The abbreviation IBD appears in virtually every infantryman’s service record, yet little is documented about them. This section of the Long, Long Trail will help anyone trying to find out more.
What was an Infantry Base Depot?
The IBD was a holding camp. Situated within easy distance of one the Channel ports, it received men on arrival from England and kept them in training while they awaiting posting to a unit at the front.
“Each infantry division originally had its own IBD, which was established as it crossed to France. Thus 9 IBD would have supported 9th (Scottish) Division and would have supplied reinforcements to all the battalions in it, each regiment represented in the division having its own camp within the IBD. The divisions taking part in the first phase of the Somme had such heavy casualties that their IBDs were unable to bring them back up to strength, which meant calling on other IBDs, with reinforcements often having to change their cap badges as a result. At the beginning of August 1916 a new policy was introduced: each IBD would now be responsible for supplying drafts for all battalions of particular regiments, usually three or four per IBD. Matters changed again in December 1917 when the IBDs were given letter prefixes rather than numbers. Thus, for example 29 IBD became D IBD. The number of IBDs was also reduced and so each was supporting a greater number of regiments. For instance, 29 IBD was largely supplying battalions of the Royal Warwicks, but D IBD looked after nine regiments, including the Warwicks”. Thanks to Charles Messenger for this information
The Infantry Base Depots in France
This table lists the known IBDs in France. It is work in progress, although the information it contains is known to be accurate.
|Infantry Base Depot||Location||Notes|
|1||Le Havre||became A IBD|
|2||Rouen||became C IBD|
|4||Rouen||became J IBD|
|15||Etaples||possibly later at Calais|
|16 (Irish)||Etaples. Moved to Calais 16 Dec 1917|
|17||Etaples||became L IBD|
|24||Etaples||became F IBD|
|29||Rouen||became D IBD|
|40||Etaples||became J IBD|
|A||Le Havre||formerly 1 IBD|
|D||Rouen||formerly 29 IBD|
|J||Etaples||formerly 40 IBD|
|L||Rouen? Calais by May 1918||formerly 17 IBD|
In November 1918 there existed in France the Guards, A-F, H, J-M, Garrison Battalion, Australian and Canadian IBDs.