The Army

During the Edwardian era the Army had two principal roles, the first was to guard the Empire, the second was to have available at short notice sufficient soldiers to provide an Expeditionary Force in case it was needed to protect Britain's interests. It had two quite different organisations. The basis was the Regimental system which provided the 'home' for a soldier. By and large infantry regiments were associated with a County although there were Guards regiments which were national in character. A county regiment usually had two regular battalions for men engaged for 7 to 12 years, one or two Territorial battalions for part time soldiers formed to defend Britain and a Special Reserve of men who had undergone the full training, returned to civilian life and attended an annual camp. Regular Cavalry regiments were mostly national in character and much smaller than infantry regiments.The Territorial Cavalry Regiments were generally known as The Yeomanry. In addition there were the Corps. These were organisations which provided men with particular specialisms and ranged in size from the Royal Engineers or Army Service Corps to the Chaplains and Prison Guards. Infantry regiments with two regular battalions would have one as the 'away' team posted abroad for 7-10 years and the other as the 'home' team engaged on recruitment, training and being part of the potential Expeditionary Force.

The other face of the Army was the putative Expeditionary Force. This was organised into Brigades and and Divisions and battalions from the infantry were allocated to a brigade in groups of four, together with supporting companies culled from the Corps. Three Brigades, each under a Brigadier General, then formed a Division under a Major General. On regular occasions the 'home' battalions, each under a Lieutenant Colonel, would assemble for practice manoeuvers as brigades and divisions.

Should the occasion arise an Expeditionary Force would be assembled under the command of an officer ranking just above that of the largest allocated formation and despatched to the Theatre where it was needed. Altogether the total potential Expeditionary Army had six Divisions each of around 20,000 men plus specialists and staff totalling around 160,000. There were another 40-50,000 men in 'away' units and around 500,000 Territorials of all sorts.

When the Great War broke out in 1914 the Expeditionary Force was made up of all available troops in six Divisions and the 'away' battalions were recalled to form another two Divisions, to be replaced by mainly Territorial units who had agreed to serve abroad.

Fred Potts had joined the Berkshire Yeomanry around 1908 and you can read more about them by clicking HERE

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