32nd Division (United Kingdom)

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32nd Division
British 32nd Division insignia.png
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
EngagementsWorld War I
Battle of the Somme (1916)
Battle of Albert (1916)
Battle of Amiens (1918)
Reginald Barnes

The 32nd Division was an infantry division of the British Army that was raised in 1914, during World War I. The division was raised from volunteers for Lord Kitchener's New Armies, that was originally made up of infantry battalions raised by public subscription or private patronage. The division was taken over by the War Office in September 1915. It served in France and Belgium in the trenches of the Western Front for the duration of the war.

The division's insignia was four 'eights' arranged in an 'X' shape.

Unit history[edit]

On 10 December the War Office authorised the formation of the Fifth New Army. Like the other Kitchener Armies, it comprised six Divisions, in this case numbered 37 to 42. What eventually became 32nd Division was originally numbered 39th. In April 1915, the original Fourth New Army was broken up and its units converted for training and draft-finding purposes. When this took place the Fifth New Army became Fourth New Army and its Divisions were renumbered to 30th – 35th: thus what we remember as 32nd Division was born.

The Division was composed largely of locally raised units often known as “Pals”. It was a predominantly Northern Division, although locally raised units from Birmingham and Bristol were also in the structure.

After in most cases commencing training near home (although the Glasgow battalions moved to camp at Gailes and the 11th Border at Blackhall), the units were moved in May 1915 to concentrate in Shropshire but Prees Heath was found to be too wet for training and the brigades instead moved to Yorkshire (Wensley and Richmond, with use of the firing ranges at Strenshall). It was not until August that the Division moved for final training and firing practice at Codford on Salisbury Plain.

In November 1915 the Division received a warning order to prepare to sail for France. It remained on the Western Front for the remainder of the war and took part in the following engagements:

1916 The Battle of Albert* The Battle of Bazentin* The Battle of the Ancre*

  • the battles marked * are phases of the Battles of the Somme 1916
A working party of the 2nd Battalion, Manchester Regiment, part of the 32nd Division, moving up to the trenches near Serre, January 1917.

1917 Operations on the Ancre The pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line

1918 The First Battle of Arras, a phase of the First Battles of the Somme 1918 The Battle of Amiens The Battle of Albert^ The Battle of Bapaume^ ^ the battles marked ^ are phases of the Second Battles of the Somme 1918 The Battle of the St Quentin Canal+ The Battle of Beaurevoir+ + the battles marked + are phases of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line The Battle of the Sambre, including the passge of the Oise-Sambre Canal, a phase of the Final Advance in Picardy

32nd Division achieved its best attacking results under Lambert's command, spearheading Fourth Army's attacks alongside the Australians between August and October 1918. It was Lambert who informed Field-Marshal Haig of mounting German resistance at Amiens, intelligence that persuaded Haig to refuse Foch's order to continue the offensive and to switch the axis of advance to Byng's Third Army on the Scarpe.

Order of Battle[edit]

The following units served with the division:[1]

14th Brigade 

The brigade joined from the 5th Division in December 1915, swapping with the 95th Brigade.

95th Brigade 

The brigade transferred to the 5th Division on 26 December 1915, swapping with the 14th Brigade.

96th Brigade 
  • 16th (Service) Battalion, (Newcastle), Northumberland Fusiliers (disbanded February 1916)[2]
  • 15th (Service) Battalion (1st Salford), Lancashire Fusiliers
  • 16th (Service) Battalion (2nd Salford), Lancashire Fusiliers
  • 19th (Service) Battalion (3rd Salford), Lancashire Fusiliers (transferred to 14th Brigade 5 January 1916)
  • 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (joined January 1916 left February 1918)
  • 2nd Battalion, Manchester Regiment (transferred from 14th Brigade February 1918)
  • 96th Machine Gun Company (joined 15 March 1916, moved to 32nd Battalion M.G.C. 21 February 1918)
  • 96th Trench Mortar Battery (joined March 1916)
97th Brigade 
  • 11th (Service) Battalion (Lonsdale), Border Regiment (left May 1918)
  • 15th (Service) Battalion (1st Glasgow), Highland Light Infantry (transferred to 14th Brigade January 1916)
  • 16th (Service) Battalion (2nd Glasgow), Highland Light Infantry (transferred to Divisional Pioneers February 1918)
  • 17th (Service) Battalion (3rd Glasgow), Highland Light Infantry (disbanded February 1918)
  • 2nd Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (joined December 1915)
  • 10th (Service) Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (joined February 1918)
  • 1/5th (Cumberland) Battalion, Border Regiment (joined May 1918)
  • 97th Machine Gun Company (joined 15 March 1916, moved to 32nd Battalion M.G.C. 21 February 1918)
  • 97th Trench Mortar Battery (joined March 1916)
Divisional Troops
  • 17th (Service) Battalion (North Eastern Railway Pioneers), Northumberland Fusiliers (joined as Divisional Pioneer Battalion June 1915, left October 1916, returned September 1917, finally left November 1917 )
  • 1/12th T.F. Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (joined as Divisional Pioneer Battalion November 1916, left January 1917)
  • 16th (Service) Battalion (Glasgow Boys Brigade), Highland Light Infantry (joined as Divisional Pioneer Battalion February 1918 )
  • 219th Machine Gun Company (joined 25 March 1917, moved to 32nd Battalion M.G.C. 21 February 1918)
  • 32nd Battalion M.G.C. (formed 21 February 1918 absorbing brigade MG companies)
  • Divisional Mounted Troops
  • 32nd Divisional Train Army Service Corps (A.S.C.)
    • 221st, 222nd, 223rd and 224th Companies A.S.C. (remained in England in November 1915)
    • 202nd, 203rd, 204th and 205th Companies A.S.C. (joined in France)
  • 42nd Mobile Veterinary Section Army Veterinary Corps
  • 229th Divisional Employment Company (joined 25 March 1917)

Royal Artillery

The original Divisional Artillery remained in England and on 2 December 1915 joined the 31st Division

  • CLXV Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (R.F.A.)
  • CLXIX Brigade, R.F.A.
  • CLXX Brigade, R.F.A.
  • CLXXI (Howitzer) Brigade, R.F.A.

The original Divisional Artillery of the 31st Division joined the division between 30 December 1915 and 3 January 1916

  • CLV Brigade, R.F.A. (left 20 January 1917)
  • CLXI Brigade, R.F.A.
  • CLXIV (Howitzer) Brigade, R.F.A. (broken up September 1916)
  • CLXVIII Brigade, R.F.A.
  • 32nd Divisional Ammunition Column R.F.A.
  • V.32, W.32 Heavy Trench Mortar Batteries, R.F.A. (formed by June 1916; W Bty broken up 28 December 1916; V redesignated X on 12 February 1918)
  • X.32, Y.32 and Z.32 Medium Mortar Batteries, R.F.A. (formed May 1916; by 12 February 1918, Z broken up and distributed among X and Y batteries)

Royal Engineers

  • 206th (Glasgow) Field Company
  • 218th (Glasgow) Field Company
  • 219th (Glasgow) Field Company
  • 32nd Divisional Signals Company

Royal Army Medical Corps

  • 96th Field Ambulance (left November 1915)
  • 97th Field Ambulance (left November 1915)
  • 98th Field Ambulance (left November 1915)
  • 90th Field Ambulance (joined November 1915)
  • 91st Field Ambulance (joined November 1915)
  • 92nd Field Ambulance (joined November 1915)
  • 72nd Sanitary Section (left 17 April 1917)


General Officier commanding[edit]

  • Major-General William Henry Rycroft September 1915 – May 1918
  • Major-General Thomas Stanton Lambert 31 May 1918 – 1919

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Baker, Chris. "32nd Division". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  2. ^ Baker, Chris. "Northumberland Fusiliers". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 19 November 2018.

External links[edit]