Horton Street: The Territorials of the 4th Battalion West Riding Regiment leave for war on 5 August 1914

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The terriitorials were part time soldiers hastily recalled from their annual camp at Marske and broughtback to the Drill Hall on Prescott Street where they were kitted out for their war stations. At about noon on 5 August 1914 they were marched down Horton Street to the railway station where they set of for guard duty at Hull and Grimsby. Crowds gathered to give them a good send off and there was great excitement. At the same time there was considerable anxiety about what was going to happen next. Two fictional children, Arthur and sister Cissie, rush to see their father amid all the bustle of his departure. For the moment the family forgets why their father is having to leave them in such a rush but gradually realisation dawn. The picture below was taken on that very day.

What were Territorials?
In peace time territorial soldiers were part-time soldiers who remained in normal civilian life but did weekly drill at the local Drill Hall and attended an annual camp. They were intended for Home Defence in times of emergency.

Image opposite is of the Halifax 4th Battalion West Riding Regiment marching down Horton Street for the railway station on 5 August 1914. Stephen Gee Collection.

How the local newspapers reported the mobilisation of the local Territorials

Over the bank holiday weekend the Territorials of the 4th Battalion (Territorial) West Riding Regiment were away on their annual training at Marske (North Yorkshire).In the early hours of Tuesday 4 August they were ordered to return to their respective homes in and around Halifax, but to remain in a state of readiness.

The Halifax Guardian of 5 August reported:-

Early in the evening the order arrived for mobilisation of all forces. The men of the 4th Battalion (Territorials) Duke of Wellington’s Regiment … began to make their appearance in the thoroughfares in their Khaki uniforms … making their way to the Drill Hall … the public thoroughfares became more animated … encouragement to the ‘boys’ or in any event a look of admiration and hope …

They were billeted overnight in the Council Secondary School between Prescott Street and Oxford Road.

The Halifax Guardian reported their departure from the Drill Hall and down Horton Street to the Station:-

Inside the Drill Hall was a scene of greatest activity, but there was such a precision and regularity observed in all the work … stores were all packed and taken to the station on lurries [sic] and flat carts … mid-day there was a general inspection by the Commanding Officer … assembled in the grounds of the Secondary School … bugle sounded the ‘fall in’ … the men marched out into Prescott Street , along Portland Place and thence down Horton Street to the Station …immense crowds lined the footpaths and carriageways, the whole distance … given a most enthusiastic send off with rousing cheers … for the moment the war and its terrible consequences were forgotten in the more genial feature of wishing God speed and good luck to the departing Territorials.

Pathe News showing Territorials at Annual Camp (1930) – with sound