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38th (Welsh) Division
38th Welsh Division Patch.jpg
38th Welsh Division Shoulder Patch
Active December 1914–June 1919
Branch New Army
Type Infantry
Engagements Battle of the Somme (1916)
Third Battle of Ypres
Battle of Epehy

The 38th (Welsh) Infantry Division was a British Army division. A 38th Division was in existence in both the First and Second World Wars, but not between the wars and there is no direct link between the two formations. The division's insignia was The Red Dragon of Wales. During the Second World War the insignia was changed to the cross of Saint David (yellow, on a black background).

World War I

Battle at Mametz Wood by Christopher Williams (1918)

The 38th (Welsh) Division (originally numbered 43rd), was a New Army division formed in December 1914 comprising battalions from Wales which were raised by public subscription and private patronage. It was intended to be half of a Welsh Army Corps. Authorisation to create these new divisions, part of Kitchener's Army, was given on 10 October 1914. In the event, only the 38th Division was created, and the Welsh Army Corps, which had the support of David Lloyd George, never formed.

The division began moving to France in November 1915 and was in action by December 1915. It spent the duration of the First World War in action on the Western Front until the Armistice of 1918. The division's single action of 1916 was the capture of Mametz Wood during the Battle of the Somme — it was so badly mauled that it did not return to major action for over a year, when it successfully captured the Pilckem Ridge on 31 July 1917, during the Battle of Pilckem Ridge. There is now a memorial at Mametz Wood in honour of the division (see second link below). It was later involved in the Third Battle of Ypres and the Battle of Epehy.

The division was, for a fifth line Kitchener formation, relatively successful and well regarded. The division was disbanded between 1918 and 1920.

Order of Battle in World War I


113th Brigade:

  • 13th (Service) Battalion (1st North Wales), Royal Welch Fusiliers
  • 14th (Service) Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers
  • 15th (Service) Battalion (1st London Welsh), Royal Welch Fusiliers (disbanded February 1918)
  • 16th (Service) Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers
  • 17th (Service) Battalion (2nd North Wales), Royal Welch Fusiliers (from February 1915 to 115 Bde July 1915)

114th Brigade

  • 10th (Service) Battalion (1st Rhondda), The Welch Regiment (disbanded February 1918)
  • 13th (Service) Battalion (2nd Rhondda), The Welch Regiment
  • 14th (Service) Battalion (Swansea), The Welch Regiment
  • 15th (Service) Battalion (Carmarthenshire County Committee), The Welch Regiment

115th Brigade

  • 17th (Service) Battalion (2nd North Wales), Royal Welch Fusiliers (from 113 Bde July 1915)
  • 10th (Service) Battalion (1st Gwent), South Wales Borderers
  • 11th (Service) Battalion (2nd Gwent), South Wales Borderers (disbanded February 1918)
  • 16th (Service) Battalion (Cardiff City), The Welch Regiment (disbanded February 1918)
  • 2nd Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers (from 19 Bde 33rd Division February 1918)


  • 19th (Service) Battalion (Glamorgan Pioneers), The Welsh Regiment

Divisional Artillery

The following artillery units served with 38th Division:[1]

CXIX Brigade Royal Field Artillery

  • A Battery – previously No 2 Battery, formed at Porthcawl January 1915
  • B–D Batteries – formed March–April 1915
  • CXIX Brigade Ammunition Column

CXX Brigade Royal Field Artillery

  • A Battery – previously No 1 Battery, formed at Cardiff in 1914
  • B–D Batteries – formed March–April 1915
  • CXX Brigade Ammunition Column

CXXI Brigade Royal Field Artillery

  • A Battery – previously No 4 Battery, formed at Porthcawl January 1915
  • B–D Batteries – formed March–April 1915
  • CXXI Brigade Ammunition Column

CXXII (Howitzer) Brigade Royal Field Artillery

  • A Battery – previously No 3 Battery, formed at Porthcawl January 1915
  • B–D Batteries – formed March–April 1915
  • CXXII Brigade Ammunition Column

Trench Mortars

  • X Battery – formed by April 1916
  • Y Battery – formed by April 1916
  • Z Battery – formed 5 April 1916
  • V (Heavy) Battery – formed 28 July 1916

The field artillery brigade numbers and existing personnel were transferred from the original 30th (CXIX, CXX and CXXI) and 31st Divisions (CXXII) when the 'Fourth New Army' was broken up in April 1915 to provide reserve units. CXXII Brigade exchanged a battery with each of the others on 24 May 1916, with the result that all four brigades had a howitzer battery (designated D Battery). In August 1916 the brigades were reorganised again so that each had two 6-gun batteries and a 4-gun howitzer battery, CXX Brigade disappearing in the process. CXIX Brigade left in January 1917 to become Army Field Artillery. A further reorganisation in June 1917 saw CXXI and CXXII Brigades return to an establishment of three field and one howitzer battery, each of six guns.

38 Heavy Battery Royal Garrison Artillery was raised for the division but left before June 1915; it later went to France in 1916 as part of XLII Heavy Artillery Group.

The divisional artillery remained at Larkhill to complete their training when the rest of the division embarked for France in December 1915. I, II, III and IV (H) London Field Brigades, which were already in France with 36th (Ulster) Division, served with 38th Division until January 1916 when 56th (London) Division was reformed. 38th Divisional Artillery rejoined the division in France on 28 December 1915.

Brigade Ammunition Columns were disbanded and absorbed by 38th Divisional Ammunition Column in May 1916.

During the army-wide reorgansation of February 1918, Z Trench Mortar Battery was split up between X and Y batteries, and V Heavy Trench Mortar Battery joined XV Corps.

World War II

In 1939, the British government ordered the expansion of the Territorial Army, including the creation of a second line of infantry divisions. The 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division provided officers and men, but little equipment for the new 38th (Welsh) Infantry Division. The second line Welsh territorial division had not seen service in France during the First World War, so that the 38th Division had a much more prestigious record. The division again included the 113th, 114th and 115th Infantry Brigades, although the battalions which they commanded had no relation to those of the First World War division.

The division remained in the United Kingdom throughout the war. From 1943 the division was placed on the lower establishment, meaning that it had fewer men and less equipment than first line formations. In January 1944 it became a reserve training division and its brigades were detached. While reformed on paper in September 1944, this was simply a deception exercise and the original 38th division was disbanded. Its number was assumed by the 80th Division, a training formation which provided men for the British forces in North-West Europe. This new 38th division was again disbanded at the end of the war.


See also


  1. Becke, pp. 83–9.


  • Maj A.F. Becke,History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions, Part 3b: New Army Divisions (30–41) and 63rd (R.N.) Division, London: HM Stationery Office, 1939/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2007, ISBN 1-847347-41-X.
  • A History of the 38th (Welsh) Division (1920), edited by Lieutenant-Colonel J. E. Munby (GSO1 of the Division)
  • Swansea Pals - a History of the 14th (Service Battalion), the Welsh Regiment in the Great War by Bernard Lewis
  • Carmarthen Pals - The History of the 15th (Service) Battalion, the Welsh Regiment, by Steven John.
  • Guido Rosignoli, Army Badges and Insignia of World War 2, Blandford Press, London, 1972 (for WW 2 insignia)

External links

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