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#229010 - 19th May 2008 6:53pm Birkenhead "Bantams" 15th Btn Cheshire Regt
Sludge Offline

Member

Registered: 16th Dec 2007
Posts: 97
Loc: sleepy village , Roche Ferrae
The bantam is a fighting cock; small but hardy and aggressive.



In 1914 the Member of Parliament for Birkenhead, Alfred Bigland, pressed the War Office for permission to form a battalion of men who were under regulation size but otherwise fit for service. A few days later, some 3,000 men had volunteered, many of whom had previously been rejected as being under height. The original men were formed into the 1st and 2nd Birkenhead Battalions of the Cheshire regiment (later redesignated the 15th and 16th Bns). Other regiments began to recruit similarly: the Lancashire Fusiliers, West Yorkshires, Royal Scots, and Highland Light Infantry most notably. Many of the recruits were miners. Eventually these units were formed into the 35th Division. Another, the 40th, had a mixture of bantam and regulation units, although it is generally recognised as a bantam Division. The bantams were very popular at home, and were often featured in the press. However, by the end of 1916, it was found that the general fitness and condition of men volunteering as bantams was no longer up to the standard required. Brigades were informed that no more undersized men would be accepted, and the Divisions lost their bantam status as replacements diluted the number of small men in the mix.
http://www.roll-of-honour.com/books2006-11.html

During the First World War, the British Army raised battalions in which the normal minimum height requirement for recruits was reduced from 5'3" to 5'. This enabled otherwise healthy young men to enlist.

Bantam units were drawn from industrial and mining areas where short stature was no sign of weakness.

The first bantam battalions were "raised" in Birkenhead, Cheshire, after Alfred Bigland MP heard of a group of miners who, rejected from every recruiting office, had made their way to the town. One of the miners, rejected on account of his size, offered to fight any man there, and six men were eventually called upon to remove him. These were men used to physicality and hard work, and Bigland, incensed at what he saw as the needless rejection of healthy men, petitioned the war office for permission to establish an undersized fighting unit.

When granted, News spread across the country and men previously denied the chance to fight made their way to Birkenhead, 3,000 in all being divided into two battalions in November 1914. The requirement for their chest size was one inch more than the army standard.

The men became local heroes, with the local newspaper, The Birkenhead News, honouring the men of the 1st and 2nd Birkenhead Battalions of the Cheshires with enamel badges - "BBB" - Bigland's Birkenhead Bantams. Soon renamed the 15th and 16th Cheshires, they undertook gruelling training and served in some of the most hard fought battles of the war. Eventually two whole divisions, the 35th and the 40th, were formed from 'Bantam' men, but conscription saw standards drop and they were finally consumed into the normal army.










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#229018 - 19th May 2008 7:17pm Re: Birkenhead "Bantams" 15th Btn Cheshire Regt [Re: Sludge]
fordsteve Offline
Forum Addict

Registered: 27th Jan 2007
Posts: 2126
Loc: wirral bromborough
intresting read mate good stuff thumbsup
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#229060 - 19th May 2008 8:18pm Re: Birkenhead "Bantams" 15th Btn Cheshire Regt [Re: fordsteve]
Dava2479 Offline

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Registered: 10th Feb 2008
Posts: 1924
Loc: Wirral
Superb stuff Sludge,great find. thumbsup

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#229061 - 19th May 2008 8:27pm Re: Birkenhead "Bantams" 15th Btn Cheshire Regt [Re: Dava2479]
Sludge Offline

Member

Registered: 16th Dec 2007
Posts: 97
Loc: sleepy village , Roche Ferrae
Hey Dava 2479, 2479 is that your first 4 , what mob you in wink
_________________________
Lieutenant John Chard: The army doesn't like more than one disaster in a day.
Bromhead: Looks bad in the newspapers and upsets civilians at their breakfast.

Top
#229099 - 19th May 2008 10:36pm Re: Birkenhead "Bantams" 15th Btn Cheshire Regt [Re: Sludge]
jonno40 Offline
Forum Addict

Registered: 7th Jan 2008
Posts: 1234
Loc: wirral
Its one number you never forget your army number,I served with the 1st btn 22nd Cheshire Regiment for 12 good years,unfortunatly the name no longer exists they are now known as the 1st btn (Cheshire)Mercian Regiment .The regiment has some famous battle honour to its name from meannee in 1700s to bosnia in the early ninteys. The regimental headquaters are in chester castle and they still recruit from the wirral and cheshire area
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#229104 - 19th May 2008 10:49pm Re: Birkenhead "Bantams" 15th Btn Cheshire Regt [Re: Sludge]
Dava2479 Offline

Forum Addict

Registered: 10th Feb 2008
Posts: 1924
Loc: Wirral
yes mate,it is my first 4.I was in the The Royal Pioneers.

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#229105 - 19th May 2008 10:51pm Re: Birkenhead "Bantams" 15th Btn Cheshire Regt [Re: Dava2479]
Dava2479 Offline

Forum Addict

Registered: 10th Feb 2008
Posts: 1924
Loc: Wirral
I agree jonno,since the amalgamation and disbandments of Reg`ts and corps,all thier History and tragicaly battle honours have gone with them.Damn shame mate.

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#229152 - 20th May 2008 12:21am Re: Birkenhead "Bantams" 15th Btn Cheshire Regt [Re: Dava2479]
Doctor_Frick Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 24th Nov 2007
Posts: 308
Loc: Prenton
Good Stuff i didnt know about that Bantam Regiment


Edited by DoctorFrick (20th May 2008 12:21am)
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Over 5000 years of Wirral History:

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#229195 - 20th May 2008 10:15am Re: Birkenhead "Bantams" 15th Btn Cheshire Regt [Re: Dava2479]
Sludge Offline

Member

Registered: 16th Dec 2007
Posts: 97
Loc: sleepy village , Roche Ferrae
Originally Posted By: dava2479
yes mate,it is my first 4.I was in the The Royal Pioneers.
Chunky hey, happy i was ex Trogg , were all RLC now , as you well know , was never happy with all the amalgamting , we lost our identity as drivers , you lot kept your flash , but even that has gone now we all wear the blue and gold flash , the ex RASC colours .
_________________________
Lieutenant John Chard: The army doesn't like more than one disaster in a day.
Bromhead: Looks bad in the newspapers and upsets civilians at their breakfast.

Top
#229212 - 20th May 2008 11:13am Re: Birkenhead "Bantams" 15th Btn Cheshire Regt [Re: Sludge]
Ducko Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 2nd Apr 2008
Posts: 360
Loc: northend
sludeg rember eney ov this bunch craven burns taylor deevie williams dunn all been in 22nd birkenhead lads and also tommy cotgrave co


Edited by Ducko (20th May 2008 11:21am)
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#229340 - 20th May 2008 2:33pm Re: Birkenhead "Bantams" 15th Btn Cheshire Regt [Re: Ducko]
Sludge Offline

Member

Registered: 16th Dec 2007
Posts: 97
Loc: sleepy village , Roche Ferrae
Originally Posted By: Ducko
sludeg rember eney ov this bunch craven burns taylor deevie williams dunn all been in 22nd birkenhead lads and also tommy cotgrave co
sorry mate was never in the cheshires , pm me and will let you know who i know in the cheshires , happy
_________________________
Lieutenant John Chard: The army doesn't like more than one disaster in a day.
Bromhead: Looks bad in the newspapers and upsets civilians at their breakfast.

Top
#229401 - 20th May 2008 3:47pm Re: Birkenhead "Bantams" 15th Btn Cheshire Regt [Re: Ducko]
Ducko Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 2nd Apr 2008
Posts: 360
Loc: northend
Sorry Sludge that was meant to be for Jonno.My bad. doh
_________________________
"The wise man always has riches within himself".
DOCTUS IN SE SEMPER DIVITIAS HABET

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#229431 - 20th May 2008 4:06pm Re: Birkenhead "Bantams" 15th Btn Cheshire Regt [Re: Ducko]
jonno40 Offline
Forum Addict

Registered: 7th Jan 2008
Posts: 1234
Loc: wirral
remember most of them but i know the name of tommy cotgrave but cant put a face to it. i joined 84 and left 95
_________________________
It all makes perfect sense expressed in dollars and cents ,pound shillings and pence

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#229991 - 21st May 2008 3:52pm Re: Birkenhead "Bantams" 15th Btn Cheshire Regt [Re: jonno40]
Ducko Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 2nd Apr 2008
Posts: 360
Loc: northend
tommy cot was A coy sgt.major in the 90s mate now a cpt northend lad who went through the ranks
_________________________
"The wise man always has riches within himself".
DOCTUS IN SE SEMPER DIVITIAS HABET

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