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Sunday, 11 November 2007

The Fifteenth Scottish Division

The senior of Kitchener’s Second New Army Divisions, the 15th Scottish was raised at Aldershot in September 1914 with a nucleus of men surplus to the requirements of the 9th Scottish Division and brought up to strength with drafts sent down from Scotland. It arrived in France in July 1915 and its first major battle was at Loos in which it captured its objectives, Loos itself and Hill 70, at a cost of 6, 404 casualties. All five VCs the division was to be awarded were won during the battle, four of them in twenty-four hours at Hill 70. The division remained in this sector till July 1916 when it moved down to the Somme where it achieved a notable success in capturing Martinpuich on 15th September. It took part in the Arras offensive in April 1917 and three months later it was fighting in the Battle of Pilckem Ridge during Third Ypres. It was back in the Arras sector when the German March 1918 offensive was launched and where the division held the enemy drive on Arras. For a short spell in July/August the division was under French command and took part in the capture of Buzancy and neighbouring villages. Total casualties throughout the war amounted to 45,542. This is an excellent history, well set out and with very good maps to support the interesting and well-written account of the division’s record. A most useful innovation is the provision of marginal notes which highlight events described in the accompanying text, and the top of each page is dated, a most welcome feature in a fast-moving narrative. A remarkable feature is the number of appendices which take up 192 pages and provide a wealth of detail: Order of Battle; Commanders and Staff both divisional and brigade with all changes; chronology of moves and events; casualties by battalions/units by dates with officers named and other ranks tabulated; complete list of recipients of Honours and Awards, by battalions/units. Of special interest are the operation orders for the Battle of Loos and the translation of a German report on the battle. FIFTEENTH (SCOTTISH) DIVISION 1914-1919.

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