17 December 2009

Six digit numbering in the 5th KOYLI - 1908-1911

Here's an interesting little variation on six digit re-numbering for the 5th (Territorial Force) Battalion of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

As a general rule, when the Territorial Force re-numbered in 1917, the lowest six digit numbers (or five digit numbers in some cases) were issued to the longest serving men in the battalion. So, typically, 200001 (for example) might go to the longest serving man, 200002 to the next longest serving, and so on. That's a pattern that's repeated across countless Territorial Force battalions, albeit I have previously posted on exceptions in some of the London Regiment Battalions. The 5th KOYLI is another exception.

The 5th KOYLI was issued numbers within the range 240001 to 265000. The first 43 numbers: numbers 240001 to 240043 (and possibly 240044) cover the period 31st March 1908 to (at a guess) mid 1911. However, the men who were allocated these numbers were first ordered alphabetically by surname and then re-numbered. Here they are:

240001 UNKNOWN
240002 formerly 1499 John H Ash
240003 formerly 7 Arthur E Battie
240004 UNKNOWN
240005 [unknown former number] William Henry Butler
240006 [unknown former number] Samuel Burns
240007 UNKNOWN
240008 UNKNOWN
240009 formerly 719 Edward Cockroft
240010 formerly 1624 Sidney W Clayton
240011 formerly 766 William Dungworth [WO 364]
240012 formerly 1462 Ernest Firth
240013 formerly 1495 James Gent
240014 formerly 668 Norman S Grant
240015 formerly 8 John Helliwell [WO 363]
240016 formerly 30 William Lawrence Heseltine [WO 363]
240017 formerly 81 Herbert Hill [WO 364]
240018 [unknown former number] George Hinds
240019 UNKNOWN
240020 formerly 1603 William Horner
240021 formerly 1522 Thomas Lofthouse
240022 [unknown former number] James Lines
240023 formerly 1622 Fred Lunn
240024 UNKNOWN
240025 formerly 43 Arthur Neal
240026 UNKNOWN
240027 formerly 1592 Albert Needham [WO 363]
240028 UNKNOWN
240029 formerly 763 Arthur Richards
240030 [unknown former number] Ethelbert E Strudwick
240031 formerly 54 Robert Suthers
240032 formerly 421 George Smith [WO 363]
240033 formerly 1280 William J Smith
240034 UNKNOWN
240035 [unknown former number] Garnet Salmon
240036 UNKNOWN
240037 formerly 56 Thomas Thackray
240038 formerly 1608 James Thomason
240039 UNKNOWN
240040 formerly 971 John Twiss
240041 formerly 79 Harry Williamson [WO 363]
240042 UNKNOWN
240043 formerly 1473 Francis Westlake

240044 is another unknown and then the 5th KOYLI gets back into a sequential pattern:

240045 formerly 1644 Herbert Sweeting
240046 unknown
240047 formerly 1648 Walter Willetts

and so on.

The first thing to say here, is that if anybody can help me fill any of the gaps above, I'd be delighted to hear from you. Surviving service records for this group of men are pretty thin on the ground, but I have indicated with links on the surnames, those men for whom records do survive. The relevant series is indicated in square brackets after their name. The links, in each case, will take you through the to the Ancestry website which is offering a FREE 14 day trial.

I have no idea why 1911 was chosen as the cut-off date but presumably there was a good reason at the time. In terms of the years in which the original numbers fall, certainly the first 800+ men all joined in 1908, and most of these in March (strangely there are quite a few men who joined on the 31st March), April and May. 1050 joined in March 1909, 1355 in April 1910 and 1556 in March 1911. 1631 joined in September 1911, and 1657 joined in January 1912.

In any event, the one line summary for this post would be, don't trust the 5th KOYLI six digit numbers between 240001 and 240043; they bear no relation to the dates on which the original numbers were issued. It's also worth noting of course, that whilst at least 1624 men had joined the 5th KOYLI between 1908 and pre September 1911, only 43 of these men were still with the battalion in 1917. Again, this is a fairly typical pattern for most British Army infantry battalions during this time.

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