The return of the Territorial Army to Liverpool


August 6, 1939
Back from camp.
City’s welcome to the Territorial.
Tributes to the new units’ efficiency.
Memories of another August day twenty-five years ago were evoked in Liverpool yesterday when some 3,000 Territorials returned from their annual training camp in the Gower Peninsula, South Wales. It was an unusually stirring occasion. Young people who watched the marching troops cheered for the present; there was no dim, challenging spectres on the near horizon of their memories. Their elders cheered too, but for many of them reality and reverie became merged in the symbolic sound of tramping feet. They applauded what they saw and cherished what they remembered.

The atmosphere was encouraging, and, in sense, perhaps even intimidating. Not since the war have such enthusiastic scenes been witnessed in Liverpool, when citizen soldiers have left for camp and on their return, as during the past few weeks. In former years young men have gone to camp and returned almost unheralded. But this year it has seemed as if things were different. There was an odd air of tension about the proceedings both yesterday and a fortnight ago, when the very eagerness of the crowds was an indication of their determination to face with coolness and with courage any crisis that may arise.

Waiting for hours.
Thousands thronged the approaches to Lime Street Station where a strong force of police officers was stationed to hold them in check. The steps of St. George’s Hall made a splendid grandstand, and many people remained there for hours, patiently awaiting the arrival of the various units. These had to march along narrow corridors lined by cheering spectators, many of whom fell in behind, and, keeping step with the band, followed the troops to headquarters.

Wives and sweethearts, sons and daughters, and, no doubt, sisters, cousins and aunts turned out to cheer, and one became slightly embarrassed on being invited by strangers to admire the manner in which “Tom.” “Dick” and Harry ” marched.

The sun at last!
It was ironical and a little unkind perhaps that the sun should beam a belated benediction on men who had spent fortnight squelching about in mud. One felt that good steady downpour would have been more suitable. At least it would not have reminded the men of what they had missed in the matter of summer warmth and sunshine. But apparently they missed very little after all. For they all looked extraordinarily bronzed and well, and, according to reports, from the point of view of health, training and recreation, the camp was a great success. In conversation with a Daily Post representative, officers expressed high appreciation of the new units.

For a large number of the men it was their first camp, and in the opinion of experienced soldiers they were extremely efficient, while their conduct was described as admirable.

The skirl of the pipes.
The units arriving at Lime Street comprised the duplicate infantry brigade. The Liverpool Scottish (Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders) were first to arrive. Their train was due at 1.45 p.m., hut the crowds outside had to wait for some time until they were rewarded with the warning skirl of the pipes.

Smartly the troops swung out of the station, and the cheer which greeted them must have accompanied them as far as their headquarters in Moorfields, where the men were dismissed. A fatigue squad stayed behind unloading the baggage, and immediately they had finished the train bearing the 8th Irish, which had been waiting outside the station, steamed in. There was more piping – only out of bright green bags this time, and not tartan – and more cheering. In their orange coloured kilts, the band looked just a little odd to Scottish eyes, but their saucy headdress, with its gay cocade of green, more than compensated for the strangeness of a kilt which is innocent of tartan.

There were over 600 of these loyal Irishmen, and as they marched along a human corridor just wide enough for their passage, they looked as husky a body of men as one would ever wish to meet. Indeed, would not be a bad plan if, as an answer to German propaganda, their photograph could be insinuated into German newspapers. They looked Irish and the crowd was obviously proud of it.

Footballers cheered.
Another long wait in the unaccustomed sun. and then the 9th King’s arrived. They were cheered like the others, but a special round of applause was reserved for the twenty-four members of Liverpool Football Club who were of their number the latter set an example by enrolling en masse in the Territorials. They have been to camp for a week and the training they received there will doubtless prove to have been an invaluable tonic when the football season starts again.

If appearance was anything to by, the Liverpool Club will have every reason to be pleased with the results of camp life.

Last to arrive at Lime Street were the 164th Field Ambulance and 55th Division, R.A.O.C. They were accorded the same warm reception as their fellows, and, perhaps because they spelled end to an exciting day, public enthusiasm seemed to reach a climax with their arrival and departure for headquarters.

Similar scenes, although on a rather more limited scale, were witnessed in the morning at Edge Hill Station, when the 68th (4th West Lancashire) Medium Regiment, R.A., returned from camp and the 136th Field Regiment, R.A., went off for their fortnight’s training at Broxton. The latter were under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel R. W. Johnson, and the men were eagerly anticipating the experience. For most of them it will be a new experience, as it is the unit’s first camp.

A large crowd cheered the departing Territorials and welcomed those returning.
(Source: Evening Express: August 7, 1939; via http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) © 2018 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited

liverpool-return-of-the-territorial-1 liverpool-return-of-the-territorial-2
Scenes in Liverpool yesterday as the Liverpool Scottish (upper photograph) and the 8th Irish (lower) arrived on their return from camp in Gower, South Wales.

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