25th Infantry Brigade (United Kingdom)

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25th Brigade
25th Infantry Brigade
Active 5 October 1914 – 20 March 1919
1 November 1939 – 31 August 1944
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Type Infantry
Size Brigade
Part of 8th Division
50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division
47th (London) Infantry Division
Engagements

First World War

Battle of Neuve Chapelle
Battle of Aubers Ridge
Battle of the Somme
Battle of Passchendaele
Second Battle of the Somme
Second Battle of Arras (1918)

Second World War

Battle of St Omer-La Bassée
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Reginald Byng Stephens
Clifford Coffin VC
William Havelock Ramsden

The 25th Infantry Brigade was a war-formed infantry brigade of the British Army that saw active service during both World War I and World War II.

The 25th Brigade was formed in October 1914 just after the outbreak of the First World War with battalions withdrawn from overseas garrisons. It formed part of the 8th Division and served with it on the Western Front until the end of the war, in particular taking part in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, the Battle of the Somme and the Battle of Passchendaele. It was disbanded in March 1919.

The brigade was reformed in November 1939 just after the outbreak of the Second World War. It saw action during the battles of France and Belgium in May 1940, predominantly with the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division. After being evacuated at Dunkirk, it remained in the United Kingdom with the 47th (London) Infantry Division until it was disbanded at the end of August 1944.

First World War[edit]

The 25th Brigade came into existence on 5 October 1914 (first commanding officer appointed[1]) as part of the 8th Division shortly after the outbreak of the First World War. It was formed with four regular infantry battalions brought back to the United Kingdom from various overseas garrisons:[2] 2nd Lincolnshire Regiment from Bermuda,[3] 2nd Royal Berkshire Regiment from Jhansi, India,[4] 1st Royal Irish Rifles from Aden,[5] and 2nd Rifle Brigade from Kuldana, Murree, India.[6] The brigade concentrated at Hursley Park near Winchester and on 5 and 6 November 1914 it landed at Le Havre. It remained on the Western Front with the 8th Division for the rest of the war.[2]

The brigade saw action at the battles of Neuve-Chapelle (Moated Grange Attack, 18 December 1914), Neuve Chapelle again (10–13 March 1915), Aubers Ridge (9 May 1915), when the brigade commander, Brigadier-General Lowry Cole was killed,[1] and Bois-Grenier (25 September 1915), a diversionary attack for the Battle of Loos.[2][7]

Infantrymen of the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles during the Battle of the Somme, July 1916.

In early 1916, the brigade gained a trench mortar battery and a machine gun company.[8] It then fought on the Somme, notably the Battle of Albert on the first day and the attack on Le Transloy on 23–30 October 1916.[2]

In 1917, the brigade took part in operations to follow the Germans in their retreat to the Hindenburg Line (14 March–5 April). It then took part in the Third Battle of Ypres, notable the Battle of Pilckem Ridge (31 July–1 August), the Attack on Westhoek (31 July) where the brigade commander, Brigadier-General Coffin, won the Victoria Cross,[1] and the Battle of Langemarck (16–18 August).[9]

King George V with Major-General Havelock Hudson (commanding 8th Division) walking through the streets of Fouquereuil, where the King was cheered by men of the 25th Brigade, 11 August 1916.

The brigade's machine gun company was moved to the divisional 8th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps on 20 January 1918.[8] In addition, British[a] divisions on the Western Front were reduced from a 12-battalion to a 9-battalion basis in February 1918 and the brigade from four to three battalions.[10] Thereafter, the brigade commanded three infantry battalions and a trench mortar battery.[8] 1918 saw the return of the war of movement. It had to withstand the German Spring Offensive in the First Battles of the Somme – Battle of St Quentin (23 March), Actions at the Somme Crossings (24 and 25 March), Battle of Rosieres (26 and 27 March), and Action of Villers-Bretonneux (24 and 25 April) – and the Third Battle of the Aisne (27 May–6 June). It then switched over to counter-attack in the Second Battle of Arras (Battle of the Scarpe, 26–30 August) and the Final Advance in Artois in which the 8th Division captured Douai (17 October).[9]

By the time of the armistice of 11 November 1918, the brigade was Pommeroeul (fr), west of Mons.[4][6][11] On 16 November it moved back to Tournai and by 18 December had completed a move to the AthEnghien area. Here the division commenced demobilization, a process that was completed on 20 March 1919.[9]

Order of battle[edit]

The brigade commanded the following units during the war:[8]

Second World War[edit]

The 25th Infantry Brigade was formed in the United Kingdom on 1 November 1939, shortly after the outbreak of World War II.[13] It was formed with three Territorial Army (TA) infantry battalions transferred from existing TA formations: the 4th Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) from 133rd Infantry Brigade, 44th (Home Counties) Infantry Division, the 4th Border Regiment from 126th Infantry Brigade, 42nd (East Lancashire) Infantry Division and the 1st/5th Sherwood Foresters from 148th Infantry Brigade, 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division.[14] Initially under War Office Control, on 18 November it moved to France where it joined the Lines of Communication Troops of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF).[13]

Men of the 4th Battalion, Border Regiment take up defensive positions by the roadside, May 1940.

In May 1940, the brigade was variously assigned to a succession of infantry divisions: 5th (4–9 May),[c] 50th (Northumbrian) (9–18 May),[d] 3rd (18–19 May), back to the 50th (19–21 May), 46th (21–26 May) and finally to the 2nd (26–31 May).[13] The brigade saw action at the Battle of St Omer-La Bassée (23–29 May)[13] before it was evacuated at Dunkirk on 31 May 1940.[14]

On return to the United Kingdom, the brigade joined the 47th (London) Infantry Division. It remained with the division in the United Kingdom for the rest of its existence, being disbanded on 31 August 1944.[13][16]

Order of battle[edit]

The brigade commanded the following units during the war:[13][17]

Commanders[edit]

The 25th Brigade had the following commanders during the First World War:[1]

From Rank Name Notes
5 October 1914 Brigadier-General A.W.G. Lowry Cole killed 9 May 1915
9 May 1915 Brigadier-General R.B. Stephens
1 April 1916 Brigadier-General J.H.W. Pollard
11 January 1917 Brigadier-General C. Coffin won the Victoria Cross on 31 July 1917; to temporary command of the 50th (Northumbrian) Division on 23 February 1918
23 February 1918 Lieutenant-Colonel A.H.S. Hart-Synnot acting; sick on 10 March 1918
10 March 1918 Lieutenant-Colonel R.H. Husey acting
17 March 1918 Brigadier-General C. Coffin VC
4 May 1918 Lieutenant-Colonel G.E.M. Hill acting
8 May 1918 Brigadier-General R.H. Husey wounded and captured on 27 May 1918; died of wounds on 30 May 1918
29 May 1918 Major H.P. Allaway acting
3 June 1918 Brigadier-General J.B. Pollock-McCall
7 October 1918 Brigadier-General Hon. R.Brand

The 25th Infantry Brigade had the following commanders during the Second World War:[13]

From Rank Name Notes
1 November 1939 Brigadier W.H.O. Ramsden
1 December 1940 Lieutenant-Colonel A.H. Blest acting
10 December 1940 Brigadier W.H.O. Ramsden
12 December 1940 Lieutenant-Colonel A.H. Blest acting
2 January 1941 Brigadier E.T.L. Gurdon
26 March 1941 Brigadier A.H. Blest

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ As distinct from the Australian, Canadian and the New Zealand divisions which remained on a 12-battalion basis.
  2. ^ 1/8th Battalion, Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment) originally served with 85th Brigade, 28th Division. It joined the 8th Division on 21 June 1916 when it was amalgamated with the 1/7th Middlesex in 23rd Brigade. It resumed its separate identity on 2 August before joining 25th Brigade. It subsequently transferred to 167th (1st London) Brigade, 56th (1st London) Division on 8 February 1916.[12]
  3. ^ The brigade joined the 5th Infantry Division to replace the 15th Infantry Brigade which had been deployed to Norway.[15]
  4. ^ The 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division was organized pre-war as a two-brigade motor division. The brigade joined to bring it up to the three-brigade standard of an infantry division.[14]
  5. ^ a b The 30th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry was redesignated as the 6th Battalion.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Becke 1935, p. 90
  2. ^ a b c d Becke 1935, p. 94
  3. ^ James 1978, p. 53
  4. ^ a b James 1978, p. 89
  5. ^ James 1978, p. 105
  6. ^ a b James 1978, p. 110
  7. ^ Baker, Chris. "The history of 8th Division in 1914-1918". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c d Becke 1935, p. 92
  9. ^ a b c Becke 1935, p. 95
  10. ^ a b Becke 1935, p. 91
  11. ^ James 1978, p. 73
  12. ^ Becke 1935, p. 93
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Joslen 1990, p. 272
  14. ^ a b c Palmer, Rob (25 June 2014). "50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division (1940)" (PDF). British Military History. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  15. ^ Palmer, Rob (25 June 2014). "5th Infantry Division (1940)" (PDF). British Military History. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  16. ^ Palmer, Rob (1 February 2010). "47th (London) Infantry Division (1944-45)" (PDF). British Military History. Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  17. ^ Nafziger, George. "British Infantry Brigades 1st thru 215th 1939-1945" (PDF). Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  18. ^ Bellis 1994, pp. 87–88

Bibliography[edit]

  • Becke, Major A.F. (1935). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 1. The Regular British Divisions. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 1-871167-09-4. 
  • Bellis, Malcolm A. (1994). Regiments of the British Army 1939–1945 (Armour & Infantry). London: Military Press International. ISBN 0-85420-999-9. 
  • James, Brigadier E.A. (1978). British Regiments 1914–18. London: Samson Books Limited. ISBN 0-906304-03-2. 
  • Joslen, Lt-Col H.F. (1990) [1st. Pub. HMSO:1960]. Orders of Battle, Second World War, 1939–1945. London: London Stamp Exchange. ISBN 0-948130-03-2. 

External links[edit]