Equipment

Extract from Birmingham City Battalion Book of Honour, page 3

It is not necessary now to recall the troubles the raiser of the battalions had in reconciling the varied instructions from the War Office in regard to height, standard and chest measurement, rates of pay, and details of equipment. Suffice it to say that with energy and enthusiasm red tape entanglements were surmounted, or cut through, and the battalions were drilling in mufti as soon as a parade ground and billets were secured.

The original idea was that the city battalions were to be equipped by the citizens at their own expense, and in response to a joint appeal by the Deputy-Mayor and the “Daily Post,” thousands of pounds were immediately subscribed by large firms and wealthy residents. Never did money come in so readily, and soon the flow of donations became embarrassing to those responsible for the administration of the fund, for the War Office decided to allot to the City Battalions the normal allowance for equipment, and therefore voluntary contributions were only required for supplementing the necessarily frugal grant from the national exchequer by providing the Birmingham men ,with somewhat better clothing and certain necessary articles not included in the official kit and accoutrements. Before September 1st the Equipment Fund amounted to over £10,000, and it eventually rose to about £17,000 through spontaneous contributions.

The raiser of the City Battalions was directly responsible to the Army Council for housing and equipping them until they were taken over by the War Office in June, 1915, but in the administration of the Equipment Fund he was advised and assisted by the following committee of subscribers :-

Mr. F. Dudley Docker, C.B., Colonel C. J. Hart, C.B., Alderman Neville Chamberlain, Captain Kenneth Davis, Mr. Charles Hyde, Mr. A. T. Keen, and Alderman Sir Hallewell Rogers, J.P. Captain R. S. Hilton acted as Hon. Secretary to the committee, with Mr. A. Folland as Assistant Secretary.

In addition, the officers commanding the City Battalions assisted in an advisory capacity.

At a time when army contractors were fully occupied with more urgent orders, the task of securing satisfactory equipment for 3,300 men at reasonable prices was difficult, but it was successfully carried out, and most of the hardships incidental to membership of the new army were minimised as far as the exigencies of military training would permit during the ten months the battalions were under the immediate care of the Lord Mayor and his committee.

The turnover of the committee was about &50,000, excluding the cost of hutments erected in Sutton Park under the direction of the City Surveyor (Mr. H. E. Stilgoe). Two admirable sites were placed a t the disposal of the first and second battalions by the Corporation of Sutton Coldfield, and the men of these two battalions were fortunate in having such healthy quarters, with such excellent facilities for bathing, boating, football and other recreations. The turf in the neighbourhood of the hutments was very suitable for physical and military drill, whilst the wilder parts of the Park afforded splendid facilities for practising the art of war in its most romantic aspects.

The third battalion was quartered less satisfactorily at Springfield College, Moseley, and it was found necessary, owing to the limited accommodation in the old College buildings, to billet part of the battalion in private houses not far away. A void residence opposite the College was rented as Officers’ Quarters.