50th (Northumbrian) Division

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For the equivalent formation in World War II, see 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division.
Northumbrian Division
50th (Northumbrian) Division
Active 1908 – 19 March 1919
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army Territorial Force
Type Infantry
Size Division
HQ (peacetime) Richmond, North Yorkshire

Western Front (World War I)

Second Battle of Ypres
Battle of the Somme
Battle of Arras (1917)
Third Battle of Ypres
First Battle of the Somme (1918)
Battle of the Lys (1918)
Battles of the Hindenburg Line
Final Advance in Picardy

The Northumbrian Division was an infantry division of the British Army, formed in 1908 as part of the Territorial Force with units drawn from the north-east of England, notably Northumberland, Durham and the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire. The division was numbered as 50th (Northumbrian) Division in 1915 and served on the Western Front throughout World War I. Due to losses suffered in the Ludendorf Offensive in March 1918 it had to be comprehensively reorganized. It was once again reformed in the Territorial Army as the Northumbrian Division in 1920.



Under the Haldane Reforms of the Army of 1908, the Territorial Force was formed and organised into 14 regional Divisions, each with area Brigades and local Battalions. The Divisions were intended to be replicas of the regular army divisions of approximately 18,000 men on mobilisation including infantry, cavalry, artillery, engineer, medical, supply and signal units. The Northumbrian Division was typical, consisting of three infantry brigades, the 'Northumberland', 'York and Durham' and 'Durham Light Infantry (DLI)' Brigades. Each brigade was composed of four infantry battalions, descendants of the local Volunteer corps. In 1907 Lieutenant General Robert Baden-Powell was appointed to command the Division;[a] he held command from April 1908 to 1910.[1]

The terms of the Territorial Force soldiers were for home service only, they were to be used to garrison the country when the regulars left for overseas. In the summer of 1914 the Division was at its annual summer training camp in North Wales when, on 3 August, it received orders to return to the North East. Receiving mobilisation orders the next day, the Division arrived at its war station of the coastal defences, railways and dockyards of the Tyne and Wear area. After preparing these defences and undertaking more training, during which time, in September, the territorials volunteered to serve overseas.[2] After more training the Division was the forth to be declared fit for service,[3] embarking for France between 16 and 19 April 1915 with orders to concentrate around Steenvoorde.[4]

World War I[edit]

The division moved to France in April 1915 and it served on the Western Front for the rest of the war. In 1915 it took part in the Second Battle of Ypres and the Battle of the Somme in 1916.[5] In 1917 it took part in the Battle of Arras and the Third Battle of Ypres. As a result of the losses suffered in the Ludendorf Offensive (First Battle of the Somme and Battle of the Lys), the division had to be comprehensively reorganized.[6] The assigned infantry battalions were reduced to cadre on 15 July 1918 and left the division. They were replaced by six battalions from Salonika, one from Palestine and two that had been in France since August 1914.[7] Thereafter, it took part in the Battles of the Hindenburg Line and the Final Advance in Picardy.[6]


The 50th Division had crossed the Sambre and reached Solre-le-Château on 10 November 1918 when it was relieved from the line. Demobilization started in December and by 19 March 1919 the division had ceased to exist in France. It was reformed again in England on 1 April 1920 as the Northumbrian Division.[6]

Order of Battle, World War I[edit]

  • HQ: Richmond (Yorkshire)
  • GOC: Major General B. Burton

149th (Northumberland) Brigade[edit]

Until July 1918:

From July 1918:

150th (York and Durham) Brigade[edit]

Until July 1918:

From July 1918:

151st (Durham Light Infantry) Brigade[edit]

Until July 1918

  • 1/6th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry – reduced to cadre and left 15 July 1918
  • 1/7th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry – left to become Pioneer Battalion 16 November 1915
  • 1/8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry – reduced to cadre and left 15 July 1918
  • 1/9th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry – left 12 February 1918
  • 1/5th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment – joined 11 June 1915, left 21 December 1915
  • 1/5th (Cumberland) Battalion, Border Regiment – joined from 149th Brigade December 1915, left 12 February 1918
  • 1/5th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry – joined from 150th Brigade 12 February 1918, reduced to cadre and left 15 July 1918

From July 1918


  • 1/7th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry – joined as Divisional Pioneer Battalion 16 November 1915, left 20 June 1918
  • 5th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment – joined as Divisional Pioneer Battalion 14 July 1918

Mounted Troops[edit]


Originally composed of the 1st and 2nd Northumbrian Field Companies and Northumbrian Division Signal Company, Royal Engineers headquartered at Newcastle.


Composed of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Northumbrian Bdes (Royal Field Artillery) and the Northumbrian Heavy Battery (Royal Garrison Artillery).

Royal Field Artillery

  • 1st Northumbrian Bde was composed of:
    • 1st Northumberland Battery
    • 2nd Northumberland Battery
    • 3rd Northumberland Battery
    • 1st Northumbrian Ammunition Column. HQ – Newcastle
  • 2nd Northumbrian Bde was composed of:
    • 1st East Riding Battery
    • 2nd East Riding Battery
    • 3rd East Riding Battery
    • 2nd Northumbrian Ammunition Column. HQ – Hull
  • 3rd Northumbrian (County of Durham) Bde was composed of:
    • 1st Durham Battery. HQ – Seaham Harbour
    • 2nd Durham Battery. HQ – Durham
    • 3rd Durham Battery. HQ – West Hartlepool
    • 3rd Northumbrian (County of Durham) Ammunition Column. HQ – Seaham Harbour
  • 4th Northumbrian (County of Durham) Howitzer Bde was composed of:
    • 4th Durham (Howitzer) Battery. HQ – South Shields
    • 5th Durham (Howitzer) Battery. HQ – Hebburn on Tyne
    • 4th Northumbran (County of Durham) Ammunition Column. HQ – South Shields

Royal Garrison Artillery

  • Northumbrian (North Riding) Heavy Battery. HQ – Middlesbrough

Transport & Supply[edit]

The 50th Divisional Train (Army Service Corps) was composed of:

  • 467 Company. HQ – Gateshead
  • 468 Company. HQ – Newcastle
  • 469 Company. HQ – Hull
  • 470 Company. HQ – Sunderland

Joined by 336 (Motor Transport) Company


  • 1st Northumbrian Field Ambulance. HQ – Newcastle
  • 2nd Northumbrian Field Ambulance. HQ – Darlington
  • 3rd Northumbrian Field Ambulance. HQ – Hull



  • Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell: April 1908-March 1910
  • Major-General Francis H. Plowden: March 1910-September 1911
  • Major-General Frederick Hammersley: September 1911-March 1912
  • Major-General Benjamin Burton: March 1912-April 1915
  • Major-General Sir Walter F.L. Lindsay: April-June 1915
  • Major-General the Earl of Cavan: June-August 1915
  • Major-General Sir Percival S. Wilkinson: August 1915-February 1918
  • Major-General Henry C. Jackson: March 1918-July 1919
  • Major-General Sir Percival S. Wilkinson: July 1919-July 1923
  • Major-General Frederick A. Dudgeon: July 1923-July 1927
  • Lieutenant-General Sir George N. Cory: July 1927-April 1928
  • Major-General Henry W. Newcome: April 1928-February 1931
  • Major-General Ladislaus H.R. Pope-Hennessy: February 1931-February 1935
  • Major-General William N. Herbert: February 1935-February 1939
  • Major-General Giffard Le Q. Martel: February 1939-December 1940
  • Major-General William H. Ramsden: December 1940-July 1942
  • Major-General John S. Nichols: July 1942-March 1943
  • Major-General Sidney C. Kirkman: March 1943-January 1944
  • Major-General Douglas A.H. Graham: January 1944-1945
  • Major-General Robert F.B. Naylor: 1945-August 1946
  • Major-General John B. Churcher: August-October 1946
  • Major-General John Y. Whitfield: October 1946-January 1948
  • Major-General Charles F. Loewen: January 1948-May 1950
  • Major-General Lashmer G. Whistler: July 1950-March 1951
  • Major-General Horatius Murray: March 1951-August 1953
  • Major-General Cyril H. Colquhoun: August 1953-September 1956

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Reported as "a Yorkshire division" in The Times of 29 October 1907


  1. ^ http://www.gulabin.com/armynavy/pdf/Army%20Commands%201900-2011.pdf
  2. ^ Wyrall p. 4
  3. ^ Ward p. 321
  4. ^ Wyrall p. 5
  5. ^ Becke 1936, p. 99
  6. ^ a b c Becke 1936, p. 100
  7. ^ Becke 1936, p. 98


External links[edit]