12 May 2009

The Royal Sussex Regiment - 1st & 2nd Battalions


This post will look at army service numbers issued to regular soldiers of the Royal Sussex Regiment between 1881 and 1916 (where my data currently ends).

From the last quarter of 1902 onwards, numbers issued to the men joining regular battalions of the Royal Sussex Regiment were generally, but not always, prefixed with the letter L/. In the sample list or army service numbers and corresponding joining dates below, I have omitted this prefix.

There are over 32,000 Royal Sussex Regiment pension and service records (for this regiment - and its antecedents) in various War Office series held at the National Archives. Clicking on the link will take you to the results on Findmypast but you will need a subscription or Pay-Per-View credits to actually view the records. Some of these records can also be viewed on-line on Ancestry although Findmypast has by far the most comprehensive service record collection.


Use the regimental numbers and dates on which these were issued, below, to determine parameters for when your own Royal Sussex Regiment ancestor would have joined up. Note though that these numbers are only for regular enlistments. Special Reserve and Territorial Force battalions operated completely separate regimental number sequences.

129 joined on 23rd August 1881
542 joined on 3rd January 1882
1181 joined on 12th January 1883
1494 joined on 21st February 1884
1972 joined on 11th July 1885
2197 joined on 26th January 1886
2552 joined on 25th January 1887
2866 joined on 20th July 1888
3122 joined on 20th February 1889
3549 joined on 7th November 1890
3603 joined on 4th January 1891
3902 joined on 2nd January 1892
4246 joined on 19th January 1893
4575 joined on 27th February 1894
4900 joined on 14th June 1895
5090 joined on 17th January 1896
5390 joined on 24th June 1897
5510 joined on 10th January 1898
5887 joined on 24th April 1899
6183 joined on 7th February 1900
6368 joined on 16th February 1901
6740 joined on 4th January 1902
7347 joined on 14th January 1903
7739 joined on 22nd January 1904
8153 joined on 18th January 1905
8407 joined on 9th January 1906
8647 joined on 9th January 1907
9023 joined on 18th February 1908
9210 joined on 5th April 1909
9413 joined on 7th July 1910
9556 joined on 2nd January 1911
9841 joined on 6th January 1912
10085 joined on 2nd January 1913
10276 joined on 3rd February 1914

The First World War
When Britain declared war on Germany in August 1914 and her infantry regiments expanded with new the addition of new war-time “service” battalions, it was common for these new battalions (with the notable exception of the Pals-type battalions) to continue numbering men in the same series that had, up until then, been in use by the regular battalions. Not so The Royal Sussex Regiment. War-time service enlistments – which I’ll cover in more depth in a future posts – were given numbers from a new series beginning with 1 and prefixed with the letter G/, whilst men who, during the war years, continued to join up for regular terms of enlistment with the Royal Sussex Regiment, continued to be numbered from the original series (their numbers for the most part prefixed with L/.) The South Down battalions which were Pals-type battalions also had their own separate number series prefixed with SD/.

Albert Padgham, Pictured above (seated) joined up on regular terms of service during the First World War. His number was L/10419 which means that he must have joined between the 7th and the 19th August 1914. Albert died of wounds on 24th August 1916. You can read more about him on my Chailey 1914-1918 website.

10403 joined on 7th August 1914
10476 joined on 4th September 1914
10543 joined on 26th October 1914
10574 joined on 14th November 1914
10615 joined on 11th December 1914
10630 joined on 4th January 1915
10667 joined on 1st February 1915
10706 joined on 2nd March 1915
10761 joined on 13th April 1915
10812 joined on 17th May 1915
10873 joined on 25th June 1915
10887 joined on 6th July 1915
10936 joined on 4th August 1915
10982 joined on 20th September 1915
10998 joined on 8th October 1915
11037 joined on 15th November 1915
11045 joined on 1st December 1915
11057 joined on 11th January 1916
11088 joined on 18th May 1916

It is important to make the distinction between numbers prefixed with L/ (above) and those which, from August 1914, would be prefixed with G/.

G/10290 joined a service battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment in March 1916 whereas L/10290 would have joined the 1st or 2nd Battalion around March 1914.

Find Royal Sussex Regiment service records, pension records and medal index cards on-line via ANCESTRY


I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.


28 comments:

Trevor PURNELL said...

Hello Paul,

I am researching a private william butt of 2nd Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment. His service number was G/1694. He went overseas 18th May 1915 and fought in the battle of Loos on the fateful 25 Sept 1915.

Grateful if you could tell me when he enlisted in the battalion and any other facts you may have.

\Regards

Trevor Purnell

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Trevor

The number dates to the first week of September 1914 (G/1692 joined on the 7th, for instance) and sequentially he falls within a small group of men who enlisted at Chichester. That's all I can tell you I'm afraid. Best wishes.

Paul

AnthonyB said...

Thanks for a useful and informative site.
I am researching John James PAYNE who is named on the Rogate, Sussex War Memorial.
I am puzzled by the service number given in various sources.
I have found the following:
SR/2245 (GRO Death Index Army Other Ranks)
S/2245 (CWGC and SDGW)
No. 2245 (du Ruvigne)
LSR/2245 (Army Medals Index Cards via Ancestry)
The prefix refers to the Royal Sussex Regiment but the number does not seem to fit in with the numbers given on your webpage.
Du Ruvigne gives the following about his enlistment: "... enlisted Royal Army Medical Corps, 24 Nov. 1890, and served throughout the South African War, 1899–1902 (Queen’s Medal with three clasps, and King’s medal with two clasps); re-enlisted in the 3rd (Reserve) Battn. Royal Sussex, a Corpl. Sept. 1908 then a Reservist, and served until 1909, when he purchased his discharge; joined the 2nd Battn. 15 Aug. 1914;..." (vol.2, p.283.)
Any further information you can provide about the number would be appreciated.
Thanks
AnthonyB

Paul Nixon said...

Anthony, the number dates to August 1914 and belongs to the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion. He would have joined the 3rd Bn and then been posted later to the 2nd Bn. The date of 15th August 1914 that De Ruvigny gives looks right, but as I say, he would have been a direct enlistment into the SR and then posted to the 2nd Bn. Prefixes were used inconsistently and you have perfect examples here with three variations of the same. In fact, I might well use your man to illustrate a point on a future blog post.

Paul

AnthonyB said...

That helps. Many thanks Paul.

David Earley said...

Hi Paul
Many thanks for all the hard work you put into this site. It is incredibly useful.
I am trying to identify the men listed on the war memorial at Heyshott in West Sussex. Amongst these is Jethro West, who died at home on 14 Feb 1919 from the effects of gas poisoning.
The CWGC record says that he served with the Royal Sussex Regiment, 7th Battalion, with service number G/3076. It also says that he "served in the South African Campaign". (I assume that this means the Boer War 1899–1902),
I have been unable to locate his service records using Ancestry.com. I have found a medal card for a Jethro West with the Royal Sussex Regt, which gives service numbers G/19929 and 315257.
Is this likely to be the same soldier? Are you able tomake any further comments?
Thanks again
David

Dorisio said...

Hi Paul,

This information is incredibly useful, thank you. My great uncle L/7616 has no service record, only a Medal Index Card which shows North West Frontier India and Afghanistan (5G 2+4). He is not found on the 1911 census, clearly he joined 1/Sussex fairly early but I can find no information on him. Anything you can add would help enormously. Thank you. Dorisio

Paul Nixon said...

Dorisio, the number dates to around November 1903 at a time when enlistments into the army were generally for three years with the colours and nine on the reserve. Assuming he joined for 3&9 he'd have been back in civvy street for some while by the time the 1911 census was taken and would have been a reservist by the time Britain went to war in 1914. I could see no reference on the MIC I was looking at to India and Afghanistan but if he did serve there he'd have been entitled to the General Service Medal (with the appropriate clasps) as well as his WW1 trio. His commitment to the army would have been up by 1916 (men had to serve out their twelve years plus a bounty year as the country was at war) and he would have been entitled to discharge from the army around November 1916. That he later served in India/Afghanistan suggests that he extended his colour service and it is possible that he served beyond 1920 in which case his papers will still be with the MoD. It wouldn't harm to make an enquiry along these lines and as a relative you would be entitled to access his record provided you can prove the relationship. Good luck.

Dorisio said...

Hi Paul, Thanks for this info. I made an error with his Regimental No as it should have been L/7646 but the info you give will be the same. His medal roll shows the three medals (incl 15 Star as entry date was 17.8.1915) plus IND.GS.AFGN.NWFF.1919 with a roll number and I have seen the original roll at TNA (medal + clasp 'Afghanistan, North-West Frontier 1919' Under Clause A). I have a family photo of him in July 1919 and he is in uniform so your advice to contact the MoD is very useful, thank you. Having searched the 1911 census, he does not appear anywhere, and certainly not with 1/RSR either! If he joined 1903/4 for 3+9, I would like to know what he did or where he was during that time. I think a trip to the Sussex Regimental Museum might prove useful. Thanks for the information Paul. Best regards, Dorisio

Paul Nixon said...

The problem with the 3&9 term of enlistment - and the reason it was so short-lived - was that it hardly allowed soldiers to do any soldiering before they were placed on the Army Reserve. The typical career path would have been Regimental Depot for 12 weeks, then posted to the home battalion (either the 1st or the 2nd) and then, after probably 18 months, posted to the overseas battalion. If he was overseas at the time of the expiry of his Colour Service he was to "be sent home with all convenient speed, for transfer to the Army Reserve."

In 1903 the 2nd Royal Sussex was the Home Battalion and based at Shorncliffe although it departed for Malta in 1904. The 1st Battalion was also overseas in India. This was unusual but not uncommon and in such circumstances, after a solider had completed his depot training he would have been sent to a composite battalion in the UK made up of young soldiers and new recruits from regiments in a similar position (Frank Richards, serving with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, found himself in the same situation in 1900 and writes about it in Old Soldier Sahib).

The 2nd Battalion was in Malta in 1904, Crete in 1905 and then back to the UK; to the Curragh in Ireland in 1907. Meanwhile, the 1st Battalion was at Sitapur in 1902, Rhaniket in 1904 and Rawalpindi in 1905 (where it remained until 1913).

Paul

Andrew White said...

Hi Paul,

Great info here. Can you help me help a lady from Australia who is trying to trace her grandfathers army record. His Reg No G/13770 William White, 1st battalion RSR. She contacted me out of the blue saying we were related and that she is my second cousin. I was gob smacked. Any info would be very appreciated.

Very best regards

Andrew

Paul Nixon said...

Andrew, can you drop me a line please. Email address is on the research tab on this blog. I'll tell what I can add and you can then pass this on.

Paul

kristen den hartog said...

Hi Paul. I've been reading your site with interest. I am researching a relative described on his December 1916 marriage certificate as "private HS 4116, 2nd Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment." I am curious to know if men who signed up for home service would have fit the same numbering system you describe in your post, and if I can therefore assume he enlisted some time around October 1914? So far I haven't been able to find any other records for him. Any light you can shine would be appreciated.

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Kristen

The 2nd Battalion was a regular battalion and so the HS part doesn't look right at first glance. It would be more likely, I think that he was a 2nd line territorial, so 2/4th or 2/5th or 2/6th perhaps but not with the 2nd Battalion. What was his name?

Paul

kristen den hartog said...

Hi again Paul. Thanks for your quick reply. His name was Frederick William Roff. On further sleuthing I also see him in the 1914-1915 medal book for the Royal Sussex Regiment, and they give his number as G/4116, but as far as I can tell there's no clue as to battalion. In the British and Victory medal book he is listed as having that same number, a private with "2nd R Suss R." I suppose the marriage certificate could be wrong? Admittedly the writing is very tiny, but it does look like HS. So far I have not found a medal index card that matches.

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Kristen

Medal roll states 2nd Battalion but he was not a regular soldier and the G/ prefix indicates wartime service only. He did serve overseas from 1915 and so must have been back on leave, or wounded, to be married in December 1916. I could almost certainly find out more about him, but note that this is not a free service and a nominal charge is made for research time -see the research tab.

Paul

kristen den hartog said...

Thanks Paul -- I will give it some thought! Meanwhile I appreciate your help.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul, I would very much appreciate your help in identifing when my great uncle, Albert Hylands enlisted in Chichester. Albert was Private G/19531 of 7th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment who was killed in action on 27th September 1918. Thank you Dave

Paul Nixon said...

Thank you for commenting. As before, I could almost certainly find out more about him, but note that this is not a free service and a nominal charge is made for research time -see the research tab.

Paul

Caroline Downes said...

Sorry to sound silly but I am looking for info on my grandad. His medal card shows him as private Frank Divall of the Royal Sussex Regiment 3125 Rifle Brigade 209311. I have no battalion number and no prefix? I believe he served in the Dardanelles, was injured and then served looking after Turkish prisoners of war. He survived the conflict WWI.

Thank you

Caroline

Paul Nixon said...

Caroline, please drop me a line: paulcanixon@gmail.com

Mike Farrier said...

Hello Paul,
What a wonderful blog! My reason for searching you out is to ask if you know of any website or blog that actually has photos of each Royal Sussex soldier with their actual names and service number below? I am researching a photo I have of my great uncle, pte Thomas Frederic Farrier (5/2586) with an unknown colleague. I would be most interested to find out who his colleague is. The photo looks as if it was taken while the RSR were guarding the Tower of London from Nov 1914 to Feb 1915, before they sailed to France on 18th Feb 1915. Thomas Farrier died on 17th May 1915, along with two others, whilst guarding a number of captured German prisoners. Ironically, a German shell fell amongst them, killing the three British guards, while all the German prisoners survived!

Thanks for reading this.

Best regards,

Mike Farrier

Paul Nixon said...

No, Mike. Such a site does not exist, but there are varying resources out there which provide nominal rolls of battalions, and photos where these exist.

kristen den hartog said...

Hi Mike. Have you seen the page on your great uncle at Lives of the First World War? It might be interesting to post the photo and what you know of him there. https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/lifestory/1202952 I've used the site extensively for my own research into HMS Mary Rose, and made some illuminating contacts. You never know....
Kristen

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul,

I'm researching Stephen Wallis 7 and 9 Bn RSR, No G/12872; died from wounds 6 Dec 1916 (I believe whist serving in the Loos Sector). He doesn't appear in any of the West Sussex County Council RSR index lists. Any ideas when he may have enlisted and how I can find out more details about his death/burial?
Thanks

Steve Wyatt

Paul Nixon said...

Have you checked the Commonwealth war Graves Commission website, Steve? Also Soldiers Died in The Great War will giver more information. Regarding enlistment date and service generally, this could be researched. Contact me via the research tab.

Paul

Fazzman said...

Thanks Paul, Appologies for my extreme lateness in replying but I'd lost sight of your excellent website! I'll have to try and search those items out as you suggest.

Best regards,

Mike Farrier

Fazzman said...

Hello Kristen!
Many thanks for taking the time to reply to my query a year ago! Unfortunately, I did not know you'd answer because I don't go on this website regularly. Maybe I should but I'm not sure if the 'free membership' is really free, otherwise I'd join straight away! Anyway, I shall take your advice and try the website you suggest and see how I get on. I'm wondering if the website contains something that I've possibly written myself!

Many thanks for your help.

Best regards,

Mike Farrier