Territorial Army

Template:British Army In the United Kingdom the Territorial Army is a part of the British Army composed of reserve units, or part-time soldiers.


World War I and earlier

The Territorial Force was originally formed by the Secretary of State for War, Richard Burdon Haldane, following the passage of the "Territorial and Reserve Forces Bill" on August 2, 1907 and contained 14 infantry divisions, each administered by a County Association. There were also 14 mounted yeomanry brigades.

The use of the word territorial signified that the volunteers who served with the force were under no obligation to serve overseas — in 1910, when asked to nominate for Imperial Service overseas in the event of mobililzation, less that 10% of the Force chose to do so. In August 1914, after the outbreak of World War I, Territorial units were given the option of serving in France and by August 25 in excess of 70 battalions had volunteered. This question over the availability of Territorial divisions for overseas service was one of Lord Kitchener's motivations for raising the New Army separately.

The original divisions of the Territorial Army were:

The divisions were assigned numbers in April 1915 so that, for example, the 'East Anglian Division' became the 54th Division.

Territorial Force battalion numbers were prefixed with '1', for instance the 1/5th Battalion, the East Surrey Regiment. A second line of Territorial units were raised by the respective County Associations in August and September of 1914. These battalion and division names were prefixed with '2' to distinguish from the originals. For instance, the second line 'Wessex Division' was originally called the '2nd Wessex Division' (later the 45th Division) and the second line battalion for the 1/5th East Surreys was the 2/5th East Surreys. When a first line battalion was sent overseas, a third line battalion, prefixed with '3', was raised thus enabling the second line battalion to be released for overseas service as well. By the end of the war 692 Territorial Force battalions had been raised. In total, nine second line divisions were raised. No complete divisions of third line battalions were raised.

The second line Territorial Force divisions were:

Territorial units initially saw service in Egypt and India and other Empire garrisons such as Gibraltar, thereby releasing regular units for service in France and enabling the formation of an additional five regular army divisions (for a total of eleven) by early 1915. The first Territorial division to join the fighting on the Western Front was the 46th Division in March 1915. The 42nd and 52nd divisions were sent to Gallipoli as reinforcements for the Helles front in May and June of 1915.

As the war progressed and casualties mounted, the distinctive character of Territorial units was diluted by the inclusion of conscript and New Army drafts.

See Also: List of British divisions in WWI

World War II


The TA kept its former role of supplying complete divisions to the regular Army for twelve years after WWII. It also furnished much of the anti-aircraft cover for the United Kingdom during that period. However, as the 1950s drew to a close, British forces contracted dramatically as the end of conscription in 1960 came in sight. The TA was thus re-roled into its modern form. Instead of supplying complete combat divisions, its function was to round out regular formations by supplying units of up to battalion size (including infantry and light artillery, but not tracked armour), and supply extra support functions such as engineers, medical units and military police.

After the Strategic Defence Review of 1998, the TA's size was further reduced. As of 2004 it has an authorised strength of just over 40,000.

TA soldiers have seen service in almost every conflict the UK has been involved with since 1945. However, they served in particularly large numbers in three conflicts. Two, the Korean War and Suez Crisis were during the 1950s, when the UK still had an imperial role. However, in 2003, 9,500 reservists, the vast majority of them from the TA, were mobilised to take part in Operation Telic, the invasion of Iraq. Given the current state of world politics and security, it seems inconceivable that the TA will not see further extensive service during the remainder of the early part of the 21st century.

Present-day units

Royal Armoured Corps


Royal Artillery

Though not part of the Royal Artillery, the Honourable Artillery Company is a further artillery unit within the Territorial Army

Royal Engineers

Royal Signals

Army Air Corps

  • 7 (Volunteer) Regiment, AAC

Intelligence Corps

  • 3 Military Intelligence Battalion (V)


In addition to the combat units, there are Territorial Army units in the Adjutant General's Corps, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Royal Logistic Corps and Army Medical Services.


On December 16 2004, the Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon announced a major restructuring of the infantry. The 40 battalions of the regular army will be reduced to 36, with the majority of those remaining being amalgamated into larger regiments. The 14 TA infantry battalions will be included in this structure, with each regiment having at least one TA battalion (the Royal Regiment of Scotland will have two); the Guards Division will also have an affiliated TA battalion.

Possible new TA infantry

  • 52nd Lowland Regiment = 6th Bn, Royal Regiment of Scotland
  • 51st Highland Regiment = 7th Bn, Royal Regiment of Scotland
  • Tyne-Tees Regiment (Green Howards) + East & West Riding Regt (DWR and PWO) = 4th Bn, Yorkshire Regiment
  • King's and Cheshire Regt (King's) + Lancastrian & Cumbrian Volunteers = 3rd Bn, King's Lancashire and Border Regt
  • Tyne-Tees Regiment (Fusiliers) + West Midlands Regiment (Fusiliers) = 3rd Bn, Royal Regt of Fusiliers
  • Royal Rifle Volunteers (RGJ) + London Regt (RGJ) = 7th Bn, The Rifles
  • Royal Rifle Volunteers (RGBW) + Rifle Volunteers + West Midlands Regt (Light Infantry) + East & West Riding Regt (Light Infantry) = 6th Bn, The Rifles
  • King's and Cheshire Regt (Cheshire) + West Midlands Regt (WSF and Staffords) + East of England Regt (WSF) = 4th Bn, Mercian Regt
  • East of England Regt (RAR) = 3rd Bn, Royal Anglian Regt
  • London Regt = Guards Affiliated Battalion
  • 3rd Bn, Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment and C coy, RRV = 3rd Bn, PWRR
  • 4th Bn, Parachute Regiment = Unchanged
  • Royal Irish Rangers = 5th Bn, Royal Irish Regiment

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