Congreve VC KCB MVO DL was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces...

  • 1917-1918 Lieutenant-General Frederick McCracken
    Frederick McCracken
    Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick William Nicholas McCracken, KCB, DSO, was a British Army officer who saw regimental service in Africa during the late nineteenth century, and later held senior command during the First World War...

  • March 1918-April 1918 Lieutenant-General Beauvoir De Lisle
    Beauvoir De Lisle
    General Sir Henry de Beauvoir De Lisle KCB KCMG DSO was a British Army General who served in World War I.-Military career:...

  • Jun 1940-Feb 1941 Lieutenant-General Richard O'Connor
    Richard O'Connor
    General Sir Richard Nugent O'Connor KT, GCB, DSO & Bar, MC, ADC was a British Army general who commanded the Western Desert Force in the early years of World War II...

  • Apr 1941-Sep 1941 Lieutenant-General Noel Beresford-Peirse
    Noel Beresford-Peirse
    Lieutenant-General Sir Noel Monson de la Poer Beresford-Peirse KBE, CB, DSO was a British Army officer.-Family background:...

  • Sep 1941-Feb 1942 Lieutenant-General Reade Godwin-Austen
    Alfred Reade Godwin-Austen
    General Sir Alfred Reade Godwin-Austen KCSI, CB, OBE, MC was a British Army officer. He served during the First and Second World Wars.-Early life:The second son of Lieutenant-Colonel A. G...

  • Feb 1942-Aug 1942 Lieutenant-General William Gott
    William Gott
    Lieutenant-General William Henry Ewart Gott CB, CBE, DSO and bar, MC , nicknamed "Strafer", was a British Army officer during both the First and Second World Wars, reaching the rank of lieutenant-general when serving in the British Eighth Army.-Military career:Educated at Harrow School he was...

  • Aug 1942-Dec 1942 Lieutenant-General Brian Horrocks
    Brian Horrocks
    Lieutenant-General Sir Brian Gwynne Horrocks, KCB, KBE, DSO, MC was a British Army officer. He is chiefly remembered as the commander of XXX Corps in Operation Market Garden and other operations during the Second World War...

  • Dec 1942-Dec 1943 Lieutenant-General Miles Dempsey
    Miles Dempsey
    General Sir Miles Christopher Dempsey, GBE, KCB, DSO, MC was commander of the British Second Army during the D-Day landings in the Second World War...

  • Dec 1943-Mar 1945 Lieutenant-General Sidney Kirkman
    Sidney Kirkman
    General Sir Sidney Chevalier Kirkman GCB, KBE, MC was a general in the British Armed Forces from 1944 to 1950 and Director General of Civil Defence in the Civil Defence Department from 1954 to 1960.-Biography:...

  • Mar 1945-May 1945 Lieutenant-General John Harding
    John Harding, 1st Baron Harding of Petherton
    Field Marshal Allan Francis John Harding, 1st Baron Harding of Petherton, GCB, CBE, DSO, MC was a British Army officer and Governor of Cyprus from 1955 to 1957, Cyprus being a British colony at that time....

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