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Perth Digger

New Army Units Raised in London 1915

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Perth Digger

In the other thread on London TF recruitment some mention was made of the possible impact of K5 New Army units affecting recruitment for units already raised before 1915. The new units raised in 1915 were mostly "Pals", because they were locally raised (at the behest of the War Office). I am particularly interested in those units raised by the 28 Metropolitan Boroughs of London, which leaves out units further out, eg, in East Ham and West Ham.

 

I was struck  by the fact that some units raised their quota quickly, while others, like the 11/RWK, struggled.

 

I have made a list of units that I think fulfil my criteria (Metropolitan borough, begin raising from early 1915, could be designated Pals. I'd be glad to receive information on ones I've missed.

 

Mike 

 

Type

Battalion Number

Regiment

Place Formed

Local Name

Sponsor

 Date Formed

Date WO Accepted

Service

10

Royal West Surrey

Battersea

Battersea

Mayor & Borough

3 June

Jan 1916

Service

11

Royal West Surrey

Lambeth

Lambeth

Mayor & Borough

16 June

Oct?

Service (Res)

12

Royal West Surrey

Brixton

Brixton?

Mayor & Borough overspill

Oct

 

Service

26

Royal Fusiliers

London

Bankers

Mayor & City

17 July

 

Service

12

East Surrey

Bermondsey

Bermondsey

Mayor & Borough

14 May

Late Sept

Service

13

East Surrey

Wandsworth

Wandsworth

Mayor & Borough

16 June

Late July

Service (Res)

14

East Surrey

Wandsworth

Wandsworth

Mayor & Borough overspill

Summer 1915

 

Service

11

Royal West Kent

Lewisham

Lewisham

Mayor & Borough

19 May

27 Nov

Service

19

Middlesex

London

2nd Public Works Pioneers

Lt Col J Ward MP

April

 

Service

20

Middlesex

Shoreditch

Shoreditch

Mayor & Borough

18 May

 

Service

21

Middlesex

Islington

Islington

Mayor & Borough

18 May

 

Service

23

Middlesex

London

2nd Football

W Joyson Hicks MP

29 June

 

Service

26

Middlesex

London

3rd Public Works Pioneers

Lt Col J Ward MP

9 August

 

Divisional Artillery

39

RFA etc

Deptford

Deptford

Mayor & Borough

19 May

21 Aug

Divisional Artillery

33

RFA etc

Camberwell

Camberwell

Mayor & Borough

Jan

July

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Longboat

Hi Mike

 

I've sent you an email regarding the above

 

Stuart.

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Terry_Reeves

Mike

 

The information below is from TNA  Kew in PRO 30/57/73 Locally Raised Units and are regarded as "Pals".

 

The Mayor and Borough of Camberwell

156 (Camberwell) Brigade RFA

162 (Camberwell) Brigade RFA

166 (Camberwell) Brigade RFA

167 (Camberwell( Brigade RFA

33   (Camberwell) Divisional Ammunition Column

126 (Camberwell) Heavy Battery and Ammunition 

Column RGA

3.2.15   Camberwell

17.4.15        “

17.4.15        “

26.3.15        “

17.4.15        “

17.4.15        “

17.4.15        “

 

 

 

The Mayor and Borough of Deptford

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

174 (Deptford) Brigade RFA            

179 (Deptford) Brigade RFA

184 (Deptford) Brigade RFA

186 (Deptford) Howitzer Brigade RFA

39   (Deptford) Divisional Ammunition Column

137 (Deptford) Heavy Battery and Ammunition

Column RGA

 

 

When I get the chance I will have a look at the rest of the list for you.

 

TR

 

 

 

 

 

 

19.5.15   Deptford

 3. 6.15

20.7.17

21.8.15

11.6.15

21.8.15

 

 

 

 

Edited by Terry_Reeves

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voltaire60
Perth Digger

Hi Terry

Thank you very much for the information. If you can find the time, I'd appreciate your searching the list. Longboat has pointed me towards the Hampstead Heavies.

 

I got on to this mainly because I'm interested in one of the units, 11/RWK, but also because, from discussion on another thread, I began to wonder if the new units drained volunteers from the units already in place and looking for reinforcements. Being local, would they be more likely to attract men who might otherwise not have enlisted? Or were, eg, 11/RWK  or the Deptford Divisional Artillery more attractive than the equally local 20th London TF? I do have four examples of men deserting the 20th and fraudulently enlisting in the 11th. The new units obviously increased the number of recruiting centres in London. Impossible questions, I suppose.

 

Mike

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voltaire60
5 minutes ago, Perth Digger said:

Hi Terry

Thank you very much for the information. If you can find the time, I'd appreciate your searching the list. Longboat has pointed me towards the Hampstead Heavies.

 

I got on to this mainly because I'm interested in one of the units, 11/RWK, but also because, from discussion on another thread, I began to wonder if the new units drained volunteers from the units already in place and looking for reinforcements. Being local, would they be more likely to attract men who might otherwise not have enlisted? Or were, eg, 11/RWK  or the Deptford Divisional Artillery more attractive than the equally local 20th London TF? I do have four examples of men deserting the 20th and fraudulently enlisting in the 11th. The new units obviously increased the number of recruiting centres in London. Impossible questions, I suppose.

 

Mike

 

    Questions are not impossible-the answers may tale a little work.  It looks to me like the usual vision of a "Pal's Battalion" is of an infantry battalion formed up locally in 1914-  the evidence is stacking that the non-infantry battalions fit the following:

1)  Indicate some interaction between local councils and WO in the Spring of 1915. (Indicating perhaps that WO was concerned about the patchwork of recruiting)

2) Need for non-infantry battalions- the artillery, ammunition columns and (perhaps) pioneers. (As an aside, this suggests that IF the local councils were tapped in early 1915, then this indicates both a longer war and the grind of an artillery engagement- even before the shell crisis and the events of May 1915)

3) In popular imagination-  that these new artillery, etc battalions were just as much "Pal's Battalions" but don't get the glamour of the infantry ones.

 

         The experience of my local area (east of London) is that these newer non-infantry units take more men who are slightly too old for an enthusiastic infantry battalion (or -I regret to say- for the artillery, those a little too thick-no offence intended).  

4)  That the experience of  2/ battalions in the latter part of 1914- that is, the overspill from the infantry battalions- the old,lame,halt-and no ISO- still had to be sorted out- that and the prospect of a longer war suggest that the 1915 pattern of new battalions was geared at a rounder, more fully formed field army-and with the expectation of both a more extended and a more static war- Switching the emphasis towards artillery seems to me a crucial development in WO perceptions of how the war was going.

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Perth Digger

Voltaire

The WO circulated a letter to all Metropolitan London mayors (and others) in March 1915 asking if they would be prepared to raise new local units. The boroughs were given the choice of unit: it could be an infantry battalion, or an artillery battery/ammo column/brigade. As far as I know, the WO accepted whatever was offered to them.

 

Age of recruit may be less connected to type of unit than to the older men having been less willing to volunteer in 1914 because of family responsibilities etc. 

 

IQ was not a factor.

 

Mike

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Terry_Reeves

Mike

 

More:

 

British Empire Committee

153 (Empire) Brigade RFA

154 (Empire) Howitzer Brigade RFA

204 Field Company RE (Empire)

39 Divisional Signal Company RE (Empire)

17 (S) Bn Royal Fusiliers (Empire)

20 (S) Bn Kings Royal Rifle Corps (P)

1.2.15    London

1.2.15    London

2.2.15    London

2.2.15    London

31.8.14  London

20.8.15  London

 

 

 

British Empire League   35 (B.E.L.) Divisional Ammuntion Column     15.2.15 London

                                      17 (Service) Bn King's Royal Rifle Corps (1st B.E.L) 16.4.15 London

                                      20 (Service) Bn King's Royal Rifle Corps (2nd B.E.L. Pioneers) 20.8.15 London

 

Mr E Cunliffe-Owen CMG  23rd (1st Sportsman's Bn) Royal Fusiliers 25.9.14  London

 

MR E Cunliffe-Owen CMG  24th 2nd Sportsman's Bn) Royal Fusiliers 20.11.14  London

 

The Mayor & Borough 40th (Hammersmith) Divisional Ammunition Column  21.8.15    Hammersmith

of Hammersmith          140 (Hammersmith) Heavy Battery and Ammunition Column RGA   21.8. 15  Hammersmith

 

The Mayor and Borough  183 (Hampstead) Howitzer Bde RFA  14.7.15  Hampstead

of Hampstead                  138 (Hampstead) Heavy Battery and Ammunition Column 20.0.15  Hampstead

                                         139 (Hampstead) Heavy Battery and Ammuntion Column  16.10.15 Hampstead

 

The Mayor and Borough  22nd (Service) Bn Royal Fusiliers  (Kensington)  11.9.14  Kensington

of Kensington

 

Mr W Joynson-Hicks MP   17 (Service) Bn Middlesex Regt  (1st Football) 12.12.14 London

 

The Mayor and Borough    11th (Service) Bn Royal West Kent Regt (Lewisham) 5.5.15 Lewisham

of Lewisham

 

The Lord Mayor of             10 (Service)Bn Royal Fusiliers  21.8.14  London

the City of London

 

The Mayor and Borough   239 (Army Troops) Coy RE (Poplar)  19.1.16 Poplar

of Poplar

 

St Pancras Parliamentary  16 (Service) Bn Rifle Brigade (St Pancras)  2.4.15 St Pancras

Recruiting Committee

 

Lt Col John Ward MP        18 (Service) Bn MSex Regt (1st Public Works Pioneers)  19.1.15 London

                                           26 (Service)  Bn MSex Regt (3rd Public Works Pioneers) 15.4.15 London

 

The Mayor and Borough   163 (West Ham) Brigade RFA  4.4.15              West Ham

of West Ham                      172 (West Ham) Brigade RFA 29.4.14             ditto

                                           180 (West Ham) Brigade RFA   24.6 15          ditto

                                           36 (West Ham) Div. Ammo Column  3.6.15   ditto

                                           41 (West Ham) Div Ammo Column   31.8.15 ditto

                                           13 (Service) Bn Essex Regt (West Ham)  27.12.14 West Ham

 

The Mayor and Borough    190 (Wimbledon) Brigade RFA  21.8.15 Wimbledon

of Wimbledon

 

I will post the reserve battalions later.

 

TR

 

 

                                            

                                            

 

 

 

 

 

                                              

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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clive_hughes

Just to add, in case they might be of interest, the 15th (1st London Welsh) and 18th (2nd London Welsh) Battns. Royal Welsh Fusiliers.  Raised from premises in Grays Inn Road (and outfitted by Gamages, no less!). 

 

15th Bn. began raising 20 October 1914, 18th Bn. from February 1915 but became a Reserve battalion.  

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voltaire60
14 hours ago, Perth Digger said:

Voltaire

The WO circulated a letter to all Metropolitan London mayors (and others) in March 1915 asking if they would be prepared to raise new local units. The boroughs were given the choice of unit: it could be an infantry battalion, or an artillery battery/ammo column/brigade. As far as I know, the WO accepted whatever was offered to them.

 

Age of recruit may be less connected to type of unit than to the older men having been less willing to volunteer in 1914 because of family responsibilities etc. 

 

IQ was not a factor.

 

Mike

 

      Mike-Thanks for that. There seem to be no letters found for the 2 local boroughs where I live-the for B.of Wanstead and the former B.of Woodford. But I will have a go at the Kitchener recruitment papers at Kew.   The  suggestion about tapping the slower-witted was based on who went in to RGA/RFA locally to me (and family experience of WW2).

    Do we know if the letter to Mayors was a standard letter, all sent out at the same time?  (I will have a look at Local Government Chronicle in the next week or so to see if there is anything reported). Or whether this was also on the back of any Army Council Instruction or other circular?  (Again, will look this up at Kew, if needed)

 

(As an aside to this thread-  Your interest in stained glass memorials. If you care to zap Google for "Redbridge First Worl War", it will throw up a good website put together by the current London Borough of Redbridge. There is quite a good chunk of stained glass at Wanstead Methodist Church, Hermon Hill (paid for by the wealthy father of one of the 4 casualties commemorated) -but there is a superb set of stained glass-quite stunning-  in the chapel of the former Wanstead Infant Orphan Asylum at Snaresbrook-which is now part of Snaresbrook Crown Court (the chapel is open to the public- the court has a commitment to maintain it.)

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Perth Digger

Hi Voltaire

No, I don't know if it was a standard letter, but it would not surprise me, as it was also sent to other parts of the country.

 

Thanks for the info on your local stained glass windows. I have a few short articles on my website, but they focus on Kent.

 

Mike

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Graham Stewart

The War Office itself produced a list of all "Locally Raised Battalions", a copy of which used to be kept in the War Office Library, which in itself was produced from Army Council Instructions. I was fortunate to be able to get copies of the document before the W.O.Library closed and will attach the List for those interested. I think I may have produced it on the GWF many years ago, but it probably disappeared during upgrades - so apologies if its already been seen.

 

Pals-01.JPG

Pals-02.JPG

Pals-03.JPG

Pals-04.JPG

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Graham Stewart

Pals-05.JPG

Pals-06.jpg

Pals-07.jpg

Pals-08.jpg

Pals-09.JPG

Pals-10.jpg

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Graham Stewart

Pals-11.jpg

Pals-12.jpg

Pals-13.jpg

Pals-14.jpg

Pals-15.jpg

Pals-16.JPG

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Perth Digger

HI Graham

Thank you very much for this long list. I'm sure others will be very interested too.

 

Mike

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Guest

I sense there is some confusion between Kitchener Battalion, Locally Raised Units, and 'Pals' Battalions.

 

Each are (I think) a subset of the former. I have seen a number of articles and books that use the terms interchangeably; Kitchener Battalions suddenly all become by extension 'Pals' battalions. The latter term I think has no official recognition. I have often wondered if the 'Pals' moniker has been overworked. Was the term 'Pals' ever used in official documentation? I suspect not. 'Locally Raised Units' seems to be the official nomenclature. It raises the question: Were all Locally Raised Units  'Pals' units? I suspect they were not, in the sense that 'Pals' had something in common (other than being British) i.e. a common workplace, a common industry or a common school (excuse the irony). The Accrington Pals (light the blue touch-paper) were not all from Accrington for example. The men from Price's Candles in Battersea who served on one of the Surrey 'Pals' battalions had absolutely nothing in common with most of the other men in their Pals battalion other than being from South of the Thames.

 

Added to this was what I would call 'wastage'. Over-zealous volunteering and slack levels of quality control created a large problem in 1915; the consequences meant that a very large minority of men had to be weeded out of the 'originals' The evidence is (as ever) in two separate dat: the 1915 Star medal rolls which show masive gaps in the numbering sequences and in the hard stats of the earliest casualty data of these 'Pals' battalions which generally expose the fallacy that these men were a tight group with common 'qualifiers'. My sense is that the 'Pals' moniker was deliberately exaggerated and promoted by the Propaganda Bureau to spur recruiting and many men, having signed on the dotted line would be bewildered days, weeks or months later when they were removed form their Pals and replaced by fit men who were not 'Pals'. 

 

This was an unsustainable policy from the start. Apologies if this is a digression, but it seems blindingly obvious that this was impossible to sustain. The fact that the Military Services Act was required surely substantiates this. It is an area of well outside my core area of interest but the baisc facts seem to undermine the 'purity' (for want of a better word) of so-called Locally Raised Units. My sense is that the early TF units had much stronger nd concentrated links with their local communities. viz the four Battalions of the Lancashire Fusiliers (TF), six battalions of the Manchester Regt (TF) and four Battalions of the Essex Regt (TF) that fought and died together in Gallipoli in 1915. Plotting their places of birth and residence is a sobering task. 

 

My sense is that the 'Pals' is a gigantic myth. Happy to be proven wrong.

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MBrockway

Excellent summary Martin

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voltaire60

     Gosh-an outbreak of agreement. Is it a notifiable disease?

 

            If I can return to a former theme, I think the historiography has tilted things to-as Martin says- to an "Accrington Stanley" school of history- No bad thing as far as historiography goes but we are now half a century on from Martin Middlebrook's justifiably significant book and a century on from the events themselves. Middlebrook's "Somme" is/was a seminal book that re-awakened interest in the Great War-but it is the study of one day-albeit the worst day in Britain's long history- and geared towards the infantry battalions that were shattered on that day.  There are no "myths" as such within the book-it is grimly true-perhaps even too nice- with regards to the events of 1st July 1916.It is the story of men primarily in infantry units and their experiences in what was in military terms a stalled offensive. With consequent heavy casualties.

   Are there myths?  I think not, as such,  but the emphasis on the now better-known "Pal's Battalions" has excluded much else from the totality that was a hard and grim war.  With regard primarily to London recruiting (By which I mean all of the Metropolis till it gives out to Green Belt) then:

 

1) There were plenty of Pal's Battalions in the Metropolis. I believe that the first "Pal's Battalion" authorised by the War Office was the 10th Royal Fusiliers, the Stockbrokers, raised in part due to the availability of men after the closure of the City during the financial crisis of July 1914. (At least this is what their website says)   So, from my way-13th Essex-West Ham Pals, though my own reading of the local papers suggest this was not a frequently used term (I have never found it). But the Metropolis does not consist of a series of populated municipal cantonments surrounded each by an Hadrian's Wall of exclusivity.  Does not stand out locally- far more likely that Accrington is mentioned as the location of a pal's battalion than West Ham if local folk are asked..Consequently, recruiting analysis versus municipal boundaries of the metropolitan boundaries may be diffuse- Most men may have had a connection with the London  Regiment they volunteered for but sometimes that may be a little hard to spot. My experience is that it is usually there. (I hold back on 18th London-London Irish,as I think there were peculiarities with it's recruiting)--that may apply to the London Welsh RWF as well)

 

2)  The totality of "pal's battalions" suggests strongly that the military authorities  were adjusting to the realities of a long war and heavy casualties-with the concomitant assumptions in the planning that it would tilt the balance of units away from infantry towards artillery and support units. I think we have been beguiled for too long by two "myths" in the historiography:

   i) Prescience of Lord Kitchener- That K of K was a seer and forecast a long war, requiring K1-K3 (et al) recruiting. And that no-one else did. OK, bit of a simplification but right enough for a short war. -that masses of infantry might prevail in a short-ish war.

   ii)  That conscription only came to the fore when voluntary recruiting dried up. This, I think, is a falsehood.  The listing of battalions by Grham suggests to me that pre-planning for conscription is implicit in the new formations, what they were and where they were.  Perhaps initially the planners believed that a short war could be carried by the elan of volunteers- a war of infantry rushes (usually a feature of description of shooting down massed  German infantry- perhaps the same expectations from the Boche). But the experience of South Africa should have shown otherwise. No amount of infantry units can overcome a determined foe- as long as the foe (or one's own side) can field coherent units- even/usually understrength, babes and old men-then a war will continue. The Great War showed , if nothing else, that infantry alone cannot win a war. In that respect at least, the war was futile.

 

        The establishment of a stalemated system of trenches by the end of 1914 ended any notion of a short war- I do not think that the raising of targeted localised battalions in the Spring of 1915 can be a coincidence. It shows a great deal of planning from the War Office-and some coherent use of drawing logically on what  locally organised resources there were..  No Mayor and Corporation were voluntarily going to raise an ammunition column or pioneer battalion- Graham's list suggest to me at least, that central direction was logical and sustained towards local authorities. The consequence is that the local units-dare we call them Pal's Battalions?- of 1915 are the bridesmaids in the historic panorama. Perhaps time to re-assess these local units, how they fit together and how they relate to the better-known infantry units of 1914.

 

3) How "pally" were the Pals?   Yes for some of the northern units- Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow. There were working class men to spare. Note there are no "Farmer's Battalions" in 1914- the recruiting enthusiasm was from those available to enlist-in jobs giving short notice(if any)-nor from what would later be "reserved" occupations- no battalions from where there was a pool of manpower easiily available from one major industry or company-eg, down my way-no "docker's baltalion" , no "Great Eastern Railway" battalion (though perhaps a little in the support branches). 1914 Pals came from pools of expendable manpower, albeit with pools of regretted wastage in some units- the pre-war TF units HAC,LRB and L Scottish, for example,-which should have been officer factories from the start).

     One comment specifically for Martin to respond- we are concentrating on "Pal's Battalions)" The subject of "Pal's Companies" is almost an unknown- I suspect there were many battalions where there was a cadre of one group of enlisters- I am thinking here of the Polytechnic Company of 12th Londons (Rangers).  I suspect there are quite a number of these localised companies that may need some teasing out. Particularly in the Metropolis? 

 

    Graham's list seems to give us the structure of a sustained field army for an indefinite war. OK, still some gaps- Field Ambulances and local affiliations for one. Likewise, with conscription, I do not think that there is a universality of  throwing men into unsuitable units. My experience with local casualties is that the B men, the old, the unfit were placed with some degree of square pegs into square holes- that men with with specific skillsets went to the right jobs. eg I have a shipping clerk in his late 30s, conscripted late 1916-actually went for an interview with the Royal Engineers before going out to Basra to do,effectively, the same job.

 

     I do not wish to belittle the deserved historical status of the Accrington Pals and the like ( another of my local casualties for Wanstead in the east of London is well-known-Captain Charles May, 22nd Manchesters, 1st July 1916-oft portrayed come Remembrance Day). But perhaps time to figure out what the structure of "Pals" actually was,   London's units, I think, can only make sense if the the concept of "pal's recruiting is re-evaluated away from 1914 and away from the infantry exclusively.

 

       I have yet to read up Martin's previous reference to a scholarly chunk on Kitcneer recruiting, let alone look at some of the recruiting papers of 1914-1916. Craig has put up a morsel of what appear to be recruiting instructions routinely issued before the war. I think trying to locate the wartime ones must be a priority-in the unlikely event they exist  somewhere.

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Perth Digger

I can only comment with any authority on the raising of the 11th (Lewisham) Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment between May and December 1915. The advertising they put out and the reports in the local newspapers do emphasise the "Pals" nature of the unit. The word is used often to refer to Lewisham recruits. In reality, only about half of the originals lived in Lewisham. You would not know this from the lists of recruits published in the local newspapers, which were confined only to men from Lewisham. This is local patriotism at its most narrow. Peckham and Deptford men were not included, even though at least one of the newspapers covered Deptford and Greenwich news every week. The lists are coming from Battalion HQ, I presume, which would be the source of the Lewisham-focus. 

 

The idea of a true Pals battalion (rather than the occasional Pals Company) being raised in London after 1914 is unlikely. The occupational structure of London ensures this. I have tried Martin's 'sobering task' with the 11th and can find no particular pattern of enlistment, although pockets of under-aged from certain streets can be found. Martin is right  about the distinction between the WO's locally raised units and the popular definition of these as Pals units. The Pals idea was a recruiting ploy in 1915. If it worked in South London it was because men in the boroughs around Lewisham felt more connected to South-East London than to South-West London (East and West Surreys). But they were not  'pally' in the classical definition of the word.

 

Martin is also right about the TF being much more local in recruitment. Lord Derby or whoever first thought of the Pals idea must have had the TF in mind, as least partly, when he promoted the project.

 

MIke

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Perth Digger

Just a bit more about the TF in South-East London. The 20th (Blackheath and Woolwich) London Regiment had its HQ at Holly Hedge House, on the the very edge of the western part of Blackheath. It was very close to Lewisham, Deptford and Greenwich and it was from these boroughs that it got most of its recruits pre-war and in the last months of 1914. It was thus locally recruited but not a Pals unit in the sense of some of the Kitchener units up north. 'Local' was 'regional' in London, but as far as the Lewisham recruiting committee was concerned this was not to be advertised, as it upset their very localist sensibilities. 

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Perth Digger

One can't ignore the influence or interest of the local professional recruiters either. The 11th RWK set up temporary recruiting centres in various parts of the borough, but still had to rely on other major recruiting centres. Deptford was one. For several years before the war and throughout 1914 and 1915 the senior NCO recruiter in Deptford happened to be a Corporal of the RFA. When Deptford Borough Council decided to raise an Artillery Brigade in May 1915 it got over 2000 recruits in about two months, while enlistments from Deptford into the 11th RWK fell off. I don't think this is a coincidence.

 

Mike

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Guest

Understanding the subtle idiosyncrasies of the Pals Battalions is not helped by articles like this: CLICK. The Imperial War Museum would have us believe that 'Pals' were part of their official titles viz 16th (Service) Bn West Yorkshire Regiment (1st Bradford) is incorrectly described as the "16th (Service) Bn West Yorkshire Regiment (1st Bradford Pals)"

 

The Stockbrokers Myth. In London, the 10th (Service) Bn Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) was never officially called the 'Stockbrokers'. The structure of the City of London in 1914 was extremely  fragmented. Today there are a small number of banks that each employ thousands of people on one campus; the sub-industries (Banks, insurance companies, etc) are highly concentrated into a handful of large companies that have gigantic and dominant market share and are consequently dominant employers - in the same way that Britain's high street banks have concentrated into four or five companies through seemingly endless (and rather unsuccessful) mergers and acquisitions that ended in tears some years back. In 1914 it was rather different; the commercial landscape was extremely fragmented with thousands of small banks, insurance companies etc each employing small numbers of men and women. The idea that these 'Stockbrokers' were Pals before enlisting is a myth. Even the word 'Stockbroker' is misleading as it only describes one type of employer in the vast array of firms that operated in the City and even within a Stockbroking firm there are actually few Stockbrokers and rather a large number of clerks, runners,etc. Even the Jobbers in 1914 were working in separate companies, the merger of these two sub-sets only legally being allowed 70 years later during the deregulation  - the so called "Big Bang" -  of 1986 which effectively allowed investment banks to consolidate (i.e acquire) other businesses such as stockbrokers, stock-jobbers, insurance companies etc. In 1914 most recruits in the 10th Bn Royal Fusiliers would not have know each other and probably had never met each other except for hundreds of small groups of men from very small firms. It was simply impossible to recruit 1,000 men from a single employer in the City of London. If they were 'Pals' because they worked in the Square Mile or worked for one of hundreds of broking firms, one has to really start questioning the definition of 'Pals'. It is fairly easy to demonstrate that it is quite difficult (but not impossible) to recruit even a Platoon from employees of one firm in the Square Mile for a locally raised unit in 1914.

 

The historical fragmentation of the commercial landscape of the City of London is hidden behind a facade of large buildings. One example - the former Headquarters of Lloyds Bank on Cornhill in the epicentre of the City of London, facing the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England. The building is massive and covers a wedge shape plot between Cornhill and Lombard Street. It was not built until 1927*. The rival Midland Bank Headquarters building on Cheapside which glared back at the Lloyds building was built only two years earlier (Lutyens by the way). Prior to that maps of the area show it was covered with scores of tiny premises, each housing one or two small firms carrying out a myriad of banking and insurance and trade functions.Somewhere I have a 1905 map of the City of London and on the reverse is the Post Office list of firms and their addresses. It is a very long list.

 

There were allegiances between some TF battalions and the Bank of England for example (an institution that once had its own armed force) but this is the exception rather than the rule.

 

Martin

 

*The world of finance has a long and sorry history of building massive headquarters buildings just before gigantic financial crashes. The Great Crash of 1929 happened less than 2 years after Lloyds opened its headquarters building

Edited by Guest

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Perth Digger

There was also a practical reason why a local authority would want to focus on really local enlistments in London. Borough rates were being used to support these units. Freely acknowledging that the cost of food and housing went on "foreigners" from Deptford or Peckham may not have been happily received in Lewisham. Nor would the recruiting committee want to advertise their shame in being unable to fill the ranks from their own community. The 11th Battalion was not a Pals Battalion, whatever the propaganda. It was a locally-raised unit, with "locally" being a very wide area that eventually stretched from Lambeth and the Boro to Dartford and Bromley (omitting some sports from far wider afield). The War Office got what it wanted (eventually); the Lewisham recruiting committee just claimed that it did.

 

Mike

 

 

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Perth Digger

Just to give an example of how the local newspapers promoted the Lewisham-centric nature of the 11th RWK:

The Kentish Mercury gave the names and addresses of 33 men who enlisted in the week ending 1 November 1915. Catford: 4; Forest Hill 8; Lee 3; Sydenham 4; Brockley 4; and Lewisham 10. All these areas are part of Lewisham Borough. (Thanks to Jakes on this Forum for the newspaper copy). In fact, between 1 and 8 November 113 enlisted, 71 (63%) of whom were from outside Lewisham. No mention of them in the newspaper.

 

NB: This was the time when there was a huge increase in enlistments in the battalion as the threat of compulsion took hold. 500 men had still been needed in October.

 

Mike

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voltaire60

    Martin- Thanks for the illumination concerning 10 RF.  I agree wholeheartedly with it- both from my own memories of a short time in the City, my own local casualties -and a source I am happy to dig out (if poss.!!) and send over from an old memory stick- the Roll of Honour (of those volunteering from stock broking/jobbing,rather than casualties) published in the Financial Times  in 1914-1915.  In short, stockbrokers volunteering are off all over the place as officers (though occasionally some of the underlings go off to the same regiment as well). The rest are off  to a goodly range of regiments- virtually everything remotely London, indicating, perhaps, commuting locations.  Always  amazed at 2 things-the sheer number of small firms whose names are vaguely familiar-and just how many German names there are. When you see some names and think of a successful personality-finance or otherwise-today, then often their uncommon name just happens to be that of an old City firm- not quite success from a standing start, Plenty of old money out there.

   As regards the City landscape, English Heritage say that only about 2% of the City is pre-1800-but that 2% is protected, while the other 98% gets knocked down and replaced as and when. That there are big buildings post-war is no surprise- there was a government (ie Bank of England) pushed amalgamation movement at the end of the war- covered in a rather uncommon old book :Joseph Sykes: The Amalgamation Movement in English Banking (London,1924). The result was similar to the railways- a  not very competing oligopoly but a rather more sensible arrangement for retail banking nationwide.

    Oh that the recruiting instructions for St. Paul's Churchyard had survived. Oh well, dream on.

 

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