Pillbox, Shako, and Cap/Chapter II
Preparations for war[edit | edit source]
Britain’s isolationist stance came to an end, when she agreed a treaty with Japan in 1902, and two years later, the entente cordiale with France. It was believed, by all the experts, that Germany would take umbrage, and force an issue with France. That moment came when The Kaiser sent his troops through neutral Belgium to invade France. That murderous event was far away from the thoughts of an excited bunch of lads, marching down the high road... about to join the Volunteers...
In 1906, soon after his seventeenth birthday, Albert turned up at the Kensington Volunteer Rifle Corps Headquarters, with his friends - to keep an appointment. There they were to fill in the necessary enrolment forms, and take part in the Army medical. If both were accepted, the recruits had to swear allegiance to The Queen. It had been a bit of a wrench leaving the Boy’s Brigade, for they had all been keen members – it had been eight dedicated years - taking part in all the drill competitions, and for Bert, playing the piano for the Sunday bible readings.
After the attestation the lads were lead to the Quartermasters Stores to receive their uniforms. This to them was the most exciting part as they all fancied walking down High Street, Kensington, in their new uniforms. The colour of the cloth was field-grey with shaped cuffs. The buttons tarnished - just waiting for all the hard work to turn them into sparkling brass. The helmet, grey too, looked very similar to a policeman’s helmet, plus a spike on the top. All the fittings: spike, badge and chin strap, came separately, also needing much cleaning. The recruits were each handed a kit-bag to carry the boots, socks, shirt and vests, plus the belt, scabbard and bayonet. 'It was not going to be easy to carry this lot home'.
The Kensington Rifles, had been adopted by the Royal Borough of Kensington and granted permission to take the Borough’s Coat of Arms, mounted centrally within an eight pointed star, as a cap badge. Colonel A J Hopkins VD was the commanding officer. The Kensington Volunteers moved to a purpose built Headquarters at Adam and Eve Mews, Iverna Gardens, Kensington in 1908, and were now under the command of Lieutenant Colonel A Sutherland-Harris.
Under the reorganization of the Volunteers, by the Secretary of War, the 4th Middlesex [North] Volunteer Rifle Corps [VRC] Kensington Rifles, were to be amalgamated with the 2nd [South] Middlesex. Together these two Rifle Corps represented the London Boroughs of Kensington and Fulham. This amalgamation joined north and south Middlesex together under one Battalion, to be called The London Regiment, Territorial Force Association. The 13th [County of London] Battalion, The London Regiment [Kensingtons] now became a Territorial Force, with its Headquarter, and A-H Companies, at Iverna Gardens, Kensington.
In January 1909 the Army Council declared the Battalion should become a ‘line’ regiment bearing colours, relieving the battalion of its ‘Rifle’ designation. Brigaded, with the Queen’s Westminster’s [16th London], Civil Service Rifles [15th London], and the London Scottish [14th London], in the 4th London Infantry Brigade. Lord Truro and Lord Ranelagh decided on a grey uniform with red facings, and a shako [tall pillbox with a plume] with a glazed peak. The belts were to be black and the uniform trimmings were of buff laces with silver appointments. To contain an assortment of necessary items a starched white haversack completed the uniform. They became known as the ‘Grey Brigade’... their uniform became regularized to khaki shortly afterwards. When war was declared this force was mobilized to become part of Britain's Home Defence.
The Regiments Headquarters was positioned close to the home of Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria. King Edward VII was approached by The Regiment [In peace time a regiment had two regular Battalions - one abroad the other at home, in time of war three Battalions - the extra recruiting and training to make up the numbers of the other two] to ask if Princess Louise would associate her name with the regiment – he gave his consent, and she, taking an interest, organized the design and production of the regiment’s colours. The colour were duly consecrated and presented to the Regiment by King Edward VII at Windsor on the 19th June 1909. Thereafter the Regiment was referred to as the 13th London Regiment. The Princess Louise, four years later, consented to give her name to the Regiment. In 1914, the 1st Battalion was billeted in the White city stadium, there waiting to go to France - with The Expeditionary Force, and the 2nd Battalion at Abbots Langley, near Watford – training at summer camp - for ‘Home Service’; the 3rd Battalion was recruited much later, when the numbers killed and wounded of the other two, seriously threatened their efficiency. --Terence Kearey 23:07, 22 August 2010 (UTC)