The 54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division was an infantry division of the British Army. During the First World War the division fought at Gallipoli and in the Middle East. The division was disbanded after the war but reformed in the Territorial Army in 1920. During the Second World War it was a home service division and did not see any combat service abroad and was disbanded in late 1943 but many of its component units went to see service in the Normandy Campaign and North-western Europe from June 1944 to May 1945.
|East Anglian Division|
54th (East Anglian) Division
54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division
Shoulder sleeve insignia of the 54th (East Anglian) Division, World War II.
|Engagements||World War I|
*Battle of Gallipoli
*First Battle of Gaza
*Battle of Mughar Ridge
*Battle of Jerusalem (1917)
*Action of Tell 'Asur
*Battle of Megiddo (1918)'s Battle of Arara
World War II
|the Hon. Julian Byng|
Sir Ian Freeland
The division was raised as the East Anglian Division in 1908 when the Territorial Force was created. Under command it had the Essex Brigade, the East Midland Brigade and the Norfolk and Suffolk Brigade. In 1915, during the First World War, these later became the 54th (East Anglian) Division, the 161st (Essex) Brigade, the 162nd (East Midland) Brigade and the 163rd (Norfolk and Suffolk) Brigade respectively.
The 54th (East Anglian) Division landed at Suvla on 10 August in the Gallipoli Campaign, as a part of IX Corps under Lieutenant-General Stopford. It was moved to the Egyptian Expeditionary Force under General Murray in late 1916 and garrisoned the southern part of the Suez Canal.
Then in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, during the First Battle of Gaza, on 26 March 1917, the 161st Brigade and divisional artillery were in reserve while the 53rd (Welsh) Division carried out the main attack. These reserves were committed as the battle progressed resulting in the British gaining a foothold in the Turkish defences but the British commander called off the attack as night fell. In the Second Battle of Gaza, the 1/4th and 1/5th Battalions of the Norfolk Regiment sustained 75 per cent casualties (about 1,200 men). It took part in the successful Third Battle of Gaza as part of XXI Corps led by General Bulfin, and by the end of 1917 Edmund Allenby's forces had taken Jerusalem.
In September 1918 the division took part in the Battle of Megiddo.
Divisional Artillery The divisional artillery did not accompany the division to Gallipoli. On 17 November 1915 it embarked for France, where it joined 33rd Division, a 'Kitchener's Army' division whose artillery were still under training. It rejoined 54th Division in Egypt in May 1916.
After reorganisation in August 1916:
The division was disbanded after the Great War when the whole of the Territorial Force was disbanded. However, it was reformed in 1920 as the Territorial Army (TA) and the division was reconstituted, initially with a similar composition to before the First World War but, over the next few years, with a much different composition.
In 1939 the TA was doubled in size to meet the threat of Nazi Germany and the division raised a second-line duplicate unit, the 18th Infantry Division. However, it was not formed as an exact duplicate as most Territorial divisions did and the units were divided by geographical location, with the Essex Regiment, one battalion of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment and both battalions of the Hertfordshire Regiment being assigned to the 54th Division. The 18th Division contained battalions of the Royal Norfolk Regiment, the Suffolk Regiment, the Cambridgeshire Regiment and a single battalion of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment.
Upon the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, the 54th Division, commanded by Major General John Priestman, a Regular Army officer, and serving under Eastern Command, was mobilised for full-time war service. Comprising still the 161st, 162nd and 163rd Infantry Brigades and divisional troops, the division absorbed hundreds of conscripts and spent the first few months of the war, after guarding various designated 'vulnerable points', training for eventual overseas service.
The division remained in the United Kingdom as a local defence formation, being downgraded to a Lower Establishment in January 1942. The division was disbanded and broken up on 14 December 1943. Its component units would take part in the Normandy Campaign as support units, with the HQ Royal Artillery becoming HQ 8th Army Group Royal Artillery and HQ Royal Engineers becoming HQ Royal Engineers for the 6th Airborne Division. The divisional HQ was redesignated HQ Lines of Communication (54th Division) for the 21st Army Group. The division was not reformed in the post-war Territorial Army in 1947 but the 161st and 162nd Infantry Brigades both survived until disbandment in the 1960s.
The 54th Infantry Division was constituted as follows during the war:
The following officers commanded the division during its existence:
The 142nd (Suffolk) Regiment Royal Armoured Corps (142 RAC) was an armoured regiment of the British Army's Royal Armoured Corps that was raised in World War II and saw active service. The regiment served in the final stages of the North African Campaign at Tunisia and later served during the Italian Campaign from 1943 until early 1945 when it was disbanded.162nd (East Midland) Brigade
The East Midland Brigade was an infantry brigade of the Territorial Force, part of the British Army, that was raised in 1908. As the name suggests, it commanded infantry battalions recruited in the East Midlands of England: Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. The brigade was an integral part of the East Anglian Division.
It was numbered as the 162nd (East Midland) Brigade (and the division as 54th (East Anglian) Division) and saw active service in World War I at Gallipoli in 1915, Egypt in 1916 and in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in 1917 and 1918.
Disbanded after the war, the brigade was reformed in the Territorial Army as the 162nd Infantry Brigade and continued to be part of the 54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division. In World War II the brigade remained in the United Kingdom throughout the war and did not see service and was disbanded in August 1944.
The 54th (East Anglian) Division was not reformed after World War II, but the brigade was reformed in 1947 as 162nd Independent Infantry Brigade before being finally disbanded in 1961.163rd Infantry Brigade (United Kingdom)
The 163rd Infantry Brigade was an infantry brigade of the British Army that saw active service during the First World War in Gallipoli and the Middle Eastern Theatre as part of the 54th (East Anglian) Division. In the Second World War the brigade remained in the United Kingdom until it was disbanded in late 1943.18th Infantry Division (United Kingdom)
The 18th Infantry Division was an infantry division of the British Army which fought briefly in the Malayan Campaign of the Second World War. In March 1939 following the re-emergence of Germany, and the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, the British army increased the number of divisions within the Territorial Army (TA) by duplicating existing units. The 18th Infantry Division was formed in September 1939, as a second-line duplicate of the 54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division, from men from the East Anglian counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, as well as Essex.
During 1939 through to 1941, the division remained based in Britain undergoing training and being moved to various parts of the country. Its varied duties included an anti-invasion role in East Anglia, training in Scotland, redeployment to the North West, and aiding in the unloading of merchant ships during the Liverpool Blitz. Towards the end of 1941, the British Government sought to reinforce the British Army's presence in North Africa to show the Dominions that the United Kingdom was doing its fair share of the fighting in the Middle East, and to reinforce the planned upcoming offensive code-named Operation Crusader. The division left Britain during October, bound for Canada. This was the result of a lack of British shipping, which led the United Kingdom to secure a transport deal with the then still neutral United States. After the division arrived in Nova Scotia, they switched to American ships and left Canada bound for Egypt.
By December, the convoy had reached South Africa and was preparing for the final stretch of its journey when news of the Japanese entry into the war (via simultaneous attacks on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor and the invasion of the British colony of Malaya) was received. This resulted in most of the 18th Infantry Division being diverted to India to reinforce British forces facing the Japanese. The division's 53rd Brigade was sent straight to Singapore, before being deployed north into Johore and becoming embroiled in the Battle of Muar. After several short engagements with Japanese forces, the brigade was withdrawn to Singapore Island. The rest of the division arrived shortly after and took part in the short Battle of Singapore. Initially deployed to the northeast part of the island, the division remained largely inactive while the Japanese attacked the northwest sector of the island. Following the Japanese beachhead being established, the division was broken up and deployed piecemeal into the battle. One battalion was assigned to a different formation, while several units formed two battlegroups and were deployed into the fight. Following the initial engagements, the division was regrouped for the final stand in the city of Singapore and repulsed several Japanese attacks. The division, along with the rest of the garrison, surrendered to the Japanese on 15 February 1942 and was not reformed. Due to the conditions of their captivity, over one-third of division's personnel died during their confinement, including the divisional commander Major-General Merton Beckwith-Smith.198th (East Lancashire) Brigade
The 198th (2/1st East Lancashire) Brigade was an infantry brigade of the British Army that saw service during the Great War with the 66th (2nd East Lancashire) Division. Reformed in World War II as 198th Infantry Brigade it served with 54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division and remained in the United Kingdom throughout the war, before disbanding in late 1943.212th Brigade (United Kingdom)
The 212th Brigade was a Home Service formation of the British Army during World War I and World War II.53rd Brigade (United Kingdom)
The 53rd Brigade was an infantry brigade of the British Army that saw active service in both the First and Second World Wars. In the First World War, the brigade served with 18th (Eastern) Division and during the Second with the 18th Infantry Division.54th Division
54th Division or 54th Infantry Division may refer to:
54th Division (People's Republic of China)
54th Infantry Division (German Empire)
54th Reserve Division (German Empire)
54th Infantry Division Napoli, an Italian division of World War II
54th Division (Imperial Japanese Army)
54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division, a British division of World Wars I and II
54th Guards Rifle Division, a Soviet division of World War II
54th Guards Rocket Division, a modern Russian divisionArmy Group Royal Artillery
An Army Group Royal Artillery (AGRA) was a British Commonwealth military formation type during the Second World War and shortly thereafter. Generally assigned to Army corps, an AGRA provided the medium and heavy artillery support to higher formations within the British Army.Charles Wainwright (British Army officer)
Major-General Charles Brian Wainwright, (17 August 1893 − 23 October 1968) was a British Army officer.Colin Callander
Lieutenant-General Sir Colin Bishop Callander KCB KBE MC (13 March 1897 – 1979) was a senior British Army officer who went on to be Military Secretary.Essex Brigade
The Essex Brigade, later 161st Brigade and 161st Infantry Brigade, was a volunteer infantry formation of the British Army in existence from 1888 until 1941, and again from 1947. It served at Gallipoli and in Palestine during World War I and returned to Egypt in the early part of World War II before transferring to the British Indian Army and redesignated 161st Indian Infantry Brigade. In peacetime and during the wars the brigade was an integral part of the 54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division and contained mostly battalions of the Essex Regiment.Frank Goldsmith
Francis Benedict Hyam Goldsmith (22 November 1878 – 14 February 1967) was a British Conservative Party politician who served as a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1910 to 1918. He then became a luxury hotel tycoon in France and the United Kingdom.Harold Salt (British Army officer)
Major-General Harold Francis Salt (30 December 1879 – 10 August 1971) was a senior British Army officer.
Salt was the youngest son of Sir Titus Salt, 1st Baronet. He was commissioned into the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1900. He served in the First World War, being promoted to Brigade Major in March 1915. His appointments as a Staff Officer saw him deployed on a variety of fronts, such as the Western Front, Gallipoli, Salonika, Palestine and Syria. He finished the war with the temporary rank of Brigadier-General. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1918 and made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1919.He was Assistant Commandant at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich between 1925 and 1929, Commander Royal Artillery in the 54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division between 1930 and 1931, and Commander of the Territorial Army Air Defence Formations from 1931 to 1935. He was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1932. He subsequently held military appointments in India until his retirement in April 1939.Salt married Phyllis Dulce Cameron on 5 August 1914, and together they had one child.John Duncan (British Army officer)
Major-General Sir John Duncan (24 February 1872 – 17 September 1948) was a British Army officer who commanded the Shanghai Defence Force.John Priestman (British Army officer)
Major General John Hedley Thornton Priestman, (22 July 1885 – 22 February 1964) was a senior officer in the British Army.Operation Sea Lion order of battle
The German plan for a land invasion of England in 1940 was code-named Operation Sea Lion (Unternehmen Seelöwe in German). This is the Operation Sea Lion order of battle for the modified German plan produced in August, 1940.Richard Fyffe
Lieutenant-General Sir Richard Alan Fyffe KBE CB DSO MC (12 August 1912 – 24 December 1972) was Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Intelligence).X Corps (United Kingdom)
X Corps was a corps of the British Army that served in the First World War on the Western Front before being disbanded in 1919. The corps was re-formed in 1942 during the Second World War and saw service in the North African Campaign and the Italian Campaign where it came under command of the US Fifth Army and the British Eighth Army.
Divisions of the British Army