39th Division (United Kingdom)

The 39th Division was an infantry division of the British Army, raised during the First World War. The division was part of Kitchener's New Armies and saw service on the Western Front and in Italy from 1916 onwards.

39th Division
39th Division ww1.svg
Division insignia
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Gerald Cuthbert
Neill Malcolm
Cyril Blacklock


The division was formed as part of the fifth wave (K5) of divisions in the New Army; it did not have a regional title, but was composed primarily of recruits from the Midlands, London, and the south of England. Several of its battalions had been raised by local communities, and were named for their towns or industries. After training and home service, it deployed to the Western Front in early 1916, and fought in the Battle of the Somme. The following year, it saw action at the Third Battle of Ypres, and in 1918 took heavy losses in the German Army's Spring Offensive.

Machine gunners of the U.S. 77th Division during training under the 39th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps, British 39th Division, near Moulle, France, 22 May 1918.

Following near-destruction at the Battle of the Lys, the division was reduced to a cadre, which spent the remainder of the war training newly arrived units of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF). The division demobilised after the Armistice with Germany, and had ceased to exist by July 1919. The division was not reformed after the war, and did not serve in the Second World War.

Order of battleEdit

The following units served with the division:[1]

116th Brigade

  • 11th (Service) Battalion (1st South Down), Royal Sussex Regiment (left June 1918)
  • 12th (Service) Battalion (2nd South Down), Royal Sussex Regiment (disbanded 8 February 1918)
  • 13th (Service) Battalion (3rd South Down), Royal Sussex Regiment (left June 1918)
  • 14th (Service) Battalion (1st Portsmouth), Hampshire Regiment (disbanded 23 February 1918)
  • 1/1st Territorial Force (T.F.) Battalion, Herefordshire Regiment (joined 8 February 1918, left 9 May 1918)
  • 116th Machine Gun Company (formed 18 May 1916, moved to 39th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps (M.G.C.) 14 March 1918)
  • 116th Trench Mortar Battery (formed 16 June 1916)

117th Brigade

118th Brigade

39th Divisional Composite Brigade

Formed on 10 April 1918 after the Division suffered heavy losses and placed under command of Brig-Gen. A. Hubback. Fought in the Battles of the Lys as an independent command attached to XXII Corps. Returned to Division and men deployed to old units by 6 May 1918.

  • 1st Battalion (formed from remnants of 11th Royal Sussex and 1/1st Hertfordshire)
  • 2nd Battalion (formed from remnants of 13th Gloucestershire and 13th Royal Sussex)
  • 3rd Battalion (formed from remnants of units of 117th Brigade)
  • 4th Battalion (formed from remnants of units 118th Brigade)
  • 5th Battalion (formed from remnants of units of all three Brigades)
  • 118th Trench Mortar Battery
  • No 4 (287th) Company, 39th Divisional Train Army Service Corps (A.S.C.)

Divisional Troops

  • 13th (Service) Battalion, (Forest of Dean) Gloucestershire Regiment (divisional pioneers, left as a cadre by 6 May 1918)
  • 228th Machine Gun Company (joined 19 July 1917, moved to 39th Battalion M.G.C. 14 March 1918, left 11 September 1918)
  • 39th Battalion M.G.C. (formed 14 March 1918, absorbing the brigade MG companies)
  • Divisional Mounted Troops
  • 39th Divisional Train A.S.C.
    • 284th, 285th, 286th and 287th Companies
  • 50th Mobile Veterinary Section Army Veterinary Corps
  • 236th Divisional Employment Company (joined 30 June 1917)

For short periods in the summer of 1918, 47 battalion cadres from reorganised divisions that had suffered heavy losses in the German spring offensives were attached to the brigades and division HQ.

Royal Artillery

The three field gun Brigades were all raised by the Thames Ironworks Company.

  • CLXXIV Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (R.F.A.)
  • CLXXIX Brigade, R.F.A. (broken up 18 January 1917)
  • CLXXXIV Brigade, R.F.A. (broken up 30 November 1916)
  • CLXXXVI (Howitzer) Brigade, R.F.A.
  • 39th Divisional Ammunition Column R.F.A.
  • V.39 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery, R.F.A. (formed 27 August 1916; broken up 7 February 1918)
  • X.39, Y.39 and Z.39 Medium Mortar Batteries, R.F.A. (formed by 17 June 1916; on 7 February 1918, Z broken up redistributed to X and Y batteries)

Royal Engineers

  • 225th (Stockton on Tees) Field Company
  • 227th (Stockton on Tees) Field Company
  • 234th (Stockton on Tees) Company
  • 39th Divisional Signals Company (Empire)

Royal Army Medical Corps

  • 132nd Field Ambulance
  • 133rd Field Ambulance
  • 134th Field Ambulance
  • 82nd Sanitary Section (left 17 April 1917)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Baker, Chris. "39th Division". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 22 November 2018.