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29th Division (United Kingdom)

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29th Division
ActiveJanuary 1915 – 1919
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Nickname(s)"Incomparable Division"
EngagementsFirst World War
Gallipoli Campaign
Landing at Cape Helles
First Battle of Krithia
Second Battle of Krithia
Third Battle of Krithia
Battle of Gully Ravine
Battle of Sari Bair
Battle of Krithia Vineyard
Battle of Scimitar Hill
Western Front
Battle of the Somme
Battle of Passchendaele
Battle of Cambrai (1917)

The 29th Division, known as the Incomparable Division, was an infantry division of the British Army, formed in early 1915 by combining various Regular Army units that had been acting as garrisons around the British Empire. Under the command of Major-General Aylmer Hunter-Weston, the division fought throughout the Gallipoli Campaign, including the original landing at Cape Helles. From 1916 to the end of the war the division fought on the Western Front in Belgium and France.

According to the published divisional history (see reference below), 'The total casualties of the 29th Division amounted to something like 94,000. Gallipoli alone accounted for 34,000. This must be, if not a record, among the highest totals in any division … The number of Victoria Crosses won by members of this division was 27 (12 at Gallipoli). This constitutes a record'.[1] A large commemorative Portland stone obelisk, built in 1921 to remember the Division's review by King George V before they were sent to Gallipoli, is located on a roundabout on the A45 just north of Stretton-on-Dunsmore, Warwickshire.[2] A memorial to the 29th Division is located in Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial. Lieutenant-General Beauvoir De Lisle, wartime commander of the 29th British Division, unveiled the monument the morning of the official opening of the site on 7 June 1925.[3]

Unit history



King George V inspects the 29th Division at Dunchurch, 12 March 1915.

The 29th Division served on the Gallipoli peninsula, a point in the strategic Dardanelles straits between the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea (and thus the Mediterranean). The division was there for the duration of the ill-fated campaign. It made the first landings as part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force in April 1915. On the morning of 25 April 1915 the Battle of Gallipoli began when battalions from the division's 86th and 87th Brigades landed at five beaches around Cape Helles at the tip of the peninsula under the command of Major-General Aylmer Hunter-Weston. Three of the landings faced little or no opposition but were not exploited. The two main landings, at V and W Beaches on either side of the cape, met with fierce Turkish resistance and the landing battalions were decimated.[4]

The original objectives of the first day of the campaign had been the village of Krithia and the nearby hill of Achi Baba. The first concerted attempt to capture these was made by the division three days after the landings on 28 April. In this First Battle of Krithia an advance up the peninsula was made but the division was halted short of its objective and suffered around 3,000 casualties. The attack was resumed on 6 May with the launch of the Second Battle of Krithia. On this occasion the 88th Brigade attacked along Fig Tree Spur and, after two days of fighting without significant progress, it was relieved by the New Zealand Infantry Brigade. On 24 May Major-General Beauvoir De Lisle took over command of the division.[5]

On 4 June the 88th Brigade was once more required to make an advance along Fig Tree Spur in the Third Battle of Krithia. In the subsequent counter-attacks, Second Lieutenant G.R.D Moor of the 2nd Hampshires was awarded the Victoria Cross for shooting four of his own men who attempted to retreat.[6]

Headquarters of the 29th Division at Cape Helles.

The division finally saw successful fighting at Helles during the Battle of Gully Ravine on 28 June when the 86th Brigade managed to advance along Gully Spur. As a prelude to the launch of the August Offensive, a "diversion" was carried out at Helles on 6 August to prevent the Turks withdrawing troops. In what became known as the Battle of Krithia Vineyard, the 88th Brigade made another costly and futile attack along the exposed Krithia Spur.[7]

At Suvla, the Battle of Scimitar Hill on 21 August was the final push of the failed August Offensive. The 29th Division had been moved from Helles to Suvla to participate. The 87th Brigade was briefly able to capture the summit of the hill but was soon forced to retreat.[8]

The division was evacuated from Gallipoli on 2 January 1916 and moved to Egypt before being sent to France in March.[9]


Wiring party of the 1st Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers going up to the trenches, Beaumont Hamel, France, July 1916. Note a trench pump in the foreground.

Passing through the Mediterranean port of Marseilles the 29th Division arrived in the rear of the Somme battle front from 15 to 29 March 1916.[10] From this time the division was put into the British Front in the area north of the Ancre River, near to the German-held village of Beaumont Hamel. For the following three months the battalions in the division spent their time doing tours of trenches and training behind the lines to prepare for the large British offensive against the German position planned for the end of June.[10] Following a 7-day artillery bombardment of the German front and rear areas, the battalions of the 29th Division were in position in their Assembly Trenches in the early hours of Saturday 1 July.[10]

At 07:20 hours the huge Hawthorn mine was blown on the left of the division's position. The leading battalions in the attack left the British front line trench at 07:30 hours.[10] The British casualties were severe, with many men never reaching the German front line. The men of the Newfoundland Regiment moved forward at about 09:00 hours to follow on behind the leading battalion in the advance of 88th Brigade.[10] Many of them were shot down trying to clamber overground to cover the few yards from where they were in the rear of the British front line to start their advance down the hill.[10]

Order of Battle


The following units served with the division:[9]

Divisional Troops

  • 1/2nd (T.F.) Battalion, Monmouthshire Regiment (Pioneers) (joined May 1916)
  • 29th Divisional Train Army Service Corps (A.S.C.)
    • 246th, 247th, 248th and 249th (T.F.) Companies, A.S.C. (joined from the 43rd (Wessex) Division, transferred to 53rd (Welsh) Division in March 1916)
    • 225th, 226th, 227th and 228th Companies, A.S.C. (joined 24 March 1916)
  • 18th Mobile Veterinary Section Army Veterinary Corps
  • 226th Divisional Employment Company (joined on 25 May 1917)
  • Divisional Mounted Troops
    • C Sqn, the Surrey Yeomanry (left 11 May 1916)
    • No. 1 Section, 10th Squadron, Royal Naval Armoured Car Detachment (attached between 5 May 20 June 1915)
  • 87th (1st West Lancashire) Field Ambulance
  • 88th (1st East Anglian) Field Ambulance
  • 89th (1st Highland) Field Ambulance
  • 16th Sanitary Section (left April 1917)



The Division participated in the following engagements:[9]


  • Major-General Henry de Beauvoir de Lisle (24 August 1915 – 12 March 1918)
  • Acting: Brigadier-General R. M. Johnson (12 March – 19 March 1918)
  • Acting: Brigadier-General H. H. S. Knox (10 August – 25 August 1918)
  • Major-General Douglas Edward Cayley (25 August 1918 – March 1919)

The Diamond Troupe

The Diamond Troupe, Concert Party of the 29th Division

The Diamond Troupe was the Concert Party of the 29th Division. The Diamond Troupe was one of a small number of concert parties to achieve considerable notoriety, both on the battlefield and at home. The members of the troupe were: Front row (from left to right): Pte. Eric John Dean, Lt. Col. E. Trevor Wright, Pte. Lawrence Nicol. Middle row: Pte. Hubert Holmes (cellist), Corp. Frank Pollard, L. Cp. Robert James Stannard, Pte. William Threlfall, Pte. Arthur Sykes, Pte. H. Palmer (violinist). Back row: Pte. Neville Giordano, Pte. Jock McKinley, Pte. Alexander Hill, Pte. George Hangle, Pte. J. Morris.


  1. ^ Gillon 1925, p. vii.
  2. ^ Nicholson, Jean et al: The Obelisks of Warwickshire, page 58. Brewin Books, 2013
  3. ^ Nicholson, Gerald W. L. (2006) [1964]. The Fighting Newfoundlander: A History of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. Carleton Library; 209 (2nd ed.). Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press
  4. ^ Steel & Hart 1994, p. 80
  5. ^ "Beauvoir De Lisle". Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives. Archived from the original on 31 July 2007. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  6. ^ "No. 29240". The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 July 1915. p. 7282.
  7. ^ Brady, Sheila (2017). Chapel Street: 'The Bravest Little Street in England'. The History Press. ISBN 978-0750970426.
  8. ^ Aspinall-Oglander 1992, p. 355.
  9. ^ a b c Baker, Chris. "29th Division". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Legg, Joanna. "Newfoundland Memorial Park, Beaumont Hamel, France". www.greatwar.co.uk. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
  11. ^ Baker, Chris. "The Newfoundland Regiment". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 18 November 2018.

See also



  • Aspinall-Oglander, C. F. (1992) [1932]. Military Operations Gallipoli: May 1915 to the Evacuation. History of the Great War Based on Official Documents by Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence. Historical Section. Vol. II (facs. repr. Imperial War Museum Department of Printed books & Battery Press ed.). London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-89839-175-X.

Further reading

  • Gillon, S. (2002) [1925]. The Story of 29th Division: A Record of Gallant Deeds (Naval & Military Press, Uckfield ed.). London: Thos Nelson & Sons. ISBN 978-1-84342-265-5.
  • Steel, Nigel; Hart, Peter (1994). Defeat at Gallipoli. Macmillan, London. ISBN 0-330-49058-3.