Military Wiki
71st Division
Active November 1916 - April 1918
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Infantry
Role Home Defence and training
Major-General Hon H.A. Lawrence
Major-General C.J. Blomfield
6th Provisional Brigade (United Kingdom) redirects here

71st Division was a short-lived infantry division of the British Army during World War I. It served in the Home Defence forces and never went overseas.

Home Defence

On the outbreak of World War I the Territorial Force (TF) immediately mobilised for home defence, but shortly afterwards (31 August 1914), its units were authorised to raise 2nd battalions formed from those men who had not volunteered for, or were not fit for, overseas service, together with new volunteers, while the 1st Line went overseas to supplement the Regulars.[1] Early in 1915 the 2nd Line TF battalions were also raised to full strength to form new divisions, and began to form Reserve (3rd Line) units to supply drafts.[2] The remaining Home Service men were separated out in May 1915 to form brigades of Coast Defence Battalions (termed Provisional Battalions from June 1915).[3]

6th Provisional Brigade

6th Provisional Brigade was formed mainly from details of regiments from London and East Anglia, with the following composition:[3][4]

By July 1916 the brigade was under the control of Northern Army of Home Forces, with its battalions billeted across Suffolk as follows:[8]

  • Brigade Headquarters: Saxmundham
  • 61st Provisional Bn: Benacre
  • 100th Provisional Bn: Aldeburgh
  • 101st Provisional Bn: Southwold
  • 102nd Provisional Bn: Aldeburgh

66th Provisional Battalion at Darsham, attached to 3rd Provisional Bde, later transferred into 6th Provisional Bde.[5]

71st Division formed

Late in 1916 the War Office decided to form three new home-service divisions and 71st was the first of these, assembling in Hampshire and Surrey in November. The division was based on 6th Provisional Bde, which moved from Suffolk and provided four infantry battalions and many of the support units. (On 1 January 1917 these all received new designations and numbers.) In addition, 190th (2nd Durham Light Infantry) Brigade, left over after the earlier disbandment of 63rd (2nd Northumbrian) Division, was brought from Catterick and renumbered. 64th (2nd Highland) Division at Catterick also provided a number of artillery batteries. The division had the following composition:[5][9][10]


  • General Officer Commanding: Major-General Hon H.A. Lawrence (6 November 1916 – 12 February 1917)
    Maj-Gen C.J. Blomfield (12 February–17 July 1917)
    Maj-Gen A.G. Dallas (17 July 1917 – 1 March 1918)
  • General Staff Officer Grade 1: Lieutenant-Colonel H.R. Blore (30 October 1916 – 31 March 1917)
    Lt-Col R.M. Johnson (31 March–10 October 1917)
    Lt-Col W.S. Whetherly (10 October 1917 – 6 March 1918)
  • Assistant-Adjutant and Quartermaster-General: Lt-Col J.M. Home (27 October–10 April 1918)
  • HQ: Farnham

212th Brigade

See main article 212th Brigade (United Kingdom)

212 Brigade was drawn from 6th Provisional Bde:

213th Brigade

See main article 213th Brigade (United Kingdom)

213 Brigade was newly formed:

214th Brigade

See main article 214th Infantry Brigade (United Kingdom)

214 Brigade was formed by renumbering 190th (2/1st Durham Light Infantry) Bde:[5]

  • GOC: Brigadier-General W.C. Ross (1 November–11 December 1916)
    Brigadier-General C.H.T. Lucas (11 December 1916 – 14 April 1917)
    Brigadier-General F.J. Duncan (14 April–8 November 1917)
    Brigadier-General L.A.E. Price-Davies, VC (8 November 1917
  • HQ: Whitchurch
  • 2/6th Bn Durham Light Infantry; transferred to 226th Mixed Brigade (see below)
  • 2/7th Bn Durham Light Infantry
  • 2/8th Bn Durham Light Infantry; disbanded December 1917[25]
  • 255th Bn TR: joined 9 July 1917; became 52nd (Graduated) Bn Royal Sussex Regiment[23][24]
  • 256th Bn TR: joined 17 September 1917; became 52nd (Graduated) Bn Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment[18]
  • 2/1st Warwickshire Yeomanry (Cyclists) joined from 1st Mounted Brigade 26 October 1917[26]
  • 2/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry (Cyclists) joined from Ireland 26 October 1917[27]
  • 252nd Machine Gun Company Machine Gun Corps joined 9 November 1917
  • 253rd Machine Gun Company MGC joined 9 November 1917
  • XLIX Field Brigade RFA: newly formed (see below)[28]
  • 71st Divisional Signal Company (see below) joined 12 February 1918
  • 302nd Field Ambulance (see below) joined 12 February 1918

Divisional mounted troops

Royal Artillery

  • Brigadier-General Royal Artillery: C.T. Caulfield (3 November 1916 – 21 November 1917)
    W.B. Browell (28 November 1917 – 25 February 1918)
  • HQ: Basingstoke
  • CCCL Field Brigade RFA:
    • A Battery (later 1208 Field Battery): formerly 6th Provisional Battery[5] – 6 x 18-pounder QF guns
    • B Battery: formerly A/CCCXXI (2/1 Forfarshire Battery, 2nd/II Highland Field Brigade) from 64th (2nd Highland) Division – 6 x18-pdr
    • C (Howitzer) Battery: formerly A/CCCXX (2/1 Aberdeen Battery, 2nd/I Highland Field Brigade) from 64th Division; became A (H) Battery XLIX Field Brigade (see above) – 4 x QF 4.5-inch howitzer
  • CCCLI Field Brigade RFA:
    • A Battery: formerly A/CCCXXII from 64th Division (previously V Reserve Brigade RFA) – 6 x 18-pdr
    • B Battery: newly formed – 6 x 18-pdr
    • C (Howitzer) Battery: newly formed; became B (H) Battery XLIX Field Brigade (see above) – 4 x 4.5 Howitzer
  • 2/1st London Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery: joined 71st Division 9 March 1917 when 58th (2/1st London) Division went overseas);[5][9][30] attached to 226th Mixed Brigade (see below)
  • 2/2nd London Heavy Battery, RGA: joined 71st Division 9 March 1917);[5][9][31] attached to 226th Mixed Brigade (see below)
  • 71st Divisional Ammunition Column: formerly 6th Provisional Brigade Ammunition Column

Royal Engineers

  • Commanding Royal Engineers: Lieutenant-Colonel J.L.V.S. Williams
  • 2/1st Dundee Fortress Company RE: became 548th Field Company[32]
  • 2/3rd Lancashire Fortress Company RE: became 549th Field Company[32]
  • 6th Provisional Field Company RE: became 645th (West Lancashire) Field Company[32]
  • 6th Provisional Signal Section: became 71st Divisional Signal Company; to 214th Bde (see above)12 February 1918

Medical services

  • 6th Provisional Field Ambulance RAMC:
    • A Section: became 301st (Welsh) Field Ambulance
    • B Section: became 303rd (Welsh) Field Ambulance
    • C Section: became 302nd (Welsh) Field Ambulance
  • 104th Sanitary Section
  • 56th Mobile Veterinary Section Army Veterinary Corps


  • 71st Divisional Train:
    • 6th Provisional Brigade Company ASC: became 821st Horse Transport Company ASC
    • 822nd, 823rd and 824th HT Companies ASC: newly formed[33]

Home defence

In the first week of March 1917, the division moved back to the East Coast and concentrated at Colchester. It now formed part of Southern Army of Home Forces and was responsible for defence of the Essex coast from Mersea Island to Walton-on-the-Naze. In April, 226th Mixed Brigade (formerly 7th Provisional Brigade) at Clacton-on-Sea was attached to the Division.[5][34]

The Military Service Act 1916 swept away the Home/Foreign service distinction, and all TF soldiers became liable for overseas service, if medically fit. Henceforth part of the role of the Home Service divisions was physical conditioning to render men fit for drafting overseas, alongside units of the Training Reserve. 'Graduated Battalions' of the Training Reserve were organised in four companies according to age, from 18 to 19 years. Recruits pprogressed from one to another company every three months, so that every three months there was a company of trained 19-year-old men available for drafting overseas. In July 1917 it was decided that the Graduated Battalions could serve in a Home Defence role while completing their training.[35] Between July and September 1917, six Graduated Battalions replaced other units in 71st Division, and in October these were affiliated to line regiments and adopted territorial designations.[5]

In October 1917, 214 Bde was formed into a Special Brigade for service at Murmansk, for which it was filled up with men of A1 medical category, and had a field artillery brigade, cyclist battalions and machine-gun companies added to its strength. However, it never went to Russia, and was still in 71st Division in early 1918.[36]


Towards the end of December 1917 the War Office decided to break up the three home service divisions. A number of battalions of 71st Division were disbanded that month, and on 12 January 1918 the War Office ordered the Commander-in-Chief, Home Forces, to break up the remainder of the division without delay. During February, 214th Special Brigade and 226th Mixed Brigade, with their attached troops, were transferred to 67th (2nd Home Counties) Division, and the six Graduated Battalions were transferred to 64th (2nd Highland) Division. CCCL Field Bde RFA moved to the School of Artillery at Larkhill Garrison and the Field Companies RE went overseas on active service. Disbandment of the remainder of the brigade headquarters and supporting units was complete by 8 April 1918.

The 71st Division title has never been reactivated.


  1. Becke, Pt 2b, p. 6.
  2. Becke, Pt 2b, pp. 6, 65.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Porter
  4. 6th Provisional Brigade War Diary, The National Archives, Kew file WO 95/5458.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 Becke, Pt 2b, pp. 101–5 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Becke71" defined multiple times with different content
  6. 6.0 6.1
  7. Becke Pt 2a, p. 122.
  8. Distribution of Northern and Southern Armies (Home Defence), The National Archives file WO 33/765.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2
  12. 12.0 12.1
  13. 13.0 13.1
  14. 14.0 14.1
  15. 15.0 15.1
  16. 16.0 16.1
  17. 17.0 17.1
  18. 18.0 18.1
  23. 23.0 23.1
  24. 24.0 24.1
  30. Becke, p. 11
  31. Becke, p. 27
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2
  35. Becke, Pt 2b, Appendix 2.
  36. Becke, Pt 2b, pp. 82, 105.


  • Maj A.F. Becke,History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions, Part 2a: The Territorial Force Mounted Divisions and 1st-Line Territorial Force Divisions (42–56), London: HM Stationery Office, 1937/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2007, ISBN 1-847347-39-8.
  • Maj A.F. Becke,History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions, Part 2b: The 2nd-Line Territorial Force Divisions (57th–69th), with the Home-Service Divisions (71st–74th) and 74th and 75th Divisions, London: HM Stationery Office, 1937/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2007, ISBN 1-847347-39-8.

External sources

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).