Fylde at War: Town is proud to do its bit

Recruitment was a key topic in Blackpool in Septmebr 1914
Recruitment was a key topic in Blackpool in Septmebr 1914
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With the war escalating on the continent, recruitment was an issue more and more coming to the fore of the attentions of both press and public in early September 1914.

The Gazette of September 4 reported a German advance on Paris which, although of little strategic value according to our correspondent, would allow Kaiser Wilhelm to puff out his chest with an inflated sense of achievement should it fall into his hands.

We also proudly reported the total number of volunteers signing up for the cause from Blackpool totalled more than 540, of which around a third had been recruited in the preceding three days.

A Gazette editorial states: “It is one of the proudest boasts of the British nation that her sons, far from being dismayed by prospects of hardship and an uphill fight, are but stiffened thereby to a sense of their duties and

responsibilities.

“Whether it may be that something of this fighting spirit has been infused into the youth of Blackpool by the news of the British Army’s heroic conduct in France, or whether it is that local influences have been at work in stirring up the waverers to decision, the fact remains that there has been a most gratifying improvement in the numbers in Blackpool in the past three days.

“Up to last night the total number dispatched from Blackpool was 540, of which 178 have been supplied during the past three days.

“If this continues, and there is every hope that it will, Blackpool may soon remove from its conscience the slightest suspicion of not having done its best.”

Organising officers at the Blackpool Volunteer League were described as busy while young men came forward to the recruiting offices at 15 Birley Street.

Pals battalions, which saw friends, workmates and colleagues join up to fight together during the conflict, and in August the Royal Fusiliers had already managed to raise a “Stockbrokers’ Battalion” in the City of London.

In Blackpool, the idea of raising such a unit was being considered by the following month, with Alderman John Bickerstaffe touting the idea at a meeting of the Fylde Water Board, having written to The Secretary of State for War to approve such a formation.

If the Secretary of State was favourable to the idea, the Alderman planned to raise a company of 120 men from the resort.

Meanwhile, in Lytham, a recruitment meeting was due to be held that night to enrol 200 soldiers into the 4th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

It was hoped around 60 of these recruits would come from the Lytham and St Annes area.