27 March 2014

4th Highland (Mountain) Brigade, Royal Garrison Artillery

Numbering in the 4th Highland (Mountain) Brigade, RGA is complex to say the least, and this is because the Brigade was administered by three separate County Territorial Force Associations: the associations for Argyll, Bute, and Ross and Cromarty. In addition, responsibility for the 4th Highland Ammunition Column was also shared between the County Associations.  This means that there are at least four separate number series for this RGA Brigade; the only brigade of mountain artillery formed by the Territorial Force.

The Argyll Association administered the Argyllshire (Mountain) Battery and one sub-section of the 4th Highland Ammunition Column. The Bute Association administered the Bute Battery and one sub-section of the 4th Highland Ammunition Column. And the Ross and Cromarty Association administered the Ross and Cromarty Battery and one sub-section of the 4th Highland Ammunition Column.

Numbering for the Arygllshire Battery began at 1 in 1908; for Bute at 2000 and for Ross and Cromarty at 4000. Numbering in the ammunition column also began at 1 in 1908. Unlike the situation in some multi County-administered TF infantry battalions which later abandoned one or more of its separate number series, county-specific numbering in the 4th Highland (Mountain) Brigade continued until the Territorial Force was renumbered in 1917 and men were allocated numbers within the range 300001 to 360000 (and I haven't yet worked out whether there were separate allocations within this series to distinguish men from Argyll, Bute and Ross and Cromarty).

Service and pension records survive for all four number series in WO 363 and WO 364 and, not for the first time, I have been surprised at some of the number patterns that have survived.  There appear to be many surviving papers dating to 1911, for instance, and then fewer surviving papers as the years progress.  For the ammunition column in 1911 there is almost a complete sequential sequence: numbers 100, 105, 112, 114, 115, 117, 119, 121, 126 and 128 all survive.  There's a similar pattern for the Argyllshire Battery: 324, 325, 330, 336, 343; all of these numbers - the 100s and the 300s - dating to January 1911.  Coincidence? Perhaps, but I have seen this in many other number series as well. One day, perhaps, I'll get to the bottom of it.

For further reading on this unit, and its early formation, read Ray Westlake's The Territorial Force 1914 (if you can get hold of a copy), and the indispensable, "His Majesty's Territorial Force" by Walter Richards which, happily, is easily available as a four volume re-print from Naval & Military Press.

I've borrowed the photo on this post, one of Charles Sargeant Jagger's magnificent sculptures on the Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner, from this National Education Network site.

20 March 2014

Rifle Brigade, 18th - 24th Battalions

This is a post which, I feel, will develop over time. It originates from correspondence with Jackie on another Rifle Brigade post in which she was enquiring about Ernest William Bush who was 571, later 200530 with the Rifle Brigade. Jackie's question was whether it was possible to identify his battalion and my answer was that my own data on these RB Battalions was not significant enough to hazard a guess.

Jackie has subsequently sent details of other men and I have also added to her list.  What follows is a very small sample but the obvious interest is in the alphabetical grouping of men.  It looks to me as though men were numbered in rough alphabetical order by battalion.

So in the examples below, 200505 to 200573 are, I would guess, all 18th Battalion men; 201497 to 201881 are all 19th Battalion men and so on. This would appear logical but this list does need to be expanded further.  It has been comprised from information on medal index cards and the silver war badge roll.  Note that the dates of enlistment given on the SWB roll are NOT the dates that the men joined the battalions they were being discharged from.

200505 ABBOTT, Henry; formerly 542
200510 ALDRIDGE, W. 18th Bn
200516 BURCHALL, Bert; formerly 555
200517 BARRY, James; formerly 556
200518 BROWN, Eugene; formerly 557; arr India 25/11/1915
200520 BALLS, William G; formerly 559
200521 BIDGOOD, William; formerly 560
200525 BRADBEER, William; formerly 565
200528; formerly 569
200526 BROWN, Henry; formerly 567
200527 BATTLEY, John W; formerly 568
200528; formerly 569 [Assumption based on numbers either side]
200529 BUCK, Thomas; formerly 570
200530 BUSH, Ernest William; formerly 571
200531 BEALES, Charles W; formerly 572
200533; formerly 574
200534 Rfn BARBER, Albert F V; formerly 575. 18th Bn; enlisted 16.10.14; discharged 5.3.19 Sick aged 41 yrs
200567 BATTLEY, John W; formerly 568

200573 BOUSTEAD, Thomas; formerly 573
201497 Sgt PHILLIPS, William 19th Bn; enlisted 2.12.14, discharged 31.7.19 Sick aged 38 yrs
201871 L/Cpl MORRISON, John 19th Bn; enlisted 8.9.14, discharged 6.1.19 Sick aged 40 yrs
201881 Rfn THOMSON, David 19th Bn; enlisted 17.9.14, discharged 17.3.19 Wnds aged 23 yrs
202569 Sgt LEVENY, James 20th Bn; enlisted 7.9.14, discharged 23.1.19 Sick aged 51 yrs
202993 Cpl GARVIN, Peter 20th Bn; enlisted 6.8.14, discharged 25.5.19 Sick aged 30 yrs

203150 Rfn BALL, Francis H 20th Bn; enlisted 3.9.14, discharged 10.3.19 Wnds aged 24 yrs
203162 Sgt GRANT, Robert C 20th Bn; enlisted 10.10.14, discharged 4.4.19 Wnds aged 22 yrs
203186 Rfn ROPER, Sydney C 20th Bn; enlisted 27.5.15, discharged 18.3.19 Wnds aged 23 yrs
203188 Rfn PEARD, Richard C 20th Bn; enlisted 19.9.14, discharged 17.7.19 Wnds aged 29 yrs

203533 ALLEN, William G; formerly 173
210977 Rfn MILLS, Albert C 20th Bn; enlisted 2.2.16, discharged 9.8.19 aged 24 yrs
213047 Rfn RAWLINGS, Joseph W 20th Bn; enlisted 12.1.15, discharged 31.7.19 Sick aged 24 yrs

The photograph I've used to illustrate this post shows men of the Royal Military Police, 24th (Home Counties) Battalion, Rifle Brigade, pictured in Agra in 1916.  Five of the men wear medal ribbons from the Boer War and the man standing in the middle is 502, later 206610 Thomas William Deadman of Chailey in Sussex who is noted on my Chailey blog.

The 24th (Home Counties) Rifle Brigade was a Territorial Force formation formed at Halton Camp West on 10th November 1915.  The Rifle Brigade had no pre-war TF battalions and the 18th through to the 24th Battalions were comprised of supernumerary TF companies from drafts men on the National Reserve who were used in guarding vulnerable points in Britain.  The 24th was composed of drafts from the Queens, Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Royal Sussex, East Surrey, Essex, Royal West Kent and Hertfordshire Regiments and was commanded throughout by Lieut-Col F.W. Burbury, a retired officer of the Royal West Kent Regiment. All seven of these Rifle Brigade battalions were posted overseas in late 1915 or early 1916 and the 18th, 23rd and 24th Battalions all served in India.

Jackie, thank you for stimulating this interesting - but as yet incomplete - snapshot of the men in these Rifle Brigade battalions.

5th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry

For no reason other than that I responded to a query about a 5th DLI man last night, here are some numbers and joining dates for the 5th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, a Territorial Force battalion..

The battalion was headquartered in Stockton-on-Tees with A, B and C Companies also based there. D and E Companies were based in Darlington, F Company at Castle Eden (with a detachment at Trimdon), G Company at West Hartlepool and H Company at Darlington.  Knowing where the companies were situated is useful, particularly when looking at pre-war enlistments, the logic being that if Great Uncle Edgar served with "the Territorials" during the war, and you know that Great Uncle Edgar was born and bred in Castle Eden, the chances are that he served with the 5th DLI, and probably in F Company to boot (unless of course he joined the TF Engineers, ASC, Royal Artillery etc).  Anyway, here are some numbers and dates for the 5th DLI to the end of 1915.

341 joined on 4th April 1908
642 joined on 12th February 1909
1112 joined on 17th February 1910
1350 joined on 6th May 1911
1401 joined on 11th January 1912
1730 joined on 24th February 1913
1909 joined on 4th February 1914
2194 joined on 6th August 1914
2350 joined on 4th September 1914
2849 joined on 20th October 1914
2913 joined on 9th November 1914
3175 joined on 3rd December 1914
3282 joined on 4th January 1915
3387 joined on 1st February 1915
3422 joined on 4th March 1915
3523 joined on 15th April 1915
3568 joined on 5th May 1915
3658 joined on 20th June 1915
3718 joined on 7th July 1915
3814 joined on 3rd August 1915
4105 joined on 27th September 1915
4118 joined on 11th October 1915
4184 joined on 5th November 1915
4253 joined on 7th December 1915

When the TF was re-numbered in 1917, the 5th DLI was allocated the number block 200001 to 250000, the longest serving 5th DLI man on the battalion's books at that time being given the lowest number. 200010 is the lowest six digit number I have and that went to Fred Tuck who had formerly served with the 1st Volunteer Battalion, DLI and who joined the 5th DLI on 29th June 1908. Numbers 200001 to 200009 would have pre-dated Ted and in all probability would also have had former service with the Volunteer Force.

I've borrowed the image on this post from the Durham Light Infantry Association website.

20 February 2014

Finding your army ancestor

This blog was started with the aim of helping researchers to identify likely enlistment dates for army ancestors who joined the British Army between 1881 and 1918.  However, it is worth pointing out that there are many online resources where original documents, or transcripts from original documents can be accessed for a few pounds. Finding your army ancestor online seems to become easier by the day.  Here are links to some of the best online resources:


1861 Worldwide Army Index
Can't find him on the 1861 census? Was he in the army? This index contains the names of over 245,000 British soldiers at home and abroad.
Anglo-Boer War Roll 1899-1902
Over 300,000 men and a casualty list of over 60,000. The most comprehensive Boer War register on the web.
Army Deserters 1828-1840
An index of over 34,000 men. Details include name, age, regiment, date of desertion and trade.
Army Pensioners 1760-1913
Includes records from the following National Archives' series: WO 97 (service records),  WO 121 (discharge documents), WO 122 (discharge documents, foreign regiments), WO 131 (deferred pensions)
British India Office Army & Navy Pensions 1749-1947
Released on findmypast as part of its India Office Collection
Imperial Yeomanry 1899-1902
Soldiers' documents from WO 128 at The National Archives
Militia Attestations 1806-1915
From the WO 96 militia series at The National Archives.


De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour 1914-1924
Biographies, many with photos, of over 26,000 WW1 casualties.
Pals Battalions
findmypast has published lists for the following Pals' Battalions: Birmingham Pals, Bradford Pals, Edinburgh Pals, Glasgow Pals, Liverpool Pals, Manchester Pals, Oldham Pals, Salford Pals, Swansea Pals
Silver War Badge rolls 1914-1920 Over 800,000 records giving date of enlistment, date of discharge, and often, the man's age.
Soldiers Died in The Great War 1914-1919
Incomplete but useful record of WW1 British Army deaths.
WW1 Medal Index Cards 1914-1920
The medal index cards of approximately 4.8m men.
WW1 Service Records 1914-1920
The so-called "Burnt Documents" from WO 363.

Pension records from WO 364.


Don't let the dates fool you.  There are lots of records here for men who saw service during the First World War and for those, of course, who would go on to see service in the Second World War.

17 February 2014

Glasgow Pals: number sequences and battalions

Following hot on the heels of the Liverpool Pals, here are some number blocks for the Glasgow Pals, more correctly: 15th (1st City) Battalion, Highland Light Infantry (Glasgow Tramways), 16th (2nd City) Battalion, Highland Light Infantry (Glasgow Boys' Brigade) and 17th (2nd City) Battalion, Highland Light Infantry (Glasgow Commercials).  

Numbering in the Glasgow Pals battalions initially used the same number sequence that had been in use for the regular battalions and which, since August 1914, had also been used by the newly forming service battalions.  At some point, however, a decision was obviously taken to commence a new number series, from 1, and this series starts appearing in August 1914 and is also shared across all service battalions.

I will list the number series - as far as I can ascertain these, in the order in which these were issued. The date range for the following numbers is mid August to mid September 1914

13000 - 14100: 15th Battalion
14101 - 15199: 16th Battalion
15200 - 16299: 17th Battalion

The new number range starts appearing, in my Glasgow Pals' database at least, in early November 1914, with numbers in the 35** range being issued as late as May 1915

0965 - 1163: 15th Battalion
1364 - 1460: 16th Battalion
2684 - 2999: 17th Battalion
3100 - 3296: mostly 15th Battalion
3355 - 3574: mostly 16th Battalion

Both Ancestry and findmypast have data collections covering the Glasgow Pals.

The image above is borrowed from the Glesga' Pals website and shows new recruits for the 16th Battalion parading in St George's Square, Glasgow in 1914.

16 February 2014

Liverpool Pals: Number sequences and battalions

Here are some number blocks for the Liverpool Pals: more correctly, The 17th (1st City) King's (Liverpool Regiment), 18th (2nd City) King's (Liverpool Regiment), 19th (3rd City) King's (Liverpool Regiment) and 20th (4th City) King's (Liverpool Regiment).

15000 - 16151: 17th Battalion
16152 - 17259: 18th Battalion
17260 - 21899: 19th Battalion
21900 - 21999: a combination of 18th and 20th Battalion
22000 - 23149: 20th Battalion

These series may be considered to cover the initial intakes into the four City of Liverpool Pals' Battalions.  I am less certain of the battalions whose numbers fall into the following series:

23150 - 23599: non City Battalions
23600 - 23699: mostly 17th Battalion (but also men from the 15th, 16th and 18th Battalions)
23700 - 23800: various, including at least three men who died whilst serving with regular battalions
23801 - 24004: mostly 20th Battalion
24005 - 24199: non City Battalions
24200 - 24399: mostly 19th Battalion
24400 - 24499: mostly 20th Battalion
24500 - 24799: mostly 18th Battalion
24800 - 24999: mostly 17th Battalion
25000 - 25299: non City Battalions
25300 - 24349: mostly 19th Battalion
24350 - 25499: non City Battalions
25500 - 25599: mostly 19th Battalion
25600 - 25699: non City Battalions
25700 - 25799: mostly 18th Battalion
25800 - 25999: non City Battalions
26000 - 26099: mostly 18th Battalion
26100 - 26199: mostly 17th Battalion
26200 - 26499: non City Battalions
26500 - 26599: mostly 20th Battalion
26600 - 26699: mostly 17th & 18th Battalions

The majority of the City Battalion men whose numbers fall between and 15000 and 26199 arrived overseas in France on 7th November 1915.

Both Ancestry and findmypast have data collections covering the King's (Liverpool Regiment) City Battalions, and here's a tip for finding men in Ancestry's poorly indexed WO 363 and WO 364 collections. After you've exhausted King's, Lpool and Liv* in the regiment field, just type in KLCB.  This is, of course, the acronym for King's Liverpool City Battalion and was scrawled across many an attestation paper in 1914 (and keyed-as-seen by Ancestry's transcription house many years later).

Also see my request for assistance with Liverpool Pals battalions HERE.

10 February 2014

Liverpool Pals

For the most part, the number blocks allocated to the initial contingents of the first four battalions of the Liverpool Pals are well defined. However, there is a series of 100 numbers between 21900 and 21999 (where the number series proper for the 20th Bn / 4th Liverpool Pals begins) which leaps about a little and includes men from the 17th (1st Pals), 18th (2nd Pals) and 20th (4th Pals) Battalions.  
The list below shows number, rank (taken from medal index cards), forename and last name. I've copied this directly from my Liverpool Pals' database.  Numbers with no entry against them indicate that I could find no MIC.  Entries in bold indicate a surviving service record in WO 363 or WO 364 (all available on Ancestry). I would be grateful for assistance in filling in the gaps. 

21900PteArnold HenryWalker
21903PteCharles FNewman
18th Bn21904CplJohn CRoutledge
21909PteAlbert EdJones
18th Bn21910PteErnestPhillips
18th Bn21911PteAndrew CampbellWood
18th Bn21912PteThomas H Rosbotham
18th Bn21913PteJohnStockley
21917PteHerbert REdwards
18th Bn21918PteBenjamin ArthurJackson
21927PteJ HTaylor
18th Bn21928PteRobert ArmourBell
21929PteAlexander  Maude
21930PteJames WUnsworth
17th Bn
21932PteCyril Charles HollandAhier
21934PteBernard HSpice
21935PteArthur AngusMcLean
21936PteWilliam HMason
17th Bn
21937PteGeorge FrederickWright
21938PteGeorge HMills
17th Bn
20th Bn21940PteThomasAckerley
20th Bn21941PtePercyBraham
21943PteJohn CoryCarr
20th Bn21944PteEdwardCharnock
21945PteFred WCheesbrough
20th Bn21946PteJohn RDawson
21950PteLawrence A VFish
20th Bn21951A/CplAlfredGreenwood
17th Bn
17th Bn
21955PteFrank CHarrison
21957PteLeo FrancisHeyes
17th Bn
21959PteS TalbotJones
21960PteHerbert EJones
20th Bn21961PteJohnLitchfield
18th Bn21963PteFrederickMeek
21965PteFrederick C Morgan
17th Bn
21973PteSeymour GlynneWeston
20th Bn21975PteHarold Barker
17th Bn
21976PteMatthew FloodJackson
21980PteRichard NevilleSpong
21981SgtThomas Teare
21982PteWilliam RMears
21985SgtCharles EMaddox
18th Bn21986WalterLloyd
21988PteWilliam HNichols
18th Bn21989PteEdwardMorris
21990PteJoseph EdBlackmore
21992PteFrederick Downham
17th Bn
21994PteArthur  Biddles
17th Bn
17th Bn
21998PteFrederick IvanPulford
21999PteEdward GerrardAustin

The image on this post comes from The Liverpool Organic Brewery which, in turn, draws attention to the fund to pay for a permanent memorial to the Liverpool Pals.  Read more about this on the Liverpool Pals Memorial Fund website.

Also see my post on Liverpool Pals battalions and number series.