4th Infantry Division (United Kingdom)

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4th Division
4th Infantry Division
4th Armoured Division
4th Division
British 4th Division insignia (1995 onwards).png
Shoulder sleeve insignia of the 4th Division.
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Part ofLand Forces
Garrison/HQAldershot Garrison
EngagementsNapoleonic Wars
Battle of Talavera
Battle of Albuera
Battle of Badajoz (1812)
Battle of Salamanca
Battle of Roncesvalles (1813)
Battle of Vitoria
Battle of the Pyrenees
Battle of Orthez
Battle of Toulouse (1814)
Battle of Waterloo
Crimean War
Battle of Alma
Battle of Inkerman
Battle of Balaclava
First World War
Le Cateau
Battle of Marne
Retreat from Mons
Battle of Aisne
First Battle of Ypres
Battle of Messines
Hill 60
Second Battle of Ypres
Battle of Albert
Battle of Le Transloy
Battle of the Somme
First Battle of the Scarpe
Third Battle of the Scarpe
Battle of Polygon Wood
Battle of Broodseinde
Battle of Poelcapelle
Battle of Passchendaele
Battle of Arras
Battle of Hazebroucke
Battle of Bethune
Advance in Flanders
Battle of the Scarpe
Battle of Drocourt-Quéant
Battle of the Canal du Nord
Battle of the Selle
Battle of Valenciennes
Second World War
Battle of France
Oued Zarga
the Medjez Plain
Trasimene Line
Rimini Line
Monte Cassino
Lieutenant General Sir Charles Colville, (7 August 1770 – 27 March 1843)
Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas D'Oyly Snow KCB, KCMG (5 May 1858 – 30 August 1940)
General Sir Alfred Dudley Ward, GCB, KBE, DSO (27 January 1905 – 28 December 1991)
Field Marshal Sir Nigel Thomas Bagnall, GCB, CVO, MC (10 February 1927 – 8 April 2002)
Insignia of the 4th Division, in the Second World War,[1] replaced by current design in 1995.4 inf div -vector.svg
Division sign of the British 4th Division in World War 1.[2]4 div WW1.jpg

The 4th Infantry Division was a regular infantry division of the British Army with a very long history, seeing active service in the Peninsular War, the Crimean War, the First World War, and during the Second World War. It was disbanded after the war and reformed in the 1950s as an armoured formation before being disbanded and reformed again and finally disbanded on 1 January 2012.

Napoleonic Wars[edit]

The 4th Division was originally formed in 1809 by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, as part of the Anglo-Portuguese Army, for service in the Peninsular War. It fought in the Battle of Talavera and the Battle of Salamanca, Battle of Badajoz and the Battle of Roncesvalles, Battle of Vitoria, Battle of the Pyrenees, Battle of Orthez, Battle of Toulouse.[3]

Peninsular War order of battle[edit]

The order of battle from January 1812 was as follows:[4]

Major General Sir Charles Colville (to April 1812) Major General Lowry Cole (from June 1812)

  • 1st Brigade: Major General James Kemmis
    • 3/27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot
    • 1/40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot
    • 1/48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment of Foot (from October 1812)
    • 2nd Provisional Battalion (2nd & 1/53rd Regiments of Foot) (from December 1812)
    • 1 Coy., 5/60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot
  • 2nd Brigade: Major General Sir Edward Pakenham
    • 1/7th Regiment of Foot (Royal Fusiliers)
    • 2/7th Regiment of Foot (Royal Fusiliers) (November 1810 to May 1811)
    • 20th (East Devonshire) Regiment of Foot (from November 1812)
    • 1/23rd Regiment of Foot (Royal Welsh Fusiliers)
    • 1/48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment of Foot (to October 1812)
    • 1/82nd Regiment of Foot (Prince of Wales's Volunteers) (October to November 1812)
    • 1 Coy., Brunswick-Oels Jaegers
  • 3rd Brigade: Major General Skerrett (October to December 1812)
    • 3/1st Foot Guards
    • 2/47th (Lancashire) Regiment of Foot
    • 2/87th (Prince of Wales's Irish) Regiment of Foot
    • 2 Cos., 2/95th Regiment of Foot (Rifles)
  • Portuguese Brigade: Major General Collins
    • 1/11th Line Infantry of the Portuguese Army
    • 2/11th Line Infantry of the Portuguese Army
    • 1/23rd Line Infantry of the Portuguese Army
    • 2/23rd Line Infantry of the Portuguese Army
    • 7th Caçadores of the Portuguese Army


At the Battle of Waterloo it was tasked with holding Wellington's right flank and, with the exception of its 4th brigade, took no active part in the fighting, but did capture the town of Cambrai afterwards.[5] The commanding general at this time was Charles Colville. In his novel Les Misérables Victor Hugo credits Colville with asking for the surrender of the Imperial Guard at Waterloo and receiving General Cambronne's reply of "Merde".[6]

Waterloo order of battle[edit]

Crimean War[edit]

The Division was also called for service during the Crimean War fought between the allied forces of the United Kingdom, French Empire and the Ottoman Empire on one side and Russia on the other. It saw action in the Battle of Alma the Battle of Inkerman and the Battle of Balaclava, fought on 25 October 1854 (famous for the Charge of the Light Brigade and the Thin Red Line).[7]

Crimean War order of battle[edit]

Commanding General: Major General Sir George Cathcart

First World War[edit]

Troops of the 1st Battalion, King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) in the front trench at St. Marguerite, 22 September 1914. The officer is Second Lieutenant R. C. Matthews, probably the CO of "A" Company.

As a permanently established Regular Army division it was amongst the first to be sent to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force at the outbreak of the First World War. It served on the Western Front for the duration of the war and was present during all the major offensives including the Battle of the Marne, Battle of Ypres, Battle of the Somme and the Battle of Passchendaele.[8]

Order of battle[edit]

The order of battle of 4th Division during the First World War was as follows:[9]

10th Brigade
11th Brigade
Map of the Western Front, 1915–16
12th Brigade

From early November 1915 until February 1916 the 12th Brigade was swapped with the 107th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division.



  • 7th Field Company, Royal Engineers (until 29 April 1915)
  • 9th Field Company, Royal Engineers
  • 1st West Lancashire Field Company, Royal Engineers (from 14 February 1915 until 28 February 1916)
  • 1st Renfrew Field Company, Royal Engineers (joined 2 May 1916; became 406th (Renfrew) Field Company 3 February 1917)
  • 1st Durham Field Company, Royal Engineers (joined 20 September 1916; became 526th (Durham) Field Company 3 February 1917)


Second World War[edit]

France and Belgium[edit]

Men of the 1st Battalion, Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment in a section of trench named 'Pudding Lane', 4th Division near Roubaix, 3 April 1940. Note the hand grenades ready for use.

Shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 the 4th Division, under Major General Dudley Johnson, who had won the Victoria Cross (VC) in the Great War, was sent to the border between France and Belgium as part of Lieutenant-General Alan Brooke's II Corps of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF).[12] All three of the division's brigades were commanded by distinguished soldiers, the 10th by Brigadier Evelyn Barker, the 11th by Brigadier Kenneth Anderson and the 12th by Brigadier John Hawkesworth. After the disastrous Battle of France in May–June 1940, where the division sustained heavy losses, and the evacuation at Dunkirk, it spent the next two years in the United Kingdom on anti-invasion duties and training for its next deployment.[12]

The Duke of Kent inspects Universal Carriers of the 1st Battalion, Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment, at Camberley, Surrey, 16 March 1942.

In June 1942 the division, now under Major General John Hawkesworth, was selected to be converted into a 'mixed' division, consisting of two infantry brigades and one tank brigade. As a result of this change, the divisions' 11th Infantry Brigade left the division and was replaced by the 21st Army Tank Brigade.[12]

North Africa[edit]

Men of the 6th Battalion, Black Watch crouch down in a landing craft as it approaches the shore, during combined operations training in Scotland, 17 November 1942.

The division departed for North Africa in early 1943, arriving in Tunisia in March, coming under Lieutenant-General John Crocker's IX Corps, part of the British First Army. During the Tunisian Campaign it was involved in Operation Vulcan, the final ground attack against Axis forces in North Africa which ended the North African Campaign, with the surrender of nearly 250,000 German and Italian soldiers. During the assault the division suffered heavy losses, with four battalions sustaining over 300 casualties.[13] After the Axis defeat in North Africa, in May 1943, the division was to remain there for the next 9 months, during which time it was converted back into a standard infantry division, with the 28th Infantry Brigade, consisting mainly of Regular Army battalions who had served on garrison duties in Gibraltar, arriving to replace the 21st Tank Brigade.[14]


The division arrived on the Italian Front in late February 1944, relieving the British 46th Infantry Division, initially coming under command of Lieutenant-General Richard McCreery's British X Corps, then serving under the U.S. Fifth Army. In March the division transferred to Lieutenant-General Sidney Kirkman's British XIII Corps,[15] part of the British Eighth Army. The division, now under the command of Major-General Alfred Dudley Ward,[16] fought with distinction at the fourth and final Battle of Monte Cassino in May 1944, and later in severe fighting in the battles for the Gothic Line. During the battle of Cassino Captain Richard Wakeford of the 2/4th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment was awarded the Victoria Cross.[17]


However, in November 1944 it was dispatched, with the rest of III Corps, to Greece to provide assistance during the Greek Civil War, and was to remain there until the end of the war in Europe in May 1945.[18]

Order of battle[edit]

The 4th Infantry Division was constituted as follows during the war:[19]

10th Infantry Brigade[20]

11th Infantry Brigade (left 5 June 1942)[21]

12th Infantry Brigade[22]

21st Army Tank Brigade (from 6 June 1942, left 12 December 1943)[23]

28th Infantry Brigade (from 24 December 1943)[24]

Divisional Troops

Post Second World War[edit]

The Division was reformed from 11th Armoured Division on 1 April 1956, and took on 20th Armoured Brigade Group from the disbanding 6th Armoured Division in May 1958. At the time the Division also incorporated the (Canadian) 4th Infantry Brigade and the 4th Guards Brigade.[32]

During the 1970s, the division consisted of two "square" brigades, the 11th Armoured Brigade and the 20th Armoured Brigade.[33] It was renamed 4th Armoured Division and served with I (BR) Corps being based at Hammersmith Barracks in Herford from 1978.[34] After being briefly reorganised into two "task forces" ("Golf" and "Hotel") in the late 1970s, the division consisted of the 11th Armoured, the 20th Armoured, and the 33rd Armoured Brigades in the 1980s.[35]

The division ceased its role as a frontline Armoured Division on 1 July 1993.[32]


Structure 4th Division
4th Division Headquarters, Aldershot, in use 1995 to 2012

The 4th Division was reformed as an administrative division – effectively a military district – from South East District and Eastern District on 1 April 1995.[36] It had its permanent headquarters at the Military Headquarters Building in Steeles Road, Aldershot.[37]

The Division was responsible for the administration of Aldershot Garrison, British Gurkhas Nepal and British Garrison Brunei and by 2000 comprised the following Regional Brigades:[38]

Following further reshuffling, 49th (East) Brigade came under the command of the 5th Division based in Shrewsbury from 1 April 2007, 43 (Wessex) Brigade was transferred to 4th Division on 1 April 2007 and 16 Air Assault Brigade became subordinated to Joint Helicopter Command.[39]

The Division reported to Army Headquarters at Andover from 2010.[40] The new HQ Support Command in Aldershot began operation in January 2012 when HQ 4th Division in Aldershot disbanded.[41] HQ 2nd division in Edinburgh and HQ 5th division in Shrewsbury were both disbanded in April 2012.[42]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cole p. 37
  2. ^ Chappell p. 10
  3. ^ Lipscombe, Nick (2014). Bayonne and Toulouse 1813–14: Wellington invades France. Osprey. p. 23. ISBN 978-1472802774.
  4. ^ Fletcher, Ian. Men-at-Arms Campaign 48: Salamanca 1812. Great Britain: Osprey History, 1991. ISBN 1-84176-277-6.
  5. ^ Siborne 1993, p. 678.
  6. ^ "Chapter XIV. The Last Square". les miserables.
  7. ^ Pemberton, p. 74
  8. ^ "4th Division". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  9. ^ Becke, pp. 57–63.
  10. ^ "The history of 4th Division".
  11. ^ Richard A. Rinaldi, Royal Engineers, World War I at Orbat.com Archived 24 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ a b c "badge, formation, 4th Infantry Division". UK: Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  13. ^ p. 79, Alexander's Generals, the Italian Campaign 1944–45, Gregory Blaxland
  14. ^ Medley, R. H. (1995). Cap Badge: The Story of Four Battalions of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment (T.A.), 1939-47. Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-0850524345.
  15. ^ p. 289, Alexander's Generals, the Italian Campaign 1944–45, Gregory Blaxland
  16. ^ p. 80, Alexander's Generals, the Italian Campaign 1944–45, Gregory Blaxland
  17. ^ "Medal entitlement of: Major Richard Wakeford". Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  18. ^ p. 229, Alexander's Generals, the Italian Campaign 1944–45, Gregory Blaxland
  19. ^ Joslen, pp. 45–6.
  20. ^ Joslen, p. 248.
  21. ^ Joslen, p. 249.
  22. ^ Joslen, p. 250.
  23. ^ Joslen, p. .
  24. ^ Joslen, p. 448.
  25. ^ "17 Fd Rgt at RA 1939–45". Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  26. ^ "22 Fd Rgt at RA 1939–45". Archived from the original on 12 January 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  27. ^ "30 Fd Rgt at RA 1939–45". Archived from the original on 8 February 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  28. ^ "77 Fd Rgt at RA 1939–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  29. ^ Litchfield, p. 304.
  30. ^ "14 A/T Rgt at RA 1939–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  31. ^ "91 LAA Rgt at RA 1939–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  32. ^ a b "4th Division". Regiments.org. Archived from the original on 29 December 2006. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  33. ^ Watson, Graham (2005). The British Army in Germany: An Organisational History 1947–2004. Tiger Lily. p. 95. ISBN 9780972029698.
  34. ^ "History of BAOR". BAOR Locations. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  35. ^ Black, Harvey (29 April 2014). "The Cold War Years. A Hot War in reality. Part 6".
  36. ^ "TA Command Structure 1967–2000". Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  37. ^ "Three brothers sign up for Army". BBC. 7 March 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  38. ^ Heyman, Charles (2001). The British Army: a pocket guide. Pen & Sword Books. ISBN 9780850527100.
  39. ^ Tanner, James (2014). The British Army since 2000 (PDF). Osprey. p. 13. ISBN 978-1782005933.
  40. ^ "New Army's HQ Land Forces base is opened in Andover". BBC News. 9 September 2010. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  41. ^ First tranche of Army unit moves confirmed Defence News, 10 November 2011
  42. ^ House of Commons Library: Standard Note: SN06038


  • Becke, Major A.F. (1934) History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions, Part 1: The Regular British Divisions, London: HM Stationery Office, 1934/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2007, ISBN 1-847347-38-X.
  • Chappel M. (1986) British Battle Insignia (1). 1914–18 Osprey Publishing ISBN 9780850457278
  • Cole, Howard (1973). Formation Badges of World War 2. Britain, Commonwealth and Empire. London: Arms and Armour Press.
  • Joslen, H. F. (2003) [1990]. Orders of Battle: Second World War, 1939–1945. Uckfield, East Sussex: Naval and Military Press. ISBN 978-1-84342-474-1.
  • Litchfield, Norman E.H. (1992) The Territorial Artillery 1908–1988 (Their Lineage, Uniforms and Badges), Nottingham: Sherwood Press, ISBN 0-9508205-2-0.
  • Pemberton, W. Baring (1962). Battles of the Crimean War. Pan Books Ltd. ISBN 0-330-02181-8
  • Siborne, Maj-Gen H.T. (30 September 1993), Waterloo Letters, Frontline Books, p. 5, ISBN 978-1-85367-156-2

External links[edit]