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Brecknock Battalion (Territorial Force)

The Brecknocks were a Battalion created from previous volunteer and militia regiments under the act creating Territorial Forces in Britain in 1907/8.

They were the only territorial battalion of the South Wales Borderers and have a history stretching back to 1859. Initially the Breconshire Volunteers. They went through a number of changes including, at one time being part of the Royal Radnorshire and Breconshire Rifles.

Choosing to be known by their county name rather than a numerical designation (as was the case in other regiments) the Battalion in 1914 was located in eight companies:

      Headquarters and A Company at Brecon

      B Company, Brynmawr

      C Company, Crickhowell

      D Company, Hay

      E Company, Builth Wells, with a detachment at Llanwrtyd Wells

      F Company, Talgarth

      G Company, Cefn-Coed

      H Company, Ystradgynlais, Brynamman and Seven Sisters

Having volunteered for foreign service, the Battalion were disappointed when not chosen to go to France. Instead it was sent to undertake garrison duty in Aden; thus enabling a regular regiment to proceed to France from this important coaling station.

On 29 October, 1914, the Brecknockshire Battalion, now numbered as 1/1st Brecknockshire, sailed from Southampton on the ship Dilware. Arriving on 25 November, the Battalion would, for its first months in Aden, enjoy a quiet time. Sickness, however, took its toll, and unused to the tropical climate of the area, four men died from illness within the first half of 1915. Many others were invalided home.

In June, 1915, the Turkish Army adopted a more aggressive attitude and from their camps in the Yemen began a series of provoking attacks to the north. Subsequently, on 3 July, some four hundred of the 1/1st Brecknockshire Battalion set out for Lahej. Many of these men had only arrived in a new draft from Britain in the previous twenty-four hours.

Forming the main body of a force known as the Movable Column, the detachment on its first day's marched six miles to Sheikh Othman and suffered badly from the heat. Two men actually died, while many others were forced to fall out, unable to continue. With another nineteen miles to go, what remained of the column pressed on. Only to incur many cases of heatstroke and left just one hundred men fit for service upon arrival at Lahej.