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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

8th East Surreys, 8th Suffolks, 8th Devons


Jim Hastings

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Hi All,

Just watched a short, but well presented, documentary on Youtube re: post-war remembrance and towards the end it lists Pals Bns ... the well known ones are listed, eg Grimsby Chums, Accrington Pals, but then it lists these three Bns - they weren't Pals units were they? I'm pretty certain 8 ES was not, from Captain Nevill's letters book I read a few months ago (was subject of a post re: how many Norfolk men were in the Bn) but what about the Devons and Suffolks?

Cheers

Jim

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Pretty sure the 8th Suffolks weren'y. The 11th Suffolks were - raised in Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely. The 8th Devons also, I think, were not a Pals battalion.

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The 8th Devons were not a Pals battalion either. Atkinson states (Devonshire Regiment 1914~1918) that the origins of it came from officers and NCO's from the 1st Devons, officers from the Devons depot. Its original CO being from the West African Regiment. Have no indications that any of the Devon Bn's were. The 9th was made up initially of non Devon men. The 10th probably the closest with the original drafts being from Exeter and Taunton but I dont think this would qualify either.

Be interested in other peoples perspectives.

Regards

Dave

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8/Devon was heavily made up of Devonian men, so it'd probably be the closest thing you could get to a Pals battalion in the Devonshire Regiment, although as Dave said it wasn't a Pals battalion. 9/Devon had about 20 Devonians in it to start with, the majority were Birmingham men and some from South Wales. Judging from my own research more Devonians made their way into 9 as the war went on but it was still always mixed. 10/Devon as Dave said was more Devonian but again wasn't a Pals. 11/Devon just functioned as a reserve battalion. So as Dave says no Pals whatsoever in the Devons, I assume that it was just a bit of poor research on the videos' side, they assumed that because it was an early formed Kitchener battalion it had to be a Pals battalion but Devon's socio-economic status didn't provide for that kind of recruitment. Well maybe Plymouth could have theoretically raised a Pal's battalion but the Navy sucked up it's manpower.

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Many thanks Gents,

Thought that was the case - got a feeling the researcher may have got confused with the Pals casualties on 1st July and the above Bns - know 8th ESR were there - were the 8th Suffolks and Devonshires too? Can only think that's why they included these 3 Bns and no others from K's men

Best wishes

Jim

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Many thanks Gents,

Thought that was the case - got a feeling the researcher may have got confused with the Pals casualties on 1st July and the above Bns - know 8th ESR were there - were the 8th Suffolks and Devonshires too? Can only think that's why they included these 3 Bns and no others from K's men

Best wishes

Jim

Yeah 8th and 9th Devons were engaged around Mametz on the first day of the Somme. Took heavy casualties but not on the level of some of the more famous New Army battalions, as they were part of one of the more successful divisions that day.

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  • 2 months later...

Apologies for the late response, folks, but with regard to earlier postings the 8th Devons were indeed a 'local' (at least initially) battalion; over 60% (according to a cross-referencing of the CWGC info and information contained in the appropriate volume of 'Soldiers Died ...' of fatalities listed as kia or dow on or immediately after the battalion's first offensive engagement at Loos in 1915 were either born or resident in Devon.

I also (politely) take issue with idea of Plymouth being a Great War Navy recruitment area during the first few months of the conflict; the 1911 Census does indeed record many, many people serving in the Navy and Royal Marines (but note..'resident')..but also wasn't Churchill's 'Sailor-Soldier' Division created because there were simply TOO many 'matelots'?

The 5th Devons, a TF unit that had Plymouth as part of its recruiting district, were the onlyTF battalion of the regiment not to sail with the Wessex Div in 1914.

So..neither Naval, Nor Army...

Look to the Royal Dockyard, Devonport...........

Andy

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Andy

Interesting topic this one.

Whilst Plymouth was definitely not a Navy only recruitment point, as you say the 5th Devons had their HQ and two companies there pre-war, it is true to say that there were very real recruitment challenges in Devon especially for the TF.

Recruitment shortages prevented the 2/5th Devons going to India with 2nd Wessex in December 1914 and there are indications that although initially recruitment in Plymouth and Exeter lead the region this it seems to have dropped off and become a bigger issue than in North Devon (6th) and South / East Devon (4th) where both battalions were quicker to fill their second line and initiate their Depot Bn’s than in the 5th capture area.

Issues in Devon as a whole had become acute for the TF by late 1915 and ultimately led to the disbandment of the 2/5th Devons (then in Egypt) in June 1916 to form drafts for the 1/4th and 1/6th Devons then in Mesopotamia.

Fortescues’ (Lord Lieutenant & Chairman of the Devon Territorial Force Association) challenges here are well documented in the war time issues of the Devon Year Book. There is also a detailed study by Bonnie J. White titiled “Volunteerism and Early Recruitment Efforts in Devonshire. August 1914–December. 1915,” which lays out some of the issues and is definitely worth a read.

Your point on the Royal Dockyard is also a good one. Initially pre-war there was very real resistance against allowing men from the dockyard joining the local TF. This was eventually relaxed and men did. However there are numerous examples of men being released from units back to the dockyard for war service after war was declared. There is no doubt that the local TF felt the impact of this.

Recruitment challenges in the early war years in Devon is a topic I keep coming back to in my research - never to a level of detail I have been happy with. Like I say an interesting one this for people with interests in the Devon Regt.

Regards

Dave

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