- Information about numbering in the regular battalions of the Essex Regiment between the years 1881 and 1914
- Numbering in the Essex Regiment Territorial Force battalions
- Numbering in the Essex Yeomanry
As I mentioned in a previous post, by March 1914, the two regular battalions of the Essex Regiment were numbering in the 10,400s. I have not seen an Army Council Instruction or any official documentation concerned with how the Essex Regiment treated numbering in the service battalions once Britain went to war in August 1914, but looking at the numbering sequences it would appear that a small block of numbers was retained for use by men who, during war-time, still wished to enlist for 7&5 (seven years with the Colours, five on the Reserve) and separate, larger blocks of numbers for men who were purely joining up for three years or duration.
But in the early days at least, it looks as though men who were purely enlisting for the duration of the war, were allocated numbers which were from the old regular battalion series - and they seem to have attested on all manner of forms. There is evidence in surviving attestation papers in the WO 363 and WO 364 series at the National Archives in London that men joining the Essex Regiment in August 1914 for three years or duration, attested on forms originally designed for regulars enlisting for 6&6 (AF. B.250), 8&4 (AF. B.224), 3&9 (AF. B.217) and 7&5 (AF.B.265). Army Form B.248, designed for men enlisting into the Special Reserve, was also used during that chaotic first month of war.
As the months went on, things seem to have settled down and, staying with the 1st and 2nd Battalions for a moment, number 10732 was issued to a man enlisting for 7&5 on 26th October 1914, and numbers 11003 and 11032 were issued on 14th July 1915 and 18th August 1915 respectively, to men who also enlisted as regular career soldiers with the Essex regiment on those dates. By these latter dates, men enlisting into the service battalions of the Essex regiment were receiving numbers in the 20,000s and 21,000s.
Here are a few more numbers and joining dates for men enlisting in the service battalions of the Essex regiment:
12019 joined 24th August 1914
15181 joined 30th September 1914
15417 joined 28th October 1914
16408 joined 16th November 1914
16638 joined 29th December 1914
19770 joined 30th June 1915
23703 joined 10th November 1915
29165 joined 21st July 1916
36028 joined 17th January 1917
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It is wrong to assume that numbering sequences in battalions always followed a sequential pattern. They didn't. As the war progressed and casualties grew, large numbers of men were often transferred from one battalion to another and allocated numbers within blocks which did not fit the sequential patterning seen to date. This becomes particularly evident in most battalions from 1916 onwards. For an example of this, see my post on the 23rd London Regiment.
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