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Remembered Today:

Territorial Force 1914


geofffox

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Dear All

Could someone tell me more about how well equipped the Territorial Force infantry battalions were on the outbreak of war in 1914? I’m particularly interested in finding out more about the soldiers’ personal equipment and rifles. Had they been issued with 1908 pattern webbing and latest model of the SMLE? I recently read an article about the fighting outside of Messines in October 1914 and was surprised to learn that the Liverpool Scottish were still armed with an older model of the Lee Enfield rifle that was prone to jamming if loaded with SMLE Mk III ammunition.

Any information or books on the subject would be appreciated.

Regards

Coldm

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They were mainly equipped with the older kit and weaponry as shown below, here the 'Long' Lee-Enfield rifle fitted with the P1888 bayonet.

Cheers, S>S

post-52604-0-50564100-1314193795.jpg

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Dear All

Could someone tell me more about how well equipped the Territorial Force infantry battalions were on the outbreak of war in 1914? I'm particularly interested in finding out more about the soldiers' personal equipment and rifles. Had they been issued with 1908 pattern webbing and latest model of the SMLE? I recently read an article about the fighting outside of Messines in October 1914 and was surprised to learn that the Liverpool Scottish were still armed with an older model of the Lee Enfield rifle that was prone to jamming if loaded with SMLE Mk III ammunition.

Any information or books on the subject would be appreciated.

Regards

Coldm

Having read quite a bit on the mobilisation of many TF units, I think the answer to your question will depend on which unit. Supply of equipment varied considerably, so I am sure you will see a whole range of responses. Given how rapidly the Army expanded in 1914, I would imagine all sorts of old kit was dragged out of storage. The procurement of equipment for the Kitchener Armies was often a higher priority to the TF. If you are interested in a specific unit and what they went to war with, I would recommend trying to locate the unit's War Diary - some units kept them from the outset and contained a mass of information pertaining to the difficulties in procuring equipment. failing that, some unit histories also delve into much detail. It will certainly vary from unit to unit. For a broader expansion on these difficulties during mobilisation I would strongly recommend "England's Last Hope - The Territorial Force 1908-14" by K W Mitchinson. - some snippets below;

Some units may well have had the 1903 pattern webbing. It is worth noting that the Territorial Associations had to procure the equipment. The forbears of the TF were largely the Volunteer Battalions who would have been re-equipped with the 1903 bandoleer type webbing which came from a variety of suppliers and therefore could vary slightly in design. War Office advice was that webbing should last 20 years, so in theory the 1903 webbing could/should have lasted to 1914. When the 1908 Mills pattern became available it cost 25/- per set or 21/5 for the the designed to carry less ammunition. The war Office grant of £1 (= 20 shillings) was insufficient to cover the cost of the 1903 pattern webbing. The Essex Association apparently continued to equip its units with the 1903 pattern until 1913 when all the VB sets had to be replaced. . Some Associations purchased the 1908 pattern and added the kit bag (10/- extra) the following year. Some Associations for the sake of economy and uniformity re-equipped some battalions and instructed them to hand over their old kit to other battalions who then would retain the webbing kits in the best condition...The surplus 1903 webbing being returned to the War office triggered a fire sale by the WO - The Derbyshire Association bought a load and the 4th Wiltshires decided not to replace the 1903 pattern but instead to add more (now very cheap) pouches to their 1903 pattern webbing. Some Associations were so keen to have the 'new' 1908 Mills webbing that they plundered funds that should have been used for other equipment..... The book has a whole chapter on clothing and equipping the TF. There is nothing on weapons though.

I hope this helps. MG

PS. Some things never change. When I joined my Regiment in 1987 in Hong Kong we were just getting rid of '44 pattern and assembling '58 pattern.... a 30 year wait. I think 44 pattern was dumped in HK in the 1960s so we had a surfeit of the stuff. I had been trained solely on the SA 80 (first generation) but we only had the L1A1 SLR in the Regiment..... Sounds familiar?..... MG

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Dear All

Could someone tell me more about how well equipped the Territorial Force infantry battalions were on the outbreak of war in 1914? I'm particularly interested in finding out more about the soldiers' personal equipment and rifles. Had they been issued with 1908 pattern webbing and latest model of the SMLE? I recently read an article about the fighting outside of Messines in October 1914 and was surprised to learn that the Liverpool Scottish were still armed with an older model of the Lee Enfield rifle that was prone to jamming if loaded with SMLE Mk III ammunition.

Any information or books on the subject would be appreciated.

Regards

Coldm

Coldm,

I think you mean the London Scottish rather than the Liverpool Scottish if you are referring to the fighting around Messines where the London Scottish were committed on 31st October 1914 (Halloween). The Liverpool Scottish were just boarding the SS Maidan at Southampton and their entry into theatre is 1 November 1914, not getting into the actual front line until 26 November and spending the next twenty years arguing (unsuccesfully) their entitlement to the 1914 Star clasp and the basis that they had been forward of the 6" guns in the qualifying period.

However, the experience of the Liverpool Scottish (as illustrated in the photo which is of a Liverpool Scot) was much as you describe

  • They were armed with the Long Lee Enfield whilst in the UK and these were replaced (to their mystification) a few days before sailing to France with newer Long Lee Enfields which they had no chance to fire. Replacement of these took place in France and Flanders from 'early in 1915' but soldiers who had been sick or had been on detached duty from the battalion continued to appear with the older weapon. Additionally drafts came from the UK with the older weapon and the battalion was not uniformly equipped with
    the SMLE until June 1916. The photograph in the post by ShippingSteel is in fact a member of the Liverpool Scottish (probably at Kemmel or St Eloi in the spring of 1915); in fact there is a very good chance I could name given a few hours research. The chap next to him in the photograph (cropped out here) displays very clearly the full panoply of 1908 webbing.
  • This caused problems requiring stocks of Mark VI ammunition to be held in addition to the Mark VII used by the SMLE
  • The 'original' battalion was issued with 1908 webbing (leather equippment being withdrawn) immediately prior to embarking for France. I can't find a reference but my impression is that drafts often arrived kitted out with leather equipment for some time.
  • There were substantial issues of new kit in France toward the end of November before going into the line, whether to make up losses incurred since landing or original deficiencies is not clear.
  • They went overseas and into the trenches with shoes and spats. These were replaced by boots and puttees at an early stage in Flanders.
  • Field cookers were not at first available to the Transport Section which meant that cooking was done quite some distance behind the lines and was then carried forward in dixies. The photographic evidence is that this was resolved sometime in the spring of 1915

Ian

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1/6th Manchesters did not get their SMLEs until they arrived in France in the spring, 1917. They'd been on active service since September 1914.

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