Hawick and Newcastleton Territorials
On Saturday, August 1st 1914, the 200 strong contingent of Hawick men belonging to the 4th Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers KOSB) arrived back in the town from their annual Territorial camp at Ochiltree in Ayrshire.
All other Border communities, towns and villages, had their own detachments and, on paper, the battalion’s strength was 1,000 men.
The KOSB wasn’t, however, the only Territorial unit to hold volunteers from Hawick.
If a man had a larger income or was able to gain access to a horse, then he could become a member of the Lothian and Border Horse which was the local Territorial Yeomanry Regiment. Because of the association with horses, this was a rather more elite unit than the infantry of the KOSB and it was certainly the natural home for the landed gentry and for many of the principal characters from many of the local common riding festivals.
The Territorial Army of 250,000 men had been created under the Haldane reforms of 1908 with the specific purpose of defending Britain. They did not have a noteworthy reputation. Amongst the many problems was a great shortage of trained and experienced officers in the corps. Also, the men, on enlisting, did not have to pass a medical examination to determine their fitness.
All too often the men thought of military service chiefly in terms of the statutory annual camp, which in the majority of cases was the nearest they ever came to having a holiday.
The Territorials had two nights drill per week but it was recognised that in the four years that a Territorial had to serve, he received the same amount of training as a Regular soldier would receive in just one month.
The best that could be said of the Territorial Army in 1914 was that they were on the whole young and keen.
Words Courtesy of Derek Robertson