The first volunteers marched from the Church Lads’ Brigade Armoury Headquarters into the training camp at Pleasantville on September 2, 1914. After the First Five Hundred departed for England on October 4, the Armoury continued to be the administrative and the training headquarters throughout the war.
Volunteer numbers remained high throughout 1914 for the second contingent – still almost 90 per cent were from this city. To bring the Regiment up to full battalion strength numbers, the Reserve Force Committee created a special recruiting team to visit some of the more isolated communities. Their first trip was not considered a huge success, but recruiting efforts became more successful in the outports.
The NPA’s Reserve Force Committee continued to appeal for recruits, but by late 1917, the newly created Department of Militia (which replaced the NPA) was concerned that recruiting was not filling the Regiment's requirements for reinforcements even with the added inducements offered. The badly undermanned Royal Newfoundland Regiment had been removed from the front lines in the spring of 1918, and the country was reluctantly forced to adopt conscription on May 11, 1918 under the Military Services Act. While 3,629 men were conscripted under this Act, only 1,573 were accepted into the Regiment. The first draft of conscripted men shipped out in September, but the war ended before any of these men finished their training in England and none saw action at the front.
Only the First Five Hundred were housed and trained at Pleasantville. As each of the 21 subsequent draft of recruits sailed for England, the men marched out through the arch and down the steps of the Church Lads’ Brigade Armoury to an unknown destiny. The morning after the fire that ravaged the historic building on December 21, 1992, the concrete archway was all that stood. When the Armoury was rebuilt and opened in 1994, the Brigade kept the arch separate from the new building but insisted it remain as a symbol of honour to all who had walked under it in service to their country, their province, and this city.