5th Infantry Brigade (United Kingdom)

5th Brigade
5th Infantry Brigade
5th Airborne Brigade

Badge of 5th Infantry Brigade
Active 1908-1918
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Type Infantry
Role Airborne Infantry brigade
Size Brigade
Part of 3rd (UK) Division
Garrison/HQ Aldershot Garrison
Engagements First World War
Second World War
Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation
The Troubles
Falklands War
Michael West

The 5th Infantry Brigade was a regular infantry brigade of the British Army that was in existence since before the First World War, except for a short break in the late 1970s, until amalgamating with 24th Airmobile Brigade, in 1999, to form 16 Air Assault Brigade.


During the Boer War, the 5th Infantry Brigade, known as the Irish Brigade, fought in the Battle of Colenso under Major General Arthur Fitzroy Hart. It consisted of the 1st Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 1st Inniskilling Fusiliers, 1st Connaught Rangers, and the 1st Border Regiment.[1]

The brigade was part of the 2nd Division during the First World War and was one of the first British units to be sent overseas on the outbreak of war. The brigade became part of the British Expeditionary Force and saw action on the Western Front in the Battle of Mons and the subsequent Great Retreat and at the First Battle of Ypres, which saw the old Regular Army virtually destroyed.[2]

During the Second World War, the 5th Brigade was again part of the 2nd Infantry Division and was sent to France in 1939 shortly after the outbreak of war, where it joined the British Expeditionary Force. It served on the Franco-Belgian border until May 1940, when it was evacuated at Dunkirk after fighting in the short but fierce battles of France and Belgium in which the German Army nearly cut off the entire BEF from the French Army.[3] With the division, the brigade remained in Britain on home defence until 10 April 1942, when it was shipped out to India to fight the Imperial Japanese Army after a series of disasters suffered by the British and Indian troops stationed there. The 5th Brigade served with the 2nd Infantry Division in the Burma Campaign under General Slim's British Fourteenth Army and fought in the Battle of Kohima, which managed to help turn the tide of the campaign in the Far East.[4]

First World War Order of Battle

The brigade was part of 2nd Division. The brigade commanded the following units in the First World War:[5]

Second World War Order of Battle

The brigade commanded the following units in the Second World War:[6]


Notable commanders included:[7]

Post 1945

Following the war, it was part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan, and then the British Army of the Rhine until 1964, when the Brigade Group was released to bolster the strategic reserve.[8] It arrived in Borneo in October 1965 to take control of the Mid West Sector during the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation, but by 1968 it was back in the United Kingdom as part of the 3rd Infantry Division.[9] It did a tour in Northern Ireland during the early part of the Troubles. In the early 1980s, the Field Force concept was dropped in favour of traditional Brigades; 5th Infantry Brigade was reformed at Aldershot in January 1982 by the redesignation of 8th Field Force. The Brigade consisted of the former elements of the Parachute Contingency Force (PCF) from 6 Field Force (which became the 1st Infantry Brigade), at the time 2 PARA, together with a second Parachute Battalion from 8 Field Force (3 PARA).[10]

Falklands War

The Brigade was sent to the Falklands in 1982 as the follow-on force to 3rd Commando Brigade. Having had its two Parachute Regiment battalions withdrawn to reinforce 3 Commando Brigade, it was hurriedly reconstituted with two Guards battalions pulled from Public duties in London and 63 Sqn RAF Regiment (based at Gutersloh, Germany) to initially provide additional Short Range Air Defence (SHORAD) of land forces landing at San Carlos. The final order of battle included:[11]

5th Airborne Brigade

Following the Falklands War, it was converted into 5th Airborne Brigade. The brigade comprised the two battalions of the Parachute Regiment, together with additional parachute support elements and a small parachute deployable Brigade HQ. The 7th Regiment RHA returned from Germany and was converted to an airborne unit and attached to the brigade. A Brigade Logistic Battalion was formed. The 5th Airborne Brigade Order of Battle was as follows:[13]

On 1 September 1999, the brigade merged with 24 Airmobile Brigade to produce 16 Air Assault Brigade.[13]


  1. Consisting of 8 Rapier fire units deployed as 2 flights (A & B flights) A1 – A4; B1 – B4. Each fire unit was equipped with Rapier Field Standard A and DN181 ‘Blindfire’ radar. There was also an HQ Flight and an Engineering Flight.[12]


  1. "Battle of Colenso". British Battles.
  2. "British Expeditionary Force (BEF)". British Battles. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  3. Delaforce, p. 127
  4. "Kohima and Imphal". Burma Star Association. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  5. Baker, Chris. "The 2nd Division in 1914-1918". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  6. "Subordinates". Orders of Battle. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  7. "Unit appointmemts". Orders of Battle. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  8. Watson, p. 123
  9. Van der Bijl, p. 84
  10. Norton, G.G. (1984). "The Red Devils: From Bruneval to the Falklands". Leo Cooper. ISBN 978-0870522970.
  11. "Battle Atlas of the Falklands War 1982". Naval History. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  12. "63 Sqn RAF Regt History". RAF. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  13. 1 2 "5th Airborne Brigade". Retrieved 16 August 2015.


External links

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