35th Division (United Kingdom)

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35th Infantry Division
35th Division sign.svg
35th Division sign, used on vehicles. The sign is made from seven '5's (=35).[1]
Active April 1915 – June 1919
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Type Infantry
Engagements World War I
Reginald Pinney

The 35th Infantry Division was an infantry division of the British Army, raised during the Great War as part of General Kitchener's fourth New Army. Its infantry were originally composed of Bantams, that is soldiers who would otherwise be excluded from service due to their short stature. The division served on the Western Front from early 1916, and was disbanded in 1919.


Formation and training

Originally authorised by the War Office for the Fifth New Army (K5) as the 42nd Division in December 1914, it was renumbered as the 35th Division of the Fourth New Army in April 1915 when the original Fourth New Army formations were re-purposed to provide training and replacements for the first three Armies.[2] The Bantam experiment had begun in late 1914, with short but strong men recruited from labour intensive industries, sufficient numbers were raised for the infantry of a division and part of another (the 40th Division). Other units were not bantams, the artillery was raised locally, in Aberdeen (CLVII (157th) Brigade), Burnley and Accrington (CLVIII (158th) Brigade), Glasgow (CLIX (159th) Brigade) and West Ham (CLXIII (163rd) Brigade). By June 1915, the division had begun to congregate at Masham in Yorkshire and in August it was moved to Salisbury Plain. It had became apparent that a small number of the bantams were not physically strong enough for military duties, but instead of being dismissed were sent to the regimental depots.[3] In late 1915 it was ordered to equip for a move to Egypt,[2] but this was cancelled, and from 29 to 31 January 1916 the division moved to France.[4]



The division headquarters opened in France on 31 January, at Château de Nieppe 6.5 miles (10.5 km) east of Saint-Omer.[4] Part of XI Corps, on 5 February the division began to send officers and N.C.O.s to the front line to begin Trench warfare training and to move closer to the line in the Armentieres sector. By mid February, in weather that was alternating rain and snow, infantry battalions and gunners from the 158th and 163rd Artillery Brigades were detached to front line divisions for further training, initially the 17th Royal Scots and 17th West Yorks to 19th (Western) Division, and 17th and 18th Lancashire Fusiliers and 23rd Manchesters under the 38th (Welsh) Division.[a] The first battlefield casualty of the division occurred on 20 February to a man of the 17th West Yorks.[5]

Aubers Ridge and Festubert, first deployment area of 35th Division

On 7 March the division took over a part of the front line near Festubert 4 miles (6.4 km) east of Béthune, with 104th Brigade relieving the 58th Brigade of the 19th Division, the 106th Brigade relieved the 57th Brigade and was still under order of the 19th Division, the 105th Brigade was still training under the 38th Division. The division's artillery was gradually withdrawn from its instructing units and was fully formed by mid March. On 13 March the Germans detonated a mine under the 18th H.L.I., killing or wounding 60 men. The battalion held firm and the first bravery award to a man of the division is recorded (an M.C.).[6] The division's first trench raid was carried out by a 53 strong party from the 17th Lancashire Fusiliers, it was forced to retire as the Germans had been alerted and the allocation of only 30 rounds of ammunition per gun to the 157th and 158th Artillery Brigades was insufficient to support or adequately cut the wire. Remaining in the line, in late March the division 'side slipped' north east to a position opposite Aubers Ridge, relieving part of 8th Division, and by early April all three brigades had been in the line under 35th Divisional control. In mid April the division was moved again, this time south to the Neuve Chapel and Ferm du Bois area, where it instructed parties from the 1st Australian Division in trench warfare after its arrival from Egypt.[7] During its time in this sector the division conducted numerous patrols in no-mans-land, and the artillery, which was reorganised on 14 May to have three identical brigades, each with one howitzer battery, exchanged at times intense fire with the Germans. On 28 May the division took over the Festubert sector from the 39th Division, requiring all three brigades in the line. On 30 May a well planned German artillery barrage destroyed, then isolated, part of the line occupied by the 15th Sherwood Foresters, enabling a German raiding party to carry off the wounded in that area as prisoners.[8] between 11 and 17 June the division (except for the artillery and trench mortars) was relieved by the 39th and 61st (2nd South Midland) Divisions, and moved west to the Busnes-Hinges area, 4.25 miles (6.84 km) north west of Béthune.[9]

The Somme

On 29 June the last of the dispersed artillery rejoined the division, and by 2 July was en-route to Bouquemaison, 19.5 miles (31.4 km) north of Albert. The division's engineer and pioneers were attached to the 29th, 48th and 4th Divisions, and some of the division's officers reconnoitred the area north of Albert for a planned division attack there as part of the Somme battles. The division was now part of VIII Corps of Third Army. On 10 July these plans were cancelled, and the division was transferred to XIII Corps and marched south as part of the corps reserve, with the division headquarters at Morlancourt, 3.5 miles (5.6 km) south of Albert.[10] Except for a brief period, the division was not to be deployed as a whole during its time on the Somme. On 14 July the 105th was placed under orders of the 18th (Eastern) Division, and the 106th Brigade under the 9th (Scottish) Division in spite of the corps commander's reluctance for this type of deployment.[11]

Delville Wood

On the night of 16-17 July the 105th Brigade relieved parts of the 54th and 55th Brigades of 18th Division,[12] and by 18 July the 15th Sherwood Foresters had relieved the 7th Buffs in the trenches south of Trônes Wood, while part of the 16th Cheshires, some machine gunners and the pioneers took over Waterlot Farm on the Longueval-Guillemont road. By the afternoon of that day despite the heavy mud and artillery bombardment, they had beaten off an attack by some 300 Germans on the farm from Guillemont to the south east, and a battalion sized attack from Delville Wood, using fire from carefully sited Vickers and Lewis guns to the west and east of the farm. The next day the positions east of the farm were heavily bombarded and pushed back, and when the battalion was withdrawn on 20 July it had suffered 35 officers and men killed, 194 wounded and 7 missing.[13]

It had been decided on 19 July that the brigade would attack from the positions held by the 15th Sherwood Foresters, to the east on the next day (20 July), however communications between the brigade headquarters and the battalions was difficult due to their dispersion and continual German artillery fire. The 15th Sherwood Foresters had been under gas and artillery attack, and only two companies were fit for action. Reinforced by only two companies from the 23rd Manchesters, the attack was reduced to an assault on two specific targets, Maltz Horn Farm and Arrowhead Copse, without observed artillery support due to the lay of the land.[14] Illuminated by the rising sun, both attacks by the 15th Sherwood Foresters were beaten back. However the French attacking on the right had made progress and so were left with an exposed flank, so a second attack by the 23rd Manchesters was made later in the morning. Although reaching the German trench, it was on a forward slope, facing the Germans, and intense machine gun fire forced a retirement. Losses to attacking companies were 375 killed wounded and missing. The brigade was relieved on 21 July by 104th Brigade and 8th Brigade of the 3rd Division.[15]


In 1917 the division participated in the Battle of Arras and the third Battle of Ypres.[16]


In 1918 the division participated in final allied offensive, reaching the River Dendre when the armistice ended the fighting in November 1918.[17]

In January 1919, the division was called on to quell riots in the camps at Calais and was finally demobilized, in April 1919.[18]

Order of battle

Details from Baker, C. The 35th Division in 1914–1918.[2]

104th Brigade

105th Brigade

106th Brigade

  • 17th (Service) Battalion, Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment)
  • 17th (Service) (2nd Leeds) Battalion, Prince of Wales's Own (West Yorkshire Regiment) (left November 1917)
  • 19th (Service) (2nd County) Battalion, Durham Light Infantry (left February 1918 for 104th Brigade)
  • 18th (Service) Battalion, Highland Light Infantry (disbanded February 1918)
  • 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment (joined November 1917, left February 1918 for 105th Brigade)
  • 12th (Service) Battalion, Highland Light Infantry (joined February 1918)
  • 106th Machine Gun Company, Machine Gun Corps (joined April 1916, left for division MG battalion February 1918)
  • 106th Trench Mortar Battery (joined February 1916)

Division Troops

    • 19th (Service) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers (Pioneers)
    • 241st Machine Gun Company (joined July 1917, moved to Division MG battalion February 1918)
    • 35th Battalion Machine Gun Corps (formed March 1918)
    • C Squadron, Lancashire Hussars (left May 1916)
    • 35th Divisional Cyclist Company, Army Cyclist Corps (left May 1916)
  • 35th Divisional Train Army Service Corps
    • 233rd, 234th, 235th and 236th Companies A.S.C.
  • Royal Artillery
    • 157th (Aberdeen) Brigade, R.F.A.
    • 158th (Accrington and Burnley) Brigade R.F.A. (broken up February 1917)
    • 159th (Glasgow) Brigade R.F.A.
    • 163rd (West Ham) (Howitzer) Brigade R.F.A. (broken up September 1916)
    • 131st Heavy Battery R.G.A. (left in March 1916)
    • 35th Divisional Ammunition Column (British Empire League) R.F.A.
    • V.35 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery R.F.A. (formed August 1916; left March 1918)
    • X.35, Y.35 and Z.35 Medium Mortar Batteries R.F.A. (formed June 1916, Z broken up in February 1918, distributed to X and Y batteries)
  • Royal Engineers
    • 203rd, 204th, 205th (Cambridge) Field Companies
    • 35th Divisional Signals Company
  • Royal Army Medical Corps
    • 105th, 106th, 107th Field Ambulances
    • 75th Sanitary Section (left April 1917)


Between 1916 and 1918 the officers and men of the division won the following (the list is incomplete).[19]

British Awards
Victoria Cross 2
Companion of the Order of the Bath 7
Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George 3
Distinguished Service Order 36 (including 2 bars)
Military Cross 150 (including 5 bars)
Distinguished Conduct Medal 44
Military Medal 328 (including 8 bars)
Meritorious Service Medal 20
French Awards
Legiond'Honneur 2
Médaille militaire 2
Croix de Guerre 20
Belgian Awards
Officier de l'Ordre de la Couronne 3
Croix de Guerre 11


See also


  1. ^ In addition to his normal kit, each infantryman was required to carry two sandbags to stand on while on the firing step, as the parapet of the trench or breastwork was not to be lowered.


  1. ^ Chappell p. 19
  2. ^ a b c Baker, Chris. "35th Division". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  3. ^ Davson pp. 1-7
  4. ^ a b Davson p. 8
  5. ^ Davson p. 9
  6. ^ Davson pp. 12-13
  7. ^ Davson pp. 14-17
  8. ^ Davson pp.18-20
  9. ^ Davson p. 21
  10. ^ Davson pp. 27-8
  11. ^ Davson pp. 30-1
  12. ^ Nichols p. 71
  13. ^ Davsom pp. 31-3
  14. ^ Davson p. 34
  15. ^ Davson pp. 34-6
  16. ^ Davson pp. 55-192
  17. ^ Davson pp. 193-297
  18. ^ Davson pp. 295-296
  19. ^ Davson pp. 298-304


  • Chappell, Mike (1986). British Battle Insignia (1). 1914-18. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 9780850457278.
  • Davson, H. M. (2003) [1926]. The History of the 35th Division in the Great War (Naval & Military Press ed.). London: Sifton Praed & Co. Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84342-643-1.
  • Nichols, Capt. G. H. F. (2003) [1922]. The 18th Division in the Great War (Naval & Military Press ed.). Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons. ISBN 978-1-84342-866-4.

External links

  • 35th Division at 1914-1918.net
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