As everybody knows, the story begins in the latter part of December 1899, at that dark and critical time when, without any sign of panic, it was clearly realised that our Regular Forces were inadequate for the prosecution of the war. There was a call, promptly responded to, for Volunteers, and the Imperial Yeomanry and the City Imperial Volunteers were created.
In the first instance, the H.A.C., which, as is well known, stands on a wholly different footing from other Auxiliary corps, was anxious to send out independent contingents of its own, and on the day before the first official call was issued from the War Office Lord Denbigh, the Colonel, issued a circular to members of the Company, in order to find out how many could be counted upon if their services were required. Replies in the affirmative were numerous enough to justify him in making a definite offer to the War Office to provide a company of Infantry and a battery of Horse Artillery. The battery was declined by the authorities on the ground that there was enough Regular Artillery at their disposal, and, instead of a complete company of Infantry, it was preferred that the H.A.C. should send its quotum of forty men to the Infantry and Mounted Infantry of the C.I.V., the formation of which had just been announced.
Steps were at once taken to carry out this latter decision, and within a day or two the forty asked for were chosen. In point of fact, they were forty-four—namely, two officers, one civil surgeon, and forty-one N.C.O.’s and men, and thenceforward they became an integral part of the C.I.V. The Mounted Infantry embarked on the ‘Briton’ on January 15, the Infantry on the ‘Ariosto’ on January 20; and their further history is related in Chapters X. and XI. But here for the present we must leave them.