1st Battalion (Regular Army) Border Regiment
Early years (1881-1913)
Border Regiment postings from formation to the First World War.
- Agra, India 1881; Sialkot 1885; Burma 1889;
- Dover, England 1890; Aldreshot, England 1893; Malta 1897;
- At sea September 1899; Cape Town, Cape Colony 1899; South Africa (5 Brigade) 1899;
- South Africa 1902; Plymouth, England 1902;
- Gibraltar 1906; Madras, India 1908; Maymyo, Burma 1910;
- Rugby, England (87 Brigade, 29 Division) 1915; Egypt 1915.
First World War (1914-1918)
The Call to Arms (1914)
Before the war broke out in Europe events were slowly unfolding that would spiral out of control and eventually lead to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, which ultimately led to the Border Regiment’s involvement in the very early stages of the beginning of the war. During the summer of 1914, the 1st Border Regiment was stationed in Upper Burma at a place called Maymyo. The Battalion had been away from the familiar shores of home for a continuous period of no less than eight years, having been stationed in Gibraltar and India respectively since 1906. The time spent abroad on foreign service, as with every other battalion of its type, benefited from their training to the point of being at their finest in military efficiency and it was this effectiveness in their duties that saw the Battalion performing well under very difficult circumstances, even in such early stages of the war. The 1st Battalion was just one of many infantry battalions listed as part of the British garrison of India and Burma, a total of 52 in all; of these 49 were in India and the remaining three, of which the 1st Battalion was one, were in Burma along with 4th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment and 1st Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers. The strength of the 1st Border Regiment's officers at this time, prior to Britain’s declaration of war against Germany in August 1914, was a total of 29, several of which were on leave.
For the officers and men of the 1st Battalion, July was like any other month before it. The daily routine was commonplace but with one major difference, the world was at peace. Even with years of active service abroad and being at the height of their efficiency, what they were to be thrown into, all be it not suddenly, would change their views of warfare forever. Unfortunately, for those whose Indian tour was coming to an end, soon found out what was to be expected of them; they would not be returning home for a break but for the start of what was now going to be a new tour on new soil for an undisclosed period of time. Most people thought that during the early stages, the war would not last much longer than the end of the year but it soon became apparent that this was not likely to be the case as had been originally expected. Things were changing on a larger scale as the:
- “transition from peace to war came with extraordinary suddenness upon a bewildered world; to those serving in India events must have seemed to move with dramatic swiftness, for though the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia, followed leisurely upon the murder at Sarajevo of the Austrian Grand Duke, was presented on the 23 July, within a little more than a week – on the 31st to be exact – those units garrisoning the seaport towns of India were placed upon a war footing, while at midnight on the 4 August a state of war between Great Britain and Germany came almost automatically into being.” 
What was happening in Europe was now going to ultimately affect what was happening in India.
The Call to Arms had an almost immediate response from those serving in India; officers from far and wide across the country replied whole-heartedly. The authorities back home in England knew that a swift return of all the garrisons that could be spared needed to be put into operation. India’s response, by the latter part of September, saw 10 British Infantry Battalions leaving her shores, some heading back home to England to join the 8th Division in preparation for the Western Front, others direct to France. Before the year came to an end a further 15 battalions had left India in response to meet the enemy in Europe. The 1st Battalion, however, stayed in Burma until the end of November, 1914 where it was relieved by the 1/4th Border Regiment. On the 29 November, the 1st Battalion took up temporary residence on the Nevada, a P & O steamship that, after a four day voyage, disembarked in Calcutta. It was here that many men thought the war would be over before they had chance to reach it. On the 5 December, the Battalion entrained at 9am for Bombay, another journey of four days and four nights before they arrived on the 9th only to embark on the Corsican, this time a sea voyage along with 39 other transports. The table to the left lists officers who embarked with the Battalion at Bombay:
|Lt-Col. R.O.C. Hume|
|Major A.W.S. Moffat||Major C.D. Vaughan DSO||Maj. G.C. Brooke|
|Capt. H. Nelson||Capt. G.A. Morton||Capt. S.H.F. Muriel|
|Capt. G.H. Harrison||Capt. A.J. Ellis||Capt. F.H.S. Le Mesurier|
|Lieut. R.H.H. Moore||Lieut. J. Forbes-Robertson||Lieut. H.E. Festing|
|Lieut. R. Head||Lieut. R.B. Taylor||Lieut. G.C. May|
|Lieut. J.G. Heyder||Lieut. W.O. Lay|
|2nd Lieut. F.I. Perry||2nd Lieut. J.H. Proctor||2nd Lieut. A. Wright|
|2nd Lieut. F. Keenan||2nd Lieut. W. Bartholomew||2nd Lieut.t W. Clague|
|Lieut. & QM W. Ennis|
For the first part of the voyage the transport ships were escorted by the Northbrook and the French cruiser Suffren; for the second part by the Eclispe. There were several ports of call along the way including Aden, Suez, Port Said and Malta and upon reaching Gibraltar, a five day stay was taken in so that further transports coming from China could be collected. It wasn’t until 10 January, 1915, that the Battalion reached the shores at Avonmouth where they continued their journey by train to Rugby. As they billeted it was here that they became part of the 87th Brigade of the 29th Division. The 1st Battalion, along side that of the 2nd Battalion South Wales Borderers, 1st Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers and the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers formed the 87th Brigade, a number you will become familiar with reading this history. These Battalions will also play an important roll in the telling of this Battalion’s movements during the several theatres of war, operations and battles throughout the war in which they took part. For now the 1st Battalion’s history comes to a brief halt before continuing in March of the same year.
Further action of the Battalion (1915-1918)
The actions of the 1st Border Regiment during the war continues across Gallipoli, France and Belgium towards the Final Advance that ultimately leads to Victory.
- 1st Battalion in the Helles Operations (1915)
- 1st Battalion in the Suvla Operations (1915)
- 1st Battalion at the Somme (1916)
- 1st Battalion in France and Belgium (1916)
- 1st Battalion at Arras & Monchy-le-Preux (1917)
- 1st Battalion in the Third Battle of Ypres (1917)
- 1st Battalion in the Battle of Cambrai (1917)
- 1st Battalion in the Battle of the Lys (1918)
- 1st Battalion in the Final Advance (1918)
Battalion war diary
- Main project page: Border Regiment War Diaries
The aim of transcribing the war diary is to include as much of the original character as possible. This does include some incorrect spelling and infrequent punctuation to remain in keeping with our aims of the project. Each transcript includes a place, date, hour and summary column in a basic table format indicating the battalion, month and year in the title. Please note that the National Archives hold the copyright of the scanned images. However, transcripts of unpublished Crown Copyright war diaries from the First World War can be used in any type of media such as websites and books providing they conform to certain conditions. The National Archives state: "You are free to transcribe, translate, index and quote from published or unpublished Crown copyright material among the records as extensively as you wish and you may publish the results in any format and any medium: in accordance with the terms of the Open Government Licence." With this in mind each transcript will state: "The transcription above is available under the National Archives Open Government Licence for public sector information." For more information see the main war diary project page.
| 1st Border Regiment War Diary Transcriptions (1915-1918)|
The National Archives WO/95/4311 & WO/95/2305
|This war diary page forms part of the Border Regiment Portal|
Roll of Honour
The 1st Battalion World War One casualty list has been compiled using the publication Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-19, Volume 39, The Border Regiment and cross-referenced with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database. The number of casualties compiled to date does not necessarily reflect the total number of casualties for this battalion due to the possibility of missed names and the (current) exclusion of officers and other ranks that were attached to the Border Regiment. This listing is a work-in-progress.
For the 1st Battalion roll of honour, see 1st Battalion Border Regiment Casualty List.
- In association with its predecessor the 34th (Cumberland) Regiment of Foot
- Lt-Col. Robert Ousley Cuthbert Hume: 4 August 1914 - 1 May 1915 (killed in action/died of wounds).
- Lt-Col. Herbert Nelson: 8 May 1915 - 6 July 1915 (replaced).
- Lt-Col. Frank George Grier Morris: 7 July 1915 - 22 September 1915 (replaced).
- Lt-Col. Arthur Erskine St. Vincent Pollard: 22 September 1915 - 19 June 1916 (replaced).
- Lt-Col. Archibald Jenner Ellis: 20 June 1916 - 1 July 1916 (wounded).
- Major James Ross Meiklejohn: 1 July 1916 - 14 August 1916 (replaced).
- Lt-Col. Frank George Grier Morris: 14 August 1916 - 10 April 1917 (replaced).
- Lt-Col. Archibald Jenner Ellis: 11 April 1917 - 22 February 1918 (replaced).
- Lt-Col. James Forbes-Robertson: 22 February 1918 - 12 April 1918 (wounded).
- Lt-Col. Cyril Alexander George Octavius Murray: 12 April 1918 - 22 June 1918 (transferred to another battalion).
- Major Harold England Festing: 22 June 1918 - 1 July 1918 (replaced and then later between 26 July 1918 - 6 October 1918 (invalided).
- Lt-Col. Arthur Wendle Sutcliffe: 1 July 1918 - 26 July 1918 (replaced with his predecessor then was re-appointed and remained the Commanding Officer).
- Colonel H.C. Wylly, C.B. (1925). The Border Regiment in the Great War. Gale & Polden Ltd. ISBN 1847342728. p.17.
- At that time the 29th Division was commanded by Major-General F.C. Shaw
- Under the command of Brigadier-General W.R. Marshall