The 72nd Division in 1914-1918

The history of 72nd Division

This formation was created during the war. Late in 1916 orders were given for the formation of three additional home-service Divisions; they would have the dual role of carrying out training of men for overseas drafts, plus providing forces for home defence. 72nd was one of the three Divisions formed, and was initially established in Somerset. Division HQ was set up at Weston but soon moved to Bath. It moved between 5-18 January 1917 to Bedford, Wellingborough and Northampton (taking the place of 62nd (2nd West Riding) Division, recently departed for France). The Division came under command of Southern Army, Home Forces, and was responsible for East Coast defences from the River Deben to Orfordness. On 21 December 1917 orders were received that the Division should be broken up. Disbandment began in January 1918 and the final elements disappeared on 8 April 1918.

On 1 January 1917 the Provisional units were all retitled, as shown in the Order of Battle below.

A number of non-regimentally-affiliated Graduated Battalions joined in July 1917. They were affiliated and retitled on 27 October 1917.

The order of battle of the 72nd Division

215th Brigade the three battalions comprising this Bde had previously been with 8th Provisional Brigade, which was not under a Division
28th Provisional Battalion became 13th Lincolnshire Regiment, left by July 1917
70th Provisional Battalion became 15th Royal Sussex Regiment
81st Provisional Battalion became 18th Royal Warwickshire Regiment, left by 24 December 1917
258th Graduated Battalion joined by 23 July 1917; became 51st (Graduated) Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry on 27 October 1917
259th Graduated Battalion joined by 24 September 1917; became 51st (Graduated) Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers on 27 October 1917
   
216th Brigade  
10th Bn, the Somerset Light Infantry left by July 1917
14th Bn, the Yorkshire Light Infantry disbanded 8 April 1918
83rd Provisional Battalion from 8th Provisional Bde; became 10th Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry; left by July 1917
261st Graduated Battalion joined by 23 July 1917; became 52nd (Graduated) Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment on 27 October 1917
262nd Graduated Battalion joined by 9 July 1917; became 51st (Graduated) Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on 27 October 1917
   
217th Brigade  
2/4th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers disbanded by 8 April 1918
2/5th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers left by July 1917
2/6th Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers left by 10 December 1917
264th Graduated Battalion joined by 9 July 1917; became 51st (Graduated) Battalion of the King's Own (Yorkshire Light Infantry) on 27 October 1917
265th Graduated Battalion joined by 24 September 1917; became 52nd (Graduated) Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers on 27 October 1917
   
Divisional Mounted Troops  
72nd Divisional Cyclist Company, ACC broken up by 25 February 1918
   
Divisional Artillery broken up by 25 February 1918
CCCLII Brigade, RFA  
CCCLIII Brigade, RFA  
72nd Divisional Ammunition Column RFA  
   
Royal Engineers all units joined by 20 November 1916
550th (3/1st Glamorgan) Field Company joined as a Fortress Company and redesignated; landed in France 23 June 1918 and went to Second Army
551st (2/2nd Glamorgan) Field Company broken up by 8 April 1918
647th (South Midland) Field Company broken up by 8 April 1918
72nd Divisional Signals Company joined as 8th Provisional Signals Section and redesignated; broken up 4 February 1918
   
Royal Army Medical Corps the 8th Provisional Field Ambulance joined 4 December 1916 and formed the three FAs for 72nd Division
304th (South Midland) Field Ambulance disbanded by 18 March 1918
305th (South Midland) Field Ambulance disbanded by 18 March 1918
306th (South Midland) Field Ambulance disbanded by 11 March 1918
105th Sanitary Section  
   
Other Divisional Troops  
72ndd Divisional Train ASC 825, 826, 827 and 828 Companies ASC. 825 had previously been 8th Provisional Company ASC; the others were new and formed for the Division in November 1916; disbanded by 8 April 1918
57th Mobile Veterinary Section AVC joined January 1917, disbanded by 4 March 1918

There is no memorial or published history of 72nd Division.