|12th (Eastern) Infantry Division|
|Active||First World War: August 1914–22
Second World War: 1939–1940
|Engagements||Battle of Epehy|
|British Army Infantry Divisions (1914–present)|
|11th Infantry Division||13th (Western) Division|
The 12th (Eastern) Infantry Division, was one of the Kitchener's Army divisions raised from volunteers by Lord Kitchener. It was formed within Eastern Command as a result of Army Order No. 324 of 21 August 1914, as part of the K1 wave of divisions. It fought on the Western Front for the duration of the First World War. One of its most notable actions was the Battle of Epehy.
In the First World War, the division's insignia was the "Ace of Spades".
The Division was reformed as a second line Territorial Army formation just before the start of the Second World War, a duplicate of the 44th (Home Counties) Division. As such it contained mostly half trained units, some of whom had not even fired their rifles. In April 1940 the 12th Infantry, along with the 23rd (Northumbrian) Division and 46th (North Midland) Divisions, were sent as pioneer units to France. They were all under-equipped and did not have their signals, Royal Artillery or administrative units with them.
When the German attacks began on May 10, 1940 only every third battalion had done a week's training. As a result the 12th Infantry suffered heavy casualties during the Battle of France and the subsequent retreat to and evacuation from Dunkirk .
As a result of its high proportion of casualties (the 36th Infantry Brigade having been severely mauled on May 20, 1940) the 12th Infantry Division was disbanded on July 11, 1940. However, two of its constituent brigades, the 36th Infantry Brigade and the 35th Infantry Brigade would see service later in the war, the 35th as 169th Infantry Brigade, with the 56th (London) Division, and the 36th with the 78th Infantry Division