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Training Corps for Rushden
News & Notes

Rushden Echo, 27th November 1914, transcribed by Kay Collins

Volunteer Corps for Rushden – Home Defence

A corps of Volunteers primarily for home defence is about to be formed in Rushden under Capt. Dulley. Officers, instructors, etc., will be provided very shortly and the corps will be conducted on the line of the old Volunteer system. All who cannot leave their business will be invited to join, as the drills will be, if possible, arranged so as not to interfere with the work of the volunteers.

The Rushden Echo, 15th January, 1915, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Important Town’s Meeting - An Enthusiastic Response
Rushden Men Eager for Training
What the New Movement Means - Its Relation to the Special Constables

A huge crowd of men flocked into the Co-operative Hall, Rushden, on Tuesday night to attend the meeting “called to consider the arrangements for forming a local Volunteer Training Corps.” Numbers were unable to gain seats, and the standing room at the back of the hall and out into the passage was taken full advantage of.

It was evident at the outset that there was absolute unanimity for the idea of voluntary training. Councillor J. S. Clipson, J.P., presided, supported by Commander Dulley (Wellingborough), Messrs. A. H. Sartoris, J.P., F. Knight, J.P., G. R. Turner, R. F. Knight, and C. Clark.

The Chairman said that the residents in a boot and shoe centre had not the same chance of doing actual fighting as had people in other parts of the country. No doubt there were many young men who would really like to enlist for the Army, but were practically debarred from doing so. Lord Kitchener had said that those who were making goods for the soldiers were doing their duty as much as the men who volunteered to fight. However a good many would be pleased to have training to be ready for emergencies. He would not predict that such emergencies would come, but they felt that their favoured little island was not quite so impregnable as they had always hoped it was.

Commander Dulley prefaced his explanation of the proposed scheme by saying that if the war were going to be over by next May there would be very little use for a Volunteer Training Corps or making further additions to the Army. In his opinion the war would not be over for some time to come, and he believed it was the duty of every man to do all in his power to prepare himself for any emergency. (Applause).

Volunteer Training Corps – Commander Dulley proceeded – started throughout the country, have met with a good deal of criticism and a certain amount of discouragement also in some places. They are now a living force in the country. In London they are able to get large numbers. We here are only just out of the danger zone, where the movement is very strong. There are many prominent people who have given a large number of rifles. The very fact that the premium for insuring against shell fire from German cruisers is 10/- per cent. speaks for itself as regards the possibility of danger. We feel that we ought to make some preparation in order that we may be able to give some effective resistance in case the country is denuded of troops. That is really the main object of the Volunteer Training Corps. The movement itself, as far as London is concerned, was established for the defence of London, but has now resolved itself into a much larger movement. The idea is

(1) To encourage recruiting in the regular Territorial Army, as it does not take the place of the regular Territorial forces, and

(2) To encourage men who are not of military age or are otherwise disqualified to learn musketry in their spare time.

A great number are debarred, even if they wished, from entering the Regular Forces. We know perfectly well that this country must supply goods to the Allies, and those people who are engaged in the trades supplying the Allies with boots or clothing, or are doing ship-building or the making of arms are doing their part. The soldiers must be kept going, and material is as important as men. At the same time, if at any time those disabilities are removed, there are a certain number of men who will be anxious to fight against the common enemy. Those men would be all the better and would find it a great deal to their advantage to have had some preliminary training. (Applause).

The organisation is for enabling men to be trained in the elements of musketry and drill while following their occupations. When those men are uniformed and armed they will be, if not first-rate fighters, at least very useful for the lines of communication.

As far as the Training Corps is concerned, we do not wish in any way to clash with the Special Constables. Each organisation will have its own duties. If you have a body of men who are willing to give their services, they can come to the Volunteer Training Corps from the Special Constables Corps or vice versa. I think the organisation and objects of the Corps are much the same as the old Volunteer movement. We should form here an unpaid force for the defence of the country, and if at any time they are required, I feel sure the people of Northamptonshire are only too willing and anxious to undertake any duties for the country, either as soldiers or special constables. The main thing is, in my opinion, that this country should be able to show that older men are as willing to take up work and relieve younger men who would otherwise be responsible for defending their homes, as they are in Germany. (Applause). You only have to look at the papers in Germany or France to see that they do not despise their older men. We are not going to say we are too old at 40. Give us your support in this portion of the county. We have the material and shall be glad to get together an extremely efficient Volunteer Battalion. We have now established headquarters for the organisation, and if you form a Corps here we can give you a great deal of assistance in matters of detail and advice generally which would be necessary for you to acquire. A certain pattern of uniform has been decided upon in case any Corps wishes to purchase. When we have passed the stage of miniature rifles we shall obtain a large quantity of rifles and continue our practice in the immediate neighbourhood. (Loud and continued applause.)

Mr. G. R. Turner, in moving that a local corps be formed, said the country was in danger and he believed every man in the hall had got the spirit of loyalty and patriotism. On such men depended the welfare of the country. In September, 1900, he issued a pamphlet asking for young men to enrol in the Territorials. There were 98 the first night, and that Company was one of the finest of any in the Northants Territorial Regiment. (Applause) The Volunteer interest had been the mainstay of the country. There was a gentleman present, who, with the speaker, was at the review of fire brigades by the Emperor of Germany. The Kaiser said to the late King Edward : “Are all these men volunteers?” When he was told they were, the Kaiser said nothing – but thought all the more! (Laughter) The volunteer system was going to stop men from becoming conscripts – from being taken from their homes whether they would or not. Men working in the boot factories were as much deserving of medals as the men at the front. They were doing as well as they could, what they could, for England. He appealed to all to join the corps. He did not want to see any slackers, but for all to put their heart and soul into it, and not chuck it because they did not happen to get a rifle or a uniform. He hoped all would stick to the system through thick and thin. The Rushden Rifle Band had offered their services free for all route marches. (Applause)

Mr. Sartoris seconded, and said he did not mind the men coming to use his sandpits as rifle butts providing they did not shoot the rabbits. (Laughter.)

A Voice : They want thinning out. (Renewed laughter,)

Mr. G. White raised an objection to Rule 7, which gave the recruiting officer the option of requesting members to join the regular Army. He thought the Government ought to compel everyone in the country to join. Why should he join while others, equally able, refused to do so?

Commander Dulley : No man is bound to serve. But if he is of the correct age, and can show no reason for not joining the regular Army when requested by the recruiting sergeant to do so, he will be asked to sign a paper saying he will be willing to join if called, if not, you cannot keep him in the ranks. The War Office do not want young men to join the Volunteer Training Corps, but to go into the regular Army. There are, of course, men of military age who have good reasons for not enlisting.

In reply to a question regarding height, the speaker said that no measurements would be taken, but they hoped to make all men so much more fit that the regular Army would be pleased to accept them. With reference to expenses, every Corps was expected to meet its own expenditure as there were no Government grants. It was usually done by members themselves or by subscribers. Some paid 2/0 entrance fee but others paid 1d. a week and also collected from its presidents and vice-presidents. But each must be independent as far as the finances were concerned. With regard to firing they would like to get Morris tubes and .303 rifles, but at present it was quite impossible, so they would have to be content with the miniature rifle.

Mr. Bernard Tomkins : In case of a trade dispute, would the Corps be called out?

Commander Dulley : No; you may take it as final that there would be no fear of that. This is purely for defending ourselves against the Germans. In reply to Mr. H. H. Hobbs, Commander Dulley said that the number of drills required to certify efficiency were 40 of not less than an hour each, and he had to become a second class shot on the miniature rifle range. But there was a certain amount of latitude in different districts.

Mr. A. F. Weale : If a man had had any previous training, would that be a barrier to him entering the Corps?

Commander Dulley : On the contrary, such men are sought after. The difficulty is to find men who have had such training to train the new Corps.

Mr. S. Field : What are the age limits?

Commander Dulley : There are, practically speaking, no age limits, but we do not take people who are 70 years of age and in receipt of the old age pension! (Laughter)

Mr. Field : Does that act downwards as well as upwards? (Renewed laughter)

Commander Dulley : You might take them in as low as 16.

In reply to Mr. W. J. Barker, Commander Dulley said that there was no compulsion and the men would stay in the country during the war.

It was unanimously decided to start a Volunteer Training Corps in Rushden.

A large number of forms were signed by the company present and there were insufficient for the whole of those who wished to join.

The meeting concluded with the singing of the National Anthem and three hearty cheers for the Army.

Rushden Echo, 29th January 1915, transcribed by Kay Collins

Training Corps for Rushden - Two Companies Formed – Over A Hundred Strong

The first meeting of the Rushden Branch of the Wellingborough Corps of the Volunteer Training Corps was held on Friday night at the Drill Hall, Rushden, when about 100 recruits were present. Commandant Dulley attended, supported by Councillor J S Clipson, J.P., Sergt Major Gregory, G R Turner, R F Knight, F Knight, J.P., J W Reynolds (secretary), J Claridge, J.P., C.C., L Perkins, and others.

The Secretary read out the minutes of the meeting of the provisional Committee held at the Council Buildings on the previous Tuesday. Theses were adopted and the constitution of the committee thus recognised.

The Volunteers were divided into two companies, Mr R F Knight in charge of one and Mr Turner of the other.

Commander Dulley said it was hoped that the district would be able to raise a Battalion. He had asked Mr R F Knight and Mr Turner to take charge of the companies and he hoped that would meet with their satisfaction. Any time they cared to they might attend drills at Wellingborough on Thursdays or Saturday afternoons. With regard to musketry they would have to fix up a miniature range. He wanted them to do their best to train themselves properly, whatever happened. Later on, when the fine weather came, they might meet other companies and have more advanced drills. If the Government had to make some increase in the strength of the Army it would certainly be to their advantage to have made themselves able to do simple evolutions. He was very pleased to see such a good turn-out, and he hoped they would maintain their enthusiasm. (Applause)

The following for the committee:- Commanders, Messrs G R Turner and R F Knight; C Clark, Neville, A F Weale, J W Reynolds (secretary) and H Waring (assistant secretary).

The whole were divided into 16 sections with a section commander who had had some previous training. After further instructions from Commandant Dulley, they were dismissed.

Rushden Echo, 12th March 1915, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Route Marches—Route marches by the Special Constables (104) and Volunteers (150) were held last night. The former proceeded via Wymington-road, Wymington, and Bedford-road, and the latter via Bedford-road, the Court Estate, and Newton-road. The Temperance Band accompanied the “Specials” and the Rifle Band the Volunteers.

The Rushden Echo, 26th March 1915, transcribed by Kay Collins


The C Company of the Wellingborough and District Citizen Training Corps, to the number of 120, were inspected by Commandant H. Dulley on the Town Cricket Ground on Sunday morning last. The men presented a smart appearance and carried out their drill with commendable precision. In regard to the guarantee which members of the training corps are required to give, the Commandant pointed out that this entailed no legal obligation and that Volunteers would not be called upon except in a case of very grave emergency, such as invasion or raid. On the other hand such members as can do so will be required to undertake patrol duty, such as the guarding of bridges, etc., and these men will be provided with arms and ammunition to be kept at their own houses. The Rushden company still require about 50 more recruits to make the double company, and we would urge upon such men as are precluded from joining the regular forces to take this opportunity of making themselves efficient in their country’s service.

Rushden Echo, 2nd April 1915, transcribed by Kay Collins

Citizen Soldiers Inspected – The Volunteer Movement

A general inspection of the Rushden, Higham Ferrers, Irthlingborough, and Finedon companies of the National Volunteer Training Corps was held on Sunday in the recreation Ground, Higham Ferrers, by Col. Fawcett. Commandant H. Dulley, officer in charge of the Wellingborough and District Battalion, was also present. The Rushden company were headed by the Rushden Rifle Band, and a drum and bugle brigade accompanied the Irthlingboro’ and Finedon companies. The officers in command of the various companies were:- Commanders R. F. Knight and G. R. Turner (Rushden, F. W. Margetts (Higham), A. G. Henfrey (Finedon), and E. S. Lilley (Irthlingborough). Col. Fawcett, we understand, expressed himself as satisfied with the registers.

Rushden Echo, 10th December 1915, transcribed by Kay Collins

Rushdenite HonouredMr. Harry Cook, of Rushden, a former member of the Rushden Company V.T.C., who is now serving in the Dardanelles with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, was recently honoured by being picked out as one of a Guard of Honour to Lord Kitchener.

Rushden Echo, 25th February 1916, transcribed by Kay Collins

The Rushden Volunteers - Resignation of Commandant R. F. Knight
On Leaving for Active Service - The Company’s Goodwill

At the parade of the Rushden V.T.C. on Sunday morning Platoon Commander A. F. Weale informed the company that Commandant R. F. Knight had placed his resignation in the hands of the committee, as he was shortly leaving for active service.

Mr. Knight, said Platoon Commander Weale, had rendered the company excellent service as Commandant, and the utmost good feeling prevailed between the men and him. In view of this the committee decided that it would be desirable that Mr. Knight’s resignation be not accepted, and that on his return he should resume his command of the company. (Applause) Mr. Knight, he said, was willing to accept the committee’s suggestion, subject to the approval of the members of the company.

The company unanimously endorsed the committee’s decision.

Commandant Knight, in thanking the company, expressed his gratitude for the good feeling that had always existed between himself and the individual members of the company. He trusted that the members would maintain their interest in the company during his absence, and would continue to carry out their duties as efficiently as in the past. If he had the good luck to return he would be proud to resume his command. (Applause)

Extract from a longer article
“I should like Rushden chaps to know that the experience I gained with the Rushden Volunteer Company, of which my father, Sargt. W. Wood, is musketry instructor, was of great value to me during my training in England.”

Rushden Echo, 8th September 1916, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Rushden Volunteer Recruiting - Enthusiastic Meeting - Stirring Speeches

A most enthusiastic recruiting meeting on behalf of the Rushden Company of the 1st Battalion Northants Volunteer Regiment was held in the Public Hall, Rushden, on Tuesday, with gratifying results.

Prior to the meeting the Rushden and Higham Ferrers companies fell in at Spencer Park, and headed by the Rushden Rifle Band marched to Coffee-Tavern-lane where they were inspected by Col. Willoughby.

Mr. John Spencer, J.P. (chairman of the Urban Council), presided, supported by Sir Ryland Adkins, M.P., Col. Willoughby, Capt. R. Dulley, Lieuts G. R. Turner, F. W. Margetts, A. F. Weale, and F. Sargent, Councillors J. Claridge, J.P., C.C., F. Knight, J.P., T. Swindall, G. H. Skinner, J. S. Clipson, and T. Wilmott.  Messrs. G. Selwood, W. B. Sanders, W. Hensman, W. B. Madin, and Dr. Greenfield.  Col. Hill and Mr. Sartoris wrote regretting their absence.

The Chairman said that the nation was calling upon all its people to make immense sacrifices in the country’s cause.  A man, at such a time as the present, should put aside many of his preconceived notions, and do what he could to help his country in its hour of need.  They sympathised with all who had lost their dear ones in that terrible conflict.  The cause for which the country was fighting was a righteous one, and the struggle must be continued until victory is assured.

Col. Willoughby said that in the history of the Northants Volunteer Regiment the men of Rushden had always done their duty, and formed the best company in the battalion. (Loud applause.)  When they marched into Aldershot some years ago, 1,800 strong, the Rushden company were the finest of the lot.

Rushden men had always done their duty, and he was sure that when they asked men over the military age, men who had been granted conditional exemption, or such as for other reasons were not eligible for the regular forces, to render some definite military service to the State, they would come forward and join the Rushden Volunteer Company.

Capt. Dulley gave an address.

Lieut G. R. Turner, expressed thanks to Mr. J. Hyde for having acquired the Drill Hall for the use of the Rushden company, and to those gentlemen who gave the company impetus by subscribing money.

Thanks were accorded the speakers on the initiative of Mr. Hensman, seconded by Dr. Greenfield.

Col. Willoughby and Sir Ryland Adkins responded, the latter moving a vote of thanks to the chairman, which was seconded by Col. Willoughby and carried.

The Argus, 20th April 1917, transcribed by Kay Collins

V.T.C.—The “A” section of the V.T.C. are being measured for their uniforms.

Rushden Echo, 25th May 1917

Rushden “Gurkha” in France - Private F D Harris – the V.T.C.

Pte. F. D. (“Trotter”) Harris (Rushden), of the Army Veterinary Corps, a former member of the Rushden Company 2nd Battalion Northants Volunteers, in the course of a letter to Corporal B. Tomkins, of the “Rushden Echo” staff writes:-

“I have had 15 weeks of it now, and seven weeks I have been in France. I often wonder how the old “Gurkhas” are going on. I spent many happy hours with you and the other boys, and hope it won’t be long before I spend a few more. I am pleased to say I am keeping well and in good spirits. Please remember me to all the boys of the old brigade, not forgetting the fine old veteran, Lieut. G. R. Turner. Will you let me know how things are going with the V.T.C.?  I was reading the “Rushden Echo” last night, and thought I would drop you a line. I shall be pleased to have a line from you or any of the boys. Wishing the V.T.C. the best of luck, also your most welcome paper, with all the Rushden news, which I look forward to every week.”

Rushden Echo, 7th September 1917, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Escaped Prisoners – The Rushden Volunteers were called up on Saturday by telephone message from headquarters at Northampton to search for the seven German prisoners who had escaped from the Pattishall camp near Towcester, and who were believed to have made their way towards or beyond Northampton.  The Rushden men, who were fully equipped with bayonets, rifles, and ammunition, scoured the countryside.  Eventually the prisoners were captured near Denton.

Rushden Echo, 22nd February 1918, transcribed by Kay Collins

An Army Biplane, bearing the inscription “Presented by His Majesty the Sultan of Johore,” descended in Mr. Ashwell’s field off the Wellingborough-road on Tuesday about 2p.m., and was placed under the guard of men of the Rushden Platoon Volunteers. The men, in reliefs, remained on guard throughout the whole of Tuesday and Wednesday nights and yesterday.

Rushden Echo, 15th March 1918, transcribed by Kay Collins

Volunteer Dance—A most successful gathering took place in the Public Hall last night, when a dance was held, promoted by the Rushden Company of Volunteers. The hall was prettily decorated with flags lent by Mr. W. A. Evans, of the Victoria Hotel, and Mr. F. L. Heygate, and the plants by Messrs. Seckington & Son. The proceeds were in aid of the Rushden Prisoners of War funds and a fund for providing a permanent memorial for the Volunteer Members who had made the great sacrifice. The efficient orchestral band consisted of Miss Attley (piano), Messrs. C. Woods and S. Whitworth (violins), E. E. Whitworth (cornet), H. Holland (’cello), and W. Lockie (bass). The duties of M.C.’s were in the capable hands of Lieut. F. Sargent and Mr. W. Chamberlain. Mr. C. L. Bradifeld and Mr. O. Claridge (secretaries of the Rushden prisoners of War Fund) attended, and during a brief interval in the proceedings Mr. Bradfield expressed appreciation of such a noble response for such a worthy and deserving object. Rushden had undertaken the task of supplying the necessary funds for their boys’ parcels, etc. The number of Rushden prisoners was 44 which necessitated an expenditure of £120 per month. The Committee were well pleased with the way in which money was being supplied for the fund and they had the great satisfaction of knowing that they were maintaining their own boys who had the misfortune to be prisoners. He thanked them for their attendance, which proved their sympathy with the movement. He then presented the entrance tickets corresponding number prizes:- Ladies (a hand bag), Miss Gladys Ingram (No. 9); gentlemen (pair of boots), Mr. J. Tye (No.138). Lieut. G. R. Turner also thanked the ladies who had rendered such valuable assistance and all who had taken part for the success of the gathering. Lieut. Turner specially eulogised the work of Mrs. Frank Sargent and Miss Wilson for their energetic efforts, and Mrs. Bradsmore, Mrs. Robert Cunnington, and others. Lieut. Sargent spoke on behalf of the ladies, and said it had been a pleasure for them to work for so deserving a cause. The winning number in the gentlemen’s boot competition was 312, and for the tray-cloth 522. Nearly all the Volunteers were present in uniform, giving the function quite a military appearance. The wounded soldiers at the Higham V.A.D. Hospital were invited, but were unable to accept, as they had a concert. The total proceeds will be about £20.

Rushden Echo, 22nd March 1918, transcribed by Kay Collins

A Former VolunteerShoeing-Smith Harris (Rushden), of the Veterinary Corps, ex-sergeant of the Rushden platoon Volunteers, writes to Second-Lieut. F. Sargent, under date February 24th, as follows: “No doubt you will be surprised to get a letter from me, but as I have a few minutes to spare I thought I would drop you a line. Well, to start with, I have been reading the “Rushden Echo” this afternoon, and I got quite interested in the column about the smoking concert of your Volunteers, held at the Vic., and by that I should think you have got a good company. I can tell you my thoughts went back to the happy evening we spent there when Bob Knight, our old confederate, had his farewell. I am always interested in news of the old boys, and I always look back with great pleasure at the good times we had in the V.T.C. I am very pleased to see the old veterans, Messrs. Turner, Jolley, Beardsmore, and Billy Wood are still toeing the line, not forgetting Bill Steele and B. Tomkins. Please remember me to them all, and the best of luck to your company.—Yours truly, Frank Harris (Ex-Sergt. V.T.C.)”

Rushden Echo, 5th April 1918, Transcribed by Kay Collins

Aeroplane Wreck — A machine containing pilot and observer came to grief on the open fields [at Yelden] yesterday, the aviator, we understand, having lost his direction. In the descent the machine alighted on sloping ground, and owing to insufficient speed was unable to rise with the consequences that it collided with the mantlet of rifle butts and became a total wreck. It is only owing to the fact that the occupants were strapped in their places that they escaped with their lives. The aeroplane was placed under a guard of police, who were subsequently relieved by a contingent of the Rushden Volunteers, under Lieut. G R Turner and C.S.M. Beardsmore.

Rushden Echo, 7th June 1918, transcribed by Kay Collins

The Rushden Volunteers were inspected in bayonet fighting on Sunday last by Major Campbell, of the Eastern Command. Other officers present comprised Lieut.-Col. Eunson (Commanding 2nd Battalion), Capt. and Adjutant Wallace G. Willows, Capt. Smith, Lieut. Adams (who trained the class), Capt. Micklem, Lieut. (acting Capt.) George K. Turner, Lieut. (acting Capt.) Gillett, Lieut. Gollings, and Second-Lieut. F. Sargent. The men, who had previously received an excellent report for their work with the bayonet, again gave a fine display, and the Major expressed himself as not only satisfied but surprised. Addressing the men, he congratulated them on their spirit; and said that he was pleased to see the smile on their faces. The boys in the trenches smiled even under the most depressing conditions, and it is that spirit that is going to win the war, and, he added emphatically, "WE SHALL WIN." The whole nation needed to smile, he said, and keep smiling, and every individual in whatsoever sphere of work they were engaged go "all out," and put in every ounce iog their strength, even at the cost of sacrificing their own leisure.

Rushden Echo, 5th July 1918, transcribed by Kay Collins

A Contingent of Volunteers from the Rushden company left Irthlingborough London and North Western Railway Station on Saturday morning for thee months’ special whole-time service on the East Coast. The men fell in at the Drill hall at 7.30 a.m. and marched to the station under Lieut. (acting Capt.) G. R. Turner, and Sergt. Bishop, the N.C.O. who is accompanying them.

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