Information contained on this post comes from an examination of surviving records in the WO 363 and WO 364 series held at the National Archives in London and now partially available on-line via the Ancestry website: Royal Fusiliers service records, pension records and medal index cards. The photograph above which shows men of the 23rd RF being inspected at Hyde Park in October 1914 is taken from THE 23rd (SERVICE) BATTALION ROYAL FUSILIERS (FIRST SPORTSMAN'S) - A RECORD OF ITS SERVICES IN THE GREAT WAR, 1914-1919 by Fred W Ward. This book is on-line via The Project Gutenberg and contains a nominal roll.
The 23rd (1st Sportsman's) Battalion, The Royal Fusiliers (RF) was formed on 25th September 1914 and a separate numbering series was initiated for the battalion. The lowest number on my database is SP/15 which was issued on 14th October 1914. Numbers were generally, but not always, prefixed with SP or SPTS for "sports".
Almost immediately, it would appear, a need was recognised for a 2nd Sportsman's Battalion and this battalion was formed on the 20th November 1914, numbers appearing that same month. The lowest number on my database for the 24th Battalion is 2014 which was issued on the 26th November 1914.
It would appear from the patterns of numbers appearing in both battalions that the 23rd RF was allocated numbers within the range 1-2000 and the 24th RF in the range 2001-3800s. In August 1915 the 3oth (Reserve) Battalion, The Royal Fusiliers was formed and this was a local reserve battalion for the two sportsman's battalions, men joining this battalion being given numbers from the series being used by these battalions.
23rd (Service) Bn (1st Sportsman's) The Royal Fusiliers
SP/15 joined on 14th October 1914
SP/1273 joined on 21st December 1914
1501 joined on 2nd February 1915
1609 joined on 25th March 1915
1658 joined on 10th April 1915
1804 joined on 19th May 1915
In June 1915, numbers in the 4000 range start to appear, the intervening numbers in the range 2001 to 3999 having been taken up by - for the most part - the 2nd Sportsman's Battalion, but also the 30th (Reserve) Battalion. So,
SP/4055 joined on 25th June 1915
Sp/4067 joined on 13th July 1915
24th (Service) Bn (2nd Sportsman's) The Royal Fusiliers
2014 joined on 26th November 1914
2099 joined on 3rd December 1914
2293 joined on 6th January 1915
SP/3076 joined on 10th February 1915
3306 joined on 6th March 1915
3413 joined on 5th April 1915
SP/3524 joined on 5th June 1915
SP/3643 joined on 5th July 1915
SP/3797 joined on 5th August 1915
Numbering in the 24th Battalion certainly extended into the 3800s in August 1915 but by the following month numbers in the 3800s also start appearing in the newly formed 30th (Reserve) Battalion.
30th (Reserve) Bn, The Royal Fusiliers
3893 joined on 1st September 1915
4129 joined on 10th October 1915
4373 joined on 14th November 1915
That same month, 4538 was issued to a man who joined the 24th (Service) Battalion RF and it is at this point, with the two Sportsman's battalions filled with their initial complement of volunteers, that I am going to conclude this post.
Find Royal Fusiliers service records, pension records and medal index cards on-line via ANCESTRY