April 11th 2019
Another full Hall for the April meeting. Tonight, Martyn Smith was our speaker, his subject, The Huntingdon Cycle Battalion. Martyn has researched, in depth, the formation and the history of this local World War 1 Battalion. His talk was a fascinating insight into the lives, action and often injury and death of this little known courageous group of men.
The Huntingdon Cyclist Battalion was one of 46 unique similar groups of men doing their ‘bit’ towards the defence of Britain in Wartime. They were commissioned by the War Office after long negotiations. The War office finally gave permission for the Huntingdon Territorial Forces to raise its own Cyclist Battalion in 1914. After an announcement in the Gazette, the Company was formed from volunteers on the 27th February 1914.
Though they were not short of enthusiasm they had no cycles in the beginning and were paid to use their own bikes. They had very few weapons and ammunition and their first uniforms were made from a surplice of Post Office blue serge as khaki material was in short supply at the time. Their Cap badge was taken from an ancient design of a Rampant Stag. The Battalion also had a Brass band as members of the Old Fletton Victoria Prize Band joined up en masse along with their Bandmaster.
The Battalion had Companies in Huntingdon and Godmanchester( two companies), St. Ives and Somersham, St. Neots and Kimbolton, Ramsey and Warboys, Fletton, Stanground and Peterborough (two companies), Yaxley and Facet. The Fletton, Stanground and Peterborough company use the old Coffee Palace (now known as Phorpres House) as their Drill hall. The Battalions nickname was The Gaspipe Cavalry. The men of the battalion were not liable to be called for active service but many opted to serve of the battlefields. Many were killed and many more injured.
Martyn’s research is ongoing and his website in a mine of information if anyone wishes to find further information or had information relevant to this topic Martyn would be pleased to hear from you. http://huntscycles.co.uk
HUNTS. CYCLIST BATTALION.
AGE 17 – 35 HEIGHT NOT LESS THAN 5ft. 2ins.
CYCLES provided practically FREE OF CHARGE.
Money Allowance to men who provide their own.
ANNUAL CAMP, Usually at the SEASIDE, at a time which does not interfere with harvest.
All men attending, in addition to food and lodging, receive pay
from 1s to 4s per day according to rank; also
Separation Allowance for Wife and Children, and Boot Allowance.
UNIFORMS, RIFLE, AND EQUIPMENT PROVIDED FREE OF ALL CHARGE.
LEAFLETS, giving full Particulars of the Conditions of Enlistment, can be obtained from the following, who will be pleased to answer any questions, and take the names of men wishing to join:-
FLETTON DISTRICT: Major E. R. Herbert, Norman Cross.
HUNTINGDON AND DISTRICT: Capt. S. G. Cook, 36 High Street Huntingdon:
A. R. Lowe Esq., 30 High Street: K. Hunnybun Esq., The Walks.
RAMSEY AND DISTRICT: H. R. LONGBOURNE Esq., Ramsey.
ST. IVES AND DISTRICT: Lieut. and Qr.- Master E. Kiddle, St. Ives:
G. L. Day Esq., St. Ives. or from Col-Serg. Instructor Grover, Belmont Terrace, Fletton
Sgt. Instructor Buck, St. Mary’s Street, Huntingdon.
Men can also enlist at the following times and places:-
FARCET, Council School, Monday 7:30pm. FLETTON, Drill Hall Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 7:30 p.m. HUNTINGDON, Headquarters, St. Mary’s Street, Wednesday, 7:30 to 9 p.m. KIMBOLTON, Council School, Tuesday 6:30 to 8 pm. RAMSEY, Drill Hall, Friday, 7:30 to 9 p.m. St. IVES, Drill Hall, Monday, 7:30 to 9 p.m. St. NEOTS Drill Hall, Thursday 6:30 to 8:15 p.m. YAXLEY Girls School, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
By Order of the
HUNTS. TERRITORIAL FORCE ASSOCIATION.