100 Years Of The TA At The Queen's Lancashire Regiment Museum

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 21 August 2008
an old sepia toned photograph of a group of men in uniforms with sashes, belts and swords, some of them wearing shako helmets as they stand before two standards outside a brick building

4th Royal Lancashire Militia officers standing outside their Mess in Warrington.

All photographs courtesy and copyright The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment Museum.

Exhibition Notice - 100 years of the Territorial Army at the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment Museum at Fulwood Barracks, Preston until end of December 2008.

Following a recent discovery in a regimental archive, a new display of fascinating and never before displayed photographs is celebrating the history of the Territorial Army (TA) in Lancashire, in this their centenary year.

The photographs, which date from the late Victorian period right up to the aftermath of the Second World War, were discovered in the archive of the storerooms of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment Museum at the historic Fulwood Barracks, in Preston.

Now on display at the museum, they show how the TA in Lancashire has evolved from the Militia and Volunteer Battalions of the Victorian period to the force we have today.

Currently the TA has 36,000 soldiers in the UK, 10 per cent of which are from the North-west.

a black and white photograph of soldiers crowding the deck of a ship

East Lancashire Regiment volunteer soldiers sailing home from South Africa after taking part in the Boer War 1899-1902.

The TA has been an integral part of the British Army since its inception in 1908, prior to which the militia provided the voluntary element of the army.

The oldest military force in the country the militiia had existed on and off for 1,000 years. At first military service was compulsory but by the nineteenth century it had turned into a purely volunteer force.

Fittingly, one of the oldest photographs on display is a striking group shot of the Officers of the 4th Royal Lancashire Militia standing outside their Mess in Warrington.

a black and white photograph of three men in pith helmets standing inside a sandbagged trench

Soldiers of the 4th Battalion East Lancashire Regiment in a trench in Gallipoli.

In 1881 these militia regiments were redesignated as numbered battalions of regiments of the line, ranking after the two regular battalions. Typically, an English, Welsh or Scottish regiment would have two militia battalions (the 3rd and 4th).

Jump forward a few years and a similarly absorbing image can be found in a late Victorian photograph of men crowding the decks of a troop ship. It shows the East Lancashire Regiment Volunteer Soldiers sailing home from South Africa after taking part in the Boer War 1899-1902.

Many men volunteered to fight in South Africa from East Lancashire towns and villages such as Haslingden, Bacup and Burnley.

a black and white photograph of two soldiers with greatcoats and rifles crouching in a trench

Members of the 4th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment in the trenches at Kemmel, Belgium, early 1915.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Territorials provided a large proportion of the British Army overseas and photographs from this period include rare shots of soldiers of the 4th Battalion East Lancashire Regiment in a trench in Gallipoli.

The photographs are part of a collection taken by an unknown soldier from the 4th Battalion and the album is the only one in the Museum’s collection that contains photographs of the Gallipoli campaign.

Among others taken during the First World War is another photograph by an unknown soldier who snapped a candid shot of Territorials involved in early trench warfare on the Western Front.

a black and white photograph of soldiers using machine guns on a firing range

The 4th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment using the ranges betwen the wars.

Members of the 4th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment are shown in the trenches at Kemmel, Belgium, early 1915.

The trenches at Kemmel at this stage of the war were little more than waterlogged ditches and the photograph shows how there was scant protection from the elements and even less protection from the enemy.

Other photographs including one from October 10 1918 taken in Cambrai, France capturing the atmosphere of the trenches and the conditions that had to be tolerated.

a black and white photograph of soldiers clambering over a fence on exercise

The 4th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment on a training exercise between the wars.

Between the wars training continued with members of the TA required to attend an annual training camp and a series of photographs show members of the 4th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment using the ranges and on a training exercise.

Later shots show territorial soldiers being inspected by commander Field Marshal Montgomery in Bolton in 1949 whilst others date from April 1964 when the 5th Battalion The Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) was given the freedom of Bolton.

All photographs courtesy and copyright The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment Museum.

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