19 June 2009

Royal Scots Fusiliers - 1st & 2nd Battalions

This post will look at army service numbers and the dates on which they were issued to men joining the regular battalions - the 1st and 2nd Battalions - of the Royal Scots Fusiliers between 1882 and June 1914.

There are over 33,000 Royal Scots Fusiliers 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 Royal Scots Fusiliers 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.

Prior to July 1881 The Royal Scots Fusiliers had been (since a name change in 1877) the 21st (Royal Scots Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot. My data currently begins in 1882 and so that's where I'll start from.

86 joined on 12th July 1882
222 joined on 16th January 1883
710 joined on 2nd May 1884
1068 joined on 14th March 1885
1428 joined on 22nd February 1886
2018 joined on 29th April 1887
2255 joined on 23rd February 1888
2509 joined on 8th January 1889
2794 joined on 13th February 1890
3329 joined on 18th April 1891
3629 joined on 18th April 1892
4100 joined on 21st April 1893
4517 joined on 20th February 1894

4556 Pte Arthur Prestwood joined the 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers on 24th April 1894 and would spend the majority of his early military career in India, seeing service during the Punjab Frontier, Samana and Tirah campaigns in the late 1890s. Working his way through the ranks and finishing as Colour Sergeant, Arthur Prestwood was commissioned in August 1914, landed in France on 15th September 1914 and was severely wounded at Hooge the following June. After recuperating he spent the remainder of the war with the 3rd RSF in England. He retired from the army in 1921 and died, aged 94 in 1970. I hold Captain Prestwood's medals and you can read more about him on my British Army Medals blog.

4822 joined on 2nd January 1895
5089 joined on 4th February 1896
5437 joined on 8th July 1897
5728 joined on 8th February 1898
6012 joined on 24th January 1899
6492 joined on 5th January 1900
6728 joined on 20th March 1901
7046 joined on 4th January 1902
7386 joined on 6th January 1903
8067 joined on 29th January 1904
8518 joined on 10th January 1905
8762 joined on 27th January 1906
9439 joined on 4th July 1907
9639 joined on 29th June 1908
9824 joined on 23rd February 1909
10173 joined on 29th July 1910
10352 joined on 4th April 1911
10563 joined on 26th February 1912
10851 joined on 7th May 1913
11089 joined on 20th June 1914

Six weeks later, when Britain went to war with Germany, the newly forming service battalions issued numbers from the same series that had, up until that point, been used solely by the two regular battalions of the Royal Scots Fusiliers.

Photo: unknown WW1 era soldier from the author's collection.

Also see: Royal Scots Fusiliers - 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion 1908-1914

Further Reading

Historical Record and Regimental Memoir of the Royal Scots Fusiliers

The History of the Royal Scots Fusiliers 1678-1918

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


Mister S said...


Back in late 2010 I was bugging you about Ox & Bucks LI numbers, for names on my local memorial in BUckingham, and you were very helpful. I have pretty much nailed the story behind 91 of the 92 names, but one steadfastly eludes me: 6902 Reginald G Church, died of wounds (according to SDGW) on 20 Oct 1914. After 2 years of on-and-off digging, all I know for certain about him is what is etched on his CWGC headstone, and I am looking to establish what I can about him, from his Regimental Number.

Firstly, based on his Regimental Number and the information you have posted on this page, am I right in thinking that he must have joined some time after 20th March 1901 (when 6728 was enlisted), and sometime before 4th Jan (when 7046 was enlisted) the following year?

I am supposing that he would initially have signed up for what, on other pages, you have described as the standard engagement of 7 years with the Regulars (which, I guess, he may or may not have extended), with a 5 year stint on the Reserve when he came out, but I'm also inclined to think that (unlike some other regiments), it is not possible from his number, to say whether he was a Regular or a mobilised Reservist at the time of his death.

Paul Nixon said...

Mister S

Nice to hear from you again - and I will respond to your other comment in due course too. You've got two options with this man:

1. He could have been a regular who enlisted with the RSF in August 1901.

2. He could have been a Special Reservist who enlisted with the 3rd Battalion in September 1914

Given that he enlisted in Birmingham, I think it highly unlikely that he was a 3rd Battalion man and so I think you're looking at a regular soldier who, in all probability, would have been time-expired by August 1913 and who probably, at that point, elected to sign up for Section D Reserve which would have given him another four years on the Reserve. His date of entry into France shows that he went as part of a draft to the 1st Bn RSF.

Hope this helps


Mister S said...


Many thanks for the help. Just for clarity, though, I am interpreting the words "date of entry into France shows that he went as part of a draft to the 1st Bn RSF" to mean that his date of entry was later than that of the main body of 1RSF. Is my interpretation correct?


Paul Nixon said...

Hello Philip

Yes, your interpretaion is correct. The 1st RSF had arrived en masse at Havre on the 14th August 1914 and so your man must have been part of a draft the following month.


Mister S said...


Thanks - that makes perfect sense.

Again, most grateful for your insight.


Angela Cassels said...

I am trying to find out about John Cassels number 7461 1st Bn Royal Scots Fusiliers killed at Ypres on 25 Sept. 1915. In 1901, 1907 and 1911(marriage) he was a signal fitter (railway) in Irvine. Also on his children's birth certificates in 1907, 1908, 1910 and 1914. Your numbers suggest his army number relates to 1904 to 1905I but I have no reason to think he was in the regular army. Could he have been in the TA? Could he have been a volunteer in 1914 or 1915 with this number in the 1st Bn? many thanks for any help.

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Angela

He almost certainly joined the Special Reserve - the number dates to August 1914 - and after training (supposed to have been 6 months' duration) would have been posted to one of the regular battalions, in this case the 1st Battalion. Mystery solved?


Andy Mackie said...

Hi, this is a reply to Mr. S who was searching for info on Corporal Reginald Church (6902) - he was the brother of my great Grandmother on my mother's side. I have pictures of him and his family and an obituary in the press but I'm not sure how to post them here - would love to get in touch to discuss your connection, Mr. S

Best regards, Andy Mackie

Angela Cassels said...

Thank you Paul - indeed "mystery solved"

My husband and I are going to Ypres next week to visit John Cassels' grave at Bedford House cemetery - so thanks for solving this!


Angela Cassels

Paul Nixon said...

Thanks for the update, and have a great trip.

Sylvia Shawcross said...

Hi, I'm noticing up above from Mr. S's post a remark about 20th March 1901 (when 6728 was enlisted)…

This remark may help me research my great grandfather William Watson who was of that regiment. All i know of him is he was of the The Queen's Second Battalion and that he died 3.2.1902 in hospital during the Boer War. This other number is there but I don't know what it means:


I don't understand this "military" stuff so I'm hoping someone could enlighten me? I'd be very grateful!

Paul Nixon said...

I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with that reference. Where did you find it?

LeeJordanThomson said...

Hi, I was having a clear out in my great grandmothers house and came across a memorial scroll from The Great War for a Pte. William Gilchrist of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. The only information I have is that he died on September 27th aged 24 and his service number is 11990. He is the son of George A. and Jesse Gilchrist, late of Bogangreen, Coldingham, Berwickshire. I am trying to gather as much information as possible and hoping that you could help like how he died etc. I am 19 years old and finding this has me intrigued to find out more.

LeeJordanThomson said...

I am trying to find out about a Pte. William Gilchrist of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, service number 11990, son of George A. and Jesse Gilchrist, Late of Bogangreen, Coldingham, Berwickshire. Is his service number in the 2nd battalion?

Paul Nixon said...

KiA at Loos whilst serving with the Scots Guards (not RSF). Born at Bothwell, Lanark; residing at Coldingham, Berwick at time of enlistment; enlisted at Edinburgh in Nov 1914.

Ian Jansens said...

Hi Paul can you tell me where to start looking for ny grandad John Thompson who i think served with the RSF

Paul Nixon said...

Try here, Ian: britisharmyancestors.co.uk

Dee at The Carlton said...

My ggggrandfather served in Scots Fusiliers, 3rd Foot Guards from 1830 - 1852.

I commissioned his service records which show that they did a lot of marching up & down from London to Windsor or to Brighton. I lack military knowledge & wondered what this unit did during that time.

I would be grateful for any advice on where to look etc.

Many thanks

Paul Nixon said...

Don't confuse the Foot Guards with the Scots Fusiliers, Dee, they were completely separate regiments. The Foot Guards' duty was to protect the Monarch although they did serve overseas at times in theatres of war.

Dee at The Carlton said...

Thank you - this is what I have from the researcher & not being military inclined, I am a bit confused ...
Thomas Pinches, a 20 year old native of Lydbury in Salop enlisted for the 3rd Regiment of Foot Guards (Scots Fusilier) at Shrewsbury on 08/12/1830. He is paid £2 & 9 shillings as an enlistment bounty and arrived with the HQ of the Regiment in London on 31/12/1830. A summary of his service from the pay-lists and available material in the public domain shows the following:-
Early in 1831 the Army introduced Regimental numbering and men are numbered on seniority in the Regiment, Thomas becomes No.1297 of the Regiment at that time and is allocated to ‘N’ Company in the 2nd Battalion.
01/05/1831 – Thomas is in a draft of men sent to Ireland to join the wing serving in Dublin. He is aboard a steamer until 05/05/1831 when it arrived at Dublin.
11/08/1831 – Thomas arrived at Bristol after 2 days at sea and marches for London, arriving on 20/08/1831.
27/03/1832 – Now in ‘P’ Company, Thomas is in a group of 4 men that go from London to Windsor.
that is just the first part of the details - does it make sense?
Thanks in anticipation for clarity ....

Paul Nixon said...

Dee, this man has papers in WO 97 (which you can access via Findmypast). Findmypast is also currently digitising Scots Guards service records and more for this man will become available probably later this year.

What you have sent does make sense.


Dee at The Carlton said...

Thank you - I paid to have all his records, his attestation documents mention '3rd Regiment of Foot Guards (Scots Fusilier)' & your reply cautioned about 'Don't confuse the Foot Guards with the Scots Fusiliers, Dee, they were completely separate regiments. The Foot Guards' duty was to protect the Monarch' so that confused me too .... thanks for your help in understanding it as I will be trying to explain it to my Father next week & I'm not sure my explanation will be accurate ....