1st Division

The history of 1st Division

One of the first British formations to move to France, the 1st Division remained on the Western Front throughout the war. It took part in most of the major actions, including:

1914

Commanded by Major-General S. H. Lomax

  • The Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat, including the Rearguard Affair of Etreux (August)
  • The Battle of the Marne (September)
  • The Battle of the Aisne including participation in the Actions on the Aisne heights and the Action of Chivy (September)
  • First Battle of Ypres (October-November).
    • On 31 October 1914, at the climax of the battle, 1st Divisional headquarters at Hooge was hit by enemy shellfire, whereupon the Divisional Commander (Major-General Lomax) was severely wounded and his GSO1 (Col. F. W. Kerr) was killed. Major-General H. S. Landon took temporary command. On 22 November 1914 he was replaced by Major-General Sir D. henderson and he was repalced on 19 December 1914 by Major-General R. C. B. Haking.
Memorial to the 1st Division at La Groise (Chapeau Rouge) crossroads. It is an appropriate spot, for the 1st Division passed this way in the retreat of summer 1914 and advance of summer 1918. [Author’s collection]

1915

  • Winter Operations 1914-15
  • The Battle of Aubers (9 May)

Commanded by Major-General A. E. A. Holland from 11 September 1915

  • The Battle of Loos (September-October)

1916

Commanded by Major-General E. P. Strickland from 12 June 1916

  • The Battles of the Somme 1916:
    • The Battle of Albert (July)
    • The Battle of Bazentin (July)
    • The Battle of Pozieres (July-September)
    • The Battle of Flers-Courcelette (September)
    • The Battle of Morval (September)

1917

  • The British pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line (March-April)
  • The 1st Division was warned to prepare for an operation along the Belgian coast in summer 1917. It moved to the Dunkirk area for specialist training and occupied part of the front line east of Nieuwpoort. Several mobile units were attached in readiness. The operation was cancelled when the initial assaults in the Third Battle of Ypres failed to progress as expected.
  • The Third Battles of Ypres:
    • The Second Battle of Passchendaele (October-November)

1918

  • The Battles of the Lys:
    • The Battle of Estaires (April)
    • The Battle of Hazebrouck (April)
    • The Battle of Bethune (April)
  • The Second Battles of Arras 1918:
    • The Battle of Drocourt-Queant (September)
  • The Battles of the Hindenburg Line:
    • The Battle of Epehy (September)
    • The Battle of the St Quentin Canal (September)
    • The Battle of Beaurevoir (October)
  • The Battle of the Selle (October)
  • The Battle of the Sambre, in which the Division fought the Passage of the Sambre-Oise Canal (4 November)

The 1st Division was selected to advance into Germany and form part of the Occupation Force at Bonn.


The order of battle of the 1st Division

Units and sub-formationsDates with division
1st Guards BrigadeOn the formation of the Guards Division in August 1915, this brigade lost its two Guards battalions and was retitled as the 1st Brigade.
1st Bn, the Coldstream GuardsFrom start. Left August 1915
1st Bn, the Scots GuardsFrom start. Left August 1915
1st Bn, the Black WatchThroughout
2nd, the Royal Munster FusiliersFrom start. Left August 1914 after near-destruction at the Rearguard Affair of Etreux
1st Bn, the Cameron HighlandersJoined September 1914
1/14th Bn, the London RegimentJoined November 1914, left February 1916
10th Bn, the Gloucestershire RegtJoined August 1915
8th Bn, the Royal Berkshire Regtjoined August 1915, left 2 February 1918
1st Trench Mortar BatteryJoined by 27 November 1915
1st Machine Gun CompanyFormed on 26 January 1916. Left to move into 1st MG Battalion 28 February 1918
1st Bn, the Loyal North Lancashire RegtJoined February 1918
2nd Infantry Brigade 
2nd Bn, the Royal Sussex RegtThroughout
1st Bn, the Loyal North Lancashire RegtFrom start. Left for 1st Brigade February 1918
1st Bn, the Northamptonshire RegtThroughout
2nd Bn, the King’s Royal Rifle CorpsThroughout
1/5th Bn, the Royal Sussex RegtJoined February 1915, left August 1915
1/9th Bn, the King’s (Liverpool Regt)Joined March 1915, left November 1915
1/5th Bn, the King’s Own (Lancaster Regt)Joined October 1915, left January 1915
2nd Trench Mortar BatteryJoined by 27 November 1915
2nd Machine Gun CompanyFormed on 26 January 1916. Left to move into 1st MG Battalion 28 February 1918
3rd Infantry Brigade 
1st Bn, the Queen’sFrom start. Left November 1914
1st Bn, the South Wales BorderersThroughout
1st Bn, the Gloucestershire RegimentThroughout
2nd Bn, the Welsh RegimentThroughout
2nd, the Royal Munster FusiliersJoined November 1914, left February 1918
1/4th Bn, the Royal Welsh FusiliersJoined November 1914, left September 1915
1/6th Bn, the Welsh RegimentJoined October 1915, left May 1916
1/9th Bn, the King’s (Liverpool Regt)Joined November 1915, left January 1916
3rd Trench Mortar BatteryJoined by 27 November 1915
3rd Machine Gun CompanyFormed on 26 January 1916. Left to move into 1st MG Battalion 28 February 1918
Divisional TroopsUnits under direct command of Divisional HQ
1/6th Bn, the Welsh RegimentJoined as Divisional Pioneer Battalion May 1916
216th Company, the Machine Gun CorpsJoined 22 March 1917. Left to move into 1st MG Battalion 28 February 1918
1st Battalion, the Machine Gun CorpsFormed 28 February 1918
1st Divisional Train ASCThroughout. 6, 13, 16 and 36 Companies
2nd Mobile Veterinary Section AVCThroughout
204th Divisional Employment CompanyJoined 19 May 1917 at which time it was 6th Divisional Employment Company; renamed 14 June 1917
1st Divisional Motor Ambulance Workshop UnitJoined by 30 January 1915, transferred to Divisional Train 7 April 1916
Divisional Mounted TroopsUnits under direct command of Divisional HQ
C Squadron, the 15th (King’s) HussarsFrom start. Left April 1915
B Sqn, 1/1st Northumberland HussarsJoined 13 April 1915, left 18 April 1916
1st Company, Army Cyclist CorpsFrom start. Left 15 June 1916
Divisional Artilleryunder orders of Divisional Commander Royal Artillery
XXV Brigade, RFAThroughout
XXVI Brigade, RFAFrom start. Left January 1917
XXXIX Brigade, RFAThroughout
LXI (Howitzer) Brigade, RFAFrom start. Broken up 14 November 1916
1st Divisional Ammunition ColumnThroughout
26th Heavy Battery RGAFrom start . Left April 1915
V.1 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery RFAFormed 30 January 1917, broken up 9 February 1918
X.1, Y.1 and Z.1 Medium Mortar Batteries RFAJoined by 16 March 1916; on 9 February 1918, Z broken up and batteries reorganised to have 6 x 6-inch weapons each
Royal Engineers under orders of Divisional Commander Royal Engineers
23rd Field CompanyThroughout
26th Field CompanyThroughout
1st (Lowland) Field CompanyJoined December 1914, later renamed 409th Field Company
1st Divisional Signals Company Throughout
Royal Army Medical Corps 
1st Field AmbulanceThroughout
2nd Field AmbulanceThroughout
3rd Field AmbulanceFrom start. Left for Guards Division 24 August 1915
141st Field AmbulanceJoined 24 August 1915
13th Sanitary SectionJoined by 30 January 1915, left 2 April 1916

Links

Other British Divisions

Divisional history

There is no published history of 1st Division