32nd Division

The history of 32nd Division

On 10 December the War Office authorised the formation of the Fifth New Army. Like the other Kitchener Armies, it comprised six Divisions, in this case numbered 37 to 42. What eventually became 32nd Division was originally numbered 39th. In April 1915, the original Fourth New Army was broken up and its units converted for training and draft-finding purposes. When this took place the Fifth New Army became Fourth New Army and its Divisions were renumbered to 30th – 35th: thus what we remember as 32nd Division was born.

The Division was largely comprised of locally raised units often known as “Pals”. It was a predominantly Northern Division, although locally raised units from Birmingham and Bristol were also in the structure.

After in most cases commencing training near home (although the Glasgow battalions moved to camp at Gailes and the 11th Border at Blackhall), the units were moved in May 1915 to concentrate in Shropshire but Prees Heath was found to be too wet for training and the brigades instead moved to Yorkshire (Wensley and Richmond, with use of the firing ranges at Strenshall). It was not until August that the Division moved for final training and firing practice at Codford on Salisbury Plain.

In November 1915 the Division received a warning order to prepare to sail for France. It remained on the Western Front for the remainder of the war and took part in the following engagements:

1916
The Battle of Albert*
The Battle of Bazentin*
The Battle of the Ancre*
* the battles marked * are phases of the Battles of the Somme 1916

1917
Operations on the Ancre
The pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line

1918
The First Battle of Arras, a phase of the First Battles of the Somme 1918
The Battle of Amiens
The Battle of Albert^
The Battle of Bapaume^
^ the battles marked ^ are phases of the Second Battles of the Somme 1918
The Battle of the St Quentin Canal+
The Battle of Beaurevoir+
+ the battles marked + are phases of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line
The Battle of the Sambre, including the passge of the Oise-Sambre Canal, a phase of the Final Advance in Picardy

The order of battle of the 32nd Division

95th Brigade
This brigade left the Division and was transferred to 5th Division on 26 December 1915 .
14th Bn, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1st Birmingham City)
15th Bn, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (2nd Birmingham City)
16th Bn, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (3rd Birmingham City)
12th Bn, the Gloucestershire Regiment (Bristol’s Own)
96th Brigade
16th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers (Newcastle)
15th Bn, the Lancashire Fusiliers (1st Salford Pals)
16th Bn, the Lancashire Fusiliers (2nd Salford Pals)
19th Bn, the Lancashire Fusiliers left January 1916 (3rd Salford Pals)
2nd Bn, the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers joined January 1916, left February 1918
96th Machine Gun Company joined 15 March 1916, moved to 32nd Bn MGC 21 Feb 1918
96th Trench Mortar Battery joined March 1916
2nd Bn, the Manchester Regiment joined February 1918
97th Brigade
11th Bn, the Border Regiment left as a cadre May 1918 (Lonsdale)
15th Bn, the Highland Light Infantry left January 1916 (Glasgow Tramways)
16th Bn, the Highland Light Infantry left February 1918 (Glasgow Boys Brigade)
17th Bn, the Highland Light Infantry disbanded February 1918 (3rd Glasgow)
2nd Bn, the King’s Own Yorkshire LI joined December 1915
97th Machine Gun Company joined 15 March 1916, moved to 32nd Bn MGC 21 Feb 1918
97th Trench Mortar Battery joined March 1916
10th Bn, the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders joined February 1918
1/5th Bn, the Border Regiment joined May 1918
14th Brigade
Brigade joined from 5th Division on 30 December 1915
1/9th Bn, the Royal Scots left January 1916
1st Bn, the Devonshire Regiment left January 1916
1st Bn, the East Surrey Regiment left January 1916
1st Bn, the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry left January 1916
2nd Bn, the Manchester Regiment joined December 1915, left February 1918
1st Bn, the Dorsetshire Regiment joined 7 January 1916
19th Bn, the Lancashire Fusiliers joined January 1916, left July 1916
15th Bn, the Highland Light Infantry joined January 1916
14th Machine Gun Company joined February 1916, moved to 32nd Bn MGC 21 Feb 1918
14th Trench Mortar Battery joined March 1916
1/5th Bn, the Royal Scots joined 29 July 1916
Divisional Troops
17th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers joined as Divisional Pioneer Battalion June 1915, left October 1916, returned September 1917, finally left November 1917 (North Eastern Railway Pioneers)
1/12th Bn, the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment joined as Divisional Pioneer Battalion November 1916, left January 1917
16th Bn, the Highland Light Infantry joined as Divisional Pioneer Battalion February 1918 (Glasgow Boys Brigade)
219th Machine Gun Company joined 25 March 1917, moved to 32nd Bn MGC 21 Feb 1918
32nd Battalion MGC formed 21 February 1918
Divisional Mounted Troops
F Sqn, the North Irish Horse briefly, between April and June 1916
32nd Divisional Cyclist Company, Army Cyclist Corps left 31 May 1916
Divisional Artillery
The original Divisional Artillery remained in England and on 2 December 1915 joined the 31st Division
CLXV Brigade, RFA
CLXIX Brigade, RFA
CLXX Brigade, RFA
CLXXI (Howitzer) Brigade, RFA
The original Divisional Artillery of the 31st Division joined to replace them between 30 December 1915 and 3 January 1916
CLV Brigade, RFA left 20 January 1917
CLXI Brigade, RFA
CLXIV (Howitzer) Brigade, RFA broken up September 1916
CLXVIII Brigade, RFA
32nd Divisional Ammunition Column RFA
V.32, W.32 Heavy Trench Mortar Batteries, RFA formed by June 1916; W Bty broken up 28 December 1916; V redesignated X on 12 February 1918
X.32, Y.32 and Z.32 Medium Mortar Batteries, RFA formed May 1916; by 12 February 1918, Z broken up and batteries reorganised to have 6 x 6-inch weapons each
Royal Engineers
206th (Glasgow) Field Company
218th (Glasgow) Field Company
219th (Glasgow) Field Company
32nd Divisional Signals Company
Royal Army Medical Corps
96th Field Ambulance left November 1915
97th Field Ambulance left November 1915
98th Field Ambulance left November 1915
90th Field Ambulance joined November 1915
91st Field Ambulance joined November 1915
92nd Field Ambulance joined November 1915
72nd Sanitary Section left 17 April 1917
Other Divisional Troops
32nd Divisional Train ASC originally 221, 222, 223 and 224 Compnaies ASC. This Train remained behind when the Division sailed in November 1915 and was replaced by 202, 203, 204 and 205 Companies. The original train later joined 31st Division
42nd Mobile Veterinary Section AVC
229th Divisional Employment Company joined 25 March 1917
32nd Divisional Motor Ambulance Workshop disbanded 6 April 1916

Divisional histories

There appears to be no published history of the Division but there is a history of its artillery and trench mortar units.

Divisional memorials

There appears to be no Divisional memorial, but there are several plaques on the face of the church at Authuille, Somme, France to units of the Division.

Links

Other Divisions