135th (2/1st South Western) Brigade

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2nd/1st South Western Brigade
135th (2/1st South Western) Brigade
135th Infantry Brigade
45 inf div -vector.svg
Formation sign of the 45th Division in the Second World War
Active October 1914 – 1919
April 1939 – July 1944
September 1944 – March 1946
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg Territorial Force
Flag of the British Army.svg Territorial Army
Type Infantry
Size Brigade
Part of 45th (2nd Wessex) Division
45th Infantry Division
Service First World War
Second World War

The 135th Infantry Brigade was an infantry brigade of the Territorial Force, part of the British Army. It was formed in the First World War as a duplicate of the South Western Brigade and was originally formed as the 2nd/1st South Western Brigade in 1914–1915 before later being renamed as the 135th (2/1st South Western) Brigade. It was sent overseas to India in December 1914 to relieve Regular Army units for service in France. The brigade remained there for the rest of the war, supplying drafts of replacements to the British units fighting in the Middle East and later complete battalions.

It was reformed as 135th Infantry Brigade in the Territorial Army in 1939, again as a duplicate formation, when another European conflict with Germany seemed inevitable. During the Second World War, the brigade was active in the United Kingdom throughout its service. It was disbanded on 20 July 1944.

The brigade was reformed on 1 September 1944 as part of the 45th (Holding) Division. It did not see service outside the United Kingdom during the war.


First World War[edit]

In accordance with the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 (7 Edw. 7, c.9) which brought the Territorial Force into being, the TF was intended to be a home defence force for service during wartime and members could not be compelled to serve outside the country. However, on the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914, many members volunteered for Imperial Service. Therefore, TF units were split into 1st Line (liable for overseas service) and 2nd Line (home service for those unable or unwilling to serve overseas) units. 2nd Line units performed the home defence role, although in fact most of these were also posted abroad in due course.[1]

On 15 August 1915, TF units were instructed to separate home service men from those who had volunteered for overseas service (1st Line), with the home service personnel to be formed into reserve units (2nd Line). On 31 August, 2nd Line units were authorized for each 1st Line unit where more than 60% of men had volunteered for overseas service. After being organized, armed and clothed, the 2nd Line units were gradually grouped into large formations thereby forming the 2nd Line brigades and divisions. These 2nd Line units and formations had the same name and structure as their 1st Line parents. On 24 November, it was decided to replace imperial service (1st Line) formations as they proceeded overseas with their reserve (2nd Line) formations. A second reserve (3rd Line) unit was then formed at the peace headquarters of the 1st Line.[2]

The brigade was formed as a 2nd Line duplicate of the South Western Brigade in October 1914, shortly after the outbreak of war. It was assigned to the 2nd Wessex Division, the 2nd Line duplicate of the Wessex Division. The division was selected for service in India thereby releasing British and Indian regular battalions for service in Europe. On 12 December, the brigade embarked at Southampton and landed at Bombay between 4 and 8 January.[3]

The brigade was effectively broken up on arrival in India; the units reverted to peacetime conditions and the battalions were dispersed to Bangalore, Meiktila (Burma), Ahmednagar, and Poona. The Territorial Force divisions and brigades were numbered in May 1915 in the order that they departed for overseas service, starting with the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division. The 2nd Wessex Division should have been numbered as the 45th (2nd Wessex) Division, but as the division had already been broken up, this was merely a place holder.[4] Likewise, the 2nd/1st South Western Brigade was notionally numbered as 135th (2/1st South Western) Brigade.[5]

The units pushed on with training to prepare for active service, handicapped by the need to provide experienced manpower for active service units.[3] By early 1916 it had become obvious that it would not be possible to transfer the division and brigade to the Western Front as originally intended. Nevertheless, individual units proceeded overseas on active service through the rest of the war.[6] The 2/4th Somerset Light Infantry and 2/4th Dorsets served in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign from September 1917, so that by the end of the war just the 2/5th Somerset Light Infantry and 2/4th Wilts remained in India.[7]

First World War units[edit]

The brigade commanded the following units:[7]

Second World War[edit]

By 1939 it became clear that a new European war was likely to break out and, as a direct result of the German invasion of Czechoslovakia on 15 March,[19] the doubling of the Territorial Army was authorised, with each unit and formation forming a duplicate.[20] Consequently, 135th Infantry Brigade was formed in April 1939 as part of the 45th Infantry Division, duplicate of the 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division.[21] Unusually, it was not a mirror of its parent, the 43rd and 45th Divisions being organized on a geographical basis.[22][a] Initially, the brigade was administered by the 43rd Division until the 45th Division began to function from 7 September 1939.[23]

The brigade remained in the United Kingdom with the 45th Division[24] during the Second World War and did not see active service overseas. In July 1944, the brigade started to disperse as its component units were posted away, a process that was completed on 20 July and the brigade disbanded.[23]

The brigade was reformed on 1 September 1944 by the redesignation of 209th Infantry Brigade. It served with the 45th (Holding) Division for the rest of the war.[24]

Second World War units[edit]

The brigade commanded the following units in the Second World War:[23]

  • 5th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert's) – until 10 July 1944
  • 6th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert's) – until 13 July 1944
  • 7th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert's) – until 11 September 1942
  • 135th Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company – formed 19 June 1940, disbanded 21 January 1941[b]
  • 7th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment (Duke of Edinburgh's) – from 12 September 1942 to 13 July 1944
  • 4th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment – from 3 April until 10 July 1944

After being reformed by the redesignation of 209th Infantry Brigade, the brigade commanded:[26][27]


During the First World War[edit]

The brigade was commanded from formation until embarkation for India by Br.-Gen. G.S.McD. Elliot. He simultaneously commanded 2nd Wessex Division until it embarked.[28] Previously, he had been a Colonel commanding the 1st Line South Western Brigade at the outbreak of the war until it departed for India.[29]

During the Second World War[edit]

The brigade had the following commanders in the Second World War:[23][26]

From Rank Name Notes
3 September 1939 Brig A.L.W. Newth from the outbreak of the war
26 August 1942 Brig G.McI.S. Bruce
2 September 1942 Lt-Col C.L. Firbank acting
14 September 1942 Lt-Col G.B. Russell acting
17 September 1942 Lt-Col C.S. Howard acting
26 September 1942 Lt-Col G.B. Russell acting
1 October 1942 Brig J. Vicary until 20 July 1944
10 August 1944 Brig N.P. Procter as commander of 209th Brigade
14 February 1945 Brig A. Gilroy

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Units from Cornwall, Devon and south Somerset (both the original units and their duplicates) joined the new 45th Infantry Division, whereas those from north Somerset, Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire remained with the 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division.[22]
  2. ^ 45th Reconnaissance Battalion was formed in January 1941 from the 134th, 135th and 136th Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Companies. It later formed 45 and 54 Columns of the Chindits.[25]


  1. ^ Baker, Chris. "Was my soldier in the Territorial Force (TF)?". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 19 February 2015. 
  2. ^ Becke 1937, p. 6
  3. ^ a b Becke 1936, p. 59
  4. ^ Rinaldi 2008, p. 35
  5. ^ Becke 1936, p. 58
  6. ^ Becke 1936, p. 60
  7. ^ a b Becke 1936, p. 56
  8. ^ a b c d Becke 1936, p. 57
  9. ^ Perry 1993, p. 109
  10. ^ a b c Perry 1993, p. 103
  11. ^ a b Perry 1993, p. 57
  12. ^ a b c d Perry 1993, p. 81
  13. ^ a b Becke 1937, p. 127
  14. ^ Becke 1945, p. 44
  15. ^ a b James 1978, p. 57
  16. ^ Perry 1993, p. 113
  17. ^ James 1978, p. 81
  18. ^ James 1978, p. 96
  19. ^ Westlake 1986, p. 49
  20. ^ "History of the Army Reserve". MOD. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  21. ^ Palmer, Rob (22 January 2012). "45th Infantry Division (1939)" (PDF). British Military History. Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  22. ^ a b Palmer, Rob (17 November 2009). "43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division (1930–38)" (PDF). British Military History. Retrieved 23 October 2015. [permanent dead link]
  23. ^ a b c d Joslen 1990, p. 321
  24. ^ a b Joslen 1990, p. 73
  25. ^ Bellis 1994, p. 33
  26. ^ a b Joslen 1990, p. 372
  27. ^ Nafziger, George. "British Infantry Brigades 1st thru 215th 1939-1945" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  28. ^ Becke 1936, p. 55
  29. ^ Becke 1936, p. 43


  • Becke, Major A.F. (1936). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 2A. The Territorial Force Mounted Divisions and the 1st-Line Territorial Force Divisions (42–56). London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 1-871167-12-4. 
  • Becke, Major A.F. (1937). 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: His Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 1-871167-00-0. 
  • Becke, Major A.F. (1945). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 3B. New Army Divisions (30–41) & 63rd (RN) Division. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 1-871167-08-6. 
  • Bellis, Malcolm A. (1994). Regiments of the British Army 1939–1945 (Armour & Infantry). London: Military Press International. ISBN 0-85420-999-9. 
  • James, Brigadier E.A. (1978). British Regiments 1914–18. London: Samson Books Limited. ISBN 0-906304-03-2. 
  • Joslen, Lt-Col H.F. (1990) [1st. Pub. HMSO:1960]. Orders of Battle, Second World War, 1939–1945. London: London Stamp Exchange. ISBN 0-948130-03-2. 
  • Perry, F.W. (1993). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 5B. Indian Army Divisions. Newport: Ray Westlake Military Books. ISBN 1-871167-23-X. 
  • Rinaldi, Richard A (2008). Order of Battle of the British Army 1914. Ravi Rikhye. ISBN 978-0-97760728-0. 
  • Westlake, Ray (1986). The Territorial Battalions, A Pictorial History, 1859–1985. Tunbridge Wells: Spellmount. 

External links[edit]