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LMS Route: Evesham to Birmingham

Redditch Station: mrred1396

A train of army personnel wait to depart from Redditch station in 1914 as their family and friends look on

A train of army personnel wait to depart from Redditch station in 1914 as their family and friends look on. Bob Essery writes that the photograph was inscribed 'International War 1914, Redditch'. In all probability the scene is showing the departure of men from the Territorial Force, originally formed by the Secretary of State for War, Richard Burdon Haldane, following the enactment of the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 which combined and re-organised the old Volunteer Force with the Yeomanry. As part of the same process, remaining units of militia were converted to the Special Reserve. The TF was formed on 1 April 1908 and contained fourteen infantry divisions, and fourteen mounted yeomanry brigades. It had an overall strength of approximately 269,000. The individual units that made up each division or brigade were administered by County Associations, with the county's Lord Lieutenant as president. The other members of the association consisted of military members (chosen from the commanding officers of the units), representative members (nominated by the county councils and county boroughs in the lieutenancy county) and co-opted members (often retired military officers). Associations took over any property vested in the volunteers or yeomanry under their administration. Each regiment or battalion had a regular army officer attached as full-time adjutant.

Interestingly, the use of the word territorial signified that the volunteers who served with the force were under no obligation to serve overseas, in 1910, when asked to nominate for Imperial Service overseas in the event of mobilisation, less than ten per cent of the Force chose to do so. In August 1914, after the outbreak of the First World War, territorial units were given the option of serving in France and, by 25th August, in excess of seventy battalions had volunteered. This question over the availability of territorial divisions for overseas service was one of Lord Kitchener's motivations for raising the New Army separately. Territorial formations initially saw service in Egypt and India and other Empire garrisons such as Gibraltar, thereby releasing regular units for service in France and enabling the formation of an additional five regular army divisions (for a total of eleven) by early 1915. Several reserve units were also deployed with regular formations and the first territorial unit to see action on the Western Front was the Glasgow Territorial Signallers Group, Royal Engineers at the First Battle of Ypres on 11th October 1914. The first fully Territorial division to join the fighting on the Western Front was the 46th Division in March 1915, with divisions later serving in Gallipoli and elsewhere. As the war progressed, and casualties mounted, the distinctive character of territorial units was diluted by the inclusion of conscript and New Army drafts. Following the Armistice all units of the territorial Force were gradually disbanded.