The 58th (2/1st London) Division in 1914-1918

The history of 58th (2/1st London) 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 many of the 'first line' units of the senior 56th (1st London) Division were sent overseas, that Division was temporarily disbanded and the rest of its units joined the 'second line' in the 2/1st London Division. The number 57 was not issued until August 1915.

The 2/1st London Infantry Brigade was sent for garrison duty at Malta in early 1915, being replaced in the Division by the 'third line' 3/1st London Infantry Brigade.

The 'second line' Divisions suffered greatly from lack of equipment of all sorts, and training was inevitably affected. 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. After being based in the Ipswich area, the Division took over the East Coast defences in spring 1916. It moved again, to Sutton Veny, in July 1916.

1917

The Division received a warning order on 1 January 1917 that it would soon depart for France. The units crossed the Channel from Southampton and Boulogne from 20 January and completed concentration at Lucheux on 8 February. The Division then remained in France and Flanders and took part in the following engagements:

The pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line (17-28 March)
The Battle of Bullecourt (4-17 May)
The actions of the Hindenburg Line (20 May -16 June)
The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge (20-25 September)*
The Battle of Polygon Wood (26-27 September)*
The Second Battle of Passchendaele (26 October - 10 November)*
* the battles marked * are phases of the Third Battles of the Ypres

1918

The Battle of St Quentin (21-23 March) (although this was only a phase of the First Battles of the Somme 1918, 21 March - 3 April, and the Division was engaged at times throughout)
The Battle of the Avre (4 April)
The Battle of Villers-Bretonneux (24-25 April)
The Battle of Amiens (8-11 August)

The Battle of Albert (22-23 August)+
The Second Battle of Bapaume (31 August - 1 September)+
+ the battles marked + are phases of the Second Battles of the Somme 1918

The Battle of Epehy (18 September)"
" the battles marked " are phases of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line

The general final advance in Artois (2 October - 11 November)*
* the battles marked * are phases of the Final Advance in Artois

The Division had crossed the River Scheldt and the forward units were south of Ath on 11 November 1918. The Division remained in the Peruwelz area after the Armistice. Here the units began to demobilise and by early March 1919 the Division was down to a small set of cadres which were moved to Leuze. The last units sailed for home at the end of June 1919, bringing the history of the Division to an end.

The order of battle of the 58th (London) Division

2/1st London Brigade Brigade left the Division for Malta in early 1915
2/1st Bn, the London Regiment arrived Malta 11 February 1915
2/2nd Bn, the London Regiment arrived Malta 31 December 1914
2/3rd Bn, the London Regiment arrived 31 December 1914
2/4th Bn, the London Regiment arrived 31 December 1914
   
174th (2/2nd London) Brigade  
2/5th Bn, the London Regiment disbanded 31 January 1918
2/6th Bn, the London Regiment became 6th Bn 31 January 1918
2/7th Bn, the London Regiment became 7th Bn 2 February 1918
2/8th Bn, the London Regiment became 8th Bn 2 February 1918
198th Machine Gun Company joined 21 February 1917, moved to 58th Bn MGC 2 Mar 1918
174th Trench Mortar Battery  
   
175th (2/3rd London) Brigade  
2/9th Bn, the London Regiment became 9th Bn 1 February 1918
2/10th Bn, the London Regiment  
2/11th Bn, the London Regiment disbanded 31 January 1918
2/12th Bn, the London Regiment became 12th Bn 31 January 1918
44th Machine Gun Company attached 23 February 1917 to 22 March 1917
215th Machine Gun Company joined 21 March 1917, moved to 58th Bn MGC 2 Mar 1918
175th Trench Mortar Battery  
   
173rd (3/1st London) Brigade formed April 1915, replaced 2/1st London Brigade in this Division in August 1915
3/1st Bn, the London Regiment became 2/1st Bn June 1916, disbanded 31 January 1918
3/2nd Bn, the London Regiment became 2/2nd Bn June 1916, left 12 September 1918
3/3rd Bn, the London Regiment became 2/3rd Bn June 1916, became 3rd Bn 31 January 1918
3/4th Bn, the London Regiment became 2/4th Bn June 1916, aborbed into 2/2nd Bn 12 September 1918
197th Machine Gun Company attached 22 February 1917 to 26 March 1917
214th Machine Gun Company joined 25 March 1917, moved to 58th Bn MGC 2 Mar 1918
173rd Trench Mortar Battery  
2/24th Bn, the London Regiment joined at Guyencourt 11 September 1918
   
Divisional Troops  
4th Bn, the Suffolk Regt joined as Divisional Pioneer Bn 15 February 1918
206th Machine Gun Company joined 24 March 1917, moved to 58th Bn MGC 2 Mar 1918
58th Battalion MGC formed 2 March 1918
100th Machine Gun Company attached 7-25 September 1918
   
Divisional Mounted Troops  
1/1st Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry broken up early 1915
A Sqn, Hampshire Carabiniers joined 21 March 1916 (A Sqn moved independently to France 17 January 1917, rejoined 25 January 1917)
1/1st Kent Cyclist Battalion joined October 1915, left 2 December 1915
2/1st Wessex Divisional Cyclist Company left before Division sailed
   
Divisional Artillery note: the artillery of 1st London Division came under command of this Division August 1915 - 23 September 1915 when transferred to the 36th (Ulster) Division
CCXC (2/I London) Brigade, RFA joined 25 September 1915
CCXCI (2/II London) Brigade, RFA joined 27 September 1915
CCXCIII (2/III London) Brigade, RFA joined 25 September 1915, became Army Brigade January 1917 (note: Bde included 1st Glamorgan RHA and 1st Shropshire RHA)
2/IV London (How) Bde, RFA joined 21 September 1915, broken up July 1916 (ie before brigades were numbered)
1st London Heavy Battery, RGA a battery of four 4.7-inch guns which joined from 1st London Division in early 1915, left 11 February and moved independently to France, arriving on 3 March 1916 and coming initially under orders of XXVII Heavy Artillery Group
2/1st London Heavy Battery, RGA joined 24 September 1915, did not sail and remained in England
58th Divisional Ammunition Column RFA  
V.58 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery, RFA most personnel to X.58 and Y.58 on 8 February 1918, rest left for V/III Corps 18 February 1918
X.58, Y.58 and Z.58 Medium Mortar Batteries, RFA joined 1 March 1917, on 7-8 February 1918 Z broken up and batteries reorganised to have six 6-inch weapons each
   
Royal Engineers  
2/1st London Field Company left for 1st London Division 21 February 1916
2/2nd London Field Company left for 1st London Division 21 February 1916
511th (1/5th London) Field Company joined 16 November 1915
503rd (2/1st Wessex) Field Company joined 22 February 1916
504th (2/2nd Wessex) Field Company joined 23 February 1916
58th Divisional Signals Company  
   
Royal Army Medical Corps  
2/1st London Field Ambulance left for 1st London Division 21 February 1916
2/2nd London Field Ambulance left for 1st London Division 21 February 1916
2/3rd London Field Ambulance left for 1st London Division 21 February 1916
2/1st Home Counties Field Ambulance joined 22 February 1916
2/2nd Home Counties Ambulance joined 22 February 1916
2/3rd Home Counties Field Ambulance joined 22 February 1916
58th Sanitary Section left for VIII Corps 30 March1917
   
Other Divisional Troops  
58th Divisional Train ASC 509, 510, 511 and 512 Companies ASC
58th Mobile Veterinary Section AVC joined 21 November 1915
249th Divisional Employment Company formed by 23 June 1917, broken up 22 April 1919

There is no published history to this Division.

Memorial