Toggle menu
Toggle personal menu
Not logged in
Your IP address will be publicly visible if you make any edits.

Territorial Force

From The Great War 1914-1918

The Territorial Force, abbreviate to TF, was the volunteer reserve component of the British Army in existence from 1908 until 1920, when, shortly after the end of the First World War, it was reformed and renamed the Territorial Army, which today is known as the Army Reserve. The initial impetus for the creation of the Territorial Force came from Joseph Lyons, who also co-founded the eponymous chain of cafes known as the Lyons Corner Houses. The government legislation for the creation of the Territorial Force, the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 (7 Edw.7, c.9), was brought in by the Secretary of State for War at the time, Richard Burdon Haldane, which combined and re-organised the old Volunteer Army with the Yeomanry. The TF was formed on 1 April 1908. As part of the same process, remaining units of militia were renamed Special Reserve.[1]

The Territorial Force was envisaged as a home defence force for service during wartime; units were liable to serve anywhere within the United Kingdom when the force was embodied, but could not be compelled to serve outside the country. However, any member or unit of the force could volunteer to be liable for overseas service - in 1910, when asked to nominate for Imperial Service overseas in the event of mobilisation, less than 10% of the Territorial Force chose to do so. Individual members could also choose to be liable to be called up for service within the United Kingdom even in situations when the force as a whole was not embodied.[1]

In August 1914, after the outbreak of the First World War, Territorial units were given the option of serving overseas and, by 25 August, in excess of 70 battalions had volunteered. This question over the availability of Territorial formations for overseas service was one of Lord Kitchener's original motivations for raising the New Army separately. A second line of Territorial units were raised by the respective County Associations in August and September 1914. As a result, the first-line battalions were renamed so that the 4th Battalion Border Regiment, for example, became the 1/4th Border Regiment, and the second-line duplicate became the 2/4th Border Regiment. In many cases, a third-line battalion (the 3/4th Border Regiment) was formed after the first-line battalion was sent overseas, freeing up the second for foreign service; the third-line battalions were usually used for home defence or training; few saw action. By the end of the war, 692 Territorial Force battalions had been raised. In total, 14 second line divisions were raised. No complete divisions of third line battalions were raised.[1]

Territorial units initially saw service in Egypt, India and other Empire garrisons such as Gibraltar, thereby releasing regular units for service in France and enabling the formation of an additional five regular army divisions (for a total of eleven) by early 1915. The first Territorial division to join the fighting on the Western Front was the 46th (North Midland) Division in March 1915. The 42nd (East Lancashire) and 52nd (Lowland) divisions were sent to Gallipoli as reinforcements for the Helles front in May and June 1915. As the war progressed, and casualties mounted, the distinctive character of Territorial units was diluted by the inclusion of conscript and New Army drafts. Following the Armistice of 11 November 1918, all units of the Territorial Force were gradually disembodied.[1]

References / notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Territorial Force. Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia. Accessed 21 April, 2017.
Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies.