The 17th (Northern) Division in 1914-1918

The history of 17th (Northern) Division

symbolThis Division was established by the Northern Command in September 1914, as part of the Army Orders authorising Kitchener's Second New Army, K2. Early days were somewhat chaotic, the new volunteers having very few trained officers and NCOs to command them, no organised billets or equipment. The units of the Division initially concentrated in the Wareham - Lulworth - Swanage - Wool- Bovington area of Dorset but moved in late May 1915 to the Winchester area.

After receiving an order that the Division would be retained for home defence (subsequently cancelled), advance parties left for France on 6 July. Main embarkation began on 12 July and units moved to concentrate near St Omer.

The Division served on the Western Front for the remainder of the war, taking part in many of the significant actions:

1915
The Division spent its initial period of trench familiarisation and then holding the front lines in the southern area of the Ypres salient.

1916
The Division was involved in fighting at the Bluff (south east of Ypres on the Comines canal), part of a number of engagements officially known as the Actions of Spring 1916.
The Battle of Albert* in which the Division captured Fricourt
The Battle of Delville Wood*
The battles marked * are phases of the Battles of the Somme 1916

1917
The First Battle of the Scarpe**
The Second Battle of the Scarpe**
The Capture of Roeux**
The battles marked ** are phases of the Arras Offensive
The First Battle of Passchendaele***
The Second Battle of Passchendaele***
The battles marked *** are phases of the Third Battles of Ypres

1918
The Battle of St Quentin+
The Battle of Bapaume+
The battles marked + are phases of the First Battles of the Somme 1918
The Battle of Amiens
The Battle of Albert++
The Battle of Bapaume++
The battles marked ++ are phases of the Second Battles of the Somme 1918
The Battle of Havrincourt^
The Battle of Epehy^
The Battle of Cambrai 1918^
The battles marked ^ are phases of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line
The pursuit to the Selle
The Battle of the Selle^^
The Battle of the Sambre^^
The battles marked ^^ are phases of the Final Advance in Artois

When the Armistice came into effect at 11am on 11 November 1918 the leading elements of the Division were south east of Maubeuge. Over the next two days the Division was withdrawn to the area west of Le Cateau; on 6 December it moved behind Amiens and went to billets around Hallencourt. Demobilisation began in January 1919 and the Division ceased to exist at the end of May. In all the 17th (Northern) Division had suffered the loss of 40258 killed, wounded and missing.

The order of battle of the 17th (Northern) Division

50th Brigade  
10th Bn, the West Yorkshire Regiment  
7th Bn, the East Yorkshire Regiment  
7th Bn, the Yorkshire Regiment disbanded February 1918
7th Bn, the York & Lancaster Regiment left March 1915
6th Bn, the Dorsetshire Regiment joined March 1915
50th Machine Gun Company joined 12 February 1916
left to move into 17th MG Battalion 24 February 1918
50th Trench Mortar Battery formed by 25 June 1916
   
51st Brigade  
7th Bn, the Lincolnshire Regiment  
7th Bn, the Border Regiment  
8th Bn, the South Staffordshire Regiment disbanded February 1918
10th Bn, the Sherwood Foresters  
51st Machine Gun Company joined 12 February 1916
left to move into 17th MG Battalion 24 February 1918
51st Trench Mortar Battery formed by 3 July 1916
3/4th Bn, the Royal West Kent Regiment joined 22 June 1917, left 12 July 1917
   
52nd Brigade  
9th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers left August 1917
10th Bn, the Lancashire Fusiliers  
9th Bn, the Duke of Wellington's  
12th Bn, the Manchester Regiment  
52nd Machine Gun Company joined 12 February 1916
left to move into 17th MG Battalion 24 February 1918
52nd Trench Mortar Battery formed by 15 June 1916
3/4th Bn, the Royal West Kent Regiment joined 3 August 1917, disbanded by 20 February 1918
   
Divisional Troops  
6th Bn, the Dorsetshire Regiment left March 1915
7th Bn, the York & Lancaster Regiment joined as Pioneer Bn March 1915
3/4th Bn, the Royal West Kent Regiment attached as Pioneer Bn 12 July - 3 August 1917
12th Motor Machine Gun Battery joined 10 July 1915, left 7 May 1916
236th Machine Gun Company joined 17 July 1917
left to move into 17th MG Battalion 24 February 1918
17th Battalion Machine Gun Corps formed 24 February 1918
   
Divisional Mounted Troops  
A Sqn, the Yorkshire Dragoons Yeomanry left 10 May 1916
17th Divisional Cyclist Company, Army Cyclist Corps left 24 May 1916
   
Divisional Artillery  
LXXVIII Brigade, RFA  
LXXIX Brigade, RFA  
LXXX Brigade, RFA broken up 31 August 1916
LXXXI (Howitzer) Brigade, RFA broken up 1-27 January 1917
17th Divisional Ammunition Column RFA  
17th Heavy Battery, RGA raised with the Division but moved independently to France and joined XXIX Heavy Artillery Brigade on 9 October 1915
V.17 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery RFA joined 22 August 1916, left 28 February 1918
X.17, Y.17 and Z.17 Medium Mortar Batteries RFA formed by 22 August 1916; by 28 February 1918, Z broken up and batteries reorganised to have 6 x 6-inch weapons each
   
Royal Engineers  
77th Field Company  
78th Field Company  
93rd Field Company  
17th Divisional Signals Company  
   
Royal Army Medical Corps  
51st Field Ambulance  
52nd Field Ambulance  
53rd Field Ambulance  
34th Sanitary Section left 10 March 1917
   
Other Divisional Troops  
17th Divisional Train ASC 146, 147, 148 and 149 Companies
29th Mobile Veterinary Section AVC  
218th Divisional Employment Company joined 9 June 1917
17th Divisional Motor Ambulance Workshop absorbed into Divisional Train 2 April 1916

This page is dedicated to the memory of men like Harold Beevers, who was commissioned into the Northamptonshire Regiment after seeing service as a ranker with the 7th Lincolnshire Regiment; and Charles Davey, who also served with the 7th Lincolns before being commissioned. Wounded at Ypres on 10 October 1917, he recovered and returned, only to receive multiple wounds in an attack at Neuvilly on 20 October 1918. He succumbed to his injuries ten days later in hospital at Dannes-Camiers.
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