This post will look at numbers issued to men who joined the 7th and 8th City Battalions and the Oldham Pioneers. The information contained here is based on assumptions made through a study of surviving service papers for men who joined these battalions, and from Soldiers Died in The Great War (SDGW).
The scope of this post covers army service numbers issued to men in the above battalions between November 1914 and June 1915.
22nd Manchesters (7th City)
Numbering in this battalion appears to start at around 20001. The first number on my database for the 22nd Manchesters is 20002 which was issued on 26th November 1914 to George Ashton. The first number in this series on SDGW is 20005 Herbert Brigg who was killed in action on 1st July 1916
In common with the 16th to 21st Battalions of the Manchester Regiment, numbers were initially issued in blocks, (broadly) alphabetically by surname. SDGW gives:
20005 Brigg to 20045 Purcell (20051 is Ackers, 20063 is Tebay)
20070 Broome to 20134 Woolley
20135 Atkinson to 20175 Millward
Thereafter, the alphabetical sequence largely breaks down.
Here are some sample army service numbers and corresponding joining dates between November 1914 and May 1915 for the 19th Manchesters:
20002 joined on 26th November 1914
21046 joined on 4th December 1914
21174 joined on 6th January 1915
21407 joined on 25th April 1915
21429 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 20001 and 21500. The last man recorded on SDGW within this range for the 22nd Manchesters is 21499 Private William Woollams.
23rd Manchesters (8th City)
Numbering in this battalion starts – at around 21501 - where numbering in the 22nd Manchesters leaves off. The first number on my database for the 23rd Manchesters is 21504 which was issued on 26th November 1914 to William Birch. The first number in this series on SDGW is 21512 issued to Charles Victor Clampitt.
There is some evidence of numbering alphabetically by surname as in previous City Battalions, but the patterns are not sufficiently defined to warrant listing these here.
Here are some sample army service numbers and corresponding joining dates between November 1914 and March 1915 for the 23rd Manchesters:
21504 joined on 26th November 1914
21838 joined on 3rd December 1914
22740 joined on 4th January 1915
22874 joined on 12th February 1915
22976 joined on 21st March 1915
The approximate range of numbers allocated to the 20th Manchesters between November 1914 and May 1915 appears to be between 21501 and 23000. The last man recorded on SDGW within this range for the 20th Manchesters is 22991 Private Robert Simion Hulme who was killed in action on 20th July 1916. The last number on my database within this range is 22993 which was issued to a man who joined the 23rd Manchesters on 23rd March 1915.
There is evidence that this battalion over-ran its allocated block of numbers. Service papers exist in WO 363 and WO 364 which show men being issued numbers in excess of 23000. The mistake appears to have been quickly noticed however with these numbers crossed out and replaced with new numbers in the 285** series which was the next series used by the 23rd Manchesters. These erroneous 23*** numbers only appear on attestation papers and not on medal index cards and appear to have been officially disregarded.
24th Manchesters (Oldham)
This was a pioneer battalion and, barring the 25th, 26th and 27th Battalions which were local reserve battalions, was the last of the Manchester Pals battalions.
Numbering in this battalion appears to start at around 14001 in November 1914 and extends to approximately 15500 in June 1915. The first number on my database for the 21st Manchesters is 14006 which was issued on 6th November 1914 to Joseph Travis Berry. The first number in this series on SDGW is 14005 issued to William Newton. There is no evidence in this battalion, of grouping men alphabetically by surname and then numbering them.
Here are some sample army service numbers and corresponding joining dates between November 1914 and June 1915 for the Oldham Pioneers.
14006 joined on 6th November 1914
14586 joined on 5th December 1914
14953 joined on 6th January 1915
15136 joined on 5th February 1915
15164 joined on 8th March 1915
15199 joined on 17th April 1915
15300 joined on 3rd May 1915
15472 joined on 4th June 1915
Like the 23rd Manchesters, the 24th Manchesters also overran its allocation of numbers and at least eighty men who had been given numbers in excess of 15500, had to be re-numbered from the series beginning 28001; the next series used by this battalion. As with the 23rd Manchesters, these erroneous 155** numbers only appear on attestation papers and not on medal index cards and appear to have been officially disregarded.
This concludes my brief look at the initial allocation of service numbers to the Manchester Pals Battalions. Later in 1915, three local reserve battalions, the 25th, 26th and 27th Battalions, would be formed as reserves for the Pals battalions but I’ll deal with these in a future post.
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)
A Manchester Pal's War - 9814 Pte Harry Bardsley, 18th Manchesters
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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