My late father Clifford Franklin served in the Royal Engineers as a member of the 5th Division or Y Division during the liberation of Italy. He was at the time an armoured car driver and along with an accompanying officer were the first British soldiers to meet up with the Americans. I remember that a relative had saved an article from the Yorkshire Evening News reporting this incident. Our family also had a book called ‘Y Division’ Which sadly disappeared a few years ago, which tracked the travels of the division throughout the war. They were known as the ‘Globetrotters’ because they were the most travelled of all the divisions. I know my father was evacuated from Dunkirk and also travelled via Durban and Bombay to India. They then traversed the Middle East through Syria and Egypt I believe. Like many WW2 veterans he never spoke much of his experiences. I’d like very much to know the likely spot where he met up with the Americans and his probable journey through Italy. Peter Franklin.
5 Inf Div landed at Reggio di Calabria on 3 Sep 43 as part of Operation BAYTOWN. Their task, with 1 Cdn Inf Div, was to push north and meet up with the US Fifth Army who, on 9 Sep 43 landed at Salerno as part of Operation AVALANCHE.
The US 36 Inf Div had responsibility for the right flank of the Salerno landings and it was they who met up with 5 Inf Div when they reached the beachhead on 17-18 Sep 43 or thereabouts.
As a Royal Engineer in 5 Inf Div, he would have been in either 38 Fd Coy, 245 Fd Coy, 252 Fd Coy, 254 Fd Park Coy or 18 Bridging Platoon.
Hi Frank, the book I mentioned in my post has been found. It’s called ‘The British 5th Division’ written by George Aris’. From skimming through the book it appears to have a comprehensive section about the Italian campaign. Regards, Peter.