74th (Yeomanry) Division

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74th (Yeomanry) Division
British 74th (Yeomanry) Division Insignia.png
The "Broken Spur" insignia of the division
Active 25 February 1917 – 10 July 1919
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Type Dismounted Yeomanry
Size Division
Engagements

World War I

The 74th (Yeomanry) Division was a Territorial Force infantry division formed in Palestine in early 1917 from three dismounted yeomanry brigades. It served in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of World War I, mostly as part of XX Corps. In May 1918 it was sent to the Western Front where it remained until the end of the war.

The division's insignia was a broken spur to signify that its units were once mounted but now served as infantry.

Formation[edit]

On 14 January 1917, Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) Order No. 26 instructed that the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Dismounted Brigades (then with the Suez Canal Defences) be reorganized as the 229th, 230th and 231st Brigades.[1]

On 23 February 1917, the General Officer Commanding the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, Lieutenant General Sir A.J. Murray, sought permission from the War Office to form the 229th, 230th and 231st Brigades into a new division. On 25 February, the War Office granted permission and the new 74th (Yeomanry) Division started to form.[1] It was acknowledged that it would take some time for artillery, engineers and auxiliary services to complete the division.[2]

The Division began to assemble from 4 March at el Arish. 229th Brigade joined at el Arish by 9 March, 231st Brigade joined at Khan Yunis by 6 April, and 230th Brigade joined by 13 April at Deir el Balah. The other divisional units (cavalry squadron, engineer field companies, veterinary section, and the train), had joined by April. However, the artillery did not become a part of the division until July and August (i.e. after the division had already been committed to action in the Second Battle of Gaza).[1]

Order of Battle, May 1917 [3]
Formation / Organization Units
229th Brigade 16th (Royal 1st Devon and Royal North Devon Yeomanry) Battalion, Devonshire Regiment
12th (West Somerset Yeomanry) Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry
12th (Ayrshire and Lanarkshire Yeomanry) Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers
14th (Fife and Forfar Yeomanry) Battalion, Black Watch
4th Company, Machine Gun Corps
229th Trench Mortar Battery
229th Field Ambulance, RAMC
230th Brigade 10th (Royal East Kent and West Kent Yeomanry) Battalion, Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)
12th (Norfolk Yeomanry) Battalion, Norfolk Regiment
15th (Suffolk Yeomanry) Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
16th (Sussex Yeomanry) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment
209th Company, Machine Gun Corps
230th Trench Mortar Battery
230th Field Ambulance, RAMC
231st Brigade 24th (Denbighshire Yeomanry) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers
25th (Montgomery and Welsh Horse Yeomanry) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers
24th (Pembroke and Glamorgan Yeomanry) Battalion, Welsh Regiment
10th (Shropshire and Cheshire Yeomanry) Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry
210th Company, Machine Gun Corps
231st Trench Mortar Battery
231st Field Ambulance, RAMC
Artillery XLIV Brigade, RFA[n 1] (A and B Batteries)
CXVII Brigade, RFA[n 2] (A, B and C (H) Batteries)
CCLXVIII Brigade, RFA[n 3] (A, B and C (H) Batteries)
74th Divisional Ammunition Column[n 4]
Divisional Troops A Squadron, 1/2nd County of London Yeomanry[n 5]
5th Field Company, Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers[n 6]
5th Field Company, Royal Anglesey Royal Engineers[n 7]
74th Divisional Signal Company[n 8]
59th Mobile Veterinary Section[n 9]
74th Divisional Train[n 10] (447th, 448th, 449th and 450th Companies, ASC)

Palestine 1917–18[edit]

The 74th Division took part in the invasion of Palestine in 1917 and 1918.

The division was not fully formed when it participated in the Second Battle of Gaza between 17 and 19 April 1917. It acted as reserve to the Eastern Force and was not engaged. Thereafter, the division was assigned to XX Corps where it remained for the rest of its time in Palestine.[1]

In October and November 1917, the division took part in the Third Battle of Gaza (including the capture of Beersheba on 31 October and the Sheria Position on 6 November). At the end of 1917, it took part in the capture and defence of Jerusalem and in March 1918 in the Battle of Tell 'Asur. On 3 April 1918, the Division was warned that it would move to France and by 30 April 1918 had completed embarkation at Alexandria.[1]

Before departure for France, the 4th (of 229th Brigade), 209th (of 230th Brigade), 210th (of 231st Brigade) and 261st MG Companies formed 74th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps. It concentrated at Alexandria between 17 and 30 April and departed for France with the division on the latter date.[4]

The artillery was also restructured in March and April 1918 before departing for France. On 21 March, 'A' Battery of CCLXVIII Brigade, RFA (A/CCLXVIII) returned to 60th (2/2nd London) Division where it resumed its original identity as B/CCCI. It was replaced by 425 Battery which was redesignated A/CCLXVIII. Then, between 11 and 21 April, the artillery was reorganized as two brigades at Lydda:

Old designation New designation
XLIV Brigade, RFA XLIV Brigade, RFA
    A Battery     resumed identity as 340 Battery
    B Battery     resumed identity as 382 Battery
    former A/CCLXVIII resumed identity as 425 Battery
    former C (H)/CCLXVIII as D (H) Battery
CXVII Brigade, RFA CXVII Brigade, RFA
    former B/CCLXVIII resumed identity as 366 Battery
    A Battery     A Battery
    B Battery     B Battery
    C (H) Battery     D (H) Battery
CCLXVIII Brigade, RFA broken up
    A Battery     transferred to XLIV Brigade as 425 Battery
    B Battery     transferred to CXVII Brigade as 366 Battery
    C (H) Battery     transferred to XLIV Brigade as D (H) Battery

Each brigade now consisted of three batteries of six 18 pounders and a battery of four 4.5" howitzers. Each of the howitzer batteries were later made up to six 4.5" howitzers in France (on 21 May 1918 at Noulette).[4]

France and Flanders 1918[edit]

In May 1918, the 74th (Yeomanry) Division landed at Marseilles, France. It served in France and Flanders for the rest of the war. By 18 May, the division had concentrated around Rue in the Abbeville area. Here the dismounted Yeomanry underwent training for service on the Western Front, particularly gas defence.[5]

Due to a lack of replacements, infantry divisions on the Western Front had been reduced from 12 to nine battalions in January and February 1918.[6] To conform with this new structure, on 21 June, 12th Royal Scots Fusiliers (of 229th Brigade), 12th Norfolk Regiment (of 230th Brigade) and 24th Royal Welsh Fusiliers (of 231st Brigade) left the 74th (Yeomanry) Division.[4] They were used to reconstitute 94th Brigade of 31st Division which was renamed the 94th (Yeomanry) Brigade on that date.[7] On 16 May, the Pioneer Battalion, 1/12th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, was reduced from a 4-company to a 3-company organization.[8]

Order of Battle, June 1918 [3]
Formation / Organization Units
229th Brigade 16th (Royal 1st Devon and Royal North Devon Yeomanry) Battalion, Devonshire Regiment
12th (West Somerset Yeomanry) Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry
14th (Fife and Forfar Yeomanry) Battalion, Black Watch
229th Trench Mortar Battery
229th Field Ambulance, RAMC
230th Brigade 10th (Royal East Kent and West Kent Yeomanry) Battalion, Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)
15th (Suffolk Yeomanry) Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
16th (Sussex Yeomanry) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment
230th Trench Mortar Battery
230th Field Ambulance, RAMC
231st Brigade 25th (Montgomery and Welsh Horse Yeomanry) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers
24th (Pembroke and Glamorgan Yeomanry) Battalion, Welsh Regiment
10th (Shropshire and Cheshire Yeomanry) Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry
231st Trench Mortar Battery
231st Field Ambulance, RAMC
Artillery XLIV Brigade, RFA (340, 382, 425 and 'D' (H) Batteries)
CXVII Brigade, RFA (366, 'A', 'B' and 'D' (H) Batteries)
X.74 Medium Trench Mortar Battery, RFA[n 11]
Y.74 Medium Trench Mortar Battery, RFA
74th Divisional Ammunition Column
Divisional Troops 5th Field Company, Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers
5th Field Company, Royal Anglesey Royal Engineers
439th (2/1st Cheshire) Field Company, Royal Engineers[n 12]
74th Divisional Signal Company
1/12th (Pioneer) Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (T.F.)[n 13]
74th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps (4th, 209th, 210th and 261st Companies, MGC)
59th Mobile Veterinary Section
985th Divisional Employment Company[n 14]
74th Divisional Train (447th, 448th, 449th and 450th Companies, ASC)

On 14 July 1918 the 74th (Yeomanry) Division went into the line for the first time, near Merville on the right of XI Corps. From September 1918, as part of III Corps of Fourth Army, it took part in the Hundred Days Offensive including the Second Battle of the Somme (Second Battle of Bapaume) and the Battles of the Hindenburg Line (Battle of Épehy). In October and November 1918, it took part in the 'Final Advance' on Artois and Flanders. By the Armistice it was in the area of Tournai, Belgium.[5]

With the end of the war, the troops of 74th Division were engaged in railway repair work and education was undertaken while demobilisation began. The division and its subformations were disbanded on 10 July 1919.[5]

Commanders[edit]

74th (Yeomanry) Division was commanded throughout its existence by Major General E.S. Girdwood.[9]

Battles[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ XLIV Brigade, RFA transferred from England and landed at Alexandria on 27 May 1917 with 340, 382 and 399 Batteries, each of four 13 pounders. It reached Sidi el Bishr on 2 June and was reorganized and re-equipped as two batteries of six 18 pounders (399 Battery was broken up to complete the other two). 340 Battery was renamed 'A' Battery and 382 renamed 'B'. The brigade joined the division at Rafah on 3 July.
  2. ^ CXVII Brigade, RFA from 26th Division in Salonika; landed at Alexandria on 5 July with 'A', 'B', 'C' and 'D' (H) Batteries, twelve 18 pounders and four 4.5" howitzers. It reached el Ferdan on 6 July and was reorganized as two batteries of six 18 pounders ('C' Battery was broken up to complete 'A' and 'B' Batteries) and one battery of four 4.5" howitzers ('D' (H) Battery renamed 'C' (H) Battery). The brigade joined the division at Deir el Balah on 9 August.
  3. ^ CCLXVIII Brigade, RFA formed at el Ferdan on 17 June and joined the division at Deir el Balah on 23 July. B Battery, CCCI Brigade RFA from 60th (2/2nd London) Division in Salonika joined the brigade at el Ferdan on 17 June and became A Battery (six 18 pounder guns). 366 Battery, CXLVI Brigade RFA from 28th Division in Salonika joined the brigade on 11 July and became B Battery (also with six 18 pounder guns). D (H) Battery, CCCII Brigade RFA from 60th (2/2nd London) Division in Salonika joined the brigade at el Ferdan on 19 June and became C (H) Battery (equipped with four 4.5" howitzers).
  4. ^ Formed between 21 June and 10 July from parts of the ammunition columns of XLIV and CXVII Brigades, RFA.
  5. ^ Joined the division at Khan Yunis on 5 April. Left on 23 August for XX Corps Cavalry Regiment.
  6. ^ Joined the division at Deir el Balah by 19 April.
  7. ^ Joined the division at Deir el Balah on 14 April.
  8. ^ Formed from 2 March and joined the division at Rafah by 28 March.
  9. ^ Joined the division at Deir el Balah on 13 April.
  10. ^ Formerly the Divisional Train of 42nd (East Lancashire) Division which remained in Egypt when 42nd Division transferred to France in February 1917. It was attached to 53rd (Welsh) Division from 20 March for the Gaza operations. It was assigned to 74th Division on 1 April and redesignated 74th Divisional Train on 13 April.
  11. ^ X and Y Batteries were formed at Fifth Army Trench Mortar School on 1 June and joined the division on 12 June. On 14 June, the batteries received twelve Newton 6 inch Mortars.
  12. ^ 439th Field Company (2/1st Cheshire Field Company redesignated on 4 February 1917) joined the division from 53rd (Welsh) Division at Ramle on 9 April 1918.
  13. ^ Joined the division from 60th (2/2nd London) Division at Sarafand (Sarafand al-Amar or possibly Sarafand al-Kharab) on 10 April 1918.
  14. ^ Formed in the division on 18 May 1918.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Becke 1937, p. 121
  2. ^ Falls 1930 Vol. 1 p. 273
  3. ^ a b Becke 1937, p. 118
  4. ^ a b c Becke 1937, p. 119
  5. ^ a b c Becke 1937, p. 122
  6. ^ Haythornthwaite 1996, p. 217
  7. ^ Becke 1945, p. 16
  8. ^ Becke 1937, p. 120
  9. ^ Becke 1937, p. 117

External links[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Becke, Major A.F. (1936). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 2A. The Territorial Force Mounted Divisions and the 1st-Line Territorial Force Divisions (42–56). London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 1-871167-12-4. 
  • Becke, Major A.F. (1937). 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: His Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 1-871167-00-0. 
  • Becke, Major A.F. (1945). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 3B. New Army Divisions (30–41) & 63rd (RN) Division. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 1-871167-08-6. 
  • Falls, Cyril; G. MacMunn (1930). Military Operations Egypt & Palestine from the outbreak of war with Germany to June 1917. Official History of the Great War Based on Official Documents by Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence 1. London: HM Stationery Office. OCLC 610273484. 
  • James, Brigadier E.A. (1978). British Regiments 1914–18. London: Samson Books Limited. ISBN 0-906304-03-2. 
  • Haythornthwaite, Philip J. (1996). The World War One Source Book. London: Arms and Armour Press. ISBN 1-85409-351-7. 

Further reading[edit]