A quiet homecoming - 50 Div cast for a leading role in the invasion of Normandy — - bustle of training - Planning in London - The enemy's defensive lay-out - Allied Military, Naval and Air Plans, and 50 Div's part in them - Composition of the Div for the Assault.

The ships carrying Divisional HQ and 69 Bde sailed into the Mersey Estuary in the early morning, and were guided by tugs to their berths in Liverpool.

Mist hung over the river, and at intervals a thin, penetrating rain brought a glisten to the rooftops of the city. As the ships tied up, US Military Police in spotless white gaiters and helmets patrolled the otherwise deserted docks, and a hidden loudspeaker blared stirring music to welcome home the soldiers. But, in general, it was a peculiar homecoming. The silent docks, and, beyond them, the hum and clang of traffic and trams in the city, bespoke a public indifference to the event - which was hardy surprising in view of the stringent security "black-out" on the movement of the Division.

Still, it felt strange. This was the moment 50 Div had imagined times without number in the burning desert, in the oil- fields of Iraq, in Sicily, Cyprus and half a dozen other countries during nearly three years - the moment of arrival in England. And, now it had came with rain and mist, with no applause and no relatives, with a battered, busy city spread around us, and [merican Police at the gangways. It was a forcible reminder that the Empire and her Allies were still at war, and that stern tasks still lay ahead of the division.

But, the soldiers crowded the bulwarks in their hundreds in high spirits, while the embarkation officers went on board the ships to make arrangements about trains and feeding.

It was for many, a moment for a private stock-taking of much that had passed during the years abroad. There was food for thought in the fact that from a dock only 300 yards from where the returned ships now law, the first brigade of the Division to leave England in 1941 had been borne forth on to the Atlantic. That brigade did not return with us. Its soldiers were either killed at Gazala, or were taken prisoner there.

In less wholesale ways, the composition of the Division had gradually changed under the stresses and strains of the Middle Eastern campaigns; and many other good comrades who had sailed down the great river in 1941 had not sailed up it on this misty and memorable morning.

During the next 36 hours the troops began to leave the ships en route for the special trains which carried them to their new stations in East Anglia. Divisional Headquarters was established at Chadacre Park, near Bury St. Edmunds, 69 Brigade were in the area of Thetford, 151 Brigade north-east

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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Archive: 50 (NORTHUMBRIAN) DIVISION, An extract from the divisional history

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