The 13th (Western) Division in 1914-1918

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.

1915

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 All mechanical transport was withdrawn and the first reinforcement drafts were ordered not to sail (other than those for the artillery, end RE Companies).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.

Gallipoli

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.

1916

  • 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:

1917

  • 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).

1918

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 Company joined 24 October 1916
38th Supply & Transport Column ASC formed January 1917, merged into Div Train 1 August 1918
38th Trench Mortar Battery G Battery joined from 39th Brigade 7 October 1917, renamed 38th Battery February 1918
38th SAA Section ASC joined 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 Company joined 26 October 1916
39th Supply & Transport Column ASC formed January 1917
39th Trench Mortar Battery joined 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 ASC joined 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 Regt left January 1915 to become Divisional Pioneer Bn
5th Bn, the Wiltshire Regt joined December 1914
40th Machine Gun Company joined 24 October 1916
40th Supply & Transport Column ASC formed January 1917, merged into Div Train 1 August 1918
40th Trench Mortar Battery joined as I Battery 23 September 1917, renamed 40th battery 18 February 1918
   
Divisional Troops  
5th Bn, the Wiltshire Regt left for 40th Brigade December 1914
8th Bn, the Welsh Regt became Divisional Pioneer Bn January 1915
273rd Company, MGC formed October-November 1917
   
Divisional Mounted Troops  
C Sqn, the 33rd (Indian) Cavalry attached briefly in March 1916
D Sqn, the 1/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry joined 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, RFA left for 10th (Irish) Division October 1915
LXVIII Brigade, RFA left for 10th (Irish) Division October 1915
LXIX (Howitzer) Brigade, RFA broken up May 1916
LV Brigade, RFA arrived from 10th (Irish) Division January 1916
LVI Brigade, RFA arrived from 10th (Irish) Division January 1916, left July 1916
13th Divisional Ammunition Column RFA joined 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, RGA raised 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, RGA joined for Gallipoli 7 June 1915, left for XCVI Brigade RGA in 1917
74th Heavy Battery, RGA joined in Mesopotamia 24 August 1916, left for LXVI Brigade 23 November 1916
157th Heavy Battery, RGA one section was attached January-February 1917
2/104th Heavy Battery, RGA attached February-March and October-December 1917
157th Siege Battery, RGA attached briefly in February 1917
26 (Jacob's) Mountain Battery, RGA joined 23 October 1917, left 10 August 1918
177th Heavy Battery, RGA joined 25 October 1917, left 29 May 1918
384th Siege Battery, RGA joined 25 October 1917, left 1 October 1918
387th Siege Battery, RGA joined 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 Company left for North Persia Force with 39th Brigade Group
88th Field Company  
13th Divisional Signals Company  
   
Royal Army Medical Corps  
39th Field Ambulance  
40th Field Ambulance left for North Persia Force with 39th Brigade Group
41st Field Ambulance  
24th Sanitary Section went to Egypt
28th Sanitary Section joined in Mesoptamia in March 1916
   
Other Divisional Troops  
13th Divisional Train ASC originally 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 Workshop joined Division September 1915 but did not go overseas
10th Field Bakery ASC joined as first British mobile field bakery, 23 April 1916
31st Field Butchery ASC joined 23 April 1916

This page is dedicated to the memory of men like
Percy Atherton, who arrived at Gallipoli with a draft for the 8th Cheshires. After spending some time attached to the 13th Divisional Ammunition Column, he was commissioned as an officer of the Indian Army. Joining the 1/124th Duchess of Connaught's Own Baluchistan Infantry, he took part ion operations in the Punjab until 1921.
Percy was researched for private clients byfourteeneighteen|research