7th (Meerut) Division

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For the World War II formation, see 7th Indian Infantry Division.
7th (Meerut) Indian Division
Active 1829 - 1920
Country United Kingdom British India
Allegiance British Crown
Branch India British Indian Army
Type Infantry
Size Division
Part of Bengal Army/Northern Command
Garrison/HQ Meerut
Engagements

Western Front[1]

Mesopotamian Campaign
Palestine Campaign

Commanders
Notable
commanders
Maj-Gen Claud Jacob (1915)
Maj-Gen Sir George Younghusband (1915-16)
Maj-Gen Sir V. B. Fane (1918)

The 7th (Meerut) Division was an infantry division of the British Indian Army that saw active service during World War I.

Pre-Mutiny[edit]

The Meerut Division first appeared in the Indian Army List in 1829, under the command of Sir Jasper Nicolls, KCB.[2] At this period Divisions were primarily administrative organisations controlling the brigades and stations in their area, rather than field formations, but they did provide field forces when required. There were generally one Indian cavalry and two Indian infantry regiments stationed at Meerut itself, in addition to British troops: in 1829 these were the 4th Bengal Light Cavalry, 29th and 32nd Bengal Native Infantry.[2]

Indian Mutiny[edit]

In May 1857, on the eve of the 'Indian Mutiny' (or 'First War of Independence'), the troops at Meerut comprised the 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers) and a battalion of the 60th (King’s Royal Rifle Corps), the 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry, and 11th and 20th Bengal Native Infantry under the command of Maj-Gen W.H. Hewitt.[3][4] The mutiny outbreak at Meerut was one of the first and most serious of the whole conflict.

Post-Mutiny[edit]

The division was reconstituted when peace returned. Over succeeding decades, the stations controlled by Meerut Division varied, and the forces under command were regularly rotated. For example:

Composition, January 1888[5][edit]

GOC: Maj-Gen Sir G.R. Greave, KCB, KCMG

Divisional HQ: Meerut

Fatehgarh:

Agra Brigade:

Muttra:

Dehra Dun:

Delhi:

Landour:

  • Convalescent Depot

Roorki:

  • H Company, Royal Engineers
  • HQ, A (Depot) Company, B (Recruit) Company, 3, 4, & 5 Companies, Bengal Sappers and Miners
  • 2nd Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment
  • 1st & 2nd Batteries, 1st Brigade, Welsh Division Garrison Artillery, Royal Artillery
  • 4th Battery, 1st Brigade, Eastern Division Garrison Artillery, Royal Artillery

Chakrata:

Pre–World War I[edit]

Under the reforms introduced by Lord Roberts as Commander-in-Chief (CinC) India, the Divisions were renamed 1st Class Districts in 1890. In the next round of reforms inaugurated by Lord Kitchener as CinC, they became numbered divisions with their territorial affiliation as a subsidiary title. The title 7th (Meerut) Division first appeared in the Army List between 30 September and 31 December 1904, as part of Western (later Northern) Command. On the eve of World War I, the division had its HQ at Mussoorie, and had the Meerut Cavalry Brigade and the Bareilly (HQ Ranikhet), Dehra Dun and Garhwal (HQ Lansdowne) Infantry Brigades under command.[6]

World War I[edit]

Western Front[edit]

In 1914 the 7th (Meerut) Division was part of Indian Expeditionary Force A sent to reinforce the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) fighting in France. The bulk constituted an infantry division as part of Indian Corps, while the Meerut Cavalry Brigade was detached to form part of 2nd Indian Cavalry Division in the Indian Cavalry Corps. While in France the division was known as the Meerut Division, and its brigades by their names, to avoid confusion with the 7th British Division. Despatch from India was delayed by the activities of the German raiders Emden and Konigsberg operating in the Indian Ocean, and by the slow speed of the transport vessels. The division landed at Marseilles 12–14 October 1914, but there were further delays while the troops were re-armed with the latest pattern rifle, and the supply train could be improvised, using tradesmen's vans procured locally.[7] The division finally got into action at the Battles of La Bassee, 1st Messines and Armentieres in October–November 1914.

Order of Battle, October 1914[8][edit]

GOC: Lieut-Gen C.A. Anderson, CB
GSO1: Col C.W. Jacob

Dehra Dun Brigade GOC: Brig-Gen C.E. Johnson

Garhwal Brigade GOC: Maj-Gen H.D’U. Keary, CB, DSO

Bareilly Brigade GOC: Maj-Gen F. Macbean, CVO, CB

Divisional Mounted Troops

Divisional Artillery

Engineers

Signals Service

  • Meerut Signal Company

Divisional Pioneers

Supply & Transport:

  • Meerut Divisional train

Medical Units:

  • 19th & 20th British Field Ambulances
  • 128th, 129th and 130th Indian Field Ambulances

After winter operations (in which the Indian soldiers suffered badly) the division next took part in the Battles of Neuve Chapelle, Aubers Ridge, Festubert and Loos in 1915.[1]

Order of Battle, May 1915[9][edit]

GOC: Lieut-Gen Sir C.A. Anderson, KCB

Dehra Dun Brigade
GOC: Brig-Gen Col C.W. Jacob

Garwhal Brigade GOC: Brig-Gen C.G. Blackader

Bareilly Brigade GOC: Brig-Gen W.M. Southey

Divisional Troops
As before, with the addition of 30th Battery of XLIII (Howitzer Brigade) RA.

By the Battle of Loos in September 1915, Maj-Gen Claud Jacob had replaced Anderson as GOC of 7th (Meerut) Division, and the exhausted 61st Jats and 41st Dogras had been replaced by the 93rd Burma Infantry and 33rd Punjabis (from Egypt), while 30th Battery, XLII (How) Bde had been replaced by 61st Battery, VIII (How) Bde.[10]

Mesopotamia[edit]

On 13 August 1915, General Sir John Nixon, commanding Indian Expeditionary Force D in Mesopotamia, requested one of the Indian infantry divisions in France as reinforcements for his advance on Baghdad. Coincidentally, on the same day, the Secretary of State for India, Austen Chamberlain, told the Viceroy of India that he was anxious for the Indian infantry to be withdrawn from France before they had to endure another winter. The system for supplying drafts had broken down and the Indian battalions were becoming very weak after the heavy casualties they had suffered. Although the Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, objected to their withdrawal from the Western Front, orders were issued on 31 October for the two divisions of Indian Corps (3rd (Lahore) and 7th (Meerut) Division) to embark at Marseilles for Mesopotamia. They were to leave behind their attached Territorial Force battalions.[11] The two divisions were relieved in the front line on 6 November and were due at Basra on 1 December, but their departure from Marseilles was delayed until after 25 December because of fear of submarine attack.[12] 7th (Meerut) Division finally arrived in Mesopotamia in Spring 1917 and joined Tigris Corps, too late to relieve the 6th (Poona) Division at Kut-al-Amara.[13]

The division participated in the battles at the Sheikh Sa'ad, Wadi, Hanna, Dujailia, and the Sannaiyat. After the fall of Kut, as part of the reorganization of the British and Indian forces in the region, the division spent much of the summer and fall refitting. The Meerut and Lahore Divisions would eventually become part of the I Indian Army Corps, part of the newly formed Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force, participating in the capture of Baghdad in March 1917.

Palestine[edit]

The Meerut Division at Nahr al-Kalb (Dog river) in Lebanon, October 1918

After the fall of Baghdad, the Palestine Campaign was given priority over Mesopotamia, and in December 1917 Sir Edmund Allenby, commanding the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF), was informed that after he had captured Jerusalem he would be reinforced by the 7th (Meerut) Division from Mesopotamia. The division moved from Mesopotamia to Egypt in December,[14] and then on 1 April 1918 it relieved the 52nd (Lowland) Division, which was on its way to the Western Front.[15] The EEF undertook few operations during the hot weather of Summer 1918, but the Meerut Division captured 'North Sister' and 'South Sister' Hills on 8 June, and raided 'Piffer Ridge' on 27 June. It subsequently took part in Allenby's advance through Palestine, including the Battle of Megiddo as part of Lieutenant-General Bulfin's XXI British Corps operating on the right flank.[16]

Order of Battle September 1918[17][edit]

GOC: Maj-Gen Sir V.B. Fane

19th Brigade:

21st Brigade:

28th Brigade:

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Baker, Chris (2010). "The British Corps of 1914-1918". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  2. ^ a b East India Register and Directory 1829.
  3. ^ East India Register and Army List 1857 Volume II.
  4. ^ David.
  5. ^ India List, January 1888
  6. ^ Monthly Army List August 1914.
  7. ^ Edmonds, 1914, Vol II, p. 92, Note 1.
  8. ^ Edmonds 1914, Vol II, Appendix I
  9. ^ Edmonds & Wynne 1915, Vol II, Appendix 2
  10. ^ Edmonds & Wynne, 1915 Vol II, Appendix 3.
  11. ^ Edmonds & Wynne, 1915, Vol II, pp. 402–3.
  12. ^ Moberly, Vol II.
  13. ^ Baker, Chris (2010). "The British campaign in Mesopotamia 1914-1918". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  14. ^ Moberly
  15. ^ Falls, Part I.
  16. ^ Falls, Part II.
  17. ^ Bullock, Appendix.

References[edit]

  • Bullock, David L., Allenby’s War: the Palestine-Arabian Campaigns 1916–1918, London: Blandford (1988) (ISBN 0-7137-1869-2).
  • David, Saul, The Indian Mutiny of 1857, London: Viking (2002) (ISBN 0-670-91137-2).
  • Edmonds, Brig-Gen Sir James E., History of the Great War: Military Operations, France and Belgium, 1914, Vol II, Antwerp, La Bassee, Armentieres, Messines, and Ypres, October–November 1914, London: Macmillan (1925; Imperial War Museum reprint 1995) (ISBN 1-870423-55-0).
  • Edmonds, Brig-Gen Sir James E.,and Wynne, Capt G.C., History of the Great War: Military Operations, France and Belgium, 1915 Volume II: Battle of Aubers Ridge, Festubert, and Loos, London: Macmillan (1928).
  • Falls, Capt Cyril, History of the Great War: Military Operations: Egypt and Palestine, Volume II: From June 1917 to the End of the War (2 Parts), London: HMSO (1930).
  • Haythornthwaite P.J., The World War One Sourcebook, London: Arms and Armour Press (1992).
  • Moberly, Brig-Gen F.J., History of the Great War: Military Operations: The Campaign in Mesopotamia Volume II, London: HMSO (1924); Volume IV, London: HMSO (1927).
  • Perry, F.W. & Becke, A.F., History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions: Indian Army Divisions Pt. 5B. London: HMSO (1945) (ISBN 187116723X).

External links[edit]