When war was declared, there were in St. John’s and in a handful of other communities church youth groups whose members were amongst the earliest volunteers in answer to the Governor’s call. The Church Lads' Brigade (CLB) for those of the Anglican/Church of England faith was the first of the brigades to be established in the city in 1892. The Catholic Cadet Corps (CCC) followed in 1896, the [United] Methodist (originally named ‘Epworth’) Guards’ Brigade in 1900, and the Newfoundland Highlanders (Presbyterian) in 1907. These corps honed the mental and physical skills of boys in sports (where great rivalries grew between the groups), and provided military style training in signalling, stretcher bearing, first aid, drill and rifle shooting. Accompanied by their respective bands, the members of these brigades were somewhat familiar with military training and the discipline attached. It is not surprising then to learn that most of the initial volunteers that signed up for the Newfoundland Regiment were from St. John’s and nearby areas. All except the Highlanders had branches outside the city, and only the CLB remains in existence one hundred years later.
The Legion of Frontiersmen was established in Newfoundland in 1911, with most branches and members being in Labrador. A branch was formed in St. John’s in 1912 and many of its members were also in the four previously noted church affiliated groups. Drill sessions were held at the CLB Armoury and when war broke out, the head of the Frontiersmen, Dr. A.K. Wakefield, wrote Prime Minister Morris to offer the services of the men. While the offer was declined, about 150 Frontiersmen joined the Newfoundland Regiment and others guarded posts in Labrador and manned Fort Waldegrave Battery in St. John’s. Fort Waldegrave was once again given the role of protecting the entrance to St. John’s harbour, with its strategic position and bird’s eye view of the Narrows and Chain Rock, where a cable was closed each evening to stop vessels from entering.