Volunteer Battalions 1916 to 1920

Army Orders were issued on 19 June 1916 to allow the formation of Volunteer Battalions (VB) under the terms of the Volunteer Act of 1863 which had been suspended in 1907 with the formation of the Territorial Army.

The initial formation made us of the existing Voluntary Training Corps which had never had official recognition.

Click here for an index of information on the Voluntary Training Corps

Essex at once offered to form five Battalions with two more to follow making a total of seven.

The effect was that there was a platoon in most large villages with companies in small towns and Battalions covering a larger area.

The Battalions operated in similar fashion to the old Volunteer Battalions with weekly drill and army skills sessions allowing men to retain their normal occupation.

Many of the men were medically unfit or  too old to join the regular army but there were some who served in a VB as they were in essential jobs and as such not liable for conscription. The conscription boards had power to require some men to join the Voluntary Battalions as a condition of not being conscripted and so by the end of the Great War over a third of members joined under this power.

The main task of the VB during the war to to prepare to resist an invasion by the Germans with secondary tasks of guard duty at sensitive installations such as aerodromes, railways, munitions factories etc.

Volunteers did not receive military pay, apart from the Special Service Companies who were engaged on whole-time duties for a limited period in 1918.

An allowance of 5d. (latterly increased to 6d.) per six hours was made in lieu of rations for Volunteers engaged on temporary services (e.g., guarding vulnerable points) under the orders of General Officers Commanding the Military Commands.

No grants were made to Volunteer Battalions as such, but grants for clothing and administrative expenses of Volunteer units were made to Territorial Force Associations. Local fundraising made up the difference.

These Battalions served throughout the Great War and were disbanded by 1920.

Battalion HQ  bases

!st Volunteer Battalion HQ The Cedars, West Ham

2nd Volunteer Battalion HQ Drill Hall, Market Road, Chrlmsford

3rd Volunteer Battalion HQ Church Hill, Walthamstow

4th Volunteer Battalion HQ Drill Hall, East Street, Prittlewell

5th Volunteer Battalion HQ Gordon Road, Ilford

6th Volunteer Battalion HQ 17 St Isaac's Walk, Colchester

7th Volunteer Battalion HQ Medina Villa, Witham

Some details of the men and their activies can by viewed by clicking the links below


Activity in the weekend training camps


Officers appointed or resigned from VB


Weekend Camp C Coy of 1/2nd VB Chelmsford


Parade of Saffron Walden Section of 3/2nd VB


Fundraising Committee of C Coy 1/2nd VB Chelmsford


Officers appointed or resigned from VB


Roll Call for 3/2nd Essex VB


Sports Day for 2nd VB


Sports Day for 5th and 7th VB 


Officers appointed or resigned from VB


Dinner of Brentwood Platoon of 2nd VB


Dinner of the Officers of the 2nd VB


Dinners of Companies of the 2nd, 6th and 7th Essex VB


Officers appointed or resigned from VB


Closure of the Volunteer Corps