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The Collingwood Battalion, Royal Naval Division

The Collingwood Battalion - Royal Naval Division

How did the name come about?

When at the beginning of WW1 the Royal Naval Division was formed it was decided to name the Battalions after Admirals or Ships, hence Collingwood was named after Lord Cuthbert Collingwood, Vice Admiral, and one of Lord Nelson’s officers. Other Battalions were, Howe, Hawke, Hood, Drake, Benbow, Nelson and Anson.

The Old Collingwood

The Royal Naval Division was formed at Walmer in September 1914, made up from Royal Naval and Royal Marine Reservists not at the time needed on ships. After five or six week’s training at Walmer and on the first Sunday in October 1914, the Collingwoods along with some of the other Battalions were ordered to pack their kit bags. They left Dover, sailing to France and landing at Dunkirk. The order came for them to go to the relief of the Belgians at Whybreck. On the 5th October the Collingwoods were occupying No 1 Fort in the trenches beyond Antwerp. The bombardment lasted 3 days and on 8th October, the RND were ordered to retire, this being under shellfire and part of the town being on fire.

In the confusion that arose only 22 of the 700 Collingwood Battalion arrived back in England, the rest were captured and interned in Holland or made prisoners in Germany.

After seven days leave the 22 survivors of the old Collingwood Battalion were sent to Crystal Palace to become part of a new Collingwood Battalion.