1925 & 1926 REGIMENTAL CHRONICLES MILITIA AND VOLUNTEER BATTALIONS OF THE REGIMENT. By Brig.-General A. J. F. Eden, C.M.G., D.S.O.
Probably very few officers now serving realize what great changes in organization the Army went through in July 1881 when Lord Wolseley introduced his great Territorial scheme.
Previous to this date the Infantry of the Line were numbered by Regiments (except the Rifle Brigade, who renounced their old number of "95" in 1816) from 1 to 109. The first twenty-five Regiments had each two Battalions, while the 6oth Rifles and Rifle Brigade each had four. Regiments were linked one to another, e.g. 43rd and 53rd, 52nd and 85th, of which, as a rule, one was abroad and the other at home.
In other parts of the Army List were to be found : (A) Infantry Brigade Depots, numbered 1 to 70; (B) Infantry Militia, and (C) Rifle Volunteers. Both Militia and Volunteers had an order of precedence of their own. Each was under a Brigade Depot.
Of (A) the 43rd formed part of No. 21 Brigade Depot, then at Shrewsbury (and commanded at the time by Lieut.-Colonel F. M. Colvile, C.B.), and the 52nd part of No. 42 at Oxford.
Of (B) there were two Militia Battalions, viz.: The Royal Bucks (King's Own), with Headquarters at High Wycombe, and the Oxford Militia at Oxford. The former were 35th and the latter 51st in the "order of precedence" of the 135 Infantry Militia Battalions. Both were under Brigade Depot No. 42.
Of (C) the Rifle Volunteers had two Battalions in each county. Oxfordshire (7th) consisted of the 1st (Oxford University) and 2nd Battalions, both with Headquarters in Oxford. Bucks (24th), also had two, viz., the 1st Battalion (Headquarters at Great Marlow) and the 2nd (Eton College) Battalion. Both counties were in Sub-district (Brigade Depot) No. 42.
By Lord Wolseley's great scheme the Regiment was reconstituted thus: OXFORDSHIRE LIGHT INFANTRY.
Some few years later the Volunteer Battalions were numbered thus :-- 1st (Oxford University) V.B. (Late 1st Oxfordshire) . 2nd Volunteer Battalion (Late 2nd Oxfordshire), 1st Bucks. 4th (Eton College) V.B. (Late 2nd Bucks).
All Volunteer Battalions were shown together in the Army List.
Brigade Depots were termed "Regimental Districts," the old No. 42 becoming No. 43, and constituting a Colonel's command.
So the Regiment remained until, in April, 1908, Lord Haldane introduced further alterations and designations. About thirty Militia Battalions were disbanded, of which the 3rd Battalion (Royal Bucks Militia) was one. The 4th Battalion became the 3rd and, at the same time, the term "Militia" gave way to that of "Special Reserve," whilst Volunteers became "Territorials."
The 2nd Volunteer Battalion was re-numbered the 4th Battalion (Territorial) and the 1st Bucks became the Buckinghamshire Battalion (Territorial).
The 1st (Oxford University) and the 4th (Eton College) Battalions ceased to form part of the Regiment and became Battalions, respectively, in the Senior Division and Junior Division of the newly constituted Officers' Training Corps.
It is proposed, in the following pages, to give a short account of the early formation and subsequent history of the above six Battalions.