The 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division in 1914-1918

The history of 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division

SymbolOn 31 August 1914 the War Office issued instructions for all units of the Territorial Force to form a reserve unit. The men who had agreed to serve overseas were separated from the rest. Those left as 'home service only' were formed into 'second line' units, which would be this reserve.

When some of the 'first line' units of the senior 55th (West Lancashire) Division were sent overseas, their place in that Division was taken by the 'second line'. The remainder, less the artillery which was in a parlous state as far as equipment went, moved to concentrate at Canterbury, Maidstone and Ashford and were formed into the 2nd West Lancashire Division, which got the number 57 in August 1915. The Divisional symbol is a D on its side, the D standing for Lord Derby.

The 'second line' Divisions suffered greatly from lack of equipment of all sorts, and training was inevitably affected. The artillery did not leave its home basis for Canterbury until September 1915, having received some obsolescent equipment from the 'first line' units which were being re-equipped with modern guns. The infantry received Japanese rifles, quite different to the Lee-Enfields that equipped the British armies in the fields, and only got modern rifles and ammunition in late November 1915.

1916

The passing of the Military Service Act in early 1916 deemed all men to have agreed to serve overseas and thus the Division was available to be sent, once it was trained. In July 1916 the units of the Division moved to the Aldershot area, being based at Blackdown, Deepcut, Pirbright, Woking and other places in the vicinity.

1917

The Division received a warning order on 5 January 1917 that it would soon depart for France. The units crossed the Channel 7-22 February and completed concentration at Merris on 23 February 1917. Three days later it took over the right sector of II Anzac Corps, north of Le Tilleloy. The Division then remained in France and Flanders and took part in the following engagements:

The Second Battle of Passchendaele (26 October - 7 November)*
* the battles marked * are phases of the Third Battles of the Ypres

1918

The Battles of the Lys (9-29 April) (Divisional artillery only)

The Battle of the Scarpe (26 - 30 August)+
The Battle of the Drocourt-Queant Line (2-3 September)+
+ the battles marked + are phases of the Second Battles of Arras 1918

The Battle of the Canal du Nord (27 September - 1 October)"
The Battle of the Cambrai (8 - 9 October)" in which the Division assisted in the capture of Cambrai
" the battles marked " are phases of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line

The occupation of Lille (17 October)*
The general final advance in Artois (15 October - 1 November)*
* the battles marked * are phases of the Final Advance in Artois

The Division was withdrawn for rest on 1 November and was in the eastern suburbs of Lille at the Armistice.

On 21 November 1918 the Division received orders to move to Arras to begin the process of clearing up. It had arrived in the area by 4 December. Here the units began to demobilise and by 23 March 1919 the Division was down to a small set of cadres. The last of these started for England on 25 June 1919 and on 4 July the last artillery sailed, bringing the history of the Division to an end.

The order of battle of the 57th (West Lancashire) Division

170th (2/1st North Lancashire) Brigade  
2/4th Bn, the King's Own left 20 October 1915
2/5th Bn, the King's Own  
2/4th Bn, the Loyal North Lancashire Regt  
2/5th Bn, the Loyal North Lancashire Regt left February 1918
4/5th Bn, the Loyal North Lancashire Regt joined 22 October 1915, absorbed by 1/5th Bn February 1918
170th Machine Gun Company joined February 1917, moved to 57th Bn MGC 1 Mar 1918
170th Trench Mortar Battery joined February 1917
1/5th Bn, the Loyal North Lancashire Regt joined February 1918
   
171st (2/1st Liverpool) Brigade  
2/5th Bn, the King's (Liverpool Regiment) disbanded February 1918
2/6th Bn, the King's (Liverpool Regiment)  
2/7th Bn, the King's (Liverpool Regiment)  
2/8th Bn, the King's (Liverpool Regiment) absorbed by 1/8th Bn January 1918
171st Machine Gun Company joined February 1917, moved to 57th Bn MGC 1 Mar 1918
171st Trench Mortar Battery joined February 1917
1/8th Bn, the King's (Liverpool Regiment) joined January 1918
   
172nd (2/1st South Lancashire) Brigade  
2/9th Bn, the King's (Liverpool Regiment) absorbed by 1/9th Bn January 1918
2/10th Bn, the King's (Liverpool Regiment) left April 1918
2/4th Bn, the South Lancashire Regiment  
2/5th Bn, the South Lancashire Regiment left 13 February 1915, rejoined January 1916
172nd Machine Gun Company joined February 1917, moved to 57th Bn MGC 1 Mar 1918
172nd Trench Mortar Battery joined February 1917
1/9th Bn, the King's (Liverpool Regiment) joined January 1918
1st Bn, the Royal Munster Fusiliers joined April 1918
   
Divisional Troops  
2/5th Bn, the Loyal North Lancashire Regt joined as Divisional Pioneer Bn February 1918
173rd Machine Gun Company joined 31 March 1917, moved to 57th Bn MGC 1 Mar 1918
57th Battalion MGC formed 1 March 1918
   
Divisional Mounted Troops  
1/1st Lancashire Hussars left 29 October 1915 (1 Sqn) and 14 November 1915 (2 Sqns)
1/1st Kent Cyclist Battalion joined October 1915, left 2 December 1915
A Sqn, 2/1st Bedfordshire Yeomanry joined 1916, left before Division sailed
West Lancashire Divisional Cyclist Company left 7 December 1915
57th Divisional Cyclist Company joined 1916, left before Division sailed
   
Divisional Artillery the artillery of the 55th (West Lancashire) Division also served with this Division from April to September 1915
CCLXXXV (2/I West Lancs) Brigade, RFA  
CCLXXXVI (2/II West Lancs) Brigade, RFA  
CCLXXXVII (2/III West Lancs) Brigade, RFA broken up 20 February 1917
(2/IV West Lancs) (How) Bde, RFA broken up July 1916 (ie before brigades were numbered)
1st Lancashire Heavy Battery, RGA a battery of four 4.7-inch guns which joined from 55th Division in April 1915, left 28 December 1915 and moved independently to France, arriving on 26 January 1916 and coming initially under orders of XXIX Heavy Artillery Brigade
2/1st Lancashire Heavy Battery, RGA joined 26 November 1915, received four 4.7-inch guns on 29 December 1915, later moved independently to France, arriving on 1 July 1916 and coming initially under orders of II Anzac Corps
57th Divisional Ammunition Column RFA  
W.57 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery, RFA joined 1 March 1917, left for XV Corps 17 February 1918
X.57, Y.57 and Z.57 Medium Mortar Batteries, RFA joined 1 March 1917, in February 1918 Z broken up and batteries reorganised to have six 6-inch weapons each
   
Royal Engineers  
422nd (2/1st West Lancs) Field Company left December 1915
423rd (2/2nd West Lancs) Field Company left December 1915
421st (1/3rd West Lancs) Field Company joined December 1915
502nd (1/3rd Wessex) Field Company joined December 1915
505th (2/3rd Wessex) Field Company joined February 1916
57th Divisional Signals Company  
   
Royal Army Medical Corps  
2/1st West Lancs Field Ambulance left 7 December 1915
1/2nd West Lancs Field Ambulance left 22 October 1915
1/3rd West Lancs Field Ambulance left 7 December 1915
2/2nd Wessex Field Ambulance joined 4 December 1915
3/2nd West Lancs Field Ambulance joined 4 December 1915
2/3rd Wessex Field Ambulance joined 5 December 1915
57th Sanitary Section left for Second Army 15 April 1917
   
Other Divisional Troops  
57th Divisional Train ASC The original 55th Divisional Train, formed in September 1915 and composed of 505, 506, 507 and 508 Companies ASC, remained at home when the units of that Division moved to France. It was transferred to the 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division.
57th Mobile Veterinary Section AVC joined by September 916
248th Divisional Employment Company formed by 16 June 1917

There is no memorial or published history to this Division.