Border Regiment headquarters

Carlisle Castle

From the 1820s Carlisle Castle had been home to the Army, it was the headquarters of the Border Regiment from 1881 until 1959.

During WWI the regiment expanded in size, growing to 13 battalions by 1918. The Border Regiment would be sent to action in many of the Great War’s arenas of conflict, including Gallipoli and India. However, as an infantry division, many of the Border’s men fought on the Western Front. 7 battalions saw service in the Somme offensive of 1916.

The 11th Battalion were known as the “Lonsdale Pals”, raised in September 1914 by the Earl of Lonsdale. Pals Battalions were non-professional troops of local men, who after receiving basic training were sent to the Western Front. The Lonsdale Pals arrived in France in November 1915 and were sent straight to the Somme. On the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 2016, 500 of the 800 pals were lost or wounded, including 23 of the 26 officers. The Battalion would remain at the Western Front until Armistice was declared in November 1918.

Five men of the Border Regiment were awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery. Private James Alexander Smith, Private Abraham Acton, Sergeant Edward John Mott, Sergeant Charles Edward Spackman and Captain James Forbes-Robertson.

The Castle also acted as a prison during the Great War, conscientious objectors who refused to serve in the armed forces for political reasons were held in military prisons as they were considered military personnel and therefore were punished by military courts.

Carlisle Castle is now open to visitors as part of English Heritage and is home to Cumbria's Museum of Military Life which explores the history of the Border Regiment.


To find out more about some of Carlisle's other Great War sites, return to map