The 53rd was a pre-war Territorial Force division which served in Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine but never on the Western Front. The book opens with the detailed order of battle of the division as it was on the outbreak of war, a state of affairs that didn’t last long; between November 1914 and February 1915 six battalions were posted independently to various formations in the BEF in Flanders. After being warned for India in November, an order which was quickly cancelled, the division was eventually reorganized in April 1915 with one of the brigades (159th) being composed of Home Counties battalions replacing those that had been sent overseas. In July 1915 the division sailed for Lemnos and thence to the Dardanelles where it landed, at Suvla, in August 1915. By the time it was withdrawn to Egypt in December the effective fighting strength had been reduced to 162 officers and 2,428 other ranks.Back in Egypt the division joined the Suez Canal Defence force and, in August 1916, took part in the battle of Romani in the Sinai desert in August and then in the advance on Palestine as part of Eastern Force under General Dobell. The first two attacks on Gaza (March/April 1917) were failures though the division itself had done well in the first battle, its success frustrated by inferior staff work, indecisive leadership, lack of communication and bungled water supply. Eastern Force commander was given the heave-ho and replaced by Chetwode, and the GOC in C Egyptian Expeditionary Force, Murray, was replaced by Allenby. The last three months of 1917 saw divisional successes at Third Gaza, Beersheba and Jerusalem. One VC was awarded, in Palestine, to a battalion MO. In June-August 1918 the division was again reorganized, this time to the Indian Army establishment. Five of its battalions were sent to the Western Front to join the reconstituted 34th Division and their places were taken by Indian/Gurkha battalions, leaving one British battalion per brigade; the old and new orders of battle are compared in the text. The narrative ends with the victory at Meggido in which the part played by each brigade is described. Appendices include several examples of corps and divisional operation orders; the succession of COs of the British battalions and a brief record of doings of each of the five battalions sent to 34th Division. There is no list of honours and awards, no roll of honour and, alas, no index.
HISTORY OF THE 53rd (WELSH) DIVISION
The record of a Territorial division which served in Gallipoli. Egypt and Palestine but never on the Western Front. Towards the end of the war the divison was reorganized as an Indian Army division, retaining its number but with only one British battalion per brigade – the others had been sent to France.