THE SERVICE BATTALIONS IN 1919. Only the 7th and 8th Battalions remained in existence to the end of the war, and both were at Varna, on the Black Sea, when 1919 opened. Although few of their old officers and men remained after demobilization had been carried out, the two Battalions continued to receive drafts from other corps of men who had still to complete their various periods of service, and it was not until the late autumn that the Battalions were finally broken up.
7th (SERVICE) BATTALION. The Battalion, which had now been reorganized in two companies and H.Q., moved to Balcik towards the end of January, H.Q. and one company being quartered in that town, and the other company ten miles away, at Kavarna, with small detachments at Ghiaur Sujugnik and Cape Kaliakra.
On the 25th January Colonel Villiers-Stuart, D.S.O., left the Battalion, and Major R. E. Salkeld (late 52nd) assumed command, Captain C. P. Ker being appointed Town Major of Balcik. In his article,
In February the following special order was issued by Major Salkeld to the Warrant Officers, N.C.O.'s and Men of the Battalion : "Many of you will soon be en route for England to be demobilized, and though I am unable to claim long acquaintance with the Battalion or first-hand knowledge of its work while with the British Forces in Salonika, I can claim to have joined the 52nd many years ago and to know the ideals which the 52nd and 43rd always had before them. These ideals were high, and necessitated a high standard for all ranks.
"The Regiment has a history unsurpassed by any other in the British Army, and during the late war that reputation has been maintained. The 43rd in the Defence of Kut, and the 52nd in the Retreat from Mons and many another battle, have shown the fighting spirit which has always been the pride of the Regiment.
"It was the duty of the Service Battalions raised at the beginning of the war to show that we were capable of taking on our shoulders the responsibility and honour of upholding these great traditions. By this, the last Service Battalion of the Regiment, it may be confidently asserted, that duty has been faithfully and honourably carried out.
"In the greater affairs of Petit Couronne and the Horseshoe, and in the lesser affairs of patrols and raids, as well as in the victorious advance over the Valandovo pass on to the plain of Strumnitza, and through the Kresna defile to Radomir, the 7th Battalion has achieved that high standard of discipline and daring which its parent traditions foreshadowed.
"We are now going to be demobilized, but it is certain that wherever and whenever we meet in civil life, we shall meet with that proud sense of comradeship which is worth more to men who know what life, death, and war are, than many years of casual acquaintance in the ordinary conditions of life before the war.
"Let me bid you God speed and good luck wherever you may go. Keep a place in your heart for your old comrades of the war, and remember that the Regimental Association will always be glad to know of you and what you are doing."
On 9th March, Lieut.-Colonel G. B. Martin rejoined and took over command from Major Salkeld, but on the 3rd April both these officers were ordered to England, and three days later the Battalion moved from Balcik to Varna, whence it was to proceed to Egypt. Sailing from Varna on the 20th April, the " Kashgar," with the Battalion on board, passed down the Bosporus next evening, and after lying at anchor for twenty-four hours off Constantinople, continued the voyage to Alexandria, which was reached on the 26th.
Encamped first at Victoria and later at Mex (at the west end of Alexandria), the principal duty of the Battalion was guarding an enormous ammunition dump, a mile and a half long. Lieut. Colonel R. H. Jones, D.S.O., M.C., was now in command, with Captain Stukely still Adjutant; and after four dull months, orders came to break up the Battalion, the men with further service to complete being drafted to other units, but chiefly to the 2/4th Battalion of the Regiment at Helmia. At the end of September the last of the officers and men for demobilization left for England.