In 1909 the Polytechnic established its own company of the Territorial Force known as The Rangers. The driving forces behind this company were Vincent Hoare (1873-1915), Quintin Hogg’s son-in-law, and Lionel Studd (1891-1915), son of JEK Studd, President of the Poly. Hoare was a Boer War veteran and a firm believer in the benefits of being in the armed forces. Room was made for the Poly Boys in the Territorial’s 1st Battalion of the 12th London Regiment, an infantry division of the 3rd Brigade of 56th (1st London) Division.
Membership of the Rangers involved frequent training with evening drills, shooting camps, skirmishing training in Richmond Park, an annual two-week summer camp, and shooting practice in the Polytechnic’s 25-yard rifle range at 309 Regent Street. Nevertheless, The Rangers was just like the Poly’s many other sports and social clubs and organised socials including concerts, dinners, dances and garden fêtes.
In August 1914 the Rangers were on their way to their summer camp when Britain declared war on Germany. The company was recalled and immediately mobilised. They underwent 10 days of drill practice in Regents Park and route marches to Hampstead Heath followed by a training camp near Guildford. As conscription was not in force the men were asked to volunteer for overseas service. Although some declined, the Polytechnic Magazine suggests that by October 1914 900 Poly Boys had enlisted, 600 of whom were in the Rangers. The Rangers were sent to fight in France and Belgium where many lost their lives. Sadly on 15 February 1915, while fighting along the Ypres Salient, both Major Vincent Hoare and Captain Lionel Studd were killed in action. They are buried side by side in the Ypres Town Cemetery, Belgium.