Huge events that changed the world

Kings Own Batallion, outside the YMCA in King Street, Lancaster, 1914.
Kings Own Batallion, outside the YMCA in King Street, Lancaster, 1914.

This year marks the centenary of World War One.

Between July 28 1914 and November 11 1918, more than nine million people were killed in what was one of the deadliest conflicts in history, paving the way for major political changes, including revolutions in many of the nations involved.

The SS Saturnia, which carried troops to the front line

The SS Saturnia, which carried troops to the front line

By the end of the war, the map of Europe had been redrawn, with several independent nations restored or created.

This year, 100 years on, the world will look back on those four years of struggle and destruction, as well as hope and heroism, in a conflict that has changed the very fabric of our societies.

This week we launch our own look back at World War One, how it affected life in the Lancaster district, and the contribution and sacrifices we made in this world changing event...

Over 44,000 men served with the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment during World War One, nearly 7,000 of whom died.

Many more were injured, and some died of their wounds after the war.

The regiment was present at many of the major battles, including Ypres, Loos, Cambrai and The Somme.

At the outbreak of the war in August 1914 the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment was made up of two Regular and two Territorial Battalions as well as a Special Reserve Battalion.

By the end of the war it had expanded to 17 battalions, ten of which had seen active service.

The 1st Battalion was mobilised on August 4 1914 in Dover, where it was stationed.

On August 23 the Battalion arrived in France on board the SS Saturnia and spent the rest of the war on the Western Front. The 2nd Battalion was in India when war broke out and was recalled to England and from January to November 1915 served on the Western Front.

It was then moved to Salonika in Greece.

The 4th Battalion was mobilised in Barrow-in-Furness and the 5th Battalion in Lancaster in August, and a large proportion of the officers and men volunteered for overseas service.

They were used on home defence before leaving for the Western Front - the 5th Battalion in February 1915 and the 4th Battalion in May 1915.

It was not until 1916 that the 55th (West Lancashire) Division was re-formed in France and these two battalions once again served side by side.

The Territorials were able to raise second and third line battalions in 1914 and 1915.

On doing so the two original battalions were re-designated the 1/4th and 1/5th Battalions (TF - Territorial Force).

Not all of the new second and third line units went overseas.

Only the 2nd/5th Battalion - as part of the 170th Brigade of the 57th Division (TF) - went to the Western Front, on February 5 1917.

The 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion was mobilised in August 1914.

During the war it processed thousands of trained men for Regular and Service Battalions overseas, including men returning from convalescence.

The 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Battalions were raised from volunteers in 1914.

These Battalions served on the Western Front, Eastern Europe and Iraq.

The 11th Battalion was the last to be raised in June 1915.

This was a ‘Bantam Battalion’ so-called because it accepted men below the official height requirement.

It took many miners from the central Lancashire coal field. They served in France and Flanders from June 1916 to 1918.