T.E. Sandall, History of the 5th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment (1922)


The Reconstitution of the Battalion

The War History of the Battalion may be fittingly deemed terminated with the return of the Cadre from France and the ceremony of depositing the Colours in the Parish Church at Grimsby.

Thereafter occurred an interregnum in its activities, as in the case of all other Territorial Battalions after the war.

The Quartermaster, Captain W. H. Plumtree, with Lieut. P. Uppleby, who had remained in France with the baggage party, proceeded to Boulogne on July 25th, 1919, and from there were sent to Clipstone for demobilization.

On returning to Grimsby Capt. Plumtree found the Drill Hall still in occupation of the 3rd V.B. Lincolnshire Regiment, and this continued until February, 1920.

This period of suspended animation may be considered as terminating on February 16th, 1920, on which date recruiting for the Territorial Force was reopened by Army Order 42; Captain Plumtree took over the Drill Hall from the Volunteers, and Regimental Sergt.-Major F. Taylor arrived from the Depot Lincolnshire Regiment.

A number of temporary recruiters, mostly from Highland Regiments, simultaneously arrived at the various out-stations.

On February 25th, 1920, notification was received from the Lincoln County Association of the re- appointment of Lieut.-Colonel H. G. Wilson, D.S.O., T.D., to the Command of the Battalion, and on [p199] April 1st Major G. H. Teall, D.S.O., arrived from the 1st Battalion at Tipperary on appointment as Adjutant.

Since Captain V. de Hoghton was killed in action at the Hohenzollern Redoubt no officer from a Line Battalion had held this appointment.

The first enlistment into the reconstituted Battalion was that of Private J. James, formerly of the 3rd Battalion, on April 9th, followed shortly afterwards by C.Q.M.S. S. Broadhead, Lance-Corporal C. G. Miller and Corporal C. W. Gatton, all old members of the Battalion; the above constituting the total strength on April 30th, 1920.

The following officers were appointed in June:

The introduction of the 4 Company system since mobilization in August, 1914, necessitated a re-arrangement of outstations and the following distribution was decided on by the Commanding Officer.

This was modified later on account of recruiting at Gainsborough being excellent, whilst that at Grimsby and Brigg was bad, and the final situation [p200] was that Barton was allotted to Grimsby until such time as the Machine Gun Platoon should be formed. Brigg, having no Drill Hall, was abolished and Gainsborough and Scunthorpe each allotted a complete Company.

In July three more officers were appointed: Captain B. C. Hall, an old member of the Battalion; Lieut. N. Gibson, from the 4th East Yorkshire Regiment; Lieut. Linley, the Battalion Transport Officer during the war, who was shortly promoted Captain and assumed Command of C Company.

The strength of the Battalion at the end of July was 10 Officers and 48 Other Ranks.

The Annual Training for 1920 was held at Skegness from July 25th to August 8th. Owing to the small numbers, however, the Battalion did not proceed as a Unit but a detachment was formed of those desiring to attend and was attached to the 4th Battalion.

Capt. H. B. Linley was in Command and Capt. W. H. Plumtree and 39 other ranks proceeded.

The Commanding Officer and Adjutant paid several visits to the detachment but did not remain throughout the period as all Drill Halls were kept open for recruiting purposes.

Recruiting began to improve about this time as the following extracts from the strength returns will show —

This was very largely on account of the excellent recruiting at Gainsborough due to the unaided efforts of Capt. H. B. Linley, who had no subalterns to assist him.


A summary of the strength by detachments will be of interest at this point.

C Company thus held the proud position of easily being the first Company to raise its full establishment, and as recruits continued to present themselves the Commanding Officer decided to raise a proportion of the Headquarter Unit there in order not to stop intending recruits joining.

Consequently band, drums, signallers, transport and pioneers were allotted to this detachment in addition to the Company.

The following officers had been gazetted during the above period:

Major J. H. Hadfield, who had served continuously in the Battalion since 1900, and who though suffering from the effects of wounds received in action was specially re-appointed to assist in the period of reconstruction.

The narrative has now been brought up to the commencement of April, 1921, and notices were appearing in orders regarding the Annual Training at Skegness when an event occurred which had far reaching consequences on the Battalion, as on the country in general; but whereas in the latter case these consequences were serious, in the former they were fraught with good results.

The national coal strike is referred to. [p202] Though this is not a history of the Defence Force Battalion, its affairs are so intimately connected with that of the Battalion proper, and had such far reaching results on it that some reference is necessary.

On April 8th, 1921, the Commanding Officer and Adjutant were summoned to the Brigade Headquarters at Lincoln by telephone and there was a conference on arrangements to be made should it be necessary to raise a Citizen Force for the protection of the vital needs of the Country.

On their way back to Grimsby in an evening paper bought at Retford, they saw that the necessity had actually arisen, and the following morning's papers had full details of the call to the nation.

Thereafter began a period of work to which the mobilization of August, 1914, was child's play.

Then a carefully prepared scheme was available to work on, and an existing Battalion had only to be mobilized. Now not only had a new Battalion to be raised, armed, clothed and equipped; for the Territorial Battalion was not mobilized; but all arrangements had to be improvised as the work progressed and the Battalion grew in numbers.

Battalion Headquarters were opened at the Grimsby Drill Hall; recruiting being simultaneously carried out at all the Company headquarters and outstations.

The response was excellent and on April 18th, 1921, on which date recruiting was stopped, the strength of the 5th Lincolnshire Regiment Defence Force was 28 officers and 513 other ranks.

Had recruiting not been stopped, the Battalion would have been at full peace strength in another 24 hours.

The following officers of the Territorial Battalion took Commissions in the Defence Force Battalion:


Major and Adjutant G. H. Teall,D.S.O., was appointed Adjutant and R.S.M. F. Taylor Regimental Sergt.-Major.

Large numbers of the W.O.'s, N.C.O.'s and men of the Territorial Battalion enlisted into the Defence Force Battalion.

The Battalion was concentrated at the old Royal Naval Air Force station at Killingholme on April 25th and remained there until the Defence Force was dispersed on July 7th, 1921, during which period it had been inspected by the G.O.C. 46th North Midland Division and Brigade Commander, Lincoln and Leicester Brigade, receiving most complimentary reports in each case.

The result of this embodiment of a Battalion based on the Drill Halls and organization of the Territorial Battalion and bearing practically the same designation was most marked.

In one year only 220 men had been raised; chiefly owing to the apathy that existed after the war. Men that had served through it had had enough soldiering whilst only the fringe had been touched in the case of the younger men who had been under military age at the time of the armistice.

Of these 220 men over one-half came from one station.

The rush of recruits for the Defence Force, at a time when there was every prospect of serious work in front of it at very short notice, showed that the old spirit, that brought men flocking to the Colours [p204] in 1914, was not dead; whilst the numbers at each Company Headquarters before the concentration at Killingholme, called the attention of local inhabitants of military age to the fact that a Battalion did exist in their midst, though they had, apparently been almost unaware of the fact.

During the embodiment period officers had taken the opportunity to bring before their men the advantages of the Territorial Army and to sow the seed that should bring forth the crop at the appointed time.

Directly the orders for the dispersal of the Defence Force were received, recruiting for the Territorial Battalion was opened and the results were more than gratifying.

Attestations had been prepared beforehand so that in many cases all that remained to do was to swear the men in. This could not be done till the day of their discharge from the Defence Force.

Fresh recruits, who had not served in the Defence Force, also commenced to present themselves for enlistment right up till the departure of the Territorial Battalion for its Annual Training at Skegness on July 27th.

Similarly as regards officers.

The old officers of the Battalion who had not been reappointed until the Defence Force mobilization, but rejoined at this period were:

Captain E. J. Hitzen, the senior Captain, who joined the Defence Force as Assistant Adjutant and was reappointed to the Territorial Force Battalion, taking over Command of A Company.

Captain W. Cowling, whose reappointment to the Battalion proper and to the Defence Force practically coincided.

Of the officers who had not previously served in the Battalion before the Defence Force, but from [p205] the latter were appointed to Commissions in it, there were four:

The result of all the above is best summed up by giving the strength of the Battalion as at August 1st, 1921.

Officers 18, other ranks 425. A gain of 205 men in four months. The final figures that will be quoted as of interest are those showing strength and distribution of the Battalion on April 1st, 1922, two years after the opening of recruiting and one year after the mobilization of the Defence Force.

This appears to be the point at which an account of the reorganization may be brought to a close.

Much has been accomplished in two years, much remains to be done, but it may be fairly claimed that the corner has been turned and the goal is in view.

The reorganization cannot be said to be complete till the full peace establishment of 637 is reached; but with the progression of recruiting steadily this may be looked for in the not distant future; and what must at all times be borne in mind by the [p206] older members of the Battalion, who saw service in the great war, is that their allotted span of soldiering is drawing to a close and it is to the younger generation that one must look to carry on those great traditions that have been built up in the past by their predecessors in the 5th Battalion the Lincolnshire Regiment.

To members of the young generation must they hold out every encouragement and inducement to join; and whom, having joined, must they endeavour to assist by imparting such knowledge as they themselves have gained in long years of service to King and Country.