Army Formations

The following tables give an outline of the formation and structure of the British Army within the First World War together with the comparison showing how the Australian Imperial Force was structured within the British Expeditionary Force. During WW1 the British had five armies responsible for the northern section of the Western Front, taking over from the French Army in the Picardy region northwards and into Belgium.

At the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, the first Commander in Chief of the BEF was Field Marshal John French. After the failed offensive at the Battle of Loos in 1915, French was replaced as commander of the BEF by Field Marshal Douglas Haig, who remained in command for the rest of the war.

British Army.pngBEF Army Strengths and Structure (source Western Front Association)

Formations Organisation Strength Made up of Commanded by
Army  85,000 +/- Two corps + HQ + Army Troops General or Field Marshall
Corps 38,500 Two divisions + HQ + Corps Troops Lieutenant General
Division 18,179 3 brigades + HQ + Divisional Troops Major General
Brigade 4055 4 battalions + HQ Brigadier-General
(sub-) units Battalion 1007 4 companies + HQ Lieutenant Colonel
Company 227 4 platoons + HQ Captain or Major
Platoon 52 4 sections Lieutenant
Section 13  1 Cpl + 12 Ptes Cpl/Sergeant

imageAIF Army Strengths & Structure (source Australian War Memorial)

Formations Organisation Strength Made up of Commanded by
Army Two or more corps General
Corps 30,000 or more Two or more divisions Lieutenant General
Division 10,000 – 20,000 3 brigades Major General
Brigade 2,500 – 5,000 4 battalions Brigadier (General)
(sub-) units Battalion 550 – 1000 4 companies Lieutenant Colonel
Company 100 – 225 4 platoons Captain or Major
Platoon 30 – 60 4 (later 3) sections Lieutenant
Section 9 – 16 Cpl/Sergeant


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poppy-2       FIRST WORLD WAR TIMELINE       poppy-2

1914          1915          1916          1917          1918          1919

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