Mobilization, Battles & Engagements
1914 - 1919

From 'History of the Great War – Order of battle of Divisions Part 2a', London HM Stationary office 1936.

The division - an existing T.F. division-was drawn from the Highlands of Scotland, with the divisional headquarters in Perth. The three brigade headquarters were at Inverness, Aberdeen, and Stirling, and the original 12 battalions came from Dingwall, Golspie, Elgin, Inverness, Aberdeen, Peterhead, Keith, Banchory, Paisley, Stirling, Dunoon, and Dumbarton.

In the artillery: the 1. Highland Bde., RF.A., was at Aberdeen; the II. Highland Bde., RF.A., was at Dundee, with outlying batteries at Arbroath and Leven; the III. Highland (How.) Bde., RF.A., was at Greenock, with its ammunition column at Cathcart; the IV. Highland Mountain Artillery Bde., R.G.A., had. its headquarters and one battery at Rothesay, and the other two batteries were at Campbeltown and Lochcarron, with the ammunition column at Tarbert; and the Highland (Fifeshire) Heavy Battery, R.G.A. (4, 4.7-inch guns) came from Dunfermline (see General Notes).

The field companies came from Glasgow and Aberdeen, and the H.Q. and No.1 Section of the Signal Company from Aberdeen. Two field ambulances came from Aberdeen and the third from Dundee; and the companies of the Divnl. T. and S. Column were at Perth, Stirling, Aberdeen, and Dundee.

On the 29th July, 1914, the Warning Order arrived at Divisional Hd. Qrs. at Perth, and at 5-35 p.m. on the 4th August, the order to mobilize was received. Mobilization began on the 5th August. On the 12th, the Highland Division was ordered to move to Bedford, on the 15th entrainment began, and the concentration of the division at Bedford was completed by the 17th August. The division now formed part of the First Army, Central Force, and training for war was carried on. On the 22nd October H.M. the King inspected the Highland Division.

Between early in November, 1914, and the middle of March, 1915, the following units left the division to join other formations in the field, viz. : IV. Highland Mtn. Arty. Bde., 2/Highland Fd. Coy., 4/Seaforth Highlanders, 4/ and 6/Gordon Highlanders, 4/ Cameron Highlanders, 7/ and 9/Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, and l/Highland Fd. Ambce. (See General Notes.) To replace some of the units which it had lost, the division had transferred to it by the middle of April, 1915, two Black Watch battalions, and three Lancashire battalions (the latter from the West Lancashire Division), as well as the following 2nd-line units: one battalion, one field company, and one field ambulance. The infantry brigades were then reorganized and redesignated (see Order of Battle Table - Ed. not included but they took on what would become their historic numbering, 152nd, 153rd, and 154th).

On the 13th April, the Highland Division was ordered to prepare for service overseas.

Between the 30th April and the 3rd May, 1915, the division crossed to France: the mounted troops, artillery, engineers, field ambulances, transport of units, veterinary and sanitary sections, and the divisional train proceeded from Southampton to le Havre, and the rest of the division crossed from Folkestone to Boulogne. By the 6th May, the division completed its concentration at Lillers, Busnes, and Robecq.

The 51st Division served throughout the War in France and Belgium, and was engaged in the following operations :-


19-25 May - Battle of Festubert [Alderson’s Force from 19-22/5; then Indian Corps, First Army]


21 Jul-7 Aug and 4 Oct.-24 Nov - BATTLES OF THE SOMME
21-30 Jul - Attacks on High Wood [XV. Corps, Fourth Army]
13-18 Nov - Battle of the Ancre [V. Corps, Fifth Army]
I3 Nov - Capture of Beaumont Hamel


9-11 Apr - First Battle of the Scarpe [XVII. Corps, Third Army]
23 and 24 Apr - Second Battle of the Scarpe [XVII. Corps, Third Army]
13-16 May - Capture and Defence of Roeux [XVII. Corps, Third Army]

31 Jul-2 Aug - Battle of PiIckem Ridge [XVIII. Corps, Fifth Army]
20-24 Sep - Battle of the Menin Road Ridge [XVIII. Corps, Fifth Army]

20 and 21 Nov - The Tank Attack [IV. Corps, Third Army]
23 Nov - Capture of Bourlon Wood [IV. Corps, Third Army]
1-3 Dec - German Counter-Attacks [VI. Corps, Third Army]


21-23 Mar - Battle of St. Quentin [IV. Corps, Third Army]
24 and 25 Mar - Battle of Bapaume [IV. Corps, Third Army]

9-11 Apr - Battle of Estaires [XI. Corps, First Army]
12-15 Apr - Battle of Hazebrouck [XI. Corps, First Army]


20-31 Jul - Battle of Tardenois [XXII. Corps, Fifth (French) Army]

26-30 Aug - Battle of the Scarpe [Cdn. Corps, First Army]
11-12 Oct - Pursuit to the Selle [Cdn. Corps, First Army]

17-25 Oct - Battle of the Selle [XXII. Corps, First Army]

On the 29th October the 51st Division (less the artillery) was withdrawn from the Front Line, and on the 31st the division was placed in First Army Reserve. On the 11th November the 51st Division was billeted in the Schelde Valley in the Cambrai-Iwuy area. During December units were mainly employed in educational training and salvage work, and 1,200 coal-miners left for demobilization in the United Kingdom. In January, 1919, the division moved forward to a new area north of Binche, and between the 27th and 29th January H.R.H. the Prince of Wales visited the units of the division.

In February, three battalions (6/Black Watch, 4/Seaforth, and 4/Gordon Highlanders) left the division for Germany; and in April these three battalions were posted to a Highland Division in the Army of the Rhine. Gradually the 51st (Highland) Division faded away, and by the middle of March, 1919, it and all its units were reduced to cadre strength. The last of its units to leave France was 8/Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. In 1920 the division was re-formed in Scotland.