57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division

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57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division
Active 5 November 1914–4 July 1919
9 November 1943–29 July 1944
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg Territorial Force
Role Infantry Division (WWI)
Deception formation (WWII)
Engagements Second Battle of Passchendaele
Second Battle of Arras
Battles for the Hindenburg Line
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Robert George Broadwood
Reginald Barnes

The 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division was an infantry formation of the Territorial Force created in 1914 as part of the massive expansion of the British Army during World War I. It served on the Western Front during 1917 and 1918. The divisional number was reactivated for deception purposes during World War II.

Origin[edit]

On 31 August 1914 the War Office authorised the formation of a reserve or 2nd-Line unit for each Territorial Force (TF) unit that was proceeding on overseas service. The 2nd West Lancashire Division came into existence in November 1914, composed of 2nd-Line duplicates of the battalions of the peacetime West Lancashire Division that were due to be sent overseas. The 1st-Line division was temporarily dispersed as its units went to France piecemeal, many of the divisional staff and support elements transferring to the new formation, which became 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division in August 1915.[1][2]

History[edit]

The formations and units of 57th Division concentrated around Canterbury in early 1915 as part of Second Army, Central Force. Training was hampered by lack of equipment: the infantry trained on obsolete .256-inch Japanese rifles until .303-inch service rifles (many in poor condition) arrived in November 1915. [1][2]

In November 1915 the War Office authorised the re-formation of 1st West Lancashire Division (now designated 55th (West Lancashire) Division), and a number of its original units returned from 57th Division, being replaced by their newly-raised equivalents.[3] The training of the 2nd-Line divisional artillery had been seriously delayed by lack of arms and equipment. One field artillery brigade had to borrow carbines from the Preston Church Lads Brigade. Only in mid-July 1915 did each field artillery brigade receive two 15-pounder BLC guns without sights. In September 1915 the 2nd-Line divisional artillery took over the obsolete 15-pounders and 5-inch howitzers when the 1st-Line artillery was re-equipped. The 2nd-Line received their modern 18-pounders and 4.5-inch howitzers in December 1915 and January 1916. Shortly afterwards the infantry battalions received their allotment of Lewis Guns.

In July 1916, 57th Division was transferred to the Emergency Reserves in the Aldershot area where it continued training.[1][2]

On 5 January 1917 the division was ready for overseas service, and between 7 and 22 February its units and formations crossed to France and disembarked at Le Havre. On 25 February it took over a section of the Front Line under the command of II ANZAC Corps. 57th Division served on the Western Front for the rest of the war, taking part in the following operations:[1]

On 1 November 1918 57 Division went into billets at Lille, and was still resting when the Armistice with Germany was signed. For the rest of 1918 its units were involved in clearing and evacuating stores from the Arras area. Demobilisation began in January 1919 and units were steadily reduced to cadres. The last cadres of 57th Division left France in July 1919, completing its disbandment.[1]

Order of Battle[edit]

The following formations and units served in 57 Division during World War I:[1][2][4]

170th (2/1st North Lancashire) Brigade[edit]

171st (2/1st Liverpool) Brigade[edit]

172nd (2/1st South Lancashire) Brigade[edit]

Divisional Troops[edit]

Mounted Troops

  • 1st Lancashire Hussarsfrom 55 Division; left October–November 1915 to join 30, 31 and 35 Divisions[3]
  • 1st West Lancashire Divisional Cyclist Company – from 55 Division; left on 7 December 1915[3]
  • A Sqn 2/1st Bedfordshire Yeomanrydid not go to France
  • 57th Divisional Cyclist Company – did not go to France
  • 1st Kent Cyclist Battalionjoined at Canterbury November 1915; left for overseas service December 1915

Artillery

  • 1st West Lancashire Divisional Artillery Royal Field Artillery (four brigades) – joined April 1915; left for 2nd Canadian Division in France September 1915[3]
  • 1st Lancashire Heavy Battery Royal Garrison Artilleryfrom 55 Division; joined April 1915; left for France December 1915[3]
  • 2/1st Lancashire Heavy Battery RGA – joined November 1915; left for France July 1916
  • 57th Divisional Artillery:
    • CCLXXXV (2/I West Lancashire) Brigade RFA – joined September 1915
    • CCLXXXVI (2/II West Lancashire) Brigade RFA– joined September 1915
    • CCLXXXVII (2/III West Lancashire) Brigade RFA – joined September 1915; broken up on disembarkation and batteries distributed among remaining field brigades
    • 2/IV West Lancashire Howitzer Brigade RFA – joined September 1915; broken up July 1916 and batteries distributed among field brigades
    • 57th (2/1st West Lancashire) Divisional Ammunition Column RFA
  • Divisional trench Mortar Batteries:
    • X, Y, Z Medium Trench Mortar Batteries – joined March 1917; Z absorbed by X and Y February 1918 '
    • W Heavy Trench Mortar Battery – joined March 1917; became XV Corps HTM Battery February 1918'

Engineers

  • 2/1st West Lancashire Field Company Royal Engineersleft for 55 Division in France December 1915
  • 2/2nd West Lancashire Field Company RE – left for 55 Division in France December 1915
  • 1/3rd West Lancashire Field Company RE – joined November 1915; became 421 Field Company February 1917
  • 2/2nd Wessex Field Company RE – joined December 1915; became 502 Field Company February 1917
  • 2/3rd Wessex Field Company RE – joined February 1916; became 505 Field Company February 1917
  • 1st West Lancashire Signal Company RE – from 55 Division; left December 1915[3]
  • 57th (2/1st West Lancashire) Signal Company RE – formed September 1915

Pioneers

Machine Gun Units

  • 173rd Machine Gun Company – joined March 1917
  • No 57 Battalion Machine Gun Corpsformed March 1918 from 173 Coy and Brigade MG Coys

Medical Units

  • 2/1st West Lancashire Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical Corpsleft for 55 Division in France December 1915[3]
  • 1/2nd West Lancashire Field Ambulance RAMC – left for 30 Division in France October 1915
  • 1/3rd West Lancashire Field Ambulance RAMC – left for 55 Division in France December 1915[3]
  • 2/2nd Wessex Field Ambulance RAMC – joined December 1915
  • 2/3rd Wessex Field Ambulance RAMC – joined December 1915
  • 3/2nd West Lancashire Field Ambulance RAMC – joined December 1915
  • 57th (West Lancashire) Sanitary Section – transferred to Second Army April 1917

Transport Units

  • 57th (1/1st West Lancashire) Divisional Train Army Service Corpsfrom 55 Division
    • 505th, 506th, 507th, 508th Horse Transport Companies

Other Units

  • 57th Mobile Veterinary Section Army Veterinary Corps
  • 248th Divisional Employment Company – formed June 1917

Attached Troops[edit]

  • Portuguese Expeditionary Corps (part) – attached October–November 1918:
    • IV Portuguese Field Battery
    • 1st Portuguese Field Company
    • 14th Portuguese Battalion
    • 15th Portuguese Battalion
    • 5th Portuguese Field Ambulance

Commanders[edit]

The following officers commanded 57 Division during World War I:[1]

  • Brig.-Gen. F.A. Adam – acting from 5 November 1914
  • Maj.-Gen. J.B. Forster – from April 1915
  • Lieut.-Gen. R.G. Broadwoodfrom 20 October 1916; died of wounds 21 June 1917
  • Brig.-Gen. J.C. Wray – acting
  • Maj.-Gen. R.W.R. Barnes – from 1 July 1917

World War II[edit]

57th Division was never reformed, but the number was used for deception purposes during World War II. 42nd Brigade headquarters was formed in the UK on 26 July 1943 and sent to North Africa to command internal security units on the Lines of Communication under Allied Force Headquarters These units had a full complement of personnel, but 80 per cent of them were below Medical Category 'A' and they were armed only with personal weapons and a skeleton allotment of transport. They came under command of 42 Bde HQ when it landed on 25 August 1943.[5]

To deceive the enemy, 42 Bde was redesignated '57th Division' on 9 November. To aid the deception, the commanding officer, Brigadier P.H. Cadoux-Hudson, was given the appropriate local rank of Major-General, and three of the battalions were redesignated as brigades.[6]

Order of Battle of 42 Bde/'57 Division'[edit]

42 Brigade HQ was disbanded in North Africa on 29 July 1944, and 57 Division ceased to exist on the same date.[7]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Becke, Pt 2b, pp. 1–7.
  2. ^ a b c d 57th Division at Long, Long Trail
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Becke, Pt 2a, pp. 133–9.
  4. ^ 57th Division at Regimental Warpath
  5. ^ Joslen, p. 287.
  6. ^ Joslen, pp. 92, 287, 354.
  7. ^ Joslen, p. 287.

References[edit]

  • Maj A.F. Becke,History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions, Part 2a: The Territorial Force Mounted Divisions and the 1st-Line Territorial Force Divisions (42–56), London: HM Stationery Office, 1935/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2007, ISBN 1-847347-39-8.
  • Maj A.F. Becke,History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions, Part 2b: The 2nd-Line Territorial Force Divisions (57th–69th), with the Home-Service Divisions (71st–73rd) and 74th and 75th Divisions, London: HM Stationery Office, 1937/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2007, ISBN 1-847347-39-8.
  • Mike Chappell, British Battle Insignia (2): 1939-45.
  • Lt-Col H.F. Joslen, Orders of Battle, United Kingdom and Colonial Formations and Units in the Second World War, 1939–1945, London: HM Stationery Office, 1960/Uckfield: Naval & Military, 2003, ISBN 1843424746.

External sources[edit]