23 June 2009

Border Regiment - 1st & 2nd Battalions



Prior to July 1881 when the Border Regiment was formed, the 1st Battalion was the 34th (Cumberland) Regiment of Foot, and the 2nd Battalion was the 55th (Westmoreland) Regiment of Foot. This post will look at army service numbers and the dates on which these were issued to men joining up as career soldiers with the 1st and 2nd Battalions, Border Regiment.


There are over 32,000 Border Regiment service and pension 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 Border 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.

The information published below should be regarded as a snapshot of army service numbers and joining dates for Border Regiment soldiers between 1882 and June 1914. Service records for all of the men whose numbers are shown below can be viewed on-line via the Ancestry website or Findmypast.

186 joined on 4th July 1882
447 joined on 1st September 1883
637 joined on 14th May 1884
982 joined on 30th January 1885
1569 joined on 25th January 1886
1999 joined on 15th January 1887
2341 joined on 13th January 1888
2696 joined on 7th February 1889
2947 joined on 8th January 1890
3064 joined on 24th January 1891
3448 joined on 11th April 1892
3897 joined on 3rd February 1893
4216 joined on 15th January 1894
4768 joined on 12th August 1895
5025 joined on 31st March 1896
5451 joined on 27th July 1897
5934 joined on 1st June 1898
6025 joined on 8th March 1899
6317 joined on 25th October 1900
6432 joined on 7th February 1901
6638 joined on 10th January 1902
6974 joined on 16th March 1903
7375 joined on 29th February 1904
8008 joined on 31st January 1905
8188 joined on 15th January 1906
9278 joined on 18th April 1907
9420 joined on 8th April 1908
9632 joined on 23rd March 1909
9715 joined on 3rd March 1910
9893 joined on 4th January 1911
10312 joined on 8th February 1912
10528 joined on 6th March 1913
10800 joined on 25th June 1914

The year 1906 appears, on the face of it, to have been a bumper year for recruitment if sequential numbering is to be believed. Between 31st January 1905 and 15th January 1906, only 180 men joined the regular battalions of the regiment and yet by April 1907, the numbering has leapt to 9278. I list below, sample numbers, names and joining dates for 1906.

8188 George Bygrave joined on 15th January 1906
8247 William Charles Brown joined on 2nd March 1906
8615 Charles Cornelius Barnard (alias Charles Cornelius Berning; formerly 1419 Northumberland Fus) joined on 28th August 1906
8698 Herbert Squelch joined on 12th September 1906
9011 Christopher Riley joined on 22nd October 1906
9211 Joseph Francis Doonan joined on 19th December 1906

George Bygrave's record is in the WO 363 (burnt documents) series. The other men's records are in the WO 364 (Pension) series. All can be viewed on the Ancestry website. Also see my separate post on Border Regiment recruitment in 1906.

When Britain went to war in 1914, men joining the newly forming service battalions were issued with numbers from the series which had, up until that point in time, been issued to the regulars joining the 1st and 2nd Battalions.

For Border Regiment information and discussion, visit the Border Regiment Forum. Also see my Border Regiment related post: 1908. What a difference a year makes.

I've borrowed the image for this post from John Clare's WW1 photos, which in turn formed part of a press release from Tyne Tees Televison's 1988 drama-documentary series, Voices of War. The undated photograph shows men of the Border Regiment's 8th Battalion.


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

Further Reading

http://www.naval-military-press.com/border-regiment-in-the-great-war.html?&partner=PaulNixon
The Border Regiment in the Great War

Before the Great War the Border Regiment, primarily recruited from the Lakeland counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland, consisted of two Regular and two Territorial battalions, plus the Regimental Depot. During the war this was increased to a total of thirteen battalions by the raising of volunteer service battalions. This history tells the story of all 13 battalions.

The regiment saw service in France from 1914, while the 1st battalion was at Gallipoli the following year. In 1916, six of the regiment’s battalions took part in the battle of the Somme, and in 1917 the regiment fought in the battle of Arras, at Bullecourt, and at the Battle of Messines. Six of its battalions took part in the third battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) while other battalions fought on the Salonika front in Macedonia and in Italy.

In this excellent and tightly written history, as the regiment’s Colonel, Maj.Gen. E.G. Sinclair MacLagan writes in his preface, the author “has recorded the doings of the different Battalions in six separate theatres of war, and has merged them into one consecutive narrative”. lllustrated by 14 photographic plates and seven maps.

4 comments:

rod said...

9461 Pte William Moulster enlisted on 2nd Feb 1905.

Paul Nixon said...

Interesting, because it doesn't fit with the sequence above. Can I ask where you obtained this information from?

The Bibliophile said...

I've found this blog post while Googling and was wondering if you can suggest an answer to a family history question?

My great great uncle George Harris served in the Border Regiment in the First World War, his service number was 9941 and he first entered the war in April 1915 as part of the Cape Helles landings at Gallipoli (which he survived).

I can't find him residing with the rest of his family on the 1911 census, I believe that this is because he was already in the army, possibly as part of the Border Regiment. Am I right in thinking that according the number sequence you've posted here, he may have signed up in 1911 itself?

His records didn't survive the WW2 bombing, all I have is his medal card, and he was killed in Belgium in 1917 so has no pension record. I was wondering if there was any other way to confirm he was in the army before the war, or are the destroyed service records the only option?

Many thanks for any answers you can give.

Paul Nixon said...

A quick look at my database reveals that this number can only belong to the regular series posted above and so his enlistment dates to 1911. Don't forget that Ancestry have just published medal rolls and so you should also get your hands on these.

Paul