Rahul Sharma (Editor)

7th (Meerut) Division

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Active  1829 - 1920
Allegiance  British Crown
Type  Infantry
Country  British India
Branch  British Indian Army
Size  Division
7th (Meerut) Division

The 7th (Meerut) Division was an infantry division of the British Indian Army that saw active service during World War I.

Contents

Pre-1857

The Meerut Division first appeared in the Indian Army List in 1829, under the command of Sir Jasper Nicolls, KCB. At this period Divisions were primarily administrative organisations controlling the brigades and stations in their area, rather than field formations, but they did provide field forces when required. There were generally one Indian cavalry and two Indian infantry regiments stationed at Meerut itself, in addition to British troops: in 1829 these were the 4th Bengal Light Cavalry, 29th and 32nd Bengal Native Infantry.

Indian Rebellion of 1857

In May 1857, on the eve of the 'Indian Rebellion of 1857' (or 'First War of Independence'), the troops at Meerut comprised the 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers) and a battalion of the 60th (King’s Royal Rifle Corps), the 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry, and 11th and 20th Bengal Native Infantry under the command of Maj-Gen W.H. Hewitt. The outbreak of the rebellion at Meerut was one of the first and most serious of the whole conflict.

Post-1857

The division was reconstituted when peace returned. Over succeeding decades, the stations controlled by Meerut Division varied, and the forces under command were regularly rotated. For example:

Composition, January 1888

GOC: Maj-Gen Sir G.R. Greave, KCB, KCMG

Divisional HQ: Meerut

  • F Battery, A Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery
  • L Battery, A Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery
  • H Battery, 2nd Brigade, Royal Artillery
  • L Battery, 3rd Brigade, Royal Artillery
  • K Battery, 4th Brigade, Royal Artillery
  • 3rd Hussars
  • 1st Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers
  • 5th Regiment Bengal Cavalry
  • 26th (Punjab) Regiment, Bengal Native Infantry
  • Fatehgarh:

  • Detachment 2nd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers
  • Detachment 22nd Bengal Native Infantry
  • Agra Brigade:

  • 2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment
  • 28th (Punjab) Regiment Bengal Native Infantry
  • Depot 33rd Regiment Bengal Native Infantry
  • 16th (The Lucknow Regiment) Bengal Native Infantry
  • Muttra:

  • 3rd Dragoon Guards
  • Dehra Dun:

  • Governor General’s Bodyguard
  • 1st & 2nd Battalions 2nd (Prince of Wales’s Own) Goorkha Regiment (The Sirmoor Rifles)
  • Delhi:

  • Wing, 2nd Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment
  • 8th Battery, 1st Brigade, Scottish Division Garrison Artillery, Royal Artillery
  • 22nd Bengal Native Infantry
  • Landour:

  • Convalescent Depot
  • Roorki:

  • H Company, Royal Engineers
  • HQ, A (Depot) Company, B (Recruit) Company, 3, 4, & 5 Companies, Bengal Sappers and Miners
  • 2nd Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment
  • 1st & 2nd Batteries, 1st Brigade, Welsh Division Garrison Artillery, Royal Artillery
  • 4th Battery, 1st Brigade, Eastern Division Garrison Artillery, Royal Artillery
  • Chakrata:

  • 4th Battalion Rifle Brigade
  • Pre–World War I

    Under the reforms introduced by Lord Roberts as Commander-in-Chief (CinC) India, the Divisions were renamed 1st Class Districts in 1890. In the next round of reforms inaugurated by Lord Kitchener as CinC, they became numbered divisions with their territorial affiliation as a subsidiary title. The title 7th (Meerut) Division first appeared in the Army List between 30 September and 31 December 1904, as part of Western (later Northern) Command. On the eve of World War I, the division had its HQ at Mussoorie, and had the Meerut Cavalry Brigade and the Bareilly (HQ Ranikhet), Dehra Dun and Garhwal (HQ Lansdowne) Infantry Brigades under command.

    Western Front

    In 1914 the 7th (Meerut) Division was part of Indian Expeditionary Force A sent to reinforce the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) fighting in France. The bulk constituted an infantry division as part of Indian Corps, while the Meerut Cavalry Brigade was detached to form part of 2nd Indian Cavalry Division in the Indian Cavalry Corps. While in France the division was known as the Meerut Division, and its brigades by their names, to avoid confusion with the 7th British Division. Despatch from India was delayed by the activities of the German raiders Emden and Konigsberg operating in the Indian Ocean, and by the slow speed of the transport vessels. The division landed at Marseilles 12–14 October 1914, but there were further delays while the troops were re-armed with the latest pattern rifle, and the supply train could be improvised, using tradesmen's vans procured locally. The division finally got into action at the Battles of La Bassee, 1st Messines and Armentieres in October–November 1914.

    Order of Battle, October 1914

    GOC: Lieut-Gen C.A. Anderson, CB
    GSO1: Col C.W. Jacob

    Dehra Dun Brigade GOC: Brig-Gen C.E. Johnson

  • 1st Bn. Seaforth Highlanders
  • 6th Jat Light Infantry
  • 2/2nd King Edward’s Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Regiment)
  • 1/9th Gurkha Rifles
  • Garhwal Brigade GOC: Maj-Gen H.D’U. Keary, CB, DSO

  • 2nd Bn. Leicestershire Regiment
  • 1/39th Garhwal Rifles
  • 2/39th Garhwal Rifles
  • 2/3rd Gurkha Rifles
  • Bareilly Brigade GOC: Maj-Gen F. Macbean, CVO, CB

  • 2nd Bn. Black Watch
  • 41st Dogras
  • 58th Vaughan's Rifles (Frontier Force)
  • 2/8th Gurkha Rifles
  • Divisional Mounted Troops

  • 4th Cavalry
  • Divisional Artillery

  • IV Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (RFA) - replaced V Brigade (transferred to 3rd (Lahore) Division) 17 October 1914
  • 7th, 14th & 66th Batteries, IV Brigade Ammunition Column
  • IX Brigade, RFA
  • 19th, 20th & 28th Batteries, IX Brigade Ammunition Column
  • XIII Brigade, RFA - replaced XI Brigade (transferred to 3rd (Lahore) Division 17 October 1914
  • 2nd, 8th & 44th Batteries, XIII Brigade Ammunition Column
  • 110th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery
  • Heavy Battery Ammunition Column
  • Meerut Divisional Ammunition Column
  • Engineers

  • 3rd & 4th Companies, 1st King George’s Own Sappers and Miners
  • Signals Service

  • Meerut Signal Company
  • Divisional Pioneers

  • 107th Pioneers
  • Supply & Transport:

  • Meerut Divisional train
  • Medical Units:

  • 19th & 20th British Field Ambulances
  • 128th, 129th and 130th Indian Field Ambulances
  • After winter operations (in which the Indian soldiers suffered badly) the division next took part in the Battles of Neuve Chapelle, Aubers Ridge, Festubert and Loos in 1915.

    Order of Battle, May 1915

    GOC: Lieut-Gen Sir C.A. Anderson, KCB

    Dehra Dun Brigade
    GOC: Brig-Gen Col C.W. Jacob

  • 1st Bn. Seaforth Highlanders
  • 1/4th Bn. Seaforth Highlanders (Territorial Force)
  • 6th Jat Light Infantry
  • 2nd Bn. 2nd King Edward’s Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Regiment)
  • 1st Bn. 9th Gurkha Rifles
  • Garwhal Brigade GOC: Brig-Gen C.G. Blackader

  • 2nd Bn. Leicestershire Regiment
  • 1/3rd Bn. London Regiment (Territorial Force)
  • 39th Garhwal Rifles
  • 2nd Bn. 3rd Gurkha Rifles
  • 2nd Bn. 8th Gurkha Rifles
  • Bareilly Brigade GOC: Brig-Gen W.M. Southey

  • 2nd Bn. Black Watch
  • 1/4th Bn. Black Watch (Territorial Force)
  • 41st Dogras
  • 58th Vaughan's Rifles (Frontier Force)
  • 125th Napier's Rifles
  • Divisional Troops
    As before, with the addition of 30th Battery of XLIII (Howitzer Brigade) RA.

    By the Battle of Loos in September 1915, Maj-Gen Claud Jacob had replaced Anderson as GOC of 7th (Meerut) Division, and the exhausted 6th Jats and 41st Dogras had been replaced by the 93rd Burma Infantry and 33rd Punjabis (from Egypt), while 30th Battery, XLII (How) Bde had been replaced by 61st Battery, VIII (How) Bde.

    Mesopotamia

    On 13 August 1915, General Sir John Nixon, commanding Indian Expeditionary Force D in Mesopotamia, requested one of the Indian infantry divisions in France as reinforcements for his advance on Baghdad. Coincidentally, on the same day, the Secretary of State for India, Austen Chamberlain, told the Viceroy of India that he was anxious for the Indian infantry to be withdrawn from France before they had to endure another winter. The system for supplying drafts had broken down and the Indian battalions were becoming very weak after the heavy casualties they had suffered. Although the Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, objected to their withdrawal from the Western Front, orders were issued on 31 October for the two divisions of Indian Corps (3rd (Lahore) and 7th (Meerut) Division) to embark at Marseilles for Mesopotamia. They were to leave behind their attached Territorial Force battalions. The two divisions were relieved in the front line on 6 November and were due at Basra on 1 December, but their departure from Marseilles was delayed until after 25 December because of fear of submarine attack. 7th (Meerut) Division finally arrived in Mesopotamia in Spring 1917 and joined Tigris Corps, too late to relieve the 6th (Poona) Division at Kut-al-Amara.

    The division participated in the battles at the Sheikh Sa'ad, Wadi, Hanna, Dujailia, and the Sannaiyat. After the fall of Kut, as part of the reorganization of the British and Indian forces in the region, the division spent much of the summer and fall refitting. The Meerut and Lahore Divisions would eventually become part of the I Indian Army Corps, part of the newly formed Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force, participating in the capture of Baghdad in March 1917.

    Palestine

    After the fall of Baghdad, the Palestine Campaign was given priority over Mesopotamia, and in December 1917 Sir Edmund Allenby, commanding the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF), was informed that after he had captured Jerusalem he would be reinforced by the 7th (Meerut) Division from Mesopotamia. The division moved from Mesopotamia to Egypt in December, and then on 1 April 1918 it relieved the 52nd (Lowland) Division, which was on its way to the Western Front. The EEF undertook few operations during the hot weather of Summer 1918, but the Meerut Division captured 'North Sister' and 'South Sister' Hills on 8 June, and raided 'Piffer Ridge' on 27 June. It subsequently took part in Allenby's advance through Palestine, including the Battle of Megiddo as part of Lieutenant-General Bulfin's XXI British Corps operating on the right flank.

    Order of Battle September 1918

    In September 1918, the division had the following composition: GOC: Maj-Gen Sir V.B. Fane

    19th Brigade:

  • 1st Bn. Seaforth Highlanders
  • 28th Punjabis
  • 92nd Punjabis
  • 125th Napier’s Rifles
  • 21st Brigade:

  • 1st Bn. The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
  • 1st Bn. Queen Victoria's Own Corps of Guides (Frontier Force) (Lumsden's) Infantry
  • 20th Punjabis
  • 1/8th Gurkha Rifles
  • 28th Brigade:

  • 2nd Bn. The Leicestershire Regiment
  • 51st Sikhs (Frontier Force)
  • 53rd Sikhs (Frontier Force)
  • 56th Punjabi Rifles
  • References

    7th (Meerut) Division Wikipedia


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