First World War
Second World War
Actions & Movements
First World War
King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment
Mobilised in Lancaster
Moved to Saltash, Devon and then to Sunderland
Training unit based at Stamford Heights, Plymouth
26 July 1919
3rd Battalion absorbed into the 1st Battalion
3rd 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:
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
£1,000 to provide a bed in the Royal Lancaster
£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
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
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.