6 October 2009

Gordon Highlanders - 1st & 2nd Battalions


This post will look at army service numbers issued to men joining the two regular battalions of the Gordon Highlanders. The regiment was formed on 1st July 1881. The 1st Battalion had previously been the 75th (Stirlingshire) Regiment of Foot whilst the 2nd Battalion was formed from the old 92nd Regiment of Foot. This post will look at numbering in these battalions between July 1881 and August 1914.

There are over 30,000 Gordon Highlanders service and pensionrecords (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 Gordon Highlanders 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.

219 joined on 14th September 1881
351 joined on 25th July 1882
1002 joined on 4th May 1883
1354 joined on 12th March 1884
1748 joined on 13th February 1885
2073 joined on 13th March 1886
2492 joined on 15th March 1887
2904 joined on 5th January 1888
3104 joined on 12th January 1889
3392 joined on 16th April 1890
3614 joined on 2nd January 1891
4237 joined on 9th June 1892
4840 joined on 18th July 1893
5089 joined on 27th June 1894
5315 joined on 29th January 1895
5615 joined on 3rd March 1896
5946 joined on 11th March 1897
6397 joined on 8th February 1898
6685 joined on 6th March 1899
7102 joined on 4th January 1900
7696 joined on 5th March 1901
8671 joined on 27th May 1902
8873 joined on 19th March 1903
9267 joined on 5th January 1904
9656 joined on 3rd January 1905
10053 joined on 18th June 1906
10269 joined on 8th January 1907
10560 joined on 9th January 1908

In 1908 the regiment, by now numbering in the 10500s, abruptly abandoned the series which had served it so well since 1881, and started a new series from 1. As I have mentioned elsewhere, the Seaforth Highlanders and the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders also did exactly the same thing that year. There was no reason - that I can see - for the three regiments to have done this. By 1908 King's Regulations permitted infantry regiments to continue with the same regimental number series until they approached 19,999, and all three regiments were well short of that figure. In any event, when I get to the bottom of this little conundrum, I'll post again here. In the meantime though:

274 joined on 2nd March 1909
420 joined on 21st February 1910
647 joined on 22nd February 1911
886 joined on 17th January 1912
1181 joined on 26th February 1913
1307 joined on 3rd January 1914

By August 1914, the battalions were numbering in the 1500s and when the new service battalions began forming, men who joined up as war-time only enlistments were given numbers from the same series that had been used by the regulars, albeit these war-time enlistment numbers prefixed (for the most part) with the letter S/.


The romanticised image (above) of the 2nd Gordon Highlanders storming a hill at Elandslaagte during the Boer War is taken from the British Battles website page that deals with that action.

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From The Naval & Military Press


Life of a Regiment: The History of the Gordon Highlanders from its Formation in 1794 to 1816. Vol 1. Click the link to read more about this work. Volume 2, dealing with the regiment from 1816 to 1898 is HERE.

2 comments:

Trevor Green said...

I have the Regimental Account Book of my 2x Great Granduncle, Henry Barnes, showing that he enlisted in the Gordon Highlanders on 24 May 1892 (in London) at the age of 18 years 6 months. His Number was 4214. He died in Umballa, India, in July 1899. Regards, Trevor Green.

Paul Nixon said...

Thanks for that, Trevor. Yes, it fits in nicely.