6th Division

The history of 6th Division

Under command of Major-General J. L. Keir

This peacetime division of the pre-war army was quartered in Ireland and England at the outbreak of war, and was ordered on mobilisation to concentrate near Cambridge. By early September it was fully equipped and trained. On the 10 September 1914 it landed at St Nazaire and proceeded to the Western Front, where it remained throughout the war. The division arrived in time to reinforce the hard-pressed British Expeditionary Force on the Aisne front, before the whole BEF was moved north into Flanders. The division is fornmally recognised as participating in the followng battles and engagements:

1914

  • The actions on the Aisne heights (only 18th Infantry Brigade, 20 September)
  • The Battle of Armentières (only 19th Infantry Brigade, 13 October – 2 November)

1915

Under command of Major-General W. N. Congreve VC (newly promoted from command of 18th Infantry Brigade), who replaced Keir (who had been promoted to take command of VI Corps) on 27 May 1915

Imperial War Museum photograph Q50421. With thanks. 18th Field Ambulance’s Dressing Station at the hop store at Vlamertinghe, west of Ypres, in June 1915.
Google Maps view of the same location today: echoes of 6th Division. During 1915 the division rented the “old house” in nearby Poperinge that soon became “Talbot House”, an everyman’s soldiers’ club, under Chaplain Philip ‘Tubby’ Clayton.
  • The action at Hooge (9 August)

Under command of Major-General C. Ross (newly promoted from command of 61st Infantry Brigade), who replaced Congreve VC (who had been promoted to take command of XIII Corps) on 14 November 1915

1916

  • The Battles of the Somme 1916, in phases:
    • The Battle of Flers-Courcelette (15-22 September)
    • The Battle of Morval (25-28 September)
    • The Battle of Le Transloy (1-18 October)

1917

  • The Battle of Hill 70 (15-25 August)

Under command of Major-General T. O. Marden (newly promoted) who replaced Ross (who had been ordered to England) on 21 August 1917.

  • The Cambrai operations (Battle of Cambrai 1917) in phases:
    • The tank attack (20-21 November)
    • The capture of Bourlon Wood (23-28 November)
    • The German counter-attacks (30 November-3 December)

1918

  • The First Battles of the Somme 1918 (fighting against German Operation “Michael” or “Kaiserschlacht”) in phase:
    • The Battle of St Quentin (21-23 March)
  • The Battles of the Lys (fighting agansit German Operation “Georgette) in phases:
    • The Battle of Bailleul (only 71st Infantry Brigade, 13-15 April)
    • The First Battle of Kemmel (only 71st Infantry Brigade, 17-19 April)
    • The Second Battle of Kemmel (only 71st Infantry Brigade, 25-26 April)
    • -he Battle of the Scherpenberg (29 April)
  • The Advance in Flanders (18 August – 6 September)
  • The Battles of the Hindenburg Line, in phases:
    • The Battle of Epehy (18 September)
    • The Battle of the St Quentin Canal (29 September – 2 October)
    • The Battle of Beaurevoir (3-5 October)
    • The Battle of Cambrai 1918 (8-9 October)
  • The pursuit to the Selle (9-12 October)
  • The Final Advance in Pcardy, in phase:
    • The Battle of the Selle (17-25 October)

The 6th Division was billeted around Bohain at the Armistice on 11 November 1918. It was selected to march into Germany as part of the occupation force and began to move on 14-18 November to assemble near Solre-le-Chateau. The division crossed the German border on 13 December and reached its destination at Bruehl on 23 December.

The order of battle of the 6th Division

Units and sub-formationsDates
Divisional Headquarters
16th Infantry Brigade 
1st Bn, Buffs (East Kent Regiment)Throughout
1st Bn, Leicestershire RegimentFrom start, moved to 71st Infantry Brigade 17 November 1915
1st Bn, King’s Shropshire Light InfantryThroughout
2nd Bn, York & Lancaster RegimentThroughout
1/5th Bn, Loyal North Lancashire RegimentJoined 15 February 1915, left for 51st (Highland) Division 11 June 1915
8th Bn, Bedfordshire RegimentJoined from 71st Infantry Brigade 17 November 1915, disbanded 16 February 1918
16th Machine Gun CompanyFormed in February 1916, left to move into 6th MG Battalion 1 March 1918
16th Trench Mortar BatteryFormed 3 April 1916
17th BrigadeTransferred to 24th Division in exchange for 71st Infantry Brigade on 14 October 1915
1st Bn, Royal Fusiliers 
1st Bn, North Staffordshire Regiment 
2nd Bn, Leinster Regiment 
3rd Bn, Rifle Brigade 
2nd Bn, Manchester Regiment 
1/2nd Bn, London RegimentJoined 21 February 1915
18th Infantry Brigade 
1st Bn, West Yorkshire RegimentThroughout
1st Bn, East Yorkshire RegimentFrom start, left for 21st Division 26 November 1915
2nd Bn, Sherwood ForestersFrom start, moved to 71st Infantry Brigade 27 October 1915
2nd Bn, Durham Light InfantryThroughout
1/16th Bn, London RegimentJoined 12 November 1914, left for 56th (London) Division 9 February 1916
11th Bn, Essex RegimentJoined from 71st Infantry Brigade 27 October 1915
14th Bn, Durham Light InfantryJoined from 21st Division 28 November 1915, disbanded 1 February 1918
18th Brigade Machine Gun CompanyFormed in February 1916, left to move into 6th MG Battalion 1 March 1918
18th Trench Mortar BatteryFormed 16 April 1916
19th Infantry BrigadeBrigade joined from GHQ Troops on 12 October 1914 and left to join 27th Division on 31 May 1915
2nd Bn, Royal Welsh Fusiliers 
1st Bn, Cameronians 
1st Bn, Middlesex Regiment 
2nd Bn, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders 
1/5th Bn, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)Joined 19 November 1914
71st Infantry BrigadeBrigade transferred from 24th Division in exchange for 17th Infantry Brigade on 11 October 1915
9th Bn, Norfolk Regiment 
9th Bn, Suffolk RegimentDisbanded 16 February 1918
8th Bn, Bedfordshire RegimentMoved to 16th Infantry Brigade 17 November 1915
11th Bn, Essex RegimentMoved to 18th Infantry Brigade 27 October 1915
2nd Bn, Sherwood ForestersJoined from 18th Infantry Brigade 18 October 1915
1st Bn, Leicestershire RegimentJoined from 16th Infantry Brigade 17 November 1915
71st Machine Gun CompanyFormed 14 March 1916, left to move into 6th MG Battalion 1 March 1918
71st Trench Mortar BatteryFormed April 1916
Divisional TroopsUnits that were under direct command of Divisional HQ
11th Bn, Leicestershire RegimentJoined as Divisional Pioneer Battalion 1 April 1916
192nd Machine Gun CompanyJoined 15 December 1916, left to move into 6th MG Battalion 1 March 191 8
6th Battalion, Machine Gun CorpsFormed 1 March 1918
Divisional Mounted TroopsUnits that were under direct command of Divisional HQ
C Squadron, the 19th HussarsFrom start, left for 9th Cavalry Brigade 14 April 1915
B Sqn, the 1/st Northamptonshire YeomanryJoined 14 April 1915, left for VI Corps 9 May 1916
6th Company, Army Cyclist CorpsFrom start, left for XIV Corps 26 May 1916
Divisional Artillery Units that were under orders of Divisional Commander Royal Artillery
II Brigade, Royal Field Artillery 
XII (Howitzer) Brigade, RFAleft May 1916
XXIV Brigade, RFA 
XXXVIII Brigade, RFAleft January 1917
6th Divisional Ammunition Column, RFA 
24th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artilleryleft April 1915
2 Pom-Pom (Anti-Aircraft) Section, RGAAttached 4 October 1914 to 16 December 1914
V.6 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery, RFAFormed 20 July 1916, left 6 March 1918
X.6, Y.6 and Z.6 Medium Mortar Batteries, RFAJoined on 1 April 1916; on 15 March 1918, Z broken up and batteries reorganised to have 6 x 6-inch weapons each
Royal Engineers Units that were under orders of Divisional Commander Royal Engineers
12th Field CompanyThroughout
38th Field CompanyLeft for 28th Division 7 April 1915
1st (London) Field CompanyJoined 23 December 1914, later renamed 509th Field Company RE
2/2nd (West Riding) Field CompanyJoined 13 October 1915, later renamed 459th Field Company RE
6th Divisional Signal CompanyThroughout
Royal Army Medical Corps 
16th Field AmbulanceThroughout
17th Field AmbulanceThroughout
18th Field AmbulanceThroughout
8th Sanitary SectionJoined 9 January 1915, left for First Army 5 April 1917
Other Divisional Troops 
6th Divisional Train, Army Service CorpsThroughout. Comprised numbers 17, 19, 23 and 24 (Horse Transport) Companies ASC
6th Mobile Veterinary Section, Army Veterinary CorpsThroughout
209th Divisional Employment Company, Labour CorpsJoined 20 May 1917 at which time it was named 11th Divisional Employment Company; renamed in June 1917
6th Divisional Motor Ambulance WorkshopJoined by 10 June 1915, transferred to Divisional Supply Column 9 April 1916

Divisional histories

A free PDF copy of Sir T. O.Marden’s “A short history of the 6th Division Aug. 1914- March 1919” can be downloaded from archive.org: here

Divisional memorials

There appears to be no memorial to the 6th Division

Links

Other Divisions