- 1st Infantry Division (United Kingdom)
Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= 1st Infantry Division
dates= 1809 - 1978
Battle of Talavera Battle of Salamanca Siege of Tarragona Battle of Vitoria Siege of San Sebastian Battle of the Pyrenees Battle of the Bidassoa (1813) Battle of Toulouse (1814) Battle of Quatre Bras Battle of Waterloo
Battle of Alma Battle of Balaclava Battle of Inkerman
World War I
Battle of Mons First Battle of the Marne Battle of the Aisne First Battle of Ypres Battle of Aubers Ridge Battle of Loos Battle of the Somme (1916) Battle of Pozières Third Battle of Ypres Battle of Epehy
World War II
Battle of France Fondouk El Kourzia Tunis
Battle of Monte Cassino Liri Valley
The 1st Infantry Division was a regular British Army division with a long history having been present at the
Peninsula War, the Crimean War, World War I, and during the Second World War.
The British 1st Division was originally formed in 1809 by
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellingtonfor service in the Peninsula War, drawing from two British brigades and one Hanoverian brigade of the King's German Legion.During the Peninsula War it was involved in most of the engagements between the Allies and France including the Battle of Talavera, Battle of Salamancain 1812 , Siege of Tarragona (1813), Battle of Vitoria, Siege of San Sebastian, Battle of the Pyrenees, Battle of the Bidassoa (1813), Battle of Toulouse (1814).
Napoleon Bonaparte’s returned during the
Congress of Vienna. On 13 March, seven days before Napoleon reached Paris, the powers at the Congress of Vienna declared him an outlaw; four days later the United Kingdom, Russia, Austria and Prussia, members of the Seventh Coalition, bound themselves to put 150,000 men each into the field to end his rule. [Hamilton-Williams, David p. 59] This set the stage for the last conflict in the Napoleonic Warsand for the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo[one of the most famous battles in history] the restoration of the French monarchy for the second time and the permanent exile of Napoleon to the island of Saint Helena, where he died in May 1821.
1st Division was involved in the Waterloo Campaign seeing its first action at the
Battle of Quatre Brasthen at the Battle of Waterloo, where it held Wellingtons right flank. On the extreme right was the chateau, garden, and orchard of Hougoumont which was defended by the "Divisions" 2nd Brigade.The initial attack was by Maréchal de Camp Bauduin's 1st Brigade of the 5th Division emptied the wood and park, but was driven back by heavy British artillery fire and cost Bauduin his life. The British guns were distracted into an artillery duel with French guns and this allowed a second attack by General de Brigade Baron Soye's 2nd Brigade of the 6th Division. They managed a small breach on the south side but could not exploit it. An attack by elements of the 1st Brigade of the 6th Division attacked the north side was more successful. This attack lead to one of the most famous skirmishes in the Battle of Waterloo — Sous-Lieutenant Legros, wielding an axe, managed to break through the north gate. A desperate fight ensued between the invading French soldiers and the deefending Guards. In a near-miraculus attack, Macdonell, a small party of officers and Corporal James Graham fought through the melee to shut the gate, trapping Legros and about 30 other soldiers of the 1st Legere inside. All of the French who entered, apart from a young drummer boy, were killed in a desperate hand to hand fight.. [http://www.militaryartcompany.com/napoleonic.htm The Great Gate of Hougoumont] ] The French attack in the immediate vicinity of the farm were repulsed by the arrival of the 2nd Coldstream Guards and 2/3rd Foot Guards. Fighting continued around Hougoumont all afternoon with its surroundings heavily invested with French light infantry and co-ordinated cavalry attacks sent against the troops behind Hougoumont.
Formation at Waterloo
*1st Brigade , Major-General
1st Regiment of Foot Guards, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Askew
**3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment of Foot Guards , Lieutenant Colonel the Honorable William Stewart
*2nd Brigade , Major-General Sir John Byng
Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards, Lieutenant-Colonel James Macdonnell
3rd Regiment of Foot Guards, Lieutenant - Colonel Francis Hepburn
The Crimean War (1853–1856) was fought between
Imperial Russiaon one side and an alliance of France, the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Sardinia, and the Ottoman Empireon the other. Most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula, with additional actions occurring in western Turkey, and the Baltic Searegion.The Crimean War is sometimes considered to be the first "modern" conflict and "introduced technical changes which affected the future course of warfare."Royle. Preface]
The "Division" which now consisted of the
Guards Brigadeand the Highland Brigade,was involved in the Battle of Alma(September 20 1854) , which is considered to be the first battle of the Crimean war.They were next in action during the Battle of Balaclava, The battle started with a successful Russian attack on Ottoman positions. This led to the Russians breaking through into the valley of Balaklava(anglicised as "Balaclava"), where British forces were encamped. The Russian advance was intended to disrupt the British base and attack British positions near Sevastopolfrom the rear. An initial Russian advance south of the southern line of hills was repulsed by the British. A large attacking force of Russian cavalry advanced over the ridgeline, and split into two portions. One of these columns drove south towards the town of Balaklava itself, threatening the main supply of the entire British army. That drive was repulsed by the muskets of the 93rd (Highland) Regiment, which had been formed into a lone line of two rows by its commander, Sir Colin Campbell. This action became known in history as "The Thin Red Line" , this battle was also well known for the Charge of the Light Brigade.They were also invold in the Battle of Inkerman(November 5 , 1854).
Formation during the Crimean War
*Commanding General Duke of Cambridge
**Scots Fusiliers Guards
*Highland Brigade , Sir Colin Campbell,
93rd (Highland) Regiment
World War I
The Division was a permanently established Regular Army division that was amongst the first to be sent to
Franceat the outbreak of the First World War. It served on the Western Frontfor the duration of the war. In October 1914 divisional commander Samuel Lomaxwas killed in action. After the war the division was part of the occupation force stationed at Bonn.
The division's insignia was the signal flag for the 'Number 1'.
During the war the "Division" was involved in the following battles:
Battle of Mons, First Battle of the Marne, Battle of the Aisne, First Battle of Ypres, Battle of Aubers Ridge, Battle of Loos, Battle of the Somme (1916), Battle of Pozières, Third Battle of Ypres, Battle of Epehy.
Formation During World War I
The division comprised the following
; 1st Brigade :
*1st Battalion, the
The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
*1/14th (County of
London) Battalion, The London Regiment("until February 1916")
*10th (Service) Battalion,
The Gloucester Regiment("until February 1918")
*8th (Service) Battalion,
The Royal Berkshire Regiment("until February 1918")
The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment("from 2nd Brigade - February 1918")
Originally called the '1st (Guards) Brigade' because it contained the 1st Battalions of the
Coldstream Guardsand the Scots Guards. When the Guards Division was formed in August 1915 and these two battalions departed, the brigade was redesignated.
; 2nd Brigade :
The Royal Sussex Regiment
*1st Battalion, The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment ("to 1st Brigade - February 1918")
The Northamptonshire Regiment
*2nd Battalion, the
King's Royal Rifle Corps
Also attached to the 2nd Brigade for periods during 1915:
The King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment)
The King's (Liverpool Regiment)
*1/5th (Cinque Ports) Battalion, The Royal Sussex Regiment
; 3rd Brigade :
*1st Battalion, The
South Wales Borderers
*1st Battalion, The Gloucester Regiment
The Welsh Regiment
*2nd Battalion, The
Royal Munster Fusiliers("until February 1918")
Also attached to the 3rd Brigade were:
Glamorgan) Battalion, The Welsh Regiment ("October 1915 to May 1916")
Denbighshire) Battalion, The Royal Welch Fusiliers("November 1914 to September 1915")
*1/9th Battalion, The King's (Liverpool) Regiment ("November 1915 to January 1916")
*4 August 1914,
Major General Samuel Lomax, died of wounds received during the First Battle of Ypres.
*31 October 1914, Major General H Landon, temporary appointment.
*22 November 1914 Major General Sir David Henderson
*19 December 1914 Major General
*11 September 1915 Major General A Holland
*12 June 1916 Major General E Strickland
World War II
World War IIthe division was in France until June 1940. In 1943 it fought in North Africa during the Tunisia Campaignas part of the British First Armyand then was in Italyfor 1944 including Operation Shingle,the Anziolanding, from January to May. Between June and November 1942 it was a Mixed Division containing the 34th Army Tank Brigade, (replaced in September by the 25th). At the end of the war it was transferred to Palestine for internal security duties.
Formation during World War II
1st Guards Infantry Brigade
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
The Welch Regiment
2nd Infantry Brigade
Gordon Highlanders- (To 7 March 1940 surrendered St-Valery)
Loyal Regiment(North Lancashire)
North Staffordshire Regiment
3rd Infantry Brigade
The Duke of Wellington's Regiment
The King's Shropshire Light Infantry
The Sherwood Foresters
Battle of the Kasserine Pass
The Battle of Kasserine Pass took place during the Tunisia Campaign and was,a series of battles fought around Kasserine Pass, a two-mile (3 km) wide gap in the Grand Dorsal chain of the
Atlas Mountainsin west central Tunisia. The Axis forces involved were primarily from the German-Italian Panzer Army(the redesignated German Panzer Army Africa) led by Field Marshal Erwin Rommeland the Fifth Panzer Armyled by General Hans-Jürgen von Arnim. The Allied forces involved came mostly from the U.S. Army's II Corps commanded by Major-General Lloyd Fredendallwhich was part of the British First Armycommanded by Lieutenant-GeneralKenneth Anderson.
On 19 February Rommel launched an assault. The next day, he personally led the attack by the 10th Panzer Division, lent to him from von Arnim's Fifth Panzer Army to the north, hoping to take the supply dumps, while the
German 21st Panzer Division, also detached from the Fifth Panzer Army, continued attacking northward through the Sbiba gap.
Within minutes, the U.S. lines were broken. Their light guns and tanks had no chance against the heavier German equipment, and they had little or no experience in armored warfare. The German
Panzer IVs and Tiger tanks fended off all attacks with ease; the M3 Leeand M3 Stuarttanks they faced were inferior in firepower and their crews far less experienced. Under fierce tank attack, the American units on Highway 13 also gave way during the night, with men at all points retreating before the Italian 131st Centauro Armoured Division. [ [http://www.americainwwii.com/stories/facingthefox.htm Murphy in America in WWII Magazine] ] After breaking into the pass, the German forces divided into two groups, each advancing up one of the two roads leading out of the pass to the northwest.
The attack by the
German 21st Panzer Divisionup to Sbibawas stopped on February 19 by elements of the British 1st Infantry Brigade (Guards), the 2nd Battalion of the Coldstream Guards. Operation Shingle
Operation Shingle (22 January 1944), during the Italian Campaign, was an Allied amphibious landing against Axis forces in the area of Anzio and
Nettuno, Italy. The operation was commanded by Major General John P. Lucasand was intended to outflank German forces of the Winter Lineand enable an attack on Rome. The resulting combat is commonly called the Battle of Anzio.
The landings began on 22 January 1944.
Although resistance had been expected, as seen at
Salernoduring 1943, the initial landings were essentially unopposed, with the exception of desultory " Luftwaffe" strafingruns.By midnight, 36,000 soldiers and 3,200 vehicles had landed on the beaches. Thirteen Allied troops were killed, and 97 wounded; about 200 Germans had been taken as POWs. [CMH Publication 72-19, p9] The 1st Division penetrated 2 miles (3 km) inland, the US Rangers captured Anzio's port, the 509th PIB captured Nettuno, and the US 3rd Division penetrated 3 miles (5 km) inland. Operation Diadem
Operation Diadem was the final battle for
Monte Cassinothe plan was the U.S. II Corps on the left would attack up the coast along the line of Route 7 towards Rome. The French Corps to their right would attack from the bridgehead across the Garigliano into the Aurunci Mountains. British XIII Corps in the centre right of the front would attack along the Liri valley whilst on the right 2nd Polish Corps would isolate the monastery and push round behind it into the Liri valley to link with XIII Corps. Canadian I Corps would be held in reserve ready to exploit the expected breakthrough. Once the German Tenth Army had been defeated, U.S. VI Corps including the "1st Infantry Division" would break out of the Anzio beachhead to cut off the retreating Germans in the Alban Hills.
As the Canadians and Poles launched their attack on 23 May, General
Lucian Truscott, who had replaced Lt. Gen. John P. Lucasas commander of U.S. VI Corps, launched a two pronged attack using five (three U.S. and two British) of the seven divisions in the bridgehead at Anzio. The German Fourteenth Army facing this thrust was without any armoured divisions because Kesselring had sent his armour south to help the German Tenth Army in the Cassino action.
Order of Battle Operation Shingle
*2nd Infantry Brigade
The Loyal Regiment
The North Staffordshire Regiment
The Gordon Highlanders
3rd Infantry Brigade
The Duke of Wellington's Regiment
The Sherwood Foresters
The King's Shropshire Light Infantry
*24th Guards Infantry Brigade
The Middlesex Regiment
**2, 19 & 67 Field Regiment,
**81 Anti-tank Regiment, RA
**90 Light Anti-aircraft Regiment, RA
**23, 238 & 248 Field Companies,
**6 Field Park Company, RE
**1 Bridging Platoon, RE
46th Royal Tank Regiment
* 2 Special Service Brigade (partial)
** No.43 Commando (RM)
After the war the division only remained in Palestine for a short time. It was transferred to
Egyptfor a few months before going back to Palestine in April 1946. Two years later as the British mandate over Palestine ended the division returned to Egypt, also spending periods in Libya up until 1951. In October of that year, as British forces pulled out of Egypt outside of the Suez Canal Zonethe division garrisoned that small area. After British forces withdrew from Egypt the division returned to the UK for a short while in 1955 and 1956. Whilst in the UK it was reduced to one brigade in 1956.
In 1960 it was augmented back into a full division and deployed to
Germanyas part of British I Corps in the British Army of the Rhine. It remained there until 1978 when it was redesignated as the 1st Armoured Division.
List of component units of British 1st Infantry Division
List of higher formations British 1st Infantry Division served under
List of military divisions
List of British divisions in WWII
List of British divisions in WWI
* [http://www.1914-1918.net/1div.htm The British Army in the Great War: The 1st Division]
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