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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Marching through Ilkley


mike dixon

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I would greatly appreciate help with another old photograph. This is a detail of a postcard showing soldiers marching through Ilkley, West Yorkshire. I think it was taken between 1905 and 1912. During this period I know that the 1st Lancashire Royal Engineer Volunteers camped in Ilkley in the summer. Can anyone confirm, or deny, this possibility?

post-38897-1225635542.jpg

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In 1906 the 1st Lancashire R.E. Vol did there camp in Castleton I. O. Man. The 2 & 3rd Lancashire RE Vol were in Ilkley Yorkshire 2nd June - 10th June 1906.

In 1904 1st Lanc RE Vol were at Beanmaris 3rd July-6th Aug 1904.

2nd Lancs RE Vol Morecambe 31th July 7th Aug 1904.

3rd Lancs RE Vol Rulhrin N.Wales 21st May-29th May 1904

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It's a Cyclist Section of an Volunteer Infantry Battalion c.1908 even earlier, as they became battalions in their own right or indivdual sections came together from different units to form a cyclist battalion e.g. The Northern Cyclist Battalion and that was from April 1908. As to which unit, I can't honestly say, but the darker clothing had me thinking possbly the Leeds Rifles, and a cyclist section uniform didn't necessarily conform with the rest of the battalion, so looks bit 'odd'.

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It's a Cyclist Section of an Volunteer Infantry Battalion c.1908 even earlier, as they became battalions in their own right or indivdual sections came together from different units to form a cyclist battalion e.g. The Northern Cyclist Battalion and that was from April 1908. As to which unit, I can't honestly say, but the darker clothing had me thinking possbly the Leeds Rifles, and a cyclist section uniform didn't necessarily conform with the rest of the battalion, so looks bit 'odd'.

Wouldn't be too sure - appears to be a small number of cyclists in front of a band. You can see the trombones and a tuba.

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Wouldn't be too sure - appears to be a small number of cyclists in front of a band. You can see the trombones and a tuba.

Thanks for these replies. I thought it might help to see the full photograph. My interpretation is that the parade is headed by approximately 6 cyclists, then comes the band, and the band is followed by the main body of soldiers. Given that the 2 & 3rd Lancashire RE Volunteers were in Ilkley Yorkshire 2nd June - 10th June 1906 - could these be they? I also have a record that the 'East Lancs Volunteers' were in Ilkley in 1906 - is this likely to be a confusion in labelling?

post-38897-1225702234.jpg

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If it's RE, could it not be a more local Company of the West Yorkshire Royal Engineer Volunteers? Burley? Otley?

The Otley coy. was well known for its band, often mentioned in local papers - which I would try if I were you in order to firmly place the pic. which may well have been reproduced therein.

Whitsundtide/Summer camps often appear in the local press with much detail, well worth a look.

In terms of a terminus date, I suspect it could be up to 1908 and Haldane.

p.s. wasn't there an Ilkley Coy. of the RE prior to Haldane? How about them? Will check.

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The Cyclists in my opinion are military cyclists, it's the band thats at odds because if you look at the lad playing the tuba, he is not wearing any head-dress, which I would have thought a no-no for a regimental band. The band tunics are more of the sort found being worn by civic bands than a military band. Military cyclists tended to wear what they considered practical for their duties and all seem to have the Austrian knot on their cuffs, which is the known sign of a Volunteer uniform.

post-7376-1225715610.jpg

I think you'll agree that the attached photo does bare some similarity?

Borrowed from that wonderful website "Soldiers of the Queen".

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Of course the cyclists are military but that does not automatically mean that they were part of a cyclists company or battalion. Most regiments had a few cyclists attached to battalion HQ function and used as messengers etc.

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Quick question - what does the diamond indicate on the cyclists r.h. sleeve in post 7?

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Which is why I used the term "Cyclist Section", as it wasn't until after April 1908 that Cyclist Battalions were formed.

When you see them in a procession like this you're more likely to be looking at a unit on the march going somewhere, hence the accompanying band, even if it is possibly a civic band. If they were on an exercise then would look more business like than they are in the photo, plus SD would be worn. You also have to remember when on the march you would find all of the battalion cyclists would be kept in a group as in the 'order of march' and not scattered throughout, even if each company had it's own section.

To my mind(and from experience) a military band doesn't bring up the rear, the band leads. Why's the band not leading? because I don't think it's a military band. I think it's a civic band and the Cyclists are bringing up the rear of the rest of the unit they belong to, which are off to the left of the photo.

Simon,

The diamond is a 'proficiency' badge. The rules for wearing such being laid down in Volunteer Regs and mine are miles away.

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A few cyclists were often at either end as this enabled messages to be passed up and down the column easily

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  • 4 years later...

I chatted to a WW1 member of a Cyclist Brigade as a kid. That picture above describes exactly what he told me, the position of the rifle etc.. He said they had no brakes and used the heel of the left foot against the rear tyre to control their speed.

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