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VII Corps was an army corps of the British Army active in the First and Second World Wars. In the early part of the Second World War it was part of the defence forces of the United Kingdom, and later acted as a shadow formation for deception purposes.

VII Corps
VII Corps WW1.jpg
VII Corps formation badge the First World War
ActiveFirst World War
Second World War
Country United Kingdom
BranchFlag of the British Army.svg British Army
TypeField corps
Part ofBritish Expeditionary Force (1915-18)
GHQ Home Forces (1940, 1944-45)
Lt-Gen Sir Thomas D'Oyly Snow KCB KCMG
Lt-Gen Sir Walter Congreve VC KCB MVO


Prior to the First World WarEdit

In 1876 a Mobilisation Scheme was published for the forces in Great Britain and Ireland, including eight army corps of the 'Active Army'. The '7th Corps' was to be headquartered at York, formed from Irish and English militia. In 1880 its order of battle was as follows:

  • 1st Division (York)
    • 1st Brigade (York)
      • 5th West York Militia (Knaresborough), 6th West York Militia (Halifax), Leicester Militia (Leicester)
    • 2nd Brigade (York)
      • North Down Militia (Newtownards), South Down Militia (Downpatrick), Dublin County (Dublin)
    • Divisional Troops
      • 106th Foot (Preston), Yorkshire Yeomanry (York)
    • Artillery
      • N/2nd Brigade Royal Artillery (Coventry)
  • 2nd Division (Northampton)
    • 1st Brigade (Northampton)
      • Northampton and Rutland Militia (Northampton), 1st Norfolk Militia (Norwich), 2nd Norfolk Militia (Yarmouth)
    • 2nd Brigade (Northampton)
      • Cambridge Militia (Ely), West Suffolk Militia (Bury St. Edmunds), West Essex Militia (Chelmsford)
    • Divisional Troops
      • 76th Foot (Sheffield), Southern Nottinghamshire Yeomanry (Nottingham), Nottinghamshire Yeomanry (Worksop)
  • 3rd Division (Darlington)
    • 1st Brigade (Darlington)
      • North Lincoln Militia (Lincoln), South Lincoln Militia (Grantham), Nottingham Militia (Newark)
    • 2nd Brigade (Newcastle)
      • Hertford Militia (Hertford), Bedford Militia (Bedford), Huntingdon Militia (Huntingdon)
    • Divisional Troops
      • 36th Foot (Fleetwood), 2nd West York Yeomanry (Halifax)
  • Cavalry Brigade (Doncaster)
    • 6th Dragoons (Edinburgh), 21st Hussars (Leeds), 4th Dragoon Guards (York), 1st West York Yeomanry (Doncaster)

This scheme had been dropped by 1881.[2]

First World WarEdit

VII Corps formed in France on 14 July 1915 under the command of Lt-General Thomas D'Oyly Snow (previously commander of 27th Division) as part of Sir Charles Monro's Third Army on the Western Front.[1][3][4]

Order of Battle of VII Corps 14 July 1915[5]
General Officer Commanding (GOC): Lt-Gen Sir Thomas D'O. Snow


In 1916 VII Corps remained in Third Army, now commanded by Sir Edmund Allenby. The Corps' first serious action was in the Somme Offensive of 1916, on the first day of which it carried out a disastrous diversionary attack at Gommecourt, in which 46th Division suffered 2455 casualties, and 56th Division 4313, for no permanent gain.[1][6][7]

Order of Battle of VII Corps 1 July 1916[8]
GOC: Lt-Gen Sir Thomas D'O. Snow
GOC, Royal Artillery: Brig-Gen C.M. Ross-Johnson
GOC, Heavy Artillery: Brig-Gen C.R. Buckle
Chief Engineer: Brig-Gen J.A. Tanner


When the German Army retreated to the Hindenburg Line in March 1917, VII Corps was the only part of Third Army required to follow up, south of the new line's pivot at Vimy Ridge.

Order of Battle of VII Corps 14 March-5 April 1917[9]

During the Arras Offensive of April and May 1917, VII Corps was engaged in all three Battles of the Scarpe. During the First Battle of the Scarpe, 9–14 April, it had the same divisions under command, with the addition of 50th (Northumbrian) Division, which captured the Wancourt Ridge. VII Corps then had 30th, 50th and 33rd Division engaged in the Second Battle of the Scarpe, 23–24 April. During the Third Battle of the Scarpe, 3–4 May, it operated with 14th (Light), 14th (Eastern) and 21st Divisions. Finally, for the subsequent actions on the Hindenburg Line, 20 May-16 June, VII Corps had 21st and 33rd Divisions under command.[10]

Later in 1917 the corps fought in the Battle of Cambrai.


In 1918 the command was taken over by Lt-Gen Sir Walter Congreve, VC, KCB, MVO.[4] and the corps fought in the First Battle of the Somme (1918) and the subsequent victorious British advance that ended the war.

Second World WarEdit

VII Corps was reformed in the United Kingdom during mid-1940 to control field forces deployed to counter the German invasion threat of that year. On 17 July that year it comprised 1st Canadian Infantry Division, 1st Armoured Division, and 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (UK), a somewhat oversized brigade based on the second NZ echelon of troops (of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force) which had been diverted to the United Kingdom from Egypt.[11] The Corps was placed under the command of Lieutenant-General Andrew McNaughton, a Canadian Army officer. At the time its allotted task was to 'counter-attack and destroy any enemy force invading the counties of Surrey, Kent, Sussex and Hampshire which was not destroyed by the troops of the Eastern and Southern Commands'.[12] On 25 December 1940 VII Corps was renamed the Canadian Corps at a time when the threat of German invasion had somewhat dissipated and as the growing number of Canadian troops in the United Kingdom made the formation of a larger Canadian formation advisable. It was based at Headley Court in Surrey.[13]

Later in the war it was notionally reactivated for deception purposes as a formation of the British Fourth Army as part of Operation Fortitude North, the threat to invade Norway at the time of the Normandy landings, with headquarters at Dundee. It was composed of the genuine British 52nd Infantry Division at Dundee, the notional U.S. 55th Division in Iceland, a Norwegian brigade, and three notional U.S. Army Ranger battalions in Iceland, plus corps troops. It moved south with Fourth Army for Fortitude South II, the continuation of the threat to the Pas de Calais, with headquarters at Folkestone in Kent and consisting of the British 61st and 80th divisions and 5th Armoured Division, the latter two notional and the 61st a genuine but low-establishment formation. It notionally moved to East Anglia in September, to Yorkshire in December, and was notionally disbanded in January 1945. Its insignia was a scallop shell on a blue ground.

General Officers CommandingEdit

Commanders included:[14]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g The British Corps of 1914-1918
  2. ^ Army List 1876–1881.
  3. ^ a b Official History 1915, Vol II, pp 86-7.
  4. ^ a b Griffith p 216.
  5. ^ Official History 1915, Vol II, p 87.
  6. ^ Official History 1916, Vol 1, pp 453-75.
  7. ^ Middlebrook pp 82, 123-4, 148, 170-3, 207, 214-6.
  8. ^ Official History 1916, Vol 1, p 453.
  9. ^ The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line
  10. ^ The Arras Offensive
  11. ^ McClymont p.36
  12. ^ Newbold, p. 244
  13. ^ "On Guard in Britain, 1940-1941". The Department of National Defense, Government of Canada. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  14. ^ "Army Commands" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 July 2015. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  15. ^ Walter Congreve at Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


  • Griffith, Paddy Battle Tactics of the Western Front: The British Army's Art of Attack 1916-18, New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1994 (ISBN 0-300-05910-8).
  • McClymont, W.G., To Greece: Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939-45, War History Branch, Department of Internal Affairs (New Zealand), Wellington, New Zealand, 1959.
  • Middlebrook, Martin, The First Day on the Somme, London: Allen Lane, 1971/Fontana 1975.
  • Newbold, David John. "British planning and preparations to resist invasion on land, September 1939 - September 1940". King's College, University of London. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  • Official History:
    • Brig-Gen Sir James E. Edmonds, Military Operations, France and Belgium, 1915, Volume II, Battle of Aubers Ridge, Festubert, and Loos, London: Macmillan, 1928.
    • Brig-Gen Sir James E. Edmonds, Military Operations, France and Belgium, 1916, Volume I, Sir Douglas Haig's Command to the 1st July; Battle of the Somme, London: Macmillan, 1932/Woking: Shearer Publications, 1986 (ISBN 0-94699802-7).

External linksEdit