47th (1/2nd London) Division

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

2nd London Division
47th (1/2nd London) Division
47th (2nd London) Infantry Division
British 47th (2nd London) Division insignia.png
Insignia of the 47th (1/2nd London) Division, First World War.
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Garrison/HQDuke of York's Headquarters
EngagementsFirst World War
Second Battle of Ypres 1915
Battle of the Somme 1916
Battle of Arras 1917
Third Battle of Ypres 1917
Maj-Gen Sir Charles Monro, GOC 2nd London Division on the outbreak of World War I.

The 47th (1/2nd London) Division was an infantry division of the British Army, raised in 1908 as part of the Territorial Force.

First World War[edit]

Originally called the 2nd London Division it was designated the 47th Division in 1915, during the Great War, and referred to as the "1/2nd London Division" after the raising of the second-line 60th (2/2nd London) Division. The division was sent to France in March 1915, one of the first Territorial divisions to enter the fighting, and served on the Western Front for the duration of the war.

In early 1916 the division was part of Lieutenant General Sir Henry Wilson's IV Corps. Wilson was not impressed by Charles Barter, the 47th's GOC, and at the end of March 1916 he and Lieutenant General Sir Charles Monro (GOC First Army) discussed getting rid of him, but could not come up with a reason for doing so; Barter survived until he was relieved during the Battle of the Somme.[1]

The 47th Division conducted effective mining operations against Vimy Ridge on 3 May and 15 May 1916, but a German attack on the evening of Sunday 21 May moved forward 800 yards, capturing 1,000 yards of the British front line, and the Division performed badly during a counterattack on 23 May. The 47th Division conducted a carefully planned single battalion raid on the night of 27–8 June, claiming to have killed 300–600 Germans for only 13 British casualties.[2]

In the final stages of the war the division's GSO1 (effectively chief of staff) was acting Lieutenant Colonel Bernard Montgomery,[3] then in his very early thirties and later a leading British commander in the Second World War.

The division fought in the Battle of Aubers Ridge, the Battle of Festubert, the Battle of Loos, the 1 July 1916 Battle of the Somme (1916), including the Battle of Flers-Courcelette and the capture of High Wood. After mid-1916 battles included the Battle of Le Transloy, the Battle of Messines, and the Battle of Cambrai (1917).[4]

Order of battle[edit]

The composition of the division was as follows:[5][4][6]

140th (4th London) Brigade 

Pre-war the brigade comprised the following battalions:

After it landed in France it had the following composition:

From February 1918, the brigade comprised the following battalions:

141st (5th London) Brigade 
142nd (6th London) Brigade 
Machine Guns
  • 239th Machine Gun Company, Machine Gun Corps (from 17 July until 1 October 1917)
  • 255th Machine Gun Company, Machine Gun Corps (from 19 November 1917 until 1 March 1918)
  • No. 47 Battalion, Machine Gun Corps (from 1 March 1918)
    • 140th, 141st, 142nd, 255th Machine Gun Companies
Mounted Troops
  • C Squadron 1st King Edward's Horse (from 25 April 1915 until 1 June 1916)
  • 2nd London Divisional Cyclist Company (until 1 June 1916)
Royal Artillery[7]
Drivers from CCXXXV Brigade RFA water their horses near Flesquières 24 November 1917 during the Battle of Cambrai.
  • V London Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (later CCXXXV Brigade)
  • VI London Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (later CCXXXVI Brigade)
  • VII London Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (later CCXXXVII Brigade) (until 29 November 1916)
  • VIII London (Howitzer) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (later CCXXXVIII Brigade) (until 27 November 1916)
  • 2nd London Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery (until 31 March 1915)[8]
  • 2nd London Divisional Ammunition Column
  • No 7 (later X.47) Medium Trench Mortar Company (from 17 November 1915)
  • No 8 (later Y.47) Medium Trench Mortar Company (from 17 November 1915)
  • Z.47 Medium Trench Mortar Company (from April 1916)
  • V.47 Heavy Trench Mortar Company (from 6 November 1916 to 16 February 1918)

(1st London Divisional Artillery also served with the division in January and February 1916)

47th (1/2nd London) Divisional Engineers[9][10]
  • 4th London Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
  • 5th London Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
  • 6th London Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
  • 2nd London Sanitary Section (until 18 April 1917)
  • 2nd London Divisional Ambulance Workshop (to Divisional Train 3 April 1916)
  • 2nd London Mobile Veterinary Section, Army Veterinary Corps
  • 2nd London Divisional Transport and Supply Column, Army Service Corps
    • 2nd London Divisional Company (HQ) (became 455 Company, ASC, 23 April 1915)
    • 4th London Brigade Company (became 456 Company, ASC, 23 April 1915)
    • 5th London Brigade Company (became 457 Company, ASC, 23 April 1915)
    • 6th London Brigade Company (became 458 Company, ASC, 23 April 1915)
  • 241st Divisional Employment Company (from May 1917)


The division was reformed in 1920.[13] By 1935 the increasing need for anti-aircraft (AA) defence, particularly for London, was addressed by converting the 47th Division into the 1st Anti-Aircraft Division.[14]

Second World War[edit]

During the Second World War, the division was once again raised, this time as a duplicate of the 1st London Division, initially as the 2nd London Division, but was redesignated in November 1940 as the 47th (London) Infantry Division, with the 1st London Division becoming the 56th (London) Infantry Division. However, the 47th Division remained in the United Kingdom throughout the war.


Maj-Gen Sir George Gorringe, GOC 1916–18.

The following officers commanded 47th Division throughout its existence:[4]

  • Major-General Vesey J. Dawson: March 1908 – March 1912
  • Major-General Sir Charles C. Monroe: March 1912 – August 1914
  • Major-General Thomas L. N. Morland: August–September 1914
  • Major-General Sir Charles St. L. Barter: September 1914[15] – September 1916
  • Major-General Sir George F. Gorringe: October 1916 – July 1919
  • Major-General Sir Nevill M. Smyth: July 1919 – July 1923
  • Lieutenant-General Sir William Thwaites: July 1923 – December 1926
  • Major-General Leopold C.L. Oldfield: January 1927 – December 1930
  • Major-General Richard D. F. Oldman: January 1931 – December 1934
  • Major-General Clive G. Liddell: January–November 1935
  • Major-General Harry Willans: September 1939 – November 1940
  • Major-General Aubrey E. Williams: November–December 1940
  • Major-General Clifford C. Malden: December 1940 – April 1941
  • Major-General John E. Utterson-Kelso: April 1941 – April 1942
  • Major-General Gerald W.R. Templer: April–September 1942
  • Major-General Alfred E. Robinson: September 1942 – September 1944
  • Major-General John E. Utterson-Kelso: September 1944 – 1945


The two wooden memorial crosses were originally erected at High Wood and Eaucourt l'Abbaye by 47 Divisional Engineers in 1916.

Two wooden memorial crosses erected at High Wood and Eaucourt l'Abbaye by 47 Divisional Engineers in 1916[16] were falling into disrepair by 1925, when they were replaced in stone. The restored wooden crosses were preserved at the Duke of York's Headquarters in London (the former divisional HQ) until that building was sold in 2003, and are now at Connaught House, the HQ of the London Irish Rifles on the site of the former First Surrey Rifles drill hall at Flodden Road, Camberwell.[17][18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jeffery 2006, pp. 156–8
  2. ^ Jeffery 2006, pp. 161–4, 168–70
  3. ^ Hamilton, p. 61.
  4. ^ a b c Becke, Pt 2a, pp. 69–75.
  5. ^ Monthly Army List, August 1914.
  6. ^ 47th (1/2nd London) Division at Long, Long Trail
  7. ^ Litchfield, pp. 153–60.
  8. ^ Litchfield, p. 162.
  9. ^ Edwards.
  10. ^ Watson & Rinaldi, pp. 11, 34, 62.
  11. ^ Lord & Watson, p. 157.
  12. ^ Young, Annexes D & Q.
  13. ^ Titles and Designations of Formations and Units of the Territorial Army, London: War Office, 7 November 1927
  14. ^ "1 AA Division 1936 at British Military History" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  15. ^ "No. 28898". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 September 1914. p. 7197.
  16. ^ Maude, facing p. 70.
  17. ^ IWM WMA Ref 12077
  18. ^ IWM WMA Ref 12078


  • Becke, Maj A. F. (2007) [1935]. History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions, Part 2a: The Territorial Force Mounted Divisions and the 1st-Line Territorial Force Divisions. 42–56 (Naval & Military Press, Uckfield ed.). London: H M Stationery Office. ISBN 1-84734-739-8.
  • Maj D.K. Edwards, A History of the 1st Middlesex Volunteer Engineers (101 (London) Engineer Regiment, TA) 1860–1967, London, 1967.
  • Hamilton, Nigel (1981). Monty The Making of a General 1887–1942. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-025805-1.
  • Jeffery, Keith (2006). Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson: A Political Soldier. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-820358-2.
  • Norman E.H. Litchfield, The Territorial Artillery 1908–1988 (Their Lineage, Uniforms and Badges), Nottingham: Sherwood Press, 1992, ISBN 0-9508205-2-0.
  • Cliff Lord & Graham Watson, Royal Corps of Signals: Unit Histories of the Corps (1920–2001) and its Antecedents, Solihull: Helion, 2003, ISBN 1-874622-92-2.
  • Maude, Alan H., ed. (1922). The 47th (London) Division, 1914–1919 by Some who Served with it in the Great War (online ed.). London: Amalgamated Press. OCLC 494890858. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  • Graham E. Watson & Richard A. Rinaldi, The Corps of Royal Engineers: Organization and Units 1889–2018, Tiger Lily Books, 2018, ISBN 978-171790180-4.
  • Lt-Col Michael Young, Army Service Corps 1902–1918, Barnsley: Leo Cooper, 2000, ISBN 0-85052-730-9.

External links[edit]