This post will look at army service numbers issued to men joining the regular battalions - the 1st and 2nd Battalions - of the Royal West Kent Regiment between 1881 and 1917.
The regiment was formed in July 1881 from the 50th (Queen's Own) Regiment of Foot and the 97th (Earl of Ulster's) Regiment of Foot.
I've compiled the list below as a result of looking at service records in the WO 363 and WO 364 series and as usual this is a snapshot of Royal West Kent Regiment army numbers - one per year from 1881 until 1913 - from a far larger database. Service and pension records for all of the numbers listed below are held at the National Archives on microfilm and are also available on-line through a FREE 14 day trial via the Ancestry.co.uk website.
In fact, there are over 43,000 Royal West Kent 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 West Kent 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 L/ prefix was used inconsistently for regular enlistments and I've omitted it - on those numbers where it appeared - in the list below.
61 joined on 5th September 1881
328 joined on 25th January 1882
627 joined on 22nd January 1883
848 joined on 25th January 1884
1122 joined on 29th April 1885
1410 joined on 20th February 1886
1893 joined on 5th May 1887
2310 joined on 28th February 1888
2456 joined on 15th January 1889
2751 joined on 11th March 1890
2909 joined on 2nd January 1891
3246 joined on 5th February 1892
3697 joined on 6th January 1893
4077 joined on 8th January 1894
4228 joined on 11th January 1895
4683 joined on 3rd February 1896
4859 joined on 13th February 1897
5105 joined on 12th January 1898
5483 joined on 18th April 1899
5819 joined on 24th February 1900
6211 joined on 25th June 1901
6485 joined on 9th April 1902
6586 joined on 19th August 1903
7509 joined on 27th January 1904
8009 joined on 14th January 1905
8228 joined on 3rd January 1906
8689 joined on 15th July 1907
8897 joined on 27th January 1908
9240 joined on 11th January 1909
9368 joined on 3rd February 1910
9523 joined on 9th January 1911
9790 joined on 17th January 1912
10031 joined on 1st January 1913
10398 joined on 2nd July 1914
When Britain went to war with Germany a month later, the Royal West Kent Regiment started a new number series for men joining the service battalions for war-time service only. In common with some other regiments like the Buffs (East Kent Regiment) the Middlesex Regiment and The Royal Sussex Regiment, it continued with the series above for men who, during war-time, wished to enlist as career soldiers for regular 7&5 terms of enlistment.
Service battalion recruits were issued with numbers from a new series beginning with 1 and prefixed with G/ or GS/. Regular enlistment service numbers were prefixed with L/.
L/10456 joined on 26th August 1914
L/10491 joined on 3rd September 1914
L/10542 joined on 22nd October 1914
L/10550 joined on 5th November 1914
L/10600 joined on 5th December 1914
L/10709 joined on 21st March 1915
L/10730 joined on 12th April 1915
L/10758 joined on 1st May 1915
L/10899 joined on 21st June 1915
L/10923 joined on 7th July 1915
L/10976 joined on 10th August 1915
L/11043 joined on 19th September 1915
L/11067 joined on 2nd October 1915
L/11128 joined on 8th November 1915
L/11161 joined on 21st December 1915
L/11171 joined on 11th January 1916
L/11180 joined on 1st February 1916
L/11200 joined on 9th March 1916
L/11320 joined on 11th July 1916
L/11394 joined on 2nd September 1916
L/11448 joined on 9th January 1917
Pictured above, L/9457 Corporal Horace Frank Wood of the 8th Royal West Kent, bearing two wound stripes on his left cuff; the result of wounds at Loos in 1915 and Arras in 1917. His number indicates that he must have joined as a regular in May or June 1910. His story appears on my Chailey 1914-1918 website.
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Royal West Kent Regiment literature from The Naval & Military Press:
INVICTA: With the First Battalion The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment in the Great War. Click the image for more information.
History of the 50th (or the Queen's Own) Regiment from the earliest date to the year 1881
A little earlier than the scope of this blog but nevertheless a widely researched history. Contains 40 plates (some of these in colour) and ten maps.
Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment 1881-1914
Picking up from where the previous volume left off. This first part of a 3-volume history of the Royal West Kents takes the regiment from its formation out of the 50th and the 97th Regiments of Foot. The regiment fought against Pashtun tribesmen on the North-West frontier of the Punjab in 1897-98, and in South Africa during the Boer War from 1900-1902.
Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment 1914-1919
The second volume of the three volume series details the regiment’s part in the Great War from 1914-1919. The regiment lost 6,866 killed out of a total of 21,000 casualties. Click on the link for more information about this volume.
Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment 1920-1950
The third and final volume of the three volume history. Again, beyond the scope of this site but a volume which tells the story of the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment from the aftermath of the Great War in 1920 down to the wake of the Second World War in 1950. Click the link for more information.