Militia And Volunteers

Volunteers - Local Links


private in marching order, field officer
Private in Marching Order and Field Officer
in Review Order, 1899.

It is not easy to trace the lineage of these Volunteer Corps through to modern times. The 2nd Surrey Rifle Volunteer Corps (part of the administrative 1st Battalion) initially drew its recruits from the Croydon, Crystal Palace and Caterham areas and became The 1st Volunteer Battalion The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment in 1883. (In 1900 Volunteers served with the regular 2nd Battalion in South Africa.) It was redesignated The 4th Battalion The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment in 1908. In the same year, the 5th Battalion The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment was formed; this sprang from the 3rd Administrative Battalion and its soldiers came from Guildford, Reigate, Dorking, Godstone and Farnham. The other related Volunteer Corps also changed their titles in 1908. The 2nd Administrative Battalion eventually became The 6th Battalion The East Surrey Regiment and other Corps became the 21st (1st Surrey Rifles), 23rd, and 24th (County of London) Battalions of The London Regiment and The 5th Battalion The East Surrey Regiment. This lineage is difficult to follow and numbers and names were to change again in later years; however, their territorial connections remained as strong and important as ever throughout their history.

 Martini-Henry Rifle
Private from the same
Corps. He is armed with the
Martini-Henry Rifle. The
Sergeant has a sword

Further Changes

From 1872, the Militia and the Volunteers were collectively called “The Auxiliary Forces” and in the following year, the period of service in the Militia and Reserve was extended from five to six years and thereafter annually for a month. In 1873, a closer bond was made between the Regular Forces and the Auxiliary Forces; Infantry regional sub-districts were assigned for recruiting purposes, two regular battalions, two militia battalions and the local volunteers. In 1881, the 1st Royal Surrey Militia became The 3rd Battalion The East Surrey Regiment, The 2nd Royal Surrey Militia became The 3rd Battalion The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment and the 3rd Royal Surrey Militia became The 4th Battalion The East Surrey Regiment.

In 1908, the title “Militia” finally disappeared, though some exceptions to this ruling still exist in the Army today. In 1907, the Volunteers became the Territorial Force and gained related battalion titles in 1908, while the Militia was transferred to The Special Reserve. During the First World War practically all of the reinforcements for the regular 1st and 2nd Battalions were drawn from the 3rd (former Militia) Battalions, then styled “The Special Reserve”. In 1921, it was decided that one Militia battalion should be maintained for each regiment of regular infantry and the Territorial Force became the Territorial Army.



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