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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Royal Berks Regiment - National Reserve

Bob Chandler

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I am trying to find out more about the Reserve & what specific duties they were given during the war. I understand that 4 Bns of the Berks National Reserve were formed, Reading Windsor Wantage & Newbury. From an old family photo I have been told my grandfather was with the Newbury Bn, possibly guarding German POWs as they were brought back from France to Southampton - is there any way I could confirm this? Also were they later located to Bovington Camp? Any information would be most appreciated. Many thanks

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We need to clarify whether your Grandfather was a National Reservist or a member of the Volunteer Force. I ask because the National Reservists were generally organised on a company rather than battalion basis. Most were in Protection coys, which guarded vital points and POWs. They became the Royal Defence Corps in 1916 and were not affiliated to infantry regiments.

The Volunteer Force, which was the WW1 equivalent to the Home Guard, did have battalions affiliated to regiments. I don't know how many Royal Berkshire Volunteer bns were raised, but Wienand Drenth, who is a member of the Forum, does have information on them.

Incidently, I do have a photograph of National Reservists camped on Newbury Racecourse in 1914. It is with my publisher at the moment, but maybe your Grandfather was among them.

Charles M

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see the mother site here


for some basic details.

I don't think the NR was ever formed into battalions during WW1. There were RDC battalions for part of the war (as you'll see many NR men served in that) but only 19 of them and they weren't local.

I think the 'battalion' designation is pre-war and isn't really indicative of a battalion in the true military sense, more like the local branch - the NR was as much a social thing as a military one.

Have you tried for a medal index card for your grand-father? May not have been entitled to any medals, but given their age lots of NR/RDC men got SWBs.


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In reaction to Charles M's mention of the Volunteer Force, here a short overview of the Berkshire Volunteer Regiment. As you see, it formed two battalion which were merged early 1918. This single battalion affiliated in July 1918 to the Berkshire Regiment. I hope it is of some use.



Berkshire Volunteer Regiment

[Formed 1914 as Newbury VTC] Formed 1 Sep. 1916. HQ at Maidenhead. Affiliated to the Royal Berkshire Regt.

1st Bn, 1st Vol Bn

Formed 1 Sep. 1916 with HQ at Reading. Amalg with 2nd Bn 9 Feb. 1918.

2nd Bn

Formed 1 Sep. 1916 with HQ at Wallingford. Amalg 9 Feb. 1918 with 1st Bn.

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Many thanks to you all for the information, and apologies for the delay in responding (decorating duty). Just to clarify as requested, my grandfather was Charles Henry Chandler b. 1876 so he was 38 when war was declared. He had spent some time as a Trooper in the Berkshire Yeomanry before the war. In the Newbury Weekly News Roll of Honour he was always described as serving with the 'National Reserves', no further detail. The family story was that he was did prisoner escort duty, & a 'lost' family photo which reappeared just a few years ago shows him in uniform on board a ship, his cap badge being a Royal Berks Regiment 'collar-dog'. 'Mac' McIntyre, who some of you may know from the books he has co-written on the Royal Berks Regt (especially Kitchener Bns) and whom I knew when I lived in Berks looked at the photo & suggested the Newbury 'Bn' / Berks National Reserve connection. There was also a suggestion that Charles may have been kept in this country due to his occupation - blacksmith - as I understand that later in the war he was employed on tank maintenance (again this is a family story). In fact I understand that he was quite disappointed (at the time) not to get the chance to go abroad! Once again many thanks Charles

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Hello Charles.

Although i have nothing to add,i was very interested to see your posting.

I have lived in the Newbury area all my life,and currently live in Speen.

I had never heard of this Newbury battalion before,and not much about the WW1 version of "Dads Army"either.

Newbury was a staging post for troops on their way to the coast and Salisbury Plain,some regiments staying overnight at The Corn Exchange,and with the railway lines,as well as an Engineering firm that were producing bits for the Navy etc,it was a bit of a hub in the war effort.

Would the RDC have been guarding these?.

The other thing that interested me was the Newbury Weekly News Roll of Honour.

Do you know where this is available?

All the best.


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