Local Pals Brigades
The Pals movement was where men from communities, workplaces, churches etc were allowed to sign up together on the understanding that they would serve together. The War Office, which has a target of 2 million men enlisting at the start of the war in 1914, encouraged locally raised units to join the colours and direct appeals were made to MPs, Mayors and others where there a reservoir of able-bodied men appeared not to have been exhausted. Particular attention was directed on the London boroughs which had not matched the industrial areas of the north.
As a result, between November 1914 and July 1915 infantry battalions were formed in 9 boroughs, and towns also provided artillery brigades for the New Armies.
There is a website about the West Ham Pals battalion.
Camberwell, Deptford, East Ham, Fulham, Hackney, Hampstead, Tottenham, West Ham and Wimbledon all enlisted local men to fight with the Royal Garrison Artillery. 11 areas raised Royal Field Engineers field companies.
There was a West Ham Brigade and an East Ham Brigade in the Royal Artillery. 173rd was the West Ham Brigade and 183rd was the East Ham. There were also four gun brigades raised by the Thames Ironworks – the 174th, 179th, 184th and 186th Brigades (“Thames Ironworks”). They were all volunteers.