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Brief History of 13th (Western) Division

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    Posted: 04 Jan 2012 at 19:14
The following is a brief history of the 13th (Western) Division.

The history of 13th (Western) Division

symbolThe Division came into existence as a result of Army Order No. 324, issued on 21 August 1914, which authorised the formation of the six new Divisions of K1. It was formed of volunteers, under the administration of Western Command. The infantry brigades began to assemble on Salisbury Plain. 40th Brigade moved to Chiseldon and Cirencester in September 1914; 39th went to Basingstoke in January 1915. Towards the end of February the entire Division concentrated at Blackdown in Hampshire.


On 7 June 1915, orders were received to prepare to move to the Mediterranean. All mechanical transport was withdrawn and the first reinforcement drafts were ordered not to sail (other than those for the artillery, end RE Companies).

13 June 1915 : first transports left port, and sailed to Alexandria. By 4 July, all units had moved to Mudros, preparatory for landing at Gallipoli. Between 6-16 July 1915 the Divisional infantry landed on Cape Helles and relieved 29th Division. They left and returned to Mudros at the end of the month, and the entire Division landed at ANZAC Cove between 3-5 August 1915.


The Division took part in the following actions on Gallipoli:

  • The Battle of Sari Bair, 6-10 August 1915
  • The Battle of Russell's Top, 7 August
  • The Battle of Hill 60, ANZAC, 27-28 August

Soon afterwards the Division was transferred from ANZAC to Suvla Bay. It was evacuated from Suvla 19-20 December 1915, whereupon the infantry moved after a weeks rest to the Helles bridgehead.


  • The last Turkish attacks at Helles, 7 January 1916

On 8-9 January 1916, the Division was evacuated from Helles and by 31 January was concentrated at Port Said. The Division held forward posts in the Suez Canal defences.

12 February 1916 : began to move to Mesopotamia, to strengthen the force being assembled for the relief of the besieged garrison at Kut al Amara. By 27 March, the Division had assembled near Sheikh Sa'ad and came under orders of the Tigris Corps. It then took part in the attempts to relieve Kut. After these efforts failed and Kut fell, the British force in the theatre was built up and reorganised. The Division took part in the following, more successful, operations:


  • The Battle of Kut al Amara, December 1916-February 1917
  • The capture of the Hai Salient, 25 January - 5 February 1917
  • The capture of Dahra Bend, 9-16 February 1917
  • The passage of the Diyala, in the pursuit of the enemy towards Baghdad, 7-10 March 1917

At 10.30am on 11 March 1917, D Squadron, 1/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry and the 6th (Service) Bn, the King's Own were the first British troops to enter Baghdad, which fell on this day.

During the rest of March and April 1917, operations were undertaken to consolidate the position won at Baghdad, by pushing north across Iraq. As part of "Marshall's Column", the Division fought at Delli 'Abbas (27-28 March), Duqma (29 March), Nahr Kalis (9-15 April), crossed the 'Adhaim (18 April) and at Shatt al 'Adhaim (30 April).

It also fought later in the year, in the Second and Third Actions of Jabal Hamrin (18-20 October and 3-6 December 1917), and finally at Tuz Khurmatli (29 April 1917).


By 28 May 1918, Divisional HQ had moved to Dawalib and it remained here until the end of the war. In this inhospitable place, men endured summer temperatures as high as 111 degrees F in the shade. Many working parties were supplied for work on maintaining roads.

On 1 July 1918, Division received orders to detach 39th Brigade for the North Persia Force. It left the Division between 10 July and 19 August 1918. Brigade HQ arrived in Baku at Dunsterforce HQ on 24 August 1918.

In October and early November 1918, parts of 40th Brigade and the Divisional artillery took part in operations as part of "Lewin's Column", pushing north towards Turkey, with advance units reaching as far as Altun Kopri when Turkey signed an Armistice on 31 October 1918.

By 31 December 1918, all areas north of Kirkuk had been evacuated. On 11 January 1919, the Division - by now only some 12,000 strong - began to move south to Amara, and disbandment of the Division proceeded there during February 1919.

6th (Service) Bn, the East Lancashire and 6th (Service) Bn, the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment were selected for the Army of Occupation in Mesopotamia and were posted to join 34th Indian Infantry Brigade.

13th (Western) Division, the only wholly British Division to have served in Mesopotamia, ceased to exist on 17 March 1919. During the war it had suffered 12,656 killed, wounded and missing, and 57,667 went sick (most of whom returned to duty, and this figure will include men who reported on more than one occasion).

The order of battle of the 13th (Western) Division

38th Brigade 
6th Bn, the King's Own 
6th Bn, the East Lancashire Regt 
6th Bn, the South Lancashire Regt 
6th Bn, the Loyal North Lancashire Regt 
38th Machine Gun Companyjoined 24 October 1916
38th Supply & Transport Column ASCformed January 1917, merged into Div Train 1 August 1918
38th Trench Mortar BatteryG Battery joined from 39th Brigade 7 October 1917, renamed 38th Battery February 1918
38th SAA Section ASCjoined March 1918
39th Brigade 
1 July 1918 : Brigade received orders to be detached from Division and to be attached to the North Persia Force. It left the Division between 10 July and 19 August 1918. Brigade HQ arrived in Baku at Dunsterforce HQ on 24 August 1918.
9th Bn, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment 
7th Bn, the Gloucestershire Regiment 
9th Bn, the Worcestershire Regiment 
7th Bn, the North Staffordshire Regiment 
39th Machine Gun Companyjoined 26 October 1916
39th Supply & Transport Column ASCformed January 1917
39th Trench Mortar Batteryjoined as G Battery 13 January 1917, moved to 38th Brigade 7 October 1917. Replaced by H Battery, which arrived from 14th (Indian) Division on 8 October 1917 and was renamed 39th Battery 18 February 1918
39th SAA Section ASCjoined March 1918
40th Brigade 
8th Bn, the Cheshire Regiment 
8th Bn, the Royal Welsh Fusiliers 
4th Bn, the South Wales Borderers 
8th Bn, the Welsh Regtleft January 1915 to become Divisional Pioneer Bn
5th Bn, the Wiltshire Regtjoined December 1914
40th Machine Gun Companyjoined 24 October 1916
40th Supply & Transport Column ASCformed January 1917, merged into Div Train 1 August 1918
40th Trench Mortar Batteryjoined as I Battery 23 September 1917, renamed 40th battery 18 February 1918
Divisional Troops 
5th Bn, the Wiltshire Regtleft for 40th Brigade December 1914
8th Bn, the Welsh Regtbecame Divisional Pioneer Bn January 1915
273rd Company, MGCformed October-November 1917
Divisional Mounted Troops 
C Sqn, the 33rd (Indian) Cavalryattached briefly in March 1916
D Sqn, the 1/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanryjoined 8 July 1916, left 20 November 1916, rejoined 3 March 1917, left 3 August 1917
13th Divisional Cyclist Company, Army Cyclist Corps 
Divisional Artillery 
LXVI Brigade, RFA 
LXVII Brigade, RFAleft for 10th (Irish) Division October 1915
LXVIII Brigade, RFAleft for 10th (Irish) Division October 1915
LXIX (Howitzer) Brigade, RFAbroken up May 1916
LV Brigade, RFAarrived from 10th (Irish) Division January 1916
LVI Brigade, RFAarrived from 10th (Irish) Division January 1916, left July 1916
13th Divisional Ammunition Column RFAjoined August 1914, but did not go overseas with the Division. Unlike in most other Divisions, each artillery brigade retained its own Ammunition Column
13th Heavy Battery, RGAraised for this Division, the Battery was ordered to France on 30 May 1915 as part of XVII Heavy Brigade. On 23 October 1915, it joined 28th Division
91st Heavy Battery, RGAjoined for Gallipoli 7 June 1915, left for XCVI Brigade RGA in 1917
74th Heavy Battery, RGAjoined in Mesopotamia 24 August 1916, left for LXVI Brigade 23 November 1916
157th Heavy Battery, RGAone section was attached January-February 1917
2/104th Heavy Battery, RGAattached February-March and October-December 1917
157th Siege Battery, RGAattached briefly in February 1917
26 (Jacob's) Mountain Battery, RGAjoined 23 October 1917, left 10 August 1918
177th Heavy Battery, RGAjoined 25 October 1917, left 29 May 1918
384th Siege Battery, RGAjoined 25 October 1917, left 1 October 1918
387th Siege Battery, RGAjoined 25 October 1917, left 24 March 1918
The Division had no Medium or Heavy Trench Mortar Batteries, but had four "Trench Howitzer Batteries" armed with 2-inch mortars. They were numbered 133, 135, 136 and 137. Joined Division January-February 1917.
Royal Engineers 
71st Field Company 
72nd Field Companyleft for North Persia Force with 39th Brigade Group
88th Field Company 
13th Divisional Signals Company 
Royal Army Medical Corps 
39th Field Ambulance 
40th Field Ambulanceleft for North Persia Force with 39th Brigade Group
41st Field Ambulance 
24th Sanitary Sectionwent to Egypt
28th Sanitary Sectionjoined in Mesoptamia in March 1916
Other Divisional Troops 
13th Divisional Train ASCoriginally 120, 121, 122, 123 Coys. This Train did not sail for Gallipoli. It moved to Egypt in November 1915 and joined 28th Division. A Divisional Transport and Supply Column was formed for the Division in Mesopotamia. On 1 August 1918, the Brigade Transport and Supply Columns from 38th and 40th Brigade merged with it, at which point this unit once again became known as 13th Divisional Train
24th Mobile Veterinary Section AVC 
13th Divisional Motor Ambulance Workshopjoined Division September 1915 but did not go overseas
10th Field Bakery ASCjoined as first British mobile field bakery, 23 April 1916
31st Field Butchery ASCjoined 23 April 1916
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