Recruitment and the Railways

Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment leaving Dorking after mobilisation - 5 Aug 1914
Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment leaving Dorking after mobilisation © Dorking Museum

On 4th August 1914 the Dorking company of the 5th Battalion the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment embarked by train for regimental headquarters in Guildford after being mobilised. Mobilisation orders to reservists and territorials had been posted before crowds at Dorking Post Office.

Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment leaving Dorking
Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment leaving Dorking © Dorking Museum

The Queen’s marched from the Drill Hall off West Street to the South Eastern Railway station, watched by crowds who lined the roadside, railway embankment and platforms. ‘Are we afraid of the Germans?’ asked the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Henry Cubitt, as he addressed the assembled men. As the train departed the town band played Auld Lang Syne, Rule Britannia and the National Anthem.

Twelve recruits were inspired to join the Queen’s during the course of the day.

In 1914 nearly all military transport for supplies and artillery was pulled by horse. Local riding and carriage horses were commandeered for use by the army.

Bus services were reduced as petrol was diverted to the military, and reservists and territorials employees of the East Surrey Traction Company employees were recalled for military service, leaving it without drivers.

The South Eastern Railway’s Redhill to Reading line, with its two Dorking stations, carried troops and military freight from all over the south of England and points west towards France, as well as regularly taking local recruits to The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment HQ in Guildford. Every Tuesday recruits from all over Surrey would arrive at Guildford station to march through the town.

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