Sixth Devons -Leaving Lahore for Active Service

27th January 1916 3f-g Sixth Devons

The following article taken from the North Devon Herald includes another letter from one of the Priscott twins who were serving in the 1/6th Devonshire Regiment. By the time it was published they had already arrived in the Persian Gulf and were making their way from Basra to Sheikh Saad on foot…Barum Athena

The 1/6th Battalion Devon Territorials who have been stationed at Lahore since November, 1914, left the station on Tuesday, December 28th, for active service, having been detailed for duty with the Indian Expeditionary Force “D,” operating in Mesopotamia. The battalion had gained for itself an excellent name at Lahore, and was given a very enthusiastic send-off when the special train left Lahore for its two days’ run of between 700 and 1300 miles to Karachi. The band of the 1/5th Devons, the battalion which has relieved the 1/6th Devons at Lahore, played the men from the rest camp to the railway station, and on the platform were the General commanding the Lahore Division, with his staff officers, a number of ladies, and the officers and a large number of men of the 1/5th Devons. The colonel and adjutant of the latter battalion provided the men of the 1/6th Devons with cigars, and local ladies very thoughtfully brought literature for the men to while away the tedium of the the journey. Upon each paper and periodical these ladies had written expressions of “Good luck to the 1/6th Devons.” Many of the ladies on the platform were the wives of officers already serving in the Eastern theatres of the war, and a few tears of anxiety for their own were mingled with their smiles of encouragement to the fresh battalion going out to do its additional bit in the sterner fields of warfare.

The battalion itself was frankly glad to leave Lahore, and proud of the honour of being the first Devonshire Territorial infantry battalion to be sent on active service. The General, walking along the platform and exchanging a cheery greeting at every carriage window, spoke of the Devons as a “fine brawny lot of men,” and wished Lieut.-Col. N. R. Radcliffe, D.S.O., the O.C., and the battalion luck. Then with the 1/5th Devon band playing “Auld Lang Syne” and hearty cheers from both battalions, the train steamed away.

A large number of Christmas puddings sent by Barnstaple Foresters and friends to the 1/6th Devons in India failed to reach Lahore before the 1/6th Battalion had left for active service. On behalf of his men, Col. Radcliffe, C.O., ordered that they should be handed over to the 1/5th Devons., who were relieving the 1/6th. Ten pounds which the Mayor of Barnstaple forwarded for Christmas comforts was spent in a haversack ration to the 1/6th when they entertained on the 28th ult.

In our last issue we published two interesting letters from Ptes. Reg and Fred Priscott, 1/6th Devons, from Lahore, giving and interesting description of the mobilising of the 1/6th Devons prior to their leaving for the Persian Gulf. We are now grateful to Pte. Reg Priscott for the following interesting letter, which describes the departure of the regiment for active service: “Very glad to say Fred and I are in the pink. I am writing this in the train that is taking us to Karachi. We left Lahore yesterday afternoon. We fell in about half-past two in full marching order. The 5th Devon band played us joyfully to the station. After getting our gear off we waited for the generals to come and wish us good luck and god-speed. They hoped we should fight like other Devon soldiers. After shaking hands and wishing good-bye to our mates and friends, out steamed the troop train; amidst loud cheers and the singing of ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ It was about half-past three when I sat down. The din of the cheers could be heard in the distance. All the boys were in the best of spirits, and quite prepared to do their bit for the old country. You ought to have seen us in the train. Thirty boys in each carriage—like herrings packed in a box. You would have laughed to have seen us that night in our ‘dosh-up.’Our first stop was at a place called Samasata. It just suites me now we are off on active service. It is just what we have made up our minds for, and now we are satisfied. No one must worry: we shall be all right. Tell all the boys at home to cheer up, we shall be all right. The war won’t last much longer. After we have done our bit we shall be able to come home and enjoy the peace and quietude of homeland once again. You will soon hear that the Devon boys are marching into Bagdad. Thank the Rev. T. Henwood and Mrs. Pickard for their nice letters. It is good to think someone is praying for us. If I am wounded or sick it will be a great comfort to me to know you are praying for me at home. Let us hope your prayers will be answered, and that we shall return safe. The train has stopped at Nawab. We are about to have dinner. Good luck. –From Reg.”

Transcript from the North Devon Herald 27th January 1916 page 3 columns f-g. You can find more articles covering North Devonians experiences in India and Mesopotamia on our Facebook page or by going to the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon which is also the home of the

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