1st and 2nd Dismounted Cavalry Divisions


On 6 November 1915, British General Headquarters in France issued instructions to the staffs of the Cavalry Corps and Indian Cavalry Corps that each should organise a dismounted division for use as a mobile reserve or to relieve other troops holding a portion of the front line, as circumstances required.

In the Cavalry Corps, the dismounted division would be made up of three brigades, each of three regiments, each of three squadrons. The Indian Cavalry Corps would established a dismounted division of two brigades, each of three regiments, each of three squadrons. They would not however be called regiments and squadrons: they would instead be known as dismounted battalions and dismounted companies.

Each squadron would be manned by troops from one existing cavalry regiment, and the three making up a dismounted regiment would come from the same existing Cavalry Brigade. Arrangements would also be made so that artilery, engineer and administrative units could accompany the dismounted brigades and divisions as required.

The dismounted divisions would not have a permanent commander, but one would be provided from each Cavalry Division within the relavant Cavalry Corps on a monthly rotation and only if the dismounted division was called upon to man the front line.

War Establishments

Dismounted Brigade of 3 Dismounted Battalions

  • Headquarters
    • 6 Officers (Brigadier-General in command; ADC; Brigade Major; Staff Captain; Brigade Machine Gun Officer; Brigade Signals Officer)
    • 1 Warrant Officer (Army OrdnanceCorps)
    • 5 Staff-Sergeants or Sergeants (1 Military Police; 1 Clerk (Quartermaster-Sergeant); 1 Acting Quartermaster-Sergeant; 2 Signals)
    • 1 Driver (in Signal Troop)
    • 26 Rank and File (4 Military Police; 1 Cook; 7 Batmen; 2 Armourers (AOC); 12 in Signal Troops (RE))
  • Dismounted Battalion (consisting of a headquarters, 3 Companies and 3 Machine Gun Detachments)
    • Headquarters:
      • 7 Officers (Lieutenant-Colonel in command; 1 Second-in-Command; 1 Adjutant; 1 Bombing Officer; 1 Signals Officer; 1 Quartermaster; 1 Medical Officer)
      • 2 Warrant Officers (Regimental Sergeant Major and Regimental Quatermaster Sergeant)
      • 5 Staff-Sergeants or Sergeants (Transport; Signals; Clerk; Farrier; Armourer)
      • 33 Rank and File (12 Stretcher Bearers; 4 Medical Officers orderlies; 2 Sanitary/Water Duties; 3 Shoeing Smiths; 5 Signallers; 9 Batmen)
    • Three Machine Gun detachments, each of four guns, totalling:
      • 6 Officers
      • 6 Staff-Sergeants or Sergeants
      • 33 Drivers
      • 78 Rank and File
    • Three Companies, each of six Platoons, per company:
      • 8 Officers (Major or Captain in command; Captain 2-i-C; 6 Lieutenants or Second-Lieutenants each commanding a Platoon)
      • 2 Warrant Officers (Squadron Sergeant Major and Squadron Quatermaster Sergeant)
      • 12 Staff-Sergeants or Sergeants (two per Platoon)
      • 1 Trumpeter
      • 285 Rank and File (4 Signallers, 8 Batmen; 24 Corporals, 249 Privates)
    • Battalion total therefore 37 Officers, 1039 other ranks (which is about the same as an infantry battalion)

When the establishments of the divisional headquarters, attached Field Squadron, Signal Squadron, 3 Royal Horse Artillery brigades, 3 Field Ambulances, 3 Ammunition Columns, supply details and train were also taken into account, the division totals would be:

  • 481 Officers
  • 13895 Other Ranks
  • 5448 Horses
  • 877 Horsed Vehicles
  • 52 field guns
  • 108 machine guns

1st Dismounted Cavalry Division

Formed 29 December 1915 and placed under orders of I Corps, with its units being manned by those of the 1st Cavalry Division. Assumed responsibility for a sector of the front line on 4 January 1916, relieving 47th (2nd London) Division in the area of the Hohenzollern Redoubt near Auchy-les-Mines. Divisional HQ was estabished in Chateau des Pres at Sailly Labourse. The division was itself relieved and moved to the rear and into the Cavalry Corps area in mid-February 1916, although its headquarters had already been re,ieved by that od 1st Cavalry Division on 3 February. On being relieved, Lieutenant-General Hubert Gough, commanding I Corps, said of the division, “They shewed a gallant and cheerful spirit, kept the Boches under thorough control and did an immense amount of work on the trenches. They set a fine example, and have handed over their bit of the line greatly improved and in good order. We are all most grateful for their work“. On returning to the rear area, the 1st Dismounted Division was reabsorbed into the 1st Cavalry Division.

Divisional headquarters reported its first casualties on 4 January 1916, when two men were killed and seven wounded.

One of the men killed was certainly Pte 5948 Francis Lauder Dickinson of the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen’s Bays), who was serving in 1st Dismounted Battalion (see Order of Battle, below). He has no known grave and is commemorated at the Loos Memorial. A railway booking clerk from Tyne Dock, South Shields, he had enlisted at the age of 20 on 9 September 1914. He had only joined his regiment in France on 20 October 1915.

Fracis Dickinson’s service record (National Archives WO363, Crown Copyright) mentions the exact place of his burial (map reference G.4.d.2.B – the latter character cannot be correct and may mean 8). His grave was presumably lost or destroyed at a later date.
My red flag marks Francis Dickinson’s place or burial: exactly where we would expect to find it, facing the west face of the Hohenzollern Redoubt. (Overlay using Linesman trench mapping product)

The second man is less clear. Divisional headquarters reported that he was of the 5th Lancers, men of which were serving in 3rd Dismounted Battalion. Records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission list three men of the regiment who lost their lives in the period 4-6 January 1916, all of whom have no known graves and are commemorated at the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. The one man who died on 4 January was Trooper 12644 John Edward Carroll. Known as Jack, he was reported in “The Stage” as a promising young actor before enlisting. My investigations to confirm that he was with the dismounted division – and that his place of commemoration is inappropriate – are ongoing.

Another man of the division to die on the day was Gunner 360 Herbert Charles Collingbourne of the 1/1st Warwickshire Battery of the Royal Horse Artillery, which was under command of the division at the time. He died of wounds, having been one of eight men of his battery hit by enemy shellfire the previous day, and lies in Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery.

British Newspaper Archives. “Midland Daily Telegraph” of Thursday 6 January 1916. Herbert Collingbourne was aged 23, a former pupil of Bablake School in Coventry and an employee telegraphist at Covcentry Post Office.

The Order of Battle of the division in this period was:

  • Divisional Headquarters
  • 1st Dismounted Brigade
    • 1st Dismounted Battalion
      • 2nd Dragoon Guard Company
      • 5th Dragoon Guard Company
      • 11th Hussars Company
      • Machine Gun Section
    • 2nd Dismounted Battalion
      • 4th Dragoon Guard Company
      • 9th Lancers Company
      • 18th Hussars Company
      • Machine Gun Section
    • 9th Dismounted Battalion
      • 15th Hussars Company
      • 19th Hussars Company
      • Bedfordshire Yeomanry Company
      • Machine Gun Section
  • 2nd Dismounted Brigade
    • 3rd Dismounted Battalion
      • 4th Hussars Company
      • 5th Lancers Company
      • 16th Lancers Company
      • Machine Gun Section
    • 4th Dismounted Battalion
      • 6th Dragoon Guard Company
      • 3rd Hussars Company
      • Oxfordshire Hussars Yeomanry Company
      • Machine Gun Section
    • 5th Dismounted Battalion
      • 2nd Dragoons Company
      • 12th Lancers Company
      • 20th Hussars Company
      • Machine Gun Section
  • 3rd Dismounted Brigade
    • 6th Dismounted Battalion
      • 3rd Dragoon Guard Company
      • 1st Dragoons Company
      • North Somerset Yeomanry Company
      • Machine Gun Section
    • 7th Dismounted Battalion
      • 1st Life Guards Company
      • 2nd Life Guards Company
      • Leicestershire Yeomanry Company
      • Machine Gun Section
    • 8th Dismounted Battalion
      • Royal Horse Guards Company
      • 10th Hussars
      • Essex Yeomanry Company
      • Machine Gun Section
  • 1st Dismounted Division Headquarters Royal Artillery
    • III Brigade Royal Horse Artillery
      • D Battery RHA
      • E Battery RHA
      • J Battery RHA
      • Brigade Ammunition Column
    • IV Brigade Royal Horse Artillery
      • C Battery RHA
      • G Battery RHA
      • K Battery RHA
      • Brigade Ammunition Column
    • VII Brigade RGA
      • H Battery RHA
      • 1/1st Warwickshire Battery RHA
      • Brigade Ammunition Coumn (less its Small Arms Ammunition Section and the section supporting I Battery RHA)
    • 1/4th London Brigade Royal Garrison Artillery
    • 68 Trench Mortar Battery (1.5-inch)
    • 69 Trench Mortar Battery (2-inch)
    • 2 (4-inch) Trench Mortar Batteries
  • Composite Field Squadron, Royal Engineers
  • Composite Signal Squadron, Royal Engineers
  • 170th Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers
  • Two sections 180th Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers
  • 155th Field Company, Royal Engineers (attached from 16th (Irish) Division)
  • 1st Composite Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
  • 2nd Composite Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
  • 3rd Composite Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
  • Three Ammunition Parks (not named), supply details and Train.

2nd Dismounted Division

On 8 November 1915, 1st and 2nd Indian Cavalry Divisions received preliminary orders to form a Dismounted Division. The organisation of the new formation took place over the next few days, but it does not appear that it ever came into being as a body, not did it occupy a portion of the front line, before it was reabsorbed.

The Order of Battle mentioned in divisional war diaries division in this period was:

  • Divisional Headquarters
  • 1st Indian Dismounted Brigade
    • Sialkot Dismounted Battalion
      • 17th Lancers Company
      • 6th King Edward’s Own Cavalry Company
      • 19th Lancers (Fane’s Horse) Company
      • Machine Gun Section
    • Lucknow Dismounted Battalion
      • 1st Dragoon Guard Company
      • 29th Lancers (Deccan Horse) Company
      • 36th Jacob’s Horse Company
      • Machine Gun Section
    • Mhow Dismounted Battalion
      • 6th Inniskilling Dragoons Company
      • 2nd Lancers Company
      • 38th Horse Company
      • Machine Gun Section
  • 2nd Indian Dismounted Brigade
    • Ambala Dismounted Battalion
    • Meerut Dismounted Battalion
    • Secunderabad Dismounted Battalion


1st Cavalry Division

1st Indian Cavalry Division

2nd Indian Cavalry Division

Other divisions