Tonight we have two postcards of the largely forgotten Volunteer Training Corps or VTC. The VTC was the equivalent to the Home Guard in WW1. Unlike the Home Guard though, the VTC started off as a ground roots organisation without much official support from the War Office.
At the start of the Great War hundreds of independent risk clubs sprang up across the country training older men and indeed some women in the use of rifles to protect their local communities. The War Office were understandably concerned about having large numbers of disorganised groups across the country drilling and training and encouraged the setting up of a central organisation to oversee all these disparate groups.
The VTC codified details of enlistment and uniform for its members, along with rank insignia. Generally the VTC adopted a grey-green uniform with a ‘Norfolk Jacket’ style tunic, with puttees and a leather belt:
The War Office’s main aim with the uniform was to ensure VTC members were not mistaken for regular troops. The parade below shows the rank insignia of the unit, which used rings and Austrian knots to denote officers. Again the War Office wanted to clearly distinguish them from army officers so the VTC used terms such as ‘Sub Commandant’ and ‘Regimental Commandant’.
The VTC fulfilled a variety of roles throughout the war including guarding areas of East Anglia in 1918 to free up men to fight in France. They also regularly met troop trains entering London termini to offer support to soldiers arriving in the capital for the first time. They only saw combat once in Ireland during the rebellions at the end of the war.
They were disbanded in 1919, with members in many areas taking part in standing down parades.