King's Own Royal Regiment Museum


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Regimental History - 20th Century

Second World War 1939-1945

Depot, King's Own Royal Regiment, Lancaster

Like many people in Britain, troops stationed at Bowerham Barracks in Lancaster learnt of the outbreak of war whilst they attended church on Sunday 3rd September 1939. The Vicar of Lancaster read out the statement which had just been made on the radio by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.

1st September 1939

Orders are issued to mobilise recruits prior to the declaration of war against Germany on 3rd September 1939.

3rd September 1939

The Depot had been training conscripts, or 'militiamen' and the war diary records that at 06.30 two officers and 281 other ranks left for a port of embarkation, possibly to join a King's Own battalion overseas and thus to release experienced personnel back to Britain for war service.

10th September 1939 Depot becomes King's Own Infantry Training Centre

19th September 1939 Sand bags started to arrive and required filling.

21st September 1939

The area commander visited the King's Own Infantry Training Centre at Bowerham Barracks, and a reconnaissance took place of the holiday camp at Middleton Towers, Heysham with a view to it being taken over to accommodate troops of the regiment undergoing training.

6th October 1939 Comforts Fund established

The autumn of 1939 saw the launch of the King's Own Royal Regiment Active Service (Overseas) Comforts Fund. With so many soldiers overseas serving in difficult conditions the Comforts Fund was established on 6th October 1939 to provide them with gifts from home. The headquarters were set up in a large room in Westfield House, at the Westfield War Memorial Village, Lancaster. The War Memorial Village had been established following the ending of the First World War. During the war volunteers sent parcels of socks, scarves, mittens and sweets to members of the King's Own serving overseas. Many fund raising events were organised including bring and buy sales, whist drives and bridge tournaments. An appeal was made for paperback books to be sent to the troops and in the summer of 1940 good knitters were asked to work on socks and mittens for the forthcoming winter.

23rd October 1939

On this day Grisedale Hall in the Lake District was commandeered by the War Office to serve as a prisoner of war camp.  An escort was provided by members of the King's Own Infantry Training Centre to conduct one Germany  internee to London.

31st October 1939

113 militiamen of the July 1939 intake were posted to the 5th Battalion of the King's Own Royal Regiment at Wooler in Northumberland.

28th January 1940 Blizzard stops training

On Sunday 28th January 1940 a fierce blizzard completely blocked road and rail communications south of Lancaster. An SOS message from the railway authorities asked for a party of soldiers to clear the line. On the Monday morning soldiers armed with shovels left the King's Own Infantry Training Centre at Bowerham Barracks to clear the line. For a whole week military training came to standstill, the opening up of communications took priority over everything. The digging parties did splendid work, and by Friday railway links with the south were established once more and a limited train service was in operation.


Only a proportion of our collections are on display at anyone time.  Certain items are on loan for display in other institutions.  An appointment is required to consult any of our collections which are held in store.

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