If at times the Territorial Force army service numbers for some battalions of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders seem to confound logic, so too - at times - do those numbers issued to men joining the service battalions from August 1914.
By 8th June 1914, numbering in the 1st and 2nd (Regular) Battalions of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders had reached 1377 and when Britain went to war with Germany two months later and the 10th (Service) Battalion of the A&S Highlanders was formed in August 1914, it (and later the other service battalions too), continued with the numbering series in use by the regular battalions. The 1st and 2nd still recruited men for regular periods of enlistment (seven years with the Colours and five on the Reserve) but whereas these men's numbers carried no prefix, those joining the service battalions for war-time enlistment only, had their numbers prefixed with S/.
So in theory, S/1600 would have been an August 1914 war-time enlistment, whereas 1601 enlisted at around the same time time but as a regular, career soldier.
I list below, sample army service numbers and joining dates or date ranges for the A&S Highlanders during the First World War. There are significant gaps as you will see, and the numbers that I have listed below could give the impression that they ran sequentially and consistently. They didn't. Treat these dates with caution as there are exceptions which I'll try to point out.
It is also worth pointing out that as far as I am aware there are no patterns within the general number series which would identify a man as belonging to a particular battalion. The numbers listed below will give a rough indication of when he was likely to have joined but they are of no help in determining a battalion. Furthermore whilst the 3rd (Special Reserve) and 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalions maintained their separate numbering series in the initial months of the war, these appear to have been abandoned later. My data for these battalions only extends to October 1914 and as the war progressed it was quite common to see an S/ prefix man with a number in the service/regular battalion series, joining what had once been the Special/Extra Reserve. I'd love to see an ACI or Army Order dealing with this.
Anyway, on with the numbering:
S/3033 joined on 31st August 1914
S/5422 joined on 23rd September 1914
S/6126 joined on 29th October 1914
S/6758 joined on 25th November 1914
S/7158 joined on 26th December 1914
S/7711 joined on 18th January 1915
S/8152 joined on 27th February 1915
S/8279 joined on 10th March 1915
S/8641 joined on 28th April 1915
S/9385 joined on 27th May 1915
S/9750 joined on 27th June 1915
S/9986 joined the 14th (Service) Battalion on the 12th July 1915, but by this time, numbers in the S/121* range had already begun to appear, thus S/12155 was issued on 5th July 1915. S/12198 on 10th July 1915, S/12250 on 17th July 1915 and so on. S/12483 was issued on the 27th July 1915.
NB - see also the section below headed The return of the S/10***s
S/13186 joined on 21st August 1915
S/13565 joined on 21st September 1915
S/14141 joined on 27th October 1915
In November and December 1915, the numbering goes awry and I think for the purposes of this post, I'll just pull additional data from my database to try and illustrate this. Battalion (or D for Depot) indicated in brackets. The 13th and 15th were local reserve battalions.
S/14062 - 17th Nov 1915 (15th)
S/14100 - 8th Nov 1915 (D)
S/14109 - 24th Nov 1915 (15th)
S/14125 - 15th Nov 1915 (15th)
S/14246 - 8th Nov 1915 (13th)
S/14133 - 15th Nov 1915 (15th)
S/14170 - 2nd Nov 1915 (15th)
S/14259 - 3rd Nov 1915 (D)
S/14324 - 9th Nov 1915 (15th)
S/14352 - 9th Nov 1915 (14th)
S/14387 - 2nd Nov 1915 (15th)
S/14390 - 8th Nov 1915 (15th)
S/14438 - 22nd Nov 1915 (15th)
S/14962 - 19th Nov 1915 (15th)
S/15057 - 23rd Nov 1915 (15th)
S/15260 - 24th Nov 1915 (15th)
S/15310 - 26th Nov 1915 (15th)
S/15439 - 16th Nov 1915 (15th)
S/15156 - 1st Dec 1915 (D)
S/15164 - 1st Dec 1915 (D)
S/15292 - 10th Dec 1915 (15th)
S/15350 - 10th Dec 1915 (D)
S/15477 joined on 24th January 1916
S/16083 joined on 15th February 1916
The return of the S/10***s
In June 1915, the numbering had appeared to leap from the 97**s to the 12***s. For me, this illustrates the point that it's generally advisable to be suspicious of unexplained gaps in numbering sequences. The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders is a case in point as these "missing" S/10*** numbers start appearing in March 1916.
Army service number S/16204 was issued to a man joining the 4th Battalion on 2nd March 1916, but by the 8th of that month, S/10256 was issued to a man (who also joined the 4th Battalion).
Numbers from S/10256 were issued, largely sequentially, through March, April and into May 1916 before the numbering returned to the 16***s in June 1916, thus:
S/10526 joined on 28th March 1916
S/11606 joined on 26th April 1916
S/11909 joined on 31st May 1916
S/16329 joined on 13th June 1916
S/16674 joined on 24th June 1916
S/16934 joined on 25th July 1916
S/17161 joined on 12th August 1916
S/17477 joined on 4th September 1916
S/17747 joined on 25th October 1916
S/18237 joined on 27th November 1916 [and again, another large jump]
S/18583 joined on 21st January 1917
S/20419 joined on 30th April 1917
S/20838 joined on 15th May 1917 [another large jump]
S/21380 joined on 14th June 1917
S/21680 joined on 18th July 1917
S/21810 joined on 4th August 1917
S/22332 joined on 18th September 1917
S/22548 joined on 22nd October 1917
My data becomes decidedly patchier from here on in; to the point where it would probably be unhelpful, rather than helpful, to publish it. So for the time being I'm going to leave service battalion numbering in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders at this point, and this also concludes my look at numbering patterns in the regiment as a whole. I will update posts with additional information as and when I have something useful to publish.
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Find British Army WW1 Records by clicking this link. Also see my posts regarding army service numbers issued to men in the following Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders battalions:
1st & 2nd Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders 1881-1914
3rd (Special Reserve) & 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion A&S Highlanders
5th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (TF)
6th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (TF)
7th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (TF)
8th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (TF)
9th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (TF)