This post will look at recruitment in the regular battalions - the 1st and 2nd Battalions - of the Border Regiment in 1906.
As I mentioned yesterday in my post on Border Regiment recruitment 1881-1914, 1906 was a bumper year for the regiment. In the period 31st January 1905 to 3rd January 1906, less than two hundred men had joined the regiment. Number 8088 had joined on 31st January 1905 and number 8164 joined on 3rd January 1906. And yet by 19th December 1906, the regiment had reached number 9211, an astronomical rise in recruits if all of those numbers had been allocated.
So what happened in 1906 to so dramatically improve the fortunes of Border Regiment recruitment, and where did all the men come from?
I've compiled the list below by looking at surviving Border Regiment service records for 1906. All of these survive in the WO 363 and WO 364 series at the National Archives (the vast majority of these in WO 363) and all are now available via the Ancestry website. I've indicated in square brackets, the place where the men attested.
8164 John Arthur joined on 3rd January [Stratford]
8183 Arthur George joined on 12th January [London]
8187 Edmund Baxter joined on 15th January [Jersey]
8188 George Bygrave joined on 15th January [London]
8199 Dick Button joined on 19th January [Stratford]
8200 Ernest Beale joined on 19th January [Stratford]
8210 Edward Day joined on 23rd January [Leicester]
8218 Henry Batt joined on 1st February [Stratford]
8220 Thomas William Emsworth joined on 2nd February [Stratford]
8243 Joseph Kiggins joined on 26th February [Stratford]
8247 William Charles Brown joined on 2nd March [Stratford]
8274 William Malyon joined on 24th March [Barnet]
8312 James Johnson joined on 23rd April [Workington]
8315 Alfred John Alford joined on 27th April [London]
8317 Harry Gallaway Mayo North joined on 21st April [Hastings]
8327 Alfred Charles Campbell joined on 30th April [Stratford]
8332 John William Harris joined on 4th May [Stratford]
8334 Frank Le Bontilier Harris joined on 4th May [Stratford]
8339 Edward Edwin Barrett joined on 23rd May [Stratford, London]
8348 Robert Alfred Brandon joined on 6th June [London]
8353 John Stanley Mitchell joined on 5th June [London]
8357 Phillip Davis joined on 16th June [Stratford]
8370 George Frederick Hanson joined on 21st June [Pontefract]
8372 Robert Douglas joined on 19th June [Carlisle]
8373 James Godden joined on 20th June [London]
8380 Charles Edward Ellicock joined on 22nd June [London]
8386 Conrad Burrows joined on 27th June [Stratford]
8429 Edward Hester joined on 11th July [Stratford]
8433 Andrew Mcmanus joined on 9th July [Carlisle]
8435 William Lake joined on 10th July [London]
8450 Walter Frederick Fox joined on 16th July [London]
8451 John Bow joined on 16th July [Nottingham]
8457 Charles Horwood joined on 16th July [London]
8475 John Gardner joined on 23rd July [London]
8479 William Harding joined on 24th July [London]
8486 John Tom Brown joined on 30th July [Nottingham]
8491 William Moore joined on 1st August [Nottingham]
8501 John Richard Coleman joined on 7th August [Walthamstow]
8504 George King joined on 9th August [Nottingham]
8511 Alfred Marks joined on 9th August [Stratford]
8521 Joseph James Giles joined on 4th August [Coventry]
8522 Percy John Evans joined on 10th August [Manchester]
8524 John Barry joined on 13th August [London]
8525 William Grace joined on 9th August [Hounslow]
8532 Albert Muncey joined on 13th August [London]
8533 Edward Clarke joined on 13th August [Coventry]
8544 Harry Hellwig joined on 13th August [London]
8615 Charles Cornelius Barnard, alias Charles Cornelius Berning joined on 26th August having transferred from Northumberland Fusiliers (number 1419) [Stratford]
8663 Arthur Berham Cox joined on 29th August [Chatham]
8682 George Harris joined on 10th September [London]
8698 Herbert Squelch joined on 12th September [London]
8715 Robert Johnson joined on 20th September August [Halifax]
8798 George Davis joined on 27th September [Stratford]
9011 Christopher Riley joined on 22nd October [Workington]
9211 Joseph Francis Doonan joined on 19th December [Workington]
Again, this is a snapshot, 55 men from a series embracing over a thousand numbers, but it's interesting to note that the vast majority of these enlistments took place in London - and most of these in the East End. Thirty-five men signed up at Stratford, Walthamstow or simply "London". Add in men from other parts of south England (and one man from Jersey), and the total rises to 40. The majority of the remaining men joined up in the Midlands (Coventry and Nottingham) with only a handful coming from what would tradionally be regarded as the Border Regiment recruiting area.
These recruiting locations are in marked contrast to recruitment the previous year which for the most part, according to my records at least, took place pretty much where you'd expect it to have done - in Border Regiment territory. Without having documentary evidence to hand, it's difficult to know exactly what went on but it would appear that after a poor showing in 1905, a decision was taken to spread the Border Regiment recruitment net and, if the recruits wouldn't come to the Borders, go and find the recruits. That's all guesswork on my part but the logic, based on the locations above, appears sound.
All of the men above signed up for seven years with the Colours and five on the Reserve. That means that excluding those men who'd extended their period of service, and those of course who had been discharged early, the majority of these 1906 enlistments would have been on the Reserve when Britain went to war with Germany in August 1914. It stands to reason therefore that the majority of these men would also have been recalled to the Colours when Britain went to war.
I had a quick look at Soldiers Died in The Great War and counted up the number of men with numbers in the range 8164 to 9210. By my reckoning, there were 236 men, 59 of whom are recorded on SDGW as having enlisted in London. The true total will be higher. Furthermore, numbers in that range for the Border regiment can only have been issued to men who joined up in 1906. If he had a number in the range 8164 to 9211 he must have joined up during the Border Regiment's bumper year.
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Books about the Border Regiment during WW1
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.