7th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters East

7th Brigade
7th Infantry Brigade (Guards)
7th Infantry Brigade
7th Infantry (Reserve) Brigade
7th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters East
Active 1815–1945
2014 –
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Type Infantry
Size Brigade
Part of 1st (United Kingdom) Division
Garrison/HQ Chetwynd Barracks, Chilwell
Engagements Crimean War
Second Boer War
First World War
Second World War
Walter Kitchener
Frederick McCracken
George Lindsay
William Platt

The 7th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters East is a formation in the British Army with a direct lineage to 7th Armoured Brigade and a history that stretches back to the Napoleonic Wars. It saw active service in the Crimean War, the Second Boer War and both World War I and World War II. In 2014, the 7th Armoured Brigade was re-designated as 7th Infantry Brigade, thereby ensuring that the famed "Desert Rats" continue in the British Army's Order of battle.


Waterloo Campaign

When Wellington organized his troops into numbered divisions for the Peninsular War, the component brigades were named for the commanding officer.[lower-alpha 1] For the Hundred Days Campaign, he numbered his British infantry brigades in a single sequence, 1st to 10th. The 7th Brigade formed part of the 7th Division under the command of Major-general Kenneth MacKenzie. It consisted of:

It was assigned to garrison duty and so played no part in the Battle of Waterloo.[6][7]

Crimean War

The 7th Brigade formed part of the 4th Division in the Crimean War. At the Battle of the Alma it was commanded by Brigadier-General Arthur Wellesley Torrens and consisted of:[8]

The brigade was present with the 4th Division at the Battle of Balaclava and played a more major role at the Battle of Inkerman.[12]

Second Boer War

After the Relief of Ladysmith, part of the garrison of Ladysmith were reorganized into the 7th Brigade on 10 March 1900. It consisted of

Initially commanded by Colonel W.G. Knox CB, it was taken over by Brigadier-General Walter Kitchener on 26 March. The brigade formed part of Lyttelton's 4th Division and took part in Sir Redvers Buller's advance north. In August 1900, it took part in the Battle of Bergendal, the last set-piece battle of the war.[13]

Post-war, the brigade was reformed in January 1906 as part of the 4th Division, before joining the 3rd Division in Southern Command in 1907.[14]

First World War

At the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, the 7th Brigade was a regular army formation stationed at Tidworth and assigned to the 3rd Division.[15] It mobilized with the division, crossed to France between 11 and 16 August, concentrated around Aulnoye and Avesnes, and moved forward on 21 August 1914. Other than a brief period when it was reorganized in England in 1918,[16] the brigade served with the 3rd and 25th Divisions on the Western Front throughout the war.[17][18]

3rd Division

With the 3rd Division, the brigade took part in a large number of actions in 1914: the Battle of Mons (23 and 24 August) and subsequent retreat (24 August – 5 September) including the Action of Solesmes and the Battle of Le Cateau. It then took part in the First Battle of the Marne (6 – 9 September) and the Race to the Sea: First Battle of the Aisne (13 – 20 September), and the battles of La Bassée (10 October – 2 November), Messines (31 October – 2 November), Armentières (1 and 2 November) culminating in the First Battle of Ypres (5 – 21 November), notably the Battle of Nonne Bosschen (11 November). 1915 was relatively quieter, but included the First Attack on Bellewaarde (16 June), Hooge (19 July) and the Second Attack on Bellewaarde (25 September).[17]

While with the 3rd Division, the brigade commanded[19]

25th Division

On 18 October 1915, 7th Brigade was posted to the 25th Division in exchange for 76th Brigade as part of a policy of "stiffening" New Army Divisions with regular units.[20] Once there, it was extensively reorganized on 26 October:[18]

On 12 January 1916, the brigade formed the 7th Machine Gun Company and was joined by the 7th Trench Mortar Battery on 18 June 1916.[18]

The brigade saw action in 1916 defending against the German attack on the Vimy Ridge (21 May) but particularly in the Battle of the Somme, including the battles of Albert (3 – 13 July), Bazentin Ridge (14 – 16 July), Pozières Ridge (18 August – 3 September including the fighting for Mouquet Farm on 3 September) and Ancre Heights (1 – 22 October including the capture of the Stuff Redoubt and the Regina Trench). In 1917 it saw action at the Battle of Messines (7 – 14 June) and the Third Battle of Ypres (31 July – 10 August).[21] On 13 October 1917, 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment[lower-alpha 2] joined the brigade[28] and on 10 November the 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment transferred to 74th Brigade.[18]

On 1 March, the 7th Machine Gun Company joined the 74th, 75th and (divisional) 195th Machine Gun Companies in the 25th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps.[28] Due to a shortage of manpower, all British[lower-alpha 3] divisions on the Western Front were reduced from a 12-battalion to a 9-battalion basis in February 1918. As a consequence, 7th Brigade was reduced from four to three battalions.[18][lower-alpha 4] Almost immediately, the German Army's Spring Offensive fell upon the division. The 25th Division was remarkably unlucky; having faced the first German onslaught at the First Battles of the Somme (21 – 25 March), it was moved north to refit, where it faced the second offensive in the Battles of the Lys (9 – 29 April). It was once again moved south to a quite part of the line where it was attacked for the third time in the Battle of the Aisne (27 May – 6 June).[16]

Due to losses sustained, the division was withdrawn from the line and the brigades were reduced to cadre. The divisional and brigade HQs returned to England with 10th Cheshires and 10 other Training Cadre (T.C.) battalions, arriving on 30 June.[16] For the 7th Brigade this meant:[28]

The brigade arrived in England on 30 June and went to Mytchett Camp, Aldershot.[16] Soon after, the T.C. battalions left the brigade (10th Cheshires and 8th Leicesters on 7 July, 13th East Surreys on 16 July) for Eastern Command where they were reformed.[28]

Men of the 20th (Service) Battalion, Manchester Regiment resting by a tank (serial number 9891), disabled by side-slipping down a railway embankment, near Premont, 8 October 1918.

The brigade HQ returned to France with 25th Division HQ on 15 September, arriving at St. Riquier near Abbeville the next day.[16] Units left behind in France (artillery, engineers, signals, pioneers, machine gunners, etc.) rejoined the division between then and 19 October.[30] The brigade was reformed on 16 September with battalions withdrawn from the Italian Front:[28]

Thereafter the brigade took part in the Final Advance to Victory, notably in the Battles of the Hindenburg Line Battle of the Beaurevoir Line (4 and 5 October), Battle of Cambrai (8 and 9 October), and Pursuit to the Selle (9 – 11 October) – and the Final Advance in Picardy Battle of the Selle (17 – 25 October) and Battle of the Sambre (4 November).[16]

Second World War

The brigade continued in existence throughout the interwar period, seeing numerous changes in its composition and eventually, in the late 1930s, leading to it being redesignated 7th Infantry Brigade (Guards). At the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, the 7th Infantry Brigade (Guards)[lower-alpha 7] was, once again, assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, commanded at the time by Major-General Bernard Montgomery, in Southern Command. It was stationed at Pirbright with the following units under command:

The brigade moved to France with the rest of the 3rd Division on 30 September 1939 as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and remained there, serving alongside the French Army, until May 1940. It first saw action against the German Army's offensive in Belgium and France, notably on the Ypres-Comines Canal (26 – 28 May 1940) before being evacuated from Dunkirk to the United Kingdom by 1 June.[32] On 15 September 1941, it was converted to the Guards Support Group.[33]

Guardsmen of King's Company, 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards go 'over the top' during training at Annappes, France, 8 April 1940.

The 37th Infantry Brigade (originally in 12th (Eastern) Infantry Division) joined the 3rd Infantry Division on 27 November 1941 and on 8 December it was redesignated as 7th Infantry Brigade. At this time it commanded:[34]

The brigade served with the 9th Armoured Division from June 1942 until July 1944, when the division was disbanded, followed by the 47th Infantry (Reserve) Division from 10 September 1944 until August 1945. On 30 September 1944, it was reorganised as a reserve brigade whereupon it was redesignated as the 7th Infantry (Reserve) Brigade. The brigade remained in the United Kingdom throughout. By the end of the war, the brigade structure was:[34]

Current formation

On 5 March 2013, the British Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond, announced that the 7th Armoured Brigade would have its Challenger 2 tanks and heavy armoured battalions removed over the next decade. The Brigade itself will be re-designated as the 7th Infantry Brigade, but retain its famed 'Desert Rats' insignia.[35] On 24 February 2015, the brigade formally stepped out of its armour role into that of an infantry brigade and regional point of command.[36] At the same time, 49 (East) Brigade merged into 7th Infantry Brigade.[37]

Commanding officers

The 7th Brigade had the following commanders from January 1906:

From Rank Name Notes
January 1906 Brigadier-General Hubert I.W. Hamilton [14]
October 1908 Brigadier-General Laurence G. Drummond [14][38]
October 1912 Brigadier-General Frederick W. N. McCracken [14][39]
23 November 1914 Brigadier-General C.R. Ballard [39]
23 July 1915 Brigadier-General C. Golsing (wounded 1 May 1916)[39][40]
1 May 1916 Lieutenant-Colonel J.D. Crosbie (acting)[40]
8 May 1916 Brigadier-General Charles Edensor Heathcote [40]
30 August 1916 Brigadier-General C.C. Onslow [40]
9 August 1917 Lieutenant-Colonel A.C. Johnston (acting)[40]
29 August 1917 Brigadier-General C.J. Griffin (wounded 29 May 1918)[40]
29 May 1918 Brigadier-General H.R. Headlam (temporary)[40]
31 May 1918 Brigadier-General C.J. Hickie [40]
November 1919 Brigadier-General Gwyn V. Hordern [14]
November 1923 Brigadier George H.N. Jackson [14]
May 1927 Brigadier Robert J. Collins [14]
February 1929 Brigadier C. Clement Armitage [14]
July 1932 Brigadier George M. Lindsay [14]
October 1934 Brigadier William Platt [14]
November 1938 Brigadier John A.C. Whitaker [14][32]
18 August 1940 Brigadier Arnold de L. Cazenove redesignated Guards Support Group, 15 September 1941[14][32]
11 June 1940 Brigadier Richard J.P. Wyatt redesignated from 37th Infantry Brigade, 8 December 1941[14][34]
14 February 1942 Brigadier Walter H. Oxley [14][34]
1 June 1942 Brigadier Basil B. Rackham [14][34]
10 August 1944 Colonel D.M.W. Beak (acting)[34]
10 September 1944 Brigadier David H. Haugh [14][34]

See also


  1. This could be a source of confusion as brigades acquired new commanders, or they moved between brigades, or indeed if two officers with the same surname commanded brigades simultaneously, for example Campbell's Brigade of 1st Division[1] and Campbell's Brigade of 4th Division[2] on 18 June 1809.
  2. The 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment was originally the 2nd Battalion, The King's Own (1st Staffordshire) Militia, transferred to the Special Reserve (S.R.) by Haldane's military reforms on 2 August 1908. (The 1st Battalion, The King's Own (1st Staffordshire) Militia became the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment at the same time.)[22] Special Reserve battalions were intended to train replacements and provide drafts to the regular (1st and 2nd) battalions.[23] Just four of 101 S.R. battalions were posted to active fronts: the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalions of the King's Regiment (Liverpool),[24] the Bedfordshire Regiment,[25] the South Staffordshire Regiment[26] and the North Staffordshire Regiment.[27]
  3. As distinct from the Australian, Canadian and the New Zealand divisions which remained on a 12-battalion basis.
  4. On 16 February 1918, 8th Loyals was disbanded with 21 officers and 480 other ranks drafted to 2/4th and 1/5th Loyals in 170th (2/1st North Lancashire) Brigade, 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division, and the remainder absorbed by the 5th Entrenching Battalion.[18]
  5. 10th Cheshires provided 10 officers and 353 other ranks to 9th Cheshires in 56th Brigade, 19th (Western) Division.[28]
  6. 25th Division formed a Composite Brigade on 21 and 22 June 1918 with 4th South Staffs and 11th Lancashire Fusiliers (as No. 1 Battalion), 8th Border Regiment and 9th Loyals (as No. 2 Battalion) and 6th Cheshires (as No 3 Battalion).[29]
  7. The "Guards" subtitle was applied as all three constituent battlions were drawn from the Guards regiments.


  1. Reid 2004, p. 35
  2. Reid 2004, p. 52
  3. "The King's Own Scottish Borderers by T.F. Mills at regiments.org". Archived from the original on 15 July 2007. Retrieved 2014-08-25.
  4. "37th (North Hampshire) Regiment of Foot by T.F. Mills at regiments.org". Archived from the original on 15 July 2007. Retrieved 2014-08-25.
  5. "78th (Highlanders) Regiment of Foot (or The Ross-shire Buffs) by T.F. Mills at regiments.org". Archived from the original on 15 July 2007. Retrieved 2014-08-25.
  6. The Anglo-Allied Army at napoleonic-literature.com at the Wayback Machine (archived 17 July 2012)
  7. "Wellington's Army in 1815". Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  8. "The Crimean War - The Battle of The Alma". britishbattles.com. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  9. "The Lancashire Fusiliers by T.F. Mills at regiments.org". Archived from the original on 13 January 2008. Retrieved 2006-01-03.
  10. "The Royal Scots Fusiliers by T.F. Mills at regiments.org". Archived from the original on 18 January 2008. Retrieved 2015-07-28.
  11. "68th (Durham) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry) by T.F. Mills at regiments.org". Archived from the original on 9 January 2008. Retrieved 2007-02-12.
  12. "Torrens, Arthur Wellesley (DNB00) in the Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900". Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  13. "Jacson: Chapter III - Events Following The Siege Of Ladysmith, And The Advance North Under Sir Redvers Buller 1900". AngloBoerWar.com. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Mackie, Colin (August 2014). "Senior Army Appointments" (PDF). p. 191. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 July 2015. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  15. Conrad, Mark (1996). "The British Army, 1914". Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  16. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Becke 1938, p. 142
  17. 1 2 Becke 1935, p. 54
  18. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Becke 1938, p. 139
  19. Becke 1935, p. 52
  20. Becke 1935, p. 53
  21. Becke 1938, p. 141
  22. Frederick 1984, p. 309
  23. Baker, Chris. "The South Staffordshire Regiment". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  24. James 1978, p. 51
  25. James 1978, p. 59
  26. James 1978, p. 80
  27. James 1978, p. 98
  28. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Becke 1938, p. 140
  29. Becke 1938, p. 137
  30. Becke 1938, p. 138
  31. "British Southern Command on 3 September 1939". The Patriot Files. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  32. 1 2 3 Joslen 1990, p. 243
  33. Joslen 1990, p. 214
  34. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Joslen 1990, p. 286
  35. "Desert Rats lose tanks in defence shake-up: Decision branded 'a disgrace' as unit becomes infantry brigade". Daily Mail. 6 March 2013. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  36. "The Desert Rats begin the next chapter". Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). 24 February 2015. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  37. "49 (East) Brigade Officially Disbanded". Forces TV. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  38. 'Drummond, Maj.-Gen. Laurence (George)' in Who Was Who 1941–1950 (London: A. & C. Black, 1980 reprint, ISBN 0-7136-2131-1)
  39. 1 2 3 Becke 1935, p. 50
  40. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Becke 1938, p. 136


External links

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