Infantry Base Depots in France, 1914-1918

The abbreviation IBD appears in virtually every infantryman’s service record, yet little is documented about them. This section of the Long, Long Trail will help anyone trying to find out more.

What was an Infantry Base Depot?

The IBD was a holding camp. Situated within easy distance of one the Channel ports, it received men on arrival from England and kept them in training while they awaiting posting to a unit at the front.

Each infantry division originally had its own IBD, which was established as it crossed to France. Thus 9 IBD would have supported 9th (Scottish) Division and would have supplied reinforcements to all the battalions in it, each regiment represented in the division having its own camp within the IBD. The divisions taking part in the first phase of the Somme had such heavy casualties that their IBDs were unable to bring them back up to strength, which meant calling on other IBDs, with reinforcements often having to change their cap badges as a result. At the beginning of August 1916 a new policy was introduced: each IBD would now be responsible for supplying drafts for all battalions of particular regiments, usually three or four per IBD. Matters changed again in December 1917 when the IBDs were given letter prefixes rather than numbers. Thus, for example 29 IBD became D IBD. The number of IBDs was also reduced and so each was supporting a greater number of regiments. For instance, 29 IBD was largely supplying battalions of the Royal Warwicks, but D IBD looked after nine regiments, including the Warwicks”. Thanks to Charles Messenger for this information

The Infantry Base Depots in France

This table lists the known IBDs in France. It is work in progress, although the information it contains is known to be accurate.

Infantry Base DepotLocationNotes
1Le Havre became A IBD
2Rouen became C IBD
3Rouen
4Rouen became J IBD
5Rouen
6Rouen
7Harfleur
8Le Havre
9Etaples
10-
11Etaples
12Calais
13-
14Etaples
15Etaples possibly later at Calais
16 (Irish)Etaples. Moved to Calais 16 Dec 1917
17Etaplesbecame L IBD
18Etaples
19Etaples
20Etaples
21Etaples
22-
23Etaples
24Etaples became F IBD
25Etaples
26Etaples
27Etaples
28Rouen
29Rouenbecame D IBD
30Etaples
31Etaples
32Etaples
33Etaples
34Etaples
35Etaples
36Harfleur
37Etaples
38Etaples
39Etaples
40Etaplesbecame J IBD
41Etaples
46Rouen
47Harfleur
48Le Havre
49Le Havre
55Rouen
56-66?
63 (RN)Calais
Guards DivisionHarfleur
ALe Havre formerly 1 IBD
BLe Havre
CRouen
DRouenformerly 29 IBD
E?
FEtaples
GEtaples
HEtaples
JEtaplesformerly 40 IBD
KCalais
LRouen? Calais by May 1918formerly 17 IBD
M (Scottish)Calais
Garrison BattalionsEtaples

In November 1918 there existed in France the Guards, A-F, H, J-M, Garrison Battalion, Australian and Canadian IBDs.

Links

British Base Depots in France

Gazetteer of the Western Front: Le Havre and Harfleur base