Four Volunteer Reserve Battalions

Four Volunteer battalions (Two for Hull and two for East Riding) were also raised by Lord Lieutenant & Colonel, W Lambert White to release regular soldiers for overseas service. These were formed by men too old for active service on 4th August 1914 and disbanded when the war ended.

  • The 1st Battalion formed themselves into a ‘Rifle Club’ to defend against invasion.
  • The 2nd Battalion was comprised mostly of members from Hull’s Golf Clubs and enrolled themselves as ‘Special Constables’ under Mr G Morley, the Chief Police Constable.
  • The 3rd Battalion was formed August 1914 in Beverley. A training unit, it remained in the UK throughout the war. The 3rd Battalion moved within a few days of declaration of war to Hedon, for duty as the Humber Garrison. It then made the short journey in April 1916 to Withernsea.
  • The 4th Battalion was financed by Messrs Watson of Olympia Oil Mills. It was formed in Hull on 8 April 1916. In September 1916 they moved to Catterick. In 1917 they moved to Hornsea and by November 1918 they went to South Dalton, as part of the Humber Garrison.
  • A 5th ‘Cyclist’ Battalion was formed at Park Street in Hull in August 1914. and was used for Home Defence along the East Coast.
  • Hull formed a Railway ‘Pals’ Battalion, know as the 17th Northumberland Fusilers in September 1914. This occupied two, large warehouses at Hull’s King George Dock, and recruited from all the North Eastern towns, along the Hull and Barnsley Railway line. The battalion moved to Catterick in June 1915 and then embarked for Albert, in France, in November 1915. The battalion took part in the opening battle of the Somme at Thiepval and saw much action throughout the war.

Recognising the threat of coastal attack, £17,600 was raised through public donations to arm, and equip the 4 Volunteer Battalions. Hull and East Riding Councils both subscribed £1000 each.
Hull City Council also provided another £1,000 to the 2nd Battalion in recognition of the work done by the Special Constables. This money purchased 2,800 Martini Henry Rifles and 100,000 rounds of ammunition plus green and grey uniforms. This was at a time when most other regiments in the UK were drilling with wooden rifles and casual clothes. By March 1917 they had received the latest rifles, machine guns and all necessary mobilization stores.

Hull also formed its own Army Service Corps in 1915, the only City to do so. This was furnished with horses and vehicles lent by patriotic merchants. The magnificent stamp of horses was especially commented on by Field Marshall French at his inspection of the Corp in April 1917.

An Anti Aircraft Unit was the last Unit to be raised in Hull and was recruited in 14 days. It was staffed by reliable Officers, over Military age, and who had seen action. They were formed to combat the threat of Air Raids, particularly after the terrifying Zeppelin attacks on Hull. Again, Lord French congratulated the Brigade and particularly the efficiency of Section B men compared with others in Britain.

These reserve Battalions were trained in Holderness by Special Instructors and drilled in musketry, bayonet fighting and bombing. Each Volunteer Battalion was assigned a defined role and place in times of invasion. Night Coast Patrol work was performed during several months in 1916 and three critical months in 1918.

A study of the Official Volunteers list shows that out of 88 Counties providing volunteers, Hull and the East Riding furnished 5 Specialist Units. Northumberland, Durham and the Cities of Edinburgh and Dundee came next with four each. Eight others only had 3 units. This was another great achievement for the City of Hull.

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