16 January 2009

Grenadier Guards

The Grenadier Guards is the most senior regiment of the Guards Division of the British Army and can trace its history back to 1656. It was unaffected by the 1881 Cardwell reforms and by 1881, was numbering in the high 7000s.

Service records for ALL of the following army service numbers survive in the WO 363 and WO 374 series at the National Archives. Also access these on Ancestry.co.uk.

7863 joined on 15th December 1881
7914 joined on 17th January 1882
8360 joined on 18th May 1883
9107 joined on 21st January 1884

In 1885 The Grenadier Guards reached number 9999 and so, in accordance with Queen's Regulations, immediately commenced a new series from 1.

139 joined on 1st December 1885
301 joined on 5th July 1886
794 joined on 29th january 1887
1371 joined on 3rd March 1888
1949 joined on 6th August 1889
2210 joined on 6th January 1890
3226 joined on 15th October 1891
3512 joined on 3rd February 1892
4220 joined on 13th February 1893
4707 joined on 29th January 1894
5162 joined on 21st January 1895
5808 joined on 23th May 1896
6327 joined on 3rd February 1897
7432 joined on 26th May 1898
7815 joined on 5th January 1899
8513 joined on 1st January 1900
9355 joined on 21st January 1901
10060 joined on 1st January 1902
10674 joined on 9th January 1903
11365 joined on 1st March 1904
11931 joined on 10th January 1905
12811 joined on 7th August 1906
13051 joined on 4th January 1907
13752 joined on 19th May 1908
14220 joined on 2nd February 1909
14648 joined on 17th February 1910
15164 joined on 13th march 1911
15795 joined on 26th March 1912
16247 joined on 25th January 1913
16866 joined on 2nd January 1914

The First World War

The Grenadier Guards had three battalions at the outbreak of the Great War and it would add a 4th Battalion, a 5th (Reserve) Battalion (both in August 1914) and a 1st Provisional Battalion (in August 1918). All battalions followed the same numbering sequence.

17168 joined on 8th August 1914
17745 joined on 1st September 1914
19626 joined on 3rd October 1914
20264 joined on 9th November 1914
21297 joined 8th December 1914
21530 joined on 4th January 1915
22727 joined on 3rd February 1915
23244 joined on 4th March 1915
23754 joined on 23rd April 1915
23984 joined on 31st May 1915
23981 joined on 1st June 1915
24179 joined on 27th September 1915
24213 joined on 2nd October 1915
24283 joined on 6th November 1915
24627 joined on 6th December 1915
25069 joined on 12th January 1916
25450 joined on 8th February 1916
25579 joined on 3rd March 1916
25764 joined on 17th April 1916
25853 joined on 18th May 1916
26014 joined on 21st June 1916
26162 joined on 13th July 1916
26288 joined on 7th August 1916
26477 joined on 4th September 1916
26759 joined on 12th October 1916
27274 joined on 14th November 1916
27499 joined on 3rd December 1916
28181 joined on 2nd January 1916
29003 joined on 5th February 1917
29578 joined on 15th March 1917
29846 joined on 16th April 1917
29881 joined on 4th May 1917
29939 joined on 13th June 1917
30079 joined on 3rd July 1917
30115 joined on 10th August 1917
30137 joined on 6th September 1917
30216 joined on 9th November 1917
30253 joined on 30th December 1917
30355 joined on 29th January 1918
30688 joined on 14th February 1918
30836 joined on 25th March 1918
30939 joined on 2nd April 1918
32570 joined on 2nd May 1918
34684 joined on 10th June 1918
35026 joined on 3rd July 1918
35133 joined on 11th November 1918

The postcard above was sent by 6680 Sergeant Edward William Helyer of Number 4 Company, Grenadier Guards on 25th September 1914 (see below). Less than a month later he was dead, killed in action at the First Battle of Ypres on 20th October 1914. The Grenadier Guards suffered catastrophic casualties at this battle, all but four officers and 200 men of the 1st Battalion, and four officers and 140 men of the 2nd Battalion, falling in action. Sergeant Helyer was born in Hackney and his number indicates that he joined the Grenadier Guards between June and November 1897. He is possibly the cross-legged soldier sitting in the middle as this man is wearing Boer War medal ribbons.

Sergeant Helyer has no known grave and is commemorated on panel 57 of the Menin Gate at Ypres, Belgium.




Find Grenadier Guards army service records and army service numbers with a FREE 14 day trial of Ancestry.co.uk - Click here!


THE GRENADIER GUARDS IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918





From the Naval & Military Press:


"The Grenadier Guards began the war with three battalions of which only one, the 2nd, was committed to the BEF; it was in the 4th Guards Brigade, 2nd Division. As soon as war was declared the 4th (Reserve) Battalion was formed and within five days 1,700 reservists had reported. In September 1914 the 7th Division was formed and the 1st Battalion was allocated to 20th Brigade of the new division. On 14th July 1915 another Grenadier battalion was formed and numbered the 4th, the Reserve battalion then became the 5th. A month later the 4th battalion went to France to join the newly created Guards Division, and it was at this stage, also, that the 3rd Battalion, which hitherto had been retained in London by Kitchener for some undefined reason, was sent out to join the new division. Thus, by August 1915 there were four battalions of Grenadiers on the Western front where they remained for the rest of the war. By the end the Regiment had suffered 11,915 casualties of which 203 Officers and 4,508 Other Ranks were dead, seven VCs had been won and 34 Battle Honours awarded.

"This, as might be expected, is a very good history with detailed descriptions of the fighting and of the conditions the men endured. The author tells the story in chronological order; vol I takes the record of the four battalions to the end of 1915, vol II to the German offensive of March 1918 and vol III to the armistice and beyond to the division’s march into Germany. Each volume is paginated separately with its own contents list though the chapters run consecutively through all three. Each chapter covers a specific period and the chapter heading indicates which battalions are involved. There are plenty of maps to support the narrative, showing tactical details.

"Among the appendices are the Roll of Honour, a list of officers wounded with dates, lists of Awards, Mentions in Despatches and of Divisional Certificates of Gallantry and an account of the 7th (Guards) Entrenching Battalion. There is a table naming all other ranks who were commissioned during the war showing the regiment or corps to which they went. Finally there is an index to the names of officers."



Read my other posts on numbering in the Foot Guards regiments:

Coldstream Guards
Scots Guards
Irish Guards
Welsh Guards

Identify a Foot Guards soldier by his uniform: Identifying the Guards - Army Ancestry

6 comments:

Trevor Purnell said...

Paul,

Grateful if you could help me once again. Is there anyway of telling when an officer enlisted in the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards 1914-1915.

Basil Herbert Barrington-Kennett probably joined as a Lt but was promoted to Major seconded to the RFC but returned to the Guards only to be killed 18 May 1915.

Many thanks and regards,

Trevor

Paul Nixon said...

Trevor

There are three routes you could pursue:

1. Request service record from Grenadier Guards archive (the WW1 records all survive)
2. Request ditto from TNA (most officer records survive)
3. Trace his career by referring to the Army List. Work backwards from 1915. Copies of the Army Lst can be found on open shelves at TNA.

Paul

John Scott said...

My great uncle was Walter Henry Moulson Regimental number 12390. Thank you for the info about the numbers. I knew Walter was in the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards in 1911, but with your info he appears to have joined around 1905-06. He died on 16th September 1914. Would this be at the Battle of the Aisne?

Paul Nixon said...

Hello John

The number dates to late September or early October 1905 (12406 joined on 12th October 1905). I have the three volume history of the Grenadier Guards and on the 16th, during the fighting on the Aisne, it records, "A report having come in that the enemy were advancing, Major Jeffreys ordered No 2 Company to come up from the quarry, and line its northern edge, so as to be available as a support. It had hardly been there a quarter of an hour when an 8-inch high explosive just missed the farm, and, grazing the roof, pitched right on the edge of the quarry. A terrific explosion followed , and out of the 108 men who had been brought up, only 44 were left, all the rest being killed or wounded." The war diary would undoubtedly give more, but it could be that it was this shell which killed Walter Moulson. RIP.

john scott said...

Thanks Paul. You have been a great help. That really narrows down the date. I have read that entry too and it fits perfectly as his body was never recovered. Point of interest- Capt the Hon. William Amherst Cecil was also in the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards and was killed by sniper fire the same day in the village of Soupir by the Aisne. He received the Military Cross. Thanks so much for your help.

Paul Nixon said...

You're very welcome John. Don't forget of course, and I should have mentioned this yesterday, that the regimental archive for the GGs probably still has his service record. You'll need to pay them but it would be worth checking out.

Paul