The London Cyclists 

This recruitment poster, painted by artist Ernest Ibbetson in 1912, for the 25th (County of London) Cyclist Battalion

of the London Regiment. Formed in 1888, as a Territorial Army battalion, the 25th Cyclist Battalion became part of the London Regiment in 1908 with the reorganisation of the Territorial Force. 

The poster depicts the advanced party of a company from the battalion, with three men dismounted and advancing while firing and reloading. The scene behind them is depicted as a quintessential British village. The poster calls for “A Few Smart Men Wanted” to join the battalion, it advises them to visit the battalion headquarter to enquire. 

The cyclists are pictured armed with Charger Loading Lee-Enfields loading from leather ammunition pouches. It’s also interesting to note the men are wearing spats rather than puttees and the soldier in the foreground has three Volunteer ‘Efficient Service’ stars on his cuff, such is Ibbetson’s attention to detail. The poster appeals to the ideal of volunteer soldiers protecting and idealised vision of their homeland. By the outbreak of war in 1914, the British Territorial Force and the Special Reserve had grown to  ~470,000 reservists. The battalion was finally disbanded in 1922.


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