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4th Infantry Division
4th UK Infantry Division.svg
Insignia of the 4th Division
Active 1809–1947
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type Infantry
Part of Land Forces
Garrison/HQ Aldershot Garrison
Engagements Napoleonic Wars
Battle of Talavera
Battle of Albuera
Battle of Badajoz (1812)
Battle of Salamanca
Battle of Roncesvalles (1813)
Battle of Vitoria
Battle of the Pyrenees
Battle of Orthez
Battle of Toulouse (1814)
Crimean War
Battle of Alma
Battle of Inkerman
Battle of Balaclava
First World War
Le Cateau
Battle of Marne
Retreat from Mons
Battle of Aisne
First Battle of Ypres
Battle of Messines
Hill 60
Second Battle of Ypres
Battle of Albert
Battle of Le Transloy
Battle of the Somme
First Battle of the Scarpe
Third Battle of the Scarpe
Battle of Polygon Wood
Battle of Broodseinde
Battle of Poelcapelle
Battle of Passchendaele
Battle of Arras
Battle of Hazebroucke
Battle of Bethune
Advance in Flanders
Battle of the Scarpe
Battle of Drocourt-Queant
Battle of the Canal du Nord
Battle of the Selle
Battle of Valenciennes
Second World War
Battle of France
Oued Zarga
the Medjez Plain
Trasimene Line
Rimini Line
Monte Cassino
Lieutenant General Sir Charles Colville, (7 August 1770 – 27 March 1843)
Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas D'Oyly Snow KCB, KCMG (5 May 1858 – 30 August 1940)
General Sir Alfred Dudley Ward, GCB, KBE, DSO (27 January 1905 – 28 December 1991)
Field Marshal Sir Nigel Thomas Bagnall, GCB, CVO, MC (10 February 1927 – 8 April 2002)
Insignia of the 4th Division, replaced by current design in 1995. British 4th Infantry Division Insignia.png

The 4th Infantry Division was a regular British Army division with a long history having been present at the Peninsular War the Crimean War, the First World War, and during the Second World War. It was disbanded on 1 January 2012.

Napoleonic Wars

The 4th Division was originally formed in 1809 by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, as part of the Anglo-Portuguese Army, for service in the Peninsula War. It fought in the Battle of Talavera and the Battle of Salamanca, Battle of Badajoz and the Battle of Roncesvalles, Battle of Vitoria, Battle of the Pyrenees, Battle of Orthez, Battle of Toulouse.

Peninsula War formation

(from January 1812)

Major General Sir Charles Colville (to April 1812) Major General Lowry Cole (from June 1812)

  • 1st Brigade: Major General Kemmis
    • 3/27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot
    • 1/40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot
    • 1/48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment of Foot (from October 1812)
    • 2nd Provisional Battalion (2nd & 1/53rd Regiments of Foot) (from December 1812)
    • 1 Coy., 5/60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot
  • 2nd Brigade: Major General Sir Edward Pakenham
    • 1/7th Regiment of Foot (Royal Fusiliers)
    • 2/7th Regiment of Foot (Royal Fusiliers) (November 1810 to May 1811)
    • 20th (East Devonshire) Regiment of Foot (from November 1812)
    • 1/23rd Regiment of Foot (Royal Welsh Fusiliers)
    • 1/48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment of Foot (to October 1812)
    • 1/82nd Regiment of Foot (Prince of Wales's Volunteers) (October to November 1812)
    • 1 Coy., Brunswick-Oels Jaegers
  • 3rd Brigade: Major General Skerrett (October to December 1812)
    • 3/1st Foot Guards
    • 2/47th (Lancashire) Regiment of Foot
    • 2/87th (Prince of Wales's Irish) Regiment of Foot
    • 2 Cos., 2/95th Regiment of Foot (Rifles)
  • Portuguese Brigade: Major General Collins
    • 1/11th Line Infantry of the Portuguese Army
    • 2/11th Line Infantry of the Portuguese Army
    • 1/23rd Line Infantry of the Portuguese Army
    • 2/23rd Line Infantry of the Portuguese Army
    • 7th Caçadores of the Portuguese Army


At the Battle of Waterloo it was tasked with holding Wellington's right flank and, with the exception of its 4th brigade, took no active part in the fighting, but did capture the town of Cambrai afterwards.

The commanding General at this time was Charles Colville. In his novel Les Misérables Victor Hugo credits Colville with asking for the surrender of the Imperial Guard at Waterloo and receiving General Cambronne's reply of "Merd".[1]

Formation at Waterloo

Crimean War

The Division was also called for service during the Crimean War fought between the allied forces of the United Kingdom, French Empire and the Ottoman Empire on one side and Russia on the other. It saw action in the Battle of Alma the Battle of Inkerman and the Battle of Balaclava, fought on 25 October 1854 (famous for the Charge of the Light Brigade and the Thin Red Line).

Formation During The Crimean War

Commanding General: Major General Sir George Cathcart

First World War

As a permanently established Regular Army division it was amongst the first to be sent to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force at the outbreak of the First World War. It served on the Western Front for the duration of the war and was present during all the major offensives including the Battle of the Marne, Battle of Ypres, Battle of the Somme and the Battle of Passchendaele.

First World War formation

10th Brigade 
11th Brigade 

Map of the Western Front, 1915–16.

12th Brigade 

From early November 1915 until February 1916 the 12th Brigade was swapped with the 107th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division.

Second World War

The Division served during the Second World War and was sent to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), together with the 3rd Infantry Division forming the British II Corps. After the 1940 Battle of France and the evacuation at Dunkirk, it spent the next two years in the United Kingdom on Invasion duties and training for its next deployment which would be as part of the British First Army and Operation Torch, the landings on the North West African coast.

During the Tunisia Campaign it was involved in Operation Vulcan the final ground attack against Axis forces in North Africa.

After the Axis defeat in Africa it was next involved in the Italian Campaign, and fought at the Battle of Monte Cassino.

In November 1944 it was dispatched to Greece to provide assistance during the Greek Civil War.

Second World War formation

10th Infantry Brigade 
11th Infantry Brigade (until June 1942) 
12th Infantry Brigade 
21st Tank Brigade (June 1942 – December 1943) 
28th Infantry Brigade (from December 1943) 

Support Units

Post Second World War

It was reformed from 11th Armoured Division on 1 April 1956, and took on 20th Armoured Brigade Group from the disbanding 6th Armoured Division in May 1958. At the time the Division also incorporated the (Canadian) 4th Infantry Brigade and the 4th Guards Brigade. It was redesignated 4th Armoured Division on 1 January 1978, parenting Task Force Golf and Task Force Hotel, and served as part of I (BR) Corps in Germany. Following the 1981–1983 Army reorganisation, I (BR) Corps consisted of 1st and 4th Armoured Divisions, which would have manned the front line against the anticipated attack by the Soviet 3rd Shock Army. It ceased this role on 1 July 1993.

Formation 1981–1993

Formation 1995–2011

Structure 4th Division

The Division was reformed again in 1995 as a regenerative division – a military district in all but name – that served as the parent formation for units in Southern England.[2] The Division's last insignia was a tiger. It was commanded from HQ at Steeles Road, Aldershot and reported to Army Headquarters at Andover.[3] The Division was responsible for the administration of Aldershot Garrison and three Regional Brigades:

For administrative purposes, the following formations were also under the administrative control of 4th Division:

The new HQ Support Command in Aldershot began operation in January 2012 when HQ 4th Division in Aldershot disbanded.[4] HQ 2nd division in Edinburgh and HQ 5th division in Shrewsbury were both disbanded in April 2012.[5]

Recent Commanders

Recent Commanders have been:[6]
GOC 4th Division

Note: The Division was disbanded after the War and reformed in 1956

GOC 4th Armoured Division

GOC 4th Division

See also


External links

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