160th (Welsh) Brigade

The 160th (Welsh) Brigade or Brigâd 160 (Cymru), previously 160th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters Wales, is a regional brigade of the British Army that has been in existence since 1908, and saw service during both World War I and World War II, as part of the 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division. It is a regional command responsible for all of Wales. The brigade organises an annual patrolling competition in the Brecon Beacons, known as Exercise Cambrian Patrol.

160th (Welsh) Brigade
Current shoulder sleeve insignia of the 160th (Welsh) Brigade.
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
TypeRegular and Army Reserve (United Kingdom)
Part ofRegional Command[1]
Garrison/HQThe Barracks, Brecon, Wales
Battle honoursWorld War I:
* Gallipoli Campaign
* First Battle of Gaza
* Battle of Nablus (1918)
World War II:
* Battle of Normandy
* Battle of Falaise
* Battle of the Bulge
* Battle of the Reichswald
* Western Allied invasion of Germany
Brigadier Alan S. Richmond OBE
Sir John Dill
Robert Ross
Eric Dorman-Smith
Sir Lashmer Whistler


The Welsh Border Brigade was originally raised in 1908, upon creation of the Territorial Force, and was part of the Welsh Division. The brigade was composed of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Volunteer battalions of the Monmouthshire Regiment along with the 1st Battalion of the Herefordshire Regiment.

First World War

In 1915 the brigade was re-designated the 160th (1/1st South Wales) Brigade and the Welsh Division the 53rd (Welsh) Division. The brigade fought with the division in the Great War, in the Middle Eastern theatre.

The brigade was reconstituted as a result of British troops being sent to the Western Front during the emergency following the German March 1918 Spring Offensive.

Order of battle

Between the wars

After the war the brigade and division were disbanded as was the Territorial Force. However, both the brigade and division were reformed in 1920 in the Territorial Army. The brigade, now the 160th (South Wales) Infantry Brigade, was again composed of the same four battalions it had before the Great War. However, these were all posted to the 159th (Welsh Border) Infantry Brigade early in the 1920s and were replaced by the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Battalions of the Welch Regiment. The 6th and 7th Battalions were amalgamated as the 6th/7th Battalion, Welch Regiment and the 4th Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry joined in the same year.

Second World War

The brigade, now composed of two battalions of the Welch Regiment and one of the Monmouthshire Regiment, together with the rest of the 53rd (Welsh) Division, was mobilised in late August 1939 and soon afterwards Britain declared war on Nazi Germany. In April 1940 the 160th Brigade was sent to Northern Ireland and, after the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was evacuated from France, the brigade was mainly involved in anti-invasion duties and exercises training to repel a potential German invasion of Northern Ireland. The 160th Brigade, and the rest of the 53rd Division, were sent to Southeast England almost two years later, where they began training for the eventual Allied invasion of Northern France.

After another nearly two years spent in Kent training, the brigade, under the command of Brigadier Charles Coleman, with the rest of the 53rd Division, landed in Normandy as part of Operation Overlord (codename for the Allied invasion of Northwest Europe) in late June 1944,[2] and were almost immediately involved in severe attritional fighting around the French city of Caen, facing numerous German panzer divisions, in what came to be known as the Battle for Caen. The 160th Brigade later participated in the Second Battle of the Odon, sustaining heavy casualties, which resulted in the 1/5th Battalion, Welch Regiment being transferred to the 158th Brigade of the same division and replaced by the 6th Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers. The decision was made by the divisional commander, Major-General Robert Ross (a former commander of the brigade), due to an acute shortage of infantrymen in the British Army at this stage of the war, even more so in finding sufficient numbers of battle casualty replacements (or reinforcements) for three battalions of the same regiment all serving together in the same brigade, which, like the 160th Brigade, had also suffered heavy losses.

The brigade went on to fight in the Battle of Falaise, capturing large numbers of German troops as prisoners of war (POWs) and the subsequent Allied advance from Paris to the Rhine, later playing a minor role in the Battle of the Bulge, a large role in Operation Veritable in February 1945 and crossing the River Rhine into Germany over a month later, where it took part in the Western Allied invasion of Germany, finally ending the war in Hamburg, Germany.

The 160th Brigade remained in Germany on occupation duties until it was disbanded in late 1946.

Order of battle

The 160th Infantry Brigade was composed as follows during the war:[2]


The following officers commanded the 160th Infantry Brigade during the war:[2]

  • Brigadier A.E. Williams (until 10 May 1940)
  • Brigadier R.K. Ross (from 10 May 1940 until 17 September 1942)
  • Brigadier E.E. Dorman-Smith (from 17 September 1942 until 22 November 1943)
  • Lieutenant Colonel C.F.C. Coleman (acting, from 22 November 1943 until 28 January 1944)
  • Brigadier L.G. Whistler (from 28 January 1944 until 22 June 1944)
  • Brigadier C.F.C. Coleman (from 22 June 1944 until 27 May 1945)
  • Lieutenant Colonel H.B.D. Crozier (acting, from 27 May 1945 until 3 June 1945)
  • Brigadier C.F.C. Coleman (from 3 June 1945)

Post war

From 1 April 1967, following the 1966 Defence White Paper, the Territorial Army was reorganised as the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve.[3]

Structure in 1989:[4][5][6]

With the disbandment of 5th Division, the brigade came under the control of the new Support Command based in Aldershot, in April 2012.[7]

Units circa 2019

Previously 1st Battalion, The Rifles, 8th Battalion, The Rifles, 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment and 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment fell under the order of battle of 160th brigade. As a result of the Field Army restructuring in August 2019, 1 and 8 RIFLES moved to 7th Infantry Brigade.[8][9][10] 1 and 2 R IRISH have moved to 11th Infantry Brigade.[11] It comprises no units following the 2019 Field Army re-organisation.[12] Both The Barracks, Brecon, and Beachley Barracks, Chepstow, are scheduled to close in 2027.


  1. "HQ Regional Command". army.mod.uk. British Army. 1 August 2019. Retrieved 1 August 2019. 38 (Irish) Brigade and 160 Infantry Brigade and HQ Wales
  2. Joslen, p. 348
  3. Steinberg, S. (1967). The Statesman's Year-Book 1967-68: The One-Volume ENCYCLOPAEDIA of all nations. Springer. p. 106. ISBN 9780230270961.
  4. "British Army 1989" (PDF).
  5. "Structures" (PDF).
  6. "British army units".
  7. House of Commons briefing note
  8. "Army restructures to confront evolving threats". Ministry of Defence. London. 31 July 2019. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  9. "Field Army Restructuring Battalion movements" (PDF). whatdotheyknow.com. whatdotheyknow. 16 August 2019. Retrieved 12 September 2019. 2nd and 8th Battalions The Rifles have transferred to 51st Infantry Brigade from 38th(Irish) Brigade
  10. "Field Army Restructuring Battalion movements" (PDF). whatdotheyknow.com. whatdotheyknow. 16 August 2019. Retrieved 12 September 2019. Has 1st and 6th Battalion the Rifles moved from 160th (Welsh) Brigade to 7th Infantry Brigade? Yes
  11. "Field Army Restructuring Battalion movements" (PDF). whatdotheyknow.com. whatdotheyknow. 11 September 2019. Retrieved 12 September 2019. 1st and 2nd Battalions The Royal Irish Regiment have transferred to 11th Infantry Brigade from 160th(Welsh) Infantry Brigade
  12. "Army 2020 Report" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 15 August 2015.


  • Falls, Cyril; A. F. Becke (maps) (1930). Military Operations Egypt & Palestine from June 1917 to the End of the War. Official History of the Great War Based on Official Documents by Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence. 2 Part II. London: HM Stationery Office. OCLC 256950972.
  • Joslen, Lt-Col H.F. (2003) [1960]. Orders of Battle: Second World War, 1939–1945. Uckfield: Naval and Military Press. ISBN 978-1-84342-474-1.
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