British Army First World War reserve brigades

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The British Army First World War reserve brigades. At the start of the First World War, British Army volunteers in the vast majority of cases joined their local infantry regiments reserve battalion.

In 1916 when conscription was first introduced for the British Army, the existing regimental system could not cope with the large influx of recruits. By January 1916, when conscription was introduced, 2.6 million men had already volunteered for service, a further 2.3 million were conscripted before the end of the war; by the end of 1918, the army had reached its peak strength of four million men. To train the recruits from 1916 onwards twenty-six reserve brigades were raised, with an official complement of over 208,500 soldiers.

Background[edit]

In August 1914, 300,000 men had signed up to fight, and another 450,000 had joined-up by the end of September.[1] Recruitment remained fairly steady through 1914 and early 1915, but it fell dramatically during the later years, especially after the Somme campaign, which resulted in 360,000 casualties.[2] A prominent feature of the early months of volunteering was the formation of Pals battalions.[3] Many of these pals who had lived and worked together, joined up and trained together and were allocated to the same units. The policy of drawing recruits from amongst the local population ensured that, when the Pals battalions suffered casualties, whole towns, villages, neighbourhoods and communities back in Britain were to suffer disproportionate losses. With the introduction of conscription in January 1916, no further Pals battalions were raised.[4] Conscription for single men was introduced in January 1916. Four months later, in May 1916, it was extended to all men aged 18 to 41.[5] The Military Service Act March 1916 specified that men from the ages of 18 to 41 were liable to be called up for service in the army, unless they were married (or widowed with children), or served in one of a number of reserved occupations, which were usually industrial but which also included clergymen and teachers. This legislation did not apply to Ireland, despite its then status as part of the United Kingdom (but see Conscription Crisis of 1918).[6] By January 1916, when conscription was introduced, 2.6 million men had volunteered for service, a further 2.3 million were conscripted before the end of the war; by the end of 1918, the army had reached its peak strength of four million men.[4]

Reserve brigades[edit]

At the start of the First World War, most British Army infantry regiments had their own reserve battalions. After conscription was introduced from 1 September 1916 onwards, the reserve infantry battalions were reorganised. The previous regimental system simply could not cope with the influx of recruits and a centralised training and reserve system was introduced.[7]

The reserve battalions still kept their regimental affiliations, cap badges and accoutrements, until 1 September 1916, when the regimental distinctions disappeared and the battalions were re-designated as the 1st to 116th reserve battalion in one of twenty-six reserve brigades. The Training Reserve had an official complement of 208,500 soldiers.[7]

A development of the scheme was designating of 14 of the battalions as "Young Soldier Battalions". When a recruit had finished training in the Young Soldier Battalion he was sent to one of two associated "Graduated Battalions", in which the four companies were organised by age, 3 monthly steps between 18 and 19 years. As a result, every 3 months, 28 companies of newly trained soldiers were ready for drafting to France. In October 1917 some of the Graduated Battalions were found suitable for Home Service and re-designated with battalion numbers from the 201st upwards.[8]

Another consequence of the centralised training system was that when recruits were posted to a battalion on active service, they would be sent to where there was a vacancy and not their local regiment. This system lasted until May 1917, when the reserve battalions were once again affiliated with a particular regiment and became known as graduated or young soldier battalions of their regiment.[7]

List of brigades[edit]

Reserve
brigade
number
Original regiment[7][9][10][11] Reserve
battalion
number
1st Reserve Brigade 16th (Reserve) Battalion, Durham Light Infantry 1st
17th (Reserve) Battalion, Durham Light Infantry 2nd
10th (Reserve) Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment 3rd
11th (Reserve) Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment 4th
10th (Reserve) Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment 5th
2nd Reserve Brigade 13th (Reserve) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment 6th
9th (Reserve) Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment 7th
11th (Reserve) Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry 8th
11th (Reserve) Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment 9th
15th (Reserve) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment 10th
3rd Reserve Brigade 9th (Reserve) Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment 11th
13th (Reserve) Battalion, Sherwood Foresters 12th
4th (Reserve) Battalion, Sherwood Foresters 13th
14th (Reserve) Battalion, Manchester Regiment 14th
13th (Reserve) Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers 15th
4th Reserve Brigade 11th (Reserve) Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment 16th
11th (Reserve) Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment 17th
15th (Reserve) Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps 18th
14th (Reserve) Battalion, Rifle Brigade 19th
15th (Reserve) Battalion, Rifle Brigade 20th
5th Reserve Brigade 11th (Reserve) Battalion, East Surrey Regiment 21st
16th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers 22nd
10th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment 23rd
14th (Reserve) Battalion, Middlesex Regiment 24th
6th Reserve Brigade 10th (Reserve) Battalion, Norfolk Regiment 25th
10th (Reserve) Battalion, Suffolk Regiment 26th
10th (Reserve) Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment 27th
8th (Reserve) Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment 28th
7th Reserve Brigade 9th (Reserve) Battalion, Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) 29th
10th (Reserve) Battalion, East Surrey Regiment 30th
14th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers 31st
15th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers 32nd
8th Reserve Brigade 13th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment 33rd
13th (Reserve) Battalion, Hampshire Regiment 34th
7th (Reserve) Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment 35th
9th (Reserve) Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry 36th
9th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment 37th
9th Reserve Brigade 11th (Reserve) Battalion, Black Watch 38th
10th (Reserve) Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders 39th
8th (Reserve) Battalion, Cameron Highlanders 40th
13th (Reserve) Battalion, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders 41st
11th (Reserve) Battalion, Gordon Highlanders 42nd
10th Reserve Brigade 10th (Reserve) Battalion, King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) 43rd
11th (Reserve) Battalion, Devonshire Regiment 44th
9th (Reserve) Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry 45th
13th (Reserve) Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment 46th
10th (Reserve) Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment 47th
11th Reserve Brigade 9th (Reserve) Battalion, Shropshire Light Infantry 48th
15th (Reserve) Battalion, King's (Liverpool) Regiment 49th
14th (Reserve) Battalion, Cheshire Regiment 50th
10th (Reserve) Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment 51st
12th Reserve Brigade 13th (Reserve) Battalion, Highland Light Infantry 52nd
9th (Reserve) Battalion, King's Own Scottish Borderers 53rd
18th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Scots 54th
9th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers 55th
12th (Reserve) Battalion, Scottish Rifles 56th
13th Reserve Brigade 9th (Reserve) Battalion, South Wales Borderers 57th
12th (Reserve) Battalion, Welsh Regiment 58th
13th (Reserve) Battalion, South Wales Borderers 59th
20th (Reserve) Battalion (3rd Rhondda), Welsh Regiment 60th
21st (Reserve) Battalion, Welsh Regiment 61st
14th Reserve Brigade 12th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers 62nd
18th and 20th (Reserve) Battalions, Royal Welsh Fusiliers 63rd
21st and 22nd (Reserve) Battalions, Royal Welsh Fusiliers 64th
14th (Reserve) Battalion, South Wales Borderers 65th
22nd (Reserve) Battalion, the Welsh Regiment 66th
15th Reserve Brigade 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
5th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers
4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers
16th Reserve Brigade 21st (Reserve) Battalion, King's (Liverpool Regiment) 67th
22nd (Reserve) Battalion, the King's (Liverpool Regiment) 68th
25th (Reserve) Battalion, Manchester Regiment 69th
26th (Reserve) Battalion, Manchester Regiment 70th
27th (Reserve) Battalion, the Manchester Regiment 71st
17th Reserve Brigade 21st (Reserve) Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers 72nd
22nd (Reserve) Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers 73rd
17th (Reserve) Battalion, Cheshire Regiment 74th
12th (Reserve) Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment 75th
12th (Reserve) Battalion, King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) 76th
18th Reserve Brigade 18th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Scots 77th
19th (Reserve) Battalion, Highland Light Infantry 78th
20th (Reserve) Battalion, Highland Light Infantry 79th
19th Reserve Brigade 32nd (Reserve) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers 80th
14th (Reserve) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment 81st
11th (Reserve) Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment 82nd
12th (Reserve) Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment 83rd
20th Reserve Brigade 29th (Reserve) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers re-designated "A" Battalion, MGC 84th
30th (Reserve) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers re-designated "B" Battalion, MGC 85th
31st (Reserve) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers re-designated "C" Battalion, MGC 86th
21st (Reserve) Battalion, Durham Light Infantry re-designated "D" Battalion, MGC 87th
21st Reserve Brigade 19th (Reserve) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment 88th
20th (Reserve) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment 89th
14th (Reserve) Battalion (Hull), East Yorkshire Regiment 90th
15th (Reserve) Battalions, York & Lancaster Regiment and East Yorkshire Regiment 91st
22nd Reserve Brigade 17th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment 92nd
15th (Reserve) Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment 93rd
16th (Reserve) Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment 94th
11th (Reserve) Battalion, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry 95th
16th (Reserve) Battalion, (Portsmouth), Hampshire Regiment 96th
23rd Reserve Brigade 12th (Reserve) Battalion, Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey) 97th
14th (Reserve) Battalion, Essex Regiment 98th
12th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal West Kents 99th
24th (Reserve) Battalion, Middlesex Regiment 100th
27th (Reserve) Battalion, Middlesex Regiment 101st
28th (Reserve) Battalion, Middlesex Regiment 102nd
24th Reserve Brigade 27th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers 103rd
28th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers 104th
29th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers 105th
30th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers 106th
31st (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers 107th
26th Reserve Brigade 13th (Reserve) Battalion (Cambridgeshire), Suffolk Regiment 108th
19th (Reserve) Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps 109th
22nd (Reserve) Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps 110th
23rd (Reserve) Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps 111th
17th (Reserve) Battalion, Rifle Brigade 112th
28th Reserve Brigade "E" Battalion, MGC 113th
"F" Battalion, MGC 114th
"G" Battalion, MGC 115th
"H" Battalion, MGC 116th

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Chandler, (2001) p. 11
  2. ^ "Battle of the Somme". New Zealand History online. Retrieved 2009-06-06. 
  3. ^ "The Pals Battalions in World War One". BBC History. Retrieved 2009-06-06. 
  4. ^ a b Tucker & Roberts (2005), p. 504
  5. ^ Strachen, Hugh Professor. "Britain and World War One, 1901–1918". BBC History. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  6. ^ Simkin, John. "Pacifism". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  7. ^ a b c d Baker, Chris. "Training Reserve Battalions". The Long Long Trail. Archived from the original on 3 July 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  8. ^ Ward p331-2
  9. ^ Baker, Chris. "Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers". The Long Long Trail. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  10. ^ Baker, Chris. "Royal Irish Rifles". The Long Long Trail. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  11. ^ Baker, Chris. "Royal Irish Fusiliers". The Long Long Trail. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Chandler, Malcolm (2001). The Home Front, 1914–18. Heinemann. ISBN 0-435-32729-1.
  • Tucker, Spencer; Roberts, Priscilla Mary (2005). World War I: encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1-85109-420-2.
  • Ward, S G P (1962) Faithful: The Storey of the Durham Light Infantry. Naval and Military Press. ISBN 9781845741471