1st (United Kingdom) Division

The 1st (United Kingdom) Division is an active division of the British Army that has been formed and disestablished numerous times between 1809 and the present. In its original incarnation as the 1st Division, it took part in the Peninsular War—part of the Coalition Wars of the Napoleonic Wars—and was disbanded in 1814 but was re-formed the following year for service in the War of the Seventh Coalition and fought at the Battle of Waterloo. It remained active as part of the British occupation of France until it was disbanded in 1818, when the British military withdrew. The division was then raised as needed; it served in the Crimean War, the Anglo-Zulu War, and the Second Boer War. In 1902, the British Army formed several permanent divisions, which included the 1st Division, which fought in the First World War, made various deployments during the interwar period, and took part in the Second World War when it known as the 1st Infantry Division.

  • 1st Division
  • 1st Infantry Division
  • 1st Armoured Division
  • 1st (United Kingdom) Armoured Division
  • 1st (United Kingdom) Division
Divisional insignia adopted in 1983
Active1809–Present
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
TypeLight infantry
Part ofField Army
Garrison/HQImphal Barracks, York, United Kingdom
AnniversariesPeninsular Day[1]
EngagementsGulf War
Iraq War
WebsiteOfficial website
Commanders
Current
commander
Tom Bateman
Insignia
c. 1939–1960s
c. 1960s–1983

In the post-war period, the division was deployed to Mandatory Palestine on internal security operations during the Jewish insurgency. In 1948, when all British troops left, the division transferred to Tripoli, Libya, which was then under occupation by Anglo-French forces following the conclusion of the Second World War. With rising tensions in Egypt, the division was moved there to defend the Suez Canal. It remained there until 1955, when it was withdrawn to the UK as Britain removed its military from the area. The stay in the UK was short because there was little need for an additional divisional headquarters, and the division was disbanded on 30 June 1960. The following day, it was reformed in Germany as the 1st Division by the renaming of the 5th Division and served as part of the British Army of the Rhine, and helped pioneer new tactics. On 1 April 1978, the name was again changed when the division was converted into an armoured formation and it became the 1st Armoured Division.[a]

The division formed the basis of Operation Granby, the British contribution to the Gulf War in 1991. During a 48-hour period, the formation destroyed 300 Iraqi tanks and captured 7,000 prisoners. It then returned to Germany and was disbanded in 1992 as part of an army restructuring and downsizing that followed the end of the Cold War. In 1993, the formation was reformed when the 4th Armoured Division was redesignated as the 1st (United Kingdom) Armoured Division. It contributed to various peacekeeping operations during the 1990s. In 2003, the division again returned to the Middle East and formed the basis of Operation Telic, the British contribution to the US-led 2003 Invasion of Iraq. It rapidly achieved the objectives assigned to it, including the capture of the city of Basra. The division was withdrawn after a few months and southern Iraq came under the control of the Multi-National Division (South-East). Over the following years, the division was based in Germany and deployed brigades to the multi-national division in Iraq.

From 2010, the division has undergone several changes following defence reviews and army restructuring progammes. These included Army 2020, Army 2020 Refine, and the Future Soldier programme. As a result, in 2014, the formation was redesignated as the 1st (United Kingdom) Division; with this relabeling, the division transformed from an armoured formation into a light infantry one. The following year, the headquarters moved from Germany to Imphal Barracks, York. It is currently planned for the headquarters to be relocated to Catterick Garrison after 2028.

16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team will re-subordinate under command of 1st (UK) Division by 2024. A parade is being held on 15 November.[2]

Divisional history 1809–1945 edit

 
Second World War-era troops of the 1st Infantry Division, during an exercise.

The 1st Division was formed on 18 June 1809 by Lieutenant-General Arthur Wellesley, commander of British forces in Spain and Portugal, for service during the Peninsular War—part of the Napoleonic Wars.[3][4][b] After the conclusion of the War of the Sixth Coalition, the division was broken up in France and its troops dispersed to the UK or were dispatched to North America to take part in the War of 1812.[10] The division was reformed the following year when the War of the Seventh Coalition began, and it fought at the battles of Quatre Bras and Waterloo. In the latter battle, the division helped repulse the final attack of the day, which the French Imperial Guard had launched.[3][11] With the end of the war, the division became part of the Army of Occupation based in France, where it remained until December 1818, when it was disbanded upon the British withdrawal and the end of the occupation.[12][13]

During the mid-to late-19th century, several formations bearing the name 1st Division were formed, each for a particular conflict. According to the division's official website, three such formations form part of its lineage: those that fought in the Crimean War (1854–1856), the Anglo-Zulu War (1879), and the Second Boer War (1899–1900).[3] In 1902, the division was reformed as a permanent formation within the British Army and was stationed at Aldershot.[14] During the First World War (1914–1918), it was deployed to France and fought on the Western Front throughout the conflict. In 1918, following the Armistice of 11 November 1918, it marched into Germany and became part of the occupation force the British Army of the Rhine. In March 1919, the 1st Division was redesignated as the Western Division and ceased to exist.[15][16] It was reformed on 4 June 1919 at Aldershot and was the only division maintained in a state of readiness in the immediate post-war years. Detachments were dispatched to take part in the Irish War of Independence, to reinforce the Occupation of Constantinople, and to help oversee the 1935 Saar status referendum.[17][18] From September to December 1936, the entire division was deployed to Palestine during the opening stages of the Arab revolt. The majority of its troops were returned to the UK by the end of the year and the remainder returned in 1937.[19] During the Second World War, by which time it was known as the 1st Infantry Division, the formation took part in the Battle of France, the Tunisian campaign, and the Italian campaign. In February 1945, it was transferred from Italy to Palestine and remained there for the final stages of the war.[3][20]

Post War and Cold War edit

With the exception of the period December 1945–March 1946, when the division moved to Egypt to reorganise, the 1st Infantry Division remained in Palestine until May 1948. During this time, it was assigned to internal security operations during the Jewish insurgency. Its forces were deployed to Haifa and Galilee, and to guard the northern border. As part of the general British withdrawal from Palestine, in May 1948, the division relocated to Tripoli, Libya, which at the time was occupied by Anglo-French forces.[21][22] In August 1951 during the Korean War, the 1st Commonwealth Division was activated. Due to a lack of troops in the theatre, engineer and signal personnel from the 1st Infantry Division were sent to join the newly formed formation in Korea.[23] The 1st Infantry Division's time in Libya lasted until November 1951, when it joined the 80-000-strong British garrison in Egypt. Located in the Ismailia region, it was tasked with the defence of the Suez Canal and British interests in the Middle East.[21][24] This came shortly after the Egyptian government abrogated the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936, under which British troops were to remain in the canal area. The ensuing political landscape saw increased animosity to the British presence, eventually resulting in an agreement to withdraw.[25] The division departed for the UK in November 1955 and then formed the British Army's strategic reserve. After its return to the UK, the division was used as a source of personnel for formations overseas and was never brought up to full strength.[21][24] On 30 June 1960, by which point there was no need for an additional divisional headquarters in the UK, the 1st Infantry Division was disbanded.[21][26]

In Germany on 1 July 1960, the 5th Division was redesignated as the 1st Division and the renamed formation took on the 1st Division's lineage and insignia. The division was located at Verden an der Aller, Germany, and formed part of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR).[21][24][26][c] At the end of the 2000s decade, the formation conducted division-wide trials using the "square brigade" concept. When they were deemed successful in 1970, all brigades within the BAOR were reorganised accordingly [29][d] In the late 1960s, new anti-tank and defence in depth concepts were developed as fears of a possible surprise attack by the Warsaw Pact grew within the BAOR. Major-General Edwin Bramall promoted these new ideas when he took command of the 1st Division in January 1972. Bramall felt there was an over-reliance on the arrival of reinforcements to resist an offensive by the Soviet Union rather than the BAOR being able to do so itself. Using the division, the new tactics were refined and were later adopted by the BAOR, and further developed at a higher level in the mid-1970s.[32][e]

Transition to armoured division edit

 
The Chieftain, the main battle tank of the BAOR during this period.[33]

During the 1970s, the UK had to reconcile its decreased resources with its commitments and the increased threat from the Soviet Union.[34] The 1975 Mason Review, a government white paper, outlined a new defence policy and called for BAOR to be restructured and included the elimination of the brigade level of command.[35][36] This political change allowed the BAOR to restructure based on the anti-tank concepts the 1st Division had pioneered. As a result, the BAOR increased to four divisions for the first time since the end of the 1950s, with each division composed of two armoured regiments, three mechanised infantry battalions, and two artillery regiments.[37][38][39]

On 1 April 1978, the 1st Division was redesignated as the 1st Armoured Division.[21] The division's 7th and the 11th Armoured Brigades became defunct, and were replaced by Task Force Alpha and Task Force Bravo.[40] It was intended the division could form up to five battlegroups, each of which would be commanded by either an armoured regiment or an infantry battalion. These groups were to be formed for a specific task and allocated the required forces. The reforms intended the divisional commander (general officer commanding (GOC)) would oversee these battlegroups but early training showed this to be impractical. To compensate, the divisional headquarters was increased to 750 men (wartime strength) and included two brigadiers. They would each command a flexible task force, which the GOC had formed.[41] This approach intended to allow the GOC to tailor his forces to meet unforeseen events and execute the new developed doctrine.[40] Task forces were not a reintroduction of a brigade command structure and they had no administrative responsibilities. Structuring the division in this manner allowed for an overall reduction of 700 men.[41] David John Anthony Stone, a historian who wrote about the British Army during the Cold War, said the system was "designed to allow the commander maximum flexibility and [to] take precise account of the operational or tactical task to be achieved".[42]

In 1981, John Nott, the Secretary of State for Defence in the government elected in 1979, announced the 1981 Defence White Paper which, like the Mason Review, aimed to balance spending on the British military with the nation's financial resources.[43] Nott's paper called for the BAOR to be restructured from four armoured divisions of two brigades into a force of three divisions of three brigades. The intent was to save personnel and money while losing only one divisional headquarters.[44] The task-force concept, which had not met expectations, was dropped and the 1st Armoured Division was reorganised in line with Nott's recommendations. It then commanded the 7th, 12th, and 22nd Armoured Brigades. Each brigade contained either two armoured regiments and one mechanised infantry battalion, or two mechanised infantry battalions and one armoured regiment.[34][42][45]

On 11 November 1983, the divisional insignia was changed. Major-General Brian Kenny decided to merge the then-current insignia with that used by the Second World War-era 1st Armoured Division. The new insignia combined the extant triangle and red outline with a charging rhino motif.[27] Starting that year, the first Challenger tanks were provided to the BAOR to replace the Chieftain, and all armoured regiments had converted by the end of the decade.[46]

Gulf War edit

Preparation edit

On 2 August 1990, Iraq invaded the neighbouring country Kuwait, starting the Gulf War. Iraq then threatened Saudi Arabia, which controlled the then-largest-proven oil reserve. The invasion sparked international outrage and resulted in the formation of a US-led coalition, which dispatched troops to protect Saudi Arabia. The invasion coincided with the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, the subsequent decreased threat from the Soviet Union, and the ending of the Cold War, which facilitated troop withdrawnals from Europe for deployment to the Middle East.[47]

 
Ground operations, showing the 1st Armoured Divisions movements

The British role in the conflict was assigned the codename Operation Granby . On 14 September, the UK Government announced the British contingent would be based around the 1st Armoured Division's 7th Armoured Brigade. This was intended as a six-month deployment and the brigade replaced with another at the end. The brigade group was 9,500 strong and included 117 Challenger tanks, 101 Warrior infantry fighting vehicles, and 28 artillery pieces. The logistical requirement to maintain this force was deemed to be all existing stocks within the BAOR and over half of the spare parts the BAOR had. This forced the cannibalization of some of the BAOR's tanks to obtain the required spares and equipment for the brigade. On 22 November, the decision was made to expand the British contingent to a division-sized force. The 4th Armoured Brigade was committed to join the 7th Armoured Brigade in the Middle East—codenamed Granby 1.5), and the entire force was to be overseen by the 1st Armoured Division. With these two brigades and the attached supporting units, the division was 28,000 strong and had 7,000 vehicles. These included 179 Challenger tanks, 316 Warriors, 79 artillery pieces, 16 M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, in addition to armoured reconnaissance vehicles, anti-tank helicopters, and anti-aircraft weapon systems. This expansion prompted another major effort to obtain the required parts and spares to maintain the force. The majority of the division's personnel were flown to Saudi Arabia following a layover at Cyprus. A small number joined the vehicles, which were loaded aboard charted merchant ships and took a roughly two-week journey from Germany to the Middle East. The vehicles were repainted, and once in Saudi Arabia they were modified for desert conditions and up-armoured.[48][f]

The arriving troops were quartered at Jubail and were assigned to the US I Marine Expeditionary Force. As the force expanded, Lieutenant-General Peter de la Billière, the overall British commander, called for the division to be used in the coming campaign's primary effort and not assigned to what was seen as a secondary role. As a result, the 1st Armoured Division joined the US VII Corps in December. On 18 January 1991, the division moved into the desert and underwent training, which included exercises with American forces. In mid-February, alongside VII Corps, the division conducted daily artillery attacks on Iraqi positions across the border.[50]

Campaign edit

 
Elements of the division, north of Kuwait City on 28 January.

On 24 February 1991, VII Corps began the ground campaign and US forces breached Iraqi border positions, allowing the 1st Armoured Division to advance, and it entered Iraq the following day. The final elements of the division crossed into Iraqi territory in the early hours of 26 February. The division's objective was to prevent the redeployment of Iraqi mobile forces, to destroy encountered armour and artillery positions, and to seek out and destroy the local tactical reserve that consisted of the Iraqi 52nd Armored Division. Identified and named objectives were based around known Iraqi troop deployments. The capture of territory was not necessarily important so these objectives did not need to be secured as long as Iraqi forces left behind in them had been rendered immobile.[51][52]

The 7th Armoured Brigade conducted the division's first attack at mid-afternoon on 25 February. Four hours later, the 4th Armoured Brigade entered the fray. Sandstorms and rain limited visibility and caused vehicles to engage at closer ranges than expected. The widespread use of thermal and night-vision equipment gave British troops a tactical advantage over Iraqi forces. By dawn on 26 February, the two brigades had overrun the immobile Iraqi 48th Infantry Division and captured its commanding officer, attacked elements of the 31st Infantry Division, and destroyed most of the 52nd Armored Division that had attempted to reinforce the assaulted formations or counterattack the British moves during three engagements.[52][53] During 26 February, the division advanced towards Wadi al Batin, further isolating the Iraqi VII Corps frontline troops. Several VII Corps reserve positions were assaulted, resulting in the destruction of the remains of the 80th Armored Brigade,of the Iraqi 12th Armored Division, the 25th Infantry Division, the headquarters and logistical base of the 52nd Armoured Division that had previously avoided combat, and several artillery battalions. During the day, US A-10 Thunderbolts destroyed two Warriors in a friendly fire incident.[54] With little organised resistance left between the British troops and the Persian Gulf, the division advanced unopposed for the next two days until it reached the Kuwait City–Basra highway (Highway 80) north of Kuwait City, where it linked up with US and Egyptian forces.[55]

 
The Highway of Death, 18 April

During the campaign, Highway 80 became known as the Highway of Death as coalition aircraft destroyed large numbers of Iraqi vehicles fleeing Kuwait City. The 1st Armoured Division was tasked with clearing the highway; moving vehicles off the road, removing unexploded munitions, rounding up scattered Iraqi troops, searching for wounded personnel and providing them with medical treatment, and burying the dead. By 16 March, the 7th Armoured Brigade had been withdrawn to Al Jubayl and started to return to Germany. Divisional headquarters followed on 23 March, and by early April, only a battalion-sized British formation remained in the theatre.[56]

According to Stephen Alan Bourque, who wrote the history of the US VII Corps during the Gulf War, "in only forty-eight hours&bnsp;... [the division had] eliminated the greater part of five divisions of the Iraqi VII Corps" and took over 7,000 prisoners.[57] In total, the division inflicted over 4,000 materiel—tanks, APCs, artillery, and other vehicles—losses upon the Iraqi army, which included the destruction of roughly 300 Iraqi main battle tanks. One of these tanks was destroyed from over three miles (4.8 km) away, which was the longest-confirmed kill during the conflict.[58][59] The division largely faced Iraqi forces equipped with the T-55, which was significantly outmatched by the Challenger tank.[60] Overall British casualties—including those from the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, and army forces not assigned to the division—were 47.[58] Bourque said the one-sided nature of the fight was due to the ineptness of the Iraqi forces, who undertook "minimal local security", had "firing positions oriented in the wrong direction, poorly planned artillery fire, and miserable tank gunnery". He did, however, laud the bravery of the Iraqi tank companies.[57] Patrick Cordingley, who led the 7th Armoured Brigade during the fighting, said the war "was not the clean, high-technology conflict portrayed by the news media. It was dirty, confusing, and bloody. Only training and discipline limited the amount of friendly engagements and presented the illusion of simplicity."[61]

End of the Cold War edit

Following the defeat of Iraqi and the liberation of Kuwait, the division returned to Germany.[62] Concurrent with the Gulf War was the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. In July 1990, the British government announced a framework called Options for Change, which sought to restructure the British military based on the new strategic situation and allow for further cost-saving measures to be enacted. The size of the military was to be decreased by 18 per cent, equivalent to 56,000 personnel, by the mid-1990s and the BAOR was to be halved.[63] This resulted in the division being disbanded on 31 December 1992 and its headquarters became HQ Lower Saxony District.[62]

Further BAOR restructuring followed and in July 1993, the 4th Armoured Division was redesignated as the 1st (UK) Armoured Division. The reformed division then controlled the 4th, 7th, and 20th Armoured Brigades, each with two mechanised infantry battalions and two Challenger-tank-equipped armoured regiments. The reformed formation maintained the 4th Division's HQ presence at Herford and the rest of the division was spread across sites of the Westfalen Garrison area.[64][65] Starting in the 1990s, elements of the division were regularly hosted in Poland to conduct training exercises. Between 1992 and 1994, the 1st (British) Corps and the BAOR were disbanded and replaced with the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, a newly formed NATO HQ that was administered by the UK. The division came under its command and was deployed on several peacekeeping operations.[66][67]

 
A Challenger 2 during Exercise Saif Sareea II

In 1995, the Multi-National Division (South-West) was formed by the British Army, to support peacekeeping operations in Bosnia. Forces were drawn from the 1st (UK) Armoured Division and the 3rd (UK) Division, with each headquarters controlling the division as their forces rotated through the command. This lasted until 1999, when force contributions changed and different commanders were selected from outside either division.[68] Other peacekeeping operations included providing troops to Kosovo Force and the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. Detachments were also deployed to the Falkland Islands and Northern Ireland.[67] In 1998, the division received the first Challenger 2 tanks, which replaced the earlier model, and they were initial used in Kosovo.[69]

During 2001, Exercise Saif Sareea II was conducted in Oman. This included the division's 4th Armoured Brigade with 66 Challenger 2s. The UK government provided no funding to the division to undertake the required desert modifications, such as sand filters, for the tanks, resulting in widespread breakdowns during the exercise.[70]

Invasion of Iraq edit

Following the end of the Gulf War, tensions between Iraq, the US and the UK remained. During the 1990s and early 2000s, a series of attacks occurred as part of the Iraqi no-fly zones conflict. Following the beginning of the War on terror in 2001, the political situation further escalated, culminating in a decision by the US to invade Iraq.[71] In January 2003, because the UK was aligned with the US, the division was assigned as the primary British component of the invasion. The division needed additional infantry so it was reconfigured to consist of the 3rd Commando Brigade (Royal Marines), the 7th Armoured Brigade reinforced with infantry from the 20th Armoured Brigade, the 16th Air Assault Brigade made up of battalions of the Parachute Regiment, and the 102nd Logistical Brigade. By February, the division had assembled in Kuwait, and conducted training and rehearsals through to March.[72] The formation, which was roughly 20,000 strong and had 120 Challenger II tanks, comprised around one third of the US-led invasion force. The division was tasked with securing oil-and-gas infrastructure in southern Iraq, the capture of Basra, and ultimately the securing of the provinces Al-Qādisiyyah, Basra, and Dhi Qar. This area was about half the size of England and Basra province was home to over two million people.[73][74][75]

 
Members of the division prepare to fire a mortar, 26 March 2003

The invasion began on 20 March. Elements of 3rd Commando Brigade, supplemented by the Special Air Service (SAS), the Special Boat Service (SBS), and US Navy Seals immediately secured coastal oil-and-gas facilities and infrastructure, preventing their destruction and environmental damage in the Gulf. For the Royal Marines and SBS, a week-long battle to secure the Al-Faw peninsula followed. The rest of the brigade, supported by US Marines, rapidly secured the Rumaila oil field and only seven of the over-1,000 well heads were destroyed by defending Iraqi forces. US Marines also captured Umm Qasr Port then moved north, leaving the 3rd Commando Brigade to finalise securing the city.[76] With the port secure, the first humanitarian aid arrived on 31 March and was distributed in Umm Qasr. Aid was dispatched to other areas as they came under British control.[77]

The 7th Armoured Brigade and 16th Air Assault Brigade captured additional oil facilities and prevented their destruction before moving towards Basra. The lead elements reached the outskirts within 24 hours and part of the 16th Air Assault Brigade established a roadblock on the main highway from Basra to Baghdad.[78] Zubayr was secured and a loose cordon was established around Basra starting 23 March that aimed to allow Iraqi civilians to leave and to encourage Iraqi troops to desert and flee, and potentially allowed some to fight in the subsequent insurgency. On 26 March, the Iraqi garrison attempted to provoke a British attack by launching a tank assault. In the following one-sided engagement, 15 T-55s were destroyed. British infiltration and raids into the city followed before 6 April, when a large-scale probe was conducted in the northern section of the city. The probe's success prompted the deployment of rest of the available division—about 7,000 infantry, 80 tanks, and 100 Warriors—and Basra was secured by nightfall.[79][80][81] The only tank loss suffered by the division occurred on 25 March during a friendly fire incident.[75] Three days later, the division suffered additional friendly-fire casualties when they were attacked by the US 190th Fighter Squadron.[82]

 
An example of the Challenger II in Iraq

With the initial stage of the conflict over, the division took on security-and-stabilisation responsibilities in their assigned area, which was expanded in April to include Maysan, relieving US Marines. On 23 June, the Battle of Majar al-Kabir occurred when divisional patrols consisting of members of the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment and the Royal Military Police were ambushed, leaving six dead.[83] By May, the majority of the 3rd Commando and 16th Air Assault Brigades had been withdrawn from Iraq. This was followed by the replacement of the 102nd Logistics Brigade with the 101st Logistic Brigade. During June, the 7th Armoured Brigade was replaced with the 19th Mechanised Brigade. On 11 July, the 3rd (UK) Division relieved the divisional headquarters. This was followed by the formation of the Multi-National Division (South-East), which took command of all Multi-National Forces in southern Iraq. The British portion of this force was based around a reinforced brigade, which came from different parent formations and was rotated through several deployments. From November 2003 to April 2004, the 1st (UK) Armoured Division's 20th Armoured Brigade was deployed to Iraq under the oversight of the Multi-National Division; the 4th Armoured Brigade was deployed between November 2004–April 2005; the 7th Armoured Brigade was dispatched between October 2005 and May 2006; the 20th Armoured Brigade was again deployed between May and November 2006; the 4th Mechanized Brigade—the renamed and rerolled 4th Armoured Brigade—went to Iraq between December 2007 and June 2008; the 7th Armoured Brigade was deployed between June and December 2008; and the division's final deployment, which the Multi-National Division oversaw, was undertaken by the 20th Armoured Brigade between December 2008 and 30 April 2009. This final deployment marked the official end of British combat operations in Iraq, all of which had fallen under Operation Telic.[84][85]

Afghanistan edit

From 2006 onwards, Task Force Helmand, which was based on a reinforced brigade, was formed to conduct stablisation-and counterinsurgency missions in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Under the oversight of this task force, the division deployed the 20th Armoured Brigade between October 2011 and April 2012. The next deployment came between October 2013 and June 2014, when the 7th Armoured Brigade was sent to Afghanistan. The final deployment, which coincided with the disbanding of the task force and the British withdrawal from Helmand, was made by the 20th Armoured Brigade between June and December 2014.[86]

Army 2020 edit

As with the Gulf War, the division returned to Germany following its time in Iraq and continued to be headquartered at Hereford. While deploying a brigade at a time to Iraq under the oversight of the Multi-National Division (South-East), the 1st (UK) Armoured Division maintained command over the 4th Armoured Brigade based at Osnabruck, the 7th Armoured Brigade at Bergen, and the 20th Armoured Brigade at Paderborn. Combined with the divisional assets and support personnel, the formation was around 17,000 strong. In 2006, following decisions made in the 2003 Delivering Security in a Changing World white paper, the 4th Armoured Brigade was converted into the 4th Mechanized Brigade, a move that decreased the number of its tank regiments and replaced them with infantry battalions. Two years later, the brigade was moved to England and joined the 3rd Division, which reduced the 1st (UK) Armoured Division to a formation of two brigades. By 2013, the 7th Armoured Brigade had relocated to Hohne.[87][88]

The Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2010 made a commitment to rebase all remaining British forces stationed in Germany and to move them to the UK. The review also outlined the Army 2020 plan, which aimed to restructure the army from one optimized for the War in Afghanistan to one that was more flexible. This included establishing a Reaction Force and an Adaptable Force, the former of which was to based around the 3rd Division and would contain the army's tanks. This force would be primed for short-notice deployments. The Adaptable Force was to be based around the 1st Division, and would be responsible for Britain's standing commitments in Brunei, Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, public duties, and United Nation peacekeeping, and to support any enduring operations undertaken by the army.[89][90]

On 21 July 2014, the division was renamed the 1st (United Kingdom) Division. The redesignation, part of the Army 2020 changes, was the start of the division's restructure from an armoured formation to one that consisted of light infantry, and the start of its role in the Adaptable Force.[91][92] On 2 June 2015, the divisional headquarters moved from Germany to Imphal Barracks, York.[93] Upon its reorganisation, the division consisted of the 4th Infantry Brigade—previously the 4th Mechanized and the 15th (North East) Brigades—and was based at Catterick Garrison); the 7th infantry Brigade—the previous 7th Armoured Brigade's headquarters merged with the 49th (Eastern) Brigade—and was based at Chetwynd Barracks, Chilwell); the 11th Infantry Brigade at Aldershot Garrison; the 38th (Irish) Brigade at Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn; the 42nd Infantry Brigade at Fulwood Barracks, Preston; the 51st Infantry Brigade at Redford Barracks, Edinburgh; the 102nd Logistic Brigade at Prince William of Gloucester Barracks, Grantham; and the 160th Infantry Brigade at The Barracks, Brecon.[91]

Further changes occurred following the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, resulting in Army 2020 Refine, which was implemented in 2019.[94][95] The division then consisted of the 4th, 7th, 11th, and 51st Infantry Brigades, as well as the 2nd Medical Brigade at Queen Elizabeth Barracks, Strensall; 8th Engineer Brigade at Gibraltar Barracks, Minley; the 102nd Logistical Brigade; and the 104th Logistical Brigade at Duke of Gloucester Barracks, South Cerney.[95][96] The role of the division was also expanded to "provide more strategic choice and a range of capabilities, conducting capacity building, stabilisation operations, disaster relief and UK resilience operations".[95] In December 2020, the 1st Military Police Brigade joined the division.[97]

Future Soldier edit

 
Members of the division (Royal Anglian Regiment, 7th Light Mechanised Brigade Combat Team) in 2021

Under the 2021 Future Soldier programme, additional organisational changes were made. The divisional headquarters will relocate to Catterick but this move will not take place before 2028. Under this programme, the division was re-organised as such:[98]

Following the Future Soldier transformation, at DSEI 2023, General Patrick Sanders announced changes to the structure of the division, such as: "1st (UK) Division taking 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team under its command and becoming a land component command of a joint and multi-domain sovereign Global Response Force (GRF) by 2024."

See also edit

Notes edit

Footnotes edit

  1. ^ Not to be confused with the Second World War-era 1st Armoured Division.
  2. ^ According to defence analyst Charles Heyman, the 1st Armoured Division was formed in 1940. He has attributed the fighting at the First and the Second Battle of El Alamein to the same formation that fought in the 1990 Gulf War.[5][6][7] Per the British official order of battle for the Second World War, the 1st Armoured Division, which had been formed in 1937 as the Mobile Division and fought at El Alamein, was disbanded on 11 January 1945 and was not reformed.[8][9]
  3. ^ The 1st Infantry Division's insignia was a white triangle. The red outline appears to have been adopted in the 1960s; German officials described it as resembling a give way sign.[24][27] On its website in the 2000s, the British Army highlighted the link between the division and Germany, saying: "The Division has existed in the British Army since 1809" and included "one Hanoverian brigade of the King's German Legion. Therefore, since its inception in the 1800s the 1st (UK) Armoured Division has had strong links with this part of Germany."[28]
  4. ^ The square brigade was initially developed in the 1950s. It called for a brigade to contain two armoured regiments and two mechanised infantry battalions. This layout differed from the brigade structure used within the BAOR at the time, which had divisions made up of infantry and armoured brigades. The former contained three infantry battalions and one tank regiment, while the latter contained three armoured regiments and one infantry battalion.[30][31]
  5. ^ The basic concept was to draw Soviet armoured forces into kill zones along their anticipated route of advance. These zones would be mined, and Soviet tanks engaged by anti-tank guided missile-equipped infantry and tanks in hull down positions to inflict heavy casualties. The BOAR would conduct a fighting withdrawal as needed using its own reinforcements to counterattack any Soviet breakthroughs. It was expected such methods would allow the BAOR to resist an offensive for five days without receiving external reinforcements. Because this strategy required tanks to be used in a more-defensive manner, it ran counter to the then-established doctrine that called for tanks to be used in a more-offensive capacity and in a local counterattack role.[32]
  6. ^ Around 1,000 female personnel served with the division during the Gulf War, marking the first time women had been deployed within a British combat division during a time of war. Around 80 per cent formed part of the medical staff, with the remainder serving in the supporting units such as signals, ordnance, and intelligence.[49]

Citations edit

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Further reading edit

  • Wilson, Peter Liddell (1985). The First Division 1809-1985: A Short Illustrated History. Viersen, Germany: 1st Armoured Division. OCLC 500105706.
  • Wilson, Peter Liddell (1993). The First Division 1809-1993: A Short Illustrated History (2nd ed.). Herford, Germany: 1st Division. OCLC 29635235.

External links edit