Territorial Force Cigarette Cards (Part One)

Over the next five weeks we are going to be looking at a rather splendid set of cigarette cards issued by Players just before World War II depicting the Territorial Force and its forebears. As ever the artwork is superb and the captions of their time…

THE GUILD OF ST. GEORGE, 1537. Now: The Honourable Artillery Company

The Honourable Artillery Company has the longest continuous history of any unit, Regular or Territorial, in the Army List. It was formed by a Charter given by Henry VIII in 1537, still extant, to the Fraternity or Guild of St. George, to be Overseers of Artillery in the City of London. The members of the Guild were gentlemen who practised with “Longe Bowes, Crosbowes and Handgonnes” in the fields north of the City Wall. The subsequent history of the H.A.C. is of world renown. At the time of its formation uniform was not worn, and the picture shows a member of the Guild on his way to archery practice.

A SUSSEX GUNNER, 1588, Now: 58th (Sussex) Field Regiment, R.A.

Most of the early cannon made in England came from the iron works of the Sussex Weald, and it was customary for the gunmaker or his servants to serve their own guns in war. In 1542 Ralph Hog of Buxted, Sussex, made the first cast iron cannon, and in 1588 Sussex cast iron guns, with which many English ships were armed, outshot the brass guns carried by the Spanish Armada. The drawing shows a gunner from the Weald by his gun in one of the Cinque Port ships. The 58th (Sussex) Field Regiment, R.A., T.A., claims a direct descent form the old Sussex gunmakers.

TRAINED BANDS OF LONDON, 1643. Now: 60th (City of London) Anti-Aircraft Regiment, R.A.

This modern artillery unit has a very ancient lineage. It can be traced from the City Trained Bands of the 17th century through the Tower Hamlets Volunteers of 1794, and the Tower Hamlets Rifle Volunteer Brigade, 1868, to the 4th Bn. (City of London), The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) of 1908. In 1914 the 1st/4th Bn., The London Regt. Was one of the first Territorial units to proceed overseas, and had a distinguished war record in France and Flanders. The unit was converted to its present form in 1936. The picture shows a pikeman of the Trained Bands, 1643. In the background is the Guildhall, London, as rebuilt in the 17th century.

THE CASTLEMARTIN YEOMANRY, 1797. Now: 102nd (Pembroke and Cardiganshire) Army Field Regiment, R.A.

In 1797 over a thousand French troops landed in Pembrokeshire, and the Castlemartin Yeomanry, under Lord Cawdor, helped to repel the invaders. For this service, Queen Victoria in 1853 granted the battle honour “Fishguard”, the first carried by any volunteer unit of the British Army. Later the unit became the Pembrokeshire Yeomanry, taking part in the South African War and the Great War. In 1921 the unit was converted to artillery, and now forms the 102nd (Pembroke and Cardiganshire) Army Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, Territorial Army. We show a trooper of the Yeomanry in the uniform of 1797; Pembroke Castle appears in the background.

THE LAW ASSOCIATION VOLUNTEERS, 1803. Now: The Inns of Court Regiment

When danger from Napoleon threatened, London raised many corps of Volunteers, among which “The Law Association Volunteers” were prominent. At the Hyde Park Review of 1803 King George III nicknamed the Law Association “The Devil’s Own.” In Queen Victoria’s reign the Inns of Court Regiment formed part of the famous “Grey Brigade.” During the Great War it was an officer producing unit, training 11,000 officers. Today it consists of one horsed squadron and two light tank squadrons of cavalry. We show a member of the Law Association Volunteers in the dress of 1803. The background shows the Hall and Chapel of Lincoln’s Inn in the early 19th century.

THE DUKE OF CUMBERLAND’S SHARPSHOOTERS, 1803. Now: Queen Victoria’s Rifles, The King’s Royal Rifle Corps

When the numerous corps of volunteers were disbanded after Waterloo, two remained. One was the H.A.C. and the other The Duke of Cumberland’s Sharpshooters, later the Queen Victoria’s Rifles. The 1st Battalion of the Q.V.R. landed in France on Nov. 5th 1914, and a subaltern of the Regiment (2nd Lieut. Woolley) won on April 21st, 1915, on Hill 60, the first V.C. awarded to the Territorial Force. We show a soldier in the uniform of 1803; in the background may be seen the old Kilburn Schools, behind which the corps practised shooting during the 19th century.

THE EXETER AND SOUTH DEVON VOLUNTEER RIFLE CORPS, 1852. Now: 4th Bn. The Devonshire Regiment

In the middle of the 19th century, many people with the country’s interests at heart began to be concerned about the weak state of England’s defences and wished to revive the volunteer tradition of the Napoleonic period. The first of such units was formed in South Devon, where four companies were raised in 1852 by Dr (afterwards Sir) John Bucknill of Exeter. After the formation of this unit, one other was recognised in 1853, but no further Volunteer Corps were permitted until 1859. The picture shows an officer (1852) of the Exeter and S. Devon Volunteer Rifle Corps in front of Exeter Castle.

THE CITY OF LONDON RIFLE VOLUNTEER BRIGADE, 1859. Now: The London Rifle Brigade, The Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort’s Own)

Two battalions were enrolled at the Mansion House on Nov. 5th 1859 by the Lord Mayor of London, under the title of the City of London Rifle Volunteer Brigade. Their full dress headdress of black shako with cocks’-feather plume has been retained to this day.  The tunic was changed in 1913 to rifle-green with black facings. Three battalions of the L.R.B. were under arms in the Great War, two of which served overseas, the 1st Battalion disembarking in France on the regimental birthday, Nov 5th, 1914. We show a rifleman of the regiment in 1859, with the Royal Exchange in the background.

THE LONDON SCOTTISH RIFLE VOLUNTEER CORPS, 1859. Now: The London Scottish, The Gordon Highlanders

On July 4th 1859, a meeting of Scottish residents of London decided to form a corps known as “The Scottish Rifle Volunteers.” In the S. African War the Regiment send a service company to the Gordon Highlanders. In the Great War the 1st Bn. The London Scottish, was the first Territorial unit to land in France (Sept. 16th 1914) and the T.F. Infantry to be in action (Oct. 31st 1914 at Messines). We show a member of the Highland Company of the London Scottish, 1859, with the mill on Wimbledon Common (then frequently used as a camping ground by London volunteers) in the background.

THE 1ST CITY OF EDINBURGH RIFLE VOLUNTEER CORPS, 1859. Now: 4th/5th (Queens Edinburgh) (52nd Searchlight Regt.) The Royal Scots (The Royal Regt.)

This was the first volunteer regiment to be organised in Scotland and was popularly known as “The Edinburgh Blacks” from the dark colour of its uniform. With the formation of the Territorial Force, the Brigade was organised as the 4th and 5th Bns. (Queen’s Edinburgh Rifles), The Royal Scots. Both battalions fought at Gallipoli. In 1922 they were amalgamated, and in 1938 were reorganised as a Searchlight Regt. We show a member of the Corps of 1859, with the Scott Monument, Edinburgh, in the background.

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