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History

HQ NW traces its origins to the end of the 19th century, when the 11th (Lancashire) Brigade fought with great distinction in the war in South Africa.

Soldiers of the Loyal North Lancashires wearing captured German helmets at Cambrai, October 1918. The courage and sacrifice of the North West soldier became part of folklore and, to this day, there remain many stands at local football grounds called The Kop, in memory of those brave Lancashire men who fought at the battle of Spion Kop.

 

1908

The formation of the Territorial Army in 1908 saw the creation of two TA divisions in the North West - 42nd (East Lancashire) and 55th (West Lancashire) Divisions. At the outbreak of the First World War, the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division was the first territorial division to leave Britain. It sailed to Egypt and would also see action in the Dardanelles, France and Belgium.

Capt Noel Chavasse (photo courtesy of Liverpool Daily Post) The 55th (West Lancashire) Division initially deployed, unit by unit, to France, and also fought later in Belgium. It won the highest number of VCs (12) among the non-regular divisions, including the only double VC awarded during the war to medical officer Captain Noel Chavasse.

 

WWII

The 42nd (East Lancashire) Division was again among the first TA units to deploy in the Second World War, initially to France. It took part in the advance to Belgium and in the hard fighting that culminated in the withdrawal to and evacuation from Dunkirk. Following a reorganisation of the Army in 1943, the division was disbanded, but divisional troops titled '42' continued in the order of battle throughout the war. The 55th (West Lancashire) Division did not deploy overseas, instead forming part of the Home Forces.

In 1947, the 42nd and 55th Divisions were amalgamated to form the 42nd (Lancashire) Division. The division was responsible to Western Command, then based in Chester, and tasked with Home Defence, including preparing to assist the civil powers in the aftermath of a much-feared nuclear war. In 1967, the territorial divisions and their commands were abolished and replaced by Territorial Army and Volunteer Reserve units commanded by a district headquarters. Headquarters North West District was originally located at Cuerden Hall, to the south of Preston, but later moved to Fulwood Barracks, to the north of Preston.

 

Mid-1980s

By the mid 1980s, training brigades where being formed and the North West thus saw rise to 42nd Infantry Brigade, with its headquarters at Chester Castle. This brigade was soon disbanded however, making way for the formation of the current 42 (North West) Brigade, replacing North West District, with the new brigade's headquarters forming at Fulwood Barracks.

There have been nine Commanders of 42 (North West) Brigade - Brigadiers Euan Morrison, Jeremy Gaskell, David Shaw, Alex Birtwistle, Mike Wharmby, Jonathan Powe, Mike Griffiths, Bill Aldridge and Nick Fitzgerald.

 

Today

On 1st January 2017, under the command of Colonel Phil Harrison, the regional organisation was restructured and adopted the title ‘HQ NW’.