3/4TH and 4/4th Battalions at Home, 1915 - 1916

London 1918, the Armistice and Regimental histories

3/4TH and 4/4th Battalions at Home, 1915 - 1916

4TH Battalion, The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) in the Great War 1914 - 1919


THE 3/4TH and 4/4th Battalions at Home

At home 1915 and 1916 were two years of hard work in developing the organisation of the Regiment to enable it to provide the reinforcements necessary for the maintenance in the field of its overseas battalions.

Prior to the war the 4th London Regiment — like all other Territorial formations — had no reserve cadre which was capable of being expanded into a reserve unit on mobilisation ; and when therefore the 2/4th Battalion followed the l/4th Battalion overseas in December 1914 the need of providing means of " feeding " the fighting battalions with fresh personnel became pressing. The records of the home battalions are necessarily lacking in the exciting incidents with which those of the service battalions are crowded ; but they represent an enormous amount of labour carried out under conditions of great difficulty, and as a rule with very little recognition of their vital importance to the continued existence of the Regiment during the War.

Reference has already been made in Chapter II to the steps taken to raise a third line battalion under Major E. H. Stillwell on the departure of the 2/4th Battalion for Malta. This new Battalion, the 3/4th London Regiment, secured recruits rapidly, and, like its predecessor, very quickly outgrew the limits of Headquarters at Hoxton. It was therefore moved early in January to Littlegrove and Beech Hill, the two houses at Barnet which had previously been occupied by the battalion raised by Col. Dunfee. A slight stiffening of the ranks was supplied by a few members of the overseas battalions who had received a good deal of training with them but had been found medically unfit to accompany them abroad ; but the vast majority of the officers, non-commissioned officers and men had but recently joined, most of them without any previous experience of soldiering. No member of the new BattaHon, moreover, had seen service in the War, and the magnitude of the task imposed on the officers and warrant officers of instilling the rudiments of discipline into so unwieldy a mass of men was no light one. The enthusiasm of the early days of the War, had, however, by no means subsided, and all ranks worked with a will ; and before long the Battalion, now about 600 strong, began to find its feet.

On the 8th February 1915 Capt. P. S. Cookson (late Royal Sussex Regiment) was appointed to command the Battalion with the temporary rank of Lieut.-Col. with Major W. H. Hamilton as second in command, and Major E. V. Wellby as Adjutant. The company commanders were Capts. A. A. N. Hayne, S. W. J. Limpenny, E. D. Wilson and A. E. Wood.

The training facilities which had been extended to the 2/4th Battalion by local residents at Barnet were accorded to the 3/4th Battalion also, and the training of recruits under company arrangements proceeded as rapidly as possible and as efficiently as the circumstances permitted. No time indeed was to be lost for the l/4th Londons were now in France, and as already described began to suffer battle casualties early in March 1915 ; so that it was clear that the 3/4th Battalion might at any time be called upon to make up its deficiencies. Towards the end of April it was in fact called on to supply the first reinforcement, and accordingly despatched 2 officers and 50 other ranks who, as referred to in Chapter IV, joined the l/4th Londons in the Ypres Salient.

Third line battalions had also been formed by the other regiments of the 1st London Brigade, and hitherto these had been distributed over a wide area on the outskirts of London ; but in the last week of April the four new battalions were concentrated under canvas at Tadworth (Surrey) as the 3/lst London Brigade, under the command of Col. H. C. Cholmondely, C.B. The 3/4th Battalion joined the Brigade on the 26th April.

On the 5th May the Adjutancy was taken over by Capt. E. E, Spicer with Lieut S. H. Stedman as Assistant

Adjutant, Major E. V. Wellby having transferred to the 1st London Regiment.

Early in June 1915 a general reconstruction was effected in the reserve and training cadres at home ; and a number of fresh battalions were formed composed largely of personnel who were not medically fit to serve overseas. To this end a composite Battalion, known as the 100th Provisional Battalion, was formed of officers, N.C.O.'s and men of the 3/lst London Brigade. On the 2nd June Capt. A. E. Wood, and 2/Lieuts. E. J. Bennet and J. S. B. Gathergood and about 100 N.C.O.'s and men left the 3/4th Battalion at Tadworth to join the 100th Provisional Battalion which was stationed at Aldeburgh. On the same day Major W. H. Hamilton was appointed to raise, equip and train a new Battalion, to be known as the 4/4th London Regiment.

Concurrently with this development the 3/lst London Brigade moved from Tadworth to billets at Bury St Edmunds. Here training was proceeded with, and the battalions of the Brigade were again opened for recruiting to make good the gaps in their ranks caused by the formation of the Provisional Battalion.

In the following month a further move took place, and the 3/lst London Brigade took over billets in Ipswich. A further step was now made in the organisation of the Home Forces and towards the end of August all personnel of the Provisional Battalion except " home-service " men were returned to their units. The 2/2nd and 2/3rd London Infantry Brigades had also been concentrated in the Ipswich area, and a new Division — the 58th — was now formed as a Service Division ; and the duty of " draft-finding " for the whole Regiment henceforth devolved solely on the 4/4th Battalion under Major Hamilton.
The composition of the 58th Division was as follows :

58th (LONDON) DIVISION

Brig.-Gen. E. J. Cooper, C.B., M.V.O., D.S.O.

Divisional Cavalry.

Hampshire Yeomanry (Carabineers).

Artillery.

290th, 291st, 292nd, 293rd Brigades, R.F.A.
58th Division Ammunition Column. (Royal Fusiliers).

Royal Engineers,

2/lst Wessex \

2/2nd „ l Field Companies.

l/5th London J

58th Divisional Signal Company.

173rd Infantry Brigade.

3/lst London Regiment^
3/2nd „
3/3rd „
3/4tli

174th Infantry Brigade.

2/5th London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade).

2/6th ,, „ (Rifles).

2/7th „

2/8th „ „ (Post Office Rifles).

175th Infantry Brigade.

2/9th London Regiment (Queen Victoria Rifles).

2/lOth ,, „ (Hackney).

2/llth ,, „ (Finsbury Rifles).

2/12th ,, ,, (Rangers).

1/lst Wessex Divisional Cyclists.

509th, 510th, 511th, 512th S. and T. Companies, A.S.C.

The duties of second in command were now taken by Major E. D. Wilson, who continued to occupy this appointment for some months till he was appointed to Brigade Staff and subsequently to Southern Command Headquarters. He was succeeded as second in command by Capt. A. A. N. Hayne.

The constant changes of station to which the 3/4th Battalion had been subjected during its short existence had, as will be readily appreciated, a somewhat deleterious effect on its training and general discipline. Prolonged life in billets is, moreover, highly unsuitable for young troops under training, and the general effect of the Division's stay in Ipswich was not altogether beneficial. All units were similarly affected. The dispatch of the Division overseas was in consequence delayed, and the troops began to become stale with " over-training." Throughout 1915 and the early months of 1916 this unsatisfactory state of affairs continued, and the routine of training, now become wearying through its monotonous repetition, was broken only by the occasional passing excitement of air raids, of which the eastern counties saw a good deal.

During February 1916, recruits called up under the " Derby " scheme to the number of 359 were posted to the Battalion and their training proceeded with all possible speed. Owing, however, to the need for bringing them into line with the remainder of the Battalion in view of the possibility of its being sent to the front during 1916, the training of these men was expedited by temporarily attaching a part of the Battalion to the 4/4th Battalion in order to ease the duties of the training staff.

In June the billets in Ipswich were vacated, and the Division removed to quarters under canvas at Blackrock Camp outside the town, where the former routine was resumed.

In these somewhat unhappy circumstances we may leave the 3/4th Battalion and return to trace the growth of the 4/4th Battalion which had sprung from it at Tadworth a year previously.

The following officers accompanied Major Hamilton to Headquarters and were posted to the 4/4th Battalion : Capt. and Adjt. W. G. Hayward, Lieut. H. E. Miller, and 2/Lieuts. W. H. Vernon and H. J. M. Williams. Hon. Lieut. J. S. Fullalove (late Devonshire Regiment) was appointed Quartermaster, and Coy. Sergt.-Major Potton (late l/4th Londons) to be Regimental Sergt.-Major. The Commanding Officer was fortunate in enlisting into the Battalion as Warrant Officers and senior N.C.O.'s several ex-Guardsmen and members of the City Police Force, including Coy. Sergt.-Majors H. W. Dennis and J. Pearson, and C.Q.M.-Sergts. A. Reed and F. Milne. These experienced soldiers formed the nucleus of what afterwards became a very fine staff of instructors.

The new Battalion shortly after its inception became the draft-finding unit for the first and second line battalions in the field, and also the unit by which wounded and invalided officers, N.C.O.'s and men of the regiment from the front were re-equipped and passed through a "refresher " course of training, pending their return to the front as reinforcements.

The Battalion was accordingly organised in three Companies, A and B (respectively under Capts. W. Moore and F. C. Grimwade) being for the reception and training of recruits ; and C (under Lieut. D. C. Cooke) being the " expeditionary " Company, the personnel being all N.C.O.'s and men returned from the B.E.F. Lieut. F. A. Coffin succeeded Capt Hayward as Adjutant, the latter taking over the duties of President of the Regimental Institutes.

Just previously to the formation of the Battalion the forces in the field had suffered immense casualties at Ypres and on the Gallipoli Peninsula ; and the full weight of the German offensive on the Eastern Front where the Russians were steadily giving ground was making itself felt. Earl Kitchener had issued his second call for more men, and recruiting was proceeding rapidly for all branches of the Service ; and within a month of its formation some 600 recruits had been posted to the 4/4th Battalion, while the ranks of the Expeditionary Company were rapidly swelling with returning casualties from Neuve Chapelle and Ypres.

It being obviously impossible to cope with the task of dealing with such great numbers in the cramped accommodation at Headquarters arrangements were made for taking over the billets at New Barnet, previously occupied by the 2/4th and 3/4th Battalions ; and the Battalion moved to its new quarters on the 12th July, Headquarters and A Company being billeted at Little-grove and B and C Companies at Beech Hill.

A vigorous programme of training was at once put in hand, the work being carried out at Folly Farm and, by the kindness of Sir Philip Sassoon, in Trent Park. Through the generosity of the Club Committee the full resources of the Enfield Rifle Club were again placed at the disposal of the Battalion, and it is hard to over-estimate the value of the assistance rendered in the musketry training of the recruits by the many public-spirited members of the Club who volunteered their services as instructors.

Owing to the continued influx of recruits, the training companies having now each a strength of about 380, it was necessary to take over additional billets at Oakhill which were allotted to the Expeditionary Company.

Early in August, almost before the recruit training was under way, orders were received to prepare a draft of 400 other ranks to proceed, at three days' notice, to Malta to join the 2/4th Battalion. After considerable exertion the draft was equipped, fitted with khaki drill uniforms and sun-helmets, and in due course proceeded to Southampton, where it actually embarked on the transport. The orders for its departure were, however, cancelled, and the draft returned to Barnet to resume its training in the 4/4th Battalion, much to the disappointment of the N.C.O.'s and men concerned.

The supplies of webbing equipment having proved inadequate, the troops were now being provided with leather equipment of the 1915 pattern ; and were armed with the long pattern charger-loading Lee-Enfield rifle. At this date the training of recruits proceeded under no efficient system such as was evolved at a later date. No set period was allowed for the preparation of the drafts, and very few facilities were provided for improving or speeding-up training beyond such as emanated from the brains of the officers and N.C.O.'s immediately concerned, with the inevitable result that a good deal of unnecessary delay and a certain lack of uniformity in the training ensued. Thanks, however, to the devoted efforts of the instructors, the recruits soon passed the initial stages and were passed as " trained " men on a syllabus which included drill, musketry, marching, physical training and bayonet fighting, entrenching, field work and the rudiments of bomb-throwing. The first draft of N.C.O.'s and men supplied by the Battalion consisting of 40 other ranks under Lieut. N. L. Thomas and 2/Lieuts. S. Davis, J. W. Price and C. S. G. Blows proceeded to the Dardanelles to join the 2/4th Battalion at the beginning of November 1915.

Recruiting had continued at a great speed during the months of July, August and September, and the training companies had assumed such unmanageable proportions that they were subdivided and a new training company, C, under Major H. J. Duncan-Teape, was formed, the Expeditionary Company being renamed D.

On the 29th August 1915 the BattaUon was visited by the following ex-officers of the Regiment :

Lieut.-Col. E. T. Rodney Wilde, V.D.
Lieut.-Col. Harry Dade, V.D.
Lieut.-Col. A. H. Lock, V.D.
Major P. Lynch, and
Major W. Stevens.

On this occasion Church Parade was held at Folly Farm, after which the Battalion marched past the ex-officers, the salute being taken by Lieut.-Col. Dade.

On the 13th November an inter-company relief took place, A Company moving to Beech Hill, and its billets at Littlegrove being occupied by B Company.

At Christmas 48 hours' leave was granted to every member of the Battalion, two leave parties being formed for the purpose.

During this period the Reserve Battalions of the 1st London Division were stationed in all parts of the Home Counties, and the supervision of training by those responsible was naturally extremely difficult ; and it was consequently decided to bring together all these battalions into one Divisional camp, the site selected being near Salisbury Plain.

The move to Salisbury took place in January 1916, the 4/4th Battalion proceeding on the 11th to No. 7 Camp, Hurdcott (between Salisbury and Shaftesbury), where it found itself for the first time in company with the 4/lst, 4/2nd, and 4/3rd Battalions, the remainder of the Division being quartered at Hurdcott and Fovant.

No troops of the 4th London Regiment were after this date quartered at Barnet, but before finally saying farewell to this the first station of so many hundreds of the members of the Regiment, we must once more express the indebtedness of the Regiment not only to those gentlemen who so generously afforded the Battalion the use of such excellent training grounds, but also to Mr Kingwell and Mr W. H. Vernon, the owners respectively of Beech Hill and Littlegrove, for the pains taken by them to render these houses comfortable for the troops.

and to the many local residents who extended kindness and hospitality to the Battalion, among whom Mr Eldred of Cockfosters must not be forgotten.

About this time the designation of the Battalion was changed to the 4th (Reserve) Battalion London Regiment, a corresponding alteration being made in the titles of the other 4th and 3rd line battalions of the Division.

Major H. J. Duncan-Teape assumed the duties of second in command in January 1916.

The immediate result of the move to Salisbury Plain was an immense strengthening of the esprit- de- corps of the Battalion which now found itself for the first time together in one camp, and a considerable increase of efficiency and improvement in discipline followed. The Hurdcott camps were arranged on suitably designed principles with well ventilated sleeping huts and roomy messing and recreation rooms which contributed in no small degree to the comfort and physical welfare of the troops. The 4th (Reserve) Battalion was, moreover, exceptionally fortunate in becoming the possessor of an excellent training and sports ground some 5 acres in extent. Work was immediately set in hand to construct a bayonet fighting assault course and a bombing ground, and considerable improvements were made in the practice trenches which had been left in a half-completed condition by the former occupants of the camp.

The 3rd line Division now came under the command of Col. Williams, C.B. (late Somerset Light Infantry), who was succeeded in the command in May by Col. S. H. Godman, D.S.O. (Scots Guards), whose kindly personality will be held in grateful remembrance by all who came into personal touch with him.

Voluntary recruiting had come almost to a stand-still during the preceding December, and the training of all the N.C.O.'s and men who had joined the Battalion previously was now practically completed. Numerous drafts had been sent out to the l/4th Battalion in France, and the activities of the training staff of the Battalion were therefore somewhat restricted. But in March the whole of the training reserve camps in England became veritable hives of activity ; for in that month the first groups of men enHsted under the " Derby " scheme of recruiting were called up, and were posted to their respective home training battalions.

The recruits allotted to the Regiment under this scheme were clothed at Headquarters (though not equipped or armed) and drafted straight to Hurdcott, and within the space of a week no fewer than 650 were posted to the 4th (Reserve) Battalion. In the following week a party of 220 N.C.O.'s and men of the 3/4th Battalion were sent to the 4th (Reserve) Battalion for the completion of their training, which was found on examination to be in a variety of stages of advancement.

It will be readily appreciated that the sudden advent of so large a body of totally untrained men strained the instructional facilities of the Battalion to the utmost, and it was deemed advisable somewhat to modify the system of training which had proved sufficient hitherto. The recruits were posted to companies as usual, an extra company, E (under Lieut. Miller), being now formed, but the company staffs assumed responsibility only for clothing, equipment, messing, pay and other administrative and disciplinary duties, the whole of the training being entrusted to a specially selected staff of officers and N.C.O. instructors, who were as far as possible relieved of company and battalion duties. It is believed that the Battalions of the London Reserve Division were among the first to adopt this system of coping with the problem of draft-production which, in modified and improved forms, gradually became recognised as the most efficient and was generally adopted.

It should be understood that the brief description which follows of the work of the Reserve Battalion is somewhat anticipatory. The scheme of training which was in force in the last year of the War was obviously not evolved in a day, but was the fruit of three years' experience. But it is thought that the present is perhaps the most suitable juncture for the inclusion in this history of these notes, as the period now under review saw the inception of the great training scheme whereby the country produced its citizen soldiers who fought the great battles of 1916, 1917 and 1918.

The system as originally evolved in the 4th Battalion was intended to apply to " barrack-square " instruction in drill only, but as training proceeded, it was found desirable not only to ensure uniformity of instruction, but also for economy of instructors and the avoidance of delay in the completion of training, to apply it to all branches of training. " Specialist " officers and N.C.O.'s were therefore appointed to take charge of each different subject of instruction, such as drill, musketry, bombing, Lewis Gun, physical training and bayonet fighting, entrenching and wiring, and " anti-gas " measures ; the whole training school being under the executive control of an " officer in charge of training."

This development was made the more desirable inasmuch as the War Office now was tightening up the whole system of training, in view of the continued heavy casualties at the front which rendered necessary not only the fullest and quickest possible development of the untrained man-power of the Empire, but also the regular and rapid filling up of deficiencies in the ranks of the fighting troops. Under the War Office scheme (the wisdom of which is demonstrated by the fact that in broad principle it remained unaltered until the Armistice, modification only being found desirable in matters of detail) the period allowed for the conversion of the recruit into a trained soldier was fourteen weeks. This period was subdivided with considerable skill and foresight, the first two weeks being occupied in completing the equipment of the recruit, coupled with light drill and physical training, together with lectures on a few general subjects with the object of gradually settling him into his new conditions of life, and to allow for his complete recovery from the effects of " anti-typhoid " inoculation. The serious training of the recruit therefore lasted twelve weeks, which in the 1st London (Reserve) Brigade were subdivided into two distinct periods. The first of these concerned the " individual " training of the recruit in the subjects to which reference has been made above.

and which lasted for ten weeks. It was proceeded with in accordance with War Office instructions, which laid down the number of hours to be devoted weekly to each subject. During this period also the recruit was put through a special table of musketry practices on the open range, and it concluded with a series of tests of individual proficiency in each subject, the passing of which decided the recruit's claim to be classed as a trained soldier.

Throughout these three months the training proceeded by platoons, each platoon of recruits living, messing and working together, with the object of impressing on them, from the earliest days of their service, the importance of the platoon as a unit in action. The latter part of the " individual " training period saw the sub-division of each platoon into Lewis Gun and bombing sections, training being arranged for in accordance with the particular requirements of each. The " individual " training having been completed, the final fortnight was devoted to platoon " combined training " in field work as a properly organised platoon, the men working in full marching order, loaded to the weight which they would be called upon to carry in the field. The physical strain of the last fourteen days was undoubtedly considerable, but the results attained by it were amply justified, not only from the point of actual instruction imparted, but also from that of the highly important question of selection of N.C.O.'s, for each section of the platoon in " combined training " was in charge of a recruit N.C.O., the specialist instructor being attached merely for the purpose of supervision.

On completion of this final and most interesting period in the recruit's training, he proceeded on " draft-leave " for four clear days, on return from which he was reported as ready to proceed overseas, was medically inspected and finally fitted out ; and as a rule his departure overseas ensued within a few days.

Such was the course of life in a Reserve Battalion, and it will not be disputed that the duties of an instructor Vvcre both multifarious and exceedingly onerous, while the degree of personal application and physical endurance which the recruit himself was called upon to display was severe to a degree. Owing to the frequent changes of personnel among the N.C.O. instructors, it is impossible to record the names of all those who were in turn employed in this manner, but it would be unjust not to acknowledge the splendid devotion of the training staffs or to recognise with gratitude the extreme importance of the role played by them in the War. Neither can we refrain from remarking that, however complete the scheme of training, and however efficient the instructors, it would have been nearly impossible to carry it into effect in the short period allowed but for the intense keenness and willingness to learn displayed by the vast majority of the many thousands of recruits who were trained in accordance with it.

The instructors themselves were drawn entirely from N.C.O.'s who had served with the 1st or 2nd line battahons overseas, and had either been invalided to the United Kingdom or were sent home for six months " on exchange." In order to avoid staleness no instructor who was fit for overseas service was permitted to retain his appointment for more than one year, at the end of which period he himself returned to the front as a reinforcement, his place on the training staff being taken by one more recently returned to England.

Officer instructors were selected and retained on a similar principle, the period of appointment to the establishment of a training reserve unit being (in the case of physical fitness for service overseas) a maximum of six months.

The officers of the first training staff appointed in the 4th (Reserve) Battalion were :

Capt. F. C. Grimwade, in charge of training.
2/Lieut. E. G. Dew, Assistant to Training Officer.

2/Lieut. A. G. Croll | j^j^^ketry Instructors.
„ G. H. Hetleyi
2/Lieut. R. K. Caparn, Physical Training Instructor.
2/Lieut. L. A. Allen, Lewis Gun ,,

2/Lieut. L. C. Haycraft, Bombing and Anti-gas „

Signalling instruction was provided under Brigade arrangements, the first Brigade Signalling Officer, 2/Lieut. R. C. Hunt, being supplied by the 4th (Reserve) Battalion.

Early in February 1916 the 4th (Reserve) Battalion received a very welcome reinforcement in the shape of 50 men of the Second Trinidad Contingent, and the honour done to the Regiment in selecting it for the training of this draft, representative of one of the smallest and yet most ancient and loyal outposts of the Empire, was much appreciated. About the same time four Trinidad officers, 2/Lieuts. L. Farfan, H. Dow, R. L. Fabien and J. MacDonald, were gazetted to the Battalion. It was rapidly realised that the difference of climate between the West Indies and the snow-laden winds of the " Plain " was too severe, and it became evident that this keen and efficient platoon must be transferred to a more suitable environment. After about six weeks with the 4th (Reserve) Battalion, therefore, they were sent to complete their training with the 7th Royal Fusiliers at Falmouth and later attached to the 3/4th Devonshire Regiment in India.

In April Major H. J. Duncan-Teape rejoined the l/4th Battalion in France, the duties of second in command being assumed by Major G. H. M. Vine.

During May the Battalion was inspected by Col. S. H. Godman, D.S.O., commanding the Division, who presented C. S. M. Risley, D.C.M., with his medal. The Battalion also received a visit from Lieut. -Col. E. T. Rodney WUde, V.D. At the end of May the Division was reviewed by Field-Marshal Earl French, commanding the Home Forces.

Although the whole of the Battalions at Hurdcott and Fovant Camps existed for the training of recruits and were in no way formations which were likely to be sent overseas as units, they were included in the scheme which had been prepared for the defence of Great Britain in the event of an attempt at landing by the Germans.

This scheme provided for the maintenance of a permanent defence force on the East Coast and at other points where it was deemed likely that any attempt at invasion would be put into effect. In addition to this, arrangements were made for the rapid concentration from other sources of a mobile force for use, in the event of active operations taking place, as a general reserve. To this general reserve the units of the 3rd line groups of the 1st London Division contributed a quota of officers, N.C.O.'s and men varying from time to time with the numbers of men who were sufficently advanced in their course of training to render their inclusion in the force useful.

During the period at Hurdcott frequent test concentrations took place, in several instances the parade being followed by a test route march. These parades were always attended by the platoons of the 4th (Reserve) Battalion detailed for the time being to this duty and passed off satisfactorily.

On the 2nd June 1916 Major W. H. Hamilton, who had commanded the Battalion since its formation, was gazetted to the 4th Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry and almost immediately proceeded to join his new Battalion at Meerut.^ He was succeeded in temporary command of the Battalion by Major G. H. M. Vine. On the occasion of Major Hamilton's departure the troops testified to their appreciation of his unfailing kindness and sympathy with all ranks throughout the period of his command by lining the camp road and heartily cheering him as his car passed down it.

^ Major Hamilton remained with the 4th D.C.L.I. until the following year when he was attached to the 4th Hants Regiment. With this Battalion he proceeded to Mesopotamia and took part in the victorious advance which culminated in the occupation of Baghdad. He was later appointed to command the detachment of the Hants Regiment which accompanied the gallant little force led hy General Dunsterville to endeavour to secure the oilfield of Baku on the Caspian Sea.

In the latter part of July command of the Battalion was assumed by Col. Vickers Dunfee, Major Vine resuming the duties of second in command.

On the 1st July 1916 began the great series of battles on the Somme, the Regiment's part in which will be described, and almost immediately calls were made for drafts of all ranks to fill the very serious gaps caused by the heavy casualties sustained by the l/4th Battalion during the battle of Gommecourt ; and between this date and the middle of October when the 56th Division was finally withdrawn from the Somme battles a total of some 30 officers and 400 other ranks were despatched. These very heavy calls naturally depleted the ranks of the home Battalion very seriously and took nearly all the " Derby " recruits who had joined in the previous March.

With the object, apparently, of effecting an ultimate economy in staff, a reorganisation of considerable importance took place on the 1st September 1916 among the whole of the 3rd line units of the Division. So far as the Fusilier Brigade was concerned this took the form of amalgamation of the four existing battalions into two, the 1st and 2nd Battalions becoming the 1st (Reserve) Battalion, and the 3rd and 4th Battalions becoming the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion. Each of these new battalions for the time being retained a double establishment of officers, warrant officers and N.C.O.'s and were organised in eight companies till the despatch of personnel on draft permitted a reduction to be made. The composite battalion was made responsible for the provision of reinforcements and for the reception of ranks returned from overseas for each of the two Regiments of which it was composed.

These amalgamations of necessity involved extensive repostings of officers, in particular among those of senior rank. Command of the new 3rd (Reserve) Battalion was assumed by Lieut. -Col. T. Montgomerie Webb, formerly commanding the old 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Major G. H. M. Vine being appointed second in command. The duties of Adjutant, Quartermaster and Training Officer respectively were also assumed by officers of the old 3rd (Reserve) Battalion (namely, Capt. McGlashan, Capt. Coombe and Major H. Moore, M.C.), the officers who had previously held the corresponding appointments in the old 4th (Reserve) Battalion being posted as follows : —

Capt. F. A. Coffin (Adjt.) to Brigade Staff.
Lieut. Fullalove (Q.M.) to new 6th (Reserve) Battalion.
Capt. F. C. Grimwade (Training Officer) to command A Company
new 3rd (Reserve) Battalion.

Col. Vickers Dunfee was appointed to command the new 1st (Reserve) Battalion, an appointment which he retained until his demobilisation in December 1918.

It must be confessed that the immediate result of this amalgamation, involving as it did the extinction as a separate entity of the 4th (Reserve) Battalion, was a heavy blow to the esprit de corps of all ranks, which was in the circumstances at least comprehensible. The rank and file at a critical stage of their training came under the command of officers and N.C.O. instructors who were unknown to them, while the instructors of the old 4th (Reserve) Battalion experienced a natural and very keen disappointment at not being permitted to complete the task to which they had applied themselves with such devotion for many weeks past.

A closer acquaintance with the new surroundings, however, resulted in a gradual disappearance of these feelings of regret, and in due course a new esprit de corps and a closer bond of union between the two Regiments concerned took their place. At the end of its existence in November 1918 the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion had become an extremely happy one, in which no sort of distinction existed between the 3rd and 4th London Regiments, and each worked for the welfare of all.