2nd Division

The history of 2nd Division

One of the first British formations to move to France, the 2nd Division remained on the Western Front throughout the war. It took part in the following battles and engagements.

Commanded by Major-General C. C. Monro

1914
The Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat, including the the Affair of Landrecies, the Rearguard affair of Le Grand Fayt and the Rearguard actions of Villers-Cotterets (August)
The Battle of the Marne (September)
The Battle of the Aisne including participation in the Actions on the Aisne heights (September)
First Battle of Ypres (October-November)

Commanded by Brigadier-General R. Fanshawe, 26 Dec 1914 to 1 January 1915
Then Major-General H. S. Horne

1915
Winter Operations 1914-15
The Battle of Festubert (May)
The Battle of Loos (September-October)

Commanded by Major-General W. G. Walker VC from 5 November 1915

1916
The Battles of the Somme 1916, in phases
– Battle of Delville Wood
– Battle of the Ancre
Operations on the Ancre

Commanded by Major-General C. E. Pereira from 27 Dec 1916

1917
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line (March-April)
The Battles of Arras 1917 (April-May), in phases
– First Battle of the Scarpe
– Battle of Arleux
– Second Battle of the Scarpe
The Battle of Cambrai (November-December)

1918
The First Battles of the Somme 1918 (March-April) (Operation Michael, “Kaiserschlacht”), in phases
– Battle of St Quentin
– Battle of Bapaume
– First Battle of Arras 1918 (Operation Mars)
The battles Second Battles of the Somme 1918 (August), in phases
– Battle of Albert
– Second Battle of Bapaume
The battles Battles of the Hindenburg Line (september-October), in phases
– Battle of Havrincourt
– Battle of the Canal du Nord
– Battle of Cambrai 1918
The Battle of the Selle

The Division was amohst those selected to advance into Germany to form part of the Occupation Force.

The order of battle of the 2nd Division

Units and sub-formationsDates with division
Division HeadquartersThroughout
4th (Guards) BrigadeOn the formation of the Guards Division in August 1915, this Brigade left 2nd Division and on joining Guard Division was retitled as 1st Guards Brigade
2nd Bn, the Grenadier GuardsFrom start
2nd Bn, the Coldstream GuardsFrom start
3rd Bn, the Coldstream GuardsFrom start
1st Bn, the Irish GuardsFrom start
1/1st Bn, the Hertfordshire RegimentJoined November 1914. Acquired nickname, “Hertfordshire Guards”. Left 19 August 1915
5th Infantry Brigade
2nd Bn, the Worcestershire RegimentFrom start. Left December 1915
2nd Bn, the Ox & Bucks Light InfantryThroughout
2nd Bn, the Highland Light InfantryThroughout
2nd Bn, the Connaught RangersFrom start. Left November 1914
1/9th Bn, the Highland Light InfantryJoined November 1914, left January 1916
2nd Bn, the Royal Inniskilling FusiliersJoined 26 January 1915, left 22 July 1915
1st Bn, the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment)Joined July 1915, left December 1915
1/7th Bn, the King’s (Liverpool Regiment)Joined 4 September 1915, left 11 November 1915
17th Bn, the Royal Fusiliers (Empire)Joined 13 December 1915, left 6 February 1918
24th Bn, the Royal Fusiliers (2nd Sportsmen’s)Joined 13 December 1915
5th Machine Gun CompanyFormed on 1 January 1916. Left to move into 2nd MG Battalion 4 March 1918
5th Trench Mortar BatteryJoined by 11 March 1916
6th Infantry Brigade
1st Bn, the King’s (Liverpool Regiment)Throughout
2nd Bn, the South Staffordshire RegimenttThroughout
1st Bn, the Royal Berkshire RegimentFrom start. Left 15 December 1915
1st Bn, the King’s Royal Rifle CorpsFrom start. Left 13 December 1915
1/5th Bn, the King’s (Liverpool Regiment)Joined 24 February 1915, left 15 December 1915
1/7th Bn, the King’s (Liverpool Regiment)Joined 12 March 1915, left 4 September 1915
1/1st Bn, the Hertfordshire RegimentJoined 19 August 1915. Left 28 February 1916
17th Bn, the Middlesex Regiment (Football)Joined 8 December 1915, disbanded February 1918
13th Bn, the Essex Regiment (West Ham)Joined December 1915, disbanded February 1918
17th Bn, the Royal Fusiliers (Empire)Joined 6 February 1918
6th Machine Gun CompanyFormed on 4 January 1916. Left to move into 2nd MG Battalion 4 March 1918
6th Trench Mortar BatteryJoined by 18 March 1916
19th Infantry BrigadeThis Brigade joined from 27th Division in order to replace the 4th (Guards) Brigade. It came under divisional command on 19 August 1915 but left to go to 33rd Division on 25 November 1915
2nd Bn, the Royal Welsh Fusiliers
1st Bn, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)
1/5th Bn, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)
1st Bn, the Middlesex Regiment
2nd Bn, the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders
99th Infantry BrigadeThis Brigade arrived from 33rd Division on 25 November 1915
22nd Bn, Royal Fusiliers (Kensington)Disbanded 3 February 1918
23rd Bn, Royal Fusiliers (1st Sportsmen’s)
24th Bn, the Royal Fusiliers (2nd Sportsmen’s)Left 13 December 1915
1/5th Bn, the King’s (Liverpool Regiment)Joined 15 December 1915, left 7 January 1916
1st Bn, the Royal Berkshire RegimentJoined 15 December 1915
1st Bn, the King’s Royal Rifle CorpsJoined 13 December 1915
17th Bn, the Royal Fusiliers (Empire)Joined 6 February 1918
99th Machine Gun CompanyJoined on 28 April 1916. Left to move into 2nd MG Battalion 4 March 1918
99th Trench Mortar BatteryJoined by 18 March 1916
Divisional TroopsUnits under direct command of Divisional HQ
10th Bn, the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry (Cornwall Pioneers)Joined 23 June 1916, left 16 July 1917 but returned 7 November 1917
242nd Machine Gun CompanyJoined 18 July 1917. Left to move into 2nd MG Battalion 4 March 1918
2nd Battalion, the Machine Gun CorpsFormed 4 March 1918
2nd Divisional Train, Army Service CorpsFrom start. Numbers 8, 11, 28, 31, 35 Companies. 11 left division with 4th (Guards) Brigade in August 1915
3rd Mobile Veterinary Section, Army Veterinary CorpsThroughout
205th Divisional Employment Company, Labour CorpsJoined from 7th Division 18 May 1917
2nd Divisional Motor Ambulance Workshop UnitJoined by 4 April 1915, transferred to Divisional Train 9 April 1916
Divisional Mounted TroopsUnits under direct command of Divisional HQ
B Squadron, the 15th (King’s) HussarsFrom start. Left April 1915
B Sqn, South Irish HorseJoined May 1915, left May 1916
2nd Divisional Cyclist Company, Army Cyclist CorpsFrom start. Left June 1916
Divisional ArtilleryUnder orders of Divisional Commander Royal Artillery
XXXIV Brigade, RFAFrom start. Left January 1917
XXXVI Brigade, RFAThroughout
XLI Brigade, RFAThroughout
XLIV (Howitzer) Brigade, RFAFrom start. Left May 1916
35th Heavy Battery, RGAFrom start. Left April 1915
11 Pom-Pom Section, RGAJoined 22 September 1914. Left 25 January 1915
1st Siege Battery, RGAJoined February 1915, left April 1915
26th Heavy Battery, RGAJoined February 1915, left April 1915
7 Mountain Battery, RGAJoined 4 February 1915. Left 9 December 1915.
V.2 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery, RFAFormed 26 May 1917, left by 3 January 1918
X.2, Y.2 and Z.2 Medium Mortar Batteries, RFAJoined in April 1916; on 24 February 1918, Z broken up and batteries reorganised to have 6 x 6-inch weapons each
2nd Divisional Ammunition Column, RFAThroughout
Divisional EngineersAll of the Royal Engineers and under orders of Divisional Commander Royal Engineers
5th Field CompanyThroughout
11th Field CompanyFrom start. Left December 1915
1st (East Anglian) Field CompanyJoined January 1915, later renamed 483rd Field Company RE
226th Field CompanyJoined December 1915
2nd Divisional Signal CompanyThroughout
Divisional Medical UnitsAll of the Royal Army Medical Corps
4th Field AmbulanceFrom start. Lefft for Guards Division 19 August 1915
5th Field AmbulanceThroughout
6th Field AmbulanceThroughout
19th Field AmbulanceJoined with 19th Infantry Brigade August 1915, left November 1915
100th Field AmbulanceJoined with 99th Infantry Brigade November 1915
11th Sanitary SectionJoined by 9 January 1915, left 27 December 1916

Divisional histories

“History of the Second Division 1914-1918” (in two volumes) by Everard Wyrall

Divisional memorials

There does not appear to be a memorial to the 2nd Division.

Links

Other Divisions

Review of “Catholic General: the private wartime correspondence of Mahor-General Sir Cecil Edward Pereira, 1914-19”