The following are first hand quotes and diary extracts of the First World War as soldiers were trained and prepared for war. They are taken from Paul Allens book 'Neath a foreign sky.'
Extract: A splendid lot of fellows
Amongst the many so called 'Service' Battalions of infantry that had been formed at the beginning of the war that would form the backbone of Britain's 'New Armies' until the Armistice, the 7TH Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment had been considered amongst the finest. Raised at Richmond North Yorkshire during September 1914,the Battalion had initially been commanded by Scarborough born  Lieutenant Colonel Ronald D'Arcy Fife and an indication of the type of men under his command can be gathered from the words of an unnamed author writing in 'The Green Howards Gazette of December 1914:
'We are all very proud of our 7TH Battalion. Most of the men must have enlisted during the time that the standard of height was temporarily increased, for we have a splendid lot of fellows, and they are the type of recruit from which good soldiers are made. They are very keen on their work, their only grievance being that they cannot be sent to the front at once'.
Extract: 'The finest men'
During the night of Monday the fourth of October the utterly worn out men of the 28TH Division had been relieved by the Guards Division. The Guards had first gone into action following the decimation of the 21ST and 24TH Divisions on the morning of Sunday the 26TH of September. The Guards had arrived in the southern sector of the battlefield the same afternoon; a witness to their entry into the bloodbath had recorded:
'Our men leapt spontaneously from their cover into machine gun fire to pull aside barbed wire and throw plank bridges across the trenches, anything to help these magnificent soldiers through. They reached us and passed through us, every man in step, ranks closed up, heads erect. Probably the finest men the world had ever seen'.
Extract: Intensive training
Eventually landing on French soil at Boulogne, the replacements, clad in full equipment, had undergone a gruelling day's march to one of the many Infantry Base Camps dotted amongst the sand dunes at Etaples where they had undergone 'intensive training' in one of the camp's notorious 'Bull Rings'. Hounded from dawn to dusk like so much cattle by demon instructors known as 'canaries' [due to their yellow arm bands] the savage world inhabited by Frith can be glimpsed in the writings of Winter, who describes.
'The routine had been fixed. Breakfast was at 5-45am with the men going to the 'bull ring' at 7 and staying till 5-30pm. Here would be platoon drill and unarmed fighting with boots, teeth, and knees-neither having been taught much in England; there would also be the army bullshit of bayonet training and uphill running on sand hills with supplementary kit. The most novel side of it all was the manner of authority. In England nothing had been savage in its severity. There had been little foul language. This now changed into a fierce, vindictive atmosphere'. 
 Death's Men; Dennis Winter; Pan Books; 1979.
Extract: A platoon of conscientious objectors?
The training had eventually come to an end in March 1916 when the British Empire League Pioneers had received the orders that were to take them across the channel. Whilst the men had been training they had at some stage been issued with obsolete rifles and prior to their embarkation they had been ordered to have these weapons in. Believing they were to be replaced with the standard British infantry weapon [the .303 Short Magazine Lee Enfield rifle] the Battalion had boarded their transports without arms.
After a terrible channel crossing [during which most of the men had been sea sick] the Pioneers had landed at Havre on the 19TH of May. Shortly afterwards the battalion had been directed to the Ypres Sector where they had joined the Regular Army 's Third Division as the formation's Pioneer Battalion. Much to the anger of the men, their arrival in the Ypres Salient without weapons had caused quite a stir, and before too long it had been believed that the battalion had been composed of conscientious objectors, it had been nine embarrassing days later that they had finally been issued with rifles. Despite their poor start the battalion had eventually begun their war by draining trenches and assisting with the construction of a light railway to the north of Ypres.
Like all military establishments at the beginning of the war the Recruit Depot had been chock a block full of returned reservists and recruits. Private John Clegg had enlisted a little later [November] than Swalwell, he describes;
'I have got into barracks, we are overcrowded. The room is supposed to hold 18 fellows. There are 41 in it now all sleeping on the floor. Our diet is bread and tea with either butter or corned beef, potatoes, and meat for dinner'...
The newcomers to the Peninsular had eventually landed on 'W'Beach at Cape Helles during mid August. A far cry from the sands of Swalwell's native Scarborough, the beach is described by Private Denis Buxton;
'The shore is covered with men asleep and awake, mules, horses, G.S. wagons, limbers, Maltese carts, bikes, motor bikes, [with despairing riders!], barrels, and cans of water, boxes of beef, jam, bacon, cheese, and potatoes, dixies, ammunition, rifles, and large coils of Turkish barbed wire, cut and piled in heaps. The rising ground is spattered with bits of equipment, etc, and a few dead'...
Extract: New armies
Raised at Middlesborough, North Yorkshire, during January 1915 the Twelfth Service Battalion [Tee-side] of the Yorkshire Regiment had unofficially been a 'Pals' battalion. Possessing at the time only two officers [the Commanding Officer, Major [Temporary Lieutenant Colonel] H.W. Becher and Quartermaster, Honorary Lieutenant J.W.Best] orders had eventually been received for the new battalion to be organised and trained as a Pioneer Battalion, consequently those recruited for the unit had been a mixture of men experienced with picks and shovels, miners, road men, and labourers, and skilled artisan's, such as fitters, carpenters, blacksmiths, engine drivers, tinsmiths, bricklayers, and masons. According to the History of the Battalion:
'The training quarters were especially comfortably established at Marton Hall Camp [on the outskirts of Middlesborough] and the battalion was in a measure fortunate in having come into existence somewhat later than the majority of the battalions of which the New Armies were composed, for by this time practically everything was forthcoming that was needed for the large numbers of soldiers that had been recruited'... 
The only 'Pals' Battalion to be formed during the Great War from farmers, the Yeoman Rifles had apparently been created at the behest of the War Office in the Autumn of 1915, in consequence of the number of men of the farming and yeoman class who were believed to be holding back from enlisting. As an enticement to the 'reticent farmers' the War Office had stipulated that the recruits would be serving in a sort of exclusive club that would consist only of men of 'equal stature'.
...Initially, the battalion had indeed recruited exclusively from the yeoman class, however by late 1915 so many young men of military age were already in the Army that although the most remote farms and villages were scoured and although there were accommodating Recruiting Sergeants willing to turn a blind eye to the farm lads who's tender years had been belied by a hefty physique there had still not been enough 'Yeomen' to make up a full Battalion. Recruits [many from Scarborough] had arrived at Duncombe Park in drips and drabs but it was not until their numbers had been swelled by a draft of 'less exclusive yeomen' that the Battalion could begin training in earnest. [The Battalion had eventually consisted of four companies of Riflemen, 'A' was composed of men from the North and East Ridings, 'B' from the West Riding of Yorkshire, 'C' from Northumberland and Durham, and 'D' from Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk]. This is not to say that the battalion had lowered its standards. According to the war records of the unit; 'The men accepted were of a very high standard physically educationally and socially the battalion priding itself on having less crime than any other in the service'. 
By the beginning of 1916 the 20TH K.R.R.C. had been at full complement and had been sent to Wellingborough in Northamptonshire where it had been incorporated into the 23RD Reserve Division. There the new battalion had begun training in earnest. However, like all the New Army formations that were preparing for war at the time there had been no uniforms for the men therefore all their initial training including digging had been done in the clothes that they had enlisted in. Neither had there been any weapons for small arms drill, therefore this had been carried out with the aid proverbial broom handle, and appropriately for the Pioneers, their shovels. Of this period the regimental history of the 20TH K.R.R.C says;
'The formal discipline of the battalion was a little rough to begin with', but that in time it 'vastly improved and became extremely good'.