18th (Service) Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers
(1st Tyneside Pioneers) 1914-1919.
Following the raising of the 16th Battalion by the Newcastle and Gateshead Incorporated Chamber of Commerce [now part of the North East of England Chamber of Commerce] one of the so called ‘Pals’ battalions, the Chamber found it had a surplus of volunteers willing to serve. Permission was granted to form a further battalion – the 18th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers (and subsequently the 19th).
The Chamber made one of the most significant contributions nationally by any private body in forming three battalions of the Kitchener New Armies.
The 18th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers were funded, accommodated, equipped and fed until early in 1915 when the War Office took over responsibility for the battalion. The Chamber was subsequently reimbursed for almost all their financial outlay but the formation and management of more than 5000 men overall –in three battalions – was a major contribution to the successful raising of Kitchener’s New Armies.
The 18th battalion was constituted as a Pioneer battalion to carry out support work to infantry brigades and other units at the front. Although they were mainly engaged in trench works and lines of communication maintenance they were trained to fight and on occasions at critical periods in the war the 18th were required to take on the role of frontline infantry – incurring significant casualties.
The Northumbria project aims to tell the story of as many of those who served with the battalion at some time, including the survivors’ subsequent lives up to their death.
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