7th Infantry Division (United Kingdom)

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7th Division
7th Infantry Division
British 7th Infantry Division Insignia.png
Active 1914–1919
October 1938–November 1939
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Type Infantry
Size Division
Engagements Peninsular War
Battle of Fuentes de Onoro
Battle of Vitoria
Battle of the Pyrenees
Battle of Nivelle
Battle of the Nive
Battle of Orthez
First World War
First Battle of Ypres
Battle of Neuve Chapelle
Battle of Aubers Ridge
Battle of Festubert
Battle of Loos
Battle of the Somme
Battle of Passchendaele
Battle of Vittorio Veneto

The 7th Infantry Division was an infantry division of the British Army, first established by The Duke of Wellington as part of the Anglo-Portuguese Army for service in the Peninsular War, and was active also during the First World War from 1914–1919, and in the Second World War from 1938–1939 in Palestine and Egypt.

Peninsular War

The 7th Division was formed during the Peninsular War by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, and was present at the Battle of Fuentes de Onoro the Battle of Vitoria the Battle of the Pyrenees the Battle of Nivelle the Battle of the Nive and the Battle of Orthez. The composition of the 7th Division in the Peninsular War was as follows:

Peninsular War order of battle

Second Boer War

The 7th Division was re-activated during the 2nd Boer War. Its composition in May and June 1900 was as follows:[1]

2nd Boer War order of battle

  • General Officer Commanding: Lt-Gen C. Tucker

14th Brigade Maj-Gen J.G. Maxwell

15th Brigade Maj-Gen A.G. Wavell


Mounted Troops


First World War

The 7th Division was a Regular Army division that was formed by combining battalions returning from outposts in the British Empire at the outbreak of the First World War.[2][3] The division landed at Zeebrugge in Belgium on 6 October 1914 in an attempt to support the Belgian Army’s defence of Antwerp, but was soon forced to retreat south-west as that city fell a few days later. It then played a crucial part in the stabilization of the front at Ypres, preventing a German breakthrough.[4] 7th division fought in most of the major battles on the Western Front through to 1917 before being sent to Italy for the remainder of the war. At the battle of Loos in 1915, the Division’s GOC, Major-General Thompson Capper, was killed in action at the height of the fighting. Unlike the first six regular divisions of the B.E.F., a third of whose strength was made up of regular reservists, the 7th Division was composed entirely of serving regulars, which gave rise to its nickname, ‘The Immortal Seventh’. The composition of 7th Division during the First World War was as follows:[2][3]

First World War order of battle

20th Brigade

The Guards battalions departed in August 1915 when the British Guards Division was formed.

21st Brigade

The brigade transferred to the 30th Division on 19 December 1915, swapping with the 91st Brigade.

22nd Brigade 
91st Brigade 
  • 2nd Battalion, the Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) (from 22nd Bde. December 1915)
  • 1st Battalion, The South Staffordshire Regiment (from 22nd Bde. December 1915)
  • 20th (Service) Battalion (5th City), The Manchester Regiment (to 22nd Bde December 1915)
  • 21st (Service) Battalion (6th City), The Manchester Regiment
  • 22nd (Service) Battalion (7th City), The Manchester Regiment
  • 24th (Service) Battalion (Oldham), The Manchester Regiment (to 22nd Bde December 1915)
  • 1/4th Battalion, The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders (from 21st Bde. December 1915 until January 1916)

The brigade joined from the 30th Division in December 1915, swapping with the 21st Brigade. A number of battalions swapped to the brigade from other 7th Division brigades during the transition.

  • 54th Field Company, Royal Engineers
  • 55th Field Company, RE (until 1 September 1915)
  • 95th Field Company, RE (from 30 August 1915)
  • 2nd Highland Field Company, RE (joined 17 January 1915; to 51st (Highland) Division 24 January 1916)
  • 3rd Durham Field Company, RE (joined from 51st (Highland) Division 30 January 1916; renumbered 528th (Durham) Field Company 3 February 1917)
  • 24th (Service) Bn Manchester Regiment (from 22 May 1916).

Battles during the First World War

Second World War

Richard O'Connor served as Military Governor of Jerusalem and General Officer Commanding, 7th Infantry Division, in Palestine and Egypt from 29 September 1938 to 3 November 1939.[6] When O’Connor was formally appointed on 4 October 1938, the division had not yet been fully formed,[7] but the 19th Infantry Brigade had been earmarked for the new formation.

The Times noted on 19 October 1938 that, “There will be enough infantry to give ... two divisions [the other apparently being the 8th Infantry Division]. Already on duty are the 14th, 16th, 17th and 19th Brigades, the brigade from India, and one made up from home and Malta. Soon there will be added units of a mounted brigade.”[8] The composition of the division just prior to the outbreak of war was as follows:[9]

Second World War order of battle




  • 56 Field Company, Royal Engineers

Division HQ moved from Jerusalem to Cairo on 31 August 1939, giving up command of the above troops and taking over the troops in the Cairo area (the Cairo Brigade became the 29th Infantry Brigade on 20 September 1939). 7th Division HQ then moved to Mersa Matruh on 4 September, taking over all troops in the area except The Armoured Division. The Division was redesignated the 6th Infantry Division on 3 November 1939, and became HQ Western Desert Force in 1940.[11]

General officers commanding

Commanders have included:[12]

See also


  1. Amery (1909), Appendix to Chapters I-XIV, pp. 503–14
  2. 2.0 2.1 Becke (1934) pp. 81–7
  3. 3.0 3.1 The British Army in the Great War: The 7th Division
  4. Lomas D. (1999) First Ypres 1914: Graveyard of the Old Contemptibles, Osprey Publishing Ltd., Oxford: 96 pp.
  5. Richard A. Rinaldi, Royal Engineers, World War I, at Orbat.com
  6. Keegan, John (ed., 2005) Churchill's Generals, London: Cassell Military. ISBN 0-304-36712-5., p.199
  7. 7th Division Commander, The Times, 5 October 1938, p.8
  8. 7th Division Staff, The Times, 19 October 1938, p.18
  9. Joslen (1960), p.51
  10. Joslen (1960), p. 261
  11. Joslen (1960), pp. 51, 276–7, 474
  12. Army Commands


  • L.S. Amery (ed.), The Times History of the War in South Africa 1899-1902, London: Sampson Low, Marston, 6 Vols 1900–09
  • Maj. A.F. Becke, History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions, Part 1: The Regular British Divisions, London: HM Stationery Office, 1934/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2007, ISBN 1-847347-38-X
  • Lt-Col. H.F. Joslen, Orders of Battle, United Kingdom and Colonial Formations and Units in the Second World War, 1939–1945, London: HM Stationery Office, 1960/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2003, ISBN 1-843424-74-6

External sources