The Cyclist Battalion

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Going through some boxes of old photographs and cards belonging to my elderly mother, who has recently moved into a nursing home, I came upon a 1916 Christmas card from my grandfather R E Ludlam sent from Bangalore in India when he was there with the 1/9th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment.

d200-hants-cycles-1 - 540▲ The 1/9th (Cyclist) Battalion, it was an idea to have the troops cycle into battle. I don’t think it lasted very long, I doubt the bicycles were taken with them to India although their WW I bicycles look remarkably like the Hero bicycles you can still find in India today.

I’ve posted before about my great grandfather’s pre-WW I connection with Kaiser Wilhelm and the cufflinks I acquired from my grandfather. In 2013 when I was in Berlin I went looking for the address on Unter den Linden, the main thoroughfare of Berlin, where those cufflinks originated.

I was in Bangalore (Bengaluru today) in July this year – it’s the Silicon Valley city of India, full of software companies and call centre today – but I had no idea my grandfather had been in India. When I searched further the 1/9th Battalion were in India in 1916-1917 and then in October 1918, just as WW I was about to conclude, sailed to Vladivostok in Russia. I knew about my grandfather going to Siberia, it was a little known British mission to support the imperial Russian government against those nasty Bolsheviks. Yes it was a total failure, but my grandfather was in Russia for 12 months before sailing out of Vladivostok in November 1919 and returning to England via Canada, so he made a complete circuit of the world between 1916 and 1919. While he was in Russia the battalion went to Omsk (in January 1919) and to Ekaterinberg (May 1919). In 2013, travelling the Trans-Siberian Railway, Maureen and visited Ekaterinberg, also known as Yekaterinburg. It was where the Czar’s family were killed in 1918, those nasty Bolsheviks again!

hampshire_cyclists_volunteers - 540▲ More World War I cyclists.