Bordon and Bramshott
visit It was pointed out to him that the Division was not yet ready for
France, as neither musketry nor machine-gun training had been thoroughly
undertaken - nor had the Divisional artillery been properly trained and
as a result, KItchener gave orders for the Division to move from Seaford
to bordon and Bramshott where the artillery would join the Division and
intensive and urgent musketry training could be given to the Infantry
So plans were made to leave Seaford on September 2. When the advance party arrived at Bordon they found it a mess. The men of the 22nd Division, whom the Ulstermen were replacing, had received marching orders at short notice and many items of belongings were left behind. Sadly the Battle of Loos was to take place in September and the 22nd Division was hurled into the fray, where they were to lose very heavily.
Picture courtesy of David Adams
When the rest of the men arrived, training got underway. It consisted of an early start each morning, then a rail journey to a station north of Aldershot and from there the men marched along a sandy track to the range. Marching along this track raised a cloud of dust which was very unpleasant for those in the rear of the column and when they reached the range they would spend their days lolling about, each man waiting to fire the specified number of rounds which would qualify him for service overseas....so many rounds at the prescribed distances....and then again to Bramshott in the evening. All this travelling took up quite a lot of time and effort which many men found tedious and dishearting which was also due to the fact of the poor quality of the American ammunition which made accuracy almost impossible, which meant that men who could ‘shoot the eye out of a Black Bird at fifty yards’ using a UVF rifle now found themselves missing the target.
Their training was intensified during the month of September, but generally it was clear thar the training in all aspects of gun usage, from artillery through to rifle and machine gun was too little too late.
Preparations were now being made for France and on Thursday 30 September the Division was reviewed by the King in the company of Kitchener. Any inadequacies in training were not apparent as the men made their final complete appearance before leaving British soil for good.
His Majesty warmly congratulated General Nugent, and, turning to Sir George Richardson, who was present, told him what a fine Division had been given by his Ulster Volunteers. As the Kings motorcar overtook some of the troops marching back to camp after the review, the men burst out cheering, so that the car swept along a loud roaring line - an unrehearsed spontaneous exhibition of Loyalty.
None of those who were there that day would be likely to forget the physique or the bearing of that splendid body of men. Its hard to think without emotion of what the Division was that day and the fate that awaited it.........