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First World War

3rd Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment

August 1914 Mobilised in Lancaster
  Moved to Saltash, Devon and then to Sunderland
Spring 1915 Training unit based at Stamford Heights, Plymouth Sound
1917 Dovercourt, Harwich.
26 July 1919 3rd Battalion absorbed into the 1st Battalion

Photographs: 3rd Battalion, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment

bullet3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment

The Depot  (3rd Battalion, King's Own) 1914-1920
From an article first published in The Lion and The Rose, 1928.

In August 1914 the fog of war descended over a great part of the World, with the result that men saw little beyond their immediate surroundings.

All activities not directly concerned with the winning of the war ceased and among these was the production of the Regimental Magazine. The Lion and The Rose had kept all ranks in touch with the home town of the Regiment. From 1914 to 1921 when the paper appeared again only the few people stated at the Depot knew what went on there. Since the connection of the King’s Own with Lancaster dates from 1873, it seems a big pity that there should by this gap in the records. Depot orders for these years would have given most of the information had they been preserve. But in accordance with the regulation they have been long since destroyed and an attempt, has, therefore, been made to get the information form those who served at the Depot, and from the people of the town and neighbourhood who worked so hard and unceasingly for our benefit. The last copy of The Lion and the Rose was April 1914.

On 18th July 1908 the Depot of the King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) had ceased to exist as such. On the following day, Bowerham Barracks, Lancaster, became the headquarters of the 3rd Battalion (Special Reserve) The King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment). The personnel at the barracks formed the cadre of the 3rd Battalion, and was organised into a Headquarters and two companies. In 1914 the Headquarters consisted of Major H B Creagh-Osborne, Commanding, Captain H K Clough, Adjutant, Major C W Jepson, Quartermaster, Captain A H B Foster, President of the Regimental Institute, Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) T G Creedon, Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant (RQMS) A W Morrell and Orderly Room Quartermaster Sergeant (ORQMS) W Shepherd.

The Companies were “G” Company under Captain C L Hodgson, with Lieutenant R M Phelips as Subaltern, consisting of permanent staff, dutymen, and recruits under training of “A”, “B”, “C”, “D” Companies. “H” Company under Captain T R Scott, with Lieutenant A G G Morris as Subaltern, consisting of permanent staff and dutymen being equally divided between them, and that the six Colour Sergeants of the remaining companies of the 3rd Battalion were available as recruit instructors. No Musketry was fired at the Depot, and there were no standard squads, recruits dribbling in in a haphazard manner.

On Mobilization on 4th August 1914, Captain C L Hodgson at once went to Dover and took over command of the details of the 1st Battalion.


The first three days of Mobilization were occupied in clothing and equipping regular reservists who were despatched to join the Regular Battalions as under:


1st day            130


2nd day         about 440


3rd day         about 300


Total             about 870

On 7th August, the 4th day of mobilization, the 3rd Battalion was mobilised and left Lancaster that night for its war station at Saltash in Cornwall. It consisted of all recruits from the Depot and about 600 regular reservists. Throughout the period of mobilization, in addition to sending Regular Reservists to the 1st Battalion and Mobilizing the 3rd Battalion, recruiting was carried on. All recruits attested by mid-day of 7th August, proceeded to Saltash with the 3rd Battalion which was well over 1,200 strong.

The big rush of recruits began at once, and orders were issued for the formation of the 6th, 7th, and 8th Service Battalions. These Battalions were attached to the Depot whilst forming. The available accommodation was quite inadequate and Bowerham School had to be taken over for some weeks, whilst those who had celebrated their enlistment more enthusiastically than was wise were accommodated in the ATA.

The Battalions, as soon as they were formed, left Lancaster for their war stations. Within a week of the outbreak of war about 1,800 men had enlisted, and the clothing of this large number presented great difficulties. The officers went around the big houses of the district asking for boots and clothes and received a very generous response. The very large number of recruits who had to be medically examined entailed a great strain on the medical officer, the work of examination being in addition to his ordinary duties of attending to the sick of whom there were a large number.

On Mobilization, only two officers of the Reserve, had been ordered to report to the Depot, Colonel W H Duffin and Major J A Paton. These officers arrived at the Depot on 4th August. Three days later Captain T D Jackson, DSO, MVO, Lieutenant B L Birley and Lieutenant G Blackburn, who were surplus to requirements of the 1st Battalion on Mobilization, also arrived. After the departure of the 3rd Battalion, the Depot was treated as one administrative unit with Colonel W H Duffin in Command and Major J A Paton combining the duties of 2nd in Command and Adjutant, whilst the duties of the Quartermaster were carried out be Lieutenant R A Cox, late Royal Artillery.

Kitchener's Appeal

Meanwhile recruits were pouring in. Lord Kitchener’s appeal for 100,000 men was broadcast throughout the Country and Captain Jackson set about organising them into a Battalion known as K1.

This Battalion began to form on the 9th August. The next day, Captain A H B Foster and Lieutenant R M Phelips rejoined from Saltash to assist in forming Service Battalions.

As soon as K1 was completed, K2 began to form, and on the 20th August these two Battalions moved to Tidworth where on the 4th September they were designated the 6th Service Battalion, under Major H P Creag-Osborne (who had arrived from Saltash) and the 7th Service Battalion under the 7th Service Battalion under Captain T D Jackson.

About the middle of September, orders were received at Lancaster to form the 8th Service Battalion, which was completed and moved to Codford about the 11th October.

After the departure of the 3rd Battalion, Bowerham Barracks, became once more the Depot of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, and in addition the Headquarters of the 4th Regimental District Recruiting Area. By November, the first great rush of recruits was over, and with the despatch of the three Service Battalions the Depot settled down to its work of Recruiting, clothing and despatching men to the Battalions at home and acting as a clearing house for men returned from the war sick and wounded.

On the 1st August 1915, orders were received for the formation of the 11th Battalion, and about the end of September it left for Aldershot.

Of the staff at the Depot, only the Quartermaster remained unchanged for the duration of the War.

The Western Command remount office was established at the Depot before the war, and was under the command of Major Gorring. This like many other things during the War, grew so large that new quarters had to be found and a depot was established in the town. At the end of the war this depot was closed down and the Remount Office was transferred to Workington in May 1920.

Women's Army Auxiliary Corps

In 1918, when women began to take the place of men in army work at home, 16 members of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps were employed at the Depot, in the Officers’ Mess and Cook-house. They were accommodated in the Married Quarters, staying on till November ,1919, by which time demobilization was nearly complete.

Agricultural Company

Early in 1916, the 416th Agricultural Company had its Headquarters at Bowerham Barracks. The Commanding Officer was Major L Tamworth, Montgomeryshire Yeomanry, and Lieutenant W L Davies was the Subaltern.

The Company consisted of men unfit to serve overseas who were hired out to the neighbouring farmers, by whom they were taught farming, the Military Authorities recovering weekly payments for their services. About 1,500 men were thus placed on the land between February 1916 and the end of the war.

Major A F Bundock (late Prince of Wales Volunteers) arrived at the Depot on the 5th August 1914, for recruiting duties, under the Officer Commanding, Depot, and was at once submerged under the tremendous rush of recruits which has been already described. He took over the Recruiting Office in Barracks which consisted of one small room and was given one NCO to assist him. But at the end of a week even this helper was taken from him for work in the Depot, and after that for some time Major Bundock was dependent for help in coping with the work on civilian clerks lent him by firms in the town free of cost.

Within a short time the work had expanded so much that officers had to be opened at Blackpool, Barrow, Ulverston, Morecambe, Garstang, Fleetwood, Dalton, and Millom. These offices had to be equipped with Staffs, Stationery, etc. There was a great shortage of Attestation Papers and recruiting regulations and supplies from the Stationery Department were totally inadequate. Major Bundock on his own initiation had £50 worth of attestation papers printed locally. Office hours during this period were from 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. next morning and the fact that after two and a half years of it, Major Bundock broke down in health is not at all surprising. The surprising thing is that he was able to stand it so long.

By the following summer, the recruiting staff had increased from one officer and one NCO to 20 recruiting officers and between 200 and 300 clerks, and in 1916, when the Derby Scheme for Registration under the group system came in, another large office was opened in Lancaster with a staff of about 50.

Major Bundock handed over his duties on the 12th September 1917 and was relieved by Major Sir John Sinclair, Bart, DSO, Major 2nd Reserve Battalion, Liverpool Regiment, who remained in charge until the end of the War.

At the beginning of 1918, the Officer Commanding, Depot, ceased to be responsible for this work which for the last year came directly under the Ministry of Recruiting.

Royal Army Medical Corps

Major Holmes, Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC), was medical officer in charge of the Depot when war broke out. At first, in addition to looking after the health of the men and the charge of the hospital, he had to take on the medical examinations of recruits, but not long afterwards, Colonel Sylvester took over this last duty, assisted by Major Holmes, when this officer could spare time from his other work. The Gymnasium was for the time being used as his office.

Early in 1914, Major Holmes called on the 24th West Lancashire Voluntary Aid Detachment for assistance in the Hospital. This Detachment was commanded by Miss F A M Garnett, of Quernmore, and the personnel consisted of ladies from the town of Lancaster, and the neighbouring country. During the whole period of the war, this detachment was responsible for the nursing at the Depot, and did not give up their work until May 1919. They nursed 1,962 in-patients, dressed 9,012 out patients, and attended 12,461 massage cases.

The Hospital at the Depot was known as the Lancaster Military Hospital, and is the only Military Hospital for the surrounding 1,000 square miles, the extant of its area being from Shap to Garstang, Bentham to Grange over Sands, Grasmere to Kirkby Stephen. All men falling sick on leave within these bounds had to report to Lancaster, and if they could be moved were brought in there to be nursed. This threw very heavy work on the Detachment, especially during the influenza epidemic of 1918.

On 5th April 1916, Lieutenant Colonel C J Holmes, RAMC, died. Captain Main, RAMC, who had been 2nd in Command to him for eight months became Medical Officer in charge and continued as such till the end of the war.

The Regiment owes a heavy debt of gratitude to the ladies who gave their whole time to nursing at the hospital throughout the war, and acknowledgement should also be made here of generous financial help which meant that the running of the hospital was never hampered by want of funds. The Lancaster and District Laundry did washing free of charge, and the Boys’ Scout Association and the YMCA contributed money for the annual Christmas Party given to the patients.

Young Men's Christian Association

The YMCA did voluntary work from the beginning. In 1914, half a dozen ladies started a tent at the bottom of the Barracks Field. There was no money, one lady printed a circular, another paid for stamps, an appeal was sent out asking for small sums and a ready response was received. For the opening night a few necessary things were bought, the ladies made cakes etc., and so the work began. The old Militia Hut in the Barracks Field was bought by the YMCA and formally opened I June 1915, and those of the original helpers who cared to continue were appointed a Committee. The Committee carried on until the hut was closed down in 1926. The money to buy the hut was found by the Divisional Committee of the YMCA in Manchester, and all costs of the working of the hut was borne by them, and the takings for refreshments was paid into their account. The money received by the ladies was used for local work and for making the Hut comfortable and clean in appearance. Manchester carried on until October, 1919, when the Committee took over entire responsibility for the Hut. Their accounts were kept entirely separate from the YMCA and it speaks much for their good work that there was a balance of £100 when the Hut was given up in 1926. The balance was paid to the fund for providing a Permanent YMCA Building on Salisbury Plain, and was used to furnish a rest room there. Sunday was a special day ain the Hut when the ladies provided a “bit of home” for the men. Tea was free and all refreshments home made, a feature much appreciated by those fortunate enough to partake of them. There was seating for 100 and the attendance ranged from 60 to 120. After tea a concert was given either from amongst the men themselves or by concert parties from the town. There were always one male and two female helpers on duty and of course at times many more. The Boy Scouts also greatly assisted, two being on duty practically all the time. The ladies remember with pleasure how greatly they were assisted by the men themselves, some of whom were in regular attendance at the Hut, and all ready to be called on and give a hand. The conduct of the men was all that could be desired, one lady going so far as to say “I was there three nights a week and every Sunday, and never heard but one foul word and that I was not meant to hear.”

Besides Sundays, other special occasions were Christmas Day, Waterloo Day, St. George’s Day, etc. The hut opened on week day from 6 pm to 9.30 pm, and on Sundays from 2 pm to 9.30 pm.

During the whole time the Hut was open, free notepaper was provided. The provision of free stationery to all the YMCA Huts involved an expenditure from the National Funds of over £60,000 a year. Some idea of the work of the Hut at Bowerham Barracks may be gleaned from the record of 1916:-


9,922 letters and post cards posted in the Hut


10,427 postage stamps sold


20,000 pieces of stationery given away


1,700 billiard matches played


3,500 soldiers entertained


46,649 refreshment sales

Prisoner of War Care Committee

In the meantime a Committee had been set up in Lancaster to provide comforts for the 5th Battalion when it was overseas. This Committee, of which the Mayor was Chairman, in 1916 also undertook the work of despatching parcels to the prisoners of war of the Regiment.

Between December 1916 and November 1918 over £46,000 was raised by the Committee of which £42,000 was spent on the work. The £4,000 which was not expended was after the war, allocated as follows:-


£2,500 for five cottages in the Westfield Memorial Village


£1,000 to provide a bed in the Royal Lancaster Infirmary


£250 to the Lord Robert’s Workshops


£250 to the King’s Own Memorial Chapel.

The total number of parcels of food sent from Lancaster to prisoners was 52,929 to Germany, 11,159 to Bulgaria. In addition, 7,913 parcels of clothing were sent to our men in Germany and Bulgaria.

It should be mentioned that the Blackpool Care Committee sent parcels to King’s Own prisoners who came from Blackpool and the neighbourhood, thus relieving the Central Committee or responsibility for 100 men.

Major R N Dobson was in Command of the Depot at the end of the war, and remained there until the Spring on 1921, when Major C W Grover took over from him.

During the period of demobilization there was a constant stream of officers and men passing through the Depot, none of whom stayed for any length of time. They reported, were granted leave, and returned for a short period of duty before being posted to the Battalions or going back to civil life.

The Cadre of the 2nd Battalion arrived at the Depot in February 1919, before going to Tidworth where the battalion was reconstituted.

The Cadre of the 1st Battalion arrived in June, 1919 and was reconstituted in Dublin.

The Cadre of the 6th Battalion arrived in October, 1919, and was dispersed when the Battalion ceased to exist.


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