British Expeditionary Force order of battle (1940)

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This is the British Expeditionary Force order of battle on 9 May 1940, the day before the German forces initiated the Battle of France

First Expeditionary Force[edit]

General Headquarters[edit]

General Headquarters Troops
These were troops that were allocated, temporarily or permanently, by the General Headquarters to corps, divisions, or other formations, or were used for special purposes.
Organization of the British Expeditionary Force as of 10 May 1940[1]

I Corps[edit]

Lieutenant General Michael Barker

II Corps[edit]

Lieutenant General Alan Brooke

III Corps[edit]

Lieutenant General Sir R. F. Adam

Saar Force[edit]

(Major General Victor Fortune)

On 10 May 1940, this force, which was really just the 51st Division reinforced by various small units, was part of the Colonial Army Corps of the French Third Army in front of the Maginot Line.

Units attached to the 51st (Highland) Infantry Division in April 1940 to form Saar Force

Formations undergoing training and performing labour duties[edit]

HQ Lines of Communication British Expeditionary Force[edit]

(Major General Philip de Fonblanque)[6]

Units arriving in France after 10 May 1940[edit]

Second Expeditionary Force[edit]

The following force was sent to France during the second week of June 1940 in an unsuccessful attempt to form a second British Expeditionary Force. This second formation was to be commanded by Lieutenant-General A. F. Brooke. All units were evacuated in late June 1940, during Operation Ariel.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 1st Welsh Guards was General Headquarters defence battalion.
  2. ^ 9th West Yorkshire Regiment was a garrison unit.
  3. ^ 14th Royal Fusiliers was a garrison unit.
  4. ^ The 5th Infantry Division was transferred to III Corps on 10 May. On 15 May, the division was transferred to I Corps before reverting to GHQ control on 19 May. The division was finally transferred to II Corps on 26 May, where it remained with for the duration of the campaign.[2]
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af Attached from G.H.Q. Troops.
  6. ^ a b c Attached from I Corps.
  7. ^ a b c Attached from II Corps.
  8. ^ a b c d e Attached from III Corps.
  9. ^ a b c Although this division participated in the Battle of France, it was not adequately prepared for battle by May 1940. The division only had a skeleton headquarters staff, no organic artillery formations and few support units. Only a third of the infantry had received minimal training. The battalions lacked a carrier platoon and their full complement of heavy weapons.
  10. ^ The 1st Armoured Division arrived in France between 15 – 21 May.[citation needed] The division fought south of the Somme River and never linked up with the main body of the Expeditionary Force.[citation needed]
  11. ^ Detached from 1st Armoured Division on 21 May 1940 and dispatched to defend Calais.[7]
  12. ^ Detached from 3rd Armoured Brigade and attached to the 30th Infantry Brigade. The regiment was sent to defend Calais on 21 May 1940.
  13. ^ The QVR was sent, without their vehicles, to defend Calais on 21 May 1940 and attached to the 30th Infantry Brigade.[7]
  14. ^ The 20th (Guards) Infantry Brigade was dispatched from the United Kingdom to defend Boulogne on 21 May 1940.[8]


  1. ^ a b Nafziger, George. "British Expeditionary Force as organised on 10 May 1940" (PDF). Combined Arms Research Library. U.S. Army. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  2. ^ "List of 5th Infantry Division's parent formations". Orders of Battle Military Unit Database.
  3. ^ TNA WO 167/505
  4. ^ TNA WO 167/505
  5. ^ Ellis 1954, p. 21.
  6. ^ "HQ Lines of Communication British Expeditionary Force". Orders of Battle Military Unit Database.
  7. ^ a b Glover, Michael (1985). The Fight for the Channel ports: Calais to Brest 1940, a Study in Confusion. London: L. Cooper. ISBN 978-0-43618-210-5.
  8. ^ Ellis 1954, p. 154.