28 August 2009

Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry - 1st & 2nd Battalions


This post will look at army service numbers issued to men joining the regular battalions of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry between the regiment's formation in July 1881, and August 1914. The regiment was formed out of the old 32nd Regiment of Foot and the 46th (South Devonshire) Regiment of Foot.

There are over 23,000 Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry 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 Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry 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.

35 joined on 18th July 1881
415 joined on 15th July 1882
1100 joined on 5th June 1883
1236 joined on 8th April 1884
1559 joined on 6th January 1885
1943 joined on 8th January 1886
2495 joined on 26th January 1888
2854 joined on 20th January 1889
3199 joined on 4th October 1890
3282 joined on 9th February 1891
3634 joined on 2nd January 1892
4012 joined on 31st January 1893
4356 joined on 24th January 1894
4822 joined on 18th June 1895
4995 joined on 12th February 1896
5201 joined on 6th April 1897
5466 joined on 23rd May 1898
5741 joined on 25th January 1899
6116 joined on 12th January 1900
6541 joined on 25th May 1901
6911 joined on 13th March 1902
7274 joined on 3rd March 1903
8216 joined on 15th September 1905
8338 joined on 19th March 1906
8566 joined on 17th January 1907
9080 joined on 8th September 1908
9217 joined on 5th January 1909
9378 joined on 1st March 1910
9711 joined on 16th February 1911
9895 joined on 17th April 1912
10163 joined on 20th February 1913
10456 joined on 4th August 1914

During the course of the Great War, the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry added eight service battalions to the two regular, one reserve and two Territorial Force battalions that already existed. These new service battalions would all draw their numbers from the same series listed above.

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Books from the Naval & Military Press



History of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry 1914-1919

The author is one of the most prolific of the military history writers with seven regimental and four divisional histories when this one went to press. The narrative begins with the 1st Battalion mobilizing and embarking for France where it arrived on 15th August, part of the original BEF. The 2nd Battalion returned from Hong Kong to join the newly formed 27th Division, which arrived in France in December 1914 and eleven months later was transferred to Salonika. Wyrral follows his usual pattern of providing a chronological account of the war from Mons to the Armistice as it affected the DCLI, and in the margins of each page is the date of the events being described and the battalion or battalions involved. There is a Roll of Honour, list of Honours and Awards including Mentions in Despatches and Foreign Awards, promotions for services in the field and a useful reference showing the allocations of battalions of the Regiment to brigades or divisions. CLICK HERE.

British Military History Bookshop

Click the link above to view Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry and Cornwall-related military books.

More from The Naval & Military Press

Historical Records of the 32nd (Cornwall) Light Infantry


A history of the 32nd (Cornwall) Light Infantry, proudly narrating its service throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

I've borrowed the image on this page from the excellent Light Infantry Regiments website which has detailed information on the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry and other British Light Infantry Regiments. The photograph depicts men of E Company, 2nd DCLI in Hong Kong in 1913.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

My g/father enlisted in the DCLI at the RHMS, Dublin in 1895 with army number 1864 and was discharged to Pension in 1905. He re-enlisted, again into the DCLI in 1914 Army Reserve (Special Reservists)with number 6295. Is there an anomally here?

Paul Nixon said...

Thank you for commenting.

6295 for the Special Reserve looks good for the DCLI for late Sep or early Oct 1914. However, 1864 doesn't tie in (according to my records) for the regular battalions for 1895. It would fit for 1885 but by 1895 the regular DCLI bns were numbering in the 4000s and actually appear to have recruited very few men that year. I'd be interested to know your source for the 1864 number in 1895.

Vic Shepheard said...

Paul,
Many thanks for your prompt reply. I have to appologise for my typing error. The year should of course read 1885 not 1895. I have the Attestation which shows that he joined the DCLI on 17 Nov 1885, the day following his 15th birthday.I asked the question as I would have expected him to have retained his original number.

Paul Nixon said...

Vic

Thanks for clarifying that. It looks as though he had two separate enlistments in that case, one with the regulars in 1885 and the second with the Special Reserve in 1914. The 3rd (Special Reserve) Bn ran a completely separate number series which itself was a continuation of the number series that had been used for the 3rd Militia Battalion up until 1908. So no anomaly, just the different regimental numbering series at work.

Paul

Vic Shepheard said...

Paul,
I was very interested in your remark that the service number 6295was that of the 3rd Militia. My g/father had been acting as Bandmaster to 3rd Bn (Militia) DCLI in 1905 at least. He was discharged to pension in 1907 (not 1905)and soon after moved from Devonport to Newport Monmouthshire where he was Bandmaster at Newport (ie Raglan)Barracks. But to whom? I had suspected that it might have been 3rd Monmouthshire Militia. Is it possible that the number 6295might relate to that or another Militia or was he still part of the DCLI. By 1911 he was again a civilian before re-enlisting in 1914. I hope I am not causing you too much trouble. If you would like any more detail I would be happy to provide it.

Vic

Paul Nixon said...

Vic Actually the service number was not a militia number, it was Special Reserve. My point was that that particular Special Reserve number series was a continuation of the older militia number series. So let's say (hypothetically) that militia numbering stopped at 4500 on 31st March 1908. When the replacement Special Reserve bn was formed the following day, it started numbering at 4501 and serving militia men who wished to re-enlist with the new Special Reserve bn were permitted to retain their old militia number. The majority of SR battalions operated their numbering in this way, although a few started numbering from 1 in 1908. In any regiment, regular battalions had one number series, special reserve battalions another, extra reserve battalions (where they existed) another still, and each territorial battalion (where applicable) also had its own number series - in fact some Scottish TF battalions had three separate series for a while. Paul

Roger said...

Paul,

Do you have any numbers beyond August 1914 for the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry? Private Thomas Knight was killed in action on the Somme on 4 September 1916, age 27. His service number was 27334. I'm guessing he might have been one of the first to be conscripted?

Regards
Roger

Paul Nixon said...

Roger

My apologies for the delay in responding.

He could have been conscripted but may have attested under the Derby Scheme and been called up in March or April 1916. The men on my database with numbers close to this attested in late 1915 and were then called up in 1916.

Paul

Roger Blinko said...

Hi Paul
Have an unidentified man that I would like to pin down to a enlistment year heres the details
Name: J Blencowe
Regiment or Corps: 2nd Duke of Cornwalls Light Infantry
Regimental Number: 5430512

Medal card shows Iraq GSM and clasp awarded

Any clues please

Roger

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Roger

This number is a little out of scope for me as it belongs to the new series which was introduced in 1920. The DCLI series was 5429001 to 5485000 but that's all I can tell you I'm afraid.

Paul

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm researching my family history, my great grandfather and both of his brothers joined the DCLI in WW1, both of my great uncles perished in France, however I can't find any records relating to my Great Grandfather other than some newspaper clippings from 'The Cornishman' where he's listed in a group sent to East Africa (the 134ths). My Great Grandfather was called James Prowse, and lived in St Buryan, so I believe he may have enlisted in Penzance, searches of service records, medal rolls and silver war badges have all drawn blanks. My Grandma used to say he'd served in Italy also, can you point me in the right direction please??!!

Paul Nixon said...

Gosh, tricky. I'm really not sure. Try posting the same message on the Great War Forum as there are plenty of experts there and some who will, I'm sure, be able to shed some light on this DCLI conundrum.

Paul

JP said...

Hi Paul,
You very kindly looked at my grandfather, Walter Thomas Price under the Devonshires section (service no 32789 9th Devonshires). His medal roll also has him in the DCLI (the roll does not state which battalion), service no. 32516. Someone on the GW forum suggested that this might be a post-war re-enlistment. Would you by chance be able to confirm this?
Many thanks!

Paul Nixon said...

Hello JP

You've been misinformed I'm afraid. The number looks s though it dates between September and December 1916.

Paul

Mike said...

Hi, my wife and i are researching a relative Wilfred Simpson who was killed during the Cambrai battle on 30/11/1917. he was with the DOCLI and his service number was 29301. Can you assist in directing us at the right records as we would like to know where exactly he was during the battle. His body was never recovered.
Mike

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Mike

My database indicates that that number was issued no earlier than July 1916 and probably August that year. The war diary for the battalion he was killed with would be a good place to start and you'll find the original at The National Archives in London.

Paul

Anonymous said...

I have just been given my grand dads medals Prvt W J Couch DofC LI Number 2997 any pointers as to which battalion this may be? Many Thanks

Paul Nixon said...

Re Pvt Couch, he joined the 4th (TF) Battalion in late October or early November 1915.

Chris Champion said...

Hi,

Can you help?

My Grandfather enlisted for the Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry on the 4th December 1916, 38122 Private Zaccheus C Northover. He was transferred to the 44th Training Reserve Battalion, and also served in the Labour Corps, which I think may have been the 643rd Home Service Employment Company.

On the 1st December 1917 he was transferred from the 643rd Home Service Employment Company back to Bodmin Depot in preparation for going to France to join up with the 1st Battalion DCLI in 1918.

Do you hold any information regarding the 44th Training Reserve Battalion & 643rd Home Service Employment Company, regarding their operational function, where they were stationed etc?

Chris
www.championfh.net

Paul Nixon said...

Chris, I'm afraid I don't hold any information that would help you here but try posting this same query on the Great War Forum as there are experts there who probably will be able to help. The address is: http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php

Jenny Doe said...

Hi. Trying to find info on my great grandfather. We have his Allied victory medal which has him down as PTE G Fuller and the number 3-5866. Is anyone able to help as it has is stumped

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Jenny. I can help you with information about this man but please note that since August, this has been a chargeable service. Please see the RESEARCH tab on this blog.

Paul

Lesley said...

Hello My Great Grand Uncle was James Bygraves (Jim) who died in action age 19 on 7/9/1916 . On his memorial grave his number is 19711 and served with 1st BN Duke of Cornwall light infantry - would you have any other information for us
Thank you

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Lesley. I can help you with some information about this man but please note that since August, this has been a chargeable service. Please see the RESEARCH tab on this blog. No service record survives for this man but I can help to construct a service history for him. Please drop me a line.

Anonymous said...

Hi
Not sure if you need this info but if it helps with others trying to pin down a 'join' date I have someone from the Somerset Lights with a no 28377 who attested 24/08/1916. Pte B L Casley.

Paul Nixon said...

Thanks for that information.

Paul

Anonymous said...

My great Uncle Edwin John Welch joined the Duke of Cornwall's on the 8th July 1888, he had just completed 56 days with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was a Sergeant with DCLI's when he died on 28 June 1907 in Devonport. Not sure what the cause of deathh was.

Anonymous said...

Sorry forgot to mention Edwin John Welch's regimental number was 2727 by the way.