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Durham Light Infantry, 26th Battalion

Territorial Force battalion

Before the First World War began in August 1914, the Durham Light Infantry, County Durham’s own infantry regiment, was made up of nine battalions each of about 1,000 men. There were two Regular battalions of full-time professional soldiers, many of whom came from outside the North East of England; two Reserve battalions of part-time volunteers and ex-Regular soldiers; and five Territorial Force battalions of part-time volunteers centred on key County towns. There was also a Depot or headquarters shared with the Northumberland Fusiliers at Fenham Barracks in Newcastle upon Tyne.

By the end of the war in November 1918, the DLI had grown to 43 battalions, as new Reserve, Service, Territorial, Young Soldier, and other battalions were formed. Of these 43 battalions, 22 served in war zones from the Western Front to the North West Frontier of India.
In 1915, soldiers unfit for service overseas from the DLI’s 2nd and 3rd line Territorial Force battalions, were formed into the 23rd and 25th Provisional battalions.

In January 1917, the 23rd Provisional Battalion in Durham was re-named the 26th Battalion DLI, whilst the 25th Provisional Battalion in Gateshead was re-named the 27th Battalion DLI.

Neither of these new Territorial Force battalions, whose ranks by 1918 were filled with conscripts, served outside of England and little is known about their activities.

Contributed by Durham County Record Office