The Volunteer Force

Apart from Official recruitment, Hull and East Yorkshire also formed an unofficial home defence force, consisting of men too old, or ineligible to enlist. This force had its origins in the formation of ‘rifle clubs’ by members of Hull Golf Club, who pressed for official recognition. On 20th December 1914, Lord Nunburnholme at a meeting to explain the duties of civilians in an emergency, announced the formation of a volunteer corps. Three battalions were to be raised for the county, with specialist units. As War Office backing was not forthcoming, voluntary aid was needed. The East Riding Council and Hull Corporation gave donations and soon the Corps had 2,800 rifles and a grey/green uniform (khaki not being allowed.

In July 1916, the Corps was officially recognised as the East Yorkshire Volunteer Force and all ranks had to put in at least ten drills a month. The Corps role in the event of invasion was to guard strategice points and hinder the enemy advance. The Corps also had an active role in coastal patrols and, although never needed, could be relied upon to answer the call of duty.

The East Yorkshire Volunteer Force – 11th November 1918

Unit                                                                                                            Officers          Ranks

Royal Garrison Artillery, 2 Companies                                                       6                    132

Royal Engineers, 3 Units                                                                            12                   211

Infantry, 4 Battalions                                                                                  106                 3201*

Royal Army Service Corps (Motor Transport)                                          12                   246

Roayla Army Medical Corps, 4 Field Ambualnces                                  18                   246

Royal Army Service Corps (Horse Transport)                                            6                   165

* included 4 Anti-Aircraft Gun sections, based at Hull

Note: East Yorkshire was the only county in Britain to provide as many as five specialist units, and of these the Horse Transport was the only one of its type in Britain.

See Humberside in the First World War – Stephen Kimberley – Local History Archives Unit


The East Riding Imperial Yeomanry was commanded by Col, Guy Wilson, DSO and earned a meritorious record in Egypt. It was split into three Lines between August and September 1914.

The 5th East Yorkshire Cyclist Battalion was raised by Sir Robert Aske in August 1914. Based in Park Street, Hull, they remained in UK throughout the war. They Soon moved to Louth and then in May 1915 to Withernsea. They then moved on from there to Newbiggin and became part of Tyne Garrison.

The Northumbrian Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical Corp was a Territorial Force commanded by Col Faulkner and served with the 50th Division. It was mobilized on the 5th August 1914. The Field Ambulance was a mobile medical unit (not a vehicle). It consisted of approximately 10 Officers and 224 men and had special responsibility to care for casualties of a Brigade within a Division. It provided stretcher bearers, ‘Advance Dressing Stations’ and ‘Main Dressing Stations’. It also collected walking wounded and provided rest stations and in theory could handle at least 150 wounded. For more information:

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