Military Wiki
Advertisement

The organisation of Divisions and Brigades of British Army in 1939, at the outbreak of the Second World War, is listed below.

The ultimate head of all the British armed forces was nominally King George VI, with the various departments of state coming underneath. The War Office covered the Army in the United Kingdom, and the Middle East Command. The professional head of the Army was the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Lord Gort. However, Gort would command the BEF when it crossed to the continent, being replaced by General Ironside. The army was administered through the Army Council, comparable to the Air Staff or the Admiralty.

Leslie Hore-Belisha was responsible for the War Office in his role as Secretary of State for War.[1]

Northern Command

The Northern Command, under General Officer Commanding, Northern Command - Lieutenant General Sir William Bartholomew, with its HQ in York.[2][3]

Eastern Command

Eastern Command, under General Officer Commanding, Eastern Command - Lieutenant General Sir Guy Williams, with its HQ in London.[11] Apart from the 4th Infantry Division, the units were drawn from the Territorial Army.[12]

Western Command

The Western Command, under General Officer Commanding, Western Command - Lieutenant General Sir Robert Haining, had its HQ in Chester.[18][19]

Direct Reporting Units

Welsh Area

Welsh Area had control all units in Wales and the separate counties of: Shropshire, Herefordshire. and including the city of Beachley.

Southern Command

The Southern Command, under Lieutenant General Sir Bertie Fisher, with its HQ in Salisbury.[20][21][22]

Aldershot Command

Aldershot Command covered the Aldershot Garrison and surrounding "sub-garrisons". Commanded by General Officer Commanding, Aldershot Command;Lieutenant General Sir Charles Noel Frank Broad KCB DSO with HQ in Aldershot.

1st Army Tank Brigade

1st Infantry Division

  • 1st Infantry Division, Aldershot under Major General Harold Rupert Leofric George Alexander
    • 1st (Guards) Infantry Brigade, Aldershot under

1st Anti-Aircraft Brigade

  • 1st Anti-Aircraft Brigade, Blackdown, providing air defence for the garrison

Scottish Command

The Scottish Command, under General Sir Charles Grant, with its HQ in Edinburgh.[26][27]

Northern Ireland District

The Northern Ireland District, under Major-General Robert Pollok, with its HQ in Belfast. It had no subordinate divisions or brigades.[31]

London District

The London District, under General Officer Commanding, Major-General Andrew Thorne, with its HQ in Horse Guards. Also known as "General Officer Commanding, London District".[32][33][34]

Anti-Aircraft Command

Anti-Aircraft Command, under General Officer Commanding, Anti-Aircraft Command - Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Pile, with its HQ co-located with RAF Fighter Command[35] at RAF Bentley Priory, in the northwestern London suburb of Stanmore.[36]

There were varying numbers of brigades to each Divisional HQ, the units were drawn from the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers.

Middle East Command

Lieutenant-General Sir Archibald Wavell was General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Middle East Command with his headquarters in Cairo, Egypt.[38]

India and Burma Offices

Lawrence Dundas, 2nd Marquess of Zetland was responsible for both the India and Burma Offices in his role as Secretary of State for India.[42]

Army of India

There were no British Army divisions or brigades in India[43] but units of the British Army were posted on tour to India as the "British Army in India" and collectively with the Indian Army formed the "Army of India" under the Commander-in-Chief, India (in 1939 General Robert Cassels). He commanded this force through GHQ India, covering India, Iraq and Persia.

Northern Command, India Command

Western Independent District Command, India Command

Eastern Command, India Command

Southern Command, India Command

Colonial Office

The Colonial Office was responsible for administration of British colonies. In September the colonial office was under the Secretary of State for the Colonies Malcolm MacDonald. The office was responsible for all colonies and territories of the British Empire except for British India, Pakistan, and Burma.

Aden Colony

The forces in Aden were controlled by the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Aden, Sir B. R. Reilly. The British forces in Aden were under control of Air Vice-marshal George Reid.[44][45]

Bermuda Colony

The forces in Bermuda were reported to the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Bermuda.[46][47]

British Ceylon

The British Ceylon colony was located in modern-day Sri Lanka. The forces reported to the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Ceylon. The British forces were under control of the colony in addition to the Ceylon Defence Force. The headquarters were at Colombo.

British Troops in China

The British controlled small areas and units throughout the China Coast including: Shanghai, Tientsin, and Hong Kong. All units and corps reported to the Governor and Governor-General of China. Each "Area" was a corps sized unit and was commanded by a general.[49]

Egypt Command

Units of Egypt Command reported to the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Egypt Henry Maitland Wilson.[50]

Gibraltar

Units reported to the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Gibraltar Lieutenant General Sir Clive Gerard Liddell.[51]

Notes

  1. Not listed but also include a detachment from the 8th Anti-Aircraft Battery
  2. Better known as "The Mobile Division"
  3. A number of Royal Artillery units are listed, but hard to read because of print
  4. Refers the Nile Delta region

References

  1. Niehorster, Leo. "British Army, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_army/39_army.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Niehorster, Leo. "Northern Command, British Army, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_commands/northern.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  3. "British Northern Command on 3 September 1939". The Patriot Files. http://www.patriotfiles.com/index.php?name=Sections&req=viewarticle&artid=6691&page=1. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  4. "Army List 1939". p. 67. https://deriv.nls.uk/dcn23/1055/2061/105520616.23.pdf. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Niehorster, Leo. "Northumbrian Area, British Army, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_commands/northern_northumbria.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  6. "Northumbrian Area (1939)". British Military History. Archived from the original on 11 September 2011. https://web.archive.org/web/20110911063702/http://www.britishmilitaryhistory.co.uk/aqadmin/media/uploads/4b4b9d6f47d12_Northumbrian%20Area%20%281939%29.pdf. 
  7. THE CORPS OF ROYAL ENGINEERS: ORGANIZATION AND UNITS 1889—2018. pp. 100. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Niehorster, Leo. "West Riding Area, British Army, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_commands/northern_west-riding.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  9. The Organization and Order of Battle of Militaries in World War II: Volume II - The British Commonwealth. pp. 184. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 THE CORPS OF ROYAL ENGINEERS: ORGANIZATION AND UNITS 1889—2018. pp. 98. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Niehorster, Leo. "Eastern Command, British Army, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_commands/eastern.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  12. The Organization and Order of Battle of Militaries in World War II: Volume II - The British Commonwealth. pp. 182 and 183. 
  13. "United Kingdom 1939–1940, Eastern Command". British Military History. http://www.britishmilitaryhistory.co.uk/documents.php?aid=11&nid=2&start=0. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 Niehorster, Leo. "East Anglia Area, Eastern Command, British Army, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_commands/eastern_east-anglia.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Niehorster, Leo. "Home Counties Area, Eastern Command, British Army, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_commands/eastern_home-counties.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  16. "Home Counties Area (1939)". British Military History. Archived from the original on 11 September 2011. https://web.archive.org/web/20110911063647/http://www.britishmilitaryhistory.co.uk/aqadmin/media/uploads/4b40eac00b61f_Home%20Counties%20Area%20%281939%29.pdf. 
  17. Niehorster, Leo. "Chatham Area, Eastern Command, British Army, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_commands/eastern_chatam.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  18. Niehorster, Leo. "Western Command, British Army, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_commands/western.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  19. "British Western Command on 3 September 1939". The Patriot Files. http://www.patriotfiles.com/index.php?name=Sections&req=viewarticle&artid=6695&page=1. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Niehorster, Leo. "Southern Command, British Army, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_commands/southern.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 21.5 21.6 21.7 21.8 21.9 "British Southern Command on 3 September 1939". The Patriot Files. http://www.patriotfiles.com/index.php?name=Sections&req=viewarticle&artid=6694&page=1. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  22. Niehorster, Dr Leo. "South-Western Area, Southern Command, British Army, 03.09.1939". http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_commands/southern_southwest.html. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Niehorster, Leo. "South-Western Area, Southern Command, British Army, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_commands/southern_southwest.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 Niehorster, Leo. "South Midland Area, Southern Command, British Army, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_commands/southern_south-midland.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  25. 25.0 25.1 Niehorster, Leo. "Southern Area, Southern Command, British Army, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_commands/southern_southern.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  26. Niehorster, Leo. "Scottish Command, British Army, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_commands/scottish.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  27. "United Kingdom 1939–1940, Scottish Command". British Military History. http://www.britishmilitaryhistory.co.uk/documents.php?aid=13&nid=2&start=0. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Niehorster, Leo. "Highland Area, Scottish Command, British Army, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_commands/scottish_highland.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.3 29.4 29.5 "British Scottish Command on 3 September 1939". The Patriot Files. http://www.patriotfiles.com/index.php?name=Sections&req=viewarticle&artid=6693. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 Niehorster, Leo. "Lowland Area, Scottish Command, British Army, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_commands/scottish_lowland.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  31. Niehorster, Leo. "Northern Ireland District, British Army, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_commands/north-ireland.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  32. The Organization and Order of Battle of Militaries in World War II: Volume II - The British Commonwealth. pp. 144. 
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 Niehorster, Leo. "London District, British Army, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_commands/london.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 34.3 "British London District on 3 September 1939". The Patriot Files. http://www.patriotfiles.com/index.php?name=Sections&req=viewarticle&artid=6690. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  35. "No. 38149". 16 December 1947. pp. 5973–5974. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/38149/page/5973 
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 36.3 36.4 36.5 36.6 36.7 Niehorster, Leo. "Anti-Aircraft Command, British Army, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_commands/aa_command.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 37.3 37.4 37.5 37.6 "British Anti-Aircraft Command, TA on 3 September 1939". The Patriot Files. http://www.patriotfiles.com/index.php?name=Sections&req=viewarticle&artid=6697. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  38. Niehorster, Leo. "Middle East Command, British Army, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_army/middle-east.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 Niehorster, Leo. "Egypt, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_army/egypt.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 Niehorster, Leo. "Palestine, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_army/palestine.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  41. 41.0 41.1 Niehorster, Leo. "The Sudan, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_army/sudan.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  42. Niehorster, Leo. "The India and Burma Office, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_gov/39_office_india-burma.htm. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  43. Niehorster, Leo. "Army of India, 3 September 1939". niehorster.org. http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_india/army.html. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  44. "Aden, Middle East Command03.09.1939". http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_army/aden.html. 
  45. "The British Army Overseas and the Colonies on 3 September 1939 The Patriot Files :: Dedicated to the preservation of military history". http://www.patriotfiles.com/index.php?name=Sections&req=viewarticle&artid=6696&page=1. 
  46. "Bermuda, 03.09.1939". http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39_army/bermuda.html. 
  47. "The British Army Overseas and the Colonies on 3 September 1939 :: The Patriot Files :: Dedicated to the preservation of military history". http://www.patriotfiles.com/index.php?name=Sections&req=viewarticle&artid=6696&page=1. 
  48. "2nd Bn, The King Shropshire Light Infantry: Deployments". 2008-01-08. http://www.regiments.org/deploy/uk/reg-inf/085-1.htm. 
  49. "Army List September 1939". pp. 241 and 242. https://deriv.nls.uk/dcn23/1055/2061/105520616.23.pdf. 
  50. "Army List 1939". pp. 246–247. https://deriv.nls.uk/dcn23/1055/2061/105520616.23.pdf. 
  51. "Army List 1939". pp. 251–252. https://deriv.nls.uk/dcn23/1055/2061/105520616.23.pdf. 

External links

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