Occasionally items relating to the 25th London Cyclists come to our attention. Usually for sale on Ebay and other auction sites, but also from contacts and donations. Russell Ridout is collecting as many of these items as possible to create an archive of 25th London Cyclists material and hopefully preserve them for the long term. The most recent item Russell picked up was an ammunition pouch on Ebay.
You can see the soldiers wearing them in the recruitment poster :-
Other items collected include :-
Clock presented to A.F. Smith in 1929 by the Old Comrades Association.
Following on from the last blog about the WW1 Cyclists Memorial, is a short film (1m33s) from 1950 :-
Anniversary Service At Cyclist’s War Memorial (1950)
There is also a short BBC audio recording (5m10s) :-
National Cycling Memorial, Meriden: Remembering Fallen Cyclists
Meriden was chosen as the location of the Cyclists Memorial at Meriden as it claims to be the centre or heart of England, although a number of other places also make this claim depending on how it is calculated.
There were 14 British cyclist battalions in the First World war. There are a number of short films about military cyclists, not only from WW1, but also including other countries. The Japanese used bicycles very effectively in the fall of Singapore in WW2, one Japanese officer quoted as saying “that the conquest of Malaysia was made easy by expensive British roads and cheap Japanese bicycles”. Perhaps the British could have learnt from them in WW1 as the bicycle battalions were not used as they could have been :-
More Cyclist Battalion films
Blood, Tears and Folly: An Objective Look at World War II By Len Deighton
The obelisk honors the cyclist troops who were killed during World War I.
Located in The Green at Meriden, between Coventry and Birmingham, in Warwickshire, England. It was built to remember the cyclists who rode and died during World War I.
The 32-ton, Cornish Granite-faced obelisk was installed using donations from cyclists all over the country, and Meriden was chosen for its location at the centre of the country. The future king Edward VIII (then Prince of Wales) even auctioned his own bicycle to contribute to the fund. It was unveiled on May 21, 1921 with a ceremony attended by over 20,000 people. An annual service of remembrance is held each May, which hundreds of cyclists pedal their way to Meriden to take part in.
Atlas Obscura – http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/national-cyclists-memorial
Modern Photos © Robin Stott (cc-by-sa/2.0) http://www.geograph.org.uk/profile/34609
There are several films on the British Pathe web site featuring cyclist battalions from WW1. The battalions in the first two films cannot be identified however the hat badges on the following film look round like the 25th London’s badge :-
Bicycle Corps Practice First Aid 1914-1918
And another interesting film of the West Sussex Cyclists being inspected :-
My thanks to Russell Ridout for bringing this to my attention.
Russell Ridout has picked up an old postcard of the 25th London’s Headquarters.
The gateway your ancestor would have walked through to enlist.
And here is is today, now occupied by the Army Reserve’s Royal Yeomanry.
Photo acknowledgements – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fulham_House
Gayler, Herbert Henry, resident Willesden, enlisted in the 25th County of London Cyclist Battalion at Fulham (740705). He died of wounds in Waziristan, N.W.F. India, 23 Jun 1917.
He was born in Chiselhurst, Kent in 1882, the son of Henry Gayler, a coachman and Annie (nee Palmer). In the 1901 census Herbert is listed as a Barrister’s Clerk, and in 1911 as a Clerk Stenographer.
The Funeral of HH Gayler at Kandiwam, Waziristan N.W.F. India
Gayler was a prominent and office-bearing member of the Polytechnic Cycling Club (PCC), which was part of the Regent Street Polytechnic Institution (which went on to become the Polytechnic of Central London and is now the University of Westminster). There are mentions of his racing achievements in almost every monthly issue of the Polytechnic Magazine between 1991 and 1914, the year when he enlisted in the 25th County of London Cyclist Bn. Gayler was also an Olympian, one of four PCC members who formed part of the twelve member team that represented England in the 1912 Olympics. A Gayler Memorial Cup was instituted after his death, for a race which took place every year between 1919 and 1969.
The esteem within which Gayler was held among his peers at the Polytechnic is evident from the obituaries and letters of regret in the PCC Gazette as well as the Polytechnic Magazine that followed news of his demise. [Polytechnic Magazine, July 1917]
The University archive has a collection of old newsletters and cycling club gazettes which mention Gayler or have letters from him sent while he was a soldier. They kept an active service register during the war, and published a Roll of Honour of soldiers killed.
Naheed Bilgrami – MA student at the University of Westminster.
University of Westminster Archives – PCC 11/2/2
I had previously blogged about the Ride to the Somme. On the 13th the BBC Countryfile program was dedicated to Remembrance day featuring the Ride to the Somme. Bicycle battalions were mentioned but the main focus was the Army Cycle Corps. It was an interesting program and I would recommend watching it.
The episode is available to watch for UK residents via the BBC iplayer app on Apple or Android devices, smart TV’s, or via the internet at :-