1st Cavalry Division
First World War division insignia
ActiveAugust 1914 – March 1919
31 October 1940 – 1 August 1941
Country United Kingdom
AllegianceBritish Crown
Branch British Army

Second World War

11,097 men[1]
6,081 horses[1]
1,815 vehicles[1][a]
Part ofCavalry Corps (First World War)
EngagementsFirst World War
Battle of Mons (1914)
Action of Elouges
Rearguard Action of Solesmes
Battle of Le Cateau
Rearguard Affair of Etreux
Affair of Nery
Rearguard Actions of Villers-Cotterets
Battle of the Marne
Battle of the Aisne
Actions on the Aisne Heights
First Battle of Ypres 1914
Second Battle of Ypres 1915
Battle of Flers-Courcelette 1916
Battle of Arras 1917
Battle of Cambrai 1917
First Battle of the Somme 1918
Battle of Amiens 1918
Second Battle of the Somme 1918
Hindenburg Line 1918
Final Advance in Artois
Final Advance in Picardy

Second World War

Anglo-Iraqi War
Syria–Lebanon campaign
Edmund Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby

The 1st Cavalry Division was a regular Division of the British Army during the First World War where it fought on the Western Front. During the Second World War it was a first line formation, formed from Yeomanry Regiments. It fought in the Middle East before being converted to the 10th Armoured Division.

Napoleonic Wars

During the Peninsular War, Wellington organized his cavalry into The Cavalry Division from June 1809 under Major-General Sir William Payne.[2] This performed a purely administrative, rather than tactical, role;[3] the normal tactical headquarters were provided by brigades commanding two, later usually three, regiments.[4] On 3 June 1810, Payne returned home and his second-in-command, Major-General Stapleton Cotton, took command.[5] Cotton was to remain in command thereafter[6] and effectively acted as Wellington's chief of cavalry.[4]

On 19 June 1811, the cavalry was reorganized as two divisions and The Cavalry Division was redesignated as 1st Cavalry Division with the formation of the 2nd Cavalry Division.[7] The divisions were once again amalgamated as The Cavalry Division on 21 April 1813 with Cotton (Lieutenant-General from 1 January 1812) still in command.[8]

First World War

The 1st Cavalry Division was one of the first Divisions to move to France in 1914, they would remain on the Western Front throughout the war. It participated in most of the major actions where cavalry were used as a mounted mobile force, they would also be used as dismounted troops and effectively serve as infantry.[9] On 11 November 1918, orders were received that the Division would lead the advance of Second Army into Germany, by 6 December, having passed through Namur, the Division secured the Rhine bridgehead at Cologne.[9]

Order of battle in the First World War

1st Cavalry Brigade

Main article: 1st Cavalry Brigade (United Kingdom)

2nd Dragoon Guards
5th Dragoon Guards
11th Hussars
1st Signal Troop, Royal Engineers
1st Cavalry Brigade Machine Gun Squadron (from February 1916)[9]

2nd Cavalry Brigade

Main article: 2nd Cavalry Brigade (United Kingdom)

4th Dragoon Guards
9th Lancers
18th Hussars
2nd Signal Troop, Royal Engineers
2nd Cavalry Brigade Machine Gun Squadron (from 28 February 1916)[9]

9th Cavalry Brigade

Main article: 9th Cavalry Brigade (United Kingdom)

9th Cavalry Brigade was formed in France on 14 April 1915 with the 15th Hussars and the 19th Hussars.[10] These regular cavalry regiments had been serving on the Western Front since August 1914 as divisional cavalry squadrons assigned to infantry divisions.[11] The brigade remained with 1st Cavalry Division for the rest of the war.[10]

Unit From To
15th (The King's) Hussars 14 April 1915
19th (Queen Alexandra's Own Royal) Hussars 14 April 1915
1/1st Bedfordshire Yeomanry 12 June 1915 10 March 1918
April 1918[b]
8th (The King's Royal Irish) Hussars 10 March 1918[c]
1/1st Warwickshire Battery, RHA (TF) 14 April 1915 21 November 1916[d]
Y Battery, RHA 1 December 1916[d]
9th Signal Troop, Royal Engineers 14 April 1915
9th Cavalry Brigade Machine Gun Squadron, MGC 28 February 1916[e]

Cavalry Divisional troops

III Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery transferred to 2nd Cavalry Division on formation on 17 September 1914
D Battery, RHA
E Battery, RHA
III RHA Brigade Ammunition Column
VII Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery
I Battery, RHA attached to 1st Cavalry Brigade from 17 September 1914
L Battery, RHA withdrawn after Action at Néry on 1 September 1914
(Tempy) Z Battery, RHA from 1 to 27 September 1914
H Battery, RHA from 28 September 1914, attached to 2nd Cavalry Brigade
1/1st Warwickshire Battery, RHA (TF) from 14 April 1915 to 21 November 1916, attached to 9th Cavalry Brigade
Y Battery, RHA from 1 December 1916, attached to 9th Cavalry Brigade
VII RHA Brigade Ammunition Column
1st Field Squadron Royal Engineers
1st Signal Squadron, Royal Engineers[9]

Second World War

Main articles: Anglo-Iraqi War, Syria–Lebanon campaign, and Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran

On 31 October 1939, during the Second World War, the 1st Cavalry Division was reformed. It was assigned to Northern Command, and took command of two pre-war First Line Territorial Army cavalry brigades (the 5th and 6th) and the newly formed 4th Cavalry Brigade.[14] It was the only cavalry division in the British Army during the war.

It departed the United Kingdom in January 1940, transited across France, and arrived in Palestine on 31 January 1940. It served as a garrison force under British Forces, Palestine and Trans-Jordan.[14]

In May 1941, the Divisional Headquarters and elements of the division (notably the 4th Cavalry Brigade), together with a battalion of infantry from the Essex Regiment (the 1st Battalion), a mechanised regiment from the Arab Legion and supporting artillery was reorganised as Habforce for operations in Iraq including the relief of the base at RAF Habbaniya and the occupation of Baghdad. Following this, in July 1941, Habforce was placed under the command of Australian I Corps and was involved in operations against the Vichy French in Syria, advancing from eastern Iraq near the Trans-Jordan border to capture Palmyra and secure the Haditha - Tripoli oil pipeline.[15]

On 1 August 1941, the 1st Cavalry Division was converted into the 10th Armoured Division.[14][f] 10th Armoured Division later fought at the Battles of Alam Halfa and El Alamein. The 10th Armoured Division was disbanded in Egypt on 15 June 1944.[18]

Order of battle in Second World War

4th Cavalry Brigade

Main article: 4th Cavalry Brigade (United Kingdom)

Unit From To
Household Cavalry Composite Regiment 13 November 1939 12 January 1941
1st Household Cavalry Regiment[g] 13 January 1941 31 July 1941
North Somerset Yeomanry 15 November 1939 21 March 1941[h]
Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry 3 December 1939 2 October 1940[i]
8 January 1941 31 July 1941
Warwickshire Yeomanry 22 March 1941[j] 31 July 1941

5th Cavalry Brigade

Main article: 5th Cavalry Brigade (United Kingdom)

Unit From To
Yorkshire Hussars 3 September 1939 22 March 1941[k]
Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry 3 September 1939 2 February 1941[l]
Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons 3 September 1939 18 March 1942
North Somerset Yeomanry 20 March 1941[h] 20 March 1942
Cheshire Yeomanry 21 March 1941[m] 7 June 1941
15 July 1941 21 March 1942
Staffordshire Yeomanry 30 April 1941 4 June 1941[n]

6th Cavalry Brigade

Main article: 6th Cavalry Brigade (United Kingdom)

Unit From To
Warwickshire Yeomanry 3 September 1939 21 March 1941[j]
Staffordshire Yeomanry 3 September 1939 28 April 1941[n]
5 June 1941 31 July 1941
Cheshire Yeomanry 3 September 1939 20 March 1941[m]
Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry 3 October 1940[i] 7 January 1941
Royal Scots Greys 1 March 1941[o] 31 July 1941
Yorkshire Hussars 23 March 1941[k] 31 July 1941

Support Units

The division also commanded the following support units:[14]

104th (Essex Yeomanry) Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery
106th (Lancashire Hussars) Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery
107th (South Nottinghamshire Hussars) Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery
2nd Field Squadron, Royal Engineers
141st Field Park Squadron, Royal Engineers
1st Cavalry Divisional Signals (Middlesex Yeomanry), Royal Corps of Signals
550th Company, Royal Army Service Corps, TA[21]


The 1st Cavalry Division had the following commanders during the First World War:[22]

From Rank Name
Mobilization Major-General E.H.H. Allenby
12 October 1914 Major-General H. de B. de Lisle
27 May 1916 Major-General Hon. C.E. Bingham
24 October 1915 Major-General R.L. Mullens

The 1st Cavalry Division had the following commanders during the Second World War:[14]

From Rank Name
31 October 1939 Major-General J.G.W. Clark
27 June 1940 Brigadier J.J. Kingstone (acting)
1 July 1940 Major-General J.G.W. Clark
26 February 1941 Brigadier J.J. Kingstone (acting)
8 May 1941 Major-General J.G.W. Clark

See also


  1. ^ These figures comprise the war establishment, the on-paper strength, of the division.
  2. ^ 1/1st Bedfordshire Yeomanry left to become a cyclist unit, then to form a machine gun battalion with the 1/1st Essex Yeomanry. The German Spring Offensive forestalled this plan, and the regiment was remounted and returned to 1st Cavalry Division. From April 1918 it was split up with a squadron joining each regiment in 9th Cavalry Brigade (8th, 15th and 19th Hussars).[12]
  3. ^ 8th Hussars joined from 3rd (Ambala) Cavalry Brigade of the 5th Cavalry Division after it was broken up. On 11 March it came on the British War Establishment i.e. the 4th squadron was absorbed into the others.[10]
  4. ^ a b 1/1st Warwickshire Battery, RHA transferred to XV Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery in 29th Division in exchange for Y Battery, RHA.[10]
  5. ^ 9th Cavalry Brigade Machine Gun Squadron was formed from the machine gun sections of the brigade's constituent regiments.[13]
  6. ^ 4th Cavalry Brigade was converted into the 9th Armoured Brigade[16] and 6th Cavalry Brigade into 8th Armoured Brigade[17]
  7. ^ Household Cavalry Composite Regiment was redesignated 1st Household Cavalry Regiment.
  8. ^ a b North Somerset Yeomanry transferred from 4th to 5th Cavalry Brigade.[16][19]
  9. ^ a b Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry transferred from 4th to 6th Cavalry Brigade, and back again.[16][17]
  10. ^ a b Warwickshire Yeomanry transferred from 6th to 4th Cavalry Brigade.[16][17]
  11. ^ a b Yorkshire Hussars transferred from 5th to 6th Cavalry Brigade.[17][19]
  12. ^ Sherwood Rangers transferred to HQ, Middle East Forces and was later converted into an Armoured Regiment with the 8th Armoured Brigade (former 4th Cavalry Brigade).
  13. ^ a b Cheshire Yeomanry transferred from 6th to 5th Cavalry Brigade.[17][19]
  14. ^ a b Staffordshire Yeomanry transferred from 6th to 5th Cavalry Brigade, and back again.[17][19]
  15. ^ Royal Scots Greys joined from Force Troops, British Forces in Palestine and Trans-Jordan.[20]


  1. ^ a b c Joslen 2003, p. 133
  2. ^ Reid 2004, p. 79
  3. ^ Haythornthwaite 1990, p. 103
  4. ^ a b Reid 2004, p. 75
  5. ^ Reid 2004, p. 80
  6. ^ Reid 2004, p. 86
  7. ^ Reid 2004, p. 81
  8. ^ Reid 2004, p. 85
  9. ^ a b c d e Baker, Chris. "The 1st Cavalry Division, Order of Battle". The Long Long Trail. The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918 (website). Archived from the original on 1 October 2009. Retrieved 11 July 2008.
  10. ^ a b c d Becke 1935, p. 5
  11. ^ James 1978, p. 12
  12. ^ James 1978, p. 16
  13. ^ Baker, Chris. "Cavalry units of the Machine Gun Corps". The Long Long Trail. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  14. ^ a b c d e Joslen 2003, p. 33
  15. ^ Rothwell, Steve. "Orders of Battle: Arab Legion". Retrieved 25 November 2008.
  16. ^ a b c d Joslen 2003, p. 189
  17. ^ a b c d e f Joslen 2003, p. 191
  18. ^ Joslen 2003, p. 25
  19. ^ a b c d Joslen 2003, p. 190
  20. ^ Joslen 2003, p. 480
  21. ^ "History of 550 Coy RASC TA 1936-45" by Capt M B Phillips, TD
  22. ^ Becke 1935, p. 1