BY August 5, hours after Britain's declaration of war,Territorials of the West Yorkshire Regiment were reporting for duty at Belle Vue Barracks, opposite Valley Parade, off Manningham Lane.

"Almost to a man the Bradford Territorials were ready to answer their country's call," declared the Bradford Weekly Telegraph on August 7.

"The officers and men of the 6th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment assembled at Belle Vue Barracks under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel H O Wade, and the 2nd West Riding Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery, which is commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel E N Whitley, paraded at the barracks at Valley Parade.

"The Bradford squadrons of the Yorkshire Dragoons and the Yorkshire Hussars paraded at their headquarters at Doncaster and York...The Army Service Corps, the only branch of the Regular Army stationed in Bradford, are confined to their quarters in Bradford Moor."

Bradford Tramways Department had 104 employees who were reservists in the military. On the day that war was declared, 60 of them reported to their units, obliging the temporary withdrawal of a number of tram services.

Under the modest headline 'Busy scenes at Belle Vue', the Bradford Weekly Telegraph described Territorials bedding down wherever they could, with a blanket for comfort and their kit bag for a pillow.

"The orders for the day, post yesterday (August 6) included the announcement that entrenching implements would be served out, but also - a grim item - that identity discs were distributed. Worn inside the tunic, these swerve an obvious purpose in case of the worst calamity.

"And another thought-compelling matter is contained in the paybooks which were handed out this morning. At the end there is a 'short form of will'. Still, nobody allows little things like this to damp his ardour," the newspaper reported.

Like the public who cheered them, the inexperienced among the recruits and volunteers probably took the view that the Kaiser and his friends were no match for the armed forces who served King George V and would be put in their place in a matter of months.

One man who did not believe this was Lord Herbert Kitchener, Britain's Imperial Secretary of State for War, whose judgement was that the wear would be protracted, bloody and would required armies larger than those who took part in the wars against Napoleon Bonaparte.

At the outbreak of war, Britain's standing army consisted of just over 247,000 men. Reservists, who had military experience, and Territiorials, totalled just over 424,000. In 1914 the Army could call upon just over 700,000 men.

The French alone had nearly 1.7m men under arms, the Germans nearly 1.9m. The British Expeditionary Force of 150,000 sent into Belgium to fend off the German westward thrust was regarded as inadequate especially by the French.

The French were right. By August 24 British troops were pulled back from Mons where they had suffered a withering German attack. One of those who survived was Corporal J Pollard of Liversedge, who served with the 2nd Battalion of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

The losses of A Company and B Company alone amounted to 146 men and officers. Corporal Pollard was sent home for a fortnight's leave.

Lord Kitchener realised that something patriotically dramatic needed to be done to recruit more men. 'Your Country Needs You!' was the legend on posters of Kitchener's moustachioed face. It worked. The two battalions raised became the 16th and 18th Battalions of the West Yorkshire Regiment.

Tricia Platts, Secretary of the Bradford World War 1 Group explained :- "Men of all ages - from mid-teens to mid-forties - flocked to the recruiting station in the old Mechanics' Institute building opposite the steps of City Hall.

"The men were in camp at Skipton, then Ripon and then at Fovant in Wiltshire. Their first overseas posting was to Egypt where, for the first time, t

they encountered men of the British Indian Army: the Mysore Lancers were camped nearby and supplied the Bradford men with a very welcome alternative to the monotonous army rations in the form of bowls of curry.

"The Bradford Territorials had already come across men from the Punjab fighting with the Lahore Division at Neuve Chapelle. Described in the Regimental history as "tall men of fine physique who marched with wonderful spirit and elan, these men were much admired by the Bradford Pals.

"In February 1916 the Pals were shipped from Egypt to Marseilles and then taken by train to northern France to prepare for what was intended to be 'the big break through'.

"We now know that July 1, 1916, was by no means a break through. The battle of the Somme raged on until November by which time both sides were exhausted, severely depleted of men and resources, and virtually no further forwards in terms of ground gained.

"Back home in Yorkshire, families were realising the full horror and cost of modern warfare. The women of Bradford were becoming accustomed to shortages and making do; they had been knitting and baking and raising funds for comforts for their men at the front and were now grieving for the lost of husbands and brothers and fathers.

"They were also welcoming home men who had been wounded and would need caring and supporting through a long recovery period. Some of these men were to die at home, as the headstones in Scholemoor, Undercliffe, Windhill Methodist, and so many other cemeteries dotted around the city, bear testimony."

The first day of the Somme decimated the ranks of the two Bradford Pals Battalions but, contrary to popular legend, did not wipe them out.

Among the 60,000 casualties (nearly 20,000 dead) were an estimated 1,017 men and officers of the 16th and 18th Battalions of the West Yorkshire Regiment. Of these, some 282 were killed or later died of wounds.

The legend that both Battalions totalling about 2,000 men were virtually exterminated by German machine gun fire that Saturday morning is not true.

Tricia Platts said one company from each Battalion (about 500 men in total) were kept back. Some 1,394 men and officers were sent over the top - along with thousands of others.

The 10th battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment, fighting south of the Somme battlefront at Fricourt incurred the heaviest casualties of any battalion on July 1 - 701, of whom 307 were killed.

"We should remember that this terrible Battle of the Somme also marked a turning point in the war. Many historians now agree that, although there were terrible battles to follow, the Somme marked the moment when the British Army was shown to be the match for anything the enemy could throw at it," Tricia Platts added.