35th Division

The history of 35th 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 35th Division was originally numbered 42nd. 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 35th Division was born.

The Division was largely comprised of locally raised units known as “Bantams”, manned by troops who were under the normal regulation minimum height of 5 feet 3 inches.

After early training near home, the units concentrated in June 1915 in North Yorkshire. Divisional HQ was at Masham and units were at Roomer Common, Marfield, Fearby and Masham. In August 1915 the Division moved to Salisbury Plain, HQ being set up at Marlborough. Over the next few weeks moves were made to Chiseldon and Cholderton. In late 1915 orders were received to kit for a move to Egypt but this was soon rescinded.

On 28 January 1916 the Division began to cross the English Channel and by early on 6 February all units were concentrated east of St Omer. (Note: it follows that no man who was with the original contingent of this Division was awarded the 1914-1915 Star).

The Division then remained on the Western Front for the remainder of the war and took part in the following engagements:

1916
The Battle of Bazentin Ridge*
The fighting for Arrow Head Copse and Maltz Horn Farm*
The fighting for Falfemont Farm*
* the battles marked * are phases of the Battles of the Somme 1916

On 8 December the Divisional commanding officer (Major General H. J. S. Landon) submitted a report complaining that replacement drafts he had received were not of the same tough physical standard as the original bantams but were undeveloped, unfit men from the towns. A medical inspection was duly carried out and 1439 men rejected from the ranks. A second inspection removed another batch, bringing the total to 2784. These men were in the main transferred to the Labour Corps. Their places were filled with men transferred from disbanded yeomanry regiments; they had to be quickly trained in infantry methods and a Divisional depot was formed for the purpose. Brigades were then ordered that no more bantams were to be accepted. Original bantams who passed the medical inspection remained in place.

1917
The pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line
The fighting in Houthulst Forest**
The Second Battle of Passchendaele**
** the battles marked ** are phases of the Third Battles of Ypres 1917

1918
The First Battle of Bapaume, a phase of the First Battles of the Somme 1918
The Battle of Ypres^
The Battle of Courtrai^
The action of Tieghem^
^ the battles marked ^ are phases of the Final Advance in Flanders

On 9 November the Division established a bridgehead across the River Scheldt near Berchem. two days later the Division was ordered to push on to the line of the River Dender and before 11am had entered Grammont; by the time of the Armistice posts had been established across the river and at the sluice.

The Division was ordered to move west on 12 November and continued to do so over the next few days, passing through Ypres on 28 November. By 2 December Divisional HQ had been established at Eperlecques. Many miners were demobilised during the month and demobilisation happened apace. In January 1919, units of the Division was called upon to quell rioting in the transit camps at Calais. The Division ceased to exist by the end of April 1919.

The Great War cost 35th Division 23915 men killed, wounded or missing.

The order of battle of the 35th Division

104th Brigade
17th Bn, the Lancashire Fusiliers
18th Bn, the Lancashire Fusiliers
20th Bn, the Lancashire Fusiliers disbanded February 1918
23rd Bn, the Manchester Regiment disbanded February 1918
104th Machine Gun Company joined April 1916, moved to 35th Bn MGC February 1918
104th Trench Mortar Battery joined February 1916
9th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers joined August 1917, left May 1918
19th Bn, the Durham Light Infantry joined February 1918
105th Brigade
15th Bn, the Cheshire Regiment (1st Birkenhead)
16th Bn, the Cheshire Regiment (2nd Birkenhead) disbanded February 1918
14th Bn, the Gloucestershire Regiment (West of England) disbanded February 1918
15th Bn, the Sherwood Foresters
105th Machine Gun Company joined April 1916, moved to 35th Bn MGC February 1918
105th Trench Mortar Battery joined February 1916
4th Bn, the North Staffordshire Regiment joined February 1918
1/7th Bn, the Cheshire Regiment joined July 1918
106th Brigade
17th Bn, the Royal Scots (Rosebery)
17th Bn, the West Yorkshire Regiment (2nd Leeds) left November 1917
19th Bn, the Durham Light Infantry (2nd County) left February 1918
18th Bn, the Highland Light Infantry (4th Glasgow) disbanded February 1918
106th Machine Gun Company joined April 1916, moved to 35th Bn MGC February 1918
106th Trench Mortar Battery joined April 1916
4th Bn, the North Staffordshire Regiment joined November 1917, to 105th Bde February 1918
12th Bn, the Highland Light Infantry joined February 1918
Divisional Troops
19th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers Divisional Pioneer Battalion
241st Machine Gun Company joined 18 July 1917, moved to 35th Bn MGC February 1918
35th Battalion MGC formed 2 March 1918
Divisional Mounted Troops
F Sqn, the Lancashire Hussars left 9 May 1916
35th Divisional Cyclist Company, Army Cyclist Corps left 10 May 1916
Divisional Artillery
CLVII Brigade, RFA (Aberdeen)
CLVIII Brigade, RFA (Accrington and Burnley) broken up 28 February 1917
CLVIX Brigade, RFA (Glasgow)
CLXIII (Howitzer) Brigade, RFA (West Ham) broken up 9 September 1916
131 Heavy Battery RGA raised in Lewisham for 26th Division on 22 January 1915, but did not sail with that Division and was then attached to 35th. Left Division and moved independently to France, joining XXIII HA Group in March 1916
35th Divisional Ammunition Column RFA (British Empire League)
V.35 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery, RFA formed by 16 August 1916; left for VI Corps 6 March 1918
X.35, Y.35 and Z.35 Medium Mortar Batteries, RFA formed by 28 June 1916; on 8 February 1918, Z broken up and batteries reorganised to have 6 x 6-inch weapons each
Royal Engineers
203rd (Cambridge) Field Company
204th (Cambridge) Field Company
205th (Cambridge) Field Company
35th Divisional Signals Company
Royal Army Medical Corps
105th Field Ambulance
106th Field Ambulance
107th Field Ambulance
75th Sanitary Section left 9 April 1917
Other Divisional Troops
35th Divisional Train ASC 233, 234, 235 and 236 Companies.
45th Mobile Veterinary Section AVC
232nd Divisional Employment Company joined 9 June 1917
35th Divisional Motor Ambulance Workshop absorbed into Divisional Supply Column 31 March 1916

Divisional histories

“History of the 35th Division in the Great War” by Lt-Col. H. M. Davson

Divisional memorials

There is no memorial to the 35th Division.

Links

Bantams

Other Divisions