Military Wiki
III Corps
Active World War I and World War II
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Field corps
Engagements Battle of the Marne
First Battle of the Aisne
Battle of La Bassee
Battle of Messines (1914)
Battle of Armentieres
Battle of the Somme 1916
German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line 1917
Battle of Cambrai 1917
First Battles of the Somme 1918
Battle of Amiens
Second Battles of the Somme 1918
Battles of the Hindenburg Line
The Final Advance in Artois
Retreat to Dunkirk 1940
Greece 1944
Duke of Connaught
Sir William Pulteney
Richard Butler
Sir Ronald Adam
Ronald Scobie

III Corps was an army corps of the British Army formed in both the First World War and the Second World War.

Prior to World War I

In 1876, a mobilisation scheme for eight army corps was published, with '3rd Corps' headquartered at Croydon and composed of the guards regiments. In 1880 its order of battle was:

  • 1st Division (Croydon)
    • 1st Brigade (London)
    • 2nd Brigade (Croydon)
      • 3rd Bn. Grenadier Guards (Chelsea), 1st Bn. Coldstream Guards (Shorncliffe), 1st Bn. Scots Guards (Wellington Barracks)
    • Divisional Troops
    • Artillery
      • C/5th Brigade RA (Ipswich), B/5th Brigade RA (Chatham), B/6th Brigade RA (Woolwich)
  • 2nd Division (Red Hill)
    • 1st Brigade (Red Hill)
      • Kilkenny Militia (Kilkenny), King's County Militia (Parsonstown), Limerick County Militia (Limerick)
    • 2nd Brigade (Red Hill)
      • 1st Surrey Militia (Richmond), 2nd Surrey Militia (Guildford), 3rd Surrey Militia (Kingston)
    • Divisional Troops
      • Tyrone Militia (Omagh), Warwickshire Yeomanry (Warwick)
    • Artillery
      • L/3rd Brigade RA (Hilsea), L/4th Brigade RA (Hilsea), C/6th Brigade RA (Woolwich)
  • 3rd Division (Tunbridge Wells)
    • 1st Brigade (Tunbridge Wells)
      • West Kent Militia (Maidstone), 4th Middlesex Militia (Hounslow), London Militia (London)
    • 2nd Brigade (Maidstone)
      • East Middlesex Militia (Hounslow), 2nd Middlesex Militia (Barnet), 3rd Middlesex Militia (Turnham Green)
    • Divisional Troops
      • Sussex Militia (Chichester), Leicestershire Yeomanry (Leicester)
    • Artillery
      • B/1st Brigade RA (Shorncliffe), C/1st Brigade RA (Shorncliffe)
  • Cavalry Brigade (Ashford)
  • Corps Artillery (Croydon)
    • K Battery A Brigade RHA (Exeter), F Battery B Brigade RHA (Exeter)

This scheme had been dropped by 1881.[1] The Stanhope Memorandum of 1891 (drawn up by Edward Stanhope when Secretary of State for War) laid down the policy that after providing for garrisons and India, the army should be able to mobilise three army corps for home defence, two of regular troops and one partly of militia, each of three divisions. The 1901 army estimates introduced by St John Brodrick allowed for six army corps based on the six regional commands (Aldershot, Southern, Irish, Eastern, Northern and Scottish).[2] From 1 October 1901, the Duke of Connaught held the dual commands of CinC Ireland and GOCinC III Corps.[3][4] Under Army Order No 38 of 1907, the title III Corps disappeared, but the Irish Command was constituted as a corps comprising 3rd Cavalry Brigade, 5th Infantry Division and 6th Infantry Division.[2]

World War I

Pre-war planning for the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) did not envisage any intermediate headquarters between GHQ and the six infantry divisions. However, on mobilisation the decision was made to conform to the two-division army corps organisation employed by the French armies alongside which the BEF was to operate and corps HQs therefore had to be improvised.[5] III Corps HQ formed in France on 31 August 1914 under Sir William Pulteney, taking over 4th Division, part of which had already fought at Le Cateau, and 6th Division, which arrived in early September. It was first engaged in the First Battle of the Marne, and remained on the Western Front throughout the war.[6]

Composition of III Corps in World War I

The composition of army corps changed frequently. Some representative orders of battle for III Corps are given here.

As initially constituted:[7]

GOC: Maj-Gen William Pulteney

Order of Battle at start of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916:[9]

GOC: Lieut-Gen Sir William Pulteney

Order of Battle during the final advance in Artois, 8 October 1918:[10]

GOC: Lieut-Gen Richard Butler

World War II

During World War II III Corps was formed in France under the command of Lieut-Gen Sir Ronald Adam to control forces of the British Expeditionary Force, after the expansion of that force had rendered control by just two corps headquarters cumbersome. The Corps was withdrawn from Dunkirk after the defeat of British forces by the Germans in May 1940.

Composition of III Corps in World War II

Order of Battle at Dunkirk:[11]

GOC: Lieut-Gen Sir Ronald Adam

After commanding forces in the United Kingdom during late 1940, the corps was used for deception purposes. It eventually ended up being transferred to Persia as part of Tenth Army. It took command of a number of formations there, including the British 5th Infantry Division.

On 16 October 1944 it became the H.Q. for Lieut.Gen. Ronald Scobie for operations in the Greek Civil War: at this point it received operational formations. On 17 December 1944 it was redesignated HQ Land Forces and Military Liaison (Greece).

General Officers Commanding

Commanders have included:[20]



  • Lt-Col Ewan Butler & Maj J.S. Bradford, The Story of Dunkirk, (London, nd).
  • Col John K. Dunlop, The Development of the British Army 1899–1914, (London 1938).
  • Martin Middlebrook The First Day on the Somme (London, Allen Lane, 1971).
  • Official History 1914: Brigadier-General Sir James E. Edmonds, Military Operations France and Belgium, 1914: Mons, the Retreat to the Seine, the Marne and the Aisne, August–October 1914 3rd revised edn 1933 (reprint Imperial War Museum, 1992) (ISBN 1870423569).
  • Official History 1939-40: Ellis, Major L.F., History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series: The War in France and Flanders 1939-1940, London: HMSO, 1954.

External links

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