18th Infantry Division (United Kingdom)

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For the equivalent formation in World War I, see 18th (Eastern) Division.
18th Infantry Division
18 inf div -vector.svg
18th Infantry Division badge
Active 1939-1942
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg Territorial Army
Type Infantry
Size Division
Engagements Battle of Muar (53rd Infantry Brigade)
Singapore (1942)
Major-General Bernard Paget

The 18th Infantry Division was an infantry division of the Territorial Army, part of the British Army, that saw service in World War II. It was formed as a 2nd Line duplicate of the 54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division using mostly units with connections to East Anglia. The division fought in the short but violent Battle of Singapore but later surrendered and was captured by the Imperial Japanese Army in February 1942.


Throughout the spring and summer of 1939 the Territorial Army was ordered to be doubled in size, due to the increasing likelihood of a war in Europe with Nazi Germany. The 54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division, a 1st Line division, formed a duplicate unit, to be known as the 18th Infantry Division. The 18th Division, however, was not formed as an exact mirror duplicate as most divisions were and was instead divided on geographical basis. The 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th battalions of the Royal Norfolk Regiment, the 4th and 5th Suffolk Regiment and the 1st and 2nd Cambridgeshire Regiment were all assigned to 18th Division, with the 1/4th, 1/5th, 2/4th and 2/5th battalions of the Essex Regiment, the 6th Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment and both the 1st and 2nd Hertfordshire Regiment were assigned to 54th Division.[1]

Among the infantry brigades, the 53rd Infantry Brigade was converted (simply redesignated) from the 163rd Infantry Brigade, originally part of the 54th (East Anglian) Division, on 18 September 1939.

In October 1941 the 18th Division was preparing to move overseas and left the United Kingdom on 28 October, originally intending to be sent to the Middle East but, after the Japanese entered the war, was diverted to the Far East instead and was sent to Singapore. The 53rd Brigade arrived there on 13 January 1942, before the rest of the division, and was attached to the 11th Indian Infantry Division and Westforce on mainland Malaya where it was involved in the retreat back to Singapore, fighting the Battle of Muar, the last major battle of the Malayan Campaign, in company with Indian units.

The main part of the 18th Division landed at Singapore a few weeks before the fall of the island. After the violent week-long Battle of Singapore, Lieutenant-General Arthur Ernest Percival, commander of the Singapore garrison, surrendered to the Imperial Japanese Army on 15 February 1942. The division's soldiers went into Japanese Prisoner of war camps where they suffered many hardships for the next three years.

The 18th Division was not reformed later in the war or afterwards when the Territorial Army was reformed in 1947.

Order of Battle

SS Empress of Asia beached and burning, 5 February 1942. The convoy comprised four vessels bringing the remainder of the 18th Division to Singapore, and was the last convoy to reach the island before it fell.

The 18th Infantry Division was constituted as follows during the war:

53rd Infantry Brigade

  • 5th Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment
  • 6th Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment[2]
  • 7th Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment (left 1 November 1939)
  • 2nd Battalion, Cambridgeshire Regiment (from 1 November 1939)[3]
  • 53rd Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company (formed 23 September, disbanded 14 December 1940)

54th Infantry Brigade

  • 4th Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment
  • 4th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
  • 5th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
  • 54th Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company (formed 7 October , disbanded 14 December 1940)

55th Infantry Brigade

Divisional Troops


See also


  1. http://www.britishmilitaryhistory.co.uk/webeasycms/hold/uploads/bmh_document_pdf/18_Infantry_Division__1939_.pdf
  2. Commanded at Singapore by Lieutenant Colonel Ian Lywood who was hospitalised with malaria but killed during the massacre at Alexandra Hospital.
  3. At the time commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Thorne.
  4. Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Carpenter commanded the battalion when Singapore fell.
  5. Lieutenant Colonel Harold Lilly commanded the battalion at Singapore.
  6. http://www.britishmilitaryhistory.co.uk/webeasycms/hold/uploads/bmh_document_pdf/18_Infantry_Division__1942_.pdf
  7. Commanded at Singapore by Lieutenant Colonel Lechmere Thomas/Henry (Flossie) Flower

External links