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the first 100,000


Versigny
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At the start of the war the initial BEF deployed to France was approx 100,000 strong and almost at the same time Kitchener called for 100,000 volunteers. Did the term "first 100,000", in use at the time, refer to the BEF, or to Kitchener's volunteers?

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I agree with Steve, and the phrase was also the title of a very popular book - The First Hundred Thousand by Ian Hay (Ian Hay Beath). I think it was this book (originally published as a series of magazine articles) which gave the phrase its usual meaning, clearly referring to the First of Kitchener's men.

You can read The First Hundred Thousand online here.

Tom

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Thank you each for your responses. However, I've heard/read the term used in respect of the BEF - but can only readily find one example, in the opening lines of Kate Caffrey's "Farewell, Leicester Square - The Old Contemptibles 12 August-20 November 1914" which states quite clearly: "Who are the Old Contemptibles? They are......'the first hundred thousand'....".

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I'm sure that Kate Caffrey must be one of a very small number of authors to apply the phrase to the Old Contemptibles. I wonder whether Kate Caffrey simply got her facts wrong, and we are seeing a mistake. Or perhaps she was opening her book with an attention-grabbing claim - that the qualities we ascribe to the Kitchener volunteers (heroism, duty, self-sacrifice, comradeship) had already been shown earlier in the war by the OCs, so in a way, these were also worthy of the title "First Hundred Thousand". If so, then the attention-grabbing aspect would only work as long as it was widely understood that the phrase actually referred to the men who responded to Lord Kitchener's first Call to Arms.

Tom

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