The 33rd Division in 1914-1918

The history of 33rd Division

On 10 December the War Office authorised the formation of the Fifth New Army. Like the other Kitchener Armies, it comprised six Divisions, in this case numbered 37 to 42. What eventually became 33rd Division was originally numbered 40th. In April 1915, the original Fourth New Army was broken up and its units converted for training and draft-finding purposes. When this took place the Fifth New Army became Fourth New Army and its Divisions were renumbered to 30th - 35th: thus what we remember as 33rd Division was born.

Divisional symbolsThe Division was largely comprised of locally raised units often known as "Pals", with units raised by the public schools, footballers and other sportsmen and the Church Lads Brigade, among others. 33rd Division troops were predominantly from the south of England..

After in most cases commencing training near home, the units were moved in July 1915 to concentrate at Clipstone camp near Mansfield in Nottinghamshire. It was not until August that the Division moved for final training and firing practice at Salisbury Plain.

In November 1915 the Division received a warning order to prepare to sail for France, but the original artillery and Train would not accompany it; instead, it would receive the artillery that had been raised for and trained with the 54th (East Anglian) Division. The move began on 12 November and by 21 November all units had reached the concentration area near Morbecque. Soon after arrival the Division was considerably strengthened by the exchange of 98th Brigade for the experienced 19th Brigade from 2nd Division, and other changes.

The Division then remained on the Western Front for the remainder of the war and took part in the following engagements:

1916
The Battle of Albert*
The Battle of Bazentin*
The attacks on High Wood*
The capture of Boritska and Dewdrop Trenches*
* 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 battles marked ** are phases of the Arras Offensive
The actions on the Hindenburg Line
Operations on the Flanders coast (Operation Hush)
The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge***
The Battle of Polygon Wood***
*** the battles marked **** are phases of the Third Battles of Ypres

1918
The Battle of Messines^
The Battle of Hazebrouck^
The Battle of Bailleul^
The defence of Neuve Eglise^
The First Battle for Kemmel Ridge^
The fighting for and recapture of Ridge Wood^
^ the battles marked ^ are phases of the Battles of the Lys
The Battle of the Epehy+
The Battle of the St Quentin Canal+
The Battle of the Beaurevoir Line+
The Battle of Cambrai+
+ the battles marked + are phases of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line
The pursuit to the Selle^^
The Battle of the Selle^^
^^ the battles marked ^^ are phases of the Final Advance in Picardy

On 26 October the Division captured Englefontaine and was that night relieved by the 38th (Welsh) Division. After a period of rest at Troisvilles it re-entered the line on 5 November, advancing through the Foret de Mormal. By 7 November it was on a line to the east of the Avesnes-Maubeuge road. It was there once again relieved by the Welsh Division and moved to the Sambre valley near Leval; it was there at the Armistice. By 4 December the Division had moved to Montigny and was there inspected by King George V; by 17 December it was at Hornoy. Demobilisation continued throughout the first months of 1919. Divisional HQ moved to Le Havre on 28 february and on 30 June the Division ceased to exist.

The Great War cost 33rd Division 37404 men killed, wounded or missing.

The order of battle of the 33rd Division

98th Brigade  
18th Bn, the Royal Fusiliers (1st Public Schools) to 19th Bde 27 November 1915
19th Bn, the Royal Fusiliers (2nd Public Schools) left 28 February 1916
20th Bn, the Royal Fusiliers (3rd Public Schools) to 19th Bde 27 November 1915
21st Bn, the Royal Fusiliers (4th Public Schools) left 28 February 1916
1st Bn, the Middlesex Regiment from 19th Bde 27 November 1915
2nd Bn, the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders from 19th Bde 27 November 1915
4th Bn, the King's (Liverpool Regiment) joined 27 February 1916
1/4th Bn, the Suffolk Regiment joined 28 February 1916, left February 1918
98th Machine Gun Company joined 28 April 1916, moved to 33rd Bn MGC 19 Feb 1918
98th Trench Mortar Battery formed by 30 June 1916
   
99th Brigade  
Brigade left to join 2nd Division on 25 November 1915
17th Bn, the Royal Fusiliers (Empire)
22nd Bn, the Royal Fusiliers (Kensington)
23rd Bn, the Royal Fusiliers (1st Sportsmen's)
24th Bn, the Royal Fusiliers (2nd Sportsmen's)
   
100th Brigade  
13th Bn, the Essex Regiment left 22 December 1915 (West Ham)
16th Bn, the Middlesex Regiment left 25 February 1916 (Public Schools)
17th Bn, the Middlesex Regiment left 8 December 1915 (1st Football)
16th Bn, the King's Royal Rifle Corps (Church Lads Brigade)
1st Bn, the Queen's joined 15 December 1915, to 19th Bde 14 February 1918
2nd Bn, the Worcestershire Regiment joined 20 December 1915
1/6th Bn, the Cameronians joined and left February 1916
100th Machine Gun Company joined 28 April 1916, moved to 33rd Bn MGC 19 Feb 1918
1/9th Bn, the Highland Light Infantry joined 29 May 1916
100th Trench Mortar Battery formed by 13 June 1916
   
19th Brigade  
Brigade joined from 2nd Division on 25 November 1915
1st Bn, the Middlesex Regiment to 98th Bde 27 November 1915
2nd Bn, the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders to 98th Bde 27 November 1915
2nd Bn, the Royal Welsh Fusiliers left 4 February 1918
1st Bn, the Cameronians  
1/5th Bn, the Cameronians became 5/6th Bn May 1916
18th Bn, the Royal Fusiliers from 98th Bde 27 November 1915, left 26 February 1916
20th Bn, the Royal Fusiliers from 98th Bde 27 November 1915, disbanded February 1918
19th Machine Gun Company formed 24 February 1916, moved to 33rd Bn MGC 19 Feb 1918
19th Trench Mortar Battery formed by 24 June 1916
1st Bn, the Queens joined from 100th Bde 14 February 1918
   
Divisional Troops  
18th Bn, the Middlesex Regiment joined as Divisional Pioneer Battalion July 1915 (1st Public Works Pioneers)
19th Motor Machine Gun Battery joined November 1915 but left and moved indepoendently to France 6 February 1916
248th Machine Gun Company joined 21 July 1917, moved to 33rd Bn MGC 19 Feb 1918
33rd Battalion MGC formed 19 February 1918
   
Divisional Mounted Troops  
F Sqn, the North Irish Horse joined January 1915, redesignated at B Sqn on 25 May 1916, left 19 April 1916 for 1st Cavalry Division
33rd Divisional Cyclist Company, Army Cyclist Corps left 19 April 1916
   
Divisional Artillery  
The original Divisional artillery was designated "Camberwell", as it was raised there by the Mayor and a committee between January and June 1915. Initial assembly and training took place in Dulwich. It joined the Division at Bulford between 5 and 8 August 1915. However the artillery did not proceed to France with Division. Instead, it took the artillery of the 54th (East Anglian) Division. 33rd Divisional artillery (as shown below) crossed to France and rejoined its Division in December 1915
CLVI Brigade, RFA  
CLXII Brigade, RFA  
CLXVI Brigade, RFA broken up 12 September 1916
CLXVII (Howitzer) Brigade, RFA broken up 12 September 1916
126 (Camberwell) Heavy Battery RGA left for XXII Heavy Artillery Group on 2 May 1916
33rd Divisional Ammunition Column RFA  
V.33 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery, RFA formed by 29 May 1916; broken up February 1918
X.33, Y.33 and Z.33 Medium Mortar Batteries, RFA formed by 4 May 1916; in February 1918, Z broken up and batteries reorganised to have 6 x 6-inch weapons each
   
Royal Engineers  
212th (Tottenham) Field Company  
222nd (Tottenham) Field Company  
226th (Tottenham) Field Company left for 2nd Division 2 December 1915
33rd (Tottenham) Divisional Signals Company  
11th Field Company joined from 2nd Division 2 December 1915
   
Royal Army Medical Corps  
99th Field Ambulance  
100th Field Ambulance left for 2nd Division late November 1915
101st Field Ambulance  
73rd Sanitary Section left 31 March 1917
19th Field Ambulance joined from 2nd Division late November 1915
   
Other Divisional Troops  
33rd Divisional Train ASC originally 225,226, 227 and 228 Companies. Embarked for France 12 November 1915 but transferred in March 1916 to 29th Division. 170, 171, 172 and 173 Companies, formerly the 28th Divisional Train, joined on 13 November 1915. 172 Company switched with 8 Company from 2nd Divisional Train in late November 1915
43rd Mobile Veterinary Section AVC  
230th Divisional Employment Company joined 1 June 1917
33rd Divisional Motor Ambulance Workshop absorbed into Divisional Supply Column on 31 March 1916

Memorial