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How the army recruited for World War One

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BerichtGeplaatst: 07 Nov 2013 18:07    Onderwerp: How the army recruited for World War One Reageer met quote

On the outbreak of the Great War the British Army was miniscule in comparison to its continental neighbours. Unlike the rest of Europe, there was no conscription (forced period of military service), meaning our Armed Forces were made up of a small body of professionals.

As back-up, men who had served were tied to a period on the national reserve after they cast off their uniforms and returned to civilian life.

If war broke out while they were still on the reserve list they were immediately called back to their former regiments - so ensuring that a considerable boost of experience, and manpower, could be relied upon in a time of crisis.

It is estimated that close to 50 per cent of the men known as “the first 100,000” – the advance guard of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) that would arrive on French soil on August 7 – was made up of reservists called back from civilian life. As an army they were small in number, but these were tough men who worked hard, fought hard and often drank even harder.

Many public houses in cities like Manchester had long carried the sign, “No dogs, no soldiers”. Among the advance guard were thousands of local men, serving among such units as the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, 2nd Manchesters and 1st East Lancs.

The second line of British defence was The Territorial Force, made up of part-timers. Among the ranks would be former professional servicemen and willing amateurs, and the ‘Terriers’ job would be to look after home security while the professionals or ‘regulars’ got to grips with the enemy on foreign fields. The Territorials were often a near-perfect cross-section of the societies they came from, with the officers from wealthy families and their underlings in roles befitting their standing in the community or workplace.

Interestingly, in Britain’s time of need in 1914, the first-ever Territorial unit to volunteer for overseas’ service was the East Lancashire Division. This formation was made up of more than 20,000 men from across Greater Manchester and Lancashire – men from Stockport, Ashton, Oldham, Rochdale, Heywood, Bury, Salford, central, north and southern Manchester, Burnley, Wigan and beyond.
If any question why we died
Tell them, because our fathers lied
-Rudyard Kipling-
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