The 12th Division was formed in August 1914, one of Kitchener’s First New Army divisions and consisting of men from the Eastern and Home counties. It arrived in France in June 1915 and on 23rd of that month it moved into the line in the ‘Plugstreet’-Armentieres sector. During July it suffered 502 casualties doing no more than occupying front line trenches. Its first major battle was Loos in which its GOC (Maj-Gen Wing) was killed and casualties numbered 3,354. Between February and April 1916 it spent ten weeks in the line in the Hohenzollern Craters sector – mining, counter-mining, crater fighting, bombing and hand-to-hand fighting in dreadful conditions, all at a cost of 4,020 casualties. It fought on the Somme from 3rd July and in other battles till it finally left the Somme on 19th October 1916, by which time the casualty lists totalled 10, 941. It took part in the battles of Arras and Cambrai but was not involved in Third Ypres, one of the few British divisions not to be sucked into that fearsome campaign. By the end of the war casualties totalled 48,143; six VCs were awarded and 3,000 other honours and awards.This history is written by one of the divisional chaplains (Brumwell) and has been edited by Arthur Scott who for 21/2 years was the divisional commander. It is a record of a division which never claimed elite or ‘crack’ status but one that proved its dogged spirit and reliability on more than one occasion. The history is based essentially on the war diaries of all units of the division, on notes from senior officers on important actions, and on personal reminiscences, diaries etc. The appendices include a most detailed order of battle which lists the succession of commanders and staff down to grade 3 level and unit COs – in fact one of the most comprehensive command and staff lists of any divisional history.
HISTORY OF THE 12TH (EASTERN) DIVISION IN THE GREAT WAR
A New Army division formed in August 1914, arrived in France in June 1915. Loos, Somme, Arras and Cambrai; GOC killed at Loos. Detailed order of battle and succession of commanders and staff. 48,143 casualties, six VCs.