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8th Infantry Division (United Kingdom)

The 8th Infantry Division was an infantry division of the British Army that was active in both the First and Second World Wars. The division was first formed in October 1914 during the First World War, initially consisting mainly of soldiers of the Regular Army and served on the Western Front throughout the war, sustaining many casualties, before disbandment in 1919. The division was reactivated in Palestine, under the command of Major-General Bernard Montgomery, in the late 1930s in the years running up to the Second World War before being disbanded in late February 1940. It was briefly reformed in Syria in an administrative role during 1942-3.

8th Division
8th Infantry Division
8th Division sign WW1.svg
Insignia of the 8th Division, First World War[1]
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
EngagementsBattle of Neuve Chapelle
Battle of Aubers Ridge
Battle of the Somme
Battle of Passchendaele
Bernard Montgomery
Reade Godwin-Austen
William Heneker


Second Boer WarEdit

During the Second Boer War, an 8th division was active in South Africa from early 1900 until the war ended in 1902.[2] It was under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Leslie Rundle, and included a brigade division of Royal Artillery, one squadron of cavalry, one company of Royal Engineers, one company of Army Service Corps, a field hospital, and the following infantry brigades and battalions:

First World WarEdit

Infantrymen of the Royal Irish Rifles, 25th Brigade during the Battle of the Somme, 1916.

The 8th Division was a Regular Army division that was formed by combining battalions returning from outposts in the British Empire at the outbreak of the First World War. Major-General Francis Davies took command on 19 September 1914. The division moved to France in November, 1914, following the First Battle of Ypres. The division fought on the Western Front for the duration of the war, taking part in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, the Battle of Aubers Ridge, both in 1915, the Battle of the Somme, in 1916, and the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.

First World War Order of BattleEdit

Memorial to the 8th Infantry Division in Aldershot dedicated in 1924

The division had the following organisation during World War I:[3]

23rd Brigade
24th Brigade

Between October 1915 and July 1916, the 24th Brigade swapped with the 70th Brigade from the 23rd Division.

25th Brigade
70th Brigade

The 70th Brigade was from the 23rd Division and was attached to the 8th Division between 18 October 1915, and 15 July 1916, swapping with the 24th Brigade.


Second World WarEdit

The 8th Infantry Division formation sign in the Second World War[4]

The 8th Infantry Division was never a full strength formation during the Second World War. In 1939 it was based in Palestine and consisted of two infantry brigades (14th and 16th Brigades). Due to the needs of defence against German and Italian forces these units were sent to places of need and reformed as different formations. Although it had infantry it had no divisional troops due to the shortage of artillery and engineers in the Middle East. Its units were dispersed and the Division was disbanded on 28 February 1940.[5]
The Division headquarters was reformed in Syria on 2 June 1942 from the headquarters of the 5th Cavalry Brigade with an administration and internal security role under the Ninth Army. On 3 September the divisional headquarters role was taken by the headquarters of 89 Sub-Area, 9th Army (Lines of Communications). In this second incarnation R.A.C. units from 9th Army were attached. The division Headquarters were disbanded on 31 October 1943.[5]

Order of Battle 1939Edit

The division had the following order of battle in 1939:[5][6]

General Officers CommandingEdit

Commanders included:[7]

World War I[3]
World War II[5]
  • 1938–1939 Major-General Bernard Montgomery
  • 1939–1940 Major-General Reade Godwin-Austen
  • 2 June 1942 – 2 September 1942 Brigadier C. E. L. Harris
  • 3 September 1942 – 31 October 1943 Colonel (Brigadier, December 1942) R. K. Jago

See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ Chappell pps. 24, 42
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Becke, pp. 89–95.
  4. ^ Cole p. 38
  5. ^ a b c d Joslen pp. 53–4.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Army Commands Archived 5 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine


  • Becke, Major A. F. (1935). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 1. The Regular British Divisions. London: HMSO. ISBN 1-871167-09-4.
  • Chappel M 1986 British Battle Insignia (1). 1914-18 Osprey Publishing ISBN 9780850457278
  • Cole, Howard (1973). Formation Badges of World War 2. Britain, Commonwealth and Empire. London: Arms and Armour Press.
  • Joslen, Lt-Col H.F. (1960). Orders of Battle, United Kingdom and Colonial Formations and Units in the Second World War, 1939–1945 (Naval & Military Press ed.). London: HMSO. ISBN 9781843424741.

Further readingEdit

  • Boraston, J. H.; Bax, C. E. O. (1926). The Eighth Division in War 1914–1918 (N & M Press 1999 ed.). London: Medici Society. ISBN 1-897632-67-3.

External linksEdit