2 March 2012

Northumberland Fusiliers - Regular battalions


This post will look at regimental numbers in the regular battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers between 1881 and 1914. The Northumberland Fusiliers was formed on the 1st July 1881 from the 5th Regiment of Foot (Northumberland Fusiliers).

The newly formed regiment was established as the county regiment for Northumberland and started numbering from 1 in 1881. 

There are over 48,000 Northumberland Fusiliers service records which survive in various National Archives' series, and clicking on the link will take you to the results on Findmypast, although you will need a subscription or Pay-Per-View credits to actually get into the records.

21 joined on 29th August 1881
96 joined on 5th January 1882
253 joined on 23rd January 1883
518 joined on 17th January 1884
803 joined on 14th January1885
1314 joined on 23rd January 1886
1757 joined on 26th January 1887
2028 joined on 11th January 1888
2355 joined on 5th January 1889
2632 joined on 9th January 1890
2964 joined on 8th January 1891
3284 joined on 7th January 1892
3798 joined on 6th January 1893
4042 joined on 12th January 1894
4451 joined on 16th January 1895
4825 joined on 6th January 1896
5053 joined on 22nd January 1897
5307 joined on 10th January 1898
5695 joined on 7th January 1899
6341 joined on 10th January 1900

With Great Britain at war with the Boers, the Northumberland Fusiliers had been given permission to raise two more regular battalions. The 3rd Battalion was raised at York on the 10th January 1900 and the 4th Battalion at York on the 17th February 1900. Men joining these battalions were given numbers in the same series that was already in use for the 1st and 2nd Battalions. There was no numbering distinction between the four battalions.

The regiment’s volunteer battalions also contributed enough men for four volunteer service companies and one volunteer section. Numbers within the range 7400 through to 7742 were issued in early 1900 to men joining the 1st and 2nd VSCs. Numbers within the range 8891 to 9090 were issued in 1901 to men joining the 3rd and 4th VSCs. Numbers within the range 9401 to 9456 were issued in 1902 to men joining Number 3 Volunteer Section.

Men from the 1st and 2nd VSCs sailed with their officers for South Africa aboard the SS Avondale Castle on the 23rd February 1900.

7799 joined on 16th January 1901
8395 joined on 17th January 1902
9137 joined on 22nd January 1903

The addition of two regular battalions had had a dramatic effect on recruitment into the Northumberland Fusiliers and by October 1903, the regiment had passed 9800. Application was made to the Adjutant-General to obtain authority to commence a new series and on 2nd December 1903, the regiment issued number 9999 to a new recruit and then immediately commenced a new number series starting from 1.

236 joined on 7th January 1904
862 joined on 4th February 1905
1900 joined on 26th January 1906

The 4th Battalion was disbanded on the 26th January 1907, the 3rd Battalion in April 1907.

2069 joined on 7th June 1907
2326 joined on 30th July 1908
2501 joined on 13th January 1909
2845 joined on 28th July 1910
3090 joined on 1st June 1911
3356 joined on 14th February 1912
3544 joined on 9th May 1913
3883 joined on 1st August 1914

The First World War

When Britain went to war in August 1914, men joining the new wartime-service only battalions were issued with numbers from the same series that had, up until that point, been the sole preserve of the regiment’s two regular battalions. The Northumberland Fusiliers also raised a number of ‘Pals’ battalions and these battalions operated different number series again, all of these numbers prefixed by the number of the battalion. For instance, 22/96 was the 96th man to be issued with a number from a new series issued by the 22nd (Service) Battalion (3rd Tyneside Scottish), Northumberland Fusiliers. He received his number in November 1914.

Recruitment rates 1881-1911

Between 1st July 1881 and 28th March 1891, The Northumberland Fusiliers recruited 3,039 men, an average of 312 men each year. Of the sixty-nine infantry regiments recruiting at this time, The Northumberland Fusiliers was the fifty-fourth most effective recruiter.

Recruitment rates leapt during the next decade, largely as the result of the addition of another two regular battalions during the South African War period. Between 28th March 1891 and 3rd July 1901 The Northumberland Fusiliers recruited a further 5,040 men, an average of 488 men a year. The regiment’s recruitment ranking leapt from 54th to 4th place.

Recruitment continued apace in the early 1900s and by 1st June 1911 the regiment had well and truly passed 9,999 and was issuing number 3090 from a new number series to its latest recruit, an average of 505 men recruited per annum during the decade, and an overall average of 435 men per annum since the regiment had been formed thirty years earlier. Overall, the Northumberland Fusiliers was the fifth most successful recruiting infantry regiment.

1st Battalion stations 1881-1914

1881 Portsmouth
1882 Ireland
1885 Dublin
1887 Colchester
1892 Dover
1894 Aldershot
1895 Gold Coast
1896 Gibraltar
1897 Egypt
1898 Sudan
1898 Crete
1899 Gibraltar
1899 South Africa
1903 Mauritius
1905 Peshawar
1912 Bombay
1913 Portsmouth
1914 France & Flanders (from August)

2nd Battalion stations 1881-1914

1881 Bengal
1888 Black Mountain expedition (NW Indian frontier)
1889 Hazara
1892 Peshawar
1894 Cherat
1895 Singapore
1896 Gibraltar
1897 UK
1899 South Africa
1903 Gravesend
1909 Dover
1912 Sheffield
1913 Sabathu (India)
1915 France & Flanders (from January)

3rd Battalion stations 1900-1907

1900 Raised at York on the 10th January
1902 Antigua
1902 South Africa
1907 England, disbanded in April

4th Battalion stations 1900-1907

1900 Raised at York on the 17th February
1901 Ireland
1907 Disbanded on the 26th January

Pictured, 237082 Sergeant Alfred James Woodley of the 1/5th Northumberland Fusiliers (formerly Welsh Regiment) who died on the 27th May 1918.

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Further Reading

The following books can all be obtained from the Naval and Military Press. Click on the links to read more.
Northumberland Fusiliers

What the Fusiliers Did
An account of the 5th Regiment of Foot and the Afghan Campaigns of 1878-1880

A History of the Northumberland Fusiliers 1674-1902
One of the appendices contains extracts from the Army List between 1688 and 1900.

The Fifth in the Great War.
A History of the 1st and 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers, 1914-1918. A rare history now reprinted by Naval & Military Press.

A record of the 17th and 32nd Battalions, Northumberland Fusiliers
The NER Pioneers 1914-1919.  Nominal rolls which consist of the embarkation roll of officers, a list of officers joining subsequently with dates, the roll of men who served with the battalion showing number, rank, name, company, whether embarked with the battalion, casualty details and any awards.

18th Service Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers
The volume includes this Pioneer Battalion's embarkation roll from January 1916; its Roll of Honour; honours and awards and appendices

Story of the Tyneside Scottish
The 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd Battalions, Northumberland Fusiliers during the Great War

Tyneside Irish
The 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th Battalions, Northumberland Fusiliers during the Great War. Appendices contain the complete nominal roll of every man who served in these battalions.

Irish Heroes in the War
Includes alphabetical lists of officers of the Tyneside Irish brigade, with biographical details, along with lists of NCOs and men, all shown by battalion and by company within each battalion.

20 comments:

Ian Hudson said...

Thought you ought to know, this entry isn't appearing in the Index.

You've done some incredible work here, its really interesting.

Paul Nixon said...

Ian, thanks for pointing this out, and for your compliments; now rectified.

Paul

Draperju said...

Sorry if you have seen this post before but I posted it last week and I know that you reply virtually immediately.
I am interested in 283 Private William Hindmarch 2nd Battalion NF
Is this a 1904 enlistment
Best wishes
Draperju

Paul Nixon said...

Draperju, apologies for the delay in replying, I've been travelling overseas.

Short answer is that yes, if he was a regular enlistment, 1904 sounds right and as you mention 2nd mention 2nd Battalion, that would seem to fit.

Best wishes

Paul

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your information on Hindmarch

Best wishes Draperju

Alan Grint said...

Good afternoon Paul
I have come across two Northumberland Fusiliers with special reserve numbers
3/8980 Private Joseph Whitfield
3/8993 Private William Curran
Both 1st Battalion
I am thinking that these two originally late 1902

Best wishes Draperju

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Draperju

No, they date to September 1914. Regular soldiers were being issued with numbers in this range in 1902 but these SR numbers are much later.

Paul

Draperju said...

Sorry about getting mixed up about Special Reserve I now understand they were similar to Territorials.

On another note I have a data base on 19 Battalion and a small database on Northumberland Hussars.

Are you interested

Draperju

Paul Nixon said...

No worries, Draperju, it's a common error. Yes, I'd be interested in seeing the databases you mention. Could you send to me at paulcanixon AT yahoo.co.uk please. Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am trying to find out about my Grandfather Charles Alexander Private 26/3485 who served in the Northumberland Fusiliers during WW1. What Batt was he in and why was he in a Northumberland Reg when he lived in London. Any info would help.

alain.grint@sfr.fr said...

I am little stuck on the military career of one of the men I am studying

Thomas Moscrop Hampshire Regiment
Died 20/10/1918 His SDGW refers to Formerly 2787 Northumberland Fusiliers. Do you know any information on whether this man was a pre war regular. confusingly his Medal rolls card says Serg Rifle brigade Hamps and Hamps. Suggests military experience.
Best wishes Draperju

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Alain, how are you?

Quite possible that he was a regular who joined in 1910. But the number could also belong to any of the TF battalions for that matter. Would be worth you dropping a line to Graham Stewart on the GWF as he is the NF expert.

Best

Paul

Paul Nixon said...

Re 26/3485

I couldn't find a medal index card for this man but the number suggests 26th Battalion (that's the 26/ prefix) which was unofficially known as the 3rd Tyneside Irish.

Paul

Anonymous said...

We have inherited some items through my unmarried great aunt relating to T H Hall (we believe his full name to be Thomas Hay Hall) of the Northumberland Fusiliers no. 290339. He is mentioned in dispatches (supplement to the London Gazette May 22nd 1917) as being co. sergeant and acting regimental sergeant major at that time. Are you able to tell me anything about him from this? Thanks,
Sarah

Anonymous said...

Oops! Just posted and I think I forgot to say he was in the Northumberland Fusiliers.
Sarah

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Sarah

There is another medal index card for this man which gives his original number 7/1891. This in turn indicates that he joined the 7th (Territorial Force) Battalion in August 1914. He was a sergeant when he landed in France on 21st April 1915 and was later promoted. If you find the war diary for this battalion (housed at the National Archives in London, or maybe online by now) you'll be able to see what the battalion was doing. He was obviously still with the battalion when it was re-numbered in 1917 (that's when his six digit number was issued) and he survived the war. I could not find a surviving service record for this man.

Paul

Paul Nixon said...

Thomas Hay Hall

Sarah, if you chance across this post again, please get in touch as I have been contacted by a chap who has acquired Thomas Hay Hall's medals and would like to make contact with you.

Paul

Anonymous said...

Hi, please could you help me interpereting a regimental number and its mapping to a battalion.
The number is NF 44305 and belonged to my late grandfather, Private Joseph Whitehill.

Many thanks,
Pam

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Pam. This would need to be researched. Please see the RESEARCH tab on this page.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for the information. I have just found out that one of my grandfathers was a Corporal in the Fusiliers, and was mostly likely a Northumbrian/Geordie. I'm an East Anglian by birth and relations, and it's good to know that part of me originates from the north.