The 54th (East Anglian) Division in 1914-1918

The history of 54th (East Anglian) Division

The East Anglian 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 their allotted positions at Brentwood by 10 August 1914. Ten days later the entire Division moved to the areas of Chelmsford, Bury St Edmunds and Norwich.

Several of the Division's units left in the period November 1914 - February 1915. Some were gradually replaced by second line units. The Division was employed on coastal defence duties at this time.

1915

The Division moved to St Albans in May 1915 under orders for overseas service.

On 8 July the Division was ordered to refit for service at Gallipoli. Leaving the artillery and train behind, the rest of the Division left 14-19 July and embarked at Devonport. Sailing from Liverpool and Devonport, the first ships reached Lemnos on 6 August. On 10 August units landed at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli. The Division was then involved in the following moves and engagements:

The landing at Suvla Bay (10-15 August)=
Operations in the Suvla Bay area=
= the battles marked = are phases of the Gallipoli campaign

On 26 November the Division was ordered to prepare to withdraw to Mudros. On 3-8 December the Division was evacuated from Gallioli, only 240 officers and 4480 men strong. On 13 December it then went on to Alexandria, where it arrived on18 December. The units then concentrated at Sidi Bishr..

1916

The divisional artillery rejoined at Mena Camp (Cairo) 11-15 February 1916. The Division occupied No 1 (Southern) Section of the Suez Canal defences on 2 April 1916.

1917

The First Battle of Gaza (26-27 March)*
The Second Battle of Gaza (17-19 April)*
The Third Battle of Gaza (27 October -7 November)* including the Capture of Gaza (1-7 November)
The Battle of Jaffa (21-22 December)
* the battles marked * are phases of the Palestine campaign

1918

The fight at Ras el'Ain (12 March, 162nd Brigade only)*
The operations at Berukin (9-10 April)*
The battle of Sharon (19-23 September, part of the Battles of Megiddo)*
* the battles marked * are phases of the Palestine campaign

On 24 September the Division concentrated at Hable and began an advance to Haifa three days later. This move was completed on 4 October. The division was ordered to Beirut on 20 October; this move began three days later and the brigades moved on successive days via Acre, Ras es Naqura, Tyre and Sidon. The units concentrated at Beirut between 31 October and 5 November, but the Turks signed an Armistice on 31 October.

The Division moved to El Qantara, back in Egypt, from 28 November.

The first parties to be demobilised left for England in January 1919.The final cadres sailed home on 30 September 1919 and the Division reformed as part of the Territorial Army in April 1920.

The order of battle of the 54th (East Anglian) Division

161st (Essex) Brigade  
1/4th Bn, the Essex Regiment  
1/5th Bn, the Essex Regiment  
1/6th Bn, the Essex Regiment  
1/7th Bn, the Essex Regiment  
161st Machine Gun Company formed 23 April 1916, moved to 54th Bn MGC 19 April 1918
161st Trench Mortar Battery formed 17 May 1917
   
162nd (East Midland) Brigade  
1/5th Bn, the Bedfordshire Regiment  
1/4th Bn, the Northamptonshire Regiment  
1/1st Bn, the Cambridgeshire Regiment left February 1915
1/1st Bn, the Hertfordshire Regiment left November 1914
2/1st Bn, the Cambridgeshire Regiment joined February 1915, left April 1915
1/10th Bn, the London Regiment joined April 1915
1/11th Bn, the London Regiment joined April 1915
162nd Machine Gun Company formed 26 April 1916, moved to 54th Bn MGC 19 April 1918
162nd Trench Mortar Battery formed 5 May 1917
   
163rd (Norfolk & Suffolk) Brigade  
1/4th Bn, the Norfolk Regiment  
1/5th Bn, the Norfolk Regiment  
1/4th Bn, the Suffolk Regiment left November 1914
1/5th Bn, the Suffolk Regiment  
1/8th Bn, the Hampshire Regiment joined 19 April 1915
163rd Machine Gun Company formed 1 May 1916, moved to 54th Bn MGC 19 April 1918
163rd Trench Mortar Battery formed 9 May 1917
   
Divisional Troops  
54th Battalion MGC formed 19 April 1918
   
Divisional Mounted Troops  
East Anglian Divisional Cyclist Company left February 1917
HQ and A Sqn, the 1/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry joined 20 March 1917, left for XXI Corps Cavalry Regiment on 26 August 1917
   
Divisional Artillery  
The Divisional Artillery did not leave England when the Division embarked for service at Gallipoli. It remained at Brandon and Thetford and was there rearmed. It sailed for France from 17 November 1915 and concentrated near Blaringhem by four days later. Entrainment began on 11 January 1916, embarkation at Marseilles began on 30 January and between 8-15 February 1916 the artillery had concentrated at Mena Camp and came once again under command of this Division.
CCLXX (I E Anglian) Brigade, RFA renumbered CCLXXII 21 December 1916
CCLXXI (II E Anglian) Brigade, RFA  
CCLXXII (III E Anglian) (How) Brigade, RFA broken up 21 December 1916
CCLXXIII (IV E Anglian) Brigade, RFA renumbered CCLXX 21 December 1916
East Anglian (Essex) Heavy Battery, RGA did not sail with the Division; moved independently to France 14 March 1916 and joined XXIII HA Bde
54th Divisional Ammunition Column RFA  
X.54, Y.54 and Z.54 Medium Mortar Batteries RFA joined 3 October 1917, disbanded 2 March 1918 when Corps took over TM responsibilities
   
Royal Engineers  
1st East Anglian Field Company left December 1914
484th (2nd East Anglian) Field Company  
486th (2/1st East Anglian) Field Company joined September 1914
495th (1st Kent) Field Company joined 1 July 1916
53rd Divisional Signals Company  
54th Divisional Signals Company HQ and No 1 Section of this Company was attached at Suvla between 10-23 August 1915
   
Royal Army Medical Corps  
1st East Anglian Field Ambulance left Jjanuary 1915
2nd East Anglian Field Ambulance  
3rd East Anglian Field Ambulance  
2/1st East Anglian Field Ambulance joined late 1914
54th Sanitary Section  
   
Other Divisional Troops  
54th Divisional Train ASC comprising 483, 484, 485 and 486 Companies ASC, the original Train did not sail with the Division. It transferred to join 27th Division for service in Salonika. A new Train joined this Division on 5-24 February 1917, comprising 428, 429, 430 and 431 Companies ASC which were renumbered on 18 April 1917 to become 921, 922, 923 and 924 Companies ASC
54th (East Anglian) Mobile Veterinary Section AVC joined 11 April 1916
Detachement Francais de Palestine et Syrie (7/1st Tirailleurs Algeriens, 1 and 2nd Armeniens and various other snmaller units) attached 12 - 28 September 1918 for Megiddo operations

There is no WW1 memorial or published history to the 54th (East Anglian) Division.