25th County of London Cyclist Battalion
The London Regiment


Regiment History


   

1914 - At start of the war, British had 14,000 cyclists in a variety of bicycle regiments and battalions. In 1916, every corps was assigned 500 riders in three bicycle companies, By 1919, at least The British had 100,000 riders. The London Cyclist Battalion patrolled the coast of England to watch for a German invasion. After air attacks began in May 1915, bicyclists with signs "Take Cover" warned British citizens to find shelter. 
 

There was some transfer within the battalion between the 1st, 2nd & 3rd lines. For instance, my grandfather's photos include one taken at Wells, Norfolk. This is the part of the coast that the 2/25th were patrolling. In October 1915, 375 rank and file left the 2/25th to join the 1/25th (over 50% of the 2/25th were drafted to the 1/25th). I therefore assume that in my grandfather's case, he was one of the transferees from the 2/25th to the 1/25th.

The Bicycle in Wartime
When trench warfare proved inhospitable top specialized bicycle fighting units, bicyclists were relegated to behind-the-lines activities or reassigned elsewhere, often to serve in the firing line. The result was that many cycle units were effectivelly disbanded, or operated only at very limited levels. The fact was driven home pointedly in the case of the London Cyclist Battalion, the most famous in the world. Through late 1915 they rode coastal patrols in the south of England, watching out for a possible German invasion and fighting fires set by raiding German aircraft. They finally shipped abroad, to India, in December 1915, as infantrymen, without bicycles. "It was a bitter blow", wrote one battalion member. More so when, in mid 1916, Indian troops who were brought to France used bicycles".
         ['The Bicycle in Wartime - an illustrated history' by Jim Fitzpatrick, pub by Brasseys, c.1998.]


 CHRONOLOGICAL SUMMARY OF REGIMENTAL HISTORY.
 
Pre War

As the 26th Middlesex (Cyclist) Rifle Volunteer Corps
 
1881. "Mixed Pickles." First (Civilian-Military) Cyclist Manoeuvres.
1888. Formation of the 26th Aix. (Cyclist) V.R.C. (Establishment 121 all ranks.)
1894. Lieut. Slade's team win 100 miles road race, establishing the record of 7 hours 15 mins. 50 secs.
1895 Easter Training at Windsor .
1896. Shorncliffe. Annual Camp in Old Deer Park . Corps give first display at Crystal Palace , and at Agricultural Hall.
1898. Easter at Knapp Hill. Military Cyclists' Meeting at Wood Green.
1902. Camp at Yarmouth . Establishment increased to 361.
1903. Easter at Eton College . Camp at Seaford . Motor Cyclists first invited to enrol. Military Cyclists' Meeting at Crystal Palace . Corps win Gamage Shield (5 miles). Team Comdr., Corpl. G. L. Hopkins. Also Crystal Palace Gold Cup (obstacle race). Team Comdr. , Col. -Sergt. R. Harvey.
1904. Easter at R.M.C., Sandhurst .    Corps wins both events at Crystal Palace . Same Team Comdrs. No. "r" Team (Lieut. A. H. ­Trapman) being second.
1905. Whitsuntide at Harefield. Camp at Seaford . Corps Team is 2nd for Gamage Shield, but win Gold Cup for obstacle race. No. "1" Team again placed second. Same Team Comdrs.
1906. Whitsuntide and also July 28 /29. Mobilisation marches. August Salisbury Plain Cyclist Manoeuvres. First Staff Ride under Imperial General Staff. Corps (Team Comdr. H. D. Buck) again 2nd for Gamage Shield, but win first and second places for the obstacle race and secure Gold Cup outright. Team Comdrs. , Col. -Sergt. Harvey and Lieut. A. H. Trapman. Corps Prize Distribution by Gen. Sir N. Lyttelton, Chief of the Imperial General Staff. First and second prizes for " best attendances at mounted parades " won by squads with 81% and 86% average of highest possible. Recruiting campaigns commences in Thames Valley and Weybridge. Best time for road race, London-Weybridge and back (40 miles), 2 hrs. 25 mins.
1907. Easter at Weybridge. Camp at Beverley, Yorks . Service under Chief Imperial General Staff. Prize Distribu­tion by General Sir A. J. Murray.
1908. Easter at Brentwood . Whitsuntide at Rayleigh. Week-end training camps at Runnymede started.
 
TERRITORIAL FORCE comes into being, 1-4-08.  
 
26th Middlesex becomes the 25th (County of London) Cyclist Battalion, The London Regiment. (Establishment 521 all ranks.)
 
Camp at Battle , Aug. 15/29th. (Best attendance of any London unit.) Duty under Imperial General Staff, Oct. 19 /26th.  Theoretical classes started for (a) Captains, (b) Subalterns, (c) Colour-Sergeants. Special classes and lectures for (I) N.C.O.'s, (2) Scouts, (3) Demoli­tions, (4) Seamanship. Prize Distribution by Lady Esher.
1909. War Games started, also Debating Society and First Aid classes. First unit of T.F. to attain full strength (Feb., 1909). Easter Training in Sussex . Solano Target introduced. Display nightly at Royal Military Tournament. Camp, July 25th­Aug. 8th, at Houndean, Lewes. Mobilisation marches, July 3/4th and July 10/11th. Motor Cyclists at Army Manoeuvres, Sept. 18/23rd. "The Military Cyclist & Motorist" first published.
1910. Maxim Guns (in addition to own Colt Guns) issued to Battalion. Lectures on mapping, sketching, demolitions and engineering commenced. Mobilisation march, July 2 /3rd. Camp July 24-Aug. 7th, at Malting Farm, Lewes. Cyclist Squadron at Cavalry manoeuvres.
1911. School of Arms and Football Club started. Officers and N.C.O.'s Staff Tour, Shoreham, at Easter. Coronation (Street Duty), May 24th. Royal Progress, May 12th. Camp at Rye , Aug. 5 /19th.
1912. Staff Tours : Captains, March 1 /3rd ; Subalterns, Feb. 23 /25th ; Sergeants, March 17/18th. Tactical Exercise for Sergeants, etc., at Brentwood , Easter. Mobilisation marches, June 15/16th, July 6/7th. Annual Training, 7/15th Sept.. and Army manoeuvres, Sept. 15 /21st, at Bury St. Edmunds. Sports Club started. Prize Distribution by Lord Haldane.
1913. Tactical exercises for N.C.O.'s, Feb. 16/17th. Musketry Week­end Camps, June 7 /8th, July 5 /6th. Mobilisation march, July 12/13th. Royal Review, July 5th. Annual Camp, St. Leonards, Aug. 3/17th. Prize Distribution by Lady Lloyd.
1914. Whitsuntide mobilisation. March to Sussex war stations. July 29th, Camp advance party take over coastguard stations in Rye Area. Saturday, Aug. 1st, arrival at Camp at Rye . Aug. 3 /4th. re-called to Headquarters. Aug. 4/5th.
 
WAR Declared : Territorial Force EMBODIED : Battalion MOBILISED
 
1/25th
 
1914 Aug. 5th. Mobilisation completed and War Stations taken up on S. Coast.
   "   l0th. Transferred to East Anglia . H.Qrs., Oulton Broad.
1915 Jan. 25th H.Qrs. at Grand Hotel, Lowestoft .
  Apr. 15 /16th First Zeppelin Raid ( Lowestoft ).
  Aug. 9th & 12th Further Zeppelin Raids at Lowestoft .
  Dec. 2nd To Chiseldon Camp as Infantry Battalion. Big drafts received from the 2 /25th and Suffolk Cyclist Battn.
1916 Feb. 3rd To Bombay by H.M.T. Ceramic.
     "    26th. To Bangalore ( S. India ).
  June 19th To Hebbal Camp.
  Sept. 7th Draft of 122 received from home.
  Oct. 7th Back to Bangalore .
  Dec. 1st By rail (2,222 miles) to Burhan.
  Dec. 1st Draft of l00 received from 3 /25th.
  Dec. 1st Machine Gun Section drafted to Machine Gun Corps.
1917 May 21st Lt.-Col. B. M. Hynes assumes command.
     "   23rd. To Tank to join Waziristan F.F.
  Dec. 4th Conclusion of Campaign. Return to Jullundur .
1918 Easter. To Jutogh.
  October. Influenza Epidemic.
  Nov. 12th Armistice Proclamation.
1919 Apr. 11th Detachment rushed to quell Amritsar Rising.
  May 23rd Mobilised to join Thal Relief Force (3rd Afghan War).
  June 3rd Afghan Armistice announced.
  June Cholera outbreak (at Nowshera).
  Aug. 8th Afghan Peace Treaty signed.
  Nov. 11th Majority of Battalion reach Devonport on ss. Lan­cashire .
  December Colonel Hynes and H.Qrs. reach England and are Demobilised.
 
2/25th.
     
1914 Aug. 6th. Colonel Gilbertson Smith, T.D., offers to raise 2nd Battalion.
  26th. Offer accepted.
  31st. Battalion reported officially complete.
  Nov. 5th. To War Station on S. Coast. H.Qrs., Lewes.
  28th. Furnishes 1st draft to 1st/25th.
1915 Feb. 11th. Establishment increased.
  Apr. 19th. Transferred to Norfolk Coast. H.Qrs., Holt.
  30th. First Zeppelin Raid.
  September. A False Invasion alarm.
  Dec. 1st. Draft of 375 sent to 1st/25th at Chiseldon.
1916 Apr. 3rd. To Bungay and (later) to Beccles.
  Aug. 25th. To Halesworth.
  November. Motor Cyclists drafted to Motor Machine Gun Corps (Tanks).
1917 June 17th. Zeppelin brought down at Theberton.
1918 Nov. 7th. Another invasion scare.
1919 May 19th. The last man (and Colonel Gilbertson Smith) demobilised
      
3rd /25th.
     
1914 November. Formation as Depot.
1915 March. Recognised as 3rd Line Battalion.
  August. To Butts Farm, Hanworth, Mx.
  September. To Tudor Farm, Hanworth, Mx.
  November. To Feltham, Mx.
    Draft of 120 to Army Cycle Corps (47th Div. Cyclist Coy).
[My note - From service records it appears most of these were transferred to the London Divisional 3/2nd Cyclist Co. on the 27.8.1915, and later transferred to the  47th Div. Cyclist Co. on the 1.12.1915]
1916 May. Cycles withdrawn.
    Title changed to 3rd /25th (Reserve) Battn. The
    London Regt.
    To Richmond Park.
    Draft to First Line in India.
   
10th (Reserve) Battn. The London Regt.
     
  August. Amalgamated with 3rd /10th Battn. (Hackney Rifles)
    The London Regt. to form the 10th (Reserve) Battn.
    The London Regt., under Lt.-Col. H. H. Stenning,
    T. D., O.B.E.
  November. To Teignmouth, Devon.
1917 May 2nd. To Blackdown, Aldershot.
1918 Nov. 9th. To Chiseldon Camp, Wilts.
  Dec. 27th. To Cosham, Hants.
1919 May 2nd. Cadre to London.
Sept. 5th. Final demobilisation.
     
1st / 9th Middlesex.
     
1917 November. India - Draft from 1st/25th of 200 men to 1st/9th Middlesex at Ambala.
  Christmas. At Baghdad.
1918 February. To Nejif and Kufa.
  June. Akab.
  Oct. 25th. Action at Jebel Hamrin.
    Surrender of Turks at Mosul.
1919 Jan.-May. Operations in Kurdestan and in Kirkuk Area.
  July. Demobilised.

 


Source :- 'The London Cyclist Battalion'

Further notes :-
  • Whilst some servicemen returned to the North West Frontier to partake in the 1919 Amritsar & the Afghanistan campaign, not all of the 1/25th men did. For instance Harry Parker is recorded as being a clerk from 7 Dec 1918 to Sept 1919 at the M.A. Dept. Poona1. A group photo identifies them as being in the Field Revision Office in Poona2.
  • Also many soldiers were absent from the various campaigns due to of illness. Malaria being rife, plus heat stroke during the campaigns.

1. Certificate of Employment During the War [Army Form Z.18]
2. Harry Parker's photo album

  • The National Archives :-

    - WO 95/5414 - War Office: First World War and Army of Occupation War Diaries - 
                               16 Indian Division - 45 Infantry Brigade: 1/25 Battalion London Regiment.
    - WO 100/479 - War Office: Campaign Medal and Award Rolls - Indian General Service Medals - 25 London Regiment.
    - WO 100/485 - War Office: Campaign Medal and Award Rolls - Indian General Service Medals. - 25 London Regiment.


London Regiment - Divisional Status

1/25th (County of London) Bn (Cyclist). Territorial Force. 04 Aug 1914 at Fulham House, Putney Bridge unbrigaded. Formed a Brigade with the 1/9th Bn Hampshire Regt, 2/6th Bn Royal Sussex Regt and 1/1st Kent Cyclist Bn. The four Battalions then converted to Infantry and went to India the Battalions joined the 9th (Indian) Division :-

9th India (Secunderabad) Division  

A Regular Division of the Indian Army. The Division remained in India throughout the war.  

Bangalore . (Unbrigaded) (Infantry Units)

1/25th Bn London Regt. Feb 1916 - Dec 1916. To the 3rd Lahore divisional area :-

3rd Lahore Divisional Area  

Formed late 1914 to take over the garrison duties of the 3rd Division when it left for France. The 3rd Lahore divisional area was disbanded in May 1917, the responsibilities of the area being taken over by the 16th Division.

Jullundur. (Became the 45th Brigade in May 1917). (Infantry Units)  

1/25th Bn London Regt. Jan 1917 - May 1917. To the 16th Division :-  

16th Indian Division  

Formed in December 1916. The Division remained in India and replaced the 3rd Lahore divisional area when it was abolished in May 1917.

45th (Jullundur) Brigade. (Joined the Division in May 1917) (Infantry Units) .

1/25th Bn London Regt. Dec 1917 - 11 Nov 1918.


Divisional Status courtesy of  'The Regimental Warpath 1914-1918' :- http://www.warpath.orbat.com/regts/london.htm
Introduction, 1st paragraph :- http://history.sandiego.edu/gen/ww1/bicycle.html
Chronological Summary - 'The London Cycle Battalion'



The Territorial Army London Regiment after The Great War
 

At the end of The Great War, the 2nd line and Reserve Battalions were disbanded. Most of the original Battalions were placed in suspended animation, and then reformed after a short interval, as part of their parent regular Regiment.
On 1st October 1921 the Territorial Force was renamed the Territorial Army.
The only Battalion not re-raised as infantry was the 25th Cyclist Battalion which was amalgamated with 47th Divisional Signal Company to form 47th ( 2nd London) Divisional Signals, Royal Corps of Signals.
http://www.steppingforwardlondon.org/the-territorial-army-london-regiment-after-the-great-war.html


 

Copyright © Simon Parker-Galbreath - Please acknowledge these web pages, & the original source, or email me for permission to reproduce items (normally given) :-