47th (1/2nd London) Division

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For the equivalent formation in World War II, see 47th (London) Infantry Division.
British 47th (1/2nd London) Division
British 47th (2nd London) Division insignia.png
Active World War I
1908 – June 1919
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svgTerritorial Force
Type Infantry
Engagements Second Battle of Ypres 1915
Battle of the Somme 1916
Battle of Arras 1917
Third Battle of Ypres 1917

The British 47th (1/2nd London) Division was a first-line Territorial Force division. Originally called the "2nd London Division" it was designated the 47th Division in 1915 and referred to as the "1/2nd London Division" after the raising of the second-line 60th (2/2nd London) Division. The division was sent to France in March 1915, one of the first Territorial divisions to enter the fighting, and served on the Western Front for the duration of the First World War.

Order of Battle[edit]

The composition of the division was as follows:[1][2]

140th (4th London) Brigade 

Pre-war the brigade comprised the following battalions:

After it landed in France it had the following composition:

From February 1918, the brigade comprised the following battalions:

141st (5th London) Brigade 
142nd (6th London) Brigade 
  • 1/21st (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (to 140 Bde February 1918)
  • 1/22nd (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment
  • 1/23rd (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment
  • 1/24th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment
  • 1/4th (City of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) (from 16 November 1915 until 9 February 1916)
  • 142nd Brigade Machine-Gun Company (from 10 December 1915 until 1 March 1918)
  • 142nd Brigade Trench Mortar Battery (from 12 June 1916)
Pioneers 
Machine Guns
  • 239th Machine Gun Company, Machine Gun Corps (from 17 July until 1 October 1917)
  • 255th Machine Gun Company, Machine Gun Corps (from 19 November 1917 until 1 March 1918)
  • No 47 Battalion, Machine Gun Corps (from 1 March 1918)
Mounted Troops
  • C Squadron 1st King Edward's Horse (from 25 April 1915 until 1 June 1916)
  • 2nd London Divisional Cyclist Company (until 1 June 1916)
Artillery
  • V London Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (later CCXXXV Brigade)
  • VI London Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (later CCXXXVI Brigade)
  • VII London Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (later CCXXXVII Brigade) (until 29 November 1916)
  • VIII London (Howitzer) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (later CCXXXVIII Brigade) (until 27 November 1916)
  • 2nd London Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery (until 31 March 1915)
  • 2nd London Divisional Ammunition Column
  • No 7 (later X.47) Medium Trench Mortar Company (from 17 November 1915)
  • No 8 (later Y.47) Medium Trench Mortar Company (from 17 November 1915)
  • Z.47 Medium Trench Mortar Company (from April 1916)
  • V.47 Heavy Trench Mortar Company (from 6 November 1916 to 16 February 1918)

(1st London Divisional Artillery also served with the division in January and February 1916)

Engineers
  • 3rd London Field Company, Royal Engineers
  • 4th London Field Company, Royal Engineers
  • 2/3rd London Field Company, Royal Engineers (from 25 June 1915)
  • 2nd London Divisional Signal Company, Royal Engineers
Medical
  • 4th London Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
  • 5th London Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
  • 6th London Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
  • 2nd London Sanitary Section (until 18 April 1917)
  • 2nd London Divisional Ambulance Workshop (to Divisional Train 3 April 1916)
  • 2nd London Mobile Veterinary Section, Army Veterinary Corps
Transport
Labour
  • 241st Divisional Employment Company (from May 1917)

World War I[edit]

In 1916 the division was part of Wilson's IV Corps. Wilson was not impressed by Charles Barter, GOC 47th division, and at the end of March 1916 he and Monro (GOC First Army) discussed getting rid of him, but could not come up with a reason for doing so; Barter survived until he was relieved during the Battle of the Somme.[3]


47th Division conducted effective mining operations against Vimy Ridge on 3 May and 15 May 1916, but a German attack on the evening of Sunday 21 May moved forward 800 yards, capturing 1,000 yards of the British front line, and the Division performed badly during a counterattack on 23 May. The Division conducted a carefully planned single battalion raid on the night of 27–8 June, claiming to have killed 300–600 Germans for only 13 British casualties.[4]

In the final stages of the war the division's GSO1 (effectively chief of staff) was acting Lieutenant-Colonel Bernard Montgomery,[5] then in his very early thirties and later a leading British commander in the Second World War.

The division fought in the Battle of Aubers Ridge, the Battle of Festubert, the Battle of Loos, the 1 July 1916 Battle of the Somme (1916), including the Battle of Flers-Courcelette and the capture of High Wood. After mid-1916 battles included the Battle of Le Transloy, the Battle of Messines, and the Battle of Cambrai (1917).[1]

Commanders[edit]

The following officers commanded 47th Division during World War I:[1]

Postwar[edit]

The division was reformed in 1920.[6] By 1935 the increasing need for anti-aircraft (AA) defence, particularly for London, was addressed by converting the 47th Division into the 1st Anti-Aircraft Division.[7]

World War II[edit]

During the Second World War, the division was once again raised. Initially as the 2nd London Division, but was redesignated in November 1940 as the 47th (London) Infantry Division.

Memorial[edit]

The two wooden memorial crosses were originally erected at High Wood and Eaucourt l'Abbaye by 47 Divisional Engineers in 1916

Two wooden memorial crosses erected at High Wood and Eaucourt l'Abbaye by 47 Divisional Engineers in 1916[8] were falling into disrepair by 1925, when they were replaced in stone. The restored wooden crosses were preserved at the Duke of York's Headquarters in London (the former divisional HQ) until that building was sold in 2003, and are now at Connaught House, the HQ of the London Irish Rifles on the site of the former First Surrey Rifles drill hall at Flodden Road, Camberwell.[9][10]

Notes[edit]

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.
  • Hamilton, Nigel (1981). Monty The Making of a General 1887-1942. McGraw-Hill Book Company. 
  • Jeffery, Keith (2006). Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson: A Political Soldier. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-820358-2. 
  • Maude, Alan H. (ed.) (1922). The 47th (London) Division, 1914–1919 by Some who Served with it in the Great War. London: Amalgamated Press. OCLC 494890858. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 

External links[edit]