The 35th Division in 1914-1918

The history of 35th 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 35th Division was originally numbered 42nd. 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 35th Division was born.

Divisional symbolsThe Division was largely comprised of locally raised units known as "Bantams", manned by troops who were under the normal regulation minimum height of 5 feet 3 inches. Bantams

After early training near home, the units concentrated in June 1915 in North Yorkshire. Divisional HQ was at Masham and units were at Roomer Common, Marfield, Fearby and Masham. In August 1915 the Division moved to Salisbury Plain, HQ being set up at Marlborough. Over the next few weeks moves were made to Chiseldon and Cholderton. In late 1915 orders were received to kit for a move to Egypt but this was soon rescinded.

On 28 January 1916 the Division began to cross the English Channel and by early on 6 February all units were concentrated 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:

The Battle of Bazentin Ridge*
The fighting for Arrow Head Copse and Maltz Horn Farm*
The fighting for Falfemont Farm*
* the battles marked * are phases of the Battles of the Somme 1916

On 8 December the Divisional commanding officer (Major General H. J. S. Landon) submitted a report complaining that replacement drafts he had received were not of the same tough physical standard as the original bantams but were undeveloped, unfit men from the towns. A medical inspection was duly carried out and 1439 men rejected from the ranks. A second inspection removed another batch, bringing the total to 2784. These men were in the main transferred to the Labour Corps. Their places were filled with men transferred from disbanded yeomanry regiments; they had to be quickly trained in infantry methods and a Divisional depot was formed for the purpose. Brigades were then ordered that no more bantams were to be accepted. Original bantams who passed the medical inspection remained in place.

The pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line
The fighting in Houthulst Forest**
The Second Battle of Passchendaele**
** the battles marked ** are phases of the Third Battles of Ypres 1917

The First Battle of Bapaume, a phase of the First Battles of the Somme 1918
The Battle of Ypres^
The Battle of Courtrai^
The action of Tieghem^
^ the battles marked ^ are phases of the Final Advance in Flanders

On 9 November the Division established a bridgehead across the River Scheldt near Berchem. two days later the Division was ordered to push on to the line of the River Dender and before 11am had entered Grammont; by the time of the Armistice posts had been established across the river and at the sluice.

The Division was ordered to move west on 12 November and continued to do so over the next few days, passing through Ypres on 28 November. By 2 December Divisional HQ had been established at Eperlecques. Many miners were demobilised during the month and demobilisation happened apace. In January 1919, units of the Division was called upon to quell rioting in the transit camps at Calais. The Division ceased to exist by the end of April 1919.

The Great War cost 35th Division 23915 men killed, wounded or missing.

The order of battle of the 35th Division

104th Brigade  
17th Bn, the Lancashire Fusiliers  
18th Bn, the Lancashire Fusiliers  
20th Bn, the Lancashire Fusiliers disbanded February 1918
23rd Bn, the Manchester Regiment disbanded February 1918
104th Machine Gun Company joined April 1916, moved to 35th Bn MGC February 1918
104th Trench Mortar Battery joined February 1916
9th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers joined August 1917, left May 1918
19th Bn, the Durham Light Infantry joined February 1918
105th Brigade  
15th Bn, the Cheshire Regiment (1st Birkenhead)
16th Bn, the Cheshire Regiment (2nd Birkenhead) disbanded February 1918
14th Bn, the Gloucestershire Regiment (West of England) disbanded February 1918
15th Bn, the Sherwood Foresters  
105th Machine Gun Company joined April 1916, moved to 35th Bn MGC February 1918
105th Trench Mortar Battery joined February 1916
4th Bn, the North Staffordshire Regiment joined February 1918
1/7th Bn, the Cheshire Regiment joined July 1918
106th Brigade  
17th Bn, the Royal Scots (Rosebery)
17th Bn, the West Yorkshire Regiment (2nd Leeds) left November 1917
19th Bn, the Durham Light Infantry (2nd County) left February 1918
18th Bn, the Highland Light Infantry (4th Glasgow) disbanded February 1918
106th Machine Gun Company joined April 1916, moved to 35th Bn MGC February 1918
106th Trench Mortar Battery joined April 1916
4th Bn, the North Staffordshire Regiment joined November 1917, to 105th Bde February 1918
12th Bn, the Highland Light Infantry joined February 1918
Divisional Troops  
19th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers Divisional Pioneer Battalion
241st Machine Gun Company joined 18 July 1917, moved to 35th Bn MGC February 1918
35th Battalion MGC formed 2 March 1918
Divisional Mounted Troops  
F Sqn, the Lancashire Hussars left 9 May 1916
35th Divisional Cyclist Company, Army Cyclist Corps left 10 May 1916
Divisional Artillery  
CLVII Brigade, RFA (Aberdeen)
CLVIII Brigade, RFA (Accrington and Burnley) broken up 28 February 1917
CLVIX Brigade, RFA (Glasgow)
CLXIII (Howitzer) Brigade, RFA (West Ham) broken up 9 September 1916
131 Heavy Battery RGA raised in Lewisham for 26th Division on 22 January 1915, but did not sail with that Division and was then attached to 35th. Left Division and moved independently to France, joining XXIII HA Group in March 1916
35th Divisional Ammunition Column RFA (British Empire League)
V.35 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery, RFA formed by 16 August 1916; left for VI Corps 6 March 1918
X.35, Y.35 and Z.35 Medium Mortar Batteries, RFA formed by 28 June 1916; on 8 February 1918, Z broken up and batteries reorganised to have 6 x 6-inch weapons each
Royal Engineers  
203rd (Cambridge) Field Company  
204th (Cambridge) Field Company  
205th (Cambridge) Field Company  
35th Divisional Signals Company  
Royal Army Medical Corps  
105th Field Ambulance  
106th Field Ambulance  
107th Field Ambulance  
75th Sanitary Section left 9 April 1917
Other Divisional Troops  
35th Divisional Train ASC 233, 234, 235 and 236 Companies.
45th Mobile Veterinary Section AVC  
232nd Divisional Employment Company joined 9 June 1917
35th Divisional Motor Ambulance Workshop absorbed into Divisional Supply Column 31 March 1916

There is no memorial to the 35th Division.

This page is dedicated to the memory of 35th Division men like

George Smissen, who is no ordinary hero: in many ways he can be ranked up there with with some better-known Chaplains, such as Tubby Clayton and G.A. Studdert Kennedy. George was no stranger to military affairs, for he was involved in ministry at the Hythe and Shorncliffe camps during the Boer War. By 1914, he was married and a practicing Congregational minister in Annan, Dumfriesshire, Scotland.

SmissenDuring the period 18th June to September 1916, George was in France as a volunteer, assisting with activities conducted by the YMCA. These were principally the organisation of rest and recuperation facilities such as tea- and reading rooms, for off-duty troops, and canteens for troops coming out of the fighting lines. At some point in September or October 1916, he returned home.

He applied for an appointment as a Temporary Chaplain to the Forces (TCF), and on 6th December 1916 the War Office notified him that he had been selected for duty with the British Expeditionary Force in France.

Two days later, George completed a formal offer to serve as a Chaplain 4th Class, with the rank of Captain. He gave his church as Congregational. He was therefore under the administrative control of the United Army and Navy Board, an organisation responsible for the Chaplains of the smaller churches (Church of England and Roman Catholic Church having their own administrative staffs).

Unfortunately there is no record of when George embarked for France again, but we can surmise that it was in the period December 1916 to January 1917. At an uncertain date, probably after he landed in France, George was formally attached to the 15th (Service) Battalion, the Sherwood Foresters. He was to remain with this unit throughout the war. He almost certainly joined them while they were in camp at Dainville, near Arras.

On 19th August 1917, George sustained a gunshot wound, while the Battalion made a successful attack in the area of Lempire-Epehy. He was one of 53 men wounded during this action; a further 27 were killed in action or died of wounds received. He was given an immediate award of the Military Cross, which was published in the London Gazette of 18th October 1917. This award had no attached citation, but it is highly likely that is was for his services in helping to care for men wounded during the attack.

Later, after a local action to capture some enemy vantage points, the Battalion named a trench position after him. This was near The Knoll - a location on the Saint-Quentin front. (It was called Smissen Post, although it is misspelled on the trench map as Smisson Post).

George was awarded a second Military Cross (a Bar) for his efforts during an attack by the Battalion on 29/30th September 1918, near Zandvoorde. This award was notified in the 1 February 1919 edition of the London Gazette, and it carries a citation. "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty on the night of 29th/30th September 1918, during operations round Tenbrielen. He went forward and tended a lot of wounded who were lying out, spending the whole night marking each man with white tape to help the stretcher-bearers in their work. The night was very wet and dark, and the shelling continuous, but he had a cheerful word of encouragement for all".

Smissen MCGeorge was struck off the strength of the British Armies in France on 19 February 1919, in consequence of his evacuation to England, sick. The final comments, by the Principal Chaplain says that he was ‘one of the best U.B. chaplains serving. Awarded MC immediate reward. Over 2 years in France – 4th Class’. He was formally gazetted out of the service on 18 April 1919, with the substantive rank of Captain. His permanent address was given as Lyndhurst Road Church, Hampstead, London, and it is noted that he was married. Soon after his demobilization in 1919 he was inducted as warden of Lyndhurst Hall in Kentish Town, where he worked in happy association with the minister and church at Lyndhurst Road. Two years later he was commissioned as a chaplain in the Territorial Army. His distinguished service for the troops was recognized by the award, in the King's Birthday Honours list in 1929, of the MBE (Military Division).

George was researched in detail for a private client by fourteeneighteen|research