8 July 2013

The Hertfordshire Regiment


Hertfordshire was not a large enough county to sustain regular battalions but it did have a single Territorial Force battalion which was formed on 1st April 1908 as the Hertfordshire Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment and which became the 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire regiment the following year. The distribution of companies and drill stations was as follows:

HQ
Hertford
A Company
Hertford; drill stations at Watton, Hatfield and Berkhamsted
B Company
St Albans; drill stations at London Colney and Harpenden
C Company
Bishops Stortford; drill stations at Sawbridgeworth, Braughing, Widford, Ware and Wadesmill
D Company
Watford; drill station at Chorley Wood
E Company
Royston; drill stations at Letchworth, Baldock and Ashwell
F Company
Hemel Hempstead; drill stations at Great Berkhamsted, Ashridge, Tring and Ivinghoe.
G Company
Hitchin; drill stations at Welwyn, Stevenage and Whitwell
H Company
Waltham Cross; drill stations at Wormley, Cheshunt and Hoddesdon. 

640 joined on 28th April 1908
1196 joined on 11th May 1909
1359 joined on 14th February 1910
1598 joined on 13th January1911
1786 joined on 26th January 1912
2092 joined on 27th January 1913
2630 joined on 1st January 1914
2709 joined on 5th September 1914
3697 joined on 4th November 1914
4223 joined on 13th December 1914
4479 joined on 11th January 1915
4660 joined on 22nd February 1915
4762 joined on 22nd March 1915
4853 joined on 19th April 1915
4967 joined on 24th May 1915
5114 joined on 2nd June 1915
5339 joined on 1st July 1915
5433 joined on 3rd August 1915
5548 joined on 17th September 1915
5573 joined on 2nd October 1915
5689 joined on 1st November 1915 

When the Territorial Force was re-numbered in 1917, men from the 1st Hertfordshire Regiment were issued numbers in the range 265001 to 290000, the lowest number being issued to the man with the lowest number from the first series.

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29 January 2013

10th (Prince of Wales's Own Royal) Hussars


This post will look at numbering in the 10th (Prince of Wales's Own Royal) Hussars between 1881 and 1905. The cavalry regiments were unaffected by Cardwell's Army reforms; however, in keeping with the parameters of this blog, my starting point is 1881.

The database and information on this blog have been compiled as a result of studying service records in WO 97 (British Army pensions to 1913), WO 363 (WW1 service records) and WO 364 (WW1 pension records). All of these series are now online. Click on the links for further information.

1867 joined on 21st March 1881
1985 joined on 9th May 1882
2134 joined on 8th May 1883
2149 joined on 27th September 1884
2251 joined on 13th February 1885
2370 joined on 2nd March1886
2547 joined on 25th April 1887
2702 joined on 27th September 1888
2732 joined on 20th April 1889
2889 joined on 6th October 1890
3005 joined on 26th August 1891
3156 joined on 29th February 1892
3268 joined on 5th January 1893
3342 joined on 8th January 1894
3464 joined on 8th January 1895
3684 joined on 21st February1896
3727 joined on 13th January 1897
3861 joined on 14th February1898
4090 joined on 5th May 1899
4347 joined on 9th January 1900
4949 joined on 16th January 1901
5318 joined on 2nd April 1902
5410 joined on 5th January 1903
5466 joined on 31st August 1904
5502 joined on 6th September 1905

In December 1906, Army Order 289 changed the numbering for cavalry of the line. Prior to this, all cavalry regiments had numbered individually by regiments. Now, line cavalry and household cavalry were separated; each of the three line cavalry corps – dragoons, hussars, and lancers – beginning a new number series which started at 1 and was to extend to 49,999.

What this meant for the 10th Hussars was that from late December 1906 they began a new number sequence which they shared with the all of the Hussars regiments:

3rd (King's Own) Hussars
4th (Queen's Own) Hussars
7th (Queen's Own) Hussars
8th (King's Royal Irish) Hussars
10th (Prince of Wales's Own Royal) Hussars
11th (Prince Albert's Own) Hussars
13th Hussars
14th (King's) Hussars
15th (King's) Hussars
18th (Queen Mary's Own) Hussars
19th (Queen Alexandra's Own Royal) Hussars
20th Hussars

See also, my posts on numbering in the Corps of Hussars 1907-1914, Queen's and King's Regulations: regimental numbering and cavalry numbering in 1906.

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

4 January 2013

Postings - regular battalions

Earlier, I wrote:

"The regular battalions, that is, the battalions populated by career soldiers, operate a single regimental number sequence. A new recruit is given his number at the Regimental Depot, spends up to three months training at the Depot and is then posted to the 1st Battalion which is stationed in the UK. After 18 months to two years he is then posted to the 2nd Battalion which is serving overseas in India. His posting from the Depot to the 1st Battalion, and then from the 1st Battalion to the 2nd Battalion does not affect his regimental number which remains unchanged."

Here's an example of what I meant - and you'll find similar examples awash in WO 97, WO 363 and WO 364.

 
Michael Hooper joined the Royal Dublin Fusiliers on 8th Jun 1894 and was given the regimental number 5089.  He was posted to the Depot and remained there until posted to the Home Battalion (in this case, the 1st Battalion) on the 23rd August 1894. He remained with the 1st Battalion, which was then stationed in Sheffield, until the 10th February 1896 when he was posted to the overseas battalion, the 2nd Battalion.  This battalion would have been stationed in Quetta when Michael Hooper joined it and his service record notes that he remained with the 2nd Battalion until September 1902 when he was posted back to the regimental Depot. In the intervening years, Hooper would have seen service in Bombay, Natal and South Africa, the battalion moving back to Ireland in 1902 (and becoming the Home Battalion) whilst the 1st Battalion, already overseas in South Africa as a result of the Boer War, moved on to Crete and Malta and took up the role of the overseas battalion.
 
Michael Hooper was transferred to the Army Reserve in October 1902 and on completing this period of reserve service elected to join Section D Reserve for a further four years.  He was finally discharged from Section D Reserve  on the 7th June 1910.
 
At no point during his army career, did Michael Hooper's number change.  Why would it?  He joined as a regularsoldier and moved freely between the two battalions during his army career.  Whilst on the reserve, had he been recalled to the Colours, he would have retained his service number.  However, from the moment he was discharged in 1910, his number would also have been discarded.  Even if he walked around the block and decided to re-enlist, that number would not have been re-issued to him. 
 
The image from Michael Hooper's service record in WO 363 (above) is Crown Copyright and reproduced by courtesy of the National Archives.  Interestingly, the same papers (but beautifully preserved) exist in WO 97, so here's another version of the same document:
 


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Regimental number sequences - county regiments


This may be preaching to the converted, but it's a new year and probably time for a reminder that one number series doesn't fit all.

On this blog I have posted pointers to enlistment dates for many British Army regiments and battalions within those regiments. All of the 69 Infantry of the Line regiments are covered to some degree - mostly number sequences from 1881 to 1914. You'll find the five Foot Guards regiments represented here; also the majority of the Cavalry of the Line; some Special Reserve and Extra Reserve battalions, Territorial Force Battalions and Pals battalions. What is shown on these various posts is simply a snapshot of enlistment dates and numbers, a snapshot which will hopefully assist researchers in narrowing down a likely enlistment date for a soldier based on his number.

Do bear in mind though that a typical county regiment would have employed several different numbering sequences for the men in its battalions. Let's look at the hypothetical Blankshire Regiment and take August 1910 as our starting point.


The regular battalions, that is, the battalions populated by career soldiers, operate a single regimental number sequence. A new recruit is given his number at the Regimental Depot, spends up to three months training at the Depot and is then posted to the 1st Battalion which is stationed in the UK. After 18 months to two years he is then posted to the 2nd Battalion which is serving overseas in India. His posting from the Depot to the 1st Battalion, and then from the 1st Battalion to the 2nd Battalion does not affect his regimental number which remains unchanged.

Also administered from the Regimental Depot are those men who have joined the Special Reserve and Extra Reserve. These battalions are a legacy of the Militia which was disbanded in 1908 and each of these battalions has its own numbering sequence.

So the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion , the Blankshire Regiment was, prior to April 1908, the 3rd Militia Battalion whilst the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion was, prior to April 1908, the 4th Militia Battalion. This Blankshire Regiment only has a 3rd and 4th Battalion but some County Regiments only have one Special Reserve Battalion whilst across the sea in Ireland, the Irish County regiments typically have one Special Reserve Battalion and two Extra Reserve Battalions. Each battalion has its own numbering sequence.

In addition to the regular battalions and the Special/Extra Reserve Battalions, the Blankshire Regiment has four Territorial Force Battalions. Just as the Special/Extra Reserve Battalions trace their heritage back to the militia, so the Territorial Force, formed in April 1908, traces its origins back to the Volunteer Force. The 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th (Territorial Force) Battalions of the Blankshire Regiment were formerly the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Volunteer Battalions of the Blankshire Regiment. As Volunteer Force Battalions they operated their own regimental number sequences and now, as Territorial Force Battalions, they continue to operate their own number sequences.

So far then we have the following number sequences for the Blankshire Regiment:

1st and 2nd [Regular] Battalions – Number Sequence 1
3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion – Number Sequence 2
4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion – Number Sequence 3
5th (Territorial Force) Battalion – Number Sequence 4
6th (Territorial Force) Battalion – Number Sequence 5
7th (Territorial Force) Battalion – Number Sequence 6
8th (Territorial Force) Battalion – Number Sequence 7

Britain goes to war in 1914 and soon drafts for the 1st and 2nd Battalions are required. Men from the 3rd (Special Reserve) and 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalions are sent out to France to fill the gaps. They retain their Special Reserve and Extra Reserve Battalion numbers albeit there is often nothing in surviving documentation to distinguish these men’s numbers from the numbers of the regular soldiers. Some medal index cards may prefix these SR and ER men’s numbers with S/ (for Special Reserve) or 3/ or 4/ (to designate their battalion) but this is by no means a uniform practice.

Take a hypothetical example of 3456 John Smith who was KIA with the 1st Blankshire Regiment on 1st December 1914. John Smith was only 20 when he was killed and yet looking at the number sequence posted on this blog for the 1st Blankshires, it suggests that 3456 was issued between January 1894 and January 1895 – when John was 10 years old. How can that be? The answer is almost certainly that John Smith enlisted with the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion in 1912. His number fits the sequence being used by the 3rd Battalion and this in turn suggests that he joined the 3rd Battalion but was posted overseas to the 1st Battalion, retaining his 3rd Battalion number.

I will continue to post sequences on this blog – there are many, many more to go – but in the meantime, don’t be puzzled if, on the face of it, a man’s regimental number and the suggested joining date parameters that I have posted, don’t at first appear to make much sense. Don't rule out enlistment in the Special or Extra Reserve battalions.

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