The Formation of the Hertfordshire Regiment: 1908-1914
The Hertfordshire Regiment was formed in 1908 as part of the new Territorial Force, a part-time volunteer component of the British Army, created that year to support British land forces without resorting to conscription. The Territorial Force consolidated the 19th-century Volunteer Forces and Yeomanry into a unified auxiliary, commanded by the War Office and administered by local county Territorial Associations. The Territorial Force was designed to reinforce the regular army in expeditionary operations abroad, but because of political opposition it was assigned to home defence. Members were liable for service anywhere in the UK and could not be compelled to serve overseas.
The Order of Battle for Hertfordshire only allowed for one Battalion, which was formed from 1st and 2nd Hertfordshire Volunteer Battalions. There was some initial disagreement surrounding the name of this new regiment. The War Office suggested that the Battalion should form part of the Bedfordshire Regiment and be named 6th (Hertfordshire) Battalion. This was unacceptable in Hertfordshire. Finally, after almost a year in which it was referred to as the Hertfordshire Battalion, the unit was constituted as a regiment in its own right and designated 1st Battalion The Hertfordshire Regiment. They were one of only three Regiments in the country to break away from their former parent Regiment (The Bedfordshire Regiment). The Battalion was attached to the East Midland Infantry Brigade in the East Anglian Division.
The Army Order creating the new Territorial Force allowed for battalion headquarters, eight rifle companies and a machine gun section and totalled one thousand all ranks. The 1st Herts was formed in accordance with this from the 1st and 2nd Herts Volunteer Battalions and Companies located across the County, as the table below shows.
Uniforms for the new regiment conformed to regulations for English non-royal regiments and the 1st Volunteer Battalion had already been wearing the prescribed scarlet uniform with white facings. NCOs and other men were provided with khaki service dress. The new Regimental badges were a greater change; both predecessor Battalions had used the standing hart (the hart trippant) for cap and collar badges, but The Hertfordshire Regiment chose a kneeling hart (hart lodged), presumably to differentiate themselves from the Bedfordshire Regiment, who continued to use a standing hart on their collar badges. There was some toing and froing regarding shoulder badges, with the War Office rejecting the proposed traditional spelling of HARTS, surmounted by the Territorial T, and ultimately the usual spelling of HERTS was approved.
Volunteer infantry forces had not previously been permitted to carry Colours, however the new Territorial Force Regulations allowed this within the confines of authorised patterns. As a unit with white facings, the Hertfordshire Battalion was required to carry the red cross of St George on a white ground. In 1909 the King approved the design of a hart to be borne on the Colour of the Hertfordshire Regiment. A huge parade took place at Windsor Castle that June where colours were presented to 96 infantry battalions, including the 1st Battalion The Hertfordshire Regiment. The Colours were brought back to Hertford and immediately paraded in the castle grounds.
The Run Up To War
Between 1908 and 1914, the layout of the Company drill stations required various adjustments, as can be seen from the table below. On 4th August 1914, the 1st Battalion was at annual camp in Ashridge Park when it received orders to mobilise, moving with the rest of the East Midland Infantry Brigade to war stations in East Anglia. Whilst Territorials could not be compelled to serve overseas, sufficient members of the Battalion volunteered for “Imperial Service” and the Battalion was earmarked for service abroad as soon as the opportunity arose.
The Hertfordshire Regiment
Battalion Headquarters: Hertford
Watton at Stone, Little Berkhamsted
A Company Detachments
|St Albans||B Company||St Albans|
Sawbridgeworth, Ware, Widford
C Company Detachments
The Hadhams, Braughing, Ware, Widford
E Company Detachments
Tring, Berkhamsted, Ivinghoe
F Company Detachments
Tring, Berkhamsted, Ashridge
Letchworth, Baldock, Royston, Ashwell
G Company Detachments
Stevenage, Welwyn, Whitwell
Hoddesdon, Wormley, Cheshunt
H Company Detachments
Hoddesdon, Wormley, Cheshunt
|Stevenage||Machine Gun Section||Stevenage|
|Ware||Corps of Drums||Ware|