75th Division was an infantry division of the British Army in World War I. It was raised in the field by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) in 1917 and it included British, Indian and South African troops. It served in the Middle East during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign being involved in the Battles of Megiddo.
|Active||25 June 1917 – 1 April 1920|
|Engagements||World War I|
|Maj-Gen Sir Philip Palin|
On 16 March 1917 the War Office gave the EEF permission to raise a new British division from infantry battalions of the Territorial Force arriving in Egypt as reinforcements from India. These were primarily from the 43rd (Wessex) and 45th (2nd Wessex) divisions, which had sailed to India in 1914 to relieve Regular troops. The division was assigned the number 75, and its three infantry brigades the numbers 232, 233 and 234. Brigadier-General Philip Palin of 29th Indian Brigade was promoted to command the new division.
232nd Brigade began to form at Moascar on 14 April 1917, but on 24 May the War Office ordered that some Indian Army battalions should also be included in order to speed up the formation of the Division. The first of these came from Palin's 29th Indian Brigade. The War Office then decided on 11 June that the division should be 'Indianised', with an establishment of one British and three Indian battalions to each brigade. However, this conversion was not completed until the summer of 1918. The process of assembling the division was drawn out: 233rd Brigade began to assemble at Zeitun on 25 May 1917, but then took over the Rafa defences in Sinai and only joined 75th Division on 18 August. The division officially came into existence on 25 June when 234th Brigade started to assemble at el'Arish.
Finding the necessary artillery for the division was a real difficulty. A new CLXXII Field Brigade reached Alexandria from the United Kingdom on 23 July, and was immediately broken up to form the nucleus of two second-line Territorial brigades, CLXXII and XXXVII, taking the numbers of units that had been disbanded in France. The third field brigade came from South Africa in July, and joined 75th Division on 12 September after it had been reorganised and re-equipped with 18-pounder guns. However, due to the shortage of 4.5-inch howitzers it was not until October that the British brigades received their howitzer batteries, and the South African brigade's did not arrive until the following April.
Artillery Brigadier-General, Royal Artillery: Brig-Gen H.A. Boyce
Commanding Royal Engineers: Lt-Col G.S.C. Cooke
Lt-Col A.G. Turner (from 1 September 1918)
75th Division joined XXI Corps and took part in the invasion of Palestine, beginning with the Third Battle of Gaza on 27 October 1917, leading to the capture of Gaza (6–7 November) and Junction Station (13–14 November), and the Battle of Nebi Samwil (20–24 November). In the Spring of 1918 the division was involved in the actions at Tell 'Asur (11–12 March) and Berukin (9–11 April).
Following its reorganisation in the summer of 1918, 75th Division joined General Allenby's final offensive (the Battles of Megiddo). At the Battle of Sharon (19 September), 75th Division was given the task of taking Miske and the trench system around the village of Et Tire, held by the Turkish 49th Division. Palin had under his command 'A' Squadron (Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry) of the Composite Corps Cavalry Regiment and 2nd Light Armoured Motor Battery, Machine Gun Corps.
There was no preliminary bombardment: the advance began at 04:30 in moonlight behind a barrage fired by the field artillery, trench mortars and machine guns onto the enemy front line, while the howitzers and heavy artillery fired on specific targets behind. Once the attackers reached the front line, the 18-pounders laid a creeping barrage in front of them onto the subsequent objectives. 75th Division had 232nd Bde on the right, while 234th Bde was on the left with two companies of the 5/Somerset Light Infantry from 233rd Bde. The Somerset LI companies were to advance between 234th's left and right battalions to capture an isolated work while the others moved straight ahead. The rest of 233rd Bde was in reserve.
232nd Brigade swept through the enemy's front line, meeting little opposition. The pack mules carrying the brigade signal equipment were stampeded by the bombardment, so no news got back, but the brigade captured Miske with the aid of the South African Field Artillery, which had moved forward quickly after completing its bombardment programme. Et Tire, surrounded by trenches and cactus edges, was more formidable, and the leading troops were exhausted. The Imperial Service Troops of the 3rd Kashmir Rifles had moved up to Brigade HQ on the initiative of their British liaison officer, and were sent in to reinforce the attack. Simultaneously the divisional GSO1 (Lt-Col Rowan-Hamilton) had been sent up by Palin with the cavalry squadron and armoured cars. With the renewed attack and with armoured cars outflanking the village, the Turks evacuated their positions, leaving behind all the papers of their XXII Corps HQ.
234th Brigade had an easier task. The creeping barrage was so accurate that the leading battalions and the Somerset LI companies were able to follow close behind it and gain their objectives with little opposition. In fact the barrage was too slow, and the enemy was able to get away, the only hard fighting being on the Turkish gun lines, which were taken at bayonet point by the 1/152nd Punjabis.
After the end of the fighting on 19 September, 75th Division and the rest of XXI Corps were left on salvage work and road repair until the Armistice with the Turks was signed on 31 October. Demobilisation began early in 1919, but 75th Division was selected for the Army of Occupation of Palestine. In March 1919 it returned to garrison duty in Egypt, becoming responsible for the Eastern Delta, which was renamed 75th Division Area. Many other units were attached for this work. After July 1919 the disturbances in Egypt began to die down, and units began to disperse to their home countries. On 1 April 1920 the Division Area and remaining troops were handed over to 10th (Irish) Division and 75th Division ceased to exist.
The divisional number has never been reactivated.
75th Division or 75th Infantry Division may refer to:
75th Reserve Division (German Empire)
75th Division (People's Republic of China)
75th Infantry Division (Russian Empire)
75th Cavalry Division (Soviet Union)
75th Guards Tank Division, Soviet Union
75th Guards Rifle Division, Soviet Union
75th Rifle Division (Soviet Union), part of 4th Army
75th Division (United Kingdom)
75th Infantry Division (United States)List of military divisions by number
This is a list of military divisions of all nationalities organised by number. Divisions may be infantry, airborne, cavalry, mechanized, armoured or aviation.
See also: List of military divisions by name
Divisions of the British Army