12th (Eastern) Division
|12th (Eastern) Division|
|Active||First World War: August 1914–22 March 1919
Second World War: 1939–1940
|Engagements||Battle of Epehy|
The 12th (Eastern) Division was an infantry division raised by the British Army during the First World War, part of Kitchener's Army. The division was raised again prior to World War II. However, it was disbanded during the Second World War due to the number of casualties that it took.
Formation and First World War
The 12th (Eastern) Division, was one of the Kitchener's Army divisions raised from volunteers by Lord Kitchener. It was formed within Eastern Command as a result of Army Order No. 324 of 21 August 1914, as part of the K1 wave of divisions. It fought on the Western Front for the duration of the First World War. One of its most notable actions was the Battle of Epehy where there is a memorial cross to the Division.
In the First World War, the division's insignia was the Ace of Spades.
Second World War
The division was reformed as the 12th (Eastern) Division, a 2nd Line Territorial Army formation formed just before the start of the Second World War, a duplicate of the 44th (Home Counties) Infantry Division. As such it contained mostly half trained units, some of whom had not even fired their rifles. In April 1940 the 12th Infantry, along with the 23rd (Northumbrian) Division and 46th (West Riding) Infantry Divisions, were sent as lines of communications troops to France to join the British Expeditionary Force. They were all under-equipped and did not have their signals, Royal Artillery or administrative units with them.
When the German Army attacks began on 10 May 1940 only every third battalion had done a week's training. As a result the 12th Division suffered heavy casualties during the Battle of France and the subsequent retreat to and evacuation from Dunkirk.
As a result of its high proportion of casualties (the 36th Brigade having been severely mauled on 20 May 1940) the 12th (Eastern) Division was disbanded on 11 July 1940. However, two of its constituent brigades, the 35th Brigade and the 36th Brigade would see service later in the war, the 35th Brigade redesignated as the 169th (Queen's) Infantry Brigade, with the 56th (London) Infantry Division, and the 36th with the 78th Battleaxe Infantry Division. Both divisions saw service in North Africa and Italy. The 37th Brigade remained in the UK for the rest of the war.
First World War Order of Battle
- 35th Brigade
- 7th (Service) Battalion, Norfolk Regiment
- 7th (Service) Battalion, Suffolk Regiment (left May 1918)
- 9th (Service) Battalion, Essex Regiment
- 5th (Service) Battalion, Princess Charlotte of Wales's (Royal Berkshire Regiment) (left February 1918 for 36th Brigade)
- 1/1st Battalion, Cambridgeshire Regiment (joined May 1918)
- 36th Brigade
- 8th (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) (disbanded February 1918)
- 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)
- 7th (Service) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment
- 11th (Service) Battalion, Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment) (disbanded February 1918)
- 5th (Service) Battalion, Princess Charlotte of Wales's (Royal Berkshire Regiment) (joined February 1918 from 35th Brigade)
- 37th Brigade
- 5th (Service) Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment
Second World War Order of Battle
(Divisional formation as of 3 September 1939, on the outbreak of war)
- 2/5th Battalion, Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey)
- 2/6th Battalion, Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey)
- 2/7th Battalion, Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey)
- 2/6th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment
- 6th Battalion, Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment
- 7th Battalion, Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment
- 5th Battalion, Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)
- 6th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment
- 7th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment
- 113th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
- 114th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
- 118th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
- 67th Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery
- 274th Field Company, Royal Engineers
- 275th Field Company, Royal Engineers
- 276th Field Company, Royal Engineers
- 277th Field Park Company, Royal Engineers
The 35th Infantry Brigade was a duplicate of the 131st (Queen's) Infantry Brigade, part of 44th (Home Counties) Infantry Division. The 36th Infantry Brigade was a duplicate of the 132nd (Kent) Infantry Brigade. The 37th Infantry Brigade was a duplicate of the 133rd (Royal Sussex) Infantry Brigade, and was re-created on 7 October 1939. In the battles of Belgium France the 37th Brigade was nearly completely destroyed fighting the German invasion. It was reorganised as the 7th Infantry Brigade on 8 December 1941.
From 7 October 1939 to 25 October 1939 the 5th Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) was also part of 37th Infantry Brigade.
The Divisional formation badge of the Ace of Spades has since been adopted by the present 12th Armoured Infantry Brigade.
- List of British divisions in World War I
- List of British divisions in World War II
- British Army Order of Battle - September 1939
- Beckett 2008, and other authoritative references, refer to this formation as '12th (Eastern) Division'. No mention of 'Infantry.' Beckett 2008, 128
- The British Army in the Great War: The 12th (Eastern) Infantry Division, accessed October 2009
- Beckett, 2008, 128.
- http://www.ordersofbattle.com/UnitData.aspx?UniX=1897, accessed November 2011
- Middleton Brumwell, P. (1923). Scott, A. B., ed. History of the 12th (Eastern) Division in the Great War, 1914–1918 (N & M Press 2001 ed.). London: Nisbet. ISBN 1-84342-228-X. OCLC 6069610. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- Ian F.W. Beckett, 'Territorials: A Century of Service,' First Published April 2008 by DRA Printing of 14 Mary Seacole Road, The Millfields, Plymouth PL1 3JY on behalf of TA 100, ISBN 978-0-9557813-1-5.
- Source for level of Training of 12th Inf.Div.
- 12 (Eastern) Infantry Division at Orders of Battle.com