The formation of the Tyneside Scottish 
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The Tyneside Scottish Cap Badge

St.Andrew's Cross; on the lower tablet inscribed "Tyneside Scottish";

resting on the centre of the tablet and reaching to the centre of

the cross, a tower, surmounted by the Scottish Lion bearing in its

front paws a flagstaff carrying a swallow-tailed flag, in the centre

of which is a small St.Andrew's Cross; sprays of thistle emerge from

the tablet up each side of the cross. The badge is in white metal

for all ranks.

Kitchener's famous call to the Nation's young men came as a result of his realisation that the War was not going to be "over by Christmas", and that Britain was going to need a much bigger army. The problem was that there was no core to build on, the existing army was already in France, and so the Minister of War took the bold step of forming a completely new force. Despite opposition, Parliament eventually sanctioned the raising of a force of 500,000 men, and at the end of August 1914 Kitchener made his famous call for the "First Hundred Thousand". Thus was born the "New Army", known to many as "Kitchener's Army", the men of which it was made up being "Kitchener's Men".

When the people of Tyneside responded to the Minister of War's call to volunteer, it was not the first time that a local unit had been formed. In the summer of 1859, fears of a possible French invasion grew, and a number of local Militia forces were raised. Amongst these was the 1st Newcastle Rifles, formed by the surgeon Sir John Fife, members of the local Rifle Club forming the core of the unit. By the beginning of 1861 there were thirteen Companies in the unit, of which No.4 Company was formed largely from Scotsmen living in the area and was known as the Kilted Company, being entitled to wear Highland dress. By 1883, however, when the unit became known as the 3rd Volunteer Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, all Companies wore a uniform similar to its parent Regiment. On the death of Sir John Fife, the unit drifted into oblivion. In 1900, during the South African War, the Government called for the raising of local units of Volunteers to reinforce the Regular Army. Efforts were made to re-establish the former unit with Scotsmen living in Newcastle, and about 1,000 men quickly volunteered. The new unit failed to materialise, however, as the Authorities would only accept Service Companies formed from the existing Volunteer Battalions.

In 1914 several of the local dignitaries who had been involved with the previous attempt to raise a local unit were still in positions of authority, and so quickly responded to Kitchener's call. Once again they suffered disappointment, as can be seen from the First Report of the Honorary Secretary of the Tyneside Scottish Committee (Mr J R Hall), presented in December 1914. The Report records that, despite initial encouragement from the War Authorities, in September 1914 a change of mind seemed likely. On Saturday, 14th October Lord Haldane, the Lord Chancellor (who had organised the Territorial Force before the War), visited Newcastle, and was obviously influenced by the enthusiasm of the Committee, which immediately re-convened on the following Monday. Lord Kitchener's original intention, which was put into practice, was to form a Tyneside Brigade, consisting of one or two Battalions known as the 'Commercials', to be raised by the Chamber of Commerce, one Battalion formed by the Tyneside Irish Committee and one formed by the Tyneside Scottish Committee. At first, the latter Committee thought they would be hard pressed to raise a Battalion of 1,100 men, and hoped that, if they could raise some 700 or 800 men, the War Office would bring the unit up to Battalion strength with men from elsewhere. In the event, the response from the Tynesiders was overwhelming.

An initial problem faced by the Committee was that of finance. The National scheme envisaged that locally raised units would bear the cost of their own equipment, training, billeting etc. until the War Office took the unit over. Since this could be some considerable time, huge expenses could be involved. This problem was quickly removed from the Tyneside Committees by Mr Joseph Cowan of Stella Hall, who donated the then considerable sum of £10,000, one third of which was to go to each Committee. At the same time, Mr Cowan gave guarantees to the Committees' Bankers for further large sums, pending eventual reimbursement by the War Office. In the event the Committee raised some £500,000 before the War Office finally took over the Brigade.

Relieved of financial problems, the three Committees concentrated on the immediate task of recruitment. On Friday, 16th October 1914, the Head Recruiting Offices were opened at 17 Grainger Street West, with Branch Offices at North Shields, Wallsend, Hebburn, West Moor, Gosforth, Prudhoe, Sunderland, South Shields, Jarrow, Ashington, Bedlington and other places opening simultaneously. The results were staggering. By 26th October 1,268 men had been enrolled in the Tyneside Scottish, and the War Office sanctioned the formation of a second Battalion, which was completed in a further eight days. Another four days (including a Sunday) saw the raising of a third Battalion, and six days later sufficient men had volunteered to fill a fourth Battalion. So, instead of a Tyneside Scottish Battalion, within 28 days there came into existence a Tyneside Scottish Brigade, amounting to some 4,000 men.

At the same time, the Tyneside Irish Committee was recruiting at an equal rate, drawing largely from ex-patriate Irishmen who had been working in the coal fields of Northumberland and Durham. The local people followed the contest with great interest, and in the end both Committees claimed to be the first to raise a Brigade. The real winners will probably never be known, so close was the result.

Later, two Reserve Battalions of the Tyneside Scottish were raised, the 29th Northumberland Fusiliers at Alnwick in July 1915, and the 33rd Battalion at Hornsea in June 1916. The original intentions of the two Committees had been to restrict recruiting to Irishmen and Scotsmen, and to a large extent the former was achieved. The Tyneside Scottish, however, contained as many as 75% Geordies, men who did not try to pass themselves off as genuine Scotsmen, but who were attracted by the renown of Scottish fighting men, and the Scottish garb and customs, and who became as proud to be headed by pipes and drums as if they were true natives of Scotland. The story of the rush to volunteer had been the same all over the country, and Kitchener in fact had had his New Army of 500,000 men since the end of September.

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Chapter 2

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