Haldane Army Reforms 1905-08
War between the Great Powers (Austria-Hungary Britain, France, Germany, and Russia) – was much talked about at the beginning of the twentieth century. Britain realising that if she was to maintain her international status and Empire she had to prepare her army for a continental war. Army reforms were instigated, in 1905, by the newly appointed Secretary of State for War, Richard Burdon Haldane (1856-1928). There were three major reforms; firstly, the creation of a continental expeditionary force capable of speedy mobilisation, secondly, the setting up of a General Staff, and thirdly, through the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act (1907), the establishment of a Territorial Army as an efficient reserve for the regular forces.
Inter-departmental Committee on Postal and Telegraph Services 1908-11
The Territorial and Reserve Forces Act (1907) obliged the GPO, as the largest employer in Britain, to provide extra postal detachments for the newly created Territorial Divisions. This was in addition to the four other army units already recruited from the GPO. These, with their commitments to the Royal Navy Reserve, had obvious staffing implications, which if not correctly managed could adversely impact on the civilian postal services. To address this situation the GPO called a meeting with the War Office “to consider and report as to the relations between the postal and telegraph services and the Army; and as to the organizations already in existence or proposed for giving effect to those relations.”
An Inter-departmental Committee on Postal and Telegraph Services consisting of members of the War Office, Royal Engineers Telegraph Reserve and Lt Col William Price, who had served as an officer with the Army Post Office Corps during the Anglo-Boer War, among others was formed in November 1908. An interim report was submitted to the War Office and Postmaster General in April 1909 and the final report was issued, two years later, on Wednesday, 5 April 1911.
In the final report, the Committee expressed the opinion that it was important that the Postal Corps and the Army Signal Service should co-operate’ and that they should be ‘placed on a common basis’. There port went on to say that because the ‘ Army Signal Service was a branch of the Corps of Royal Engineers’ it therefore follows that the Postal Service should also serve under the aegis’s of the same Corps. Their reasons for this conjugation were:
1. That in the field, economy and efficiency in dealing with correspondence would be increased, because of the synergies created through mutual assistance and co-operation between the two services. The movement of messages is not the exclusion of the Army Signal Service.
2.That in both war and peace administration would be simplified. It would also facilitate an easier transfer of personnel from one branch to another, as well as helping the GPO to control and maintain enlistment to the services.
3. That it would allow personnel of both services to have the same conditions of enlistment, service and rates of pay. This would assist in recruitment as well as preventing jealously and friction between the services. In the past the difference in pay between the telegraph reservists and the Army Post Office Corps had caused dissatisfaction.
Formation of the Royal Engineers (Postal Section) and (Army Postal Services) 1913
On28 February 1913, forty-six years to the day after the first recommendation to establish a military postal unit, the Army Post Office Corps and proposed territorial Army Postal Service joining the Royal Engineers’ Telegraphists when they were formed into the Royal Engineers, Special Reserve (Postal Section) and the Royal Engineers, Territorial Force (Army Postal Services) respectively.
The responsibility for military remained with the Royal Engineers until it was transferred to the Royal Logistics Corps on its formation inApri1 1993.
Submitted by John Jackett