Isle of Man Volunteers

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Isle of Man Volunteers
Active 29 September 1860 – 3 March 1920
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Infantry
Size One Company
Two Companies (World War I)
Peacetime HQ Douglas
Engagements Second Boer War
World War I

The Isle of Man Volunteers was a nominal battalion of the British Army formed during the 1860s and disbanded in 1920. During its existence, the battalion had the distinction of being the only representative of the Isle of Man in the British Army, and the last Volunteer Force unit in the British Army.


Formation and early history[edit]

Amidst rising tensions between the United Kingdom and France, a perceived threat of invasion by the much larger French Army, and a British Army stretched with imperial commitments, the Volunteer Force began to take shape from May 1859 as a citizen army of part-time rifle, artillery and engineer corps.[a]

The Isle of Man's first volunteers appeared on 29 September 1860 when three independent Rifle Volunteer Corps (RVC) were formed: the 1st Isle of Man RVC at Castletown, the 2nd Isle of Man RVC at Douglas, and the 3rd Isle of Man RVC at Ramsey. They were joined by the 4th Isle of Man RVC at Crosby on 24 April 1866. By the end of 1870, all had been disbanded except the 2nd Isle of Man Rifle Volunteer Corps.[1]

The unit was attached to the 15th Lancashire RVC[b] from 1873 for drill and administration purposes and in 1877 to the 64th Lancashire RVC,[c] before returning to the 15th Lancashire RVC in March 1880. As it was the only remaining RVC on the Isle of Man, it was renumbered as the 1st Isle of Man Rifle Volunteer Corps on 19 October 1880. At this time, it consisted of just one company and its HQ was in Douglas.[1]

The Childers Reforms of 1881 saw the Isle of Man Volunteers join The King's (Liverpool Regiment) on 1 July as a volunteer battalion. Notwithstanding this, in 1884 the unit was attached to the 19th Lancashire RVC[d] for administrative purposes. Finally, on 1 March 1884, came the final redesignation as the 7th (Isle of Man) Volunteer Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment), the junior battalion of the regiment.[1]

A detachment of nine men accompanied the 6th King's to South Africa during the Second Boer War.

Evolution of the Territorial Force[edit]

The Territorial Force (TF) was formed on 1 April 1908 following the enactment of the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 (7 Edw.7, c.9) which combined and re-organised the old Volunteer Force, the Honourable Artillery Company and the Yeomanry. However, the terms of the Act did not extend to the Isle of Man. Therefore, the 7th Battalion was the only volunteer battalion that did not move to the TF and it remained as the last volunteer force unit in the British Army.[5]

World War I[edit]

On 4 August 1914, the 7th (Isle of Man) Volunteer Battalion was headquartered at Douglas and attached to the West Lancashire Division.[5] It had a strength of just a single company and it was initially employed on guard duties. No. 2 Company was formed on 29 August 1914 and a third on 22 December 1914. With the formation of the Service Company on 6 March 1915, the remaining men in these three companies were formed into a new company which guarded the prisoner of war camp at Douglas until December 1916 when it was demobilized.[6]

The service company was formed in 1915 and posted to the 16th (Reserve) Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment)[e] at Hoylake in March 1915. In October 1915, the company transferred to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Cheshire Regiment[f] at Birkenhead and became the 1st Manx (Service) Company. On 12 January 1916, the company joined the regular army's 2nd Battalion, Cheshire Regiment in Salonika as A Company.[5] It remained with the 2nd Cheshires for the rest of the war and by the Armistice of Mudros on 30 September 1918 was with 84th Brigade, 28th Division, north of Lake Doiran.[11]

A second service company was formed on 27 November 1915 at Bidston Camp near Birkenhead. It was later broken up to supply drafts for France.[5]

The Isle of Man Volunteers were disbanded on 3 March 1920.[1]

Battle honours[edit]

During its existence, the Isle of Man Volunteers earned just one battle honour:[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Corps in this context meaning a body of troops, rather than a large military formation composed of two or more divisions.
  2. ^ Later designated as the 7th Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment) and later still as 40th Royal Tank Regiment.[2]
  3. ^ Later designated as the 8th (Liverpool Irish) Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment).[3]
  4. ^ Later designated as the 6th (Liverpool Rifles) Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment).[4]
  5. ^ 16th Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment) was formed at Hoylake in December 1914 as a service battalion in the original 35th Division of Kitchener's Fourth New Army.[7] The divisions of the Fourth New Army were broken up on 10 April 1915[8] and 16th King's became a 2nd Reserve battalion[7] to provide replacements for the first three New Armies.
  6. ^ 3rd Battalion, Cheshire Regiment was originally the 1st Royal Cheshire Regiment of Militia[9] transferred to the Special Reserve by the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Isle of Man Volunteers at by T.F.Mills". Archived from the original on 1 January 2007. Retrieved 2006-03-22. 
  2. ^ "7th Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment) and 40th Royal Tank Regiment at by T.F.Mills". Archived from the original on 15 April 2007. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
  3. ^ "The Liverpool Irish at by T.F.Mills". Archived from the original on 11 September 2006. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
  4. ^ "The Liverpool Rifles at by T.F.Mills". Archived from the original on 26 June 2007. Retrieved 2014-05-22. 
  5. ^ a b c d James 1978, p. 51
  6. ^ Sargeaunt 1922, Chapter II
  7. ^ a b James 1978, p. 52
  8. ^ Becke 1945, p. 138
  9. ^ "The Cheshire Regiment at by T.F.Mills". Archived from the original on 4 January 2007. Retrieved 2014-05-22. 
  10. ^ "The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment Militia and Volunteers by Eardley Bryan". Archived from the original on 7 December 2006. Retrieved 2014-05-22. 
  11. ^ James 1978, p. 65


  • Becke, Major A.F. (1945). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 3B. New Army Divisions (30–41) & 63rd (RN) Division. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 1-871167-08-6. 
  • James, Brigadier E.A. (1978). British Regiments 1914–18. London: Samson Books Limited. ISBN 0-906304-03-2. 
  • Sargeaunt, B.E. (1922). The Isle of Man and the Great War. Douglas, Isle of Man: Brown & Sons, Limited. 

External links[edit]