The Eighth Army was a field army formation of the British Army during the Second World War, fighting in the North African and Italian campaigns. Units came from Australia, British India, Canada, Free French Forces, Greece, New Zealand, Poland, Rhodesia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
The Eighth Army was formed from the Western Desert Force in September 1941 and put under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Alan Cunningham. At its creation, the Eighth Army comprised two Corps: XXX Corps under Lieutenant-General Willoughby Norrie and XIII Corps under Lieutenant-General Reade Godwin-Austen. XXX Corps was made up of 7th British Armoured Division (commanded by Major-General William Gott), the South African 1st Infantry Division (commanded by Major-General George Brink) and the 22nd Guards Brigade. XIII Corps composed of the 4th Indian Infantry Division (commanded by Major-General Frank Messervy), the 2nd New Zealand Division (commanded by Major-General Bernard Freyberg) and the 1st Army Tank Brigade. The Eighth Army also included the Tobruk garrison (the 70th British Infantry Division, under Major-General Ronald Scobie), and the Polish Carpathian Brigade. In reserve, the Eighth Army had the 2nd South African Infantry Division making a total of seven divisions.
The Eighth Army first went into action as an Army as part of Operation Crusader, the Allied operation to relieve the besieged city of Tobruk, on 17 November 1941, when it crossed the Egyptian frontier into Libya to attack Erwin Rommel's Panzer Army Africa.