Formation sign of VIII Corps as a field formation during the Second World War.
|Active||First and Second World Wars|
|Engagements||First World War|
Second World War
|Lt-Gen Sir Aylmer Hunter-Weston|
Lt-Gen Sir Richard O'Connor
|Corps formation sign as a Corps District early in the Second World War.|
|Corps formation sign during the First World War.|
VIII Corps was a British Army corps formation that existed during the First and Second World Wars. In the latter, it took part in the Normandy Campaign in 1944, where it was involved in Operation Epsom and Operation Goodwood. It would later play a supporting role in Operation Market Garden and finish the war by advancing from the Rhine to the Baltic Sea.
In 1876, a Mobilisation Scheme was published for the forces in Great Britain and Ireland, which included eight army corps of the 'Active Army'. The '8th Corps' was to be headquartered at Edinburgh and was primarily militia formation. In 1880, its order of battle was as follows:
This scheme had been dropped by 1881.
VIII Corps was first formed at Gallipoli during the First World War. The main British battle front was at Cape Helles on the tip of the Gallipoli peninsula. As the battle became protracted, more British divisions arrived as reinforcements. In May 1915, these divisions were arranged as the British Army Corps, which was then redesignated as VIII Corps in June. The corps commander was Lieutenant-General Aylmer Hunter-Weston. When Hunter-Weston relinquished command due to illness, the corps was commanded on a temporary basis by General Francis Davies.
During the Gallipoli campaign, the corps contained the following units:
After the evacuation of Gallipoli, the corps was reformed in France in March 1916, once again under the command of Hunter-Weston, and participated in the Battle of the Somme.
VIII Corps was disbanded in June 1918 when Hunter-Weston moved to the XVIII Corps; however, this corps was then redesignated as VIII Corps in July 1918.
VIII Corps formed part of Home Forces in the UK during the early part of the Second World War. During the Autumn of 1940, it presided over the 3rd and 48th (South Midland) Divisions. Later, it would also command the 77th Infantry Division. It was based at Pyrland Hall near Cheddon Fitzpaine in Somerset and its mission was to command the defence of Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Bristol.
At the start of the Normandy Campaign, it comprised:
The Corps fought in a supporting role during Operation Market Garden on the east flank of XXX Corps with XII Corps to the west of XXX Corps, capturing the Dutch towns of Deurne and Helmond, and took part in the advance on Venray and Venlo. Then in Operation Constellation beginning on 12 October 1944. VIII Corps, now commanded by Lieutenant-General Evelyn Barker, later took part in Operation Plunder, crossed the Elbe and occupied Plön in Schleswig-Holstein.