British 12th (Eastern) Division
The 12th Infantry Division was a division
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

 raised by the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 during the First World War. It was disbanded during the Second World War due to the number of casualties that it took.

Formation and First World War

The 12th (Eastern) Infantry Division, was one of the Kitchener's Army
Kitchener's Army
The New Army, often referred to as Kitchener's Army or, disparagingly, Kitchener's Mob, was an all-volunteer army formed in the United Kingdom following the outbreak of hostilities in the First World War...

 divisions raised from volunteers by Lord Kitchener. It was formed within Eastern Command
Eastern Command (United Kingdom)
-History:The Command was established in 1905 from the Fourth Army Corps and was based in London. Among the formations raised under its supervision in World War I was the 12th Division. Its headquarters was initially located at Horseguards in London. During World War II the Command relocated to...

 as a result of Army Order No. 324 of 21 August 1914, as part of the K1 wave of divisions. It fought on the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

 for the duration of the First World War. One of its most notable actions was the Battle of Epehy
Battle of Epéhy
The Battle of Épehy was a World War I battle fought on 18 September 1918, involving the British Fourth Army against German outpost positions in front of the Hindenburg Line.- Prelude :...


In the First World War, the division's insignia was the Ace of Spades
Ace of Spades
At least in English-speaking countries, the ace of spades is traditionally seen as the highest card in the deck of playing cards, although the actual value of the card varies from game to game...


Second World War

The Division was reformed as a second line Territorial Army formation just before the start of the Second World War, a duplicate of the 44th (Home Counties) Division
British 44th (Home Counties) Infantry Division
The 44th Division was a British Territorial Army division in both the First and Second World Wars, and for twenty years afterwards.- First World War:...

As such it contained mostly half trained units, some of whom had not even fired their rifles. In April 1940 the 12th Infantry, along with the 23rd (Northumbrian) Division and 46th (North Midland) Divisions, were sent as pioneer
Assault Pioneer
An Assault Pioneer is an infantry soldier who is responsible for:* The construction of tools for infantry soldiers to cross natural and man-made obstacles as well as breaching of enemy fortifications;...

 units to France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. They were all under-equipped and did not have their signals, Royal Artillery
Royal Artillery
The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery , is the artillery arm of the British Army. Despite its name, it comprises a number of regiments.-History:...

 or administrative units with them.

When the German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 attacks began on May 10, 1940 only every third battalion had done a week's training. As a result the 12th Infantry suffered heavy casualties during the Battle of France
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

 and the subsequent retreat to and evacuation from Dunkirk .

As a result of its high proportion of casualties (the 36th Infantry Brigade
British 36th Infantry Brigade
The 36th Infantry Brigade was a British Army formation.This brigade fought in both the First and Second World Wars. The brigade was a 2nd Line Territorial Army brigade.-World War I:...

 having been severely mauled on May 20, 1940) the 12th Infantry Division was disbanded on July 11, 1940. However, two of its constituent brigades, the 36th Infantry Brigade
British 36th Infantry Brigade
The 36th Infantry Brigade was a British Army formation.This brigade fought in both the First and Second World Wars. The brigade was a 2nd Line Territorial Army brigade.-World War I:...

 and the 35th Infantry Brigade would see service later in the war, the 35th as 169th Infantry Brigade, with the 56th (London) Division, and the 36th with the 78th Infantry Division
British 78th Infantry Division
The British 78th Infantry Division, also known as the Battleaxe Division, fought in the Second World War in North Africa and Italy.- History :...

First World War structure

  • 35th Brigade
    • 7th The Norfolk Regiment
    • 7th The Suffolk Regiment
    • 9th The Essex Regiment
    • 5th Princess Charlotte of Wales's (Royal Berkshire Regiment)
    • 1/1st Battalion, The Cambridgeshire Regiment
      Cambridgeshire Regiment
      The Cambridgeshire Regiment was a territorial infantry regiment of the British Army from 1908 to 1961.-Pre 1908:The regiment had its origins in the rifle volunteer corps formed in Cambridgeshire in 1860. By 1880 the volunteer units in the county had amalgamated as the battalion-size 1st...

  • 36th Brigade
    • 8th Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)
    • 9th Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)
    • 7th The Royal Sussex Regiment
    • 11th The Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment)
  • 37th Brigade
    • 6th The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment)
    • 6th Royal East Kent Regiment
    • 7th The East Surrey Regiment
    • 6th The Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)
  • Pioneers
    • 12th The Northamptonshire Regiment

Second World War Order of Battle

France 1940
  • 35th Infantry Brigade
    • 2/5th The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment)
    • 2/6th The Queen's Royal Regiment
    • 2/7th The Queen's Royal Regiment
  • 36th Infantry Brigade
    • 5th Royal East Kent Regiment
    • 6th The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment
      The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment
      The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment was an infantry regiment of the British Army from 1881 to 1961. It was formed as The Queen's Own as part of the Childers Reforms by the amalgamation of the 50th Regiment of Foot and the 97th Regiment of Foot...

    • 7th The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment
  • 37th Infantry Brigade
    • 6th The Royal Sussex Regiment
    • 2/6th The East Surrey Regiment
    • 7th The Royal Sussex Regiment

See also

  • List of British divisions in WWI
  • List of British divisions in WWII
  • British Army Order of Battle - September 1939

External links

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