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West Ham Pals Battalion

John Simkin

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Lord Kitchener was appointed Secretary for War in August 1914. His main task was to persuade men to join the British Army. At a meeting on the 19th August it was suggested by Sir Henry Rawlinson that men would be more willing to enlist if they knew they would serve with people they knew. Rawlinson asked his friend, Robert White, to raise a battalion composed of men who worked in the City. White opened a recruiting office in Throgmorton Street and in the first two hours, 210 City workers joined the army. Six days later, the Stockbrokers' Battalion, as it became known, had 1,600 men.

When Lord Edward Derby heard about Robert White's success he decided to form a battalion in Liverpool. Derby opened the recruitment office on 28th August 1914 and by the end of the day had signed up 1,500 men. It was Derby who first used the term a "battalion of pals" to describe men who had been recruited locally.

Someone had the idea of forming a battalion made up of West Ham supporters. The 13th (Service) Battalion (West Ham Pals) were part of the Essex Regiment. In his book War Hammers: The Story of West Ham United During the First World War, Brian Belton argues that their battle cry was "Up the Irons."



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