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The 6th Infantry Division was first established by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington for service in the Peninsula War and was active for most of the period since, including the First World War and the Second World War. The modern division was reformed on 1 February 2008, as a deployable two star Headquarters for service in Afghanistanmarker during Operation Herrick.It was officially reformed with a parade and flag presentation at York on Tuesday 5 August 2008.

Peninsula War

The 6th Division was formed for service in the Peninsula War by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, it was present at the Battles of Fuentes de Onoro, Salamancamarker, Pyrenees and the Battle of Orthez.

Formation during the Peninsula War

  • 2nd Brigade: Major General Lambert (from November 1812)
    • 1/11th Foot
    • 1/32nd Foot
    • 1/36th Foot
    • 1/61st Foot
    • 1 coy., 5/60th Foot

  • Portuguese Brigade: Brigadier General de Rezende
    • 1/8th Portuguese Line
    • 2/8th Portuguese Line
    • 1/12th Portuguese Line
    • 2/12th Portuguese Line
    • 9th Caçadores

First World War

First World War

The British 6th Division was a Regular Army division that was sent to Francemarker on 9 September 1914. It served on the Western Front for the duration of the First World War, first seeing action in the First Battle of Ypresmarker.

In 1915 the division moved into the Ypres Salient to relieve troops that had fought in the Second Battle of Ypresmarker. The Salient was relatively quiet for the rest of the year, except for an attack on the chateau at Hooge on 9 August.

At the end of July 1916 the division was withdrawn, having suffered 11,000 casualties, and in September it was attached to XIV Corps where it joined in the Battle of the Somme by attacking the German fortification known as the Quadrilateral. It captured this area on 18 September. They then participated in the attacks on Morval and Le Transloymarker before being withdrawn on 20 October and moved into Corps Reserve. Total casualties on the Somme were 277 officers and 6,640 other ranks. In November the division moved to the relatively quiet La Basséemarker sector, and in March 1917 it went to the Loosmarker sector where it conducted operations and trench raids around Hill 70.

It was withdrawn on 25 July, shortly before the final assault on the hillmarker. From reserve, it then went to take part in the Battle of Cambrai as part of III Corps. Four days after the battle ended, the division was withdrawn to rest at Basseuxmarker. By February 1918 the division was manning the Lagnicourtmarker Sector and was there on 22 March when the Germans launched their Spring Offensive which drove the division back and caused 3,900 casualties out of its 5000 infantry. On 25 March the division was withdrawn to the Ypres Salient again as part of Second Army.

By September the division was part of IX Corps and took part in the Battle of Epehy, participating in the general attack on St Quentin and The Quadrilateral that began on 18 September and ended with the Quadrilateral's capture on the 25th.

The division's last two major assaults of the war were in October. On the 8th they captured Bohainmarker and on the 18th they took the high ground overlooking the Sambre-Oise Canal that prepared the way for the Battle of the Sambre.

World War I formation

16th Brigade

17th Brigade (until October 14, 1915)

The brigade transferred to the 24th Division in October 1915, swapping with the 71st Brigade.

18th Brigade

19th Brigade (until May 31, 1915)

Originally an independent brigade before being attached to the division, the 19th Brigade moved to the 27th Division in May, 1915 and was not replaced, reducing the division to the standard three infantry brigades.

71st Brigade (from October 11, 1915)

  • 9th (Service) Battalion, The Norfolk Regiment
  • 9th (Service) Battalion, The Suffolk Regiment (disbanded February 1918)
  • 8th (Service) Battalion, the Bedfordshire Regiment (to 16th Bde. November 1915)
  • 1st Battalion, the Leicestershire Regiment (from 16th Bde. November 1915)
  • 2nd Battalion, the Sherwood Foresters (from 18th Bde. October 1915)

The brigade joined from the 24th Division in October 1915, swapping with the 17th Brigade.

Royal Field Artillery:

  • II Brigade RFA
  • XXIV Brigade RFA

Royal Engineers:

Second World War

During the Second World War the division did not fight as a complete formation. On 3 November 1939 it was formed in Egyptmarker by the redesignation of the British 7th Infantry Division, under the command of Major-General R.N.O'Connor. On 17 June 1940 Divisional H.Q. became H.Q. Western Desert Force. The Division effectively ceased to exist. The Division reformed in Egyptmarker on 17 February 1941, under the command of Major-General John Evetts. From 7 to 19 April it was temporarily under command of Brigadier C.E.N.Lomax.

On 18 June, when command of the allied forces fighting in the Syria-Lebanon Campaign on the southern front were reorganised, the divisional HQ was placed under Australian I Corps to command the remnants of Gentforce (5th Indian Infantry Brigade and 1st Free French Light Division). Two days later the division was joined from Egypt by 16th Infantry Brigade and on 29 June by 23rd Infantry Brigade. Gentforce force captured Damascusmarker on 21 June. For the rest of the campaign, which ended with the Vichy French surrender on 11 July, the division was engaged with the support of Australian units in attempts to force the Damascus to Beirut road through the Anti-Lebanon mountainsmarker the entrance to which was dominated by the high Jebel Mazar. Despite intense efforts Vichy forces maintained control of the position and the main allied effort was switched to the advance on the coast.

On 29 September 1941 Major-General Evetts left and Brigadier G.N.C. Martin took acting command. Eleven days later on 10 October that year it was redesignated the 70th Infantry Division, and Major-General Ronald Scobie assumed command.

Second World War formation

  • 6th Divisional Signals - 9th Oct.1941
  • The Royal Scots Greys - 25 March 1940-30 May 1940 (Cavalry)
  • 45th Recce.Battalion - 21st Oct.1942-16th Sept.1943



British 22nd Infantry Brigade

British 14th Infantry Brigade

British 16th Infantry Brigade

British 23rd Infantry Brigade

Twenty-First Century

On 26 July 2007 the Secretary of State for Defence announced that a new 'HQ 6 Division' would reform to direct the International Security Assistance Force's Regional Command South in Afghanistan.

Des Browne said 'In order to meet these temporary demands we have decided to augment the forces’ command structure, and will temporarily establish an additional 2-Star deployable HQ. It will be based in York and will be known as HQ 6 Division, with a core of 55 Service personnel, drawn from existing structures. We will keep our planning assumption under review but currently we assess this HQ will be established until 2011.'See also Afghanistan War order of battle.

Major General J D Page OBE took command of the new HQ with effect from 1 February 2008.The new divisional headquarters, Headquarters 6th (United Kingdom) Division, marked its formation with a parade and flag presentation in York 5 August 2008.

It has a clear focus on preparing brigades for Afghanistan and is at Imphal Barracks, Fulfordmarker, Yorkmarker. (

See also


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