The 25th Division (74th, 75th and 76th Brigades) was formed in September 1914, one of Kitchener’s Third New Army divisions, under the command of Major-General F.Ventris (late Essex), who had retired some five years earlier. He was replaced at the end of May 1915 by B.J.C Doran (late R Irish Regt), a regular, promoted from command of the 68th Brigade; prior to that he had commanded the 8th Infantry Brigade in France during the first two months of the war. The division went to France in September 1915 and a month later the 76th Brigade was transferred to the 3rd Division in exchange for the 7th Brigade. For the next six months or so the division was in the ‘Plugstreet’/Armentieres sector before moving down to Vimy Ridge in May 1916, where it was awarded the first of the six VCs it was to win by the end of the war. Command changed again in June when E.G.T Bainbridge replaced Doran who was sent back to command a district in Ireland. Thereafter the division fought on the Somme, at Messines, Third Ypres, in the German offensive of March/April 1918 and finally on the Aisne in May 1918, with IX Corps under French command. When the division was taken out of the line in mid-June it had, since February, suffered losses of some 15,500 of whom 7,500 were missing. At this point the divisional and brigade HQs and the infantry battalions were sent back to England where the division was reconstituted; it returned to France in September with another commander, J.R.E Charles, who had taken over in August. This is reflected in the divisional history which is divided into two parts, Part I is concerned with the original division, Part II with the reborn division.
Kincaid-Smith’s work is unlike any other Great War divisional history in that nearly half the book is taken up with citations (over 300 of them), lists of honours and awards, tables of casualties and details of officer casualties. As he says in his introduction, he sets out to give a very brief sketch of the operations in which the 25th Division was engaged from time to time, so this is not a continuous narrative. Beginning with the Somme he devotes a chapter to each of the major operations involving the division, each chapter followed by the honours and awards gained plus selected citations; usually, such details appear in appendices. From time to time casualties suffered by the division over a given period are summarised in tables that give the figures for every unit; each of these tables (there are four of them) is followed by the names of the officer casualties (killed, wounded and missing), listed by units; individual dates are not given. By the end of the war the division’s losses amounted to 48,289 of whom 623 Officers and 12,663 Other Ranks made the supreme sacrifice.
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