The British Second Army 1914-1918

The addition of a level in the hierarchy of the growing British Expeditionary Force took place when the First and Second Armies came into existence on 26 December 1914. The Second Army was placed under the command of General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, who up to this point had commanded II Corps.

Second Army remained on the Western Front until 10 November 1917 when General Sir Herbert Plumer and his HQstaff went to Italy. The Fourth Army staff under General Sir Henry Rawlinson took over what had been the Second Army sector. On 20 December 1917 Second Army was renamed as Fourth Army. Plumer and his staff returned from Italy on 10 March 1918 and Second Army was reconstituted three days later.

Headquarters locations

  • 26 December 1914: Bailleul
  • 2 January 1915: Hazebrouck
  • 6 May 1915: Chateau de Jardin at Oxelaere
  • 23 October 1915: Cassel
  • 14 April 1918: Blendecques
  • 1 September 1918: Cassel
  • 23 October 1918: Chateau Ternynck at Roubaix
  • 24 November 1918: Advanced HQ at Namur
  • 1 December 1918: Advanced HQ at Spa
  • 9 December 1918: Advanced HQ at Dueren
  • 19 December 1918: Advanced HQ at Cologne (Koeln); main body of HQ arrived two days later

Commanding officers

  • 26 December 1914: General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien
  • 7 May 1915: General Sir Herbert Plumer
  • 9 December 1917: General Sir Henry Rawlinson (to 19 December 1917)
  • 13 March 1918: General Sir Herbert Plumer

Battles

  • The Battles of Ypres (“Second Ypres”), April-May 1915
  • The First German Phosgene Attack: 19 December 1915
  • The Bluff, February-March 1916
  • St Eloi craters, March-April 1916
  • The Battle of Mount Sorrel, June 1916
  • The Battle of Messines, June 1917
  • The Battles of Ypres (“Third Ypres”), 1917
  • The Battles of the Lys, April 1918
  • The advance in Flanders, August-September 1918
  • The final advance in Flanders, September-November 1918

 

Lille
Officers being presented to King George V at the Second Army Headquarters at Blendecques, 6 August 1918. IWM image Q9839, with my thanks.

Links

The British Armies in the various theatres of war