Division Headquarters

Mena, Egypt. c. February 1915. Group portrait of staff officers at Mena Camp. Left to right: back row: Captain C. E. W. Bean, official correspondent; Lieutenant W. Smith; Captain J. T. Fitzgerald ; Major T. Matson; Captain W. J. Foster, ADC; Captain T. Griffiths DAAG; Lieutenant E. C. P. Plant; Captain S. M. E. R. de L. de Bucy APM; Lieutenant R. G. Casey ADC; Lieutenant R. A. Ramsay; Lieutenant F. P. Murphy. Front row: Lieutenant Colonel J. G. Austin DADOS; Major C. H. Foott, DAQMG; Major J. Gellibrand, DAA&QMG; Colonel W. G. Patterson, AA&QMG; Lieutenant Colonel N. R. Howse VC, ADMS; Major General W. T. Bridges, GOC; Lieutenant Colonel C. B. B. White, GSO1; Major D. J. Glasfurd, GSO2; Major T.A. Blamey, GSO2; Lieutenant Colonel G. A. Marshall, DADMS.
(Lent by Mr C. E. W. Bean)

A World War One division was a large and complex formation of over 18,000 men. To administer it required a dedicated, well trained and highly skilled staff.

Unfortunately, such men were in extremely short supply in 1914. There were no divisional staffs in Australia before the war, and hence no chance to practice except when on exchange with the British Army. Specialised training was available at the British staff colleges at Camberley and Quetta, where a place in each course was set aside for an Australian officer from 1911 but by the outbreak of war in 1914, only six Australian officers had graduated: Majors C. H. Foott, E. F. Harrison, E. H. Reynolds and C. B. B. White and Captains T. A. Blamey and J. D. Lavarack. Four of the British Army's 447 graduates were on secondment in Australia in 1914, plus John Gellibrand, who had attended Camberley with White in 1906-7 while with the British Army and had since returned to his native Tasmania to grow apples. With only eleven staff college graduates available, it was impossible to fill all staff appointments with them. Inevitably, terrible mistakes were made through inexperience.

The division staff was divided into two parts, a General Staff Branch and an Adjutant and Quartermaster General's Branch. Each member of the headquarters staff had a role but titles were cumbersome and archaic, and for this reason are explained here.

GOC. General Officer Commanding.
This was the division commander, who was graded as a major general. He was responsible for all aspects of the division's performance. The staff's job was to reduce this to the point where it could be done by one man, by carrying out all the routine and administrative functions on his behalf.

ADC. Aide de Camp.
Graded a captain. The GOC had two aides, who acted as assistants, performing such duties as the GOC designated.

GSO1. General Staff Officer (1st Class).
The chief of staff, graded a lieutenant colonel or colonel. He was in charge of the General Staff Branch, responsible for training, intelligence, planning operations and directing the battle as it progressed. Most orders from the GOC were actually written up and signed by the GSO1.

GSO2. General Staff Officer (2nd Class).
The deputy chief of staff, graded a major. He assisted the GSO1.

GSO3. General Staff Officer (3rd Class).
Graded a captain. Usually responsible for intelligence.

AA & QMG. Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General.
Graded a lieutenant colonel or colonel. He was in charge of the Adjutant and Quartermaster General's Branch, responsible for supply, transport, accommodation and personnel management.

DAA & QMG. Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General.
Graded a lieutenant colonel or colonel. He assisted the AA & QMG.

DAQMG. Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General.
Graded a major. He was responsible for supply, transport and accommodation.

DAAG. Deputy Assistant Adjutant General.
Graded a major. He was responsible for personnel administration, which included pay, establishments and promotions.

DADOS. Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services.
Graded a major. Responsible for weapons, equipment and maintenance.

ADMS. Assistant Director Medical Services.
Graded a lieutenant colonel. The chief medical officer of the division. Controlled the three field ambulances and such other medical troops as might be attached to the division. Pre war doctrine had him subordinate to the AA & QMG but the debacle at Gallipoli demonstrated that he needed to have direct access to the GOC.

CRA. Commander, Royal Artillery.
Graded a colonel in 1914, he became a brigadier general in July 1915, and the title changed to BGRA. Controlled the division artillery and such other artillery as might be attached to the division.

BMRA. Brigade Major Royal Artillery.
Graded a major, was a staff officer assigned to the CRA.

CRE. Commander, Royal Engineers
Graded a lieutenant colonel. Controlled the division's three field companies and such other engineers or work details as might be attached to the division.

APM. Assistant Provost Marshal.
Graded a captain. Controlled the division's provost (military police).

In addition to the staff officers of course, division headquarters included many clerks who handled the actual paperwork on their behalf.

Page created by Ross Mallett
Last update 8 June 2010