Western Desert Campaign
World War I
After the creation of the Territorial Force in 1908, four battalions from Kent were organised into a brigade within the Home Counties Division. On the outbreak of World War I, the men of the division accepted liability for overseas service to relieve Regular troops for the fighting fronts. The division was ordered to India, although the brigade staffs and Regular adjutants of the battalions were to remain behind. The Home Counties Division embarked at Southampton and sailed on 30 October 1914, disembarking at Bombay on 1–3 December.
Commander: Brigadier-General L. Combe (remained in UK)
- 4th Battalion The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) (from Canterbury)r
- 5th (Weald of Kent) Battalion The Buffs (from Ashford)
- 4th Battalion Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) (from Tonbridge)
- 5th Battalion Royal West Kents (from Bromley)
Service in India
On arrival, the division's units were sent distributed to various peacetime stations across India, Aden and Burma to continue their training for war. 4th Buffs served at Aden from 4 August 1915 to 28 January 1916.
The TF battalions had all taken the prefix '1' (1/4th Buffs etc) to distinguish them from their second-line battalions forming in the UK, and in May 1915, the division was numbered 44th (Home Counties) Division, when the brigade formally became 133rd (1/1st Kent) Brigade (though without a commander or staff, and with its battalions scattered).
From 1915 onwards there was a regular drain on the battalions as they lost their best Non-Commissioned Officers for officer training, sent detachments to various places in India, and provided drafts to replace casualties among units fighting in Mesopotamia. 1/5th Buffs landed at Basra on 6 December 1915 and joined 14th Indian Division in Mesopotamia.
By early 1916 it had become obvious that the Territorial Divisions in India were never going to be able to reform and return to Europe to reinforce the Western Front as had been originally intended. They continued training in India for the rest of the war, providing drafts and detachments as required. 1/5th Royal West Kents was transferred to Mesopotamia at the end of 1917, landing at Basra on 11 December and joining 18th Indian Division.
World War II
On mobilisation in September 1939, 133 Bde HQ with 4th Royal Sussex Regiment became HQ Western Sub-Area in the UK while the other units of the brigade were temporarily under the command of other formations. The brigade reassembled in 44th (Home Counties) Division on 7 October 1939. 4th Battalion Buffs was quickly posted away, being replaced by the Regular 2nd Royal Sussex, making the brigade an all-Sussex formation.
Order of Battle
During WWII the brigade was constituted as follows:
- 4th Battalion Buffs (until 31 October 1939)
- 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment (from 20 December 1939)
- 4th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment
- 5th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment
- 133 Bde Anti-Tank Company (2 January 1940 – 8 January 1941)
133rd Brigade went to France with 44th Division as part of the British Expeditionary Force, landing on 9 April 1940. The brigade saw fighting in the St Omer–La Bassée area during the Battle of France (23–29 May) and was then evacuated from Dunkirk on 30 May 1940.
Back in the UK, 133rd Bde was re-equipped and positioned in South-East England to defend what 44th Division's commander, Maj-Gen Brian Horrocks regarded as 'the No 1 German invasion area, stretching from the Isle of Thanet to Dover and on to Folkestone'.
The brigade was sent to North Africa in 1942 with 44th Division, where it fought at the Battle of Alam Halfa. After Alam Halfa 133rd Bde was converted to a lorried infantry brigade, assigned first to 8th Armoured Division and then to 10th Armoured Division with which it fought at the Battle of El Alamein, transferring briefly to the 51st (Highland) Division. After Alamein the brigade's battalions were posted away on 31 December and 133rd Brigade was officially disbanded on 15 January 1943.
The following officers commanded 133 Bde during World War II:
- Brig. N.I. Whitty
- Brig. E.C. Beard (from 19 June 1940)
- Lt-Col. L.G. Whistler (acting 10 March–1 April and 24 August–3 September 1942)
- Brig. A.W. Lee (from 3 September 1942)
- Becke, pp. 49–54.
- Robson, Appendices 1 & 2.
- Joslen, p. 319.
- Horrocks, p. 97.
- Maj A.F. Becke,History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions, Part 3a: New Army Divisions (9–26), London: HM Stationery Office, 1938/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2007, ISBN 1-847347-41-X.
- Lt-Gen Sir Brian Horrocks, A Full Life, London: Collins, 1960.
- Lt-Col H.F. Joslen, Orders of Battle, United Kingdom and Colonial Formations and Units in the Second World War, 1939–1945, London: HM Stationery Office, 1960/Uckfield: Naval & Military, 2003, ISBN 1843424746.
- Brian Robson, Crisis on the Frontier: The Third Afghan War and the Campaign in Waziristan 1919–20, Stapelhurst: Spellmount, 2004, ISBN 1-87227-211-5.
- 133rd Infantry Brigade at Orders of Battle.com
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