The author of this history was CO 159 Brigade RFA (divisional history) from June 1916 to April 1919. He has written a straightforward, unembellished account beginning with full details of the raising of the division as a Bantam formation. Descriptions of major operations are easy to follow and they are supported with clear maps. Minor actions, raids, patrols as well as individual acts of bravery are all taken into account. Numerous appendices include casualty lists by units by year, details of Order of Battle at various stages, and Honours and Awards. An instructive history which takes the story to the end of April 1919 and makes a point of mentioning as many names as possible, as the ten page index demonstrates.The last division of Kitchener’s Fourth New Army, the 35th was initially formed in December 1914 as the 42nd Division, but was renumbered when the original Fourth New Army was broken up in April 1915. All the infantry battalions were ‘Bantams’ (height 5ft – 5ft 3 ins) but not the divisional troops (artillery, engineers etc) nor the pioneers. In December 1915 the division was warned for Mesopotamia and tropical clothing and pith helmets were issued and when they paraded on Salisbury Plain wearing their helmets the ‘Bantams’ were said to look like overgrown mushrooms. A month later the destination was changed to the Western Front where the division arrived in February 1916. When it took over the line in March each man took two sandbags so that when filled and placed on the firestep the men could see over the parapet. With replacement problems (weeding out inspections in December resulted in 2,784 men being rejected) and new drafts consisting principally of men from disbanded yeomanry units the division was no longer a bantam formation by the beginning of 1917 and its sign was changed from the Bantam Cock to a circular emblem of seven 5s. The division fought on the Somme, in Third Ypres and in the battles of 1918; in all it suffered 23,915 casualties. Three VCs were won. In January 1919 the division was used to quell rioting in Calais among ‘demob happy’ troops, which it did successfully.
HISTORY OF THE 35TH DIVISION IN THE GREAT WAR
For the first two years of its existence this was a ‘Bantam’ division. It fought on the Western Front from March 1916, but by early 1917, with the lack of suitable men of the qualifying bantam physique and reinforcements coming from disbanded yeomanry regiments the 35th division could no longer be deemed a Bantam division.