The 25th County of London were a County Territorial Association.
These were local organisations, subject to local conditions and community
support. They were volunteers, and there was a division of control between the War Office & the
County Territorial Associations which both helped and hindered the
The true purpose of the Territorial Army was to provide
reinforcements in complete units for the Regular divisions of the
Expeditionary Force. However they could not be forced to serve overseas,
and an inability to impose a foreign service liability on pre-war
Territorials, was a powerful handicap to their acceptance by the country
as an essential part of the defence forces.
In any case the turn of events in August 1914 brought
to the War Office a man who had nothing but contempt for the entire
concept of the Territorial Force. Asquith relinquished the War Office and
appointed Field Marshal Earl Kitchener of
as Secretary of State for War. A national hero to much of the British
public, Kitchener brought to the War Office the drive and determination
that the gravity of the crisis demanded. But he was also woefully ignorant
of Britain's military forces and the changes that had taken place.
In particular he distrusted the Territorial Force. He
because they were dominated by civilians (the Territorials, he remarked,
were administered by mayors in their parlours1),
and because he saw in them a source of unwelcome pressure for military
patronage. He dismissed the training that the Territorials had in
peacetime as being of no account, and insisted that well-meaning amateurs
(a Town Clerk's Army, he once called them2)
could never replace fully-trained soldiers.
Kitchener's initial inclination to bypass the
Territorials entirely did not long survive and he decided that he would
accept the offer of any Territorial unit that volunteered for overseas
service. Overall, 318 Territorial battalions undertook foreign service
during the war, compared with 404 battalions of New Armies. Not all Territorial units served in
. Many, including whole units that had volunteered for service overseas,
were kept at home, either as defence against the invasion that never came,
or to train new Territorial units. Others, were sent to
at the beginning of the war and later, so that Regular units on garrison
duty there could be relieved and sent directly into action in
Of all the grievances that the Territorials had
during and after the war, none were greater than those of the Territorials
. Their services there were forgotten, and they were denied any of the
honours and medals that would have been their due, and which they were
specifically promised. Although they had also fought in Mesopotamia and
, they later faced accusations that they had 'saved their skins'. Despite
being some of the first volunteers for overseas service, they were among
the last to return to England, in some cases more than four years after
leaving. They were treated shabbily, but in many ways not very differently
from the majority of Territorials. Taken for granted, looked upon with
contempt or amused indifference, bypassed in favour of Kitchener's New
The Territorials who served in
felt that they had been positively discriminated against.
As one Territorial put it:
I cannot help feeling that
the fact that I am a 'territorial' instead of a 'Kitchener' makes it much more difficult to get a decent job - it was the same in
India. They select a few Territorial Peers and MPs for good appointments for
eye wash for the world at large, but there is not a Territorial Officer
living, who does not feel that the Territorials have been badly treated
Even worse was in store at the end of the war (see The
Despite the War Office's promise that when demobilization began every
consideration would be given to those who had volunteered for duty
first, that undertaking was also scrapped on the grounds of economic and
political expediency. Rather than apply the principle of 'first in, first
out', the Government announced that it would release men on an industrial
and commercial scale of priorities. The result was that some Territorials
were still in
almost a year after the war had ended.
It was hardly enough to be told that a shortage of shipping prevented
their earlier return, especially since, when they did return, they were
denied the public honours and welcomes that other troops, often
conscripts, had received.
who had been 'banished to India', as one of their supporters put it to Scarbrough,4 had every
reason to feel let down and abused. One wrote plaintively: 'It's no good
moaning'. We Territorials are here in
India. Nobody knows anything about us in England, and nobody seems to care about us. We were fools in the start and now
must stand the racket.'5 The Surrey Association unanimously
passed a resolution condemning the 'shabby' treatment that the
had received at the hands of the War Office, but it made no difference. By
1919 the problems of demobilization and the wish to get back to a
peacetime routine pushed aside the claims of the Territorials in India,
and indeed of the Territorials as a whole, as making an invidious
distinction between different sorts of volunteers, and between volunteers
David French, British Economic
and Strategic Planning 1905- 1915 (
, 1982), p. 126.
Viscount Grey of Fallodon, Twenty-five Years, 1892 - 1916 (
, 1925), II, p. 68.
in a letter from the Private Secretary to the Secretary of State
for the Colonies to Scarbrough, 24 April 1919, Scarbrough Papers.
Lieutenant-General Sir Reginald Carew to Scarbrough, 19 January
1919, Scarbrough Papers. Carew was Unionist MP for Bodmin
, 1910 -16, and Inspector-General of the Territorial Force in
1914. Carew felt a special concern for the Territorials in India,
for, as he explained to Scarbrough, 'I regret to say that I helped
K[itchener] by telling the poor Terriers ... who were inclined to
trust me, that they must go, and that they could trust K . . .. I
suppose you will be able to get the Terriers home some day . . ..'
Quoted by Carew to Scarbrough, 19 January 1919. 33
, 7 April 1919, Minutes, vol. 2.
Source :- 'The Territorial Army 1906-1940' by Peter
Dennis, The Royal Historical Society, 1987.
Further reading :-