VE Day Battalions
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Field Marshal Montgomery inspecting the Home Guard
The Royal Warwickshire Regiment assumed an important role in various spheres of the conflict. Whilst 1st Battalion undertook garrison duties in India and Burma throughout the war, and the newly created Home Guard Battalions performed civil defence duties at home, the most intense fighting was done by the 2nd, 1/7th and 8th Battalions of the Regiment.
The British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.) was despatched to France in September 1939, in response to the German advance through Europe. Amongst the deployment were the 2nd, 1/7th and 8th Battalions of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. When the German advance finally came in April 1940, the B.E.F. and the French forces were pushed back through France as the German forces advanced rapidly, leading to the evacuation of the B.E.F. from Dunkirk at the end of May. As German forces closed in on the Dunkirk area, the 1/7th and 8th Battalions played a crucial role in holding the Ypres-Comines Canal. Without the successful defence of this position, the entire evacuation of Dunkirk would have been in jeopardy.
Along with the rest of the British forces, the Warwickshire Battalions never accepted this as a final defeat. On June 6th 1944 2nd, 1/7th and 8th Battalions were back in France. Following the D-Day landings, the Battalions fought through France, Belgium, the Netherlands and into Germany, where they were based when news of Germany unconditional surrender was received on May 8th 1945.
Throughout the war years, the Regiment enjoyed a close relationship with Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, the celebrated British commander. Montgomery had formerly served as Colonel of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and paid many morale boosting visits to the Battalions, taking tea in the officer mess, talking to the troops and even personally ensuring that large bundles of newspapers were delivered to Battalion headquarters to boost morale during periods of intense fighting.