7 November 2009

A cavalry numbering conundrum

Here are a couple of interesting pages from two cavalrymen's papers. You'll need to click on the images to be able to read them.


Henry Charles Bunn (above) joined the 15th Hussars on 10th June 1896 and was issued with his first number: 3536. On 25th April 1901 he was posted to the 8th Hussars and therefore given a new number: 5323. On 5th January 1902 he was posted back to his original regiment, the 15th Hussars.

King's (and Queen's) Regulations stated that, "... If the soldier is transferred or discharged, dies or deserts, the number will not be given to any other soldier." There was no reason therefore, why Henry Bunn shouldn't have been given back his old number, 3536 - and he was.

In March 1906, having extended his service to complete twelve years with the Colours, Henry was posted again, this time to the 19th Hussars. His new number was 6203. Two years later, he extended his service again, this time to complete 21 years' service, and in December 1910 he was posted for a third time to the 15th Hussars. This time, he was issued with a new number because by now, the line cavalry were numbering by corps. Henry Bunn's new number was 6606.

William Padfield (above) also joined the line cavalry in 1896. He was posted to the 16th Lancers on 12th October 1896 and given the number 4280. The following year, on 16th December, he was posted to the 12th Lancers and given a new number: 4325. A little under five years later, on 24th October 1902 he was transferred back to the 16th Lancers but unlike Henry Bunn, he was given a new 16th Lancers number: 4809.

So here we have two examples of cavalrymen both returning to a regiment they'd already served with (and prior to the 1906 change in regimental/corps numbering), one of these men being given back his old number, the other man being issued with a new number. I am at a loss to explain why there is this difference. Could it have anything to do with William being "transferred" whereas Henry was "posted"? I'd be interested to hear from anybody who has a theory on this.

Both men's records survive in the WO 364 (pensions) series at the National Archives and can be viewed on line via
Ancestry.co.uk.

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