On the outbreak of war the Somerset Light Infantry (Som LI) consisted of two Regular, one Special Reserve (3rd) and two Territorial battalions (4th and 5th). During the course of the war the two Territorial battalions each formed a second and third line battalion (2/4th, 3/4th, 2/5th and 3/5th), and in addition four Service battalions (Kitchener) were raised, 6th to 9th, two Home Service battalions, 10th and 13th, and two more Territorial battalions, 11th and 12th. Finally a Garrison battalion was formed and sent to India in February 1917. Other Som LI battalions served on the Western Front, in Mesopotamia, India and Palestine; deaths totalled 4,760, of whom 269 were officers, and one VC was won (Pte T.H Sage, 8th Battalion). The 2nd Som LI was stationed in India throughout the war. In a footnote on page 1 of this history is a comment to the effect that the 2nd Battalion was unfortunately (my italics) one of these; in hindsight there are those who might think they were very lucky, their deaths totalled 43 compared with 1,315 of the 1st Battalion.
The 1st Battalion was in Colchester, part of 11th Brigade, 4th Division which arrived in France on 22 August 1914, in time to fight in the battle of Le Cateau during the retreat from Mons. It remained on the Western Front in that brigade and division throughout the war. 1/4th saw action in Mesopotamia, 2/4th joined 34th Division in France in July 1918, becoming divisional pioneer battalion. 1/5th went first to India but in May1917 it went to Palestine where it became part of the newly formed 75th Division. 2/5th went to India and stayed there, 6th, 7th and 8th Service Battalions all served on the Western front, the 9th became a Reserve battalion and remained in the UK along with the two Home Service battalions. The 11th also went to France, in May 1918, to the 59th Division while the 12th Battalion was converted from a yeomanry regiment (W Somerset) to infantry in Egypt in January 1917, part of 74th Division, with which it went to France in May 1918.
HISTORY OF THE SOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY (PRINCE ALBERT’S) 1914-1919
Record of all battalions of the Som LI in the Great War.Wyrall arranges his record of the regiment in chronological order, following the course of the war from the arrival of the1st Battalion in France. As he describes the operations and events he indicates in the margin the date of the action he is writing about with the identity of the battalion involved; operations in other theatres have their own chapters. Appendices list, by name, Honours and Awards including Mention in Despatches, promotions for service in the field, summary of other rank casualties (deaths) in each battalion (officers are totalled together), brief records of service.