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  • Writer's pictureGVHeritage Group

Imperial Tobacco Company answers King George V's call

1914 - Alert Appreciation of Orders - Who stands if freedom fall? All day on the 4th August the inevitable approach of war had been the topic of conversation everywhere. The next morning the newspapers carrying the latest news sold out as quickly as the newsboys could carry them onot the streets. Everywhere the news was read with excitement and anxiety, and though for the most part men were glad to receive definite news - news that put an end to the strain and tension of the previous few days - women did not take the news so calmly. Groups of people stood at street corners, and discussed the situation excitedly, and at Bristol's Tramway Cente there was much cheering and singing fo the National Anthem.

Bristol Times & Morror Tuesday 4th August - 'Will Lord Kitchener Become War Secretary?'

"The public has confidence in Lord Kitchener and, in a war, opinion counts for a great deal. We therefore, desire very earnestly upon the Prime Minister that he should endeavour to enlist Lord kitchener's service at least for the term of the war. Our military correspondent suggests that Lord Kitchener, who is at present at home, would make an admirable Secretary of State for War, and this suggestion sppeals to us very strongly. Lord Kitchener is a capable administrator, and a first rate organiser."

The current state of affairs in Europe constituted a great emergency and His Majesty the King deemed it proper to provide sufficient means for military service and ordered the General Mobilisation of the Army, the Army Reserves to be called out for permanent service and also the embodiment of the Territorial Force. Local business immediately did what they could to help in any way. In line with the King's order, the Imperial Tobacco Company was very patriotic in announcing that any of its employees who may be called upon to rejoin the Navy or Army or any of the national services would receive from the Company such and amount of salary or wages as was required to make up their service pay to the same level as their peacetime pay, and in every case situations would be kept open. In the midst of such patriotism a sizeable number of men committed to join up intent on doing their bit, Bristol Tramways losing 200 of its men on the first day of war.

The effect on the small recruitment office, in Old Market Bristol, was chaotic. Run by a Major assisted by four Sergeants, it was ably suited to deal with the trickle of peacetime enquiries, but found to be totally unprepared and woefully inadequate when faced with such a deluge of would-be recruits.

12th (Service) Battalion (Bristol)


30 August 1914 - Formed by the Citizens’ Recruiting Committee in Bristol.

During 1915

June 1915 - Moved to Wensley Dale to join the 95th Brigade of the 32nd Division. 23 June 1915 - Taken over by the war office and moved to Salisbury Plain. 21 November 1915 - Mobilised for war and landed in France. 26 December 1915 - Transferred to the 95th Brigade of the 5th Division which engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;

During 1916 The Attacks on High Wood, The Battle of Guillemont, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval, The Battle of Le Transloy.

During 1917 The Battle of Vimy, The Attack on La Coulotte, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle, The Second Battle of Passchendaele. November 1917 - Moved to Italy to strengthen the Italian resistance.

During 1918

April 1918 - Returned to France and once again engaged in various actions on the Western Front including; The Battle of Hazebrouck, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Drocourt-Queant, The Battle of the Epehy, The Battle of the Canal du Nord. 19 Novemeber 1918 - Disbanded in France.


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