The 74th (Yeomanry) Division in 1914-1918

The history of 74th (Yeomanry) Division

Divisional symbolThis formation was created during the war. On 14 January 1917 the GOC Egyptian Expeditionary Force, Sir Edmund Allenby, gave orders for the reorganisation of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Dismounted Brigades of Yeomanry - at the time all were serving on Suez Canal defences - and for their conversion and redesignation as the 229th, 230th and 231st Infantry Brigades. These Brigades were organised as a Division, which began to assemble on 4 March 1917 near El Arish. It was, strictly, a Division of the Territorial Force. The Divisional artillery did not join until July, by which time the Division had already taken part in its first action, the Second Battle of Gaza. It remained in action in Palestine until April 1918, taking part in the following engagements:

1917

The Second Battle of Gaza (17 - 19 April 1917)
The Third Battle of Gaza (27 October - 7 November 1917, including the Capture of Beersheba on 31 October and the capture of the Sheria Position on 6 November)
The capture of Jerusalem (8 - 9 December 1917)
The Defence of Jerusalem (27 - 30 December 1917)

1918

The Battle of Tell'Asur (8 - 12 March 1918)

On 3 March 1918 the Division received a warning order to prepare to leave Palestine and move to France. It was relieved on 7-9 March and march back to Lydda. Here teh artillery was reorganised, a pioneer battalion joined and the machine gun battalion was formed. On 14 April Divisional HQ moved to Kantara, followed by the rest of the units.

Embarkation began at Alexandria on 29 April. The first units landed at Marseilles on 7 May 1918 and entrained for the north. Concentration was completed in the area of Rue (near Abbeville) by 18 May.

Training for unfamiliar operations, notably gas defence, was undertaken before toward the end of May the units moved to the Doullens - St Pol Area. in June a reduction to a nine-battalion format took place while training continued and the Division was held in GHQ Reserve. On 14 July, the Division took ver a sector of front line near merville and then remained in France and Flanders for the rest of the war, taking part in the following engagements:

The Second Battles of the Somme (Second Battle of Bapaume, 2-3 September 1918)
The Battles of the Hindenburg Line (Battle of Epehy, 18 September 1918)
The Final Advance in Artois and Flanders

The Division crossed the Scheldt on 9 November and two days later the advanced units crossed the Dendre (Dender) Canal. When the Arnistice came into effect they had occupied Ath. Five days later the Division moved to the area Rebaix - Herinnes - Tournai, with HQ being at Frasnes-les-Buissenal. Work was carried out on reparing the Tournai-Leuze railway. King George V visited the Division on 7 December 1918.

Although demobilisation took place principally in the first months of 1919, Divisional HQ was kept in operation near Lessines until 10 July 1919.

The order of battle of the 74th (Yeomanry) Division

229th Brigade formerly 2nd Dismounted Brigade
16th Bn, the Devonshire Regiment  
12th Bn, the Somerset Light Infantry  
12th Bn, the Royal Scots Fusiliers left 21 June 1918
14th Bn, the Black Watch  
4th Machine Gun Company moved to 74th Bn MGC 11 April 1918
229th Trench Mortar Battery  
   
230th Brigade formerly 3rd Dismounted Brigade
10th Bn, the Buffs  
12th Bn, the Norfolk Regiment left 21 June 1918
15th Bn, the Suffolk Regiment  
16th Bn, the Royal Sussex Regiment  
209th Machine Gun Company moved to 74th Bn MGC 11 April 1918
230th Trench Mortar Battery  
   
231st Brigade formerly 4th Dismounted Brigade
24th Bn, the Royal Welsh Fusiliers left 21 June 1918
25th Bn, the Royal Welsh Fusiliers  
24th Bn, the Welsh Regiment  
10th Bn, the King's Shropshire Light Infantry  
210th Machine Gun Company moved to 74th Bn MGC 11 April 1918
231st Trench Mortar Battery formed 27 June 1916
   
Divisional Troops  
1/12th Bn, the Loyal North Lancashire Regt joined as Divisional Pioneer Bn 10 April 1918
261st Machine Gun Company joined 5 March 1918, moved to 74th Bn MGC 11 April 1918
212st, 262nd, 264th, 271st and 272nd Machine Gun Companies MGC joined may 1917, left to form Fourth Army Troops MG Battalion on arrival in France
74th Battalion MGC formed 11 April 1918
   
Divisional Mounted Troops  
A Sqn, 1 /2nd London Yeomanry joined 5 April 1917, left for XX Corps Cavalry Regiment 23 August 1917
   
Divisional Artillery  
XLIV Brigade, RFA  
CXVII Brigade, RFA  
CCLXVIII Brigade, RFA broken up at Lydda 31 March 1918
527 (Howitzer) Battery, RFA attached 7 - 24 March 1918
16th Mountain Battery, RGA attached 7 - 9 March 1918
Hong Kong & Singapore Mountain Battery RGA attached 31 October - 4 November 1917
74th Divisional Ammunition Column RFA  
X.74 and Y.74 Medium Mortar Batteries, RFA joined at Houvin 12 June 1918
   
Royal Engineers  
439th (2/1st Cheshire) Field Company joined at Ramle 9 April 1917
496th (1/2nd Kent) Field Company joined at Rafa 12 April 1917, left 25 May 1917
5th Royal Monmouth Field Company joined at Deir-el-Belah 12-19 April 1917
5th Royal Anglesey Field Company joined at Deir-el-Belah 14 April 1917
74th Divisional Signals Company  
   
Royal Army Medical Corps  
229th Field Ambulance  
230th Field Ambulance  
231st Field Ambulance  
87th Sanitary Section joined at Deir-el-Belah 22 April 1917, left for Fourth Army 25 may 1918
   
Other Divisional Troops  
74th Divisional Train ASC 447, 448, 449 and 450 Companies ASC, formerly 42nd (east Lancashire) and 53rd (Welsh) Divisional Train
59th Mobile Veterinary Section AVC joined at Deir-el-Belah 13 April 1917
985th Divisional Employment Company formed 18 May 1918

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