Volunteer Training Corps 1914 to 1920

The start of the Great War and the recruitment of so many men encouraged a swell of patriotism.

The initial German success through Belgium and the arrival of Zeppelins over England brought a perceived risk of German invasion to many residents which led to the development of unofficial units throughout the South of England which mainly comprised of men who judged as unsuitable for service in the Forces. These units were required to finance their uniform or equipment although they were not authorised to carry weapons.

In November 1914 a central organisation called the Volunteer Training Force was established by the Home Office although the new organisation was not given formal control of all of the unofficial units.

Members were required to purchase their own uniform and equipment.

They were not allowed to play an active role in defence by guarding installations etc but were intended to be a last line of defence should the Germans invade.

Somewhat cruelly the VTC were often referred to as the Wife Guards.

By 1916 the units were at last formally recognised and became Volunteer Battalions of their respective county regiments. With this recognition came the issue of weapons and a formal training.

Click here for an index of information on the Essex Volunteer Battalions

The objects of the Corps were

To encourage recruits for the regular and territorial army

To encourage men not of the age for service in the ranks, or otherwise disqualified from service to drill and learn the elements of musketry in their spare time.

To co-ordinate all existing organisations with similar objects and to promote uniformity in their rules and regulations.

Index of pages on VTC

Sadly information on the activities of individual VTC's in Essex is hard to find as in most cases Unit records were not preserved.

Information on individual VTC's can be viewed by clicking on below links. Sadly the VTC's without links are known to have existed although no worthwhile information has been gathered about them to date.

Braintree VTC

Billericay VTC

Brentwood VTC

Chelmsford VTC

Clacton VTC

Colchester VTC

Epping VTC

Frinton VTC

Grays VTC

Halstead VTC

Harlow VTC

Harwich VTC

Ongar VTC

Rayleigh VTC

Romford VTC

Wanstead VTC

Wickford VTC

Witham VTC

Woodford VTC


Two Official reports provide information on the VTC during the Great War

The Volunteer Force and the Volunteer Training Corps during the Great War. Official record of the Central Association Volunteer Regiments

The Official Regulations of the Volunteer Training Corps