20 October 2009

Ox & Bucks Light Infantry - 1st & 2nd Battalions

On 1st July 1881, the 43rd (Monmouthshire) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry) and the 52nd (Oxfordshire) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry), became the 1st and 2nd Battalions respectively of the new Oxfordshire Light Infantry. Men joining the new regiment from 1st July 1881 were given numbers from a fresh number series which commenced at 1.

On 16th October 1908 the regiment changed its name to the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, commonly shortened to the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry. Numbering however was unaffected and the two regular battalions continued with the same series that had begun in 1881.

This post will look at numbering in the regular battalions of the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry from 1881 until the outbreak of war in 1914. Service records for the following numbers survive in the WO 363 (Burnt Documents) and WO 364 (Pensions) series at the National Archives in Kew, London. These records can also be viewed on-line via Ancestry.co.uk which is currently offering a FREE 14 day trial.

36 joined on 19th October 1881
710 joined on 20th September 1882
901 joined on 6th February 1883
1752 joined on 8th December 1884
1987 joined on 2nd September 1885
2396 joined on 25th February 1886
2665 joined on 22nd January 1887
2998 joined on 16th July 1888
3261 joined on 12th October 1889
3323 joined on 16th January 1890
3658 joined on 11th July 1891
3823 joined on 14th January 1892
4364 joined on 6th January 1893
4933 joined on 26th November 1894
4993 joined on 15th February 1895
5303 joined on 4th September 1896
5428 joined on 11th May 1897
5639 joined on 21st February 1898
6028 joined on 3rd March 1899
6402 joined on 5th July 1900
6883 joined on 17th September 1901
7010 joined on 14th May 1902
7366 joined on 16th February 1903
7596 joined on 21st April 1904
7955 joined on 7th July 1905
8207 joined on 24th April 1906
8533 joined on 17th September 1907
8735 joined on 10th February 1908
9088 joined on 14th June 1909
9179 joined on 3rd January 1910
9547 joined on 6th November 1911
9775 joined on 11th October 1912
9838 joined on 3rd February 1913

When Britain went to war with Germany in 1914, the same number series was also extended to newly forming service battalions of the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry and by the end of August 1914, numbering in the high 10,000s was well established and advancing at a steady pace.

From The Naval & Military Press:

The story of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (The old 43rd and 52nd Regiments).


This book he tells the story of the 43rd and 52nd Regiments of Foot from their formation to the end of 1914. Each chapter covers a specific period and the fortunes of the regiments during those periods are described. Five of the fifteen chapters are devoted to the Peninsular War.

The 43rd was raised in 1741, at first as the 54th but this was changed in 1751 and in 1782 it became the Monmouthshires. The 52nd was raised in 1755, also as the 54th, but this number, too, was changed within a couple of years and in 1782 it became the Oxfordshire Regiment. The eventual union of these two regiments seems to have been pre-destined for not only did they begin life with the same Foot number, they served together in the American War of Independence. In 1803 they were both re-designated Light Infantry under General Moore and in 1807 they went together on the Copenhagen expedition. They fought together through the seven years of the Peninsular War in which they were awarded identical battle honours and in 1881 they were linked to become the 1st (43rd Foot) and 2nd (52nd Foot) Battalions of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry Regiment.

Of two appendices, one reproduces the list of officers as published in the September 1915 Army List (corrected to August 31st 1914) and the other lists the officer casualties for the first year of the Great War, that is to the end of August 1915. CLICK HERE to order.


History of the 43rd and 52nd (Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire) Light Infantry in the Great war 1914-1919 - Vol 1

Today’s British soldiers serving in Iraq will know the country in which much of this unit history is set - the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers known in the Great War as Mesopotamia. Unusually for such a work of record, the author lays down the background to the Great War in the Middle East in some detail - stressing such factors as the German-Turkish alliance; the building of the Berlin to Baghdad railway and Britain’s interest in the Persian ( Iranian) oilfields. He also reports events with a topical resonance today - such as anti-British riots in Basra, and the declaration of a ‘Jihad’.

The 43rd took part in the defeat of the Turks at Khan Baghdadi, and after the armistice in the spring of 1919 was re-deployed to Archangel in northern Russia in an effort to nip the Bolshevik revolution in the bud. Under the command of General Sir Edmund ‘Tiny’ Ironside the 43rd battled gallantly against Bolshevik forces, although beset by flies, mosquitoes, bloodsucking ticks called clegs - and their unreliable White Russian allies. At last, partly through lack of progress and partly due to political pressure against an unpopular foreign adventure - another echo of today- the unit was withdrawn in the autumn of 1919.

An intriguing and unusual account of two little-known campaigns with eerily prophetic echoes of events in Iraq today.

5 comments:

Mister S said...

Working from the information on this page, against names from my local Memorial, I have made the following estimates of enlistment dates into 2 battalions of OBLI:

5076 Mid 1895 2nd Bn (Killed 31/10/1914) (Sgt)
7437 1903 2nd Bn (Killed 25/09/1915) (Pte)
8207 24/04/06 2nd Bn - Stokes, HE (Killed 20/07/1916) (Sgt)
317 Early 1907? 1/1st (Killed 27/04/1915) (RSM)
1822 Early 1913? 1/1st (Killed 19/07/1916) (LCpl)

I took the date for 8207 Sgt Stokes of 2 OBLI from the same regtl number quoted in your original Blog entry.

I am less certain that I have got the right date for the last man from 1/1st, and I wondered if you could offer any comment?

Paul Nixon said...

5076 - 2nd wk of July 1895
7437 - last wk of July 1903

317 and 1822 are TF numbers. 317 dates to April/May 1909, while 1822 probably dates to early Aug 1914 or just before.

Paul

Mister S said...

Happy New Year, Paul,

I have moved on a bit since my comment on here 28 Nov 2010, and - having unearthed census records for all my OBLI names, I am now a tad puzzled.

8207 Stokes H.E. 2 OBLI, KIA 20/07/1916, for whom no service records survive, was definitely born in 1895, and would only have been 11 had he enlisted in 1906 as per estimate.

His Medal Index Card shows only 8207 (so no inter-unit renumbering), Victory and War Medals only, no date of entry to theatre.

He was a 16 yr old civilian living in Buckingham at the time of the 1911 census, so I can't see how he might have been any kind of pre-war soldier, nor - without cracking that - can I have a stab at roughly when he would have joined 2 OBLI in France.

Any thoughts?

Paul Nixon said...

Happy New Year to you too, Mr S. It's the old confusion with Special Reserve numbers and Line numbers that's the issue here I think. I'd suggest that 8207 belongs to the series being used by the 3rd Bn, in which case it dates to 1912. So he joins the 3rd Bn and is subsequently sent out as part of a draft to a regualr or service battalion, but retains his Special Reserve number. No idea when he arrived overseas, I'm afraid, but due to medal entitlement not until 1st Jan 1916 or later.

Paul

Mister S said...

Paul,

Thanks for the guidance - I just ran a series of short searches on the CWGC site, for Ox & Bucks men with numbers in the series 819*, 820* and 821*.

Excepting those from the 1st Bn (in Mesopotamia) there are 6 buried/commemorated in France and Flanders, first being 8202 Price EJ of 3 OBLI who died on 23/11/1914 at Boulogne.

The remaining 5 were posted to 2 OBLI. I'd bet they were in the same draft of reinforcements, and that poor old Pte Price was fatally wounded en route, so was never Taken On Strength (TOS) by 2 OBLI.

Date also would fit with the COs Diary record of the 2OBLI receiving their 8th Reinforcement (80 men, 30 Nov, at Bailleul), the first such reinforcement since 13 Nov.