In subdued or bronzed brass. A circlet inscribed ‘Somerset County’ with an imperial crown above and a scroll inscribed ‘Volunteer Regiment’ below. In the centre a shield bearing the Wessex dragon. To the reverse a slider fitting with the impressed maker mark ‘Thomas Fattorini / Bolton’. 41.4mm tall, 32.6mm wide.
Some snippets from the contemporary press:
Wells Journal 25 June 1915
The Somerset County Volunteer Regiment.
Wells, Wookey Hole, and District Corps.
The following appeal has been issued by the undersigned for pecuniary assistance on behalf of the local contingents of the Volunteer Training Corps: —
Dear Sir or Madam:
Consequent on the amalgamation of the Wells and Wookey Hole contingents the training corps has now over 80 members, and the number is steadily increasing. Pecuniary assistance to the volunteer force has hitherto been refused by the Government, and it is unlikely there will be any relaxation of this rule, unless, and until the volunteers are called up to assist the Regular and Territorial forces. This means that until such time arrives all expenses for the formation, equipment, and training of the volunteer corps must be borne by the volunteers themselves, or by those who are in sympathy with the volunteer movement.
It is estimated that the expenses of corps for the first year will be at least £125 (exclusive of arms and uniform). Many of the members of the corps have patriotically offered, in addition to giving their time and personal services, to contribute towards the pecuniary expenses, but it cannot be expected that the force will be entirely self-supporting, and the committee feel it necessary to invite contributions from the community for whose protection the corps has been formed. The committee, therefore, trust you will see your way to assist by sending a contribution to either of the undersigned.
A. Thrale Perkins, Colonel. C.B., Regimental Commandant.
G. Weston Wheeler, Mayor of Wells.
Robert Norton, Chairman of the Committee.
R. Granville Harris, William J. Bown, Arthur T. Meakins, Ernest E. Sheldon, Section Commanders.
Edward B. Smith, Commandant V.A.D. Men’s Detachment.
Edward P. Foster, Honorary Secretary and Treasurer.
Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser 30 June 1915
Somerset County Volunteer Regiment.
Regimental Orders by Colonel A. Thrale Perkins, C.B., Commandant.
1.— For administrative purposes the regiment will be divided into five Battalions, under a Battalion Commandant, with headquarters at Taunton, Wells, Bath, Weston-super-Mare, and Yeovill.
2.—The existing corps will be comprised in the districts the various battalions as under: —
TAUNTON BATTALION. — Taunton, Williton, Dunster, Minehead, and Wellington.
WELLS BATTALION. — Wells, Cheddar Valley, Wookey Hole, Shepton Mallet, and Street.
BATH BATTALION. — Bath.
WESTON-SUPER-MARE BATTALION. — Weston-super-Mare, Wrington, Burnham, Highbridge, Bridgwater, and Westonzoyland.
YEOVIL BATTALION. — Yeovil.
3.— The Regimental Commandant will be glad to receive from each Battalion nominations for gentleman to be appointed as Battalion Commandants and Adjutants, and will make his appointments for such names as may be submitted to him.
4.— The Regimental Commandant has appointed Mr H. Byard Sheppard as Regimental Adjutant and Honorary Secretary, to whom all correspondence should be sent to his address at 8, Hammet Street, Taunton, and by whom all orders will be issued.
5.— The Regimental Commandant will be glad to hold inspections of any of the Corps under his command at suitable dates, on application from company commanders.
6.— It is hoped that all Corps will loyally fall in with the arrangements as above, and that these may result in a harmonious consolidation which it is anticipated will result in a successful organisation which may be for the good, not only of our country in particular, but of some practical use to the Empire in general in this time of need, when the co-operation of all military bodies maintain to bring this war to a successful issue.
H. BYARD SHEPPARD, Adjutant.
Taunton, 23rd of June 1915
Wells Journal 02 July 1915
The Somerset County Volunteer Regiment.
Wells, Wookey Hole, and District Corps.
By Colonel A. Thrale Perkins, C.B., Commandant.
1.— The Wells and Wookey Hole Sections will parade in the Recreation Ground Barn on Tuesday, the 6th inst., at 8 p.m., for a route march.
2.— The Wells Sections will parade in the Recreation Ground Barn on Thursday, 8th instant, at 8.15 p.m., and on Saturday, the 10th at 7 p.m.
3.— The Wookey Hole Section will parade at Glencot (in the Club House if wet) on Thursday, the 8th instant, at 8 p.m., and on Saturday the 10th instant, at 3 p.m.
4.— More men are urgently required. Applications may be made to the Section Commanders or the Honorary Secretary.
5.— Section Leaders have been appointed, viz.: Mr T.E. Jones, No. 1 Section; Mr E.J. Stead, No. 2 Section.
By Order, Edward P. Foster Corps Secretary.
Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser 07 July 1915
Somerset County Volunteer Regiment.
Lord Waldegrave as President.
Challenge Cup Presented to Taunton Corps
Lord Waldegrave has accepted the office of President of the Council of the Volunteer Regiment, which is in the course of formation, and will comprise all the affiliated Volunteer Training Corps in the county. Col. Thrale Perkins, C.B., has been appointed Regimental Commandant, and Mr H. Sheppard Regimental Adjutant. The Bishop of Bath and Wells has accepted the chaplaincy of the Regiment. The Regiment has adopted the Wessex Dragon as the regimental badge.
His Honour Judge Lindley and the Hon. Mrs Walter B. Lindley have presented to the Taunton Volunteer Training Corps a magnificent silver cup to be shot for at the end of the war by members of the Corps who are either marksmen or have won the monthly shooting competition, and in each case have attained an average of at least 3 drills a fortnight after 1 July 1915. An appeal has been issued for the raising a fund of £400 for the equipment of the Corps. His Honour, Judge W.B. Lindley (chairman of the committee of the Corps) has contributed 20 guineas and captain Sir Gilbert Wills, Bart., M.P., £10 towards the fund.
Wells Journal 23 July 1915
Volunteer Training Corps. — The attention of readers is called to a Promenade Concert and dance to be held in the beautiful grounds of the Combe (by kind permission of C.C. Tudway, Esq.) on Wednesday next the proceeds to be in aid of the funds of the Wells, Wookey Hole, and District Corps of the Somerset County Volunteer Regiment. Selections will be given by Wells City Band, augmented by A.S.C. String Band, the Wookey Hole Male Voice Choir, and several well-known local artistes will assist gates open at 6:30 p.m. admission 6d.
Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette 14 August 1915
Somerset County Volunteer Regiment.
Regimental orders by Col A. Thrale Perkins, C.B. Regimental Commandant. August 4, 1915.
The following appointments have been made by the President, the Earl Waldegrave, V.D., bearing date 30th of July 1915: —
To be Regimental Commandant Col A. Thrale Perkins, C.B.
To be Regimental Adjutant Mr H. Byard Sheppard.
Taunton Battalion. — To be Commandant: S.H.Woodhouse.
Wells Battalion. — To be Adjutant Mr Daniel Hinchcliffe.
Bath Battalion. — To be Commandant: Major Stonhouse –Gostling.
Weston-super-Mare Battalion. — To be Commandant Colonel T. Foster Barham.
Administration. — For administrative purposes the Keynsham Corps will be attached as a Platoon under command of Mr Alfred Lowe, to the Bath Battalion. The Yeovil Corps, until sufficient numbers have been enrolled in this neighbourhood to former Battalion, will be attached to the Wells Battalion, under command of Col Yates.
Inspections. — It is necessary that before the affiliation the Regiment and Battalions can be completed that all Corps must be inspected by the Regimental Commandant. Applications for inspection should be sent in the first instance to the Battalion Adjutant, who will forward them to the Regimental Adjutant. The Regimental Commandant will endeavour to suit the convenience of the Corps commandants in this matter.
Uniform samples of material suggested will be kept at Headquarters. Uniform to be strictly in accordance with design laid down by the Central Association, V.T.C.
The Regimental Commandant will be glad if Battalion Commandants will arrange their battalions into Companies and Platoons under their own officers to suit local convenience, and report to headquarters when this is completed.
..H. Byard Sheppard, Regimental Adjutant.
Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette 11 September 1915
Somerset County Volunteer Regiment
Regimental Orders No. 3
By Col A. Thrale Perkins C.B., Regimental Commandant.
1.— the following appointments have been made by the Regimental Commandant: —
To be Regimental Chaplain the Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells.
To be Honorary Treasurer: the Hon. Walter B. Lindley.
To be Regimental Quartermaster Major J.R.F. Lightowlers, R.A.
To be Commandant No. 3, Wells and Yeovil Battalion: Colonel O.V. Yates.
To be Adjutant No. 1, Taunton Battalion: Mr W.E. Lawson.
To be Adjutant No. 4, Weston-super-Mare Battalion: Mr Duncan Tucker.
To be Sub-Commandant No. 4 Battalion: Mr A. Rogers Ford.
2.— The following appointment made by Battalion commandants are approved: —
As Company Commandant No. 2 (Bath) Battalion: Mr Alfred Lowe.
As Company Commandants No. 4 Battalion; Dr H.C. Bristow, Mr J.A.Whittaker, Major Archdale, Mr H.T. Daniel.
3.— The Regimental Commandant has appointed Sgt instructor James Seale to be Regimental Sergeant Major.
4.— The following Corps have passed a satisfactory inspection, and are fully affiliated by the Regimental Commandant, viz. : Wells and Keynsham.
5.— The Regimental Adjutant and Regimental Quartermaster are granted rank as Battalion Sub- Commandants.
6.— In future all applications for Brassards, Regimental Badges and Central Association V.T.C. Badge must be sent through the Battalion Adjutants to the Regimental Quartermaster (Major J.R.F. Lightowlers), at the Territorial Hall Taunton. No further issues of badges or Brassards will be made direct to the Corps by the Central Association V.T.C. Regimental badges for wearing on uniform or as a buttonhole badge for plain clothes can now be supplied, price 4d. each. Applications must state which type of badge is required, and payment must be made before delivery. Cheques should be made payable to the Hon. Treasurer the Hon. Walter B. Lindley, and crossed “Parr’s Bank Taunton Branch.”
7.— Battalion Commandants are requested to complete the organisation of their battalions with as little delay as practicable.
8.— A pattern of uniform approved by the Regimental Commandant can be seen on application to the Regimental Quartermaster.
9.— Battalion Adjutants are requested to send a copy of Battalion Orders as issued to the Regimental Adjutant for filling at Headquarters.
10.— In accordance with the terms of the letter received by the Central Association V.T.C. From the War Office, adequate steps must be taken to ensure that Brassards are recovered from men who on leaving a Corps are no longer entitled to retain them. Such Brassards must be returned to the Battalion Adjutant, who will forward them to the Regimental Quartermaster. The will be burnt by him and a record kept of those so destroyed. Brassards are the property of the State, and cannot, therefore, be allowed to pass into the private ownership of individual members of Corps to whom the issued. It will be understood that any improper use of the Brassard renders the offender liable under the Defence of the Realm Act.
11.—The attention of the Company Commanders is drawn to the following regulation issued by the Central Association V.T.C. on 26 July 1915: “the completion of 40 drills does not do away with the obligation for volunteers to continue to attend drills. A member of a Volunteer Corps who does not attend a minimum of 4 drills per month, shall be liable to be struck off the roll of the Corps unless absent on leave, given by the Commanding Officer of his unit.”
H. Byard Sheppard Regimental Adjutant. Taunton 28th Aug 1915.
Western Chronicle 17 September 1915
(District News : Wincanton, Rural District Council.)
Suggested Formation of a Volunteer Corps. —
A letter was read from the Regimental Adjutant and Hon. Secretary (Mr. H. Byard Sheppard), of the Somerset County Volunteer Regiment to the effect: — “I find that no Volunteer Corps affiliated to the Central Association V.T.C., has yet been raised in your town. I should be much obliged if you could tell me whether the formation of such Corps has been considered, and if so what were the reasons why the movement received no support. There are now 19 Corps in the county, and the organisation of these Companies and Battalions is nearly complete. Ample room has however, been left for expansion, so that units which may be affiliated hereafter can be linked up with the Battalion of their own district. These Corps are primarily formed from men over 40 years of age (or in the case of those who have previously served in H.M. Forces for over a year 45 years of age) so that they may be instructed in drill and musketry with a view to qualifying them to undertake such duties as would when required liberate fully trained men for active service. It should be clearly understood though that no man becoming a member of any such Corps can be compelled to leave his present employment for the purpose of taking up guard or other duties without pay. The movement is, as you are probably aware, recognised by the War Office, and the Home Office has issued instructions to certain Lord Lieutenants to the effect that the men who are not of proper age and physique for enlistment should join the nearest Volunteer Training Corps, affiliated to the Central Association V.T.C., as the policy of the Government is to encourage every man to take his part in the present struggle, and that anyone who declines to enlist or to join an affiliated Corps will be treated as a non-combatant and liable to all non-combatant duties such as digging trenches, burying the dead, &c. Under these circumstances it would appear to be desirable that those in authority in every district in the county should take such steps as they may think fit for bring the subject to the nose of those resident in the area with a view to a Volunteer Training Corps been formed in such district. I need hardly point out the beneficial effect which the example set by the older men has on those who are younger and have not yet come forward to offer their services. I am enclosing a copy of the leaflet issued by the Central Association Volunteer Training Corps which will give you fuller information on the matter.” — A short discussion ensued, after which the Rev. Newton Parsons moved a letter be sent to the Parish Councils of Brunton, Castle Cary, Wincanton and Milborne Port, and to any other district where they had sufficient population to warrant the formation of a unit, asking whether they were prepared to move in the matter. — Col. Kelly seconded, and it was carried.
Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette 14 October 1916.
Somerset Regiment Reviewed.
Ceremonial day in Berkshire.
Important Speech by Lord French.
But Volunteers Must Serve for War Period.
last Sunday was a historic occasion in connection with the Somerset County Volunteer Regiment, since, following the Government recognition of the Corps upon a territorial basis, the Regiment was officially inspected by Field Marshal Lord French, with a view to ascertaining its potential effectiveness. Inspection took place at Uffington, Berkshire; and special trains conveyed troops thither. As far as the 2nd Battalion was concerned, the headquarters (Bath) companies, with cyclists, band and drums, paraded in front of the G.W.R. station at 9 o’clock. The Radstock and Peasedown companies, travelling by road, joined them from there; and the Keynsham, Yeovil and Frome companies were entrained so as to connect up a special troop train. Thus a considerable accession was received at Chippenham. At Shrivenham, one station past Swindon, Holt was made, and a party of N.C.O.s and men was dropped to patrol the line in the direction of Uffington, five miles ahead. The main body detained at Uffington, while another patrol party was taken forward towards Wantage Road to guard six miles of railway in that direction.
On the large field adjoining Uffington station the two battalions of the regiment were eventually drawn up in a hollow square to await the arrival of the Field Marshal and his staff. Some of the companies in the 1st Battalion were armed with rifles of various patterns. The diversity in the colour of the uniforms was also a striking feature. But the men of all the companies move together with precision and steadiness, and the general movements were carried out with great credit to all concerned.
As the Field Marshal came on review ground, the armed companies presented arms and the band played the General Salute. Field Marshal and his staff then inspected the lines; and, having finished their tour, the officers were called forward, and forming among themselves in a hollow square within the square of men, the Field Marshal addressed them at length, and desired them to convey his remarks to their respective companies. Owing to the direction of the wind, the Field Marshal’s remarks were inaudible to the men.
LORD FRENCH’S SPEECH.
Lord French said: I desire to say how pleased I am with the smart appearance of the Somerset Volunteer Regiment, and I desire you to tell the N.C.O.s and men that I regard them as a very valuable addition to our defensive forces. You are not only the officers, but the leaders in this Volunteer movement, and much depends not only upon your training of the men, but also upon the spirit you infuse into them. There are one or two points I specifically desire you to impress upon them. First there has been an impression abroad that the volunteers were not wanted and were not valued. I desire you to tell them that such a feeling with regard to them does not exist, and has never existed. I’m commanded by his Majesty the King to tell you that he greatly values a Volunteer Force. Not only does he value you on account of your patriotism, but he also regards you as a very valuable addition to the forces. You are now taking the place of the old Volunteers, and as in war the unexpected so often happens, it is quite possible that the time may arrive when you will be responsible for the home defences, and it is for that event you should prepare. There has been some questions of equipment. You may tell your men that the necessary equipment will be found. It has been impossible up to now while not only the whole country, but the whole Empire has been one huge arsenal for the provision of equipment for our soldiers in the field, and also for our Allies, and has been taxed to the utmost to provide for them, that equipment could be provided for you. We are now in a position to supply your needs, and the extent to which has done must depend upon what you are ready to do. Under the present conditions Volunteers may retire from the Force on giving fourteen days’ notice. War is a very hard school, makes very heavy and severe demands upon those who serve; it may be that those demands may tax your patriotism to such an extent that many may avail themselves of this condition. I do not think so. I believe that the patriotism that has carried you so far will carry you through to the end of the war. But unless we can be sure that your services may be reckoned on for the continuance of the war the Government would hardly be justified in spending large sums on equipment. It is necessary that the Volunteers shall give their services until the end of the war, continuing, just as you are doing now, ready to be called upon for service if your services are required in emergency. I wanted to put this to your men, and impress upon them the responsibility of the task they undertake, and if they will do their part all the equipment necessary will be forthcoming. I’m very pleased with what I have seen today and I can only assure you once again that you will be used(?) and that we greatly value you as an addition to the defences of the country.
At the conclusion of the address, the volunteers give three lusty cheers for Lord French, on the call of Captain Usher, and the Field Marshal acknowledged these with a salute. Altogether there were about three hundred men on parade, including contingents from Trowbridge and Marlborough. Inspiriting selections were played by the band of the National Reserve, under band Sgt Exton, prior to the arrival of Lord French.
Later in the day the field Marshal visited Hullavington, Badminton and Stoke Gifford.
The field at Uffington was placed at the disposal of the Regiment by Mr Cooke, farmer.
THE PARADE STRENGTH.
The regiment was under the County Commandant Colonel Foster Barham, whose Adjutant was Captain Tucker. The parade strength was as follows: — 1st Battalion: Officers, N.C.O.s and men, 502. 2nd Battalion: Officers, N.C.O.s and men 589. Grand total 1091.
The staff of the 2nd Battalion was as follows: Major Stonhouse Gostling, in command; Captain and Adjutant A.H. Fortt, second-in-command; Hon. Lieut. And Q.M. F.H. Fortt; Medical Officer Dr Preston King; Admiral Cochran M.V.O., musketry instructor. The company officers were: A company, Captain Kersley, Lieut. Baker, Second Lieuts. Vincent, Barkuss, and Rushton. B Company, Captain Stuart Carter, Lieuts F. Mallett, H.T. Hatt and C.C. Botwright, Second Lieut. A.T. Candy: C. Company (Keynsham, Peasedown and Radstock). Captain A. Lowe, Second Lieuts. P.S. Smith, G. McMurtrie and J.G. Gregory. D. Company (Frome, Shepton Mallet, Evercreech, and Yeovill), Captain Ames, Second Lieuts. Spital, W. Ozzard, J.R. Allen, O.J. Allen, E.R. Chaffey, and A.L. Legge. Cyclists under Sgt Wilkie, parade strength 21. Band and drums under Bandmaster Jess of Russell, strength 42.
The patrolling of eleven miles of line from Shrivenham to Wantage Road was assigned to the 2nd Battalion. Double patrols were posted, five men to the mile, Lt Baker being in charge; and Lord French expressed his high appreciation of the exceedingly smart way in which they carried out their duties. The Field Marshal, it may be stated, travelled in an observation car, and was thus able to keep a keen lookout on the way the men were doing their work; and is another important fact to be noted that on Sunday the whole length of the line from Paddington to Bristol (via Badminton) was in the safekeeping of the Volunteers.
The officers who accompanied the Field Marshal were Colonel Sir Douglas Dawson, Major J.C. Brinton, Colonel H.F. Bowles, Captain H. Goadby, Defence Commander (No. 1 lines of communications), Colonel Golightly and his two staff officers, and Lieut.-Colonel C. Campbell.
The Field Marshal was met at Uffington station by Col Foster Barham, County Commandant, the command of the two battalions thus devolving in the meantime to Major Stonhouse Gostling.
The state of the distinguished field officer, who was accompanied by a staff of a dozen or so officers, was of brief duration, being concluded within half an hour; but, on leaving the field Lord French called for the Mayor of Bath (Lieut H.T. Hatt) and conversed with him privately for a few moments. Lord French attended his sympathies to the Mayor on the loss of his two sons and asked him to convey his sympathy to the Mayoress.
Three cheers were raised for the Field Marshal as he left the field.
Subsequently the battalions were marched past, and were put through various movements; the time being thus filled in until the return journey which commenced at 4 o’clock. The headquarters companies on reaching Bath were marched up to the General Post Office Bath and there dismissed.
Central Somerset Gazette 14 January 1916
Somerset Volunteer Regiment.
Appeal to “Derby” Recruits to Join or Train with the Volunteers.
General Sir H. Sclater, Adjutant-General of the Forces, has approved of the offer of the Central Association of Volunteer Training Corps, on behalf of affiliated Corps, two train men enlisted under Lord Derby’s Scheme but not called up, and this approval has also been endorsed by Lord Derby.
The Commanding Officer and Officers of the Street V.T.C., which is affiliated to the Central Association V.T.C., cordially invite all men in their district who have enlisted under the Group System to take advantage of the facilities afforded for ‘ acquiring the rudiments of drill, musketry, field training, etc., in their spare time.
The following are some of the advantages to be derived from the training which will be given: —
1.— It will enable men to get over the irksome recruit stage with a minimum of inconvenience.
2.— It will enable them to get into good physical condition and thus facilitate their subsequent training, and prevent any feeling of undue strain when the are called up.
3.— It will be of great assistance in securing early and rapid promotion when they join the Colours.
4.— Men in the same “Group” will, as far as possible, we train together, so that when called up they may, if they wish, joined the same Regiment, and thus retain the esprit de corps of their Volunteer Battalion.
The enrolment fee for the “Derby” recruits enrolling as members in this Corps is one penny per week, but “Derby” recruits can be “attached” for training purposes only, when they will not incur any financial liability whatever. Men who are full members of the Corps are entitled to the red G.R. Brassard and to wear the Corps Uniform. If they prefer to be “attached” for training purposes only, no expense will be entailed, but they will not be entailed to wear the red G.R. Brassard.
Times of Drills are arranged so as not to interfere with the regular occupations of those joining up. All men who wish to join are asked to give their name to the undersigned, from whom full particulars of the times of drill, etc., may be obtained.
F.Lovell, Platoon Com.
F.Simpson, Hon. Sec.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 29 February 1916
Volunteer Training Corps
Recognition at Last.
It has been a long time coming, but the Volunteer Training Corps have, at last, received full official recognition, and now form part of the defensive forces of the country. It is a long lane which has no turning, and, like many a country lane, the end of it comes suddenly to view just when the weary pedestrian is bracing himself for another effort. Only on Thursday, 17 February, the Prime Minister told us that he was still considering the position of the Force — he had been considering it for 14 months. And only on Thursday, 17 February, Mr Tennant was declaring a country his utter an entire ignorance of the desire of the VTC, and confession that he couldn’t do anything because the Prime Minister was still wearing the consideration cap. But, Hey Presto! As if a magician gracefully moved his wand to and fro, within a week comes announcement that the Cabinet has decided to give recognition and status to the V.T.C.throughout the country under the Volunteer act of 1863. Well, the Force deserves it. The members for 18 months have worked hard and long; they have dug trenches and acted as navvies and labourers; they have taken part in recruiting, we have guarded important works and buildings, they have done everything the authorities have required of them and they have done it without fee or reward. But they felt all the time they were not being fairly treated. They argued that they deserved to be recognised as part of the Army, so that in the event of accidents arising they should be entitled to some compensation, and in the event of their being compelled, while on guard duty is to resort to stern measures, they should be in the position of soldiers and not of civilians.
The Volunteer has never clamoured for uniform or pay, or to be permitted to oust the British soldier from the trenches. This is what the opponents of the organisation have tried to make some people believe. And, will it be credited, they succeeded in the case of Mr Tennant, the Under Secretary of State for War, who really should have known better? When he was apologising to the House of Commons for the Premier taking so long in considering the position of the Force, he suggested he could not expect the volunteers to take part in a prolonged campaign! Whoever said they could? Whoever suggested such a thing? Certainly not the volunteers, men over 40, who are joint for home defence, and home defence only. It may be possible, if necessary, to raise a few Battalions of Volunteers who are fit and hard enough to go across the water and do their bit among the trained troops. But if so, that must be arranged in the same way as Volunteers went to South Africa. No, the VTC is a force formed for assisting in home defence. It is a force which is anxious to be given work now being done at home by men who are capable of lining trenches in France, Flanders and elsewhere, and facing our enemies. It is a force full of patriotic fervour, which asks to be treated seriously, and to be made of use to the country. If Mr Tennant can assimilate these few sentences, he won’t make quite so many silly errors when speaking of VTC in the House of Commons.
It is now admitted that the fright which attacked one or two old fogies in Parliament and the War Office when the Force was established was altogether unnecessary. The VTC did not adversely affect recruiting — it did in yeoman service and promoting it; it did not prevent men from joining the Army, it encourages them to do so, and, more, the older men have put thousands of younger ones to shame by the enthusiastic manner in which they have submitted themselves to discipline, and have learnt the elements of drill and musketry. And it hasn’t, up to now, been a very expensive Force to the country. The red brassard issued to each enrolled man is the extent of the cost which a member has been to the nation, and if he had been asked nicely, I have no doubt he would have as cheerfully paid twopence or threepence for the “G.R.” badge as he did his couple of guineas for his uniform, his money for his ammunition, his subscription to his Corps for management expenses, and his own railway fares — full fares, too — when going to and fro to do work which he was invited to execute by the War Office or the Minister of Munitions!
But I think we can now let bygones be bygones and congratulate ourselves it has only taken Mr Asquith and Mr Tennant 14 months to consider the offer of the service of 300,000 men in the interests of the British Empire. I hope today when the Premier makes his promised speech in Parliament upon the future of the VTC that he will not go to the other extreme and kill them with kindness. If the Act of 1863 is revived that is practically all we want, and we don’t mind taking things by instalments. The members of the force are not so unreasonable as to expect everything all at once. If a certain number of men are requested to take up guard duty arm them properly — that is all that need be done for the time. In fact that the Volunteers are “Soldiers of the King” will give them the status they desire, and the fact that they will be attested, and, consequently, when I’m duty, will be subject to military law, will intensify the patriotic spirit which has caused them to work and wait patiently for this their hour of reward. Of course we all regret that the recognition that did not come sooner. Instead of 300,000 men the War Office could just have easily had 1 million men at their disposal. But I am certain and now the Volunteer is, in the view of the War Office, a soldier and not a civilian, it will bring many men into the ranks who have up to the present — perhaps with some force — argued: “What’s the use of joining a Force which is only partly recognised and which the Government do not seem inclined to take over?” It took several years for the government of the day to give recognition to the old Volunteer Force — now the Territorials; we may, at least, congratulate ourselves that we have received the official blessing with less delay, and, after all, we have been subjected to much less unkind criticism and vulgar abuse than did the men who in the Fifties banded themselves together when invasion threatened the country.
As I have said, we can let bygones be bygones, and only remember now the flattering things said of the volunteers in Parliament last Thursday week — some of them even by Mr Tennant. The under Secretary of State for War said “I would like to be among the first to recognise that these men who have joined the VTC have done so for purely patriotic motives; they have come forward to fight for their country should the occasion arise. . . . Not only might these VTC be of great value in emergencies, but already they have rendered very considerable services by guarding various vulnerable points at different places. . . . . . I know these VTC undertook certain obligations on the East Coast forts, and we are most grateful to them for doing so. . . . . . We are most anxious to encourage the enthusiasm and patriotism of these very loyal and earnest men, who, I think, have done real public service.”
. .. .. . .Lord French, Commander-In-Chief, paid a compliment to the VTC in consenting to their acting as guard of honour to him on his visit to Bath a few days ago. 300 members of the 2nd Battalion Somerset Volunteer Regiment paraded, and were inspected by his Lordship, who was very pleased with their appearance. Lord French, like the other eminent leaders of the British Army has nothing but praise for the patriotism shown by the Volunteers in the crisis through which the country is passing, and the force has generally met with the greatest consideration and kindness whenever it has been necessary to approach officers of high rank in the Army. It is hoped that the days of great difficulty have now passed. The VTC are no longer a semi-military body, but the portion of the defensive force of the kingdom. Those officers of the army who have given them encouragement in the past may pardonably feel a little proud that the organisation the assistant foster has now developed into a very important body. . . ..
Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser 20 June 1917
The Somerset Volunteer Regiment
Appeal for Recruits.
The following letter has been received by the Mayor of Taunton (Alderman H.J. Van Trump) from the officer commanding “C” Company of the 3rd Battalion, S.V.R.: –
“Dear Mr Mayor, — may I again ask you for your kind help in connection with recruiting for the Taunton detachment of this Battalion. We have lost some 20 to 30 members recently, being men of military age who have been called to the colours. So far we have obtained very few recruits to take their places, with result that the three platoons forming this detachment are getting considerably below strength. I had hoped that the notices in the press of the new section (for lads of 17 to 18), sanctioned by the War Office, would have resulted in a considerable increase in our numbers, but so far three only have joined out of the hundreds available. The war office are now pouring in equipment of all sorts, and giving every facility to men making themselves efficient. All the military schools of instruction are now open to Volunteers, who are largely availing themselves of these privileges. General Sir H. Sclater is coming to Taunton in ten days or a fortnight to inspect the local detachments and see how far they have progressed with their training. For the credit of Taunton one does not want the same remarks made here as were made in Exeter by Lord French few weeks ago, but Taunton is certainly asking for it, having regard to the apathy displayed. Do you think so an appeal by you through the Press would help matters? — Yours truly, H. Byard Sheppard, Capt.
Wells Journal 01 March 1918
Inspection of Volunteers at Wells
“An Excellent Body of Men”
The men of The Wells, Glastonbury and Street, Oakhill and Shepton Mallet detachments of the 3rd Battalion Somerset Volunteer Regiment, with contingents from Croscombe and Dinder, assembled at Wells on Sunday, about 140 strong, for company drill inspection by Major General T. Calley. The officers on parade were Col Kelly, Captain and Adjutant Bell, Capt R.A. Hobhouse, Lt R.G. Harris, 2/Lt W.J.Bown, Company Sergeant Major Hearn, Sergeant Major J. Seale, Sgt Curtis, etc.
2/Lt Bown was in charge of the Wells Detachment. Inspection took place on the Athletic Ground, and after the men had gone through various company drills by Capt Hobhouse, a hollow square was formed, and Major General Calley addressed the men telling them that he was very pleased with what he had seen there that day. It showed that if they could not put in so much time as the regular soldiers they put their heads as well as their muscles and backs into what they did do. He was very glad to have seen them, and to learn how keen they were to make themselves efficient. He congratulated those who, through age or other causes were unable to take their places in the front fighting line, on their willingness to give up their time in the defence of their country and homes in the event of an invasion, as by so doing they were releasing fit men at home for the front. They were doing a very valuable service for their country. There were lots of men about who were not doing their fair share and they ought to come and stand side-by-side with them and learn to defend their hearths and homes as they were doing. He would be able to report the commander that he had seen an excellent body of men who were doing good work for their country.
New title of Regiment.
Col Kelly then took a vote of the men as to the future title of the regiment, and the men unanimously voted in favour of “3rd Battalion Prince Albert’s Somerset Light Infantry.”
The men were later marched to the Market Square, where they were dismissed, but not before Captain Hobhouse had thanked Bandmaster Gerrish and the Bugle Band for their attendance. The Bugle Band, which has only been formed a very short time, is attached to the Wells Detachment, and is being trained by Bandmaster Gerrish. They played the men to and from the Athletic Ground, and also the Wells Detachment to their own quarters where Lt Bown again thanked them on behalf of the Wells Detachment