The Lothians during World War One (III) – Mobilisation
When Lieutenant-colonel Lord Binning called the roll of the mobilised Lothians and Border Horse at Haddington at the start of August 1914, 371 officers, NCOs and troopers answered; this posed an immediate problem as the wartime establishment for the regiment was 506!
An urgent call went out for reservists and volunteers to fill in the gaps. Friends of the enlisted were appealed to and notices were posted around the rural areas where the regiment was recruited. These appeals were successful. By September a full complement was achieved and the embodied regiment, to a man, offered for foreign service. And now Lord Binning had a second problem: who would take over the regiment’s home service duties?
The process of reorganising the regiment for active service was already providing some answers. Some of those who had answered the calls were too old, too young or simply not (yet) fit enough for front line duties. New recruits were still coming forward – another 200 in September alone – and the final push in October topped out the numbers such that on the 20th November, the Haddingtonshire Advertiser was able to report the second-line regiment was complete; Lieutenant-colonel Lord George Scott commanded and the new 2/1st assembled and trained in Edinburgh. One final appeal was required: there was a need for saddlers and farriers.
An excellent opening is here presented for Border, Mid and East Lothian tradesmen. We believe that good tradesmen will have no reason to complain of the remuneration. Intending applicants should not hesitate to get into communication with the officers. (East Lothian Courier)
As the regiment assembled they had to be accommodated. Their first camp in Neilson Park, Haddington, was given up for a second in the grounds of Amisfield House nearby. Timber huts were built to accommodate 30 men (a troop) each; others served as orderly rooms and offices, stores, and all the other functions of an embodied regiment. They were complemented by stables, which each gave room to 38 horses. Plans were on foot to provide concrete floors for the stables. It was reported that both sets of buildings were going up in November and some were ready by the start of December, allowing the men to leave their tents and the horses the open grounds before winter took a deep hold.
The winter and spring were spent in building defences, working-up and other training duties and integrating the men into the new table of organisation. In May the regiment packed up again and moved down to their old stamping grounds at Hedderwick. It was there, in July, that the regiment was made aware of a change of role: they reverted to cavalry! They also learnt that the regiment would be split up for overseas service. The expansion of the number of divisions that the British Army intended to put in the field had created a need for (small) divisional cavalry units; each squadron of the Lothians was assigned to a different division. After another rapid period of readjustment the regiment was dispatched to Salisbury Plains and Aldershot to join their divisions.
A Squadron – 26th Division
B Squadron (with RHQ and the machine gun troop) – 25th Division
C Squadron – 22nd Division
During September 1915 the squadrons with their respective divisions moved to France.
Keywords: World War One, First World War, WWI, WW1