British Military Operations 1919-1939
v.1.0 April 28, 2002

Graham Watson


The following is a selection of orders of battle of various operations carried out by the British Army in the years between the wars. All were operations of a limited nature carried out in support of particular political or international objectives.  Almost all were the result of requirements of or dissatisfaction about the peace settlements of 1919-1922.


Late in 1919 Britain sent troops to Murmansk and Archangel in northern Russia. They were part of an international force designed to protect Allied interests there during the Russian Civil War, and to offer assistance to those Russian forces fighting the Bolsheviks in that conflict. 

2/10 Royal Scots

2 Royal Warwickshire

45 Royal Fusiliers  [Elope Force]

46 Royal Fusiliers  [Elope Force]

17 Kings Liverpool

6 Green Howards

12 Green Howards

1 East Surrey

11 Royal Sussex

2 Hampshire

1 Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire LI

2/7 Durham LI

2 Highland LI

6 Royal Marine Bn

8 Bn Machine Gun Corps

8, 201, 252, 280 Machine Gun Companies


Following the armistice with the Ottoman empire, Britain sent troops from Macedonia to secure Constantinople and the Straits. In addition, troops were sent eastwards to Turkish ports on the Black Sea and into Caucasus region of Russia to influence the outcome of the struggle against the Bolsheviks.  Units of the Indian Army provided part of the garrison in Turkey.


A & D Sqns, Lothians & Border Horse

Surrey Yeomanry

2 Kings Own Royal Regiment

9 Kings Own Royal Regiment

9 Royal Warwickshire

10 Devonshire

2 East Yorkshire

11 Royal Welsh Fusiliers

8 Royal Scots Fusiliers

2 Gloucestershire

9 Worcestershire

11 Worcestershire

2 Duke of Cornwall’s LI

8 Duke of Cornwall’s LI

1st/4th Hampshire

1 Welsh Regiment

7 Royal Berkshire

2 Kings Shropshire LI

26 Middlesex

7 North Staffordshire

2 Durham LI

2/5 Durham LI

2 Cameron Hldrs

2 Royal Dublin Fusiliers

4 Rifle Brigade

65, 66, 67, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 80, 81, 253, 277, Z Machine Gun Coys

Indian Army-

6th Cavalry

23rd Infantry

54th Infantry

95th Infantry

2 Bn 128th Infantry

2 Bn 4th Gurkha Rifles



Britain sent a small force to Siberia, via Vladivostok, to influence events in Siberia.  This force was to maintain a British ‘presence’ in an area which had attracted Japanese and American forces as well.

9 Bn Hampshire Regiment

25 Bn Middlesex Regiment


Throughout World War One, the British had to keep a force of British and Indian units on the North-West Frontier to maintain peace amongst the various tribes. The collapse of Russia and the emergence of Bolshevism in Russia led to a substantial intervention in Afghanistan in 1919 to secure the Indian sub-continent. British and Indian units took part in this operation.


1st/4th Queens Regiment

4 Buffs

2 Kings Liverpool

2 Somerset LI

1 Green Howards

1 Duke of Wellington’s Regiment

2nd/4th Border Regiment

1 Royal Sussex

1/5 Hampshire

1 South Lancashire

1st/4th Royal West Kent

2 North Staffordshire

1/25 London

Kent Cyclist Bn

15, 20, 21 Machine Gun (Cav) Companies

3, 15, 22, 222, 260, 263, 270, 288 Machine Gun Companies

Indian Army-

1, 2, 13, 16, 17, 20, 23, 25, 27, 33, 37 Cavalry Regiments

37, 39 Infantry Regiments

NB- Substantial Indian Army forces operated in Central Asia during 1919 [28 Cavalry, 2, 19, 21, 24, 25, 32, 39, 67, 84, 89 Infantry, 2/6 Gurkhas]. At same time Indian units were sent to Persia [Iran]-they were 16, 22, 55, 81, 98, 99, 107 and 127 Infantry]


Further British and Indian forces were engaged in occupation duties as Mesopotamia was transformed in to Iraq.  British units included –

1st Kings Dragoon Guards

7th Dragoon Guards

8th Hussars

1st Armoured Car Company

6th Armoured Car Company

A Battery Royal Horse Artillery

17th Brigade Royal Field Artillery

19th Brigade Royal Field Artillery

2 Bn Northumberland Fusiliers

2 Bn Royal Norfolk Regiment

2 Bn East Yorkshire Regiment

1 Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

1 Bn Royal Berkshire Regiment

1 Bn King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry

2 Bn York & Lancaster Regiment

2 Bn Royal Ulster Rifles

1 Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers

From 1923 the British Army handed over supervision of Iraq to the Royal Air Force. Until 1941 British ground troops were rare visitors in Iraq.

SYRIA 1919

Although France was awarded a mandate to govern the former Ottoman territories of Syria and Lebanon, Britain maintained troops in the area until the French were in a position to take control.

Gloucestershire Hussars

Sherwood Rangers

Worcestershire Yeomanry

4 Royal Norfolk

5 Royal Norfolk

4 Bedfordshire

2 Leicestershire

Indian Army-

2, 18, 19, 36 Cavalry, 2 Guides Infantry

SILESIA 1920-21 (Upper Silesia Plebiscite)

As part of the Versailles Treaty the German province of Upper Silesia was promised a plebiscite to determine its future status-whether to remain German or to be handed over to the new states of Poland and Czeckoslovakia.  British troops maintained the peace in Silesia until the plebiscite was held.

1 Bn Royal Irish Regiment

2 Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

1 Bn Gloucestershire Regiment

4 Bn Worcestershire Regiment 

1 Bn Royal Sussex Regiment

2 Bn Black Watch

2 Bn Royal West Kent

1 Bn Kings Own Yorkshire LI

1 Bn Middlesex Regiment

3 Bn Middlesex Regiment

1 Bn Durham LI

2 Bn Connaught Rangers  

2 Bn Leinster Regiment

1 Bn Munster Fusiliers


Before 1914 Britain had maintained a very substantial garrison in Ireland. This totalled one cavalry brigade and five infantry brigades with a total of 3 cavalry regiments and 20 battalions.  Between 1918 and 1922 the British Army attempted to reduce the level of violence in the country until such time as the British and Irish could agree on the future political structure of Ireland. This was achieved at the end of 1921. This orbat portrays the deployment of British forces in  January 1922. After that date the force was reduced to 4 battalions in Northern Ireland. The size of the security forces could be maintained only by denuding garrisons in Great Britain.

GHQ Troops [Dublin]

3 Bn Royal Tank Corps

5 Armoured Car Company

1 Mobile Searchlight Group RE, Dublin

2 Mobile Searchlight Group RE, Fermoy

‘B’ Mobile Searchlight Group RE, Limerick

Special Signal Company

‘K’ Signal Company

3rd Cavalry Brigade, Curragh

3 Dragoon Guards

12 Lancers

15 Hussars  [Dublin]

B & M Batteries RHA


Other cavalry regiments

Royal Dragoons    [Ballinasloe]

10 Hussars             [Curragh]

13 Hussars             [Longford]

17 Lancers             [Galway]

Coast Defence Artillery

15 Company RGA, Londonderry

R, W & X Coast Batteries RGA, Queenstown

U & V Coast Batteries, Berehaven

Y Coast Battery, Lough Swilly

15th Infantry Brigade, Belfast  [under direct command of GHQ]

1 Bn Royal Norfolk Regiment

1 Bn Somerset Light Infantry

1 Bn Seaforth Highlanders

1 Bn Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, Ballykinlar

1 Bn Kings Royal Rifle Corps, Ballykinlar

1 Bn Dorsetshire Regiment, Londonderry

2 Bn Rifle Brigade, Finner

5th DIVISION, Curragh

XXX Brigade RFA-128, 129 130 Field Batteries, Kildare

XXXVI Brigade RFA-15, 48, 71 Field Batteries, Newbridge

17 Field Company RE, Curragh

59 Field Company RE, Curragh

5 Division Signal Company, Curragh

Galway Brigade-

4 Bn Worcestershire Regiment, Galway

2 Bn Border Regiment, Castlebar

1 Bn Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, Tuam

2 Bn Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, Claremorris

13 Infantry Brigade, Athlone-

1 Bn East Yorkshire Regiment, Mullingar

1 Bn Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment, Sligo

1 Bn Leicestershire Regiment, Sligo

1 Bn Royal Sussex Regiment, Carrickshannon

14 Infantry Brigade, Curragh-

1 Bn Northumberland Fusiliers, Carlow

2 Bn Suffolk Regiment, Curragh

1 Bn Royal Scots Fusiliers, Tullamore

1 Bn Cameronians, Curragh

1 Bn Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, Curragh

2 Bn Kings Shropshire Light Infantry, Curragh

2 Bn Gordon Highlanders, Maryborough

6th DIVISION, Cork-

I Brigade RFA-98, 136, 146 Field Batteries, Kilkenny

II Brigade RFA-45, 53, 87 Field Batteries, Fermoy

XXXI Brigade RFA-131, 132, 133 Field Batteries, Fermoy

VII Medium Brigade RGA- ?? Medium Batteries, Fermoy

12 Field Company RE, Limerick

38 Field Company RE, Fermoy

6 Divisional Signal Company, Cork

16 Infantry Brigade, Fermoy

1 Bn Queens Regiment, Kilworth

1 Bn Buffs, Fermoy

1 Bn Lincolnshire Regiment, Tipperary

1 Bn Devonshire Regiment, Waterford

2 Bn Green Howards, Tipperary

2 Bn Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, Tipperary

1 Bn York & Lancaster Regiment, Clonmel

17 Infantry Brigade, Cork-

1 Bn Kings Liverpool Regiment, Bantry

1 Bn West Yorkshire Regiment, Kinsale

2 Bn Kings Own Scottish Borderers, Bere

2 Bn Hampshire Regiment, Cork

2 Bn North Staffordshire Regiment, Cork

1 Bn Dorsetshire Regiment, Kinsale

1 Bn Sherwood Foresters, Skibbereen

1 Bn Manchester Regiment, Ballincolig

2 Bn Cameron Highlanders, Queenstown

18 Infantry Brigade, Limerick-

2 Bn Royal Scots, Ennis

1 Bn Royal Warwickshire Regiment, Newcastle West

3 Bn Royal Fusiliers, Killaloe

2 Bn Royal Welch Fusiliers, Limerick

1 Bn Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, Limerick

2 Bn Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, Tralee

1 Bn Northamptonshire Regiment, Templemore

2 Bn North Staffordshire Regiment, Nenagh

Kerry Brigade, Buttevant-

1 Bn Royal Fusiliers, Killarney

2 Bn Cheshire Regiment, Ballynovcare

1 Bn Gloucestershire Regiment, Kanturk

2 Bn East Lancashire Regiment, Buttevant

1 Bn Machine Gun Corps, Ballynovcare


XXXIII Brigade RFA-137, 138, 139 Field Batteries, Dundalk

V Medium Brigade RGA-15, 17, 20, 21 Medium Btys,Tallaght

1 Works Company RE

14 Survey Company RE

24 Provisional Brigade-

1 Bn Lancashire Fusiliers

2 Bn East Surrey Regiment

2 Bn Royal West Kent Regiment

1 Bn Wiltshire Regiment

3 Bn Rifle Brigade

1 Bn South Wales Borderers, Dunshaughlin

2 Bn Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, Collinstown

25 Provisional Brigade-

1 Bn Kings Own Royal Regiment

2 Bn Worcestershire Regiment

2 Bn Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

1 Bn South Lancashire Regiment

2 Bn Welch Regiment

2 Bn Royal Berkshire Regiment

1 Bn Cheshire Regiment, Raithdrum

26 Provisional Brigade, Dundalk-

2 Bn Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry

2 Bn Kings Royal Rifle Corps, Clonagh

1 Bn Middlesex Regiment, Cootehill    



The transformation of the Ottoman empire to the Turkish republic 1918-1922 was not without its problems, one of which was the influx of Greeks into the area around Izmir.  Britain maintained a garrison around Constantinople to influence control of the sea lanes between the Aegean and Black Seas. The upsurge of Turkish nationalism and the conflict with Greece led to a substantial increase in the size of the British force in 1922.  At the time, the British government was accused of excessive belligerence towards Turkey and its failure to influence the outcome led to the downfall of the British prime minister, David Lloyd George, and the withdrawal of all forces in 1923.

HQ 28th Division

3rd Hussars                                                                              

XVII Brigade RFA –13, 26, 92 Batteries 

XIX Brigade RFA  - 29, 96 Batteries

V Pack Brigade RFA-1, 5, 7, 14 Batteries

12 Field Company RE

2 Divisional Signal Company

83 Brigade

2 Bn Royal Fusiliers                                               

2 Bn Royal Sussex Regiment                                 

1 Bn Loyal North Lancashire Regiment         

1 Bn Gordon Highlanders                             

85 Brigade

1 Bn Kings Own Scottish Borderers                                

2 Bn Sherwood Foresters                                             

2 Bn Highland Light Infantry                                       

2 Bn Rifle Brigade                                                           

Other units

X Brigade RFA-30, 46, 51, 54 Field Batteries

1 Bn Grenadier Guards                                                

2 Bn Grenadier Guards                                                

1 Bn Irish Guards                                                

1 Bn Buffs  [to 83 Bde]                                                           

1 Bn Kings Liverpool Regiment                                 

2 Bn East Yorkshire Regiment                                 

1 Bn Duke of Wellington’s Regiment                     

2 Bn Essex Regiment                                                         

1 Bn North Staffordshire Regiment                                 

2 Bn Royal Ulster Rifles                                                     

11 Royal Marine Battalion


In 1927, the outbreak of conflict between nationalists and communists in China created international concern about the safety of the large European population in Shanghai. Together with Japan, the United States, France and Italy, Britain dispatched a substantial force from both Britain, Malta and India. After 1928 this force was reduced gradually but British troops did not finally leave Shanghai until 1939.

Division HQ  [Major General Duncan]

HQ 13 Infantry Brigade –from Catterick

HQ 14 Infantry Brigade –from Lichfield

HQ 9 Indian Infantry Brigade –from India

5 Armoured Car Company, Royal Tank Corps

HQ 1 Brigade RHA

16 Medium Battery RA

11, 80 Field Batteries RA

12, 15, 20, 21 Pack Batteries RA

10 Company, Madras Sappers & Miners

Divisional Signals

2 Bn Coldstream Guards

1 Bn Devonshire Regiment

2 Bn Suffolk Regiment     -ex Gibraltar

1 Bn Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment  -ex Malta

2 Bn Gloucestershire Regiment –ex India

1 Bn Border Regiment

2 Bn Border Regiment  -ex Malta

2 Bn Durham Light Infantry –ex India

1 Bn Green Howards

1 Bn Middlesex Regiment

12 Royal Marine Battalion

4 Bn 1st Punjab Regiment

3 Bn 14th Punjab Regiment

later reinforcements during 1927-

2 Bn Scots Guards

1 Bn Queens Regiment

2 Bn Northamptonshire Regiment

2 Bn Welch Regiment

Royal Air Force-

1 Squadron

later-2 Squadron


As part of the Versailles Treaty in 1919, the Saar province, on the border of France and Germany, was put under French control. In 1935, by the terms of the treaty, the people of the Saar were to determine whether to remain as part of France, or to become German. Along with Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden, Britain sent a small supervisory force to the Saar-which voted to join the Third Reich!

16/5 Lancers

1 Bn East Lancashire Regiment

1 Bn Essex Regiment

PALESTINE January 1939

As a result of the peace settlements of 1919-1922, Britain was given a League of Nations mandate over Palestine and Transjordan. Until 1929, the British force in Palestine was virtually non-existent. The beginnings of trouble between the Palestinians and Jewish immigants brought about the despatch of two battalions in 1929. By 1936 the normal garrison had risen to three battalions. The onset of severe internal unrest in Palestine during 1936 witnessed an enlargement to one infantry division. By 1939 this force had been expanded to two infantry divisions. This force is outlined below. 

Royal Dragoons

Royal Scots Greys

54 Field Company RE

Palestine Signals

2 Wireless Company, Sarafand


3 Bn Coldstream Guards  [temporary-ex Sudan]

18 Infantry Brigade-

2 Bn Kings Own Royal Regiment

2 Bn West Yorkshire Regiment

1 Bn Worcestershire Regiment

2 Bn Black Watch

19 Infantry Brigade-

1 Bn Buffs

1 Bn Northumberland Fusiliers

1 Bn Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment

2 Bn Highland Light Infantry


14 Infantry Brigade-

1 Bn Royal Scots

2 Bn Leicestershire Regiment

1 Bn Green Howards

1 Bn Border Regiment

16 Infantry Brigade-

1 Bn Hampshire Regiment

1 Bn South Staffordshire Regiment

2 Bn Royal West Kent Regiment

2 Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers


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