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70th Infantry Brigade (United Kingdom)
Country Great Britain
Branch British Army
Service history
Active World War I, 1939 - 1944, 1950s
Size Brigade
Part of British 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division
Nickname The Polar Bears
Battles Operation Epsom, Invasion of Normandy
Insignia 49th Inf Brigade (Logo Polar Bears) (as part of 49th Division)

The 70th Infantry Brigade was a British Territorial Army unit during the First and Second World Wars.


Originally part of the British 23rd Division (and briefly British 8th Division) during World War I, the Brigade was reformed in the interwar period as part of the British 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division.[1] It was transferred to the British 23rd (Northumbrian) Division under which it was involved in the Battle of France in 1940 and the retreat from Dunkirk.[2]

After escaping France, the brigade became part of the British 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division. It went with the division to Iceland in 1941 for a chilly garrison stay, before returning to England in November of that year. It spent the remaining two and a half years training before landing in Normandy on 12 June 1944.[3]

During Operation Martlet, the preparatory attack for Operation Epsom that took place on 25 June 1944, the brigade was heavily engaged around the village of Rauray with elements from the 12th SS Panzer and 26th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiments of 12th SS Panzer Division.[4] The Brigade then fought a bloody battle around Rauray as Kampfgruppe Weidinger of 2nd SS Panzer Division counter-attacked between 29 June and 1 July.[5] For this it was given the battle honour of 'The Odon'[6]

Thereafter it fought south of Tilly-sur-Seulles, before following the 49th Division's initial drive during I Corps' drive to the Seine in late August. On 19 August, the brigade was withdrawn from the frontline and began to disband to fill the increasing gap in available infantry reinforcements.[7] By 19 October 1944, it ceased to exist.[8] Its place in the 49th Division was taken by the 56th Independent Infantry Brigade.

During the Mau Mau uprising, East Africa Command controlled 39th Infantry Brigade, 49th Infantry Brigade (United Kingdom), and 70th (East African) Infantry Brigade.[9] Later 70th (East African) Brigade became the basis for the newly independent Kenya Army.[10] Brigade headquarters was at Nyeri where the Brigade Signals Troop was also located. May have operated from 1953 onwards.[11]


Component Units (WW1)Edit

Component Units (WW2)Edit

  • 10th Bn. The Durham Light Infantry
  • 11th Bn. The Durham Light Infantry
  • 12th (Tyneside Scottish) Bn., The Durham Light Infantry (later 1st Bn. The Tyneside Scottish, The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment))



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