Saturday, 27 December 2014

Cornwall in the First World War

During this month, each weekday I'm posting a photograph showing Cornwall's First World War.

For much of the war, Cornwall had its own defence force: the Volunteer Training Corps. Here’s a relic from those times, a cap badge from a Cornish VTC officer’s uniform.

The Duchy’s long coastline, mostly isolated and dotted with small bays, was felt vulnerable to possible enemy incursion. To help protect exposed and sensitive areas, by mid-1915 VTC contingents had formed in many Cornish towns and villages. Generally its men were ineligible for front-line service: old soldiers, essential war workers, members of the clergy. Among other duties they helped protect national treasures, including precious state papers which had arrived for safe keeping at Bodmin Gaol.

The Corps was a national body, the forerunner of the Second World War Home Guard, and given similar tasks. Its members wore a red brassard emblazoned with the initials GR (Georgius Rex), which led to unkind nicknames: God’s Rejects, Gorgeous Wrecks, Grandpa's Regiment.

But for Cornwall’s VTC men, guarding military centres and protecting key resources such as the railway network was deadly serious. They worked as orderlies at the Duchy's Red Cross hospitals, provided sentries for the explosives factories at Hayle and Perranporth, and volunteered with local fire brigades.  
My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon:

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