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142nd (6th London) Brigade
Active 1908–19
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg Territorial Army
Type Infantry Brigade
Part of 47th (1/2nd London) Division
Engagements World War I

142nd (6th London) Brigade (142 Bde) was an infantry formation of Britain's Territorial Army that served in World War I and briefly in World War II.

Origin[edit | edit source]

When the Territorial Force was created in 1908 under the Haldane Reforms, the existing volunteer units in the London area were brought together into a new London Regiment and organised into two divisions with a full complement of infantry brigades and supporting arms. 6th London Brigade, with battalions drawn from South London, formed part of 2nd London Division, with the following composition:[1][2][3][4][5]

  • 6th London Brigade Headquarters, Duke of York's Headquarters, Chelsea
  • 21st (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (1st Surrey Rifles), headquartered in Camberwell.
  • 22nd (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (The Queen's), headquartered in Bermondsey.
  • 23rd (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment, headquartered in Clapham Junction.
  • 24th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (The Queen's) headquartered in Kennington.
  • No 4 (6th London Brigade) Company, 2nd London Divisional Train, Army Service Corps headquartered at the Duke of York's Headquarters

World War I[edit | edit source]

The outbreak of war on 4 August saw 6th London Brigade at Perham Down on Salisbury Plain, where it had just arrived for its annual training camp with the rest of 2nd London Division. They were immediately recalled to London to complete their mobilisation and by mid-August 6 London Bde had reached its war station round Watford, Hertfordshire.[2][3][6] The County of London Territorial Force Association immediately began raising 'Second Line' battalions, which quickly led to the formation of a duplicate 2/6th London Brigade (eventually 181st Brigade); consequently 6th London Brigade was renumbered 1/6th and its battalions were similarly prefixed (1/21st–1/24th).[7][8][9][10]

In October 1914, 2nd London Division was selected for service on the Western Front and progressive training was carried out through the winter. The division embarked for France in March 1915, concentrating round Béthune. In May the division (already known in France simply as 'The London Division' to distinguish it from the Regular Army 2nd Division) took its place in the line and was designated 47th (1/2nd London) Division, with the brigades numbered consecutively: 6th London became 142nd (1/6th London) Brigade.[2][11]

The division suffered casualties from shellfire while holding the line as neighbouring formations fought the Battle of Aubers Ridge, (9 & 15 May),[12] but Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby's 142 Bde carried out the division's first offensive action, on 25 May during the Battle of Festubert. The attack on the 'S' Bend was timed for 18.30, to precede a Canadian night attack further along the line. The 23rd and 24th Londons swept across the open ground and immediately captured the German front trenches with few losses. However, German listening posts had given warning of the impending attack, and they had registered their artillery onto their own trenches. The divisional historian records that the Londoners now encountered 'a fierce and deadly enfilading fire from the German guns, and particularly from a heavy battery posted near Auchy-les-la Bassée, far to the south and out of range of the guns of our Division'.[13]

The brigade supports, 21st Londons, and the 20th Londons from divisional reserve, were brought up and desperate attempts made to extend the brigade's gains, 'but tremendous losses were suffered by the men crowded in the captured trenches. Nothing could be done to keep down this enfilading fire, and by the following morning much of the captured trenches had been knocked to bits and had to be abandoned, but a considerable part of their front line was retained and taken into our own trench system'.[13]

Actions[edit | edit source]

The brigade was engaged in the following further operations during World War I:[2][3][4][14]





Order of Battle[edit | edit source]

There were few changes to the brigade's Order of Battle during the war:[2][3][15]

  • 142nd Light Trench Mortar Battery formed June 1915
  • 6th London Company ASC became 458th (Horse Transport) Company ASC in August 1915
  • 1/3rd (City of London) Bn London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) attached 16 November 1915; part ran a divisional draft training school, the remainder attached to 1/23rd Bn; transferred to 167th (1st London) Brigade in 56th (1st London) Division 9 February 1916)[16]
  • 142nd Machine Gun Company formed December 1915 (merged into 47th Battalion Machine Gun Corps February 1918)
  • 1/21st Bn transferred to 140th (4th London) Brigade when infantry brigades on the Western front were reduced to a three-battalion establishment in February 1918.

After the Armistice, 47th Division was engaged in railway repair and then settled down around Béthune (where it had started the war) to await demobilisation. This began in January, and the last troops left France on 10 May 1919. The brigade was demobilised at Felixstowe in May–June 1919.[2][3][17]

Interwar years[edit | edit source]

47th Division and its subformations began to reform in the redesignated Territorial Army in 1920.[2][3][18] 142 Bde was reformed with its original battalions, and with brigade HQ at the Regimental Headquarters of the Welsh Guards at Wellington Barracks in Birdcage Walk.[19]

In the 1930s, reorganisation of the TA saw the brigade's traditional battalions being retasked (the 21st became a searchlight regiment and the 23rd a tank regiment in 1935) and posted away. The brigade was disbanded in 1936.[20]

World War II[edit | edit source]

The rapid expansion of the TA after the Munich Crisis saw 6th London Brigade reformed in April 1939 as a Second Line TA formation within a new 2nd London Division.[20] It consisted of battalions of the Middlesex Regiment organised in the machine gun role:[21]

  • 1st Bn Princess Louise's Kensington Regiment (Middlesex Regiment) (left to join British Expeditionary Force in France 19 November 1939)[22]
  • 2nd Bn Princess Louise's Kensington Regiment (Middlesex Regiment)
  • 2/7th Bn MIddlesex Regiment (joined 7 October 1939, left 31 March 1940)
  • 1/8th Bn MIddlesex Regiment (joined 7 October, left 25 November 1939)
  • 2/8th Bn MIddlesex Regiment (joined 7 October 1939)

As its units were progressively posted away, the reduced brigade first came under the command of the brigadier of 3rd London Brigade, and was then disbanded on 4 May 1940. Neither the 6th London nor 142 Brigade titles was reactivated.[23]

Commanders[edit | edit source]

142 Brigade was commanded by the following officers:[24][25][26]

  • Brevet Colonel D.A. Kinloch (1911)[27]
  • Brig.-Gen. Hon. C.S. Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby (from 11 April 1912; went sick 10 June 1915)
  • Lt-Col W.G. Simpson (acting 10 June–14 August 1915)
  • Brig.-Gen. F.G. Lewis (14 August 1915 – 26 December 1916)
  • Lt-Col H.B.P.I. Kennedy (acting 26 December 1916 – 5 February 1917)
  • Brig.-Gen.V.T. Bailey (from 5 February 1917; wounded and captured 24 March 1918)
  • Brig.-Gen. R. McDouall (3 April–11 December 1918)
  • Brig.-Gen. L.F. Ashburner (11 December 1918 until demobilisation)
  • Col. R.E.K. Leatham, Welsh Guards (1932)[19]
  • Brig. R.B.S. Reford (1939 to 15 March 1940)
  • Brig. H.V. Combe (Commander of 3rd London Brigade, combined roles 15 March–4 May 1940)

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Maude, pp. 1–2, 228.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Becke, Part 2a, pp. 69–75.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 47th Division (Long, Long Trail)
  4. 4.0 4.1 47th Division (Regimental Warpath)
  5. British Army 1914
  6. Maude, pp. 2–3.
  7. Maude, p. 287.
  8. Becke, Part 2b, pp. 25–30.
  9. 60th Division (Long, Long Trail)
  10. 60th Division (Regimental Warpath)
  11. Maude, pp. 11–19.
  12. Maude, p. 18.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Maude, pp. 19–20.
  14. Maude, pp. 239–40.
  15. Maude, p. 228.
  16. Maude, p. 43.
  17. Maude, p. 211.
  18. Maude, p. 212.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Monthly Army List January 1932.
  20. 20.0 20.1 47 (2 London) Division (1930–36) (British Military History)
  21. Joslen, p. 242.
  22. Joslen, p. 462.
  23. Joslen, pp. 242, 327.
  24. Maude, p. 232.
  25. Becke, p. 70.
  26. Joslen, pp 233, 242.
  27. Hart's Army List 1911.

References[edit | edit source]

  • Maj A.F. Becke,History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions, Part 2a: The Territorial Force Mounted Divisions and the 1st-Line Territorial Force Divisions (42–56), London: HM Stationery Office, 1935/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2007, ISBN 1-847347-39-8.
  • Maj A.F. Becke,History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions, Part 2b: The 2nd-Line Territorial Force Divisions (57th–69th), with the Home-Service Divisions (71st–73rd) and 74th and 75th Divisions, London: HM Stationery Office, 1937/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2007, ISBN 1-847347-39-8.
  • Alan H. Maude (ed.), The History of the 47th (London) Division 1914–1919, London: Amalgamated Press, 1922/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2002, ISBN 1-84342-205-0.

External sources[edit | edit source]

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