55th (West Lancashire) Infantry Division

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55th (West Lancashire) Infantry Division
Active First World War
November 1914 – January 1919 [reorganized] 1939–45
Country United Kingdom
Branch Territorial Force
Type Infantry
Engagements Battle of the Somme
Third Battle of Ypres
Battle of Cambrai
Battle of Estaires
Sir William Morgan
Sir Frederick Morgan

The 55th (West Lancashire) Infantry Division was a British Territorial Force division which served on the Western Front during the First World War. In the Second World War it remained in the United Kingdom.


First World War[edit]

Between November 1914 and April 1915 the divisional brigades were detached as reinforcements with other divisions already in France. The 55th Division was reformed in January 1916.

The first Victoria Cross won by the reformed division occurred near Arras on the 17 April 1916 when 2nd Lt.E.F.Baxter won the award while on a raid by the 1/8th (Irish) Bn, The King's (Liverpool Regiment). The division moved to the Somme on the 25 July to take part in that battle . The division took part in the Battle of Guillemont and the Battle of Ginchy followed by a short rest period before being thrown back into the Battle of Morval . The 55th Infantry were then moved to the Ypres salient where they remained for up to a year.

In 1917 the division took part in the Battles of Ypres and Cambrai. At Cambrai they lost many men taken prisoner apparently due to a collapse during a German attack.

55th (West Lancashire) Infantry Division troops blinded by tear gas during the Battle of Estaires, 10 April 1918.

After a rest and period of retraining the division took part in the Battle of Estaires in 1918 where the Division successfully fought the "First Defence of Givenchy" under the leadership of Major-General Hugh Jeudwine. It was to become the single most famous action that the Division fought. "It was afterwards publicly stated by an officer of the German General Staff that the stand made by the Division on April 9 and the days which followed marked the final ruination of the supreme German effort of 1918", says the Divisional history. Givenchy was eventually selected as the location of a fine memorial to the Division. By the Armistice the division had reached the Tournai area having advanced fifty miles in eighty days.

Second World War[edit]

During the Second World War the division was a 1st Line Territorial Army formation, but many of its units did not see active service outside Britain. One unit that served overseas was the 510th Field Park Company of Royal Engineers that served in North Africa.

Order of battle[edit]

From January 1916, the division comprised the following units:

Royal Engineers

419 Field Company

422 Field Company

423 Field Company

55th Divisional Signal Company

The 164th (North Lancashire) Brigade joined the 51st (Highland) Division in April 1915 (as the 154th Brigade) and returned to the 55th Division in January 1916.



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