The 62nd (2nd West Riding) Division in 1914-1918

The history of 62nd (2nd West Riding) Division

On 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. They were joined by many new recruits from September 1914 onward.

The 'first line' 49th (West Riding) Division went to France in April 1915.

The units of the 'second line', the 2nd West Riding Division, remained at home for quite some time. Along with other 'second line' Divisions suffered it greatly from lack of equipment of all sorts, and training was inevitably affected. The Division also continually supplied drafts of men to the 'first line', which delayed things terribly.

In March 1915 Divisional HQ moved to Matlock Bath and the various units gradually moved to the Matlock, Derby, Belper, Nottingham and Bakewell areas. Two months later moves were made to Thoresby Park, Babworth Park, Welbeck Park, Southwell and Beverley. A further move in October 1915 saw all units concentrated in the area of Retford, then quickly going to Newcastle and in early 1916 to Salisbury Plain. Yet another move was made in June 1916, with the Division going to Lowestoft, Wangford, Flixton Park, Bungay and Somerleytown.

The Division was inspected by King George V on 26 July 1916. The units made a final move to Bedford, Wellingborough and Northampton in October 1916, where orders were received to embark for France.

The Divisional Ammunition Column sailed from Avonmouth for Rouen on 30 December 1916; the rest crossed from Southampton to Le Havre from 5 January 1917 and by 18 January concentration was completed in Third Army area between the rivers Canche and Authie. The Division then remained on the Western Front in France and Flanders for the rest of the war and took part in the following engagements:

1917

The Operations on the Ancre ( 15 February - 13 March)
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line (14 - 19 March)
The first attack on Bullecourt (part of the Arras offensive) (11 April)
The German attack on Lagnicourt (part of the Arras offensive) (15 April)
The Battle of Bullecourt (part of the flanking operations round Arras) (3 - 17 May)
The actions on the Hindenburg Line (20 - 28 May)
The Cambrai Operations (Tank attack 20 - 21 November and the capture of Bourlon Wood 27 - 28 November)

1918
The Battle of Bapaume~ (25 March)
The First Battle of Arras 1918~ (28 March)
~ the battles marked ~ are phases of the First Battles of the Somme 1918
The Battle of the Tardenois (part of the Battles of the Marne 1918) (20 - 30 July)
The Battle of the Scarpe^ (26 - 30 August)
The Battle of the Drocourt-Queant Line^ (2 September)
^ the battles marked ^ are phases of the Second Battles of Arras 1918
The Battle of Havrincourt+ (12 September)
The Battle of the Canal du Nord+ (27 - 30 September)
+ the battles marked + are phases of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line
The Battle of the Selle* (17 - 23 October)
The capture of Solesmes* (20 October)
The Battle of the Sambre* (4 November)
* the battles marked * are phases of the Final Advance in Picardy

On 9 November the Division entered the southern outskirts of Maubeuge, crossed the Sambre and reached the Maubeuge-Avesnes road. The Division was selected to form part of the army which would advance across Belgium and occupy the Rhine bridgeheads, he only Territorial formation to recieve this honour. The move began on 18 November, although the Division halted 1 - 9 December between Ciney and Rochefort. The German border was crossed on 15 December and the last units reached the allotted area around Schleiden on Christmas Day.

In February 1919, Scots battalions began to arrive and the Division was renamed as the Highland Division on 15 March 1919.

The order of battle of the 62nd (2nd West Riding) Division

185th (2/1st West Riding) Brigade  
2/5th Bn, the West Yorkshire Regiment disbanded 13-18 August 1918
2/6th Bn, the West Yorkshire Regiment disbanded 31 January 1918
2/7th Bn, the West Yorkshire Regiment disbanded 16-19 June 1918
2/8th Bn, the West Yorkshire Regiment became 8th Bn on 1 February 1918
212th Machine Gun Company joined 9 March 1917, moved to 62nd Bn MGC 9 March 1918
185th Trench Mortar Battery  
1/5th Bn, the Devonshire Regiment joined 6 June 1918
2/20th Bn, the London Regiment joined 9 August 1918
   
186th (2/2nd West Riding) Brigade  
2/4th Bn, the Duke of Wellington's  
2/5th Bn, the Duke of Wellington's became 5th Bn on 1 February 1918
2/6th Bn, the Duke of Wellington's disbanded 31 January 1918
2/7th Bn, the Duke of Wellington's disbanded 17-18 June 1918
213th Machine Gun Company joined 9 March 1917, moved to 62nd Bn MGC 9 March 1918
186th Trench Mortar Battery  
2/4th Bn, the Hampshire Regiment joined 14 June 1918
   
187th (2/3rd West Riding) Brigade  
2/4th Bn, the King's Own Yorkshire LI  
2/5th Bn, the King's Own Yorkshire LI became 5th Bn on 2 February 1918
2/4th Bn, the York & Lancaster Regiment  
2/5th Bn, the York & Lancaster Regiment disbanded 3 February 1918
208th Machine Gun Company joined 4 March 1917, moved to 62nd Bn MGC 9 March 1918
187th Trench Mortar Battery  
   
Divisional Troops  
1/9th Bn, the Durham Light Infantry joined as Divisional Pioneer Bn 12 february 1918
201st Machine Gun Company joined 30 March 1917, moved to 62nd Bn MGC 9 March 1918
62nd Battalion MGC formed 9 March 1918
   
Divisional Mounted Troops  
HQ, MG Section and B Sqn, the 2/1st Northumberland Hussars joined 18 April 1916, left before embarkation
62nd Divisional Cyclist Company formed 23 March 1915, left 19 January 1917
   
Divisional Artillery Note: the artillery of 59th Division was also attached 15-24 April 1918 and 17 May - 19 June 1918
CCCX (2/I West Riding) Brigade, RFA  
CCCXI (2/II West Riding) Brigade, RFA  
CCCXII (2/III West Riding) Brigade, RFA broken up 28 February 1917
2/IV West Riding (Howitzer) Brigade, RFA broken up may 1916
2/1st West Riding Heavy Battery, RGA left before embarkation and attached to Tyne garrison
62nd Divisional Ammunition Column RFA  
V.62 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery, RFA broken up 11 February 1918
X.62, Y.62 and Z.62 Medium Mortar Batteries, RFA on 11 February 1918, Z broken up and batteries reorganised to have six 6-inch weapons each
   
Royal Engineers  
2/1st West Riding Field Company left for 49th Division 23 June 1916, later retitled 458th
2/2nd West Riding Field Company left for 6th Division 13 October 1915, later retitled 459th
461st (3/1st West Riding) Field Company  
457th (1/3rd West Riding) Field Company joined by November 1916
460th (2/3rd West Riding) Field Company joined by November 1916
62nd Divisional Signals Company  
   
Royal Army Medical Corps  
2/1st West Riding Field Ambulance  
2/2nd West Riding Ambulance  
2/3rd West Riding Field Ambulance  
62nd Sanitary Section left for First Army 8 April 1917
   
Other Divisional Troops  
62nd Divisional Train ASC retitled from the 2nd West Riding Divisional Transport and Supply Column, and the units also retitled as 525, 526, 527 and 528 Companies ASC
2/1st West Riding Mobile Veterinary Section AVC joined by November 1916
252nd Divisional Employment Company formed by 14 July 1917

Memorial