The second line West Riding Division was formed at the beginning of 1915, its infantry component consisted of a brigade of W Yorks, a brigade of Duke of Wellingtons, and a mixed brigade of KOYLI and York and Lancasters; all were second line TF battalions.. The first GOC was Maj-Gen Sir James Trotter, a gunner, who had retired in July 1911 at the age of 62 from command of the Southern Coast Defences. In December 1915 he was replaced by Walter Braithwaite, late Som LI, who had been Hamilton’s Chief of Staff on Gallipoli and had come home with him when he was replaced in October 1915. The division was lucky in that Braithwaite, an exceptionally competent commander, was to remain with it almost to the armistice, handing over in August 1918 on promotion to command of IX Corps. On 5th January 1917, the division embarked for France.The division got off to a shaky start in its first major operation, the unsuccessful attack on Bullecourt in April 1917, and in the second attack in May it suffered heavy casualties, nearly 3,500. As the war progressed so did the division’s competence and reputation. It fought well at Cambrai and today its memorial stands on that battlefield at Havrincourt; its unveiling in June 1922 is fully described in the history. The division went on to distinguish itself at the defence of Bucquoy in the German March offensive and in the subsequent advance to Victory it confirmed its place among the best divisions in the BEF, a remarkable achievement. It was the only TF division included in the Army of Occupation. Total casualties amounted to 24,446 and three VCs were won. In March 1919 it was redesignated ‘Highland’ Division.This is a very good and detailed account by a well-known military historian who has several regimental and divisional histories to his name, and Cyril Falls, who served in the division, has only one criticism in his bibliography “War Books” – that the extraordinary change in the division between its arrival on the battlefield and the armistice hasn’t been fully brought out. The accompanying maps are of a high standard, a feature of all Wyrall’s histories.There is a misprint on the map facing p23 Vol II (Battle of the Drocourt-Queant Line) in the legend describing the trench lines and objectives; the date of the relief of the 62nd Division should read 3-9-18, not 2-3-18. There is a very useful appendix in which all the officer casualties (I make the total 1,028) are listed chronologically indicating unit and nature of casualty, other rank casualties are totalled on a monthly basis.
HISTORY OF THE 62ND (WEST RIDING) DIVISION 1914 – 1918
The record of a Second Line TF division which arrived in France in January 1917 and took part in the march into Germany at the end of the war.