The New Army, often referred to as Kitchener's Army or, disparagingly, as Kitchener's Mob, –October 1915).was an (initially) all-volunteer army of the British Army formed in the United Kingdom from 1914 onwards following the outbreak of hostilities in the First World War in late July 1914. It originated on the recommendation of Herbert Kitchener, then the Secretary of State for War to raise 500,000 volunteers. Kitchener's original intention was that it would be formed and ready to be put into action in mid-1916, but circumstances dictated its use before then. The first use in a major action came at the Battle of Loos (September
Contrary to the popular belief that the war would be over by Christmas 1914, Kitchener predicted a long and brutal war. He believed that arrival in Europe of an overwhelming force of new, well-trained and well-led divisions would prove a decisive blow against the Central Powers. Kitchener fought off opposition to his plan, and attempts to weaken or water down its potential, including piece-meal dispersal of the New Army battalions into existing regular or Territorial Force divisions (the view of the Commander-in-Chief of the BEF (British Expeditionary Force), Field Marshal French). Kitchener declined to use the existing Territorial Force (set up by Lord Haldane and Douglas Haig as part of the Army reforms of the Edwardian period) as the basis for the New Army, as many of its members had volunteered for "Home Service" only, and because he was suspicious of the poor performance of French "territorials" in the Franco-Prussian War 1870–1871. In the early days of the war, the Territorial Force could not reinforce the regular army, as it lacked modern equipment, particularly artillery. In addition, it took time to form First-Line units composed only of men who had volunteered for "General Service".
Those recruited into the New Army were used to form complete battalions under existing British Army Regiments. These new battalions had titles of the form "xxth (Service) Battalion, <regiment name>". The first New Army divisions were first used in August 1915 at Suvla Bay during the Gallipoli Campaign and also the Battle of Loos in the autumn of 1915, and they were sorely tested in the Battle of the Somme. The initial BEF—a single army of five regular divisions in August 1914, two armies comprising 16 divisions by the end of the 1914 when the Territorials had been deployed—had grown to five armies totalling around 60 divisions in strength by the summer of 1916, approximately 2 million men, of whom around half were infantry (the rest were gun crews, supply and logistics men etc.).
All five of the full army groups (meaning a group of divisions similar in size to an army, not a group of armies) were made up of volunteer recruits, which included the famous Pals' Battalions. Due to the huge numbers of men wishing to sign up, in places queues up to a mile long formed outside recruitment offices, there were many problems in equipping and providing shelter for the new recruits. Rapidly the Government added many new recruitment centres, which eased the admissions burden, and began a programme of temporary construction at the main training camps. Almost 2.5 million men volunteered for Kitchener's Army.
By the beginning of 1916, the queues were not so long anymore. Information about the true nature of the war had reached Great Britain, and enthusiasm for volunteering plunged. Great Britain had to resort to conscription under the Military Service Act 1916, like the other great powers involved in the war. (Conscription was also applied "in reverse", so that skilled workers and craftsmen who had volunteered early in the war could be drafted back into the munitions industry, where they were sorely needed.)
The first conscripts arrived in France in late 1916 to fill the gaps in the volunteer units, which had been greatly diminished during the Battle of the Somme. After the bloody battles of 1916 and 1917, the British army facing the Ludendorff Offensive of 1918 were mainly conscripted youths, most of them under 20 years of age, although there were also some men in their late thirties or older. Roughly half of those who served in the British Army throughout the war, including more than half of the five million men serving in the British Army in 1918, were conscripts.
The British army traditionally recruited on a regimental basis, therefore a recruit accepted into the army was first sent to his new regimental depot, where he received his kitand was introduced to army discipline and training. Next he was sent to the main training camps to join his battalion. In practice, no regiment had the required stocks of equipment, or the manpower to train the flood of recruits; men trained wearing their own clothes and shoes. To mitigate this problem, the army issued old stored uniforms, including First Boer War–vintage red jackets. Some regiments bought their own uniform and boots with money paid from public collections. Many regiments were also issued with emergency blue uniforms, popularly known as Kitchener Blue. Whilst this crisis went on, the soldiers wore regimental and unit badges or patches on their clothing. Many photographs from the era show uniformed soldiers drilling alongside civilian clothed soldiers, perhaps led by red-jacketed NCOs.
The Regiments also suffered from a lack of officers to train them. The government called up all reserve-list officers and any British Indian Army officer who happened to be on leave in the UK during the period. Men who had been to a recognised public school and university graduates, many of whom had some prior military training in Officer Training Corps, were often granted direct commissions. Commanding officers were encouraged to promote promising leaders and later in the war it was common for officers ("temporary gentlemen") to have been promoted from the ranks to meet the demand, especially as casualty rates among junior infantry officers were extremely high. Many officers, both regular and temporary, were promoted to ranks and responsibilities far greater than they had ever realistically expected to hold.
The Army had difficulty supplying new units with enough weapons. No artillery pieces had been left in Britain to train new artillery brigades, and most battalions had to drill with obsolete rifles or wooden mockups. By early 1915 the Government had overcome many of these problems. Among its methods was pressing into use old ceremonial cannons and unfinished modern artillery pieces (they lacked targeting sights). During 1915, it corrected such shortages.
At the beginning of 1918, the shortage of manpower in the British Expeditionary Force in France became acute. The Army ordered infantry divisions to be reduced from twelve infantry battalions to nine. The higher-numbered battalions (in effect the New Army units, and some Second-Line Territorial units) were to be disbanded rather than the lower-numbered Regular and First-Line Territorial battalions. (Since Kitchener's death in 1916, no other major figure opposed this fundamental change to the principles on which the New Army had been raised.) In some cases, New Army divisions had to disband about half of their units to make room for surplus battalions transferred from Regular or First-Line Territorial divisions. While the change reduced the unique sense of identity of some New Army formations, it developed the divisions in France into more homogeneous units. By this time there was no longer much real distinction between Regular, Territorial, and New Army divisions.
Kitchener's New Army was made up of the following Army Groups (meaning a group of divisions similar in size to an army, not a group of armies) and Divisions:
Kitchener's Fourth New Army was formed from November 1914 with
The divisions were not fully formed when the decision was made to use them to provide replacements for the first three New Armies. The divisions were broken up on 10 April 1915; the infantry brigades and battalions became reserve formations and the other divisional troops were transferred to the divisions of the newly created Fourth and Fifth New Armies.
Redesignated K4 following breakup of original K4.
Following the re-designation of the previous K5 Army Group, a new K5 Army Group was formed.
In 1915, the prescribed structure of a division would have comprised the following units:
Number of troops and equipment:
In 1918, a typical division would have comprised the following units:
Number of troops and equipment:
The 9th (Scottish) Division, was an infantry division of the British Army during World War I, one of the Kitchener's Army divisions raised from volunteers by Lord Kitchener to serve on the Western Front during the First World War.
The 12th (Eastern) Division was an infantry division raised by the British Army during the First World War from men volunteering for Kitchener's New Armies. The division saw service in the trenches of the Western Front from June 1915 to the end of the war.
The 18th (Eastern) Division was an infantry division of the British Army formed in September 1914 during the First World War as part of the K2 Army Group, part of Lord Kitchener's New Armies. From its creation the division trained in England until 25 May 1915 when it landed in France and spent the duration of the First World War in action on the Western Front, becoming one of the elite divisions of the British Army. During the Battle of the Somme in the latter half of 1916, the 18th Division was commanded by Major General Ivor Maxse.
The 21st Division was an infantry division of the British Army during World War I, raised in September 1914 by men volunteering for Lord Kitchener's New Armies. The division moved to France in September 1915 and served on the Western Front for the duration of the First World War.
The 32nd Division was an infantry division of the British Army that was raised in 1914, during the First World War. The division was raised from volunteers for Lord Kitchener's New Armies, that was originally made up of infantry battalions raised by public subscription or private patronage. The division was taken over by the War Office in September 1915. It served in France and Belgium in the trenches of the Western Front for the duration of the war.
The 19th (Western) Division was an infantry division of the British Army, part of Kitchener's Army, formed in the Great War.
The 33rd Division was an infantry division of the British Army that was raised in 1914, during the First World War. The division was raised from volunteers for Lord Kitchener's New Armies, that was originally made up of infantry battalions raised by public subscription or private patronage. The division was taken over by the War Office in September 1915. It served in France and Belgium in the trenches of the Western Front for the duration of the war. The division's insignia was the "double-three" from a set of dominoes.
The 22nd Division was an infantry division of the British Army during World War I, raised in September 1914, from men volunteering for Lord Kitchener's New Armies. The division moved to France in September 1915, but it was transferred to Greece only one month later. It served in the Balkans Campaign for the duration of the First World War.
The 28th Division was an infantry division of the British Army raised for service in World War I.
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75th Division was an infantry division of the British Army in World War I. It was raised in the field by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) in 1917 and it included British, Indian and South African troops. It served in the Middle East during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign being involved in the Battles of Megiddo.
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The Glamorganshire Royal Horse Artillery was a Territorial Force Royal Horse Artillery battery that was formed in Glamorganshire in 1908. It saw active service during the First World War on the Western Front in 1917 and 1918 as part of an Army Field Artillery Brigade. A second line battery, 2/1st Glamorganshire RHA, served in England and Ireland before being broken up in January 1917. Glamorganshire RHA was not reconstituted in the post-war Territorial Force.
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The Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery was a Territorial Force Royal Horse Artillery battery that was formed in Shropshire in 1908 from the Shropshire Battery of the 1st Shropshire and Staffordshire Artillery Volunteers, Royal Garrison Artillery of the Volunteer Force. It saw active service during the First World War on the Western Front in 1917 and 1918 as part of an Army Field Artillery Brigade. A second line battery, 2/1st Shropshire RHA, also served on the Western Front in 1917 and 1918 as part of another Army Field Artillery Brigade. It was reconstituted post-war as a medium artillery battery and served as such in the Second World War.
The Warwickshire Royal Horse Artillery was a Territorial Force Royal Horse Artillery battery that was formed in Warwickshire in 1908. It was the first Territorial Force artillery unit to go overseas on active service, spending the whole of the First World War on the Western Front, mostly with 1st Cavalry Division and 29th Division. A second line battery, 2/1st Warwickshire RHA, also served on the Western Front in 1917 and 1918 as part of an Army Field Artillery Brigade. Post-war it was reconstituted as a Royal Field Artillery battery.
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