Kalpana Kalpana (Editor)

4th Infantry Division (United Kingdom)

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Country  United Kingdom
Type  Infantry
Part of  Land Forces
Branch  British Army
Size  Division
4th Infantry Division (United Kingdom)
Active  1809–1947 1956–1978 1995–2011

The 4th Infantry Division was a regular infantry division of the British Army with a very long history, seeing active service in the Peninsular War, the Crimean War, the First World War, and during the Second World War. It was disbanded after the war and reformed in the 1950s as an armoured formation before being disbanded and reformed again and finally disbanded on 1 January 2012.


Napoleonic Wars

The 4th Division was originally formed in 1809 by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, as part of the Anglo-Portuguese Army, for service in the Peninsular War. It fought in the Battle of Talavera and the Battle of Salamanca, Battle of Badajoz and the Battle of Roncesvalles, Battle of Vitoria, Battle of the Pyrenees, Battle of Orthez, Battle of Toulouse.

Peninsular War order of battle

(from January 1812)

Major General Sir Charles Colville (to April 1812) Major General Lowry Cole (from June 1812)

  • 1st Brigade: Major General Kemmis
  • 3/27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot
  • 1/40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot
  • 1/48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment of Foot (from October 1812)
  • 2nd Provisional Battalion (2nd & 1/53rd Regiments of Foot) (from December 1812)
  • 1 Coy., 5/60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot
  • 2nd Brigade: Major General Sir Edward Pakenham
  • 1/7th Regiment of Foot (Royal Fusiliers)
  • 2/7th Regiment of Foot (Royal Fusiliers) (November 1810 to May 1811)
  • 20th (East Devonshire) Regiment of Foot (from November 1812)
  • 1/23rd Regiment of Foot (Royal Welsh Fusiliers)
  • 1/48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment of Foot (to October 1812)
  • 1/82nd Regiment of Foot (Prince of Wales's Volunteers) (October to November 1812)
  • 1 Coy., Brunswick-Oels Jaegers
  • 3rd Brigade: Major General Skerrett (October to December 1812)
  • 3/1st Foot Guards
  • 2/47th (Lancashire) Regiment of Foot
  • 2/87th (Prince of Wales's Irish) Regiment of Foot
  • 2 Cos., 2/95th Regiment of Foot (Rifles)
  • Portuguese Brigade: Major General Collins
  • 1/11th Line Infantry of the Portuguese Army
  • 2/11th Line Infantry of the Portuguese Army
  • 1/23rd Line Infantry of the Portuguese Army
  • 2/23rd Line Infantry of the Portuguese Army
  • 7th Caçadores of the Portuguese Army
  • Waterloo

    At the Battle of Waterloo it was tasked with holding Wellington's right flank and, with the exception of its 4th brigade, took no active part in the fighting, but did capture the town of Cambrai afterwards.

    The commanding general at this time was Charles Colville. In his novel Les Misérables Victor Hugo credits Colville with asking for the surrender of the Imperial Guard at Waterloo and receiving General Cambronne's reply of "Merde".

    Waterloo order of battle

  • Commanding General Major-General Sir Charles Colville
  • 4th Brigade – Lieutenant-Colonel Hugh Henry Mitchell
  • 3/14th (Buckinghamshire) Regiment of Foot
  • 1/23rd Regiment of Foot (Royal Welch Fusiliers)
  • 51st (2nd Yorkshire West Riding) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry)
  • 6th Brigade – Major-General George Johnstone
  • 2/35th (Sussex) Regiment of Foot
  • 54th (West Norfolk) Regiment of Foot
  • 59th (2nd Nottinghamshire) Regiment of Foot
  • 1/91st (Argyllshire) Regiment of Foot
  • 6th Hanoverian Brigade – Major-General Sir James Lyon
  • Field Battalion Calenberg
  • Field Battalion Lauenburg
  • Landwehr Battalion Bentheim
  • Landwehr Battalion Hoya
  • Landwehr Battalion Nienburg
  • Crimean War

    The Division was also called for service during the Crimean War fought between the allied forces of the United Kingdom, French Empire and the Ottoman Empire on one side and Russia on the other. It saw action in the Battle of Alma the Battle of Inkerman and the Battle of Balaclava, fought on 25 October 1854 (famous for the Charge of the Light Brigade and the Thin Red Line).

    Crimean War order of battle

    Commanding General: Major General Sir George Cathcart

  • 7th Brigade: Brigadier General Torrens
  • 20th (East Devonshire) Regiment of Foot
  • 21st Royal Scots Fusiliers
  • 68th (Durham) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry)
  • 8th Brigade
  • 46th (South Devonshire) Regiment of Foot
  • 57th (West Middlesex) Regiment of Foot
  • one field battery royal Artillery
  • First World War

    As a permanently established Regular Army division it was amongst the first to be sent to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force at the outbreak of the First World War. It served on the Western Front for the duration of the war and was present during all the major offensives including the Battle of the Marne, Battle of Ypres, Battle of the Somme and the Battle of Passchendaele.

    First World War order of battle

    The order of battle of 4th Division during the First World War was as follows:

    10th Brigade 
  • 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
  • 2nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders
  • 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers (left August 1917)
  • 2nd Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers (left November 1916)
  • 10th Machine Gun Company, Machine Gun Corps (formed 22 December 1915, moved to 4th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps 26 February 1918)
  • 10th Trench Mortar Battery (formed June 1916)
  • 1/7th Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (from January 1915 until March 1916)
  • 1/9th Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (from May to July 1915)
  • Household Battalion (from November 1916 until February 1918)
  • 3/10th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment (from August 1917 until February 1918)
  • 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment) (from February 1918)
  • 11th Brigade 
  • 1st Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry
  • 1st Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment (left February 1918)
  • 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment
  • 1st Battalion, Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own)
  • 1/5th (City of London) Battalion, London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade) (from November 1914 until May 1915)
  • 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment (from July 1915 until May 1916)
  • 11th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps (formed 23 December 1915, moved to 4th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps 26 February 1918)
  • 11th Trench Mortar Battery (formed June 1916)
  • 12th Brigade 
  • 1st Battalion, King's Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster)
  • 2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers
  • 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (left December 1914)
  • 2nd Battalion, Essex Regiment
  • 1/2nd Battalion, Monmouthshire Regiment (until January 1916)
  • 1/5th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment (from February 1915 until January 1916)
  • 12th Machine Gun Company, Machine Gun Corps (formed 24 January 1916, moved to 4th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps 26 February 1918)
  • 12th Trench Mortar Battery (formed 11 June 1916)
  • 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment) (from January 1916 to 10th Bde. February 1918)
  • 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment (from March until July 1915)
  • From early November 1915 until February 1916 the 12th Brigade was swapped with the 107th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division.


  • XIV Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (until 14 January 1917)
  • XXIX Brigade, Royal Field Artillery
  • XXXII Brigade, Royal Field Artillery
  • XXXVII (Howitzer) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (until 17 February 1915)
  • CXXVII (Howitzer) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (from 6 August 1915 until 21 May 1916)
  • 31st Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery (until 29 April 1915)
  • Engineers

  • 7th Field Company, Royal Engineers (until 29 April 1915)
  • 9th Field Company, Royal Engineers
  • 1st West Lancashire Field Company, Royal Engineers (from 14 February 1915 until 28 February 1916)
  • 1st Renfrew Field Company, Royal Engineers (joined 2 May 1916; became 406th (Renfrew) Field Company 3 February 1917)
  • 1st Durham Field Company, Royal Engineers (joined 20 September 1916; became 526th (Durham) Field Company 3 February 1917)
  • Pioneers

  • 21st (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (from 21 June 1916)
  • France and Belgium

    Shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 the 4th Division, under Major-General Dudley Johnson, was sent to the border between France and Belgium as part of Lieutenant-General Alan Brooke's II Corps of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). After the disastrous Battle of France in May–June 1940, where the division sustained heavy losses, and the evacuation at Dunkirk, it spent the next two years in the United Kingdom on anti-invasion duties and training for its next deployment.

    In June 1942 the division, now under Major-General John Hawkesworth, was selected to be converted into a 'mixed' division, consisting of two infantry brigades and one tank brigade. As a result of this change the divisions' 11th Infantry Brigade left the division and was replaced by the 21st Army Tank Brigade.

    North Africa

    The division departed for North Africa in early 1943, arriving in Tunisia in March, coming under Lieutenant-General John Crocker's IX Corps, part of the British First Army. During the Tunisian Campaign it was involved in Operation Vulcan, the final ground attack against Axis forces in North Africa which effectively ended the North African Campaign, with the surrender of nearly 250,000 German and Italian soldiers. However, during the assault the division suffered heavy losses, with four battalions sustaining over 300 casualties.

    After the Axis defeat in North Africa, in May 1943, the division was to remain there for the next 9 months, during which time it was converted back into a standard infantry division, with the 28th Infantry Brigade, consisting mainly of Regular Army battalions who had served on garrison duties in Gibraltar, arriving to replace the 21st Tank Brigade.


    The division arrived on the Italian Front in late February 1944, relieving the British 46th Infantry Division, initially coming under command of Lieutenant-General Richard McCreery's British X Corps, then serving under the U.S. Fifth Army. In March the division transferred to Lieutenant-General Sidney Kirkman's British XIII Corps, part of the British Eighth Army. The division, now under the command of Major-General Alfred Dudley Ward, fought with distinction at the fourth and final Battle of Monte Cassino in May 1944, and later in severe fighting in the battles for the Gothic Line. During the battle of Cassino Captain Richard Wakeford of the 2/4th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment was awarded the Victoria Cross.


    However, in November 1944 it was dispatched, with the rest of III Corps, to Greece to provide assistance during the Greek Civil War, and was to remain there until the end of the war in Europe in May 1945.

    Order of battle

    The 4th Infantry Division was constituted as follows during the war:

    10th Infantry Brigade

  • 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment
  • 2nd Battalion, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
  • 1st Battalion, Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment (left 3 May 1940)
  • 10th Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company (disbanded 1 January 1941)
  • 1/6th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment (from 4 May 1940)
  • 11th Infantry Brigade (left 5 June 1942)

  • 2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers
  • 1st Battalion, East Surrey Regiment
  • 1st Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (left 29 January 1940)
  • 11th Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company (disbanded 31 December 1940)
  • 5th (Huntingdonshire) Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment (from 29 January 1940)
  • 12th Infantry Brigade

  • 2nd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers
  • 1st Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment (left 13 June 1940)
  • 1st Battalion, Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) (left 4 March 1940)
  • 12th Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company (disbanded 3 January 1941)
  • 6th Battalion, Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) (from 4 March 1940)
  • 1st Battalion, Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment (from 5 September 1940)
  • 21st Army Tank Brigade (from 6 June 1942, left 12 December 1943)

  • 12th Royal Tank Regiment
  • 48th Royal Tank Regiment
  • 145th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps
  • 28th Infantry Brigade (from 24 December 1943)

  • 2nd Battalion, King's Regiment (Liverpool)
  • 2nd Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry
  • 1st Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (from 5 January, left 2 February 1944)
  • 2/4th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment (from 24 March 1943)
  • Divisional Troops

  • 5th Dragoon Guards (Reconnaissance Battalion, left 31 March 1940)
  • 4th Battalion, Reconnaissance Corps (from 1 January 1941, redesignated 4th Regiment 6 June 1942, became 4th Reconnaissance Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps 1 January 1944)
  • 2nd Battalion, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers (joined as Machine Gun Battalion from 11 November 1941, left 20 May 1942, rejoined as Support Battalion 10 March 1944, became MG Battalion from 7 June 1944)
  • 17th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery (left 19 February 1940)
  • 22nd Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
  • 30th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
  • 77th (Highland) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery (from 19 February 1940)
  • 14th Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery
  • 91st Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery (from 26 January 1942, disbanded 6 November 1944)
  • 7th Field Company, Royal Engineers
  • 9th Field Company, Royal Engineers (left 16 February 1940)
  • 59th Field Company, Royal Engineers
  • 225th Field Company, Royal Engineers (from 16 February 1940)
  • 18th Field Park Company, Royal Engineers
  • 3rd Bridging Platoon, Royal Engineers (from 18 October 1943)
  • 4th Divisional Signals Regiment, Royal Corps of Signals
  • Post Second World War

    The Division was reformed from 11th Armoured Division on 1 April 1956, and took on 20th Armoured Brigade Group from the disbanding 6th Armoured Division in May 1958. At the time the Division also incorporated the (Canadian) 4th Infantry Brigade and the 4th Guards Brigade.

    During the 1970s, the division consisted of two "square" brigades, the 11th Armoured Brigade and the 20th Armoured Brigade. It was renamed 4th Armoured Division and served with I (BR) Corps being based at Hammersmith Barracks in Herford from 1978. After being briefly reorganised into two "task forces" ("Golf" and "Hotel") in the late 1970s, the division consisted of the 11th Armoured Brigade, the 20th Brigade Division and the 33rd Armoured Brigade in the 1980s.

    The division ceased its role as a front line Armoured Division on 1 July 1993.


    The Division was reformed again in 1995 as a regenerative division – a military district in all but name – that served as the parent formation for units in Southern England. The Division's last insignia was a tiger. It was commanded from HQ at Steeles Road, Aldershot and reported to Army Headquarters at Andover. The Division was responsible for the administration of Aldershot Garrison and three Regional Brigades:

  • 2nd (South East) Brigade
  • 43rd (Wessex) Brigade
  • 145th (South) Brigade
  • For administrative purposes, the following formations were also under the administrative control of 4th Division:

  • British Gurkhas Nepal
  • British Garrison Brunei
  • The new HQ Support Command in Aldershot began operation in January 2012 when HQ 4th Division in Aldershot disbanded. HQ 2nd division in Edinburgh and HQ 5th division in Shrewsbury were both disbanded in April 2012.

    Recent Commanders

    Recent Commanders have been:
    GOC 4th Division

  • 1902–1906 Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Knox
  • 1906–1907 Major-General William Franklyn
  • 1907–1911 Major-General Herbert Belfield
  • 1911–1914 Major-General Thomas Snow
  • Sep 1914-Oct 1914 Major-General Sir Henry Rawlinson
  • 1914–1915 Major-General Henry Wilson
  • 1915–1917 Major-General William Lambton
  • 1917–1918 Major-General Torquhil Matheson
  • Sep 1918-Oct 1918 Major-General Louis Lipsett
  • 1918–1919 Major-General Cuthbert Lucas
  • 1919–1923 Major-General Sir Cameron Shute
  • 1923–1926 Major-General Sir Reginald Stephens
  • 1926–1927 Major-General Sir Percy Radcliffe
  • 1927–1931 Major-General Archibald Cameron
  • 1931–1933 Major-General Charles Bonham-Carter
  • 1933–1935 Major-General Sir John Brind
  • Jun 1935-Nov 1935 Major-General James Dick-Cunyngham
  • 1935–1937 Major-General Clive Liddell
  • 1938–1940 Major-General Dudley Johnson
  • Jun 1940-Oct 1940 Major-General Ralph Eastwood
  • 1940–1942 Major-General John Swayne
  • 1942–1943 Major-General John Hawkesworth
  • 1943–1944 Major-General Hayman Hayman-Joyce
  • 1944–1945 Major-General Alfred Dudley Ward
  • 1945–1946 Major-General Colin Callander
  • 1946–1947 Major-General Ernest Down
  • Note: The Division was disbanded after the War and reformed in 1956
  • 1956–1957 Major-General Reginald Hewetson
  • 1957–1959 Major-General Gerald Hopkinson
  • 1959–1961 Major-General Desmond Gordon
  • 1961–1963 Major-General Jean Allard
  • 1963–1965 Major-General Basil Eugster
  • 1965–1967 Major-General Michael Forrester
  • 1967–1969 Major-General Vernon Erskine-Crum
  • 1969–1971 Major-General David Fraser
  • 1971–1973 Major-General Anthony Farrar-Hockley
  • 1973–1975 Major-General Michael Gow
  • 1975–1977 Major-General Nigel Bagnall
  • GOC 4th Armoured Division

  • 1977–1979 Major-General Richard Vickers
  • 1979–1981 Major-General John Akehurst
  • 1981–1983 Major-General Jeremy Reilly
  • 1983–1985 Major-General John Waters
  • 1985–1987 Major-General Michael Hobbs
  • 1987–1989 Major-General William Rous
  • 1989–1991 Major-General Jeremy Mackenzie
  • 1991–1993 Major-General Anthony Denison-Smith
  • GOC 4th Division

  • 1996–1998 Major General Nigel Richards
  • 1998–2001 Major General Timothy Sulivan
  • 2001–2002 Major General John Holmes
  • 2002–2003 Major General Andrew Ritchie
  • 2003–2004 Major General David Judd
  • 2004–2006 Major General Seumas Kerr
  • 2006–2008 Major General Peter Everson
  • 2008–2011 Major General Lamont Kirkland
  • References

    4th Infantry Division (United Kingdom) Wikipedia

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