We have in our collections in the Archives a book entitled Wolverhampton Volunteer Rifle Corps at Burwarton Camp 1915, which contains photographs and a potted history of the Corps.
The Wolverhampton Rifle Corps was inaugurated on 7 September 1914. This was part of the drive to ensure that, in the rush of men joining the Army and Territorial forces, there was still a military presence to assist with defence of the home soil. Early on, the “Rifles” held various instructional musters in the Territorial Drill Hall and the National Reserve Headquarters. They were also active on Sunday afternoons, doing field exercises, marches and trench construction. Firing practice also took place at Patshull Rifle Club. Initially, men who joined the Corps were those who were ineligible for military service at that time, but who were keen to contribute to the war effort.
From 1915 onwards, the Corps decided to become an officers’ training corps and to act as a mobile column, and many men who later joined the Army started off with the Rifle Corps. Part of the Association of Volunteer Training Corps, the Wolverhampton Corps was one of the first in England to “appear in public fully uniformed, armed with Service rifles, and equipped.” This is fairly remarkable, given that the costs of the equipment were being met by the individual members of the Corps.
Burwarton Camp was a training event organised in August 1915. The group assembled at Bridgnorth in Shropshire (apparently attracting “great interest” from “the people attending the weekly market”), before parading nine miles to the camp at Burwarton. Once there, the platoons were able to take refreshments, before digging trenches round all the tents. Whilst at the camp, the Corps were involved in marching, manoeuvres, bayonet practice and other training. Both the Mayor-elect of Wolverhampton and the MP for Wolverhampton West took time out to visit the troops during their stay. For those interested in the Corps, there are many interesting photographs in the book. A more detailed history of Volunteer forces across the Black Country has been provided by the Black Country Bugle.