30 June 2009

The Boar's Head - 30th June 1916


In Remembrance

It can be all too easy, looking purely at army service numbers, to lose sight of the fact that behind each number is a man and behind that man, people who cared for him.

On this day, 93 years ago, the South Down battalions suffered heavily in a diversionary attack at Richebourg L'Avoue on a system of trenches known as The Boar's Head. I have written about this in more detail in Chailey's Somme on my Chailey 1914-1918 website.

Although I have written in my narrative that fifteen officers and 364 Other Ranks were killed, Soldiers Died in the Great War reveals the following statistics for the 30th June 1916.

11th Battalion (1st South Down) - 2 officers, 26 men
12th Battalion (2nd South Down) - 4 officers, 136 men
13th Battalion (3rd South Down) - 7 officers, 159 men

More would die of their wounds in the days to come.

And so on this day, I remember the men behind the numbers, the men of Sussex who exactly 93 years ago, laid down their lives for a diversion.

"At the Going Down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM."

The photograph of poppies on the Sussex south downs at Winton, near Alfriston, comes from East Sussex County Council's website.


I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

28 June 2009

The Leicestershire Regiment - 1st & 2nd Battalions



This post will look at army service numbers issued to men joining the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Leicestershire Regiment between 1881 and May 1914. The regiment was formed in July 1881, the 1st and 2nd Battalions formerly having been designated as the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 17th (Leicestershire) Regiment of Foot.

There are over 45,000 Leicestershire Regiment 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 Leicestershire Regiment 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.

177 joined on 15th August 1881
337 joined on 6th January 1882
552 joined on 22nd May 1883
1074 joined on 4th November 1884
1197 joined on 22nd January 1885
1739 joined on 8th June 1886
2096 joined on 27th April 1887
2395 joined on 16th July 1888
2549 joined on 27th February 1889
2862 joined on 26th September 1890
3062 joined on 23rd June 1891
3349 joined on 1st February 1892
3685 joined on 25th January 1893
4040 joined on 17th April 1894
4352 joined on 24th May 1895
4552 joined on 8th January 1896
4997 joined on 5th February 1897
5314 joined on 1st July 1898
5477 joined on 5th April 1899
5694 joined on 20th January 1900
6266 joined on 14th November 1901
6430 joined on 21st July 1902
6839 joined on 5th February 1903
7498 joined on 30th September 1904
7668 joined on 9th March 1905
7968 joined on 15th August 1906
8094 joined on 9th February 1907
8384 joined on 13th July 1908
8679 joined on 20th April 1909
8927 joined on 7th April 1910
9205 joined on 19th May 1911
9482 joined on 22nd April 1912
9732 joined on 28th July 1913
9882 joined on 12th May 1914

When Britain went to war a few months later, men joining the newly forming service battalions of the Leicestershire Regiment were issued with numbers from the same series that had, up until then, been solely used by the regulars.

Pictured on this post is Stan Brown who was a Leicestershire Regiment regular, fighting with the 1st Battalion at Mons in 1914. He later transferred to the 2nd Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment and after the war, was a long-standing - and ultimately the last surviving - member of the Chelmsford Branch of the Old Contemptibles' Association. I've briefly written about Stan on my World War 1 Veterans blog and I'll return to him in greater depth in future. His regimental number is the 9732 mentioned above. I interviewed Stan in 1981 and his partial service record also survives in WO 364 and can be viewed via the Ancestry website.


I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

Further Reading


History of the services of the 17th (The Leicestershire) Regiment
Covering the period 1688-1910.

History of the 1st and 2nd Battalions, The Leicestershire Regiment, in the Great War
This volume picks up in 1910

Footprints of the 1/4th Leicestershire Regiment
Covers the period August 1914 to November 1918. Slender yet name-rich volume written primarily for the benefit of those who served.

The Fifth Leicestershire
A Record of the 1/5th Battalion the Leicestershire Regiment, TF, during the War 1914-1919. Also see Harold Shephard's account of his time with the battalion.

39 months with the "Tigers"
The story of the 110th Infantry Brigade, the ‘Leicester' Brigade, which consisted of the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th (Service) Battalions of the Leicestershire Regiment, all formed in August/September 1914.

26 June 2009

8th & 9th London Regiment updates

I've added some dates and army service numbers within the re-numbered six digit range for two London Regiment battalions: the 8th (City of London) Battalion (Post Office Rifles) and the 9th (County of London) Battalion (Queen Victoria's Rifles).

If anybody has a good 8th London's photo I can use on that post, I'll gladly acknowledge and reciprocate with a link.


I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

25 June 2009

British Army recruitment in the nineteenth century


Further to responses to my post yesterday on recruitment into the Border Regiment in 1906, and specifically the regions from which regiments drew their recruits, I'd like to quote from Alan Ramsay Skelley's The Victorian Army at Home (Croom Helm London, & McGill - Queen's University Press; Montreal 1977).

"... recruitment relied heavily upon a large staff of army pensioners and soldiers seconded from regular and militia units. Each regiment recruited at its headquarters while, independent of this, the country was divided into several large districts centred around major cities, where full time recruiting staff were employed. Regulations forbade units to recruit over their voted establishment... This meant that recruitment had to be turned off like a tap when the establishment was reached and back on when colonial drafts reduced the size of the home army."

There were also incentives both for the recruit, and for the recruiting staff.

"Cash bounties were sometimes used to attract men to the colours, the amount paid varying with the need for men. In 1859 during the threat of war with France, each recruit received £3. Recruiting officials received a fee for every man they enlisted. In 1859 again, £1 7s 6d was shared between the recruiting party and the superintending officer."

I am not sure how widespread this incentive practice was by 1906.

Dr Skelley also presents various tables, and in the table showing the nationalities of men serving with the colours between 1868 and 1898 there is a clear decline in the percentages of men deriving from Ireland and Scotland. In 1868, English and Welsh recruits accounted for 59.5 per cent of the total, whilst Scottish recruits accounted for 9.5 per cent, and the Irish, 31 per cent. By 1898 the figures were 78.2, 8.2 and 13.6 per cent resepectively.

In 1891, according to the census taken that year, Rank and File in the Royal Scots, Seaforth Highlanders, Highland Light Infantry, Royal Highlanders, Cameron Highlanders, Gordon Highlanders, Cameronians and Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders numbered 2,076. Of these, 61.5 per cent were born in Scotland, 32.9 per cent in England & Wales, 4.3 per cent in Ireland, and 1.3 per cent overseas.

For the army in Scotland as a whole, in 1891, less than half - 44.5 per cent - of the Rank and File had been born in Scotland, with 48.8 per cent born in England & Wales, five per cent born in Ireland, and 1.7 per cent born overseas.

As Dr Skelley concludes, and as Graham Stewart pointed out in his comment on yesterday's post, "it is clear... that the proportion of Scots in their own units declined somewhat between 1851 and 1891 [and a good deal after that as well]. Their places in the ranks, like those of the Irish, were taken by English (and Welsh) soldiers. This clearly throws some doubt on the success of Cardwell's localisation of recruitment."

As a further example - which Alan Skelley questions - Lord Sandhurst asserted in 1893 that only 21 per cent of Cameron Highlanders came from the Cameron's recruiting district and that of the remaining men, sixty per cent were "Whitechapel Highlanders". Whitechapel, in London's East End, is just two or three miles away from Stratford where the Border Regiment would have so much success 17 years later.

I've borrowed the famous image of recruiting sergeants lounging outside a public house in Westminster in 1877, from the Victoria & Albert Museum's website. The photograph was taken by John Thomson (1837-1921).


I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

24 June 2009

Border Regiment recruitment in 1906

This post will look at recruitment in the regular battalions - the 1st and 2nd Battalions - of the Border Regiment in 1906.

As I mentioned yesterday in my post on Border Regiment recruitment 1881-1914, 1906 was a bumper year for the regiment. In the period 31st January 1905 to 3rd January 1906, less than two hundred men had joined the regiment. Number 8088 had joined on 31st January 1905 and number 8164 joined on 3rd January 1906. And yet by 19th December 1906, the regiment had reached number 9211, an astronomical rise in recruits if all of those numbers had been allocated.

So what happened in 1906 to so dramatically improve the fortunes of Border Regiment recruitment, and where did all the men come from?

I've compiled the list below by looking at surviving Border Regiment service records for 1906. All of these survive in the WO 363 and WO 364 series at the National Archives (the vast majority of these in WO 363) and all are now available via the Ancestry website. I've indicated in square brackets, the place where the men attested.

8164 John Arthur joined on 3rd January [Stratford]
8183 Arthur George joined on 12th January [London]
8187 Edmund Baxter joined on 15th January [Jersey]
8188 George Bygrave joined on 15th January [London]
8199 Dick Button joined on 19th January [Stratford]
8200 Ernest Beale joined on 19th January [Stratford]
8210 Edward Day joined on 23rd January [Leicester]
8218 Henry Batt joined on 1st February [Stratford]
8220 Thomas William Emsworth joined on 2nd February [Stratford]
8243 Joseph Kiggins joined on 26th February [Stratford]
8247 William Charles Brown joined on 2nd March [Stratford]
8274 William Malyon joined on 24th March [Barnet]
8312 James Johnson joined on 23rd April [Workington]
8315 Alfred John Alford joined on 27th April [London]
8317 Harry Gallaway Mayo North joined on 21st April [Hastings]
8327 Alfred Charles Campbell joined on 30th April [Stratford]
8332 John William Harris joined on 4th May [Stratford]
8334 Frank Le Bontilier Harris joined on 4th May [Stratford]
8339 Edward Edwin Barrett joined on 23rd May [Stratford, London]
8348 Robert Alfred Brandon joined on 6th June [London]
8353 John Stanley Mitchell joined on 5th June [London]
8357 Phillip Davis joined on 16th June [Stratford]
8370 George Frederick Hanson joined on 21st June [Pontefract]
8372 Robert Douglas joined on 19th June [Carlisle]
8373 James Godden joined on 20th June [London]
8380 Charles Edward Ellicock joined on 22nd June [London]
8386 Conrad Burrows joined on 27th June [Stratford]
8429 Edward Hester joined on 11th July [Stratford]
8433 Andrew Mcmanus joined on 9th July [Carlisle]
8435 William Lake joined on 10th July [London]
8450 Walter Frederick Fox joined on 16th July [London]
8451 John Bow joined on 16th July [Nottingham]
8457 Charles Horwood joined on 16th July [London]
8475 John Gardner joined on 23rd July [London]
8479 William Harding joined on 24th July [London]
8486 John Tom Brown joined on 30th July [Nottingham]
8491 William Moore joined on 1st August [Nottingham]
8501 John Richard Coleman joined on 7th August [Walthamstow]
8504 George King joined on 9th August [Nottingham]
8511 Alfred Marks joined on 9th August [Stratford]
8521 Joseph James Giles joined on 4th August [Coventry]
8522 Percy John Evans joined on 10th August [Manchester]
8524 John Barry joined on 13th August [London]
8525 William Grace joined on 9th August [Hounslow]
8532 Albert Muncey joined on 13th August [London]
8533 Edward Clarke joined on 13th August [Coventry]
8544 Harry Hellwig joined on 13th August [London]
8615 Charles Cornelius Barnard, alias Charles Cornelius Berning joined on 26th August having transferred from Northumberland Fusiliers (number 1419) [Stratford]
8663 Arthur Berham Cox joined on 29th August [Chatham]
8682 George Harris joined on 10th September [London]
8698 Herbert Squelch joined on 12th September [London]
8715 Robert Johnson joined on 20th September August [Halifax]
8798 George Davis joined on 27th September [Stratford]
9011 Christopher Riley joined on 22nd October [Workington]
9211 Joseph Francis Doonan joined on 19th December [Workington]

Again, this is a snapshot, 55 men from a series embracing over a thousand numbers, but it's interesting to note that the vast majority of these enlistments took place in London - and most of these in the East End. Thirty-five men signed up at Stratford, Walthamstow or simply "London". Add in men from other parts of south England (and one man from Jersey), and the total rises to 40. The majority of the remaining men joined up in the Midlands (Coventry and Nottingham) with only a handful coming from what would tradionally be regarded as the Border Regiment recruiting area.

These recruiting locations are in marked contrast to recruitment the previous year which for the most part, according to my records at least, took place pretty much where you'd expect it to have done - in Border Regiment territory. Without having documentary evidence to hand, it's difficult to know exactly what went on but it would appear that after a poor showing in 1905, a decision was taken to spread the Border Regiment recruitment net and, if the recruits wouldn't come to the Borders, go and find the recruits. That's all guesswork on my part but the logic, based on the locations above, appears sound.

All of the men above signed up for seven years with the Colours and five on the Reserve. That means that excluding those men who'd extended their period of service, and those of course who had been discharged early, the majority of these 1906 enlistments would have been on the Reserve when Britain went to war with Germany in August 1914. It stands to reason therefore that the majority of these men would also have been recalled to the Colours when Britain went to war.

I had a quick look at Soldiers Died in The Great War and counted up the number of men with numbers in the range 8164 to 9210. By my reckoning, there were 236 men, 59 of whom are recorded on SDGW as having enlisted in London. The true total will be higher. Furthermore, numbers in that range for the Border regiment can only have been issued to men who joined up in 1906. If he had a number in the range 8164 to 9211 he must have joined up during the Border Regiment's bumper year.

For informed Border Regiment discussion, visit the Border Regiment Forum.


I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

Books about the Border Regiment during WW1


The Border Regiment in the Great War

Before the Great War the Border Regiment, primarily recruited from the Lakeland counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland, consisted of two Regular and two Territorial battalions, plus the Regimental Depot. During the war this was increased to a total of thirteen battalions by the raising of volunteer service battalions. This history tells the story of all 13 battalions.

The regiment saw service in France from 1914, while the 1st battalion was at Gallipoli the following year. In 1916, six of the regiment’s battalions took part in the battle of the Somme, and in 1917 the regiment fought in the battle of Arras, at Bullecourt, and at the Battle of Messines. Six of its battalions took part in the third battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) while other battalions fought on the Salonika front in Macedonia and in Italy.

In this excellent and tightly written history, as the regiment’s Colonel, Maj.Gen. E.G. Sinclair MacLagan writes in his preface, the author “has recorded the doings of the different Battalions in six separate theatres of war, and has merged them into one consecutive narrative”. lllustrated by 14 photographic plates and seven maps.

23 June 2009

Border Regiment - 1st & 2nd Battalions



Prior to July 1881 when the Border Regiment was formed, the 1st Battalion was the 34th (Cumberland) Regiment of Foot, and the 2nd Battalion was the 55th (Westmoreland) Regiment of Foot. This post will look at army service numbers and the dates on which these were issued to men joining up as career soldiers with the 1st and 2nd Battalions, Border Regiment.


There are over 32,000 Border Regiment 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 Border Regiment 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.

The information published below should be regarded as a snapshot of army service numbers and joining dates for Border Regiment soldiers between 1882 and June 1914. Service records for all of the men whose numbers are shown below can be viewed on-line via the Ancestry website or Findmypast.

186 joined on 4th July 1882
447 joined on 1st September 1883
637 joined on 14th May 1884
982 joined on 30th January 1885
1569 joined on 25th January 1886
1999 joined on 15th January 1887
2341 joined on 13th January 1888
2696 joined on 7th February 1889
2947 joined on 8th January 1890
3064 joined on 24th January 1891
3448 joined on 11th April 1892
3897 joined on 3rd February 1893
4216 joined on 15th January 1894
4768 joined on 12th August 1895
5025 joined on 31st March 1896
5451 joined on 27th July 1897
5934 joined on 1st June 1898
6025 joined on 8th March 1899
6317 joined on 25th October 1900
6432 joined on 7th February 1901
6638 joined on 10th January 1902
6974 joined on 16th March 1903
7375 joined on 29th February 1904
8008 joined on 31st January 1905
8188 joined on 15th January 1906
9278 joined on 18th April 1907
9420 joined on 8th April 1908
9632 joined on 23rd March 1909
9715 joined on 3rd March 1910
9893 joined on 4th January 1911
10312 joined on 8th February 1912
10528 joined on 6th March 1913
10800 joined on 25th June 1914

The year 1906 appears, on the face of it, to have been a bumper year for recruitment if sequential numbering is to be believed. Between 31st January 1905 and 15th January 1906, only 180 men joined the regular battalions of the regiment and yet by April 1907, the numbering has leapt to 9278. I list below, sample numbers, names and joining dates for 1906.

8188 George Bygrave joined on 15th January 1906
8247 William Charles Brown joined on 2nd March 1906
8615 Charles Cornelius Barnard (alias Charles Cornelius Berning; formerly 1419 Northumberland Fus) joined on 28th August 1906
8698 Herbert Squelch joined on 12th September 1906
9011 Christopher Riley joined on 22nd October 1906
9211 Joseph Francis Doonan joined on 19th December 1906

George Bygrave's record is in the WO 363 (burnt documents) series. The other men's records are in the WO 364 (Pension) series. All can be viewed on the Ancestry website. Also see my separate post on Border Regiment recruitment in 1906.

When Britain went to war in 1914, men joining the newly forming service battalions were issued with numbers from the series which had, up until that point in time, been issued to the regulars joining the 1st and 2nd Battalions.

For Border Regiment information and discussion, visit the Border Regiment Forum. Also see my Border Regiment related post: 1908. What a difference a year makes.

I've borrowed the image for this post from John Clare's WW1 photos, which in turn formed part of a press release from Tyne Tees Televison's 1988 drama-documentary series, Voices of War. The undated photograph shows men of the Border Regiment's 8th Battalion.


I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

Further Reading

http://www.naval-military-press.com/border-regiment-in-the-great-war.html?&partner=PaulNixon
The Border Regiment in the Great War

Before the Great War the Border Regiment, primarily recruited from the Lakeland counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland, consisted of two Regular and two Territorial battalions, plus the Regimental Depot. During the war this was increased to a total of thirteen battalions by the raising of volunteer service battalions. This history tells the story of all 13 battalions.

The regiment saw service in France from 1914, while the 1st battalion was at Gallipoli the following year. In 1916, six of the regiment’s battalions took part in the battle of the Somme, and in 1917 the regiment fought in the battle of Arras, at Bullecourt, and at the Battle of Messines. Six of its battalions took part in the third battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) while other battalions fought on the Salonika front in Macedonia and in Italy.

In this excellent and tightly written history, as the regiment’s Colonel, Maj.Gen. E.G. Sinclair MacLagan writes in his preface, the author “has recorded the doings of the different Battalions in six separate theatres of war, and has merged them into one consecutive narrative”. lllustrated by 14 photographic plates and seven maps.

22 June 2009

York and Lancaster Regiment - 1st and 2nd Battalions


This post will look at army service numbers and the dates on which these were issued to men joining the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the York & Lancaster Regiment. The period covered is July 1881 to July 1914. What follows is a snapshot from a larger database of Y&L numbers and joining dates.

The regiment was formed in July 1881. The 1st Battalion, York & Lancs was formerly the 65th (2nd Yorkshire, North Riding) Regiment of Foot. The 2nd Battalion, York & Lancs was formerly the 84th (York & Lancaster) Regiment of Foot. The new regimental title was derived from the areas in which the regiment recruited - principally the Duchy of York and the Duchy of Lancaster.

There are over 73,000 York & Lancaster Regiment service & 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 York & Lancaster Regiment 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.

25 joined on 16th July 1881
261 joined on 7th February 1882
579 joined on 13th January 1883
798 joined on 12th March 1884
1063 joined on 9th January 1885
1361 joined on 9th January 1886
1751 joined on 26th January 1887
2200 joined on 21st February 1888
2566 joined on 26th March 1889
2696 joined on 5th January 1890
2902 joined on 9th January 1891
3227 joined on 27th January 1892
3654 joined on 6th February 1893
3925 joined on 30th June 1894
4161 joined on 26th January 1895
4626 joined on 17th March 1896
4813 joined on 4th January 1897
5244 joined on 22nd September 1898
5348 joined on 23rd January 1899
6216 joined on 15th June 1900

Note that between 1900 and 1902, those Volunteers from the 1st Hallamshire Volunteer Battalion and 2nd Volunteer Battalion who joined the regular battalions of the York and Lancs Regt were issued with numbers in the 7000 and 8000 range.

6361 joined on 8th March 1901
6884 joined on 17th July 1902
7245 joined on 30th January 1903
7702 joined on 21st March 1904
8217 joined on 5th January 1905
8375 joined on 23rd January 1906
8584 joined on 14th January 1907
9048 joined on 25th January 1908
9405 joined on 8th February 1909
9792 joined on 24th May 1910
9922 joined on 1st July 1911
10052 joined on 22nd January 1912
10313 joined on 4th January 1913
10558 joined on 11th July 1914

When Britain went to war with Germany three weeks later, men joining the newly formed service battalions (with the exception of the Pals Battalions which had their own number series), were issued numbers from the series which had, up until that point in time, been used only by the two regular battalions.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

19 June 2009

Royal Scots Fusiliers - 1st & 2nd Battalions


This post will look at army service numbers and the dates on which they were issued to men joining the regular battalions - the 1st and 2nd Battalions - of the Royal Scots Fusiliers between 1882 and June 1914.

There are over 33,000 Royal Scots Fusiliers 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 Royal Scots Fusiliers 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.

Prior to July 1881 The Royal Scots Fusiliers had been (since a name change in 1877) the 21st (Royal Scots Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot. My data currently begins in 1882 and so that's where I'll start from.

86 joined on 12th July 1882
222 joined on 16th January 1883
710 joined on 2nd May 1884
1068 joined on 14th March 1885
1428 joined on 22nd February 1886
2018 joined on 29th April 1887
2255 joined on 23rd February 1888
2509 joined on 8th January 1889
2794 joined on 13th February 1890
3329 joined on 18th April 1891
3629 joined on 18th April 1892
4100 joined on 21st April 1893
4517 joined on 20th February 1894

4556 Pte Arthur Prestwood joined the 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers on 24th April 1894 and would spend the majority of his early military career in India, seeing service during the Punjab Frontier, Samana and Tirah campaigns in the late 1890s. Working his way through the ranks and finishing as Colour Sergeant, Arthur Prestwood was commissioned in August 1914, landed in France on 15th September 1914 and was severely wounded at Hooge the following June. After recuperating he spent the remainder of the war with the 3rd RSF in England. He retired from the army in 1921 and died, aged 94 in 1970. I hold Captain Prestwood's medals and you can read more about him on my British Army Medals blog.

4822 joined on 2nd January 1895
5089 joined on 4th February 1896
5437 joined on 8th July 1897
5728 joined on 8th February 1898
6012 joined on 24th January 1899
6492 joined on 5th January 1900
6728 joined on 20th March 1901
7046 joined on 4th January 1902
7386 joined on 6th January 1903
8067 joined on 29th January 1904
8518 joined on 10th January 1905
8762 joined on 27th January 1906
9439 joined on 4th July 1907
9639 joined on 29th June 1908
9824 joined on 23rd February 1909
10173 joined on 29th July 1910
10352 joined on 4th April 1911
10563 joined on 26th February 1912
10851 joined on 7th May 1913
11089 joined on 20th June 1914

Six weeks later, when Britain went to war with Germany, the newly forming service battalions issued numbers from the same series that had, up until that point, been used solely by the two regular battalions of the Royal Scots Fusiliers.

Photo: unknown WW1 era soldier from the author's collection.

Also see: Royal Scots Fusiliers - 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion 1908-1914

Further Reading

Historical Record and Regimental Memoir of the Royal Scots Fusiliers

The History of the Royal Scots Fusiliers 1678-1918


I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

18 June 2009

The Devonshire Regiment - 1st & 2nd Battalions



There are nearly 36,000 Devonshire Regiment 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.

Prior to 1st July 1881, the Devonshire Regiment was the 11th Regiment of Foot. It started a new regimental number series from this date, some examples of which I list below. Use this list as a guide to determine when your own ancestor might have joined this regiment - but note that this list is for regular enlistments only. Special Reserve and Territorial Force battalions operated their own distinct regimental number series.

245 joined on 21st May 1882
483 joined on 2nd June 1883
737 joined on 2nd January 1884
1259 joined on 29th July 1885
1435 joined on 3rd February 1886
1736 joined on 5th July 1887
2009 joined on 18th February 1888
2337 joined on 2nd January 1889
3007 joined on 11th June 1890
3231 joined on 29th May 1891
3442 joined on 25th January 1892
3653 joined on 26th January 1893
3985 joined on 10th August 1894
4226 joined on 22nd June 1895
4742 joined on 29th July 1896
4793 joined on 4th January 1897
4969 joined on 5th January 1898
5267 joined on 4th January 1899
5974 joined on 22nd March 1900
6503 joined on 3rd January 1901
6914 joined on 10th March 1902
7269 joined on 12th January 1903
7607 joined on 24th January 1904
7906 joined on 9th March 1905
8130 joined on 8th May 1906
8290 joined on 13th February 1907
8615 joined on 23rd January 1908
8928 joined on 8th March 1909
9005 joined on 24th July 1910
9218 joined on 4th January 1911
9598 joined on 30th July 1912
9720 joined on 28th May 1913
9952 joined on 31st March 1914

When Britain went to war with Germany a few months later, men joining the newly forming service battalions of the Devonshire Regiment were issued service numbers which belonged to the same series as that which had been in use for the regular battalions. 10102 enlisted with the Devons for a term of regular service - 7 years with the Colours and 5 on the Reserve - on 14th August 1914. 10121 issued for war-time service only, the following day.

The image above (taken from a cigarette card) shows Private Thomas William Henry Veale of the 8th Devonshire Regiment who was awarded the Victoria Cross for "most conspicuous bravery" at High Wood, The Somme on 20th July 1916. His medals are held by the Devonshire Regiment Museum at Dorchester

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

Devonshire Regiment literature from the Naval & Military Press


1st Battalion, Devonshire Regiment during the Boer War, 1899-1902
The Devonshires took a leading role in the relief of Ladysmith after a lengthy siege by the Boers. They subsequently fought at Inagane and Lydenburg in Natal and South-eastern Transvaal. Their battle honours included the charge at Wagon Hill outside Ladysmith, and the night action at Elandslaagte. In his introductoion, Gen. William Kitchener calls attention to the main qualities of the Devon men who served under him: their ‘dogged devotion to duty’ which helped overcome the Boers’ stubborn resistance; their improvisation and their smart turnout in the worst of conditions. ‘In conclusion’ writes Kitchener, "a more determined crew I never wish to see, and a better regiment to back his orders a General can never hope to have." Iliustrated with 25 photographs and two maps. Also includes Roll of Honour.

Devonshire Regiment 1914-1918

When war broke out in 1914 the Devonshire Regiment consisted of two regular battalions, a Special Reserve Battalion and four Territorial battalions. By the end of the war the total was twenty-nine. This history contains the account of the operations of those battalions which took an active part in the war which earned them two VCs and sixty battle honours at a cost of 5,787 dead. They served on the Western Front, in Italy, Macedonia, Egypt, Palestine, India and in Mesopotamia.

C T Atkinson is among the foremost of the Great War divisional and regimental historians and this book is typical of his standard of writing and composition. He has provided a continuous narrative in a chronological order, bringing in the various battalions as they came onto the stage in the relevant theatre of war. He has made use of war diaries, not only of the battalions but also, where appropriate of brigades and divisions. He was also able to make use of collected accounts of various actions and experiences of those who took part in them, giving the point of view of the man in the trenches. One third of the book, some 250 pages, contains the complete list of honours and awards, including Mention in Despatches, and the Roll of Honour, listed alphabetically by battalions.

Through Hell to Victory

This book deals exclusively with the 2nd Devons (23rd Brigade, 8th Division) during the last year of the war. It describes what the battalion did in the early days of 1918, touches briefly on their movements in January, deals fully with the March retreat in the face of the German offensive, follows them in the fighting to save Amiens and goes on to describe at length the battalion’s heroic stand at the Bois des Buttes, under the shadow of the Chemin des Dames, on the 27th May and following days. For this action the battalion was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palm. This account comes not from official records but from the information of those who took part, and it took the author more than a year to assemble all the details. The casualties in the action at the Bois des Buttes, as given in the regimental history, amounted to twenty three officers and 528 men killed or missing.

17 June 2009

Loyal North Lancashire Regiment - 1st & 2nd Battalions



This post will look at army service numbers and the dates on which they were issued to men joining the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment between 1881 and April 1914.

In July 1881 when the regiment was formed as part of the Childers Reforms, the 47th (Lancashire) Regiment of Foot became the 1st Battalion and the 81st (Loyal Lincoln Volunteers) Regiment of Foot became the 2nd Battalion.

There are over 44,000 Loyal North Lancashire Regiment pension and service 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 Loyal North Lancashire Regiment 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.

What follows is a snapshot of army service numbers and corresponding joining dates for the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. There are sequential anomalies in the data which I'll point out as appropriate.

16 joined on 21st September 1881
482 joined on 26th July 1882
778 joined on 21st June 1883
874 joined on 25th June 1884
1245 joined on 16th July 1885
1574 joined on 26th May 1886
1969 joined on 15th January 1887
2571 joined on 5th September 1888
3064 joined on 20th November 1889
3131 joined on 25th January 1890
3343 joined on 25th January 1891
3671 joined on 23rd April 1892
3869 joined on 4th January 1893
4351 joined on March 1st 1894

Apart from other numbers which fall neatly into the sequence so far, I have three other numbers on my database for this year, which do not. 3915 joined on 17th April, 3919 joined on 22nd June and 3924 joined on 24th September. In the meantime, 4531 had joined on 16th August.

3915 was a serving member of the 3rd Militia Battalion and it's possible that 3915 is his militia number. At least, I can think of no other explanation for the anomaly. Numbers 3919 and 3924 were both boys aged 14. Papers for all three men survive in WO 363 and WO 364, as do records for all the numbers listed here. View these at the National Archives in London or on-line via the Ancestry website. A FREE 14 day trial is currently being offered by Ancestry.

4833 joined on 27th May 1895
5014 joined on 4th January 1896
5502 joined on 6th April 1897
5754 joined on 15th March 1898
6085 joined on 6th June 1899
6316 joined on 15th June 1900
6521 joined on 18th April 1901
6717 joined on 28th January 1902
7037 joined on 6th January 1903
7757 joined on 13th January 1904
8356 joined on 28th March 1905
8515 joined on 12th February 1906

8215 Thomas Beardsworth also joined in 1906, on 9th March. This is another anomaly which I can't explain. Sequential logic would suggest that his number belongs to early 1905 rather than spring 1906. His attestation papers state that he was a serving member of the 3rd Militia Battalion and its possible, as it is also possible with 3915 above, that 8215 is his militia number. It shouldn't be of course; both men should have been given a new number from the regular series on enlisting with the 1st or 2nd Battalion.

8926 joined on 2nd July 1907
9353 joined on 9th June 1908
9863 joined on 15th July 1909
9904 joined on 26th January 1910
10114 joined on 6th January 1911
10312 joined on 14th March 1912
10502 joined on 9th January 1913
10752 joined on 1st April 1914

When Britain went to war with Germany four months later, numbering in the regular battalions was in the low 10800s and the new service battalions, when they began forming, used the same number series that had been in use by the regulars. But that's the subject of another post.


I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

Further reading from The Naval & Military Press:

The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment 1914-1919



During the First World War, the Loyal North Lancs served in virtually every theatre of war and this book tells the story of them all.

The 1st Battalion took part in the defence of Ypres at Langemarck and Gheluvelt in 1914, fought at the battles of Neuve Chapelle and Aubers RIdge in 1915; the Somme in 1916; and the battles of Arras and Passchendaele in 1917. In 1918 it helped to break the HIndenburg Line.

The 2nd Battalion was sent to East Africa and took part in the disastrous attack on Tanga and the subsequent frustrating campaign against the guerilla leader General Von Lettow-Vorbeck. Towards the end of the war, the battalion served in Egypt, Palestine and on the Western Front.

The book is fully illustrated with maps and photos, and with appendices covering awards, uniforms, colours and honours.



The Story of the 55th (West Lancashire) Division