Guards Division

History

This Division has the unusual distinction of being formed in France in August 1915. The various Guards units that had been with other divisions were withdrawn to be brought together to create this fine formation. It remained on the Western Front throughout the rest of the war and was engaged in the operations listed below.

1915

  • The Battle of Loos (from 26 September)

1916

  • The Battles of the Somme 1916
    – The Battle of Flers-Courcelette
    – The Battle of Morval
Albert I, King of Belgium, taking the salute at the review of the 2nd Guards Brigade at Curlu, 15th May 1917. Shows Field Marshal Frederick Rudolph Lambart, 10th Earl of Cavan; General Henry Seymour Rawlinson, 1st Baron Rawlinson; and others. Imperial War Museum image Q3135

Albert I, King of Belgium, taking the salute at the review of the 2nd Guards Brigade at Curlu, 15th May 1917. Shows Field Marshal Frederick Rudolph Lambart, 10th Earl of Cavan; General Henry Seymour Rawlinson, 1st Baron Rawlinson; and others. Imperial War Museum image Q3135

1917

  • German retreat to the Hindenburg Line (14 Mar – 5 Apr)
  • The Third Battles of Ypres
    – Battle of Pilkem (31 Jul – 2 Aug)
    – The Battle of the Menin Road (20 – 25 Sep)
    – The Battle of Poelcapelle (9 Oct)
    – The First Battle of Passchendaele (12 Oct)
  • The Battle of Cambrai (20 Nov – 3 Dec)

Gouzeaucourt

The Guards advanced towards the camera on this road to Gouzeaucourt in their recapture of the village during the Battle of Cambrai, 1917 [Author’s collection].

1918

The division was forced to restructure in February 1918 (in which the infantry brigades were reduced from four battalions down to three).

  • The First Battles of the Somme, 1918
    – The Battle of St Quentin (21-23 Mar)
    – The Battle of Bapaume (24-25 Mar)
    – The First Battle of Arras 1918 (28 Mar)
  • The Second Battles of the Somme 1918
    – The Battle of Albert (21-23 Aug)
    – The Second Battle of Bapaume (31 Aug – 3 Sept)
  • The Battles of the Hindenburg Line
    – The Battle of Havrincourt (12 Sep)
    – The Battle of the Canal du Nord (27 Sep – 1 Oct)
    – The Battle of Cambrai 1918 (8-9 Oct)
  • The pursuit to the Selle (9-12 Oct)
  • The Battle of the Selle (17-25 Oct)
  • The Battle of the Sambre (4 Nov)

The division, which was in and around Maubeuge at the Armistice, was joined by the 4th (Guards) Brigade from 31st Division on 17 November 1918. The Guards Division was then ordered to the Rhine and crossed the German frontier on 11 December. Battalions began to return to England on 20 February 1919 and the final moves of the Division were completed by 29 April 1919.

Order of battle

Divisional headquarters

Headquarters

under whose command came the Infantry Brigades and the other divisional troops listed below


1st Guards Brigade

Joined as complete 4th (Guards) Brigade from 2nd Division on 20 August 1915 and renumbered two days later.

2nd Bn, the Grenadier Guards

2nd Bn, the Coldstream Guards

3rd Bn, the Coldstream Guards (left 8 February 1918)

1st Bn, the Irish Guards

1st Guards Brigade Machine Gun Company (Formed by 19 September 1915. Left to move into 4th Bn Guards MG Regiment 1 March 1918)

1st Guards Trench Mortar Battery (Formed in France by 18 May 1916)


2nd Guards Brigade

3rd Bn, the Grenadier Guards (Joined 19 August 1915)

1st Bn, the Coldstream Guards (Joined 25 August 1915)

1st Bn, the Scots Guards (Joined 25 August 1915)

2nd Bn, the Irish Guards (Joined 17 August 1915, left 8 February 1918)

2nd Guards Brigade Machine Gun Company (Formed by 19 September 1915. Left to move into 4th Bn Guards MG Regiment 1 March 1918)

2nd Guards Trench Mortar Battery (Formed in France in April 1916)


3rd Guards Brigade

1st Bn, the Grenadier Guards (Joined 4 August 1915)

4th Bn, the Grenadier Guards (Joined 19 August 1915, left 18 February 1918)

2nd Bn, the Scots Guards (Joined 9 August 1915)

1st Bn, the Welsh Guards (Joined 20 August 1915)

3rd Guards Machine Gun Company (Formed by 19 September 1915, left to move into 4th Bn Guards MG Regiment 1 March 1918)

3rd Guards Trench Mortar Battery (Formed in France 24 March 1916)


Divisional Troops

4th Bn, the Coldstream Guards (Joined as Divisional Pioneer Battalion 15 August 1915)

4th (Foot Guards) Bn, the Guards Machine Gun Regiment (Joined 27 March 1917 as 4th Guards MG Company, became Bn 1 March 1918 when joined by 1st, 2nd and 3rd Guards MG Companies)

Guards Divisional Employment Company (Formed by 30 June 1917)

Guards Divisional Train (A unit of the Army Service Corps made up of 11, 124, 168, 436 Companies, joined 24 August 1915)

46th Mobile Veterinary Section (Joined 17 August 1915)

Guards Divisional Motor Ambulance Workshop (Joined from England 23 August 1915, transferred to Divisional Train 9 April 1916)


Divisional Mounted Troops

The Household Cavalry Divisional Squadron (Joined 5 August 1915, broken up 20 June 1916)


Divisional Royal Artillery

LXI (Howitzer) Brigade RFA (Joined 24 August 1915, broken up 14 November 1916)

LXXIV Brigade RFA (Joined 30 August 1915)

LXXV Brigade RFA (Joined 4 September 1915)

LXXVI Brigade RFA (Joined 4 September 1915,left 19 January 1917)

Guards Divisional Ammunition Column RFA (Joined 3 September 1915, from 16th (Irish) Division. The four Brigade Ammunition Columns amalgamated into the DAC on 13 May 1916.)

V.Gds Heavy Trench Mortar Battery RFA (Formed in May 1916, left 8 February 1918)

X.Gds, Y.Gds and Z.Gds Medium Mortar Batteries RFA (Formed March 1916; on 8 February 1918, Z was broken up and the other batteries reorganised to have 6 x 6-inch weapons each)


Divisional Royal Engineers

55th Field Company (Joined September 1915)

75th Field Company (Joined August 1915)

76th Field Company (Joined August 1915)

Guards Divisional Signal Company (Joined August 1915 from 16th (Irish) Division)


Divisional Royal Army Medical Corps

3rd Field Ambulance (Joined 25 August 1915)

4th Field Ambulance (Joined 19 August 1915)

9th Field Ambulance (Joined 19 August 1915)

45th Sanitary Section (Joined August 1915, transferred to XVII Corps on 9 April 1917)


Links

Other British Divisions

Divisional history

“History of the Guards Division in the Great War 1915-1918”, two volumes, by Cuthbert Headlam DSO

Divisional memorials

Horse Guards Parade, London

On road between Ginchy and Lesboeufs, Somme