Enlisting

Recruitment

Thanks largely to the publicity which was given to the scheme in the columns of the “Daily Post” the call for recruits was promptly responded to by young men of all grades of society engaged in non-manual occupations, including the sons of a number of leading citizens, as well as articled clerks and young professional men, teachers and shop assistants. To prevent the patriotic enthusiasm from evaporating while waiting for the War Office to set up the official recruiting machinery, the ” Daily Post ” compiled a preliminary list of volunteers, instalments of which were published from day to day. Young men, seeing the names of their relations, friends and school-fellows in the list, determined to follow their example, and, if possible, to join the same battalion. This helped to keep the ball rolling, and the compiling of the register continued steadily for over a week. The figures of each day were as follows :-

Saturday and Sunday 350
Monday 943
Tuesday 829
Wednesday 678
Thursday 644
Friday 456
Saturday 600
4,500

Considering that the number asked for at the beginning of the week was only one thousand, the response was remarkable. One result was that before the special recruiting office opened it was decided to apply to Lord Kitchener for permission to raise a second battalion, and when this was done, there remained enough names on the register to form a third, although in the meantime a considerable number of very keen young men had joined other units after putting their names on the preliminary list, there being an idea then among many of them that the war might be over before they had a chance of doing their bit ’’ in the City Battalions – an idea that has, alas, been repeatedly falsified.

The desire of friends to serve together was encouraged by a promise to form ‘pals’ companies, and the Old Edwardians were among the first to avail themselves of this privilege by holding meetings at their club. At several large offices and works similar lists were prepared and sent to the Lord Mayor’s Parlour for the guidance of the calling-up clerks. In most cases the men on the lists received two days’ notice of the time at which they could be dealt with at the recruiting office, the issuing of postcards being under the voluntary direction of Mr Horatio Lane.

A special recruiting office for the City Battalions was opened in the Art Gallery Extension, Great Charles Street, with Colonel Sir John Barnsley in command. Major Hall-Edwards had charge of the medical examinations, and the clerical work was superintended by Mr. Howard Todd in an honorary capacity. The actual recruiting commenced on September 7th, and the first battalion was completed in a week; the enrolling of the second commenced on September 14tl1, and although the number of rejections on medical grounds increased as the recruiting proceeded, fresh volunteers came in to fill the places of the physically unfit, and the second battalion was ready to be called up for training before a commanding officer had been appointed for the first. The raising of a third battalion was not so easy, owing to the increased competition of other units and doubts as to whether suitable quarters could be found for training, but these obstacles were successfully surmounted, and this battalion was also ready for its commander before he was discovered in his rural retreat by the Deputy-Mayor (Ald. Bowater). Soon afterwards Alderman Bowater was elected Lord Mayor, and appointed Hon. Colonel of the 1st City Battalion (14th R. War. Regt.)


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