The Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment

Militia, Volunteers and Territorials

The First World War

Corporal signaler of The Queen's Royal (West Surrey) Regiment dressed as a despatch rider c1917 and a private of The East Surrey Regiment c1917.
Corporal signaler of The Queen's Royal (West Surrey) Regiment dressed as a despatch rider c1917 and a private of The East Surrey Regiment c1917..
(Click to enlarge)

On August 4th 1914 war was declared and the Territorials mobilised and were allocated to their respective stations. Artillery units manned coastal guns whilst the Yeomanry maintained mounted patrols in various parts of the country.

Infantry were placed in strategic positions ready to repel any invaders.

But hearts and minds were focused abroad and, as expected, volunteers were soon forthcoming for overseas service. Members of the Territorial Force and the Territorial Force Nursing Service who so volunteered before September 30th 1914, and who actually served overseas, were later granted the Territorial Force War Medal which was instituted in 1920.

As well as European service, many TA units went to far distant territories such as India and Egypt to replace Regular Army Regiments who were being recalled for service on the Western Front. There bitter winter conditions accompanied heavy fighting and heavy casualties during the opening months of the war. Before the end of the year twenty-three Territorial Battalions were serving alongside their Regular Army comrades and sharing their hardships and losses.

At home any ideas that the war was going to remain far away were rudely shattered in November and December 1914 when units of the German Fleet shelled East Coast towns including Great Yarmouth, Scarborough, Whitby and the two Hartlepools. Territorials of the Durham Royal Garrison Artillery engaged the enemy in a ferocious gun duel which was heard throughout the county.


The 1914 Star


The British War Medal


The Victory The Victory Medal 1914-1919


The Territorial Force War Medal

The 1914
The British War
The Victory
The Territorial
War Medal

(Click to enlarge)

These medals were awarded for service during the First World War.

The 1914 Star was authorised in 1917. In 1919 King George V authorised the award of a clasp to the 1914 Star, to all who had been under fire in France or Belgium between 5th August and 31st December 1915.

The British War Medal commemorates some of the most terrible battles the world has ever known. Instituted in 1919 by King George V to mark the end of the Great War.

The Victory Medal was authorised in 1919 to commemorate the victory of the Allies over the Central Powers.


Away at the Front there was an informal and temporary cessation of hostilities at Christmas time when troops from both sides came out of their trenches to fraternize in No Man’s Land. Among them were members of the Territorial Regiment the Kensingtons. (13th Londons).

Valour was not lacking among the Territorials. Many decorations for gallantry were gained, including Victoria Crosses. Two distinguished Territorials both of the Royal Army Medical Corps, were individually double VC winners. Lieutenant A Martin-Leake won his first Victoria Cross in South Africa in 1902 and gained a bar to it in Flanders in 1914. Captain N G Chavasse was awarded his first VC in France in 1916 followed by a bar in Flanders the following year.

To help fill the gaps in Infantry ranks caused by heavy casualties, many Yeomanry Regiments fought dismounted although there were occasional chances to fulfill their mounted cavalry role as shown by the charge of the Northumberland Hussars at Morlancourt on the Somme in 1918. But barbed wire and machine guns had severely limited the role of the horse on the Western Front.

In the Middle East there was more opportunity for equestrian activity. The 2nd Mounted Division re-formed as cavalry in 1916 while some Regiments fought both mounted and dismounted in Salonika. Some Yeomen found themselves with unusual mounts when they were accepted for service in the Imperial Camel Corps.

At Gallipoli thirty-one Yeomanry Regiments fought dismounted on the peninsula during the last five months of the campaign. No-one needs telling that the total cost of the war in human lives was horrific. Of British and Commonwealth soldiers there were 908,000 dead of whom 129,806 were Territorials. Many more were crippled or blinded for life. Small wonder that by November 1918 enthusiasm for military activity had waned somewhat.


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