The 34th Division in 1914-1918

The history of 34th 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 34th Division was originally numbered 41st. 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 34th Division was born.

Divisional symbolsThe Division was largely comprised of locally raised units often known as "Pals", notably those raised in the north east and known as the Tyneside Scottish and Tyneside Irish. There were also the Manchester Scottish, the Grimsby Chums and others. After in most cases commencing training near home, the units were moved in mid 1915 to concentrate at Ripon in Yorkshire. It was not until late August that the Division moved for final training and firing practice at Salisbury Plain.

On 3 January 1916 embarkation orders arrived; by 15 January the Division had crossed the Channel and was concentrated at La Crosse, east of St Omer. (Note: it follows that no man who was with the original contingent of this Division was awarded the 1914-1915 Star).

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* including the capture of Scots and Sausage Redoubts
The Battle of Bazentin Ridge*
The Battle of Pozieres Ridge*
The Battle of Flers-Courcelette* (only 103rd Brigade and the Divisional Pioneers)
* 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 Battle of Arleux**
** the battles marked ** are phases of the Arras Offensive
The fighting at Hargicourt (August)
The Third Battles of Ypres (fighting for the Broenbeek, 13-23 October 1917)

1918
The Battle of St Quentin, a phase of the First Battles of the Somme 1918
The Battle of Estaires^
The Battle of Bailleul^
The First Battle for Kemmel Ridge^
^ the battles marked ^ are phases of the Battles of the Lys

After suffering heavy losses during the Battles of the Lys, the Division was withdrawn from fighting and moved on 21 April to the area west of Poperinge. It was reorganised here while put to work digging a new defensive line Abeele-Watou. On 13 May the infantry moved to near Lumbres and was then reduced to a cadre, employed training American troops. Between 19 June and 1 July the Division was reconstituted and entered the final phase of the war as a very different Division:

The Battle of the Soissonais and of the Ourcq+
The capture of Baigneux Ridge+
+ the battles marked + are phases of the Battles of the Marne 1918
The Battle of Ypres^^
The Battle of Courtrai^^
The action of Ooteghem^^
The action of Tieghem^^
^^ the battles marked ^^ are phases of the Final Advance in Flanders

On 1 November the Division was relieved and was in the area east of Courtrai at the Armistice. It was selected to join the Army of Occupation and began its move across Belgium and into Germany on 14 November. Between 12-19 December it was billeted near Namur; on 22 December a large number of miners and others with industrial skills left to be demobilised. By 29 January 1919 the Division had occupied the Cologne bridgehead. The infantry of the Division was once again reconstituted in March 1919 and on 15 March the whole formation was renamed the Eastern Division.

The Great War cost 34th Division 41183 men killed, wounded or missing.

The order of battle of the 34th Division

101st Brigade  
15th Bn, the Royal Scots (1st Edinburgh) left May 1918
16th Bn, the Royal Scots (2nd Edinburgh) left May 1918
10th Bn, the Lincolnshire Regiment (Grimsby Chums) left February 1918
11th Bn, the Suffolk Regiment left May 1918
101st Machine Gun Company joined 27 April 1916, moved to 34th Bn MGC 26 Feb 1918
101st Trench Mortar Battery joined 18 February 1916, broken up 16 May 1918, reformed 2 July 1918
2/4th Bn, the Queens joined June 1918
1/4th Bn, the Royal Sussex Regiment joined June 1918
2nd Bn, the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment joined June 1918
   
102nd Brigade (Tyneside Scottish)  
The Brigade was attached to the 37th Division between 6 July and 22 August 1916, following extremely heavy casualties incurred by the Brigade during the attack at La Boiselle on 1 July 1916
20th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers (1st Tyneside Scottish) disbanded February 1918
21st Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers (2nd Tyneside Scottish) disbanded February 1918
22nd Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers (3rd Tyneside Scottish) left June 1918
23rd Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers (4th Tyneside Scottish) left June 1918
102nd Machine Gun Company joined 27 April 1916, moved to 34th Bn MGC 26 Feb 1918
102nd Trench Mortar Battery joined 18 February 1916, broken up 16 May 1918, reformed 10 July 1918
25th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers joined February 1918, left June 1918
1/4th Bn, the Lincolnshire Regiment joined and left June 1918
7/8th Bn, the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers joined june 1918 as cadre, left July 1918
1/1st Bn, the Herefordshire Regiment joined June 1918
1/4th Bn, the Cheshire Regiment joined July 1918
1/7th Bn, the Cheshire Regiment joined July 1918
   
103rd Brigade (Tyneside Irish)  
The Brigade was attached to the 37th Division between 6 July and 22 August 1916, following extremely heavy casualties incurred by the Brigade during the attack at La Boiselle on 1 July 1916
24th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers (1st Tyneside Irish) disbanded February 1918
25th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers (2nd Tyneside Irish) left February 1918
26th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers (3rd Tyneside Irish) disbanded February 1918
27th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers (4th Tyneside Irish) disbanded February 1918
103rd Machine Gun Company joined 27 April 1916, moved to 34th Bn MGC 26 Feb 1918
103rd Trench Mortar Battery joined 18 February 1916, broken up 16 May 1918, reformed 1 July 1918
9th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers joined August 1917, left 26 May 1918
10th Bn, the Lincolnshire Regiment (Grimsby Chums) joined February 1918, left June 1918
1st Bn, the East Lancashire Regiment joined February 1918, left May 1918
1/5th Bn, the King's Own Scottish Borderers joined June 1918
1/8th Bn, the Cameronians joined June 1918
6th Bn, the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers joined and left June 1918
1/5th Bn, the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders joined June 1918
   
111th and 112th Brigades  
Both Brigades were attached from the 37th Division between 6 July and 22 August 1916, in exchange for the 102nd and 103rd Brigades
   
Divisional Troops  
18th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers joined as Divisional Pioneer Battalion July 1915, left June 1918
19th Motor Machine Gun Battery joined November 1915 but left and moved indepoendently to France 6 February 1916
240th Machine Gun Company joined 18 July 1917, moved to 34th Bn MGC 26 Feb 1918
34th Battalion MGC formed 26 February 1918
2/4th Bn, the Somerset Light Infantry joined as Divisional Pioneer Battalion June 1918
Note: a number of battalions joined the Division for short periods duing its reorganisation in mid 1918:
13th Yorkshire, 13th East Surrey, 2/5th Sherwood Foresters, 21st Middlesex, 8th and 9th King's Royal Rifle Corps, 1/5th North Staffordshire, 3/4th Royal West Kent, 10/11th and 14th Highland Light Infantry, 6th Connaught Rangers, 6th Leinster Regiment, 8th Rifle Brigade. All had left by July 1918.
   
Divisional Mounted Troops  
E Sqn, the North Irish Horse left May 1916
34th Divisional Cyclist Company, Army Cyclist Corps left 11 May 1916
   
Divisional Artillery  
The Divisional artillery was was placed under temporary command of 5th Division while the infantry was being reorganised in mid 1918
CLII Brigade, RFA  
CLX Brigade, RFA  
CLXXV Brigade, RFA left 26 January 1917
CLXXVI (Howitzer) Brigade, RFA broken up 28 August 1916
130 Heavy Battery RGA raised with Division but moved independently to France
516 Heavy Battery RGA joined CLXXV Brigade 7 October 1916
34th (Nottingham) Divisional Ammunition Column RFA  
V.34 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery, RFA formed by 16 August 1916; left for VI Corps 6 March 1918
X.34, Y.34 and Z.34 Medium Mortar Batteries, RFA formed by 18 June 1916; on 6 March 1918, Z broken up and batteries reorganised to have 6 x 6-inch weapons each
   
Royal Engineers  
105th Field Company left February 1915
106th Field Company left February 1915
207th (Norfolk) Field Company joined February 1915
208th (Norfolk) Field Company joined February 1915
209th (Norfolk) Field Company joined February 1915
34th Divisional Signals Company  
   
Royal Army Medical Corps  
102nd Field Ambulance  
103rd Field Ambulance  
104th Field Ambulance  
74th Sanitary Section left 31 March 1917
   
Other Divisional Troops  
34th Divisional Train ASC 229, 230, 231 and 232 Companies.
44th Mobile Veterinary Section AVC  
231st Divisional Employment Company joined 25 May 1917
34th Divisional Motor Ambulance Workshop disbanded 31 March 1916

Memorial