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( This information has been gratefully received from this association in relation to the forth coming visit to Exeter

See website “hill112.com/index2.htm” for background info.  Albert Figg is famous as the chap who obtained

the Churchill tank that sits beside the 43 Wessex Division Memorial on Hill 112.er on th 9th July 2011 )

During the past 100 years the counties of the West Country have played their part in the defence of Great

Britain, not least in the manning of County Regiments and supporting arms.

 The 43rd Division`s history began in the period before the First World War when it was formed as a part of the

“new” Territorial Army. The Division`s part time soldiers were recruited from the counties within the

boundries of the ancient Kingdom of Wessex

Following distinguished service in World War 1 the Division was reformed as a West of England Territorial

Unit and in 1935 adopted the heraldic emblem of the Kings of Wessex, The Wyvern. 

The Wyvern symbolized the ferocity of the dragon, the cunning of the serpent and the swiftness of the eagle; characteristics which the now named 43rd Wessex Division displayed to the full.

At the outbreak of World War II, in 1939, the Division was mobilized and set to the defence of Britain being

deployed along the south coast.

In 1943 a new commander, Major General Thomas, set an intensive training programme leading up to the

invasion of Europe in the summer of 1944.

Now a full Division spearheaded by a Reconnaissance Regiment from Gloucester and 9 infantry Battalions

drawn from Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Worcestershire the 43rd

Wessex Division was set for its finest hour.

Over 10 months; from the beaches of Normandy to the dock yards of Bremerhaven the Wyverns fought

many epic battles suffering some 12400 casualties (2200) killed in action which represented the highest

rate of casualties of all Divisions engaged in the North West Europe Campaign. At the moment of “cease fire”

soldiers of the 43rd were the furthest forward of the British 2nd Army. The Fighting Wessex Wyverns  had

truly done more than their fair share. In the words of the Corps Commander, Lt General Horrocks “ I doubt

whether any other Division has had so much hard fighting during the campaign and been so successful”

In 1995 The 43rd Wessex Association was formed to provide an Old Comrades organisation. The Association

was inaugurated at Wyvern Barracks, Exeter with the help of the 43 (Weesex) Territorial Army Brigade, and

it grew rapidly to over 500 members. During the following 16 years the Association has facilitated the

transfer of the Divisional Role of Honour from Salisbury Cathedral to Exeter Cathedral, organised many

Pilgramages to its battle sites and conducted ceremonies at its Divisional memorial site in Normandy.

The 60th and 65th anniversary ceremonies were both attended by HRH The Earl of Wessex.

Alas the time has come to disband the Association but, at the same time , to revitalize the 43rd Wessex

Heritage Trust. The Trust is a registered charity devoted to the care and maintenance of the Divisional

Role of Honour and other memorials and to the continuation of the historical heritage left by the men of the 43rd Wessex Division.  THE FIGHTING WESSEX WYVERNS








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