1st Battalion - Call to Arms 1914

1st Battalion - Call to Arms 1914

Postby kerchi » Sat Nov 01, 2008 9:04 pm

The Call to Arms - 1914Before the war broke out in Europe events were slowly unfolding that would spiral out of control and eventually lead to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, which ultimately led to the Border regiment's involvement in the very early stages of the beginning of the war. During the summer of 1914, the 1st Battalion was stationed in Upper Burma at a place called Maymyo. The Battalion had been away from the familiar shores of home for a continuous period of no less than eight years, having been stationed in Gibraltar and India respectively since 1906. The time spent abroad on foreign service, as with every other battalion of its type, benefited their training to the point of being at their finest in military efficiency and it was this effectiveness in their duties that saw the Battalion performing well under very difficult circumstances, even in such early stages of the war. The 1st Battalion was just one of many infantry battalions listed as part of the British garrison of India and Burma, a total of 52 in all; of these 49 were in India and the remaining three, of which the 1st Battalion was one, were in Burma along with 4th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment and 1st Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers. Prior to Britain's declaration of war against Germany in August 1914, the Indian Army List for the strength of the Battalion's Officers were as follows: Lieutenant-Colonel R.O.C. Hume (on leave out of India)
Major A.W.S. Moffat
Major C.D. Vaughan (S.S.O. Maymyo)
Major G.C. Brooke
Major A.E. St. V. Pollard (officiating D.A.A.G. Burma Division)
Captain H. Nelson
Captain G.A. Morton (Mandalay)
Captain S.H.F. Muriel (Wellington)
Captain G.H. Harrison
Captain S. Pershouse (Depot)
Captain S.H. Worrall (Depot)
Captain A.J. Ellis (adjutant)
Lieutenant F.H.S. Le Mesurier
Lieutenant P.J. Egerton (on leave out of India)
Lieutenant R.H.H. Moore (Mandalay)
Lieutenant J. Forbes-Robertson
Lieutenant H.E. Festing (Assistant Instructor, School of Musketry, Satara)
Lieutenant R. Head
Lieutenant P.G.W. Diggle (Depot)
Lieutenant R.B. Taylor
Lieutenant G.C. May
Lieutenant J.G. Heyder
Lieutenant D.A. James
Lieutenant J.B.B. Warren (on leave out of India)
Second-Lieutenant C.A. Cuningham (on leave out of India)
Second-Lieutenant A.F.C Rutherford (on leave out of India)
Second-Lieutenant W.O. Lay
Second-Lieutenant F.I. Perry
Hon. Lieutenant W. Ennis (Quartermaster) For the officers and men of the 1st Battalion, July was like any other month before it. The daily routine was commonplace but with one major difference, the world was at peace. Even with years of active service abroad and being at the height of their efficiency, what they were to be thrown into, all be it not suddenly, would change their views of warfare forever. Unfortunately, for those whose Indian tour was coming to an end, soon found out what was to be expected of them; they would not be returning home for a break but for the start of what was now going to be a new tour on new soil for an undisclosed period of time. Most people thought that during the early stages, the war would not last much longer than the end of the year but it soon became apparent that this was not likely to be the case as had been originally expected. Things were changing on a larger scale as the "transition from peace to war came with extraordinary suddenness upon a bewildered world; to those serving in India events must have seemed to move with dramatic swiftness, for though the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia, followed leisurely upon the murder at Sarajevo of the Austrian Grand Duke, was presented on the 23rd July, within a little more than a week – on the 31st to be exact – those units garrisoning the seaport towns of India were placed upon a war footing, while at midnight on the 4th August a state of war between Great Britain and Germany came almost automatically into being".(1) What was happening in Europe was now going to ultimately affect what was happening in India. The Call to Arms had an almost immediate response from those serving in India; officers from far and wide across the country replied whole-heartedly. The authorities back home in England knew that a swift return of all the garrisons that could be spared needed to be put into operation. India's response, by the latter part of September, saw 10 British Infantry Battalions leaving her shores, some heading back home to England to join the 8th Division in preparation for the Western Front, others direct to France. Before the year came to an end a further 15 battalions had left India in response to meet the enemy in Europe. The 1st Battalion, however, stayed in Burma until the end of November, 1914 where it was relieved by the 1st/4th Battalion of The Border Regiment. On the 29th November, the 1st Battalion took up temporary residence on the Nevada, a P & O steamship that, after a four day voyage, disembarked in Calcutta. It was here that many men thought the war would be over before they had chance to reach it. On the 5th December, the Battalion entrained at 9am for Bombay, another journey of four days and four nights before they arrived on the 9th only to embark on the Corsican, this time a sea voyage along with 39 other transports. The following is a list of officers who embarked with the Battalion at Bombay: Lieutenant-Colonel R.O.C. Hume
Major A.W.S. Moffat
Major C.D. Vaughan D.S.O.
Major G.C. Brooke
Captain H. Nelson
Captain G.A. Morton
Captain S.H.F. Muriel
Captain G.H. Harrison
Captain A.J. Ellis
Captain F.H.S. Le Mesurier
Lieutenant R.H.H. Moore
Lieutenant J. Forbes-Robertson
Lieutenant H.E. Festing
Lieutenant R. Head
Lieutenant R.B. Taylor
Lieutenant G.C. May
Lieutenant J.G. Heyder
Lieutenant W.O. Lay
Second-Lieutenant F.I. Perry
Second-Lieutenant J.H. Proctor
Second-Lieutenant A. Wright
Second-Lieutenant F. Keenan
Second-Lieutenant W. Bartholomew
Second-Lieutenant W. Clague
Lieutenant & Quartermaster W. Ennis For the first part of the voyage the transport ships were escorted by the Northbrook and the French cruiser Suffren; for the second part by the Eclispe. There were several ports of call along the way including Aden, Suez, Port Said and Malta and upon reaching Gibraltar, a five day stay was taken in so that further transports coming from China could be collected. It wasn't until 10th January, 1915, that the Battalion reached the shores at Avonmouth where they continued their journey by train to Rugby. As they billeted it was here that they became part of the 87th Brigade of the 29th Division.(2) The 1st Battalion, along side that of the 2nd Battalion South Wales Borderers, 1st Battalion King's Own Scottish Borderers and the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers formed the 87th Brigade(3), a number you will become familiar with reading this history. These Battalions will also play an important roll in the telling of this Battalion's movements during the several theatres of war, operations and battles throughout the war in which they took part. For now the 1st Battalion's history comes to a brief halt before continuing in March of the same year.Notes:1^ Wylly, p.17
2^ At that time the 29th Division was commanded by Major-General F.C. Shaw
3^ Under the command of Brigadier-General W.R. Marshall
In memory of John Bardgett (15309 L/Cpl.), 11th Border Regiment who died 1st July 1916.

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kerchi
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