4th Division

The history of 4th Division

This division, initially planned to be part of the original British Expeditionary Force, was at the last minute held back in England to counter any possible German invasion. It was assembled to defend the East Coast from the Thames Estauray to the Wash. A decision was soon taken to despatch it to France and it arrived just in time to play a valuble part in the Battle of Le Cateau. The 4th Division then remained on the Western Front throughout the war. It took part in the following battles and engagements:

Under command of Major-General T. D’O. Snow

The Battle of Le Cateau (26 August. (The division fought in this action without its Mounted Troops, Heavy Battery, Divisional Ammunition Column, Field Companies RE, Signals Company RE, Field Ambulances RAMC and Divisional Train, which were all still en route from England) and the continuing “Retreat from Mons” which continued to 5 September)
The Battle of the Marne (7-10 September)

On 9 September, command of the division was taken up temporarily by Brigadier-General H. F. M. Wilson. Snow had been injured, fracturing his pelvis when falling from his horse.

The Battle of the Aisne (12-15 September)

Major-General Sir H. Rawlinson took command on 23 September and was replaced by the promoted Major-General H. F. M. Wilson on 4 October

The Battle of Armentières 1914 (13 October – 2 November)

The Second Battle of Ypres in its phases:
– Battle of St. Julien (24 April – 4 May)
– Battle of Frezenberg (8-13 May)
– Battle of Bellewaarde (24-25 May)

On 28 September 1915, due to Wilson being promoted to command a corps, command of the division passed to Major-General Hon. W. Lambton

The Battles of the Somme 1916 in phases:
– Battle of Albert (1-13 July)
– Battle of Le Transloy (1-18 October)

The Battles of Arras 1917 in phases:
– First Battle of the Scarpe (9-14 April)
– Third Battle of the Scarpe (3-4 May)

On 12 September 1917, due to Lambton being injured in a riding accident, Brigadier-General R. A. Berners took temporary command of the division. His place was taken on 23 September by Major-General T. G. Matheson

The Third Battle of Ypres 1917 in phases:
– Battle of Polygon Wood (26 September – 3 October)
– Battle of Broodseinde (4 October)
– Battle of Poelcapelle (9 October)
– First Battle of Passchendaele (12 October)

The First Battles of the Somme 1918 in phase:
– First Battle of Arras 1918 (28 March: defensive fight against German Operation “Mars”)
The Battles of the Lys in phases:
– Battle of Hazebrouck (12-15 April, in which the battalion fought in the Defence of Hinges Ridge)
– Battle of Bethune (18 April)
The Advance in Flanders (18 Augist – 6 September)
The Second Battles of Arras 1918 in phases:
– Battle of the Scarpe 1918 (26-30 August)
– Battle of Drocourt-Queant (2-3 September)

On 14 September 1918, due to Lambton being injured in a riding accident, Major-General L. J. Lipsett took command of the division

The Battles of the Hindenburg Line in phase:
– Battle of the Canal du Nord (27 September – 1 October)

Major-General Louis James Lipsett was killed in action on 14 October 1918 (see Commonwealth War Graves Commission details). He was replaced next day by Major-General C. H. T. Lucas.

The Final Advance in Picardy in phases:
– Battle of the Selle (17-25 October)
– Battle of Valenciennes (1-2 November)

The 4th Division was demobilised in Belgium in early 1919.

The order of battle of the 4th Division

Unit or sub-formationDates
Divisional Headquarters
10th Infantry Brigade
1st Bn, Royal Warwickshire RegimentThroughout
2nd Bn, Seaforth HighlandersThroughout
1st Bn, Royal Irish FusiliersFrom start, left 2 August 1917
2nd Bn, Royal Dublin FusiliersFrom start, left 15 November 1916
1/7th Bn, Argyll & Sutherland HighlandersJoined January 1915, left March 1916
1/9th Bn, Argyll & Sutherland HighlandersJoined May 1915, left July 1915
10th Brigade Machine Gun CompanyFormed on 22 December 1915, left to move into 4th MG Battalion 26 February 1918
10th Trench Mortar BatteryFormed June 1916
The Household BattalionJoined 17 November 1916, disbanded 10 February 1918
3/10th Bn, the Middlesex RegimentJoined 2 August 1917, left 22 February 1918 to become 11th Entrenching Battalion
2nd Bn, the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment)Joined from 12th Infantry Brigade 10 February 1918
11th Infantry Brigade
1st Bn, Somerset Light InfantryThroughout
1st Bn, East Lancashire RegimentFrom start, left 1 February 1918
1st Bn, Hampshire RegimentThroughout
1st Bn, Rifle BrigadeThroughout
1/5th Bn, London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade)Joined 17 November 1914, left 19 May 1915
2nd Bn, Royal Irish RegimentJoined from 12th Infantry Brigade 26 July 1915, left 22 May 1916
11th Brigade Machine Gun CompanyFormed on 23 December 1915, left to move into 4th MG Battalion 26 February 1918
11th Trench Mortar BatteryFormed June 1916
12th Infantry BrigadeBrigade was attached to 36th (Ulster) Division between 4 November 1915 and 3 February 1916 in exchange for 107th Infantry Brigade
1st Bn, King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment)Throughout
2nd Bn, Lancashire FusiliersThroughout
2nd Bn, Royal Inniskilling FusiliersFrom start, left 6 December 1914
2nd Bn, Essex RegtThroughout
1/2nd Bn, Monmouthshire RegimentJoined 20 November 1914, left temporarily for 84th Infantry Brigade 29 May to 25 July 1915, left 30 January 1916
1/5th Bn, South Lancashire RegimentJoined 16 February 1915, left 7 November 1915
2nd Bn, Royal Irish RegimentJoined 14 March 1915, left for 11th Infantry Brigade 26 July 1915
2nd Bn, the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment)Joined 15 January 1916, left for 10th Infantry Brigade 10 February 1918
12th Brigade Machine Gun CompanyFormed on 24 January 1916, left to move into 4th MG Battalion 26 February 1918
12th Trench Mortar BatteryFormed 11 June 1916
107th Infantry BrigadeBrigade joined from 36th (Ulster) Division in temporary exchange for 12th Infantry Brigade (see above)
See 36th (Ulster) Division for constituent elements of this brigade
Divisional TroopsUnits under direct command of Divisional HQ
21st Bn, West Yorkshire RegimentJoined as Divisional Pioneer Battalion 21 June 1916
234th Machine Gun CompanyJoined 16 July 1917, left to move into 4th MG Battalion 26 February 1918
4 Bn, Machine Gun CorpsFormed 26 February 1918
Divisional Mounted TroopsUnits under direct command of Divisional HQ
B Squadron, the 19th HussarsFrom start, but joined a temporary composite cavalry brigade on 26 August 1914 and only rejoined division 15 September 1914. Left 14 April 1915
A Sqn, the 1/st Northamptonshire YeomanryJoined 13 April 1915, left 11 May 1916
4th Divisional Cyclist Company, Army Cyclist CorpsFrom start, left 11 May 1916
Divisional ArtilleryUnder orders of 4th Divisional Commander Royal Artillery
XIV Brigade, RFAHistory, left 14 January 1917
XXIX Brigade, RFAThroughout. History
XXXII Brigade, RFAThroughout. History
XXXVII (Howitzer) Brigade, RFAHistory, left 17 February 1915
CXXVII (Howitzer) Brigade, RFAFormed 6 August 1915. History, disbanded 21 May 1916
4th Divisional Ammunition Column, RFAThroughout
31st Heavy Battery, RGAFrom start, left 29 April 1915
4 Pom-Pom Section, RGAAttached 20 September 1914 to January 1915
2 Mountain Battery, RGAAttached 14 December 1914 to 21 April 1915
V.4 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery, RFAFormed by July 1916, left 8 February 1918
X.4, Y.4 and Z.4 Medium Mortar Batteries, RFAJoined in February 1916; on 8 February 1918, Z broken up and batteries reorganised to have 6 x 6-inch weapons each
Divisional EngineersUnder orders of 4th Divisional Commander Royal Engineers
7th Field CompanyFrom start, left 29 April 1915
9th Field CompanyThroughout
1st (West Lancashire) Field CompanyJoined 14 February 1915, attched to 48th (South Midland) Division 18-28 April 1915, left 28 February 1916
1st (Durham) Field Company, later renamed 526th Field CompanyJoined 20 September 1915
1st (Renfrew) Field Company, later renamed 406th Field CompanyJoined 2 May 1916
4th Divisional Signals CompanyThroughout
Royal Army Medical Corps
10th Field AmbulanceThroughout
11th Field AmbulanceThroughout
12th Field AmbulanceThroughout
4th Sanitary SectionJoined as 3A Sanitary Section 20 February 1915, renamed in April 1916, left 29 March 1917
Other Divisional Troops
4th Divisional Train, comprising 18, 25, 32, 38 (Horse Transport) Companies, Army Service CorpsThroughout
4th Mobile Veterinary Section, Army Veterinary CorpsThroughout
207th Divisional Employment Company, Labour CorpsJoined 17 May 1917 at which time it was 4th Divisional Employment Company; renamed in June 1917
4th Divisional Motor Ambulance WorkshopJoined by 18 April 1915, transferred to Divisional Supply Column 9 April 1916

Divisional histories

Divisional memorials

There is no memorial for the 4th Division.


Other Divisions