Awarded for the ‘Musketry Challenge Cup’, the medal is representative of one of the many shooting competitions that characterised the experience of serving in the Great War equivalent of the Home Guard. Unfortunately, it is not as yet possible to identify Sergeant Warburton or which of the four volunteer battalions in which he served, although it is possible that the medal was awarded for the 2nd or Mid Bucks Battalion Challenge Cup at Aylesbury in July 1916.
Established as a result of the fear of possible German invasion of East Anglia in the autumn of 1914, what was originally called the Volunteer Training Corps received official status in November 1914. The Lord Lieutenant, Lord Rothschild, appealed for men to join on 9 December 1914. Three battalions were envisaged – a 3rd or Northern Battalion centred on Bletchley, Newport Pagnell, Stony Stratford, and Wolverton; a 2nd or Mid Bucks Battalion centred on Aylesbury, Chesham, Princes Risborough, Wendover, and Wing; and a 1st or Southern Battalion centred on Gerrards Cross, High Wycombe, and Slough. The Marquess of Lincolnshire became County Commandant. A fourth battalion was formed from within the 1st Battalion in April 1915. Over 2,750 men were serving in the Bucks VTC by November 1915, the stipulation being that none of military age (18-41) should be enlisted unless they had ‘genuine reasons’ for not joining the forces. On 20 June 1915 the four battalions were re-designated as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions, Bucks Volunteer Regiment. The 1st and 4th battalions were amalgamated in early 1918, and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions became the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Volunteer Battalions, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in July 1918. The volunteer force was placed in suspended animation and then disbanded in 1919.
Volunteers undertook guard duties at vulnerable points, supervised prisoners of war, manned anti-Zeppelin posts, and even provided active service companies for coastal duties in 1918 to relieve regulars sent to the Western Front during the German spring offensives. Initially, they had simply a GR armband, hence the epithets of ‘Genuine Relics’ and ‘Gorgeous Wrecks’.
Apart from the Battalion Challenge Cup in July 1916, competitions in the 2nd Mid Bucks included the Field Challenge Trophy for the best platoon shooting competition in October 1916 – Thomas Field of Aylesbury presented the trophy and silver spoons to members of the winning team – and the Carvalho Challenge Cup for which the Great Missenden and Prestwood platoons also competed in October 1916. Similarly, the 4th Battalion competed for the Davis Cup in 1916.