British units in World War I

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This page is about units mainly recruited in the United Kingdom from British subjects. For units recruited by the British Crown or colonial governments outside the UK, India and the major dominions, see British colonial units in World War I. For example, we class the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, West India Regiment and British West Indies Regiment as colonial, not British, as this seems to agree with the definition in the Manual of Military Law. If you're not sure where to look for a specific unit, use the website search. This can also help you find specific units under variant names.

See how you can help to find out how you can help collect experiences of those in the First World War in their own words; you can also help by filling in the battalions for each regiment. A good source is the Long, Long Trail's page for the British infantry of 1914-1918 and on The British Divisions of 1914-1918. Chris Baker, the site's owner, has kindly given permission to use information from the site. We now have pages for most infantry battalions, but please feel free to get stuck in if you spot a gap!

Here's a list of REGIMENTS and CORPS of the BRITISH ARMY in 1918 (via the Internet Archive as the site appears to have been down for some years).

If you've got a diary, letters or other personal narratives you want to add now:

  • if the page for the author's unit already exists, you can add it straight to the page. See below for which British units do and don't currently have pages.
  • if the page for the author's unit doesn't yet exist, you can create it.
  • if you don't want to create a page or you don't know which unit the author belonged to, you can add the narrative to Lists of personal diaries, letters, memoirs.

To create a new page:

Type the name of the unit, add ", UK" to the end if it's a British unit, then make it into a wiki link by putting two square brackets around the name of the regiment or battalion, like this:

[[1st Battalion Example Regiment, UK]]

This makes it into a red link 1st Battalion Example Regiment, UK; you can click on any red-linked page name to create that page. You can also create a page by entering its name in the search box. If it doesn't already exist, you can click on the red link in the search results.

See also naming conventions for British units.

British Army[edit]

The British Army consisted of land forces raised in the United Kingdom apart from the Royal Marines and the Royal Naval Division. It had these branches:

  • Regular Army
  • New Army
  • Territorial Force
  • Special Reserve
  • Volunteer Force

Most regiments and corps included a mixture of units from each branch.

Every British army unit that has a page on this site should be listed in Category:All British Army units.

See also British Army Hierarchies for more information about the structure of the Army.

Higher formations[edit]

These are tactical formations above division level:

  • Category:British corps (tactical) has pages for every corps except and Tank Corps headquarters. These were the next level above divisions.
  • Category:British armies has pages for all the armies on the Western Front and at Salonika and Gallipoli. These were the next level above corps.
  • Category:British Empire GHQs contains expeditionary forces and other formations that had the general headquarters in a theatre of war. Some pages have been added but several theatres are still missing.

Infantry[edit]

Infantry regiments[edit]

We now have a page for every infantry regiment of the British Army. The table below shows links to the pages and the regiments' full names. It can be sorted by names or order of precedence. The website search can also help you find specific units under variant names.

Page Name Full Name Precedence
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, UK Princess Louise's (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) 091
Bedfordshire Regiment, UK Bedfordshire Regiment 016
Black Watch, UK Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) 042
Border Regiment, UK Border Regiment 034
Cambridgeshire Regiment, UK Cambridgeshire Regiment 199 04
Cameron Highlanders, UK Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders 079
Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), UK Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) 026
Cheshire Regiment, UK Cheshire Regiment 022
Coldstream Guards, UK Coldstream Guards 000 02
Connaught Rangers, UK Connaught Rangers 088
Devonshire Regiment, UK Devonshire Regiment 011
Dorsetshire Regiment, UK Dorsetshire Regiment 039
Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, UK Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry 032
Durham Light Infantry, UK Durham Light Infantry 068
East Kent Regiment, UK Buffs (East Kent Regiment) 003
East Lancashire Regiment, UK East Lancashire Regiment 030
East Surrey Regiment, UK East Surrey Regiment 031
East Yorkshire Regiment, UK East Yorkshire Regiment 015
Essex Regiment, UK Essex Regiment 044
Gloucestershire Regiment, UK Gloucestershire Regiment 028
Gordon Highlanders, UK Gordon Highlanders 075
Grenadier Guards, UK Grenadier Guards 000 01
Hampshire Regiment, UK Hampshire Regiment 037
Herefordshire Regiment, UK Herefordshire Regiment 199 07
Hertfordshire Regiment, UK Hertfordshire Regiment 199 06
Highland Cyclist Battalion, UK Highland Cyclist Battalion 199 09
Highland Light Infantry, UK Highland Light Infantry 071
Honourable Artillery Company (Infantry), UK Honourable Artillery Company (Infantry) 199 02
Household Battalion, UK Household Battalion 000 00
Huntingdonshire Cyclist Battalion, UK Huntingdonshire Cyclist Battalion 199 11
Irish Guards, UK Irish Guards 000 04
Kent Cyclist Battalion, UK Kent Cyclist Battalion 199 10
King's Liverpool Regiment, UK King's (Liverpool Regiment) 008
King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, UK King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) 004
King's Own Scottish Borderers, UK King's Own Scottish Borderers 025
King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, UK King's Own (Yorkshire Light Infantry) 051
King's Royal Rifle Corps, UK King's Royal Rifle Corps 060
King's Shropshire Light Infantry, UK King's (Shropshire Light Infantry) 053
Lancashire Fusiliers, UK Lancashire Fusiliers 020
Leicestershire Regiment, UK Leicestershire Regiment 017
Leinster Regiment, UK Prince of Wales's Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians) 100
Lincolnshire Regiment, UK Lincolnshire Regiment 010
London Regiment, UK London Regiment 199 05
Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, UK Loyal North Lancashire Regiment 047
Manchester Regiment, UK Manchester Regiment 063
Middlesex Regiment, UK Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment) 057
Monmouthshire Regiment, UK Monmouthshire Regiment 199 03
Norfolk Regiment, UK Norfolk Regiment 009
North Staffordshire Regiment, UK Prince of Wales's (North Staffordshire Regiment) 064
Northamptonshire Regiment, UK Northamptonshire Regiment 048
Northern Cyclist Battalion, UK Northern Cyclist Battalion 199 08
Northumberland Fusiliers, UK Northumberland Fusiliers 005
Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, UK Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry 043
Rifle Brigade, UK Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own) 199 01
Royal Berkshire Regiment, UK Princess Charlotte of Wales's (Royal Berkshire Regiment) 049
Royal Dublin Fusiliers, UK Royal Dublin Fusiliers 102
Royal Fusiliers, UK Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) 007
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, UK Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers 027
Royal Irish Fusiliers, UK Princess Victoria's (Royal Irish Fusiliers) 087
Royal Irish Regiment, UK Royal Irish Regiment 018
Royal Irish Rifles, UK Royal Irish Rifles 083
Royal Munster Fusiliers, UK Royal Munster Fusiliers 101
Royal Scots Fusiliers, UK Royal Scots Fusiliers 021
Royal Scots, UK Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) 001
Royal Sussex Regiment, UK Royal Sussex Regiment 035
Royal Warwickshire Regiment, UK Royal Warwickshire Regiment 006
Royal Welsh Fusiliers, UK Royal Welsh Fusiliers 023
Royal West Kent Regiment, UK Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) 050
Royal West Surrey Regiment, UK Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) 002
Scots Guards, UK Scots Guards 000 03
Seaforth Highlanders, UK Seaforth Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs, The Duke of Albany's) 072
Sherwood Foresters, UK Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) 045
Somerset Light Infantry, UK Prince Albert's (Somerset Light Infantry) 013
South Lancashire Regiment, UK Prince of Wales's Volunteers (South Lancashire Regiment) 040
South Staffordshire Regiment, UK South Staffordshire Regiment 038
South Wales Borderers, UK South Wales Borderers 024
Suffolk Regiment, UK Suffolk Regiment 012
Welsh Guards, UK Welsh Guards 000 05
Welsh Regiment, UK Welsh Regiment 041
West Riding Regiment, UK Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment) 033
West Yorkshire Regiment, UK Prince of Wales's Own (West Yorkshire Regiment) 014
Wiltshire Regiment, UK Duke of Edinburgh's (Wiltshire Regiment) 062
Worcestershire Regiment, UK Worcestershire Regiment 029
York and Lancaster Regiment, UK York and Lancaster Regiment 065
Yorkshire Regiment, UK Alexandra, Princess of Wales's Own (Yorkshire Regiment) 019

Also administratively part of the infantry:

Regiment pages show each regiment's parent record office. Record offices also have their own pages, listed in Category:British Army record offices.

Infantry battalions[edit]

'The battalion was the basic tactical unit of the infantry of the British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918. At full establishment it consisted of 1,007 men of whom 30 were officers. It comprised a Battalion Headquarters and four Companies.'[1]

We now have pages for nearly every British infantry battalion known to have existed. There might be some provisional battalions and Royal Defence Corps battalions missing: these will need to be added manually if any can be identified.

We don't yet have any information about Royal Defence Corps protection companies.

See also #Volunteer Training Corps below.

There are too many battalions to list on this page (already more than 1,700), but there are several ways you can find them:

The regiment pages shown in the table above should list all battalions known to have been part of a regiment.

The following categories list British infantry battalions:

  • Category:British infantry battalions: all British infantry battalions that have pages, listed alphabetically by regiment, then in order of battalion numbers. Includes Army, Royal Navy and Royal Marines.
    • Also has sub-categories listing certain battalions by uniform distinctions and special roles, but these are not yet complete.
  • Category:British Army infantry battalions by regimental precedence: British Army infantry battalions only, listed in order of regimental precedence as shown in the above table, then in order of battalion numbers.

You can also use the search box to find battalions that already have pages. You don't always have to enter the name exactly as it appears in the page title: alternative names will often show up as redirects or part of the page text.

Infantry brigades[edit]

We now have a page for nearly every British infantry brigade that has war diaries. These pages are listed in Category:British infantry brigades.

Please feel free to add any missing brigades.

Infantry divisions[edit]

We now have pages for every British infantry division, including the divisions of the original Fourth New Army that were broken up in April 1915. These pages are listed in Category:British divisions.

Cavalry[edit]

We now have pages for more or less every British cavalry and yeomanry unit. You can find them in Category:British mounted units and its sub-categories.

Cavalry administrative units[edit]

These are the administrative corps and record offices of the British cavalry, including regular, yeomanry and Special Reserve regiments:

Cavalry divisions and corps[edit]

Cavalry brigades[edit]

See Category:British cavalry and mounted brigades for regular cavalry and yeomanry mounted brigades.

Cavalry and yeomanry regiments[edit]

Cavalry and yeomanry (ie Territorial cavalry) regiments and independent squadrons are listed in these categories:


Sources[edit]

Imperial Camel Corps[edit]

Machine Gun Units[edit]

We now have pages for all British machine gun units that have war diaries. Any that don't have war diaries will need to be added manually.

Most units belonged to Machine Gun Corps, UK, consisting of:

The Guards had their own machine gun units which were administratively separate from the Machine Gun Corps:

Artillery[edit]

Royal Artillery, UK was an arm of the British Army, divided into two corps:

The basic unit of the Royal Field Artillery was the brigade, which was roughly equivalent to an infantry battalion.

We now have pages for every Royal Horse Artillery unit that has war diaries. These are listed in Category:British horse artillery units.

Cyclists[edit]

See Category:British cyclist battalions and Category:British cyclist companies for cyclist units.

Most of these were administratively under Army Cyclist Corps, UK but there are some exceptions. The following independent units were also classed as infantry regiments:

The Territorial battalions of some county infantry regiments were equipped as cyclists. All of these battalions have pages and are categorised as cyclist battalions as well as infantry battalions.

Some yeomanry cavalry regiments were converted into cyclists. We haven't yet catalogued these changes but all yeomanry regiments have pages.

Other regiments, corps and departments[edit]

This is a list of other regiments, corps and departments of the British Army.

Women's departments[edit]

Officer Cadet Battalions[edit]

These battalions were set up to train new officers. They all have pages, listed in Category:British officer cadet battalions.

Volunteer Training Corps and Volunteer Force[edit]

Home defence units similar to the Home Guard in WW2. Initially known as the Volunteer Training Corps and not officially recognised by the War Office. In June 1916, the British Crown declared that volunteer units could be accepted under the terms of the 1863 Volunteer Act, which had never been repealed but had not been used in practice since the old Volunteer Force was converted into the Territorial Force in 1908. From then on, volunteer units accepted by the Crown were part of the Volunteer Force and their names were listed in the official Army Orders when they were accepted.[1] Later in the war, probably in 1918, Volunteer battalions were integrated into British Army regiments. We're not yet sure how far they were administratively integrated, but at the very least they took the name and badge of the parent regiment.

For the purposes of data on this site, Volunteer units that were officially accepted by Army Orders will be treated as a branch of the British Army called "Volunteer Force". If we can identify any units that existed in the VTC but were not accepted by the Crown into the VF, they will be classed as a separate service called "Volunteer Training Corps".

We don't have a definitive list of units, but have started building a list of red links below. Please add any regiments or battalions that you know of. Page names will be based on pre-1918 Volunteer regiment names to disambiguate the units from pre-1908 Volunteer battalions. Ideally the canonical names will be taken from Army Orders listing accepted units.

More units are listed in Army Orders 206, 284, 323 and 374 of 1916. Links to these will be added later.


For more information see:

Royal Navy[edit]

Branches:

  • Regular Navy
  • Royal Naval Reserve
  • Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

Also included the Royal Naval Air Service, which operated aircraft and armoured cars.

Royal Navy infantry[edit]

These infantry units and formations were raised by the Royal Navy but fought on land under Army command.

Royal Marines[edit]

RMLI units that were not part of the Royal Naval Division will need to be added manually if any can be identified.

Royal Air Force[edit]

Formed in April 1918 from the Royal Flying Corps (part of the Army) and Royal Naval Air Service (part of the Royal Navy).

Other organisations[edit]

We need more information about the legal and administrative status of some of these organisations in relation to the British Army.


Women's organisations[edit]

See also women's departments of the British Army above.

  • Units started to be recognised on 17 June 1916, Army Order 203 of 1916