26 January 2009

The Manchester Regiment - 19th, 20th & 21st Battalions

Following on from yesterday’s post which looked at army service numbers issued to men of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd City battalions of the Manchester Regiment, this post will look at numbers issued to men who joined the 4th, 5th and 6th City Battalions. The information contained here is based on assumptions taken from a study of surviving service papers for men who joined these battalions, and from Soldiers Died in The Great War (SDGW). I’ll be happy to be corrected on any of the assumptions that I’ve made here.

The scope of this post covers army service numbers issued to men in the above battalions between September 1914 and May 1915.

19th Manchesters (4th City)
Numbering in this battalion appears to start at around 11450. The first number on my database for the 19th Manchesters is 11469 which was issued on 7th September 1914 to Edward Leslie Bate. The first number in this series on SDGW is 11470 issued to Charles Clifford Bate. The two men were brothers and joined up on the same day. Charles, the elder brother, was killed in action on 23rd July 1916 and has no known grave. He is commemorated on the Thiepval War Memorial.

In common with the 16th, 17th and 18th Manchesters, numbers were initially issued in blocks, (broadly) alphabetically by surname. SDGW gives:

11470 Bate to 11719 Woodhead
11727 Adshead to 11975 Wynn
11998 Anderson to 12248 Woolley
12259 Armsbey to 12493 Williams

Thereafter, the alphabetical sequence stops. SDGW notes two men with the number 11768, but the second of these, 11768 Albert Wilkinson is incorrect. His number, correctly noted by the Commonwealth war Graves Commission, was 11708.

There are three other exceptions on SDGW who fall outside the four blocks mentioned above. 11977 Nuttall, 11986 Thomas and 11987 Thompson all follow the second block.

Here are some sample army service numbers and corresponding joining dates between September 1914 and May 1915 for the 19th Manchesters:

11469 joined on 7th September 1914
12532 joined on 24th November 1914
12544 joined on 11th December 1914
12602 joined on 11th January 1915
12664 joined on 1st February 1915
12779 joined on 26th March 1915
12881 joined on 17th April 1915
12925 joined on 27th May 1915

The approximate range of numbers allocated to the 19th Manchesters between September 1914 and May 1915 appears to be between 11450 and 12940. The last man recorded on SDGW within this range for the 19th Manchesters is 12934 Private Thomas Wilkinson.

20th Manchesters (5th City)
Numbering in this battalion appears to start at around 17000. The first number on my database for the 20th Manchesters is 17060 which was issued on 16th November 1914 to William Crowther. The first number in this series on SDGW is 17006 issued to John James Barnshaw.

The 20th Manchesters also numbered alphabetically. This from SDGW:

17006 Barnshaw to 17272 Woodhead
17278 Ainsworth to 17539 Worth
17545 Atkinson to 17787 Walker
17810 Astley to 18073 Woolley

Thereafter, the alphabetical sequence stops.

Here are some sample army service numbers and corresponding joining dates between November 1914 and May 1915 for the 20th Manchesters:

17060 joined on 16th November 1914
18080 joined on 29th December 1914
18171 joined on 5th January 1915
18407 joined on 19th April 1915
18449 joined on 17th May 1915

The approximate range of numbers allocated to the 20th Manchesters between November 1914 and May 1915 appears to be between 17000 and 18500. The last man recorded on SDGW within this range for the 20th Manchesters is 18490 Private John Abbott who was killed in action on 1st July 1916. The last number on my database within this range is 18498 which was issued to a man who joined the 20th Manchesters on 28th May 1915.

21st Manchesters (6th City)
Numbering in this battalion appears to start at around 18501 and follows on from the series allocated to the 20th Manchesters. The first number on my database for the 21st Manchesters is 18512 which was issued on 19th November 1914 to John Barber. The first number in this series on SDGW is 18508 issued to Joseph Appleton.

The 21st Manchesters also numbered alphabetically. This from SDGW:

18508 Appleton to 18762 Wild
18776 Adams to 19033 White
19047 Abbott to 19307 Wood
19315 Adshead to 19554 Wolstencroft

Thereafter, the alphabetical sequence stops.

Here are some sample army service numbers and corresponding joining dates between November 1914 and May 1915 for the 20th Manchesters:

18512 joined on 19th November 1914
19565 joined on 10th December 1914
19649 joined on 5th January 1915
19868 joined on 25th March 1915
19893 joined on 24th April 1915
19970 joined on 31st May 1915

The approximate range of numbers allocated to the 20th Manchesters between November 1914 and May 1915 appears to be between 18501 and 20000. The last man recorded on SDGW within this range for the 20th Manchesters is 20000 Private Harry Hinson who was killed in action on 14th July 1916.

I am guessing that the alphabetical sequences - four sequences for each of the battalions above - marked the different companies within each battalion: so first alphabetical sequence for men in A Company, second sequence B Company and so on. This is guesswork on my part and as I mentioned yesterday, the medal rolls for the individual battlions of the Manchester Regiment would give an accurate picture of the number ranges use for each.

Read my other posts on the Manchester Regiment:

The Manchester Regiment, The Regular Battalions 1881-1914
The Manchester Regiment, Special Reserve & Extra Reserve 1908-1914

5th Bn, Manchester Regiment (TF)
6th Bn, Manchester Regiment (TF)
7th Bn, Manchester Regiment (TF)
8th Bn, Manchester Regiment (TF)
9th Bn, Manchester Regiment (TF)
10th Bn, Manchester Regiment (TF)

Manchester Regiment Service Battalion numbers 1914-1916
16th, 17th & 18th Manchesters (1st, 2nd and 3rd City Battalions)
19th, 20th & 21st Manchesters (4th, 5th and 6th City Battalions)
22nd, 23rd & 24th Manchesters (7th & 8th City Battalions and the Oldham Pioneers)

A Manchester Pal's War - 9814 Pte Harry Bardsley, 18th Manchesters

Caveat
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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