XXX Corps of United Kingdom

The insignia of XXX Corps

The insignia of XXX Corps

This article is about a British army in the World War II. It participated in North African Campaign, Italian Campaign, Operation Overlord, Operation Market Garden and so on.

The British XXX Corps was a corps of the British Army (United Kingdom) during World War II, which took part in both operations of the North African Campaign (the Desert War) and operations of the Western Europe. Its logo was a lion jumping.

The XXX Corps was a key part of the British army during the west desert campaign in North Africa, especially in Operation Crusader, which was the last British attempt to break the siege of Tobruk. As a result of this operation, the XXX Corps forced Erwin Rommel and his Afrika Korps to retreat to the Agheila in Libya center. In Rommel’s counterattack, XXX Corps retreated to El Alamein, where they held the line of defense that could not be broken by Afrika Korps in 1942. The British army won victory in the battle of El Alamein on 4 November of that year, and XXX Corps advanced into Tunisia, where they arrived in February 1943. In two months, XXX Corps got the German and Italian enemy forces surrendered in North Africa.

In July 1943, XXX Corps was sent to invade Sicily as part of the British 8th Army. After seven days of fighting, XXX Corps was withdrawn from front to participate in Operation Overlord, which invaded Normandy a year later.

The British XXX Corps cross the bridge of Nijmegen, during Operation Market Garden in 1944

The British XXX Corps cross the bridge of Nijmegen, during Operation Market Garden in 1944

In the D-Day in June 1944 , XXX Corps landed on the beach of Gold Beach in Normandy.  Quickly routed the German defense, and advanced to meet on June 10 with troops from the U.S. Army that had landed at Omaha Beach. After the debacle of the German army that followed the Normandy landings, XXX Corps advanced through Belgium, releasing Brussels and Antwerp.

Encouraged by the successes in France and Belgium, the Field Marshal Montgomery decided to establish a bridgehead to help the allied army cross the Rhine River. The chosen key bridge was the bridge of Arnhem in the Netherlands. Montgomery’s plan was consolidated in the Operation Market Garden, approved by Eisenhower in the late summer of 1944. XXX Corps, consisting of fifty thousand men, was responsible for implementing the land plan “Garden”. The plan was to free the route to Arnhem in three or four days, with the support of U.S. and British airborne units.

 

Vehicles of the Guards Armoured Division of XXX Corps

Vehicles of the Guards Armoured Division of XXX Corps

Market Garden was launched on Sunday, September 17, 1944, the largest airborne operation in history. However, several factors, including adverse weather, poor planning and a wonderful and unexpected resilience of the German enemy, led the operation to be a failure that instead of lasting three days, lasted over a week with low catastrophic for the allied army. XXX Corps moved slowly along a road that only allowed the passage of a tank at a time, so that the column was highly vulnerable ally.  Moreover, progress would be efficient only if all the bridges were intact on the road, which was prevented by the retreating Germans. Canadian engineers had to replace the bridges for a pre-built cross twice.

On 23 September, when XXX Corps finally reached Arnhem, the British 1st Airborne Division had been sent to keep the bridge which had been practically destroyed, with thousands of soldiers killed or captured by the enemy. The bridge at Arnhem was in German hands. After several unsuccessful attempts to cross the Rhine, all that XXX Corps could do was to rescue the surviving soldiers and final retreat to Nijmegen. After the failure of Market Garden, XXX Corps was devoted to defending the ledge which had managed to Nijmegen.  The defense lasted several weeks until the Canadian army arrived in time to capture Arnhem.

During the Battle of the Bulge, several units of XXX Corps were ordered to hold the bridges over the Meuse. On December 27, 1944, XXX Corps pushed the II SS Panzer Corps to come out of Celles. On December 31, XXX Corps captured Rochefort.

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