The 63rd (2nd Northumbrian) Division in 1914-1918

The history of 63rd (2nd Northumbrian) 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' 50th (Northumbrian) Division went to France in April 1915.

The units of the 'second line', the 2nd Northumbrian Division, remained at home. Along with other 'second line' Divisions suffered it greatly from lack of equipment of all sorts, and training was inevitably affected.

Divisional HQ was set up at Newcastle and took responsibility for coastal defences of the sector Seaham Harbour - Sunderland - Newcastle; 188th Brigade at Swallwell Camp; 189th Brigade at Cramlington Camp and 190th at Heworth. The artillery was at Newcastle, Gosforth Park and Gateshead; the RE at Newcastle. King George V inspected the Division at Newcastle on 20 May 1915.

On 26 July 1915 orders were received that 600 was the minimum strength for any 'second line' infantry battalion and any men in excess of that number could be taken for overseas service.

On 30 November 1915, HQ moved to Retford in Nottinghamshire. 188th Brigade went to York; 189th Brigade to Retford and 190th to Doncaster. The artillery moved to Retford, York and Doncaster, with the heavy battery RGA going to Hedon; the RE to Worksop. It then remained at these locations.

In late May 1916, the artillery left for service in France, going at first to Heytesbury and on 2 July 1916 sailing to join 63rd (Royal Naval) Division.

Orders were received to break up the Division and it ceased to exist on 21 July 1916, although the brigades remained a while longer (see below). 189th and 190th moved to Catterick on 22 July 1916.

The order of battle of the 63rd (2nd Northumbrian) Division

188th (2nd Northumbrian) Brigade broken up 14 November 1916
2/4th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers moved to 72nd Division in November 1916
2/5th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers moved to 72nd Division in November 1916
2/6th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers moved to 72nd Division 27 November 1916
2/7th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers sailed for Egypt 20 January 1917
   
189th (2nd York & Durham) Brigade broken up 11 November 1916
2/4th Bn, the East Yorkshire Regiment left 4 November 1916 for garrison duty at Bermuda
2/4th Bn, the Yorkshire Regiment moved to 73rd Division 9 November 1916
2/5th Bn, the Yorkshire Regiment moved to 73rd Division 9 November 1916
2/5th Bn, the Durham Light Infantry left 31 October 1916 for garrison duty at Salonika
   
190th (2nd Durham Light Infantry) Brigade broken up 4 December 1916
2/6th Bn, the Durham Light Infantry moved to 71st Division 29 November 1916
2/7th Bn, the Durham Light Infantry moved to 71st Division 29 November 1916
2/8th Bn, the Durham Light Infantry moved to 71st Division 29 November 1916
2/9th Bn, the Durham Light Infantry left 1 November 1916 for garrison duty at Salonika
   
Divisional Mounted Troops 1/1st Scottish Horse Mounted Brigade were under Divisional command to August 1915; 2/1st Welsh Border Mounted Brigade to April 1916; 1/1st East Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry until 21 May 1915
2nd Northumbrian Divisional Cyclist Company formed at Whitburn Hall between 13 February and 19 April 1915
   
Divisional Artillery left late May 1916
CCCXV (2/I Northumbrian) Brigade, RFA  
CCCXVI (2/II Northumbrian) Brigade, RFA  
CCCXVII (2/III Northumbrian) Brigade, RFA  
CCCXVIII (2/IV Nthbrn) (How.) Brigade, RFA  
2/1st Northumbrian (North Riding) Heavy Battery, RGA left 9 November 1915 for Tyne garrison
   
Royal Engineers  
2/2nd Northumbrian Field Company joined 15th (Indian) Division in Mesopotamia by 1 December 1916. Numbered 448 Company 6 March 1917
3/1st Northumbrian Field Company joined 15th (Indian) Division in Mesopotamia by 10 March 1917. Numbered 450 Company 6 March 1917
1/3rd Northumbrian Field Company joined ny January 1916; moved on to 15th (Indian) Division in Mesopotamia by 10 January 1917. Numbered 451 Company 6 March 1917
2nd Northumbrian Divisional Signals Company  
   
Royal Army Medical Corps  
2/1st Northumbrian Field Ambulance moved to Salonika as Army Troops September 1916
3/2nd Northumbrian Field Ambulance  
2/3rd Northumbrian Field Ambulance moved to Salonika as XVI Corps Troops September 1916
2/1st Northumbrian Sanitary Section left for Fourth Army 3 April 1917
   
Other Divisional Troops  
63rd Divisional Train ASC formed November 1914, the units were eventually titled 529, 530, 531 and 532 Companies ASC
2/ 1st Northumbrian Mobile Veterinary Section AVC left 11 August 1915
63rd Divisional Ambulance Workshop absorbed into Divisional Supply Column 1916