8th Division

The history of 8th Division

The 8th Division was formed in England during October 1914 by bringing together (mainly) regular army units which had been stationed at various points around the British Empire. The division moved to France in November 1914, a badly-needed reinforcement to the British Expeditionary Force. It remained on the Western Front throughout the rest of the war, taking part in the following actions:

Under command of Major-General Francis John Davies (until 27 July 1915, when he left to take command of VIII Corps)

1915

  • The Battle of Neuve Chapelle (as part of IV Corps, 10-13 March)
  • The Battle of Aubers (as part of IV Corps, 9 May)

Under temporary command of Brigadier-General R. S. Oxley (17 July to 1 August)

Under command of Major-General H. Hudson (from 1 August)

  • The action of Bois Grenier (a diversionary attack coinciding with the Battle of Loos, as part of III Corps, 25 )

1916

  • The Battle of Albert (the first phase of the Battles of the Somme 1916, as part of III Corps, 1-13 July 1916)

Under command of Major-General W. C. G. Heneker (from 10 December)

1917

  • The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line (as part of XV Corps, 14 March – 5 April)
  • The Third Battles of Ypres 1917, in phases
    • The Battle of Pilckem (as part of II Corps, 31 July – 2 August)
    • The Battle of Langemarck (as part of II Corps, 16-18 August)

1918

  • The First Battles of the Somme 1918, in phases
    • The Battle of St Quentin (as part of XIX Corps, 21-23 March)
    • The actions at the Somme crossings (as part of XIX Corps, 24-25 March)
    • The Battle of Rosières (as part of XIX Corps, 26-27 March)
  • The actions of Villers-Bretonneux (as part of III Corps, 24-25 April)
  • The Battle of the Aisne 1918 (as part of IX Corps, 17 May – 6 June)
  • The Second Battles of Arras 1918, in phase
    • The Battle of the Scarpe (as part of VIII Corps, 26-30 August, only 25th Infantry Brigade)
  • The Final Advance in Artois (as part of VIII Corps, 2 October – 11 November, ,in which the 8th Division captured Douai on 17 October)

The order of battle of the 8th Division

Units and sub-formations Dates with the Division
Divisional Headquarters Throughout
23rd Infantry BrigadeThroughout
2nd Bn, the Devonshire Regiment Throughout
2nd Bn, the West Yorkshire Regt Throughout
2nd Bn, the Scottish Rifles Left February 1918 for 20th (light) Divisison
2nd Bn, the Middlesex Regt Throughout
1/6th Bn, the Scottish Rifles Joined March 1915, left June 1915 for 51st (Highland) Division
1/7th Bn, the Middlesex Regt Joined March 1915, left February 1916 for 56th (London) Division
23rd Machine Gun Company Formed 15 January 1916, left to move into 8th MG Battalion 20 January 1918
23rd Trench Mortar Battery Formed January 1916
24th Infantry BrigadeBrigade transferred to 23rd Division in exchange for 70th Brigade on 18 October 1915. Returned to 8th Division on 15 July 1916.
1st Bn, the Worcestershire Regt Throughout
2nd Bn, the East Lancashire Regt Moved to 25th Infantry Brigade February 1918
1st Bn, the Sherwood Foresters Throughout
2nd Bn, the Northamptonshire Regt Throughout
1/5th Bn, the Black Watch Joined November 1914, left to become Divisional Pioneer Battalion October 1915
1/4th Bn, the Cameron Highlanders Joined February 1915, left April 1915 for 7th Division
24th Machine Gun CompanyFormed 19 January 1916, left to move into 8th MG Battalion 20 January 1918
24th Trench Mortar Battery Formed January 1916
25th Infantry BrigadeThroughout
2nd Bn, the Lincolnshire Regt Left February 1918 for 21st Division
2nd Bn, the Royal Berkshire Regt Throughout
1st Bn, the Royal Irish Rifles Left February 1918 for 36th (Ulster) Division
2nd Bn, the Rifle Brigade Throughout
1/13th Bn, the London Regt (Kensington)Joined November 1914, left May 1915 for GHQ
1/1st Bn, the London Regt Joined May 1915, left February 1916 for 56th (London) Division
1/8th Bn, the Middlesex Regt Joined August 1915, moved to 70th Infantry Brigade October 1915
25th Machine Gun Company Formed 10 January 1916
left to move into 8th MG Battalion 20 January 1918
25th Trench Mortar Battery Formed February 1916
2nd Bn, the East Lancashire Regt Joined from 24th Infantry Brigade February 1918
70th Infantry BrigadeBrigade transferred from 23rd Division in exchange for 24th Infantry Brigade on 18 October 1915. Returned to 23rd Division on 17 July 1916.
11th Bn, the Sherwood Foresters
8th Bn, the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
8th Bn, the York & Lancaster Regt
9th Bn, the York & Lancaster Regt
1/8th Bn, the Middlesex Regt Joined from 25th Infantry Brigade October 1915, left February 1916 for 56th (London) Division
70th Machine Gun Company Joined 5 March 1916
70th Trench Mortar Battery Formed January 1916
Divisional TroopsUnits under direct orders of Divisional HQ
8th Divisional Train ( 42, 84, 85 and 87 Companies Army Service Corps)Throughout
8th Divisional Motor Ambulance Workshop Transferred to Divisional Train 9 April 1916
15th Mobile Veterinary Section Thoughout
1/5th Bn, the Black Watch Joined from 24th Infantry Brigade as Divisional Pioneer Battalion October 1915, left January 1916 for 51st (Highland) Division
22nd Bn, the Durham Light InfantryJoined as Divisional Pioneer Battalion July 1916
218th Company, Machine Gun Corps Joined 23 March 1917, left to move into 8th MG Battalion 20 January 1918
211th Divisional Employment Company, Labour CorpsJoined May 1917
8th Battalion, the Machine Gun Corps Formed 20 January 1918
1/7th Bn, the Durham Light Infantry Joined 20 June 1918 from 50th (Northumbrian) Division, absorbed 22nd DLI and replaced it as Divisional Pioneer Battalion 3 July 1918
Divisional Mounted TroopsUnits under direct orders of Divisional HQ
1/1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry Left April 1915
8th Divisional Cyclist Company, Army Cyclist CorpsLeft May 1916
C Sqn, the 1/1st Northumberland Hussars Yeomanry Joined April 1915, left 13 May 1916
Divisional ArtilleryUnits under orders of Divisional Comander Royal Artillery
V Brigade, Royal Horse ArtilleryLeft January 1917
XXXII Brigade, Royal Field Artillery
XLV Brigade, RFA
8th Divisional Ammunition Column, RFA
7th Mountain Battery, Royal Garrison ArtilleryAttached to division 13 to 24 December 1914
5th Mountain Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery Attached to division 3 to 26 March 1915
CXXVIII (Howitzer) Brigade, RFA Joined August 1915, left May 1916
U.8 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery, RFA Formed 5 June 1916, disbanded August 1916
W.8 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery RFA Formed May 1916, left February 1918
X.8, Y.8 and Z.8 Medium Mortar Batteries RFA Joined May 1916 with four guns each; on 3 February 1918, Z broken up and batteries reorganised to have 6 x 6-inch weapons each
Divisional Royal EngineersUnits under orders of Divisional Comander Royal Engineers
2nd Field Company Throughout
15th Field CompanyThroughout
1/ 1st (Home Counties) Field Company Joined February 1915, later renamed 490th Field Company RE
8th Divisional Signal Company
Divisional Royal Army Medical Corps Units under orders of Divisional Assistant Director or Medical Services
24th (1st Wessex) Field Ambulance
25th (2nd Wessex) Field Ambulance
26th (3rd Wessex) Field Ambulance
14th Sanitary Section Joined 9 January 1915, left 16 April 1917

Divisional histories

Divisional memorials

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