Many years before the outbreak of the First World War, Britain had obtained control of India as part of the British Empire. India was known as ‘the Jewel in the Crown’ due to its colonial and trading importance. The East India Company was able to establish itself here showing how important India was as a trading opportunity for Britain. Due to Britain’s control over India, there was already a strong and well trained military force in India, which would potentially be useful during the first few months of the war. Therefore, these troops would need to be replaced.
The replacement for these troops came in the form of The Territorial Force, who had originally been created for home service only, however a few units had previously also been sent overseas as a back should war break out.
The Wessex Division was asked to go out to India to replace the Regulars usually on duty there and perform their duties for them. Not only did this help them to complete war training but it also gave them a well-deserved opportunity by taking on a valuable duty. The Wessex Division was incredibly quick to form its ‘Foreign Service’ units and on 26th September 1914, it was declared that it would serve in India, with Hampshire Battalions following on 9th October.
In total seven Hampshire Battalions joined the forces in India. Of these included were 1/4th, 1/5th, 1/6th and 1/7th Hampshire Battalions. These Battalions would help to replace the Regulars already on duty in India. This would involve duties such as Garrison duty, whilst also acting as a police force. These Battalions were later joined by more troops, including three more Battalions from Hampshire. However due to reorganisations in personnel and a shortage of equipment, these troops were not as well trained as previous ones.