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#1 Lachlan

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 08:29 AM

As I understand it, the Regular Reserve (and Extra Reserve) was created mainly to bring the BEF battalions up to full war-strength on mobilisation and to provide war-further replacements as necessary. Most regiments included the 3rd Battalion as their reserve, with some regiments having an additional 4th Battalion.

I have puzzled over a couple of questions however.

To take an example, the Royal Scots had a 3rd Regular Reserve battalion, its 4th Battalion being the first of its TF battalions. Many other regiments follow the same pattern. Yet the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders had a 3rd Regular Reserve battalion and a 4th Extra Reserve battalion, its first TF battalion being the 5th.

I'm not aware of the other Scottish regiments having a 4th Extra Reserve battalion. Why were the Argylls singled out for this ?

Also, could members confirm if the way that the Regular Reserve worked was "geographically" ? eg if say in 1904 a man from Abergavenny had decided to join the Royal Fusilers regulars, completed his regular service and then settled in Paisley. Would his continuing obligation in the Regular Reserve be in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (within whose regimental boundaries Paisley, Renfrewshire falls) or the Royal Fusiliers or could he choose ? Further, if he moved from Paisley to say Carlisle, would his obilgation change to the border Regiment ?

#2 Graham Stewart

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 09:20 AM

Just have to point out to you that the "Regular Reserve" is a totally different thing to what you think it is. What you are referring to as "Regular Reserve" are those ex-regulars who have completed their term of service, in the case of the infantry 7yrs with the Colours, who go on to serve 5yrs with the Reserve. There was no commitment for them to join the "Special Reserve", which was formerly the "Militia" prior to 1908. This is what makes up your "Reserve" & "Extra Reserve" Battalions and was purely voluntary, although some ex-regulars did join.

Have you read the Long, Long Trail section of this Forum which deals with the structure of the Army & it's organisation? If not you'll find it a great help as it is quiet confusing at times.

#3 PPCLI

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 10:18 AM

The Highland Light Infantry and the Scottish Rifles also had 4th Extra Reserve battalions. My suggestion would be that all three were recruited from the more heavily populated central area of the country, so could justify the establishment of an additional reserve battalion.

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#4 Lachlan

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 10:36 AM

Thanks Graham

I've just had a look at the LLT section on Reserves and though I understand the concept, I'm still a but confused by the practical use of these reserves.

As I now understand it, ex-Regulars didn't have to join the Regular Reserve in peacetime, but could be called up without general mobilisation. Special Reserve members (who didn't have to be ex-regulars) could not be called up outside of general mobilisation.

So, my questions are now; upon general mobilisation :-

a) Did both the Regular reserve and Special Reserve feed into a regiment's 3rd (and 4th) Battalion on general mobilisation ?
b ) Was the 3rd (and 4th as appropiate) Battalion the sole means of bringing a home-based regular battalion up to war strength upon general mobilisation ?
c) Was the manpower of a 3rd Battalion sourced wholly or substantially from within its own regimental recruitment area ?

PPCLI - thanks I went back to LLT regiments and noticed that too. As you say, the West of Scotland was more heavily populated than the rest of the country and the Argylls, whose main manpower area was located in the industrial Lowlands, could further rely on a good ongoing input of Weegies.

#5 ulsterlad2

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 03:38 PM

As I now understand it, ex-Regulars didn't have to join the Regular Reserve in peacetime, but could be called up without general mobilisation. Special Reserve members (who didn't have to be ex-regulars) could not be called up outside of general mobilisation.

I always thought that ex-regulars doing their 5 years with the reserve did so because that was part of the deal: 7 with the colours, 5 in the reserve. It never occured to me that the 5 years was something they didn't have to do. However, for those that did:

Army Reserve: Only those men in Section A of the Army Reserve could be called up in a situation that didn't need general mobilisation. Men in Section B & D Reserve could only be called upon in the event of general mobilisation.

Special Reseve: As you say, only during general mobilisation.

a) Did both the Regular reserve and Special Reserve feed into a regiment's 3rd (and 4th) Battalion on general mobilisation ?

My understanding is that they went straight to the regular battalions to bring those up to strength before any surplus was posted to the SR battalions. (From LLT - This led to the 3rd Bns expanding very quickly.) As an example John Lucy tells of the reserves coming in to make up the Bns numbers when the 2nd R.I.R was still in England. Perhaps the RIR can also be used as an example of the expansion of 3rd Bns numbers. In 1914 the RIR SR Bns 3rd,4th,5th provided 1631 men as reinforcements. 67% came via the 3rd Bn.

#6 Lachlan

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 03:18 AM

Thanks for that information all. :)

#7 Graham Stewart

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 06:18 AM

For further reading on the Special Reserve see this link to Army Service numbers;-
http://armyservicenu...ve-in-1908.html

#8 Graham Stewart

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 06:34 AM

[/b]I always thought that ex-regulars doing their 5 years with the reserve did so because that was part of the deal: 7 with the colours, 5 in the reserve. It never occured to me that the 5 years was something they didn't have to do. However, for those that did:
[/quote]

In general it was impractical for Regular Reservists to join the Special Reserve, because these men returned to place of residence, which in the case of the Army during this period of time was anywhere in the UK. Over 50% of the Northumberland Fusiliers, were from the Home Counties and therefore would have been unable to have access to the SR. Some migrated to the Empire countries, again making it impossible to be part of the SR.

#9 ulsterlad2

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 01:50 PM

In general it was impractical for Regular Reservists to join the Special Reserve, because these men returned to place of residence, which in the case of the Army during this period of time was anywhere in the UK. Over 50% of the Northumberland Fusiliers, were from the Home Counties and therefore would have been unable to have access to the SR. Some migrated to the Empire countries, again making it impossible to be part of the SR.

Hi Graham
Apologies, the layout of my reply above made it look like I thought Regular Reservists had a straight choice of either Army or Special Reserve.

With regard to the Army Reserve. Were men obliged to do their 5 years after being with the Colours or was it optional for them?

#10 Graham Stewart

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 06:40 AM

With regard to the Army Reserve. Were men obliged to do their 5 years after being with the Colours or was it optional for them?

In the case of the Regular Reserve, you were Discharged via your Depot virtually on the same day that you enlisted seven years previously. You immediately became a 5yr Reservist on complition of all documentation and once through the gate "a free man". This didn't apply to the Guards or Corps who were on different terms of service. You didn't have a choice in the matter, you had signed a contract on joining.

The same also applied if you did not complete your term of Colour service and "bought yourself out". You would pay your sum of money and then it would be determined how long you would serve on the Reserve to complete your 12yrs . Again you were a free man, once released to Discharge.

Those who decided to either join the Special Reserve or Territorials, while a Regular Reservist, had to declare that they were on the Reserve and await for a complete Discharge, i.e. release from their final commitment, from their Depot. Once that was complete you could enlist into the SR or TF, taking a new regimental number belonging to the unit you were joining.

Once your 12yrs(7 & 5) were completed you would recieve a "final discharge", with no further commitment to any form of Reserve. Also those that went onto serve over this period of time(12yrs) and made the Army a career, would be given a complete Discharge, with no commitment to any Reserve.

#11 ulsterlad2

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 04:26 PM

Hi Graham. Thanks very much for your detailed response. It is very helpful.

#12 Graham Stewart

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 09:07 AM

So, my questions are now; upon general mobilisation :-

a) Did both the Regular reserve and Special Reserve feed into a regiment's 3rd (and 4th) Battalion on general mobilisation ?
b ) Was the 3rd (and 4th as appropiate) Battalion the sole means of bringing a home-based regular battalion up to war strength upon general mobilisation ?
c) Was the manpower of a 3rd Battalion sourced wholly or substantially from within its own regimental recruitment area ?


a)The Special Reserve were the regiments 3rd(Reserve) & 4th(Extra Reserve)Bns and were mobilised into these units. Regular Reservists rejoined at the Depot and those found surplus at the Depot on rejoining would be fed into the 3rd(Res) & 4th(Extra Res) for re-training & re-equipping. Surplus meaning those being unfit, too old, too young etc.
b)The Regiments own Regular Reserve was the first choice followed by those of the Regiments 3rd(Res) & 4th(Extra Res), who were fit, trained and had completed the musketry course.
c)No - the regimental recruiting area even before the war extended well outside of the Regimental District. On the outbreak of the War the Depot was also the main source of the initial "Kitcheners Army" recruits coming forward, these in the main were local to the area changing the concept of recruitment in the Army. The Depot's were then forming Service Battalions from these recruits and moving them on with a small cadre of Regulars/Reservists, who would assist in training them.

There was a booklet called "Regulations for Mobilisation", which detailed everything concerning mobilisation on the outbreak of War. I have a copy for 1912, but it was amended in 1914. However it didn't take into account the scale of what was to come in August 1914 and so everything had to virtually re-written.

The 3rd(Res) & 4th(Extra Res)Bns continued to function as written in becoming a training and drafting unit's for the 1st & 2nd Bn's, but they would also send reinforcing drafts to other units, when required - e.g. 3rd DLI supplied a load of reinforcements to the NF.

#13 GRUMPY

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 07:50 PM

The historical perpective is that at the time of the South African "Boer" War 1899-02, the infantry were mostly on Terms of Engagement of 7 years with colours, 5 on the First Class Army Reserve. A man was on half pay for those 5 years and was required to drop everything and run if Mobilization was announced. He was not allowed to serve at sea, emigrate, or join any other force of the Crown. There was no other reliable source of enhancement in war, and the SA war exposed this cruelly. The Militia and the Volunteer Force had no obligation except in Home defence. Nevertheless many such units eventually contributed whole companies of men who became short-term regulars and served within a regular battalion of their regiment.

As part of massive army reform in the ensuing years, a Special Reserve was formed out of the wreck of the Militias ..... six months training and full overseas obligation. Similarly the VF became the TF and members were encouraged to take the Imperial Service commitment which was not quite so useful as a man could not be forced to serve outside his battalion.

When war was declared the units at Home needed huge augmentation, firstly from those on 7&5 First Class [and indeed some other mixes of obligation such as Foot Guards 3 & 9] and secondly the Special Reservists. Many units went to France with 300+ Reservists [both types] out of 1000 men. The TF men were Never intended to serve with the regular battalions but stirring and mixing occurred after mid war and they could be found in 1st and 2nd battalions of Line Infantry.

Special Reserve battalions were either the 3rd, if their regiment had 2 regular units, or the 5th if the regulars had 4. Extra [Special] Reserve battalions were numbered 4 or 6 if they existed.

SR battalions were usually collocated at the Depot. In war they were to:
receive SR men reporting
recruit for the SR [this became unecessary quite soon]
absorb all the sick sorry underage and not fully trained men from the regular battalions
absorb returning wounded and returning sick
man coast defences if required

Some grew to enormous size over double and some had two RSMs and two RQMS appointed to cope.

#14 Graham Stewart

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 06:41 AM

Have amended this answer as I was in a hurry and didn't read it properly.

c) Was the manpower of a 3rd Battalion sourced wholly or substantially from within its own regimental recruitment area ?

c)Yes in the case of the Special Reserve and the 3rd(Res) & 4th(Extra Res)Bn's; No in the case of your Regulars where the regimental recruiting area even before the war extended well outside of the Regimental District.
On the outbreak of the War the Depot was also the main source of the initial "Kitcheners Army" recruits coming forward, these in the main were local to the area changing the concept of recruitment in the Army. The Depot's were then forming Service Battalions from these recruits and moving them on with a small cadre of Regulars/Reservists, who would assist in training them.