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7th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters East
7th Armoured.svg
Badge of the Brigade
Active 1815 – 1945
2014 – Present
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Type Infantry
Size Brigade
Engagements Crimean War
Second Boer War
World War I
World War II
Walter Kitchener
Frederick McCracken
George Lindsay
William Platt

The 7th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters East is a British Army formation with a history stretching back to the Napoleonic Wars. It saw active service in the Crimean War, the Second Boer War and the First and Second World Wars. In 2014, the 7th Armoured Brigade was redesignated as 7th Infantry Brigade.


Waterloo Campaign

When Wellington organized his troops into numbered divisions for the Peninsular War, the component brigades were named for the commanding officer.[lower-alpha 1] For the Hundred Days Campaign, he numbered his British infantry brigades in a single sequence, 1st to 10th. The 7th Brigade formed part of the 7th Division under the command of Major-general Kenneth MacKenzie. It consisted of:

It was assigned to garrison duty and so played no part in the Battle of Waterloo.[6][7]

Crimean War

The 7th Brigade formed part of the 4th Division in the Crimean War. At the Battle of the Alma it was commanded by Brigadier-General Arthur Wellesley Torrens and consisted of:[8]

The brigade was present with the 4th Division at the Battle of Balaclava and played a more major role at the Battle of Inkerman.[12]

Second Boer War

After the Relief of Ladysmith, part of the garrison of Ladysmith were reorganized into the 7th Brigade on 10 March 1900. It consisted of

Initially commanded by Colonel W.G. Knox CB, it was taken over by Brigadier-General Walter Kitchener on 26 March. The brigade formed part of Lyttelton's 4th Division and took part in Sir Redvers Buller's advance north. In August 1900, it took part in the Battle of Bergendal, the last set-piece battle of the war.[13]

Post-war, the brigade was reformed in January 1906 as part of the 4th Division, before joining the 3rd Division in Southern Command in 1907.[14]

World War I

At the outbreak of the First World War, the 7th Brigade was a regular army formation stationed at Tidworth and assigned to the 3rd Division.[15] It mobilized with the division, crossed to France between 11 and 16 August, concentrated around Aulnoye and Avesnes, and moved forward on 21 August 1914. Other than a brief period when it was reorganized in England in 1918,[16] the brigade served with the 3rd and 25th Divisions on the Western Front throughout the war.[17][18]

3rd Division

With the 3rd Division, the brigade took part in a large number of actions in 1914: the Battle of Mons (23 and 24 August) and subsequent retreat (24 August – 5 September) including the Action of Solesmes and the Battle of Le Cateau. It then took part in the First Battle of the Marne (6 – 9 September) and the Race to the Sea: First Battle of the Aisne (13 – 20 September), and the battles of La Bassée (10 October – 2 November), Messines (31 October – 2 November), Armentières (1 and 2 November) culminating in the First Battle of Ypres (5 – 21 November), notably the Battle of Nonne Bosschen (11 November). 1915 was relatively quieter, but included the First Attack on Bellewaarde (16 June), Hooge (19 July) and the Second Attack on Bellewaarde (25 September).[17]

While with the 3rd Division, the brigade commanded[19]

25th Division

On 18 October 1915, 7th Brigade was posted to the 25th Division in exchange for 76th Brigade as part of a policy of "stiffening" New Army Divisions with regular units.[20] Once there, it was extensively reorganized on 26 October:[18]

On 12 January 1916, the brigade formed the 7th Machine Gun Company and was joined by the 7th Trench Mortar Battery on 18 June 1916.[18]

The brigade saw action in 1916 defending against the German attack on the Vimy Ridge (21 May) but particularly in the Battle of the Somme, including the battles of Albert (3 – 13 July), Bazentin Ridge (14 – 16 July), Pozières Ridge (18 August – 3 September including the fighting for Mouquet Farm on 3 September) and Ancre Heights (1 – 22 October including the capture of the Stuff Redoubt and the Regina Trench). In 1917 it saw action at the Battle of Messines (7 – 14 June) and the Third Battle of Ypres (31st July – 10 August).[21] On 13 October 1917, 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment[lower-alpha 2] joined the brigade[28] and on 10 November the 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment transferred to 74th Brigade.[18]

On 1 March, the 7th Machine Gun Company joined the 74th, 75th and (divisional) 195th Machine Gun Companies in the 25th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps.[28] Due to a shortage of manpower, all British[lower-alpha 3] divisions on the Western Front were reduced from a 12-battalion to a 9-battalion basis in February 1918. As a consequence, 7th Brigade was reduced from four to three battalions.[18][lower-alpha 4] Almost immediately, the German Spring Offensive fell upon the division. The 25th Division was remarkably unlucky; having faced the first German onslaught at the First Battles of the Somme (21 – 25 March), it was moved north to refit, where it faced the second offensive in the Battles of the Lys (9 – 29 April). It was once again moved south to a quite part of the line where it was attacked for the third time in the Battle of the Aisne (27 May – 6 June).[16]

Due to losses sustained, the division was withdrawn from the line and the brigades were reduced to cadre. The divisional and brigade HQs returned to England with 10th Cheshires and 10 other Training Cadre (T.C.) battalions, arriving on 30 June.[16] For the 7th Brigade this meant:[28]

  • 10th (Service) Battalion, Cheshire Regiment was reduced to Training Cadre on 21 June[lower-alpha 5] and went to England with the brigade
  • 4th (E.R.) Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment joined No. 1 Battalion, Composite Brigade on 21 June and transferred with it to 50th (Northumbrian) Division the next day[lower-alpha 6]
  • 1st Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment transferred to 110th Brigade, 21st Division on 20 June
  • 7th Trench Mortar Battery was broken up on 18 June and the personnel helped to form a Light T.M. Battery for the Composite Brigade
  • 8th (Service) Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment joined as a T.C. from 110th Brigade, 21st Division at Boulogne on 30 June and went to England with the brigade
  • 13th (Service) Battalion, East Surrey Regiment joined as a T.C. from 119th Brigade, 40th Division at Boulogne on 30 June and went to England with the brigade

The brigade arrived in England on 30 June and went to Mytchett Camp, Aldershot.[16] Soon after, the T.C. battalions left the brigade (10th Cheshires and 8th Leicesters on 7 July, 13th East Surreys on 16 July) for Eastern Command where they were reformed.[28]

The brigade HQ returned to France with 25th Division HQ on 15 September, arriving at St. Riquier near Abbeville the next day.[16] Units left behind in France (artillery, engineers, signals, pioneers, machine gunners, etc.) rejoined the division between then and 19 October.[30] The brigade was reformed on 16 September with battalions withdrawn from the Italian Front:[28]

Thereafter the brigade took part in the Final Advance to Victory, notably in the Battles of the Hindenburg Line – Battle of the Beaurevoir Line (4 and 5 October), Battle of Cambrai (8 and 9 October), and Pursuit to the Selle (9 – 11 October) – and the Final Advance in Picardy – Battle of the Selle (17 – 25 October) and Battle of the Sambre (4 November).[16]

World War II

At the outbreak of the Second World War, the 7th Infantry Brigade (Guards)[lower-alpha 7] was, once again, assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division in Southern Command. It was stationed at Pirbright with

It moved to France and Belgium with the 3rd Infantry Division on 30 September 1939. It saw action against the German Offensive, notably on the Ypres-Comines Canal (26 – 28 May 1940) before being evacuated from Dunkirk to the UK by 1 June.[32] On 15 September 1941, it was converted to the Guards Support Group.[33]

37th Infantry Brigade (originally in 12th (Eastern) Infantry Division) joined 3rd Infantry Division on 27 November 1941 and on 8 December it was redesignated as 7th Infantry Brigade. At this time it commanded:[34]

It served with the 9th Armoured Division from June 1942 to July 1944 followed by the 47th Infantry Division from 10 September 1944 until August 1945. On 30 September 1944, it was reorganised as a reserve brigade. The brigade remained in the UK throughout. By the end of the war, the brigade structure was:[34]


On 5 March 2013, British Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond, announced that the 7th Armoured Brigade would have its Challenger 2 tanks and heavy armoured battalions removed over the next decade. The Brigade itself will be re-designated as the 7th Infantry Brigade, but retain its famed 'Desert Rats' insignia.[35] On 14 November 2014, the brigade formally stepped out of its armour role into that of an infantry brigade.[36]


Commanders of the brigade have included:[37]

7th Brigade

7th Infantry Brigade

7th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters East

See also


  1. This could be a source of confusion as brigades acquired new commanders, or they moved between brigades, or indeed if two officers with the same surname commanded brigades simultaneously, for example Campbell's Brigade of 1st Division[1] and Campbell's Brigade of 4th Division[2] on 18 June 1809.
  2. The 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment was originally the 2nd Battalion, The King's Own (1st Staffordshire) Militia, transferred to the Special Reserve (S.R.) by Haldane's military reforms on 2 August 1908. (The 1st Battalion, The King's Own (1st Staffordshire) Militia became the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment at the same time.)[22] Special Reserve battalions were intended to train replacements and provide drafts to the regular (1st and 2nd) battalions.[23] Just four of 101 S.R. battalions were posted to active fronts: the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalions of the King's (Liverpool Regiment),[24] the Bedfordshire Regiment,[25] the South Staffordshire Regiment[26] and the North Staffordshire Regiment.[27]
  3. As distinct from the Australian, Canadian and the New Zealand divisions which remained on a 12-battalion basis.
  4. On 16 February 1918, 8th Loyals was disbanded with 21 Officers 480 Other Ranks drafted to 2/4th and 1/5th Loyals in 170th (2/1st North Lancashire) Brigade, 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division, and the remainder absorbed by the 5th Entrenching Battalion.[18]
  5. 10th Cheshires provided 10 officers and 353 other ranks to 9th Cheshires in 56th Brigade, 19th (Western) Division.[28]
  6. 25th Division formed a Composite Brigade on 21 and 22 June 1918 with 4th South Staffs and 11th Lancashire Fusiliers (as No. 1 Battalion), 8th Border Regiment and 9th Loyals (as No. 2 Battalion) and 6th Cheshires (as No 3 Battalion).[29]
  7. The "Guards" subtitle was applied as all three constituent battlions were drawn from the Guards regiments.


  1. Reid 2004, p. 35
  2. Reid 2004, p. 52
  3. The King's Own Scottish Borderers by T.F. Mills at at the Wayback Machine (archived 15 July 2007)
  4. 37th (North Hampshire) Regiment of Foot by T.F. Mills at at the Wayback Machine (archived 15 July 2007)
  5. 78th (Highlanders) Regiment of Foot (or The Ross-shire Buffs) by T.F. Mills at at the Wayback Machine (archived 15 July 2007)
  6. The Anglo-Allied Army at at the Wayback Machine (archived 17 July 2012)
  7. "Wellington's Army in 1815". Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  8. "The Crimean War - The Battle of The Alma". Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  9. The Lancashire Fusiliers by T.F. Mills at at the Wayback Machine (archived 13 January 2008)
  10. The Royal Scots Fusiliers by T.F. Mills at at the Wayback Machine (archived 18 January 2008)
  11. 68th (Durham) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry) by T.F. Mills at at the Wayback Machine (archived 9 January 2008)
  12. "Torrens, Arthur Wellesley (DNB00) in the Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900".,_Arthur_Wellesley_(DNB00). Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  13. "Jacson: Chapter III - Events Following The Siege Of Ladysmith, And The Advance North Under Sir Redvers Buller 1900". Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  14. Mackie, Colin (August 2014). "Senior Army Appointments". p. 191. Retrieved 24 August 2014. 
  15. Conrad, Mark (1996). "The British Army, 1914". Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 Becke 1938, p. 142
  17. 17.0 17.1 Becke 1935, p. 54
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 Becke 1938, p. 139
  19. Becke 1935, p. 52
  20. Becke 1935, p. 53
  21. Becke 1938, p. 141
  22. Frederick 1984, p. 309
  23. Baker, Chris. "The South Staffordshire Regiment". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  24. James 1978, p. 51
  25. James 1978, p. 59
  26. James 1978, p. 80
  27. James 1978, p. 98
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 28.4 28.5 Becke 1938, p. 140
  29. Becke 1938, p. 137
  30. Becke 1938, p. 138
  31. "British Southern Command on 3 September 1939". The Patriot Files. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  32. Joslen 1990, p. 243
  33. Joslen 1990, p. 214
  34. 34.0 34.1 Joslen 1990, p. 286
  35. "Desert Rats lose tanks in defence shake-up: Decision branded 'a disgrace' as unit becomes infantry brigade". Daily Mail. 6 March 2013. Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  36. "Desert Rats formally leave armoured role". Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). 14 November 2014. Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  37. Army Senior Appointments


  • Becke, Major A.F. (1935). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 1. The Regular British Divisions. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 1-871167-09-4. 
  • Becke, Major A.F. (1938). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 3A. New Army Divisions (9–26). London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 1-871167-08-6. 
  • Frederick, J.B.M. (1984). Lineage Book of British Land Forces 1660–1978. Wakefield, Yorkshire: Microform Academic Publishers. ISBN 1-85117-009-X. 
  • James, Brigadier E.A. (1978). British Regiments 1914–18. London: Samson Books Limited. ISBN 0-906304-03-2. 
  • Joslen, Lt-Col H.F. (1990) [1st. Pub. HMSO:1960]. Orders of Battle, Second World War, 1939–1945. London: London Stamp Exchange. ISBN 0-948130-03-2. 
  • Reid, Stuart (2004). Wellington's Army in the Peninsula 1809–14. Volume 2 of Battle Orders Series. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-517-1. 

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