Defending Albion: Britain’s Home Army 1908–1919 by Dr K. W. Mitchinson

By Dr K. W. Mitchinson

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In Preston, 56 per cent of National Reservists were ex-Regulars, 44 per cent in Shropshire, 40 per cent in Liverpool and only 20 per cent in Southport. 64 The remainder were thus overwhelmingly former Rifle Volunteers, men who in 1908 had not transferred to Haldane's new force, or a smattering of ex-Volunteers who had spent a year or two in the Territorials. The majority of these men were of middle age, probably married, held steady jobs and were unlikely to be fit enough for immediate active service.

22 Lieutenant-General Miles fundamentally agreed, suggesting that on mobilization the number of TF Reservists required to bring Territorial units up to establishment would simply 'move up' to their parent unit. This would have the benefit of simplifying the storage and issue of clothing and equipment and thus reduce costs. 23 General Sir William Nicholson, the CIGS, opposed this suggestion and recommended a more flexible approach. He preferred to see the TF Reserve as merely a register of trained individuals who would, in an emergency, be expected to serve in any of their county association's units.

Former Territorials might have been disinterested in joining their own force's reserve but they were demonstrating a remarkable willingness to enrol beside ex-Regulars and ex-Volunteers in a body which offered no social advantage, no opportunity to camp or drill and not even a promise of royal patronage. The Veteran Reserve had burst upon the national scene with a vigour and dynamism which had surprised even its instigator. Unaware that the year was to mark the peak in Territorial recruiting and eager to exploit the apparent success of his new force, in 1910 Haldane announced that registration for the Veteran Reserve would commence a few weeks after the Territorial Force Reserve itself had been established.

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