The 48th (South Midland) Division 1908-1919

K. W. Mitchinson

History of a 1st Line Territorial Force division during the Great War.
Date Published :
December 2017
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Wolverhampton Military Studies
Illustration :
c 20 b/w photos, 8pp color maps
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781911512547
Pages : 290
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Available


On the outbreak of war, the South Midland was the second strongest division in the Territorial Force (TF); by October 1914, it was considered to be the second most efficient of the TF’s fourteen 1st Line formations. Like other TF divisions, its pre-war officers and other ranks came from a variety of urban and rural backgrounds, trades and professions, but in contrast to the Kitchener formations, all of its units had a history and tradition dating back to the mid-19th century at least. It became the third TF division to be dispatched to the Western Front and, having spent 30 months in France and Belgium, it deployed to Italy as one of the British formations tasked to support the Italian Army. In the same way as the majority of British divisions, 48th (South Midland) Division was not an especially spectacular formation, with no particular or outstanding success to its name. It did suffer the indignity of having its commander sacked, but on the whole, it earned a reputation as a good, solid, reliable formation.

This volume explains the division’s prewar difficulties in trying to raise, equip and train efficient units; it also assesses those units’ successes and failures in their major engagements. It examines the extent to which the TF ethos and the division’s local character were maintained during the course of the war and how well its various constituent units adapted to the tactical and operational evolution apparent within the British Army. The key elements of command and leadership - and what in modern conceptual doctrine is known as ‘fighting power’ - are analyzed across the component units, with considerable attention also being paid to the essential roles played by the supporting arms.

The book offers a comprehensive study of the character and activities of a reasonably typical TF division, but also of a formation which although competent and efficient, received few of the plaudits enjoyed by many of its fellow ‘Saturday afternoon soldiers’.

About The Author

Dr Bill Mitchinson is a lecturer with King’s College London at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, Shrivenham. He has written and lectured extensively on the Great War for more than 40 years and has a particular interest in the work of the Territorial Force (TF). His books include the well-received trilogy on the Territorial Force and the Volunteer Training Corps: Defending Albion, England’s Last Hope and The Territorial Force at War 1914-1916. These volumes offer an examination of the often difficult and tense relationship between the War Office and the Auxiliaries, and assessments of the efficiency and competence of TF formations in the first half of the war. He has also written several battalion histories, as well as Pioneer Battalions in the Great War, which is a study of these often overlooked units. He regularly leads staff rides to the battlefields of Europe and is a member of both the British Commission for Military History and the Royal Historical Society.


“I have thoroughly enjoyed Bill Mitchison’s previous books on the Territorial Force and had little doubt that this would also prove to be a well researched and highly readable work. I was not disappointed...This will obviously be of value to anyone interested in this division, but also to readers interested in the Great War as it affected Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire.”

- The Long, Long Trail

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