When the 8th (Light) Division was re-numbered 14th, the 9th (Scottish) became the senior division of the first of Kitchener’s New Armies. It came into being towards the end of August 1914, and although the history has very little to say about its training this period is graphically and amusingly described in The First Hundred Thousand , a novel by Ian Hay who was an officer in the division. The 9th began its move to France on 8 May 1915, the first of the New Army divisions to go on active service, and at the beginning of July it took over a sector of the line around Festubert. Its first major battle was Loos (September 1915) in which it suffered 6,000 casualties in three days; among the dead was the divisional commander, Major-General Thesiger. The first half of 1916 was spent in the ‘Plugstreet’ sector during which time Churchill was there, commanding 6th Royal Scots Fusiliers. In May 1916 one of the brigades, the 28th, was broken up and replaced by the South African Brigade, which had just arrived from Egypt; it proved to be one of the finest brigades in the BEF.For the first three weeks of July the division was on the Somme – Bernafay, Longueval and Delville Wood (now the site of South Africa’s National Memorial) – with losses of 7,200. After a rest and a month in the Vimy sector it returned to the Somme in October, near the Butte de Warlencourt. Several unsuccessful attacks against that feature resulted in a further 3,100 casualties. From December 1916 to August 1917 the division was on the Arras front, taking part in the First and Third Battles of the Scarpe (5,000 casualties) before moving to Ypres in September at the height of Third Ypres. A month’s fighting there cost nearly another 5,000 casualties. In 1918 the division distinguished itself during the German offensive, earning the praises of the C in C and even of the Kaiser, and in the final advance to victory. The 9th Scottish was a first class division. It gained seven VCs and the total casualty list amounted to some 54,600. It was selected to be part of the Army of the Rhine, one of four New Army divisions, and in March 1919 it was renamed ‘The Lowland Division.’The division’s record is graphically described in this history – what Field Marshal Lord Plumer in his foreword referred to as “a record of wonderful development of fighting efficiency.” There are useful appendices giving the Order of Battle, command and staff lists with the various changes; a table showing periods spent in the line, with locations; a table of battle casualties and the VC citations. The maps are good with adequate detail for actions to be followed. In short, this is a well-written and recommended history written by the author of the equally commendable history of the Royal Scots 1914-1918.
HISTORY OF THE 9TH (SCOTTISH) DIVISION
The senior New Army division, formed in August 1914, went to France in May 1915. Joined by S African Brigade in May 1916. Fought on Somme (S Africans in Delville Wood), at Arras and Ypres, a first class division. Over 54,000 casualties and six VCs. Order of Battle with Command and Staff lists.
by John Ewing
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2001SB reprint by N & M Press (original pub 1921) xviii + 435pp with eleven maps and 20 b/w illus.