23 December 2009

South Staffordshire Regiment - 1st & 2nd Battalions


This post will look at numbering in the regular battalions of The South Staffordshire Regiment between 1881 and spring 1914.

The regiment was formed in July 1881; the 1st Battalion from the old 38th (1st Staffordshire) Regiment of Foot, and the 2nd Battalion from the old 80th (Staffordshire Volunteers) Regiment of Foot. Service records for all of the following numbers - a sample from a larger database - survive in the WO 363 (Burnt Documents) and WO 364 (Pensions) series at the National Archives in Kew, London. These records can also be viewed on-line via Ancestry.co.uk which is currently offering a FREE 14 day trial.

In fact, there are over 39,000 South Staffordshire Regiment pension and service records (for this regiment - and its antecedents) in various War Office series held at the National Archives. Clicking on the link will take you to the results on Findmypast but you will need a subscription or Pay-Per-View credits to actually view the records. Some of these records can also be viewed on-line on Ancestry although Findmypast has by far the most comprehensive service record collection.


Use the regimental numbers and dates on which these were issued, below, to determine parameters for when your own South Staffordshire Regiment ancestor would have joined up. Note though that these numbers are only for regular enlistments. Special Reserve and Territorial Force battalions operated completely separate regimental number sequences.

162 joined on 10th December 1881
361 joined on 16th August 1882
487 joined on 15th March 1883
796 joined on 2nd February 1884
1198 joined on 30th January 1885
1639 joined on 3rd January 1886
2269 joined on 29th July 1887
2530 joined on 10th October 1888
2616 joined on 10th February 1889
2761 joined on 14th January 1890
3053 joined on 29th May 1891
3315 joined on 27th February 1892
3679 joined on 14th January 1893
4211 joined on 21st July 1894
4675 joined on 29th May 1895
4862 joined on 8th April 1896
5096 joined on 13th August 1897
5292 joined on 24th February 1898
5589 joined on 19th January 1899
5944 joined on 11th June 1900
6202 joined on 18th June 1901
6333 joined on 10th January 1902
6719 joined on 7th January 1903
7126 joined on 1st May 1904
7261 joined on 9th January 1905
7540 joined on 4th January 1906
7971 joined on 29th April 1907
8249 joined on 17th January 1908
8619 joined on 4th August 1909
8761 joined on 5th January 1910
8968 joined on 6th April 1911
9127 joined on 10th April 1912
9419 joined on 3rd June 1913
9519 joined on 21st April 1914

In August 1914 Britain went to war with Germany, and when the new service battalions of the South Staffordshire Regiment started forming shortly afterwards, men joining these battalions for war-time service only (as well as those men who joined the regular battalions as career soldiers) were given numbers in continuation of the number series, above.

The photo on this post is borrowed from a family history website and shows 9152 Corporal Isaac Leonard Williams of the 2nd Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment. He would be killed in action with his battalion on 29th July 1916.

Len Williams was a 22-year-old sergeant when he died, and he was also the holder of the Military Medal. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission tells us that he was the son of Isaac and Harriet Williams, of High Street, Swindon, Dudley and that he is buried in Gordon Dump Cemetery at Ovillers La Boiselle. Len's number indicates that he joined the South Staffs between April and October 1912. He arrived in France on the 12th August 1914. Len Williams RIP.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

17 December 2009

Six digit numbering in the 5th KOYLI - 1908-1911

Here's an interesting little variation on six digit re-numbering for the 5th (Territorial Force) Battalion of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

As a general rule, when the Territorial Force re-numbered in 1917, the lowest six digit numbers (or five digit numbers in some cases) were issued to the longest serving men in the battalion. So, typically, 200001 (for example) might go to the longest serving man, 200002 to the next longest serving, and so on. That's a pattern that's repeated across countless Territorial Force battalions, albeit I have previously posted on exceptions in some of the London Regiment Battalions. The 5th KOYLI is another exception.

The 5th KOYLI was issued numbers within the range 240001 to 265000. The first 43 numbers: numbers 240001 to 240043 (and possibly 240044) cover the period 31st March 1908 to (at a guess) mid 1911. However, the men who were allocated these numbers were first ordered alphabetically by surname and then re-numbered. Here they are:

240001 UNKNOWN
240002 formerly 1499 John H Ash
240003 formerly 7 Arthur E Battie
240004 UNKNOWN
240005 [unknown former number] William Henry Butler
240006 [unknown former number] Samuel Burns
240007 UNKNOWN
240008 UNKNOWN
240009 formerly 719 Edward Cockroft
240010 formerly 1624 Sidney W Clayton
240011 formerly 766 William Dungworth [WO 364]
240012 formerly 1462 Ernest Firth
240013 formerly 1495 James Gent
240014 formerly 668 Norman S Grant
240015 formerly 8 John Helliwell [WO 363]
240016 formerly 30 William Lawrence Heseltine [WO 363]
240017 formerly 81 Herbert Hill [WO 364]
240018 [unknown former number] George Hinds
240019 UNKNOWN
240020 formerly 1603 William Horner
240021 formerly 1522 Thomas Lofthouse
240022 [unknown former number] James Lines
240023 formerly 1622 Fred Lunn
240024 UNKNOWN
240025 formerly 43 Arthur Neal
240026 UNKNOWN
240027 formerly 1592 Albert Needham [WO 363]
240028 UNKNOWN
240029 formerly 763 Arthur Richards
240030 [unknown former number] Ethelbert E Strudwick
240031 formerly 54 Robert Suthers
240032 formerly 421 George Smith [WO 363]
240033 formerly 1280 William J Smith
240034 UNKNOWN
240035 [unknown former number] Garnet Salmon
240036 UNKNOWN
240037 formerly 56 Thomas Thackray
240038 formerly 1608 James Thomason
240039 UNKNOWN
240040 formerly 971 John Twiss
240041 formerly 79 Harry Williamson [WO 363]
240042 UNKNOWN
240043 formerly 1473 Francis Westlake

240044 is another unknown and then the 5th KOYLI gets back into a sequential pattern:

240045 formerly 1644 Herbert Sweeting
240046 unknown
240047 formerly 1648 Walter Willetts

and so on.

The first thing to say here, is that if anybody can help me fill any of the gaps above, I'd be delighted to hear from you. Surviving service records for this group of men are pretty thin on the ground, but I have indicated with links on the surnames, those men for whom records do survive. The relevant series is indicated in square brackets after their name. The links, in each case, will take you through the to the Ancestry website which is offering a FREE 14 day trial.

I have no idea why 1911 was chosen as the cut-off date but presumably there was a good reason at the time. In terms of the years in which the original numbers fall, certainly the first 800+ men all joined in 1908, and most of these in March (strangely there are quite a few men who joined on the 31st March), April and May. 1050 joined in March 1909, 1355 in April 1910 and 1556 in March 1911. 1631 joined in September 1911, and 1657 joined in January 1912.

In any event, the one line summary for this post would be, don't trust the 5th KOYLI six digit numbers between 240001 and 240043; they bear no relation to the dates on which the original numbers were issued. It's also worth noting of course, that whilst at least 1624 men had joined the 5th KOYLI between 1908 and pre September 1911, only 43 of these men were still with the battalion in 1917. Again, this is a fairly typical pattern for most British Army infantry battalions during this time.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

12 December 2009

The expansion of the British Army in 1914

I've just posted another article on Ezine Articles with the rather wordy title, Regimental numbers and the expansion of British infantry regiments in 1914. CLICK HERE to read it.

Please note, there's a slight typo on the 10th number series which should read "10th series: supernumerary company men attached to the 5th (TF) Battalion."

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

7 December 2009

Wiltshire Regiment - 1st & 2nd Battalions

This post will look at numbering in the regular battalions of The Wiltshire Regiment between 1881 and August 1914.

The regiment was formed in July 1881; the 1st Battalion from the old 62nd (Wiltshire) Regiment of Foot, and the 2nd Battalion from the old 99th (Duke of Edinburgh's) Regiment of Foot.

There are over 20,000 Wiltshire Regiment pension and service records (for this regiment - and its antecedents) in various War Office series held at the National Archives. Clicking on the link will take you to the results on Findmypast but you will need a subscription or Pay-Per-View credits to actually view the records. Some of these records can also be viewed on-line on Ancestry although Findmypast has by far the most comprehensive service record collection.


Use the regimental numbers and dates on which these were issued, below, to determine parameters for when your own Wiltshire Regiment ancestor would have joined up. Note though that these numbers are only for regular enlistments. Special Reserve and Territorial Force battalions operated completely separate regimental number sequences.

126 joined on 15th December 1881
139 joined on 12th January 1882
436 joined on 16th June 1883
628 joined on 13th February 1884
1036 joined on 2nd January 1885
1478 joined on 2nd April 1886
1737 joined on 27th January 1887
2222 joined on 25th April 1888
2466 joined on 23rd February 1889
2575 joined on 23rd April 1890
2950 joined on 30th July 1891
3151 joined on 12th January 1892
3384 joined on 17th January 1893
3795 joined on 29th January 1894
4235 joined on 2nd May 1895
4499 joined on 17th August 1896
4677 joined on 14th January 1897
5061 joined on 11th August 1898
5281 joined on 21st February 1899
5522 joined on 5th February 1900
5714 joined on 14th March 1901
5875 joined on 4th February 1902
6183 joined on 12th January 1903
6938 joined on 12th July 1904
7205 joined on 31st January 1905
7582 joined on 27th August 1906
7728 joined on 10th January 1907
8108 joined on 8th March 1908
8290 joined on 29th January 1909
8484 joined on 17th January 1910
8665 joined on 11th March 1911
8816 joined on 2nd February 1912
9011 joined on 1st May 1913
9088 joined on 9th January 1914
9282 joined on 13th August 1914

By the time 9282 Frederick Charles Allford joined the Wiltshire regiment on 13th August 1914, his King and Country had already been at war with Germany for a little over a week. Frederick Allford enlisted for seven years with the Colours and five years on the Reserve, but already there were other men who had signed up for war-time service only who would be given numbers from the same series which, up until August 1914, had been the sole preserve of the 1st and 2nd regular battalions.

From August 1914 until the end of the war, the 1st and 2nd Battalions would share their number series with men joining the 5th, 6th and 7th (Service) Battalions, and the 8th (Reserve) Battalion.

For more information on the Wiltshire Regiment, visit The Wardrobe. I've borrowed the photograph on this post from the excellent, Soldiers of The Queen website. It depicts an unnamed soldier of the 2nd Wiltshire Regiment (and dog) taken at Mandalay in 1894.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

27 November 2009

Military Police


My data for certain periods between 1881 and 1918 is a little thin for the Military Police and so, for the purposes of this post, I'm going to use September 1914 as my starting point.

Service records for all of the following numbers survive in the WO 363 (Burnt Documents) and WO 364 (Pensions) series at the National Archives in Kew, London. These records can also be viewed on-line via Ancestry.co.uk which is currently offering a FREE 14 day trial.

The Military Mounted Police was formed in 1877 and the Military Foot Police in 1885. Although the two regiments were distinct, to all intents and purposes they functioned as a single organisation and shared the same number series.

Two series of numbers were used from 1908. Series one was used for the Military Foot Police (MFP) and the Military Mounted Police (MMP). Series two was used for the Military Foot Police Special Reserve and the Military Mounted Police Special Reserve. All numbers were prefixed by the letter P/ and it is common to see the ranks of the Military Mounted Police filled with men who had previously seen many years of service with a cavalry regiment.

MFP and MMP (series one)

P/65 joined on 6th September 1914
P/239 joined on 6th October 1914
P/514 joined on 3rd November 1914
P/710 joined on 15th December 1914
P/802 joined on 11th January 1915
P/1425 joined on 31st May 1915
P/1564 joined on 11th June 1915
P/1826 joined on 6th July 1915
P/2054 joined on 6th September 1915
P/2254 joined on 3rd November 1915
P/2635 joined on 13th December 1915
P/2919 joined on 5th January 1916
P/3011 joined on 9th February 1916
P/3041 joined on 24th March 1916
P/3052 joined on 3rd April 1916
P/3133 joined on 26th May 1916
P/3160 joined on 6th June 1916
P/3393 joined on 7th July 1916
P/3549 joined on 1st August 1916
P/3790 joined on 27th September 1916
P/4964 joined on 22nd November 1916
P/5832 joined on 6th January 1917
P/7921 joined on 18th February 1917
P/9147 joined on 9th March 1917
P/9917 joined on 23rd April 1917
P/10548 joined on 8th May 1917
P/11111 joined on 26th June 1917
P/13591 joined on 12th December 1917
P/15426 joined on 8th February 1918
P/15839 joined on 18th July 1918

MFP and MMP Special Reserve (series two)

My data for this series only extends between September and November 1914 and, if the infantry regiments are anything to go by, it seems probable that by the end of 1914, this number series had been abandoned.

P/79 joined on 8th September 1914
P/536 joined on 6th October 1914
P/547 joined on 3rd November 1914

I've borrowed the image on this post from the East Brighton Bygones website. It depicts 4469 Sgt Harry Coverdale of the MMP. His number indicates that he joined the MMP in late 1916 and he had prior service with the 16th Lancers.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

19 November 2009

London Regt - six digit numbers

Mike and Wienand, welcome. Thanks for following this blog.

Three weeks ago I published a post on six digit number anomalies in the 19th and 24th Battalions of the London Regiment; anomalies in the sense that sequential numbering is awry. I've just added to that post with anomalies in six digit numbering in the 9th and 15th Battalions of the London Regiment.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

15 November 2009

The Buffs (East Kent Regt) - 1st & 2nd Battalions

This post will look at numbering in the regular battalions of The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) between 1881 and August 1914. The regiment was formed in July 1881 from the 3rd (East Kent - The Buffs) Regiment of Foot.

There are over 49,000 Buffs (East Kent Regiment) service and pension records (for this regiment - and its antecedents) in various War Office series held at the National Archives. Clicking on the link will take you to the results on Findmypast but you will need a subscription or Pay-Per-View credits to actually view the records. Some of these records can also be viewed on-line on Ancestry although Findmypast has by far the most comprehensive collection of British Army service records.

96 joined on 15th December 1881
364 joined on 2nd March 1882
749 joined on 20th January 1883
1178 joined on 17th January 1884
1668 joined on 4th April 1885
2055 joined on 7th March 1886
2207 joined on 25th January 1887
2643 joined on 26th October 1888
2752 joined on 1st January 1889
3100 joined on 23rd April 1890
3419 joined on 21st February 1891
3818 joined on 10th May 1892
4162 joined on 21st February 1893
4536 joined on 18th May 1894
4810 joined on 3rd May 1895
4991 joined on 24th March 1866
5172 joined on 4th January 1897
5570 joined on 28th April 1898
5964 joined on 31st May 1899
6407 joined on 27th September 1900
6624 joined on 13th May 1901
6802 joined on 11th February 1902
7662 joined on 9th September 1903
8000 joined on 12th September 1904
8179 joined on 17th October 1905
8206 joined on 17th January 1906
8474 joined on 19th March 1907
8990 joined on 18th November 1908
9115 joined on 22nd February 1909
9192 joined on 11th January 1910
9553 joined on 31st March 1911
9794 joined on 14th May 1912
10013 joined on 16th May 1913
10118 joined on 13th February 1914
10247 joined on 24th August 1914

By the time 10247 joined The Buffs, Britain had been at war with Germany for nearly three weeks and volunteers throughout Britain had been flocking to recruiting offices. The Buffs did not extend the number series above to men joining its new service battalions. Those volunteers who enlisted for war-time service only, were issued with numbers from a new series which began at 1 and was prefixed with G/. Men who, during the war, continued to enlist under regular 7&5 terms, were issued with numbers in continuation of the series above. Their numbers were prefixed with the letter L/.

Thus, for example, L/10356 joined up for seven years with the colours and five on the reserve, on 13th December 1914. Had he joined up for war-time service only, his number would have been in the high 4000s or low 5000s and would have been prefixed with G/. The Royal Sussex Regiment and The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, also adopted the same numbering policy regarding war-time only recruits and those men who wished to forge a career in His Majesty's Army.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

Further Reading

Historical records of The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) 3rd Foot 1914-1919

The Buffs

This from The Naval & Military Press:

"During the Great War eight battalions of the regiment went on active service and another seven (including 1st Garrison Battalion) served at home. No less than 32,000 men passed through the ranks of the regiment of whom some 6,000 died; forty-eight battle honours were awarded and one VC.

"Appendices contain separate rolls of honour of officers and other ranks with names grouped alphabetically by ranks; all ranks list of honours and awards and foreign awards, and separate lists of Mention in Despatches. The 1st, 6th, 7th and 8th Battalions served on the Western Front, the 2nd Battalion in Macedonia with 28th Division following ten months in France and Belgium, the 1/4th in India and Aden, 1/5th in India and Mesopotamia and finally the 10th Battalion (formed in Egypt in Feb 1917 from two converted Kent yeomanry regiments) fought in Palestine and on the Western Front with 74th (Yeomanry) Division.

"Apart from one chapter describing the raising of wartime battalions and the initial disposition of the two TF battalions, and one on their affiliated regiment, the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, the chapters of this history each cover well-defined periods of the war in the various theatres in which the parts played by all battalions involved are recorded. The groundwork or skeleton is based on battalion, brigade or divisional war diaries, fleshed out by personal narratives and diaries provided by men who had fought and survived. Where possible, the names of the officers who became casualties in any action are given in the text after the record of the battle, but only the number in the case of other ranks. Again, wherever possible the recipients of honours (all ranks) have been named in the account as news of their decorations reached their battalion. A good history."

7 November 2009

16th Lancers - Bangalore memorial


I posted earlier today regarding a couple of cavalrymen. One of these men served in the 16th Lancers and purely by coincidence, whilst I was tidying up my files, I came across these photos of the memorial to the 16th Lancers in the Hosur Road, New Protestant Cemetery in Bangalore.

This memorial commemorates men of the 16th Lancers who died in the East Indies between 1865 and 1876, presumably the dates that the 16th Lancers were stationed in India.

We often complain about vandalism in the UK and whilst graffiti and vandalism are not as common in India as they are in the UK, this memorial has suffered. These photos date to June 2005 and so the memorial may have been cleaned since then. I must pop back and have a look.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.


I presume the spelling of "private" is a south Indian one.





A cavalry numbering conundrum

Here are a couple of interesting pages from two cavalrymen's papers. You'll need to click on the images to be able to read them.


Henry Charles Bunn (above) joined the 15th Hussars on 10th June 1896 and was issued with his first number: 3536. On 25th April 1901 he was posted to the 8th Hussars and therefore given a new number: 5323. On 5th January 1902 he was posted back to his original regiment, the 15th Hussars.

King's (and Queen's) Regulations stated that, "... If the soldier is transferred or discharged, dies or deserts, the number will not be given to any other soldier." There was no reason therefore, why Henry Bunn shouldn't have been given back his old number, 3536 - and he was.

In March 1906, having extended his service to complete twelve years with the Colours, Henry was posted again, this time to the 19th Hussars. His new number was 6203. Two years later, he extended his service again, this time to complete 21 years' service, and in December 1910 he was posted for a third time to the 15th Hussars. This time, he was issued with a new number because by now, the line cavalry were numbering by corps. Henry Bunn's new number was 6606.

William Padfield (above) also joined the line cavalry in 1896. He was posted to the 16th Lancers on 12th October 1896 and given the number 4280. The following year, on 16th December, he was posted to the 12th Lancers and given a new number: 4325. A little under five years later, on 24th October 1902 he was transferred back to the 16th Lancers but unlike Henry Bunn, he was given a new 16th Lancers number: 4809.

So here we have two examples of cavalrymen both returning to a regiment they'd already served with (and prior to the 1906 change in regimental/corps numbering), one of these men being given back his old number, the other man being issued with a new number. I am at a loss to explain why there is this difference. Could it have anything to do with William being "transferred" whereas Henry was "posted"? I'd be interested to hear from anybody who has a theory on this.

Both men's records survive in the WO 364 (pensions) series at the National Archives and can be viewed on line via
Ancestry.co.uk.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

28 October 2009

London Regiment - six digit number anomalies

This post will look at sequential anomalies in six digit numbering for London Regiment battalions.

All specific army service numbers referenced below have been sourced from the National Archives in London, either from records in the WO 363 and WO 364 series or from the First World War medal index cards. These records/cards can also be viewed on-line via Ancestry.co.uk which is currently offering a FREE 14 day trial.
Introduction
For the most part, when the re-numbering of the Territorial Force took place in 1917, the lowest number in the new six or five digit series was issued to the longest serving man still with that particular unit.

So taking the 5th London Regiment as an example, it would be reasonable to assume that Harry Goodwin Marner, who was given the number 300004 (from the allocated series 300001-320000) was probably an early 5th London Regiment recruit. He was. Harry joined the 5th Londons on 1st April 1908, the day the Territorial Force came into being, and at that stage he'd already served for over 12 years with the 1st London Volunteer Rifle Corps. By the time he was finally discharged from the army in 1919 (with the rank of Regimental Quarter Master Sergeant) he was 45 years old, had a conduct described as "exemplary" and had notched up close to 24 years' service.

Actually, the 5th London Regiment is probably not the best example to use because, alone of the London Regiment battalions, it did not start a new number series from 1 in April 1908 but continued with the number series that had been used by its predecessor, the 1st London Volunteer Rifle Corps. Harry Marner's number was 6633 which dated to November 1895.

But apart from the 5th Londons, the other London Regiment battalions started numbering from 1 in April 1908 and then (in 1917) issued the lowest six digit numbers to their longest serving men. For the most part...

9th (County of London) Batalion, The London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles)

The new six digit block of numbers allocated to the 9th Londons was 390001 to 420000. For some reason however, the lowest numbers in that range seem to start with men who joined in 1911. The lowest six digit number / joining date on my database is currently 390009 which was issued to a man who had originally joined in March 1911.

Men who joined before this date and who were still serving (or still not officially noted as dead) when the TF was re-numbered, have numbers in the 394*** range. I am not sure exactly when these numbers kick in. Number 394214 was issued to William John Andrew who joined the 9th Londons on 1st April 1908 and was given the number 124. He had been a serving member with the 1st Middlesex Volunteer Rifle Corps since November 1903.

It may be the case that numbers 394210 to 394213 also went to April 1908 men. 394206 however, was issued much later in the war.

So to summarise for the 9th Londons:

April 1908 to circa Jan 1911 - Numbers in the range c394210 to 394264.
Jan 1911 to Dec 1917 - Numbers in the range 390001 to c394209 and then, allowing for the block above, c394265 onwards.

15th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Civil Service Rifles)

The new six digit block of numbers allocated to the 15th Londons was 530001 to 550000. Afain, for some reason currently unknown to me, re-numbering in April 1908 begins not at 530001 but either 530396 or 530397. I have an unknown for 530396 but 530397 was certainly issued to George Herbert Flew who joined the 15th Londons on 9th April 1908 and was given the number 35.

The numbers then continue sequentially up to 530467 which was issued to a man who joined on 29th March 1909. 530468 and 530469 are unknowns for me, but 530470 was issued to man who joined on 28th August 1914.

Again, to summarise:

April 1908 to March 1909 - Numbers in the range c530397 to 530467
April 1909 to 12th August 1914 - Numbers in the range 530001 to c530395
28th August 1914 onwards - Numbers from c530470


19th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (St Pancras)

The new six digit number block for this battalion was 610001 to 630000. However, it is incorrect to assume that 610001 was issued to a man who joined the battalion In April 1908. It wasn't. The earliest number that I have in this series is 610009 which was issued to Albert Coles. His original number was 1851 and he joined the 19th London Regiment on 28th January 1914. 610010 was issued to a man who joined the same day, and from here on, the new six digit numbering is sequential - up until late 1916 at least.

But what about those men who had joined the 19th Londons January 1914 and were still serving with the battalion (or not confirmed as dead) in 1917? After a little digging around numbers on the medal index cards it became clear that numbers from later on in the 610001-630000 series were used for those early 1908-1914 recruits.

613356 was issued to George Alfred Earl. His original number was 27 and I presume he joined the regiment on 1st April 1908. Number 66 was issued to Ernest Windust (joined 1st April 1908) and he would later be given the number 613360. Here is the range that I have, for the re-numbered 19th Londons between April 1908 and October 1913.

613356 joined on (approx) 1st April 1908 (originally 27)
613418 joined on 22nd August 1909 (originally 918)
613423 joined on 5th May 1910 (originally 1062)
613433 joined on 9th Feb 1911 (originally 1139)
613473 joined on 1st Jan 1912 (originally 1327)
613638 joined on 8th October 1913 (originally 1742)

I'd be interested to hear from anybody who can confirm at what point in the 613*** range the numbering for 1908 TF volunteers began, and similarly, where it ended; also the date that the 610*** series started. 1st January 1914 would seem to be a logical starting point for the 601*** series - as if logic played a part in 19th London re-numbering.

24th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (The Queen's)

The six digit number range for this battalion was 720001 to 740000 but as with the 19th Londons, 720001 was not issued to the battalion's longest serving terrier.

720092 was issued to Edwin Cecil Cox who had originally joined the battalion on 1st April 1908 and had been given the number 14. Numbers 720001 through to 720089 however, all date to much later in the war and appear to have been issued to men who transferred into the 24th Londons from Essex Regiment TF battalions. As an example of this, 720014 for instance, was issued to a man who had originally attested under the Derby Scheme, was mobilised with the 4th Essex Regiment on 7th April 1916 (number 3931) and then transferred to the 24th Londons on the 25th January 1917 (probably at around the same time that the 24th Londons had just been issued with its new six digit number series).

Again, Id' be interested to hear from anybody who has chapter and verse on the 24th London numbers 720001 to 720089.

Also see my posts on:

9th London Regiment
15th London Regiment
19th London Regiment
24th London Regiment

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

20 October 2009

Ox & Bucks Light Infantry - 1st & 2nd Battalions

This post will look at numbering in the regular battalions of the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry from 1881 until the outbreak of war in 1914. 

There are over 32,000 Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry service and pension records (for this regiment - and its antecedents) in various War Office series held at the National Archives. Clicking on the link will take you to the results on Findmypast but you will need a subscription or Pay-Per-View credits to actually view the records. Some of these records can also be viewed on-line on Ancestry although Findmypast has by far the most comprehensive service record collection.


Use the regimental numbers and dates on which these were issued, below, to determine parameters for when your own Ox and Bucks Light Infantry ancestor would have joined up. Note though that these numbers are only for regular enlistments. Special Reserve and Territorial Force battalions operated completely separate regimental number sequences.

On 1st July 1881, the 43rd (Monmouthshire) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry) and the 52nd (Oxfordshire) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry), became the 1st and 2nd Battalions respectively of the new Oxfordshire Light Infantry. Men joining the new regiment from 1st July 1881 were given numbers from a fresh number series which commenced at 1.

On 16th October 1908 the regiment changed its name to the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, commonly shortened to the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry. Numbering however was unaffected and the two regular battalions continued with the same series that had begun in 1881.

This post will look at numbering in the regular battalions of the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry from 1881 until the outbreak of war in 1914. 

36 joined on 19th October 1881
710 joined on 20th September 1882
901 joined on 6th February 1883
1752 joined on 8th December 1884
1987 joined on 2nd September 1885
2396 joined on 25th February 1886
2665 joined on 22nd January 1887
2998 joined on 16th July 1888
3261 joined on 12th October 1889
3323 joined on 16th January 1890
3658 joined on 11th July 1891
3823 joined on 14th January 1892
4364 joined on 6th January 1893
4933 joined on 26th November 1894
4993 joined on 15th February 1895
5303 joined on 4th September 1896
5428 joined on 11th May 1897
5639 joined on 21st February 1898
6028 joined on 3rd March 1899
6402 joined on 5th July 1900
6883 joined on 17th September 1901
7010 joined on 14th May 1902
7366 joined on 16th February 1903
7596 joined on 21st April 1904
7955 joined on 7th July 1905
8207 joined on 24th April 1906
8533 joined on 17th September 1907
8735 joined on 10th February 1908
9088 joined on 14th June 1909
9179 joined on 3rd January 1910
9547 joined on 6th November 1911
9775 joined on 11th October 1912
9838 joined on 3rd February 1913

When Britain went to war with Germany in 1914, the same number series was also extended to newly forming service battalions of the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry and by the end of August 1914, numbering in the high 10,000s was well established and advancing at a steady pace.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

From The Naval & Military Press:

The story of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (The old 43rd and 52nd Regiments).


This book he tells the story of the 43rd and 52nd Regiments of Foot from their formation to the end of 1914. Each chapter covers a specific period and the fortunes of the regiments during those periods are described. Five of the fifteen chapters are devoted to the Peninsular War.
The 43rd was raised in 1741, at first as the 54th but this was changed in 1751 and in 1782 it became the Monmouthshires. The 52nd was raised in 1755, also as the 54th, but this number, too, was changed within a couple of years and in 1782 it became the Oxfordshire Regiment. The eventual union of these two regiments seems to have been pre-destined for not only did they begin life with the same Foot number, they served together in the American War of Independence. In 1803 they were both re-designated Light Infantry under General Moore and in 1807 they went together on the Copenhagen expedition. They fought together through the seven years of the Peninsular War in which they were awarded identical battle honours and in 1881 they were linked to become the 1st (43rd Foot) and 2nd (52nd Foot) Battalions of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry Regiment.
Of two appendices, one reproduces the list of officers as published in the September 1915 Army List (corrected to August 31st 1914) and the other lists the officer casualties for the first year of the Great War, that is to the end of August 1915. CLICK HERE to order.

History of the 43rd and 52nd (Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire) Light Infantry in the Great war 1914-1919 - Vol 1
Today’s British soldiers serving in Iraq will know the country in which much of this unit history is set - the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers known in the Great War as Mesopotamia. Unusually for such a work of record, the author lays down the background to the Great War in the Middle East in some detail - stressing such factors as the German-Turkish alliance; the building of the Berlin to Baghdad railway and Britain’s interest in the Persian ( Iranian) oilfields. He also reports events with a topical resonance today - such as anti-British riots in Basra, and the declaration of a ‘Jihad’.
The 43rd took part in the defeat of the Turks at Khan Baghdadi, and after the armistice in the spring of 1919 was re-deployed to Archangel in northern Russia in an effort to nip the Bolshevik revolution in the bud. Under the command of General Sir Edmund ‘Tiny’ Ironside the 43rd battled gallantly against Bolshevik forces, although beset by flies, mosquitoes, bloodsucking ticks called clegs - and their unreliable White Russian allies. At last, partly through lack of progress and partly due to political pressure against an unpopular foreign adventure - another echo of today- the unit was withdrawn in the autumn of 1919.
An intriguing and unusual account of two little-known campaigns with eerily prophetic echoes of events in Iraq today.

13 October 2009

Royal Munster Fusiliers - 1st & 2nd Battalions


This post will look at army service numbers and the dates on which these were issued to men joining the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Royal Munster Fusiliers. The period covered is 1881 until 1913 which is where my data - currently - runs out.

The regiment was born on 1st July 1881. The 1st Battalion was previously the 101st Regiment of Foot (Royal Bengal Fusiliers), whilst the 2nd Battalion was previously the 104th Regiment of Foot (Bengal Fusiliers). Both new battalions drew their numbers from the same series which started at 1 on 1st July 1881.

There are over 13,000 Royal Munster Fusiliers service and pension records (for this regiment - and its antecedents) in various War Office series held at the National Archives. Clicking on the link will take you to the results on Findmypast but you will need a subscription or Pay-Per-View credits to actually view the records. Some of these records can also be viewed on-line on Ancestry although Findmypast has by far the most comprehensive service record collection.

Use the regimental numbers and dates on which these were issued, below, to determine parameters for when your own Royal Munster Fusiliers ancestor would have joined up. Note though that these numbers are only for regular enlistments. Special Reserve and Extra Reserve battalions operated completely separate regimental number sequences.

125 joined on 13th December 1881
973 joined on 4th November 1882
1023 joined on 2nd June 1883
1252 joined on 2nd January 1884
1573 joined on 8th June 1885
2025 joined on 26th August 1886
2257 joined on 31st January 1887
2634 joined on 10th September 1888
2814 joined on 10th April 1889
3344 joined on 22nd February 1890
3540 joined on 17th February 1891
3933 joined on 14th January 1892
4378 joined on 17th July 1893
4652 joined on 23rd April 1894
4840 joined on 17th January 1895
5201 joined on 17th February 1896
5434 joined on 22nd February 1897
5576 joined on 13th January 1898
6212 joined on 6th January 1899
6435 joined on 29th January 1900
6738 joined on 6th March 1901
6979 joined on 27th February 1902
7263 joined on 14th January 1903
7569 joined on 15th February 1904
8037 joined on 21st January 1905
8409 joined on 19th July 1906
8509 joined on 20th February 1907
8844 joined on 24th September 1908
8973 joined on 15th March 1909
9303 joined on 31st January 1910
9522 joined on 13th February 1911
9725 joined on 4th January 1912
10045 joined on 2nd June 1913

By the time Britain went to war with Germany in August 1914, the Royal Munster Fusiliers had five battalions: the regular 1st and 2nd Battalions, the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion and the 5th (Extra Reserve Battalion). The 3rd, 4th and 5th Battalions each maintained separate number series.

With the call to arms, the Munsters started forming new battalions. The 6th and 7th were formed in August 1914, followed by the 8th and 9th the following month. Two garrison battalions would also be formed in April and November 1917. All of these new battalions were allocated numbers from a new number series which started from 1 in August 1914. This series appears to have been reserved solely for men joining these battalions for war-time service only.

The number series detailed above, that was originally the preserve of career soldiers joining the 1st and 2nd Battalions, continued to be maintained for men who wished to join up during war-time under regular terms of enlistment. Thus, for example, you have number 10596 being issued to a regular enlistment in March 1915 whilst men joining the New Army battalions at this time were being issued numbers in the 4000s.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

From the Naval & Military Press:


The History of the Bengal European Regiment

This history is dedicated to The Royal Munster Fusiliers whose origins go back to the very early days of the East India Company when each of the three Presidencies (Bengal, Madras and Bombay) had their own armies of Native and European troops. The latter were initially organised in companies and it was as a small guard of honour (an Ensign and thirty men) that the Bengal Regiment began life in 1652. This grew into several companies till 1756 when, under Clive’s orders, they were grouped to form the regiment, then known as “The Bengal European Battalion.” In 1839 a second Bengal European Regiment was formed so we now had the 1st and 2nd Regiments. In 1858 the Presidencies’ European regiments were taken over by the Crown and the two Bengal regiments became the 1st and 2nd Bengal Fusiliers, redesignated in 1861 as the 101st Royal Bengal Fusiliers and the 104th Bengal Fusiliers.

As detailed above, it was in 1881 that they became the 1st and 2nd Battalions The Royal Munster Fusiliers and this book is really an account of the conquest of India by the British. The narrative covers all these events which involved the regiment in frequent fighting. At the beginning of the book is a list of the Regiment’s war services from 1756 to 1858 - no less than 83 wars, battles and engagements, all are described in these pages and at the end of each chapter is a select list of references or bibliography. From time to time lists of officers serving in the regiment are given as are casualties in various actions. There are also interesting details on reorganisation, on pay and conditions of service and on dress and establishments which, altogether, make this a very comprehensive history. CLICK HERE TO ORDER.
History of the Royal Munster Fusiliers from 1861 to 1922
This history relates the story of one of the British Army’s fighting Irish units from the middle of the 19th century to its disbandment on the attainment of Irish independence in 1922. Originating in India as the 101st Regiment of Foot (Royal Bengal Fusiliers) the Munster Fusiliers subsequently served in the Boer War. The bulk of this history, however, covers their distinguished record in the Great War when they were deployed at Gallipoli - being among the units that landed on ‘V Beach’ from the ‘River Clyde’ on April 25th 1915. The Munsters subsequently landed at Suvla Bay in August 1915, and continued to serve in the Dardanelles until the evacuaion in January 1916. After being re-deployed to France in March 1916, the Munsters served at Ginchy on the Somme; at Wytschaete in the battle of Messines in June 1917; at Cambrai in November 1917; and resisted the German offensive in March 1918. They took part inn the final Allied advance to victory from July 1918, serving on the Drocourt-Queant Line; and the Canal du Nord. The Munsters were formally disbanded in July 1922. This is a handsome unit history, with colour illustrations, which will fascinate any student of the Great War - particularly Gallipoli- and anyone interest in the Irish units of the British Army. CLICK HERE TO ORDER.