King's Own Royal Regiment Museum
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First World War
Second World War
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Regimental History - 20th Century
First World War 1914-1918
At the outbreak of the war in August 1914 the King's Own was made up of two Regular and two Territorial Battalions as well as a Special Reserve Battalion. By the end of the war it had expanded to 17 battalions, ten of which had seen active service. During the war over 44,000 men served with the Regiment, of whom nearly 7,000 died. Many more were injured and some died of their wounds after the war.
The 1st Battalion was mobilised on 4th August 1914 in Dover, where it was stationed. On the 23rd August the Battalion arrived in France on board the SS Saturnia and spent the rest of war on the Western Front. The 2nd Battalion was in India when war broke out. It was recalled to England and from January to November 1915 served on the Western Front. It was then moved to Salonika in Greece.
More on Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Dykes, Commanding 1st Battalion, Aug 1914.
Both the 4th Battalion and 5th Battalion were mobilised in August and a large proportion of the officers and men volunteered for overseas service. They were used on home defence before leaving for the Western Front - the 5th Battalion in February 1915 and the 4th Battalion in May 1915. It was not until 1916 that the 55th (West Lancashire) Division was re-formed in France and these two battalions once again served side by side.
1st/5th Battalion and the Didcot Connection - North Berkshire Herald – Sunday 22nd May, 1915 - Didcot Man Writes Home From Front.
The Territorials were able to raise second and third line battalions in 1914 and 1915. On doing so the two original battalions were re-designated the 1/4th and 1/5th Battalions (TF - Territorial Force). Not all of the new second and third line units went overseas. Only the 2nd/5th Battalion - as part of the 170th Brigade of the 57th Division (TF) - went to the Western Front, on 5th February 1917.
The 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion was mobilised in August 1914. During the war it processed thousands of trained men for Regular and Service Battalions overseas, including men returning from convalescence. The 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Battalions were raised from volunteers in 1914. These Battalions served on the Western Front, Eastern Europe and Iraq. The 11th Battalion was the last to be raised in June 1915. This was a 'Bantam Battalion' so-called because it accepted men below the official height requirement. It took many miners from the central Lancashire coal field. They served in France and Flanders from June 1916 to 1918.
The First World War Battalion War Diaries of the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment are now available from the museum on CD-Rom. Find out more about the War Diaries.
First World War History by Battalion:
Seven First World War Trench Maps are available as reproductions from the museum shop. They include two covering the Macedonia front.
More information on the Regiment's activities in the First World War can be found on the 'Remember' website.
Find out more:
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