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In 1915 Lord Kitchener extended his famous “Your Country Needs You” recruitment campaign by appealing to the Mayors of the London Metropolitan Boroughs, urging each Mayor to raise a unit of local men for active service overseas.
In south-west London, the response from two neighbouring boroughs, Wandsworth and Battersea, could not have been more different. In Wandsworth, Mayor Dawnay personally took up the challenge and soon recruited, for the East Surrey Regiment, double the number of men needed for an infantry battalion. In Battersea, however, there was initially no more than lukewarm interest, partly due to the local Territorial Force unit, the 23rd London Regiment, having expanded from one to three battalions thanks to thousands of earlier volunteers.
But as Wandsworth's efforts bore fruit, Battersea too pledged to raise a full infantry battalion. Mirroring the different political leanings of the two boroughs, Mayor Simmons pledged Battersea's battalion to the Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.
Wandsworth's 13th East Surreys and Battersea's 10th Queen's both served with honour and distinction. But they, and the communities from which they came, also suffered thousands of men wounded and killed. This sacrifice cemented links with France, Belgium and Italy that continue today. From the early tragic death of an adventurous boy of just 15, to the heroic deeds of a dustman who won the Victoria Cross, this book describes the pain and the glory of the volunteers of Wandsworth and Battersea on the Western Front.
Born in Yorkshire in 1958 , Paul McCue graduated from the University of Birmingham. His working life began with Laker Airways. He is currently a Director in an inner London local authority. Interests in local and military history led him to research and write Dunsfold, Surrey's Most Secret Airfield (1992). This was followed by SAS Operation Bulbasket and Behind Enemy Lines with the SAS, both with Pen and Sword
Paul McCue lives in Surrey.
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