8 June 2009

The Royal Sussex Regiment - service battalions


This post will look at numbering in the Royal Sussex Regiment service battalions between August 1914 and August 1916. September 1916 saw a lot of movement between Sussex Regiment battalions and indeed transfers to Sussex Regiment battalions from other regiments and I'll deal with this month in a separate post. I have already detailed pre September 1916 enlistments into the South Down Battalions: the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th Battalions of the Royal Sussex Regiment.

As I mentioned in my post on the 1st and 2nd Battalions, The Royal Sussex Regiment, men enlisting for service with the regiment during wartime only were given numbers from a new series beginning at 1 and prefixed with the letter G/ for General Service. In fact it is not unusual to see some early Sussex Regiment attestation papers prefixed with a GS/.

By the end of September 1914, numbering had exceeded 3800 (G/3827 joined on 26th September) and by the 30th October it was in the 4100s. The following sample army service numbers and corresponding joining dates continue this series:

G/4158 joined on 2nd November 1914
G/4780 joined on 5th January 1915
G/5185 joined on 19th February 1915
G/5546 joined on 31st March 1915
G/5632 joined on 20th April 1915
G/5708 joined on 2nd May 1915
G/6980 joined on 1st June 1915
G/7403 joined on 2nd July 1915
G/7757 joined on 15th August 1915
G/7943 joined on 27th September 1915
G/8002 joined on 23rd October 1915
G/8047 joined on 1st November 1915
G/8462 joined on 7th December 1915
G/8548 joined on 8th January 1916
G/8780 joined on 22nd February 1916
G/9202 joined on 1st March 1916
G/10552 joined on 5th April 1916
G/11558 joined on 11th May 1916
G/12746 joined on 13th June 1916
G/13449 joined on 1st July 1916
G/13678 joined on 8th August 1916
G/14101 joined on 12th September 1916

As I mentioned at the start of this post, I'll deal with September 1916 properly in a future post.

The photograph on this page shows men of the 10th Royal Sussex Regiment in England in 1915. G/4469 Private Roland Gilbert of Chailey, Sussex, sits on the front row third from left. His number indicates that he must have joined the regiment in late 1914 or early 1915. Read his story by clicking the link.


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

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Evening Paul, what an excellent site and what a resource for us tracking soldiers. Thank you for your efforts. I have local men who fell with numbers G798 and G1645 who were 7th Service Bn RSR (formed 12th Aug 1914) and G1675 and G1677 who were 2nd Regular Bn men, would these be men who enlisted in the first few days after Kitchener's call to arms on 11th Aug 1914? Is that when the G prefix started? Would they have had a choice of Bn? G1645, '75 and '77 all enlisted in Lewes and I tracked down G1676 (another 2nd Bn man) and although from Hants borders enlisted in Lewes too. Just trying to sort some idea of their enlistment date in my mind and how they chose/allocated to Bns. Many thanks, best wishes, Jim

Paul Nixon said...

Jim, thanks for your compliments.

Yes, they were all volunteers who joined in August or September 1914. The Royal Sussex was a well-organised regiment which fixed different prefixes according to the man's status. So G/ was general service and these men could be allocated to any battalion although logic dictated that they first went to the newly formed 7th Battalion and then to the 8th, 9th etc. The 11th to 14th battalions were the South Down Battalions and these men's numbers were prefixed SD/. You say that two of the men ended up in the 2nd Battalion. That may be the case but they were definitely war-time enlistments for war-time service only. It was still possible, during the war, for men to enlist as career soldiers, but had this been the case with these men, their numbers would have been from the series which was reserved for the regular battalions and prefixed with L/. There were other prefixes for the Special Reserve and for the Special Reserve (war-time service only).

Paul

Anonymous said...

Thank you Paul,

I have found a few more early G number 2nd Sussex men, so when I have the time I may try and see if they form number groups or bands, e.g. G1600-1680 sent to 2nd, or whatever (maybe a block posting after Aubers Ridge May 1915?). Any findings I make I'll pass onto you. Appreciate your time and expertise
Many thanks

Jim

Paul Nixon said...

Thanks Jim

Your best bet would be to trawl through the records in WO 363 and WO 364 on Ancestry. Search on Roy* Sus* and then the numbers. It's a laborious process which I have undertaken for the South Down battalions and to a degree, other Sussex Regt men (not to mention many other regiments) and it can pay dividends, but you need a reasonable number of hits to be able to make any assumptions with confidence. Good luck.

Paul

Anonymous said...

Thank you Paul, I will give it a bash and see if anything comes up. So if I get it right, 'my' local G men enlisted in Lewes and were sent to Chichester as the Royal Sussex Depot, from there some were allocated to the Regular Bns and some to the Service Bns as needs required. My two village G men with 2 RSR landed in F&F in May and June 1915. From your experience, were drafts taken from Service Bns to bolster the Regular Bns before the Service ones were deemed fit to enter F&F, i.e. were men taken from, say 9th Sussex, to bring 2nd Sussex up to strength before 9th deployed in September 1915? I take it from your above post, though, that if a man was determined to be in a Regular Bn he would have enlisted as a Regular rather than a war-duration man and hence have a L number. be interesting to know what happened in those frantic few months of late 1914!! Many thanks

Jim

Paul Nixon said...

Jim

Yes, quite possible. The natural drafts for the regular battalions were from the Special Reserve and Extra Reserve Battalions (typically 3rd and 4th Battalions), remembering that not every regiment had an Extra Reserve battalion of course. But once those drafts had been exhausted, it would have been quite feasible to draft other men. The G/ men enlisted for wartime service only whereas the L/ men were career soldiers who enlisted under normal career service regulations; typically 7&5 or, exceptionally, 12 years colour service.

Paul

Trevor Purnell said...

Paul,

I am still having trouble with Pte William Bryder who joined the 7th Royal Sussex Regiment. Your service numbers for this battalion all start with G. However Pte Bryder has the service number TF260042. Is this likely for the 7th or did he transfer to another regiment. Any help you can give would be most appreciated.

Regards
Trevor Purnell

Paul Nixon said...

I'm not sure on this one, Trevor. The TF signifies territorial Force and the number 260042 falls within the range in use by the 5th Royal Sussex Regt. But I can't tie in his earlier TF number, 2212, with his later one. Try the Great War Forum perhaps?

Paul

Merve Goddard said...

Great site Paul. Thanks for all the hard work. I have a query about a man with two Royal Sussex numbers - G/31...and I understand this one, and G/36620 which is proving a bit more elusive to track down. Any ideas? (Man is Pte Ernest F Hook)

Paul Nixon said...

Thanks, Merve.

I must say, not for the first time, that I'm puzzled by the number combination. I find it somewhat odd that he should have two Royal Sussex Regt G/ prefix numbers. The second one would appear to date to between Feb and June 1918 but I have no idea why he would have been given the second number unless he was discharged as G/31 and then re-enlisted. That would explain the conundrum but it may not necessarily be actually what did happen.

Paul

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul

I am trying to find out which Battalion of the Royal Sussex Reg my Granddad was in during the 1WW. He was in the , service no. G/16416. I haven't been able to find any other records except his medal card. Can you help?
thanks

Sue

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Sue

He has two numbers: 4012 and G/16416. I can provide details of battalions and approximate dates of enlistment and transfer from one battalion to the other but please do read my Research tab: http://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.co.uk/p/research.html

Best wishes

Paul