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 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

141 Days: The Battle of the Somme

1914-15 The Story So Far

On the outbreak of the First World War, in August 1914 the 1st Battalion of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment was based in Dover. They were quickly mobilised and arrived in France on 23rd August, and the battalion was nearly wiped out in a Battle at Le Cateau, during the ‘Retreat from Mons,’ on 26th August. This was the worst day of the war for the 1st Battalion. The 2nd Battalion was in India and was recalled home. It spent most of 1915 on the Western Front, until they were moved to Salonika for the campaign against Bulgaria.

The 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion moved from the Regimental Depot at Bowerham Barracks, Lancaster, to the South West of England. They continued to train soldiers and provide drafts of men to other battalions on active service. The 4th and 5th (Territorial Force) Battalions were both mobilised and the men volunteered for service overseas. The re-designated 1st/5th Battalion went to the Western Front on St. Valentine’s Day 1915 and were followed by the 1st/4th Battalion in the May. The 1st/5th Battalion was involved in some major actions in the second Battle of Ypres in April and May 1915.

Shelling Menin Road, near Ypres, Belgium, 1915.  Private Carr is sat in the trench, you can see the 'T 5 King's Own' brass shoulder title in the bottom right hand corner.
Accession Number: KO0784/047 

As a result of Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War’s public appeal for new recruits, the King’s Own gained four new battalions, the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th. The 6th Battalion was sent to Gallipoli in 1915 and, by 1916, was in Mesopotamia (Iraq). The 7th, 8th and 9th Battalions all arrived on the Western Front in 1915 but, within a few weeks, the 9th Battalion had been moved to Salonika.

The 8th Battalion on parade, 1914, many are still wearing civilian clothing for lack of uniform, however all are wearing issued webbing.  The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel A D Thorne is on the horse at the front.
Accession Number KO1553/01 and KO1011/02


Thus 1916 saw the 1st, 1st/4th, 1st/5th, 7th and 8th Battalions of the King’s Own all serving in France and Belgium. The 11th (Bantam) Battalion - which accepted men under the usual height and chest measurements - arrived in France, in June 1916, to relieve other units required at the Battle of the Somme.

Back home in Britain, the 3rd and 10th Battalions continued to train men and provide drafts of men to those battalions on active service.

Next: Training

Supported by the Sir John Fisher Foundation and the Army Museums Ogilby Trust

© Images are copyright, Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum.
 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

Only a proportion of our collections are on display at anyone time.  Certain items are on loan for display in other institutions.  An appointment is required to consult any of our collections which are held in store.

© 2016 Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum