History of the 45th (2nd Wessex) Division
In September 1914 the War Office issued instructions for all men of the units of the Territorial Force who had agreed to serve overseas from that that had not. Those left as ‘home service only’ were formed into ‘second line’ units. These units were organised into 14 Divisions, each a mirror image if its ‘first line’.
The Wessex Division (later numbered 43rd) departed for India in October 1914. Some of the ‘second line’ units had already formed but most came into existence after the departure of the ‘first line’.
Arrangements had already been made to send the Welsh Division to India, to release regular units from garrison duty for active service. On 25 November 1914 it was decided to instead send from the 2nd Wessex 10 battalions of infantry and the artillery. The other ‘second line’ units (Royal Engineers, Royal Army Medical Corps, Army Service Corps, etc) of the Division would not go and many were eventually posted to fill gaps in other Divisions. The transport and horses of all units going to India were left behind.
The Division, thus depleted, sailed from Southampton on 12 December 1914. The total strength was 283 officers and 9344 men, with 36 guns. Two battalions (2/4th Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry and 2/4th Hampshire Regiment went to Karachi (arriving 9 January 1915) via Aden; the rest landed at Bombay (4-8 January 1915).
The artillery was stationed at Kirkee, Secunderabad and Bangalore; the infantry at Bombay, Poona, Secunderabad, Bangalore, Ahmednagar, Karachi, Quetta, Wellington and Meiktila.
The units of the Division were repeatedly called upon to supply drafts to the ‘first line’. It had been originally conceived that at some point the Division might be withdrawn from India for France, but this became an impractical proposition and it remained in India throughout the war. It was reduced in 1919 and eventually ceased to exist.
The order of battle of the 45th (2nd Wessex) Division
|134th (2/1st Hampshire) Brigade||ceased to exist from September 1917|
|2/4th Bn, the Hampshire Regiment||left for Egypt May 1917|
|2/5th Bn, the Hampshire Regiment||left for Egypt April 1917|
|2/6th Bn, the Hampshire Regiment||did not go to India; left February 1915 and joined 84th Provisional Battalion; later became 17th Hampshire Regiment|
|2/7th Bn, the Hampshire Regiment||left for Mesopotamia September 1917|
|135th (2/1st South Western) Brigade|
|2/4th Bn, the Somerset Light Infantry||left for Egypt September 1917|
|2/5th Bn, the Somerset Light Infantry|
|2/4th Bn, the Dorsetshire Regiment||left for Egypt August 1917|
|2/4th Bn, the Wiltshire Regiment|
|136th (2/1st Devon & Cornwall) Brigade|
|2/4th Bn, the Devonshire Regiment||left for Egypt October 1917|
|2/5th Bn, the Devonshire Regiment||did not go to India; went to Egypt September 1915|
|2/6th Bn, the Devonshire Regiment||left for Mesopotamia September 1917|
|2/4th Bn, the Duke of Conrwall’s Light Infantry|
|CCCXV (2/I Wessex) Brigade, RFA||broken up April 1917|
|2/II Wessex Brigade, RFA||did not go to India; remained at home as training unit|
|CCCXVII (2/III Wessex) Brigade, RFA|
|CCCXVIII (2/IV Wessex) (How) Bde, RFA|