The 48th (South Midland) Division in 1914-1918

The history of 48th (South Midland) Division

Divisional cardThe South Midland Division was a formation of the Territorial Force. It was formed as a result of the reforms of the army carried out in 1908 under the Secretary of State for War, Richard Burdon Haldane and was one of 14 Divisions of the peacetime TF.

1914

The units of the Division had just departed for annual summer camp when emergency orders recalled them to the home base. All units were mobilised for full time war service on 5 August 1914 and moved to concentrate in the Chelmsford area by mid August 1914.

1915

On 13 March the Division was warned that it would go on overseas service and entrainment began a week later. Divisional HQ, the Gloucester & Worcester and South Midlland Brigades went via Folkestone-Boulogne while all other units went from Southampton to Le Havre. By 3 April the Division had concentrated near Cassel. The Division then remained in France and Flanders until late 1917 and took part in the following engagements:

1916

The Battle of Albert* The Division held the line between the 56th (London) and the 31st Divisions, both of which were heavily engaged at Gommecourt and Serre respectively on 1 July 1916. Two of the Warwickshire battalions of the Division attacked on that day and suffered heavy casualties in assaulting the Quadrilateral (Heidenkopf)).
The Battle of Bazentin Ridge* in which the Division captured Ovillers
The Battle of Pozieres Ridge*
The Battle of the Ancre Heights*
The Battle of the Ancre*
* the battles marked * are phases of the Battles of the Somme 1916

1917

The German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, in which the Division occupied Peronne
The Battle of Langemarck**
The Battle of Polygon Wood**
The Battle of Broodseinde**
The Battle of Poelcapelle**
** the battles marked ** are phases of the Third Battles of the Ypres

Divisional HQ received orders on 10 November for a move to Italy. Entrainment began on 21 November and all units had detrained around Legnano (Adige) by 1 December. The Division them moved north to the area allotted to XI Corps.

1918
The Division relieved 7th Division to hold the front line sector at the Montello netween 1 and 16 March. It then moved west, to the Asiago sector. The Division took part in:

The fighting on the Asiago Plateau (15-16 June)
The Battle of the Vittoria Veneto (1-4 November) but in the Val d'Assa rather than the Vittoria Veneto itself.

The Division had the distinction on 3 November of surrounding and capturing the commender of the Austrian III Corps (General von Ritter-Romer), three Divisional commanders and about 14 battalions. By the Armitisce (which here was at 3pm on 4 November), the Division had pushed forward into the Trentino and was eight miles NW of Levico. In so doing the Warwickshire Brigade also took the distinction of being the first British formation to enter into what had been European enemy "home ground" before the war.

By 10 November the Division had withdrawn and was at Granezza; by five days later it was at Trissino.

The demobilisation of the Division began in early 1919 and the service of the Division came to an end on 31 March when the final cadres left for England. The Division reformed as part of the Territorial Army in April 1920.

The order of battle of the 48th (South Midland) Division

143rd (Warwickshire) Brigade  
1/5th Bn, the Warwickshire Regiment  
1/6th Bn, the Warwickshire Regiment  
1/7th Bn, the Warwickshire Regiment  
1/8th Bn, the Warwickshire Regiment left September 1918
143rd Machine Gun Company formed 8 January 1916, moved to 48th Bn MGC 22 March 1918
143rd Trench Mortar Battery formed 14 June 1916
   
144th (Gloucester & Worcester) Brigade  
1/4th Bn, the Gloucestershire Regiment  
1/6th Bn, the Gloucestershire Regiment  
1/7th Bn, the Worcestershire Regiment  
1/8th Bn, the Worcestershire Regiment left September 1918
144th Machine Gun Company formed 23 January 1916, moved to 48th Bn MGC 22 March 1918
144th Trench Mortar Battery formed 14 June 1916
   
145th (South Midland) Brigade  
1/5th Bn, the Gloucestershire Regiment left September 1918
1/4th Bn, the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry  
1/1st Bucks Bn, the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry  
1/4th Bn, the Royal Berkshire Regiment  
145th Machine Gun Company formed 11 January 1916, moved to 48th Bn MGC 22 March 1918
145th Trench Mortar Battery formed 14 June 1916
   
Divisional Troops  
1/5th Bn, the Royal Sussex Regiment joined as Divisional Pioneer Bn August 1915
251st Machine Gun Company joined 16 Nov 1917, moved to 48th Bn MGC 22 March 1918
48th Battalion MGC formed 22 March 1918
   
Divisional Mounted Troops  
B Sqn, the 1st King Edward's Horse joined April 1915, left June 1916
South Midland Divisional Cyclist Company left 14 May 1916
   
Divisional Artillery  
CCXL (I South Midland) Brigade, RFA  
CCXLI (II South Midland) Brigade, RFA  
CCXLII (III South Midland) Brigade, RFA left to become Army Brigade 20 January 1917
CCXLIII (IV S.M.) (Howitzer) Brigade, RFA broken up October 1916
South Midland (Warwicks) Heavy Battery, RGA left 16 April 1915
48th Divisional Ammunition Column RFA  
V.48 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery, RFA formed 21 April 1916; disbanded 10 November 1917
X.48, Y.48 and Z.48 Medium Mortar Batteries, RFA formed by 15 March 1916; on 21 March 1918, Z broken up and batteries reorganised to have 6 x 6-inch weapons each
   
Royal Engineers  
474th (1st South Midland) Field Company left December 1914, rejoined May 1915
475th (2nd South Midland) Field Company  
7th Field Company joined April 1915, left June 1915
419th (1st West Lancashire) Field Company attached 18-28 April 1915
476th (2/1st South Midland) Field Company joined June 1915
48th Divisional Signal Company  
   
Royal Army Medical Corps  
1st South Midland Field Ambulance  
2nd South Midland Ambulance  
3rd South Midland Field Ambulance  
48th Sanitary Section formed 21 February 1915, left for III Corps 4 April 1917
   
Other Divisional Troops  
48th Divisional Train ASC retitled from the South Midland Divisional Transport and Supply Column, and the units also retitled as 459, 460, 461 and 462 Companies ASC
1st South Midland Mobile Veterinary Section AVC  
48th Divisional Ambulance Workshop absorbed into Divisional Supply Column 4 April 1916
242nd Divisional Employment Company joined June 1917

There is no memorial to this Division.

Frank Hubert WilsonThis page is dedicated to the memory of Frank Hubert Wilson.
Frank was born in Birmingham in September 1879. At the time of the Great War, he was married and living at 1 Back of 33 Ashley Street. He joined the Territorial Force, signing up to the D Battery, 3rd South Midland Brigade RFA on 6 April 1915, becoming Gunner 2245. He was promoted to Acting Bombardier and put up his stripe on 22 May 1915, while in training at Rollestone Camp on Salisbury Plain. However, on 14 February 1916 he was put on an unusual charge of 'General slackness at PT', which led to the removal of his stripe and extra pay on 23 March of that year. Meanwhile he had moved with his unit to France as a reinforcement to 3rd South Midland Brigade RFA south of Armentieres. By 4 June 1916 Frank was admitted to Wharncliffe War Hospital, Sheffield, the result of poison gassing. He was discharged from hospital on 14 June and given 9 days leave before returning to France. 14 July 1916 - the day on which Fourth Army struck a successful blow against the German second line in a night attack (The Battle of Bazentin Ridge) - saw Frank suffer a second injury. This time a shrapnel or shell fragment struck his hip, which led to him being discharged under King's Regulations on 24 July 1916. Thus Frank Wilson's wartime career of 1 year and 99 days, of which only some two months were spent at the front, came to an end. His hip wound and lung damage badly affected the rest of his life and his ability to work, although as a chain smoker he lived to a decent enough age of 77. In 1940, Frank and his family had a lucky escape during Luftwaffe bombing of Birmingham when the house next door was destroyed, causing such structural damage to their Little Bromwich home that they were forced to move out for some months. He died in Birmingham in March 1956: the grandfather I never knew yet of whom I am immensely proud.