Birmingham University OTC was founded just before the turn of the century and has antecedents in a Corps of Rifle Volunteers which started in St Peters College, Saltley in pre-Crimean times.
On the foundation of general OTC's in 1908, the unit became Birmingham University Contingent of the SeniorDivision of the Officers Training Corps.
Although there is evidence that students at St Peter's College Saltley were members of the Volunteers since the mid-1800's, it was not until the University of Birmingham received its Charter in 1900 that the situation was formalised.
The History of the 1st Volunteer Battalion The Royal Warwickshire Regiment comments that "the year 1900 was marked by an increase in strength.... The Birmingham University raised a company, and this was sanctioned by the War Office, and is now distinguished as U Company. Captain W E Bennett, one of the staff of the University, was given the command."
The Company held its first parade in May 1900 and the occasion was celebrated by the presentation of the Inter-Section Challenge Cup by the Chancellor of the University the Rt Honourable Joseph Chamberlain.
In 1900 the Volunteers, of which U Company was part, were 1406 strong on their summer camp on Salisbury Plain, received their first Maxim Machine Gun and sent two companies to South Africa to fight in the Boer War.
Association With the Territorial Army
The Volunteers were stationed in Thorpe Street in Birmingham, and traced their history from 1649, through the Volunteers in the 1900's to the 1/7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment fighting in both World Wars to the 5th (Warwickshire) Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers to the present day A (Fusilier) Company, The West Midlands Regiment.
The links between the two units continue with two ex-officers of Fusilier Company commanding companies at BUOTC and ex-members of BUOTC filling the post of second-in-command, with another commanding one of the rifle platoons. The drill hall in Thorpe Street still stands and is occasionally visited by members of BUOTC in it's current guise as a Wine Bar and a restaurant.
On the formation of the Territorial Force in 1908 the University Company became a Contingent of the Senior Division of the Officer Training Corps. As such it was charged under Haldane's scheme with providing officers for the territorials in time of emergency. This it did with some note six years later.
Field Marshall The Viscount Slim KG, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, GBE, DSO, MC
One such officer was William Joseph Slim, who although working as a teacher and not an undergraduate, joined Birmingham University Officers Training Corps in 1912 as an officer cadet, rising to the rank of lance corporal.
Whilst attending annual camp on Salisbury Plain in 1914 the UOTC was recalled to Birmingham on the outbreak of war. On 22 August 1914 Slim became a second lieutenant in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
He later won renown for his leadership in Burma during the Second World War. In 1948 Slim achieved the highest post in the British Army, Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) and in January 1949 was promoted Field Marshall.
Lt Col Loring
Lt Col Loring took command of a Regular Battalion, the 2nd Battalion The Royal Warwickshire Regiment, which landed at Zeebrugge on 6 October 1914 as part of Sir Harry Rawlinson's 7th Division. After successfully covering the retreat of the Belgium Army the Division began to fall back on 14th October before the overwhelming force of the enemy.
By the 16th the Battalion had formed part of a defensive line east of Ypres, capturing Menin under heavy fire two days later. The Germans reinforced and attacked resulting in three days of heavy fighting. Lt Col Loring was wounded in the heel on the 20th. On the 23rd the 2nd Warwicks threw the enemy out of Polygon Wood in hard and close fighting in a still dense wood and advanced for one mile beyond the wood to recover lost ground.
"Colonel Loring, who in spite of his wound still remained with his regiment, rode that day at the head of his men, encouraging them to greater effort by the example of his fearless bearing. Twice his charger was shot under him, and at last he fell himself... as General Rawlinson told the regiment next day, it was a fine achievement that had saved the situation at a critical moment."
The cost was over one hundred casualties. He died aged 46 and is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres. Lt Col Loring's two brothers were also killed in the first year of the war.
Major Christie joined the 1st Battalion the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as D Company Commander. As part of the 10th brigade 1 RWR reached Le Cateau on August 24th, the day after the battle of Mons when the British Army had begun its great retreat. News was difficult to obtain and the day passed with little sign of the retreating British, but with growing evidence of the approach of the enemy.
The 10th Brigade fell back and on the 26th, whilst resting, the battalion observed heavy enemy fire against another unit to the north . The Warwicks dashed forward under Major Christie to aid he other unit. However, although a few reached the hedge that marked the crest of the ridge they were forced to fall back with the loss of 7 officers and 40 men.
The battalion was split up and after further retreats reformed and joined the attack across the River Aisne on September 5th. After three weeks in a defensive position, the Battalion attacked on October 9th seeking to stem the German advance at the village of Meteren. After initial gains 1 RWR were forced to halt as their flanks became exposed.
The Germans poured heavy artillery fire on the battalion and amongst the killed was Major Chistie "a very gallant officer, who had been in the forefront of the fighting all day" He died aged 41 and is buried in Meteren Cemetery, Belgium.