29 September 2009

Rifle Brigade - regular battalions



This post will look at army service numbers issued to men joining the four regular battalions of the Rifle Brigade. The regiment was unaffected by the 1881 Cardwell Reforms and thus continued with the numbering sequence it had been using up until that point.

Note however, as David Langley points out, that the King's Royal Rifle Corps was also "unaffected" by the 1881 Cardwell Reforms and yet it started numbering from 1 in 1881. As David suggests, the Rifle Brigade's refusal to toe the line would appear to be down to either arrogance or ignorance - unless of course, somebody else knows better.

Service records for the following Rifle Brigade regimental 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.

In fact There are over 70,000 Rifle Brigade service and pension records 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 Rifle Brigade 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.

5037 joined on 19th November 1881
5185 joined on 7th January 1882
5539 joined on 10th April 1883
6764 joined on 30th June 1884
7779 joined on 23rd October 1885
7978 joined on 18th January 1886
8831 joined on 12th March 1887
9549 joined on 10th March 1888
9919 joined on 12th January 1889

With the numbering sequence fast approaching the 9,999 limit, application would have been made to commence a new number series. Approval was duly given and number 1 in the new series was issued in February 1889.

Also see my post on Queen's and King's Regulations regarding numbering in the British Army.

520 joined on 21st February 1890
1291 joined on 25th June 1891
2155 joined on 7th March 1892
2660 joined on 16th March 1893
3148 joined on 2nd March 1894
3629 joined on 8th March 1895
4475 joined on 6th March 1896
4839 joined on 11th January 1897
5478 joined on 21st January 1898
6571 joined on 28th March 1899
7297 joined on 1st January 1900
8475 joined on 25th June 1901
8989 joined on 7th April 1902
9565 joined on 6th January 1903

With its numbering sequence again approaching the 9,999 limit, application was again made to commence a new number series. Approval was duly given and number 1 in the new series was issued, probably in late December 1903 (number 9996 was issued to 18-year-old Albert Edward Garrett when he joined up on the 28th December 1903).

27 joined on 7th January 1904
658 joined on 4th January 1905
1472 joined on 20th January 1906
1831 joined on 1st January 1907
2459 joined on 7th November 1907
2607 joined on 16th January 1908
3340 joined on 16th January 1909
3586 joined on 4th January 1910
4186 joined on 21st March 1911
4413 joined on 2nd January 1912
4960 joined on 14th January 1913
5363 joined on 4th February 1914

By 24th July 1914, the Rifle Brigade was up to 5568 and when Britain went to war with Germany two weeks later, the regiment maintained this number series for men who still wished to enlist as career soldiers for regular terms of enlistment. Those men joining service battalions were given numbers from different number series (and often different number prefixes depending either on their status or the battalion in question).

Pictured above, my great uncle S/18321 Private John Frederick Nixon. Jack, as he was known to his friends and family, joined a service battalion of the Rifle Brigade in 1916 and was killed in action on 3rd October 1918 whilst attached to the Post Office Rifles. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois memorial in France. Read more about Jack Nixon here.

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

From: The Naval & Military Press:


Verner's History & Campaigns of the Rifle Brigade 1800-1813


History of the Rifle Brigade in the War of 1914-1918

24 September 2009

The Leinster Regiment - 1st & 2nd Battalions


The Prince of Wales's Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians) was formed in 1881 from the 100th (Prince of Wales's Royal Canadian) Regiment of Foot and the 109th Regiment of Foot (Bombay Infantry). The old 100th became the 1st Battalion, and the 109th, the 2nd Battalion.

There are over 10,000 Leinster 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 Leinster Regiment ancestor would have joined up. Note though that these numbers are only for regular enlistments. Special Reserve and Extra Reserve battalions operated completely separate regimental number sequences.

118 joined on 5th April 1882
703 joined on 22nd December 1884
1027 joined on 8th August 1885
1333 joined on 7th January 1886
1774 joined on 23rd April 1887
2114 joined on 21st March 1888
2366 joined on 26th April 1889
2743 joined on 3rd July 1890
2967 joined on 1st March 1891
3444 joined on 1st June 1892
3773 joined on 3rd February 1893
4214 joined on 27th March 1894
4854 joined on 28th September 1896
5052 joined on 23rd March 1897
5567 joined on 15th July 1898
5874 joined on 29th March 1899
6140 joined on 13th March 1900
6382 joined on 10th July 1901
6576 joined on 20th January 1902
7046 joined on 16th July 1903
7353 joined on 20th June 1904
7736 joined on 11th June 1905
8138 joined on 18th December 1906
8359 joined on 12th July 1907
8681 joined on 1st January 1908
9015 joined on 8th February 1909
9219 joined on 5th January 1910
9578 joined on 4th July 1911
9718 joined on 12th January 1912
10110 joined on 27th January 1914

When Britain went to war with Germany a few months later, the Leinster Regiment responded to the call by forming two new service battalions in August and October 1914. Neither of these battalions drew their numbers from the series above which was still maintained but reserved for men signing up for regular terms of enlistment (seven years with the Colours, five on the Reserve) rather than for war-time service only.

The regiment was disbanded in 1922 following the creation of the Independent State of Ireland, but there is still an active Regimental Association, and an informative website here: Regimental Association of the Prince of Wales's Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians).

Post 1918 Leinster Regiment cap badge from Peter Taylor Militaria.

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

From the Naval & Military Press:



The History of the Prince of Wales's Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians)

Two volume history, fully indexed and containing eight maps and twelve illustrations. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE.


“STAND TO” A Diary of the Trenches 1915-1918

This is one of the classic memoirs of the Great War, written by an officer of the 2nd Battalion the Leinster Regiment who joined his battalion in the trenches in May 1915 and served with them to the end of the war. It is, says the N&M Press, "a memorable account and a great tribute to the soldiers from the South of Ireland... a vivid account, supported by some wonderful sketches and examples of the spirit and humour of the Irish soldier." CLICK HERE TO ORDER.

20 September 2009

22nd (Service) Battalion, The Royal Fusiliers (Kensington)


The 22nd (Service) Battalion, The Royal Fusiliers (Kensington) was raised by the Mayor and Borough of Kensington on 11th September 1914 at the White City. It moved to Roffey Camp, Horsham, Sussex in October 1914 and by June 1915 it was at Clipstone Camp, as part of the 99th Brigade (along with 17th, 23rd and 24th Battalions RF) in the 33rd Division. It landed at Boulogne in November 1915.

Bert Danson of the Ten Tommies joined this battalion and, like all new recruits to the battalion - certainly the initial intake at least - his number was prefixed with the letter K/ for Kensington. Numbering started at 1 and by by June 1915 it had reached the 1500s. This post will look at numbering in the Kensington Battalion between August 1914 and June 1915.

With the exception of the first number, below, 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.

K/225 joined on 25th August 1914
K/464 joined on 18th September 1914
K/1223 joined on 14th November 1914
K/1244 joined on 5th December 1915
K/1369 joined on 13th February 1915
K/1452 joined on 24th April 1915
K/1521 joined on 31st May 1915
K/1574 joined on 7th June 1915

The author, Saki (Hector Hugh Munro, pictured) was the K/225 mentioned above. He would be killed in action with the Kensington Battalion in November 1916.

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

From The Naval & Military Press:


A History of the 22nd (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (Kensington)

This book, as the editor stresses, was compiled for the surviving members of the battalion. Some 410 died and Lance-Sergeant Palmer (who also held the Military Medal) won the Victoria Cross near Courcelette in February 1917.

There is a Roll of Honour in which the dates of death of the officers are given, but in the case of other ranks, they are helpfully grouped by companies for each year of the war but unhelpfully without number, rank or date of death. Researchers would need to piece this latter information together by referring to Soldiers Died in The Great War.

There is also a list of recipients of honours and awards, headed by L/Sgt Palmer with his VC. In this list, which includes mentioned in despatches, names are grouped alphabetically for each medal but again, no number, rank or date of award. CLICK HERE TO ORDER.

Also see these other Royal Fusiliers titles


Royal Fusiliers - regimental histories

Historical Records of the Seventh or Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
Covers the period form the raising of the regiment in 1685 to 1875. Includes a roll call of every officer who served in the Regiment during these 190 years with his record of service, listed in alphabetical order.

Royal Fusiliers in the Great War
The appendix gives the Roll of Honour of officers (1054 names); a table showing the numbers of Warrant Officers, NCOs and Men on the Roll of Honour, by battalions; a table summarising decorations awarded, including foreign awards; brief biographies or notes on a number of RF general ranking officers; and several accounts of soldiers who took part in the various operations.

2nd City of London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) in the Great War 1914-1919
The Roll of Honour lists 1,345 dead and the summary of awards shows 65 British decorations to officers and 246 to other ranks, excluding MiD.

The War History of the 4th Battalion The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) 1914-1919
Includes a list of Honours and Awards, including foreign decorations, as well as a list of officers and men of other regiments who won their awards serving with the 4th London Regiment.

The History of the old 2/4th (City of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)There is no Roll of Honour nor list of Honours and Awards, all these are noted in the text and the last ninety pages contain the service records of every officer and man of the battalion where such information can be found, including details of any wounds received.

The Kensington Battalion
This books draws on first hand material (diaries, letters and official documents) as well as interviews from the 1980s.

Hard as Nails: The Sportsmen's Battalion of World War One
Michael Foley's history of the 23rd (Service) Battalion.

17 September 2009

The Ten Tommies 2

I've found some old press cuttings from The Stage regarding The Ten Tommies which I've tranbscribed and re-produce below.

If the adverts are to be believed, THE TEN TOMMIES was a popular and lucrative act which, if it was seventeen months old in 1918, must have been born in about October 1916, a couple of months before Bert Danson applied for his passport.

It's also clear that there were other "spurious" wounded soldier acts although Bert Danson neglects to mention that not all of the Ten Tommies had "fought in France, Gallipoli etc" and neither had they all been wounded. Indeed, reading the adverts, it would appear that the end of the war was probably not greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm by the same soldier entertainers who, by May 1918, were used to salaries of £100 a week.

I'll get back to the army service numbers proper in my next post.

7th February 1917 - Page 17

THE TEN TOMMIES
ORIGINATORS!!!
Boys who have FOUGHT in France,
Gallipoli, Egypt and Salonica.
Theatres or Music Halls Wanted.
Can Play in 2 Scenes 25-50 Minutes.
Great success of NEW MATERIAL
LAUGHS! LAUGHS! LAUGHS!
This – Music Hall, Inverness
Next – La Scala, Invergordon
Coms. – PAUL MURRAY
or BERT DANSON

17th February 1918 - Page 20

VACANT JAN 28, FEB 4,
and on with exceptions
THE
TEN TOMMIES
The ORIGINAL and Wounded Soldier Entertainers

Now in seventeenth month of continuous Tour
With a reputation as a “TOP” built on MERIT
NOT SENTIMENT

NEW SONGS AND BUSINESS
Presenting all original material and one of the
BIGGEST LAUGHING SUCCESSES
ever produced.
THE
TEN TOMMIES

Can be booked alone or in conjunc-
tion with BERT DANSON’S Single
Tour.

SHARES or SALARY, or supported by full
Variety Bill for First Class Music Halls,
Theatres or Picture Palaces

NOW, MR MANAGER,
BOOK A “TOP”
that is certain to give you SATISFACTION
Coms. BERT DANSON, this HIPPO, ST HELENS
Next, COLLISEUM, GLASGOW (return)

30th May 1918 - Page 16


WANTED, Theatres or Music
Halls, for
BERT DANSON’S
RECORD-BREAKING COMBINATION,
The
TEN TOMMIES
TEN TOMMIES
TEN TOMMIES
TEN TOMMIES
TEN TOMMIES
the famous and original, and ONLY
GENUINE original, and ONLY
GENUINE all-Soldier Entertainers.
Why book
SPURIOUS IMITATIONS
SPURIOUS IMITATIONS
SPURIOUS IMITATIONS
when the Genuine Act is the Funniest
Act and the Biggest Salaried Act, and
gets more Laughs and Applause in five
minutes than Imitations get in a
week? The Ten Tommies are the only
party of entertainers who have had
salaries of £100. £100. £100. weekly.

The Ten Tommies have TOPPED on
the whole of Moss Empire’s Syndicate
Halls, Broadhead’s Controlling, and
Principal Independent Halls for nearly
two years’ continuous tour.

Last week the
TEN TOMMIES
TEN TOMMIES
TEN TOMMIES
once again, once again
BROKE ALL RECORDS
BROKE ALL RECORDS
BROKE ALL RECORDS

Refer Percy B Broadhead Esq.

This week playing to holiday business
And ditto, May 13, Hippo, Altrincham
Refer Frank Hargreaves Esq
Vacant
June 24, July 15, Aug 12, Sep 2
Oct 7, 14, 28 and on with exceptions
All coms, BERT DANSON

23rd August 1918 - Page 21

WANTED
September 3 and 10
September 3 and 10
September 3 and 10
September 3 and 10
September 3 and 10
September 3 and 10
September 3 and 10
September 3 and 10
September 3 and 10
September 3 and 10
THE TEN
TOMMIES

The Original Act written and composed by
BERT DANSON

This, Barnard’s, Chatham;
next Palace, Bath
(return)

Wire
PAUL MURAY
re Dates
12th Sep 1918 - Page 10.

The Ten Tommies began their third year of continuous tour auspiciously last week at the Hippodrome, Lowestoft where they broke all records for this theatre. This their fifth “all-in” record since Whit Week. They return to London next Monday to the Granville, Waltham Green, with many new songs and numbers written and produced by their enterprising author-composer, Mr Bert Danson.

10th October 1918 - Page 22.

THE TEN
TOMMIES

3rd Year

WHY BOOK
SPURIOUS IMITATIONS?

This, PAVILION, LIVERPOOL

Next EMP, ASHTON

VACANT

OCT 28, NOV 18, JAN 13, 20
FEB 3, 10 (?) and on with
Exceptions.

17th October 1918 - Page 12

THE TEN
TOMMIES
The original and only genuine all soldier
Entertainers, who have

“TOPPED” ALL ROUND MOSS
EMPIRES SYNDICATE, London

FIRST CLASS CONCERT
PARTY DATES
3 or 6 nights

THE TEN TOMMIES
Are the only party of entertainers extant
Who have received salaries of
£100 WEEKLY
And upwards, and hold
MORE RECORDS
At recognized theatres and halls than all
Other entertainers put together.

“ABSOLUTELY ORIGINAL and the
funniest we have ever seen” – Preston
Herald
, August 31st 1918


THE TEN TOMMIES

17th October 1918 - Page 15.

Wanted, first class Pianist-Vocalist (discharged soldier only) – BERT DANSON, Ten Tommies, Empire, Ashton-u-Lyne, next, O H, Workington.
With thanks to Peter of the Lost Cousins website for the prompt to subscribe to The Stage archive.

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

15 September 2009

The Ten Tommies



Some while ago I bought a couple of albums which had been kept by a VAD probationer whilst she was working at auxiliary hospitals in Rawstenstall, Lancashire. Inside one of these albums was an eight page leaflet produced for The Ten Tommies - a troupe of entertainers (all ex-servicemen) who, according to the introduction, had spent over 100 weeks in hospital between them. I've been meaning to dig a little deeper into their stories and this blog gives me the opportunity to do so. I'm reproducing all of the pages below. Click on the images for readable versions.


This particular leaflet was published on 11th June 1918. I have no idea when the Ten Tommies gave their first performance but certainly some of the men here were not discharged from the army until 1917. I am guessing that one of the locations where they provided their entertainment was at Rawstenstall.

Medal index cards (MICs) for all of the Ten Tommies, and service records for some of them, survive at the National Archives in Kew and can also be viewed on-line via Ancestry.co.uk which is currently offering a 14 day FREE trial.

"All of the boys," the leaflet says, "have moving stories to tell of the horrors of wounds, gassing and barbed wire entanglements..." That may have been the case, but as I will show, three of the ten never left the UK and rheumatism rather than shell or bullet was the cause of one other discharge. The leaflet, is 'of it's time' and a healthy scepticism should be applied to some of the so-called "facts".


Private Bert Danson was K/516 Pte John Herbert Davison who enlisted with the 22nd (Kensington) Battalion, The Royal Fusiliers on 19th September 1914. The author Hector Hugh Munro (Saki) joined this battalion in August 1914 (army service number 225) and by the end of September, the battalion had signed up a full complement. John Davison was 34 years and 105 days old and was a professional music hall artist. He was five feet, eight and a half inches tall, had a fresh complexion, brown eyes, grey brown hair, and tattoos on his upper left arm. Although he enlisted at Shepherd's Bush in west London, he was Manchester-born and gave his home address as 56 Wilton Road, Chortlon-cum-Hardy; the same address where his next of kin - his father, Henry Davison - was living.

Bert Danson, or John Davison was the brains behind the Ten Tommies, yet his tales of waking in the trenches and the boom of the gun were all imagined. Bert never made it out of England and he was discharged from the army on 15th February 1915 as medically unfit. In December 1916 he applied for a passport and was presumably successful, having been "twice around the world" by 1918.

Private Jack Shandley was 242344 Pte John Shanley who - according to the Ten Tommies leaflet - originally joined the 1/4th Seaforth Highlanders on 19th October 1914. He was sent to France almost immediately, arriving there on 7th November 1914 and thus qualifying for the 1914 Star with clasp and roses (although he does not appear to have claimed the latter). John Shanley later transferred to the 1/5th Seaforth Highlanders and was discharged from the army on 24th October 1917.

Lance-Corporal Maybury was L/9891 Lance-Corporal Ernest Mayberry, a career soldier who had joined the Middlesex Regiment on 20th September 1904. He arrived in France on 5th September 1914 and thus, like John Shanley, could claim to be an Old Contemptible. He was discharged on 25th May 1916 and would later claim the clasp and roses for his 1914 Star.

Sergeant William Duffield DCM enlisted with the Yorkshire Regiment on 1st September 1914 and was given the number 12719. He arrived in the Balkans on 28th September 1915 and was discharged from the army on 16th March 1917.


Private Arthur Townsend joined the Royal Fusiliers on 2nd September 1914. He served with the 2nd battalion but the GS/ prefix on his army number - 16687 - indicates that he enlisted for war-time service only. He arrived in the Balkans on 25th August 1915 and was discharged due to wounds on 29th July 1916.

Private Bert Shaw was 4391 Private Herbert Shaw of the 30th Royal Fusiliers. He enlisted on 12th November 1915 at St Paul's Churchyard, and gave his address as 86 Grove Lane, Camberwell, south west London. He was 35 years and five months old and working as a variety artist.

Herbert was five feet, five inches tall, had a sallow complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. A depressed scar on his left knee, and a dimpled chin are also recorded on his surviving attestation papers.

Herbert gave his next of kin as his father, Jabal - or Jubal - Shaw of Hill Street, Ashton under Lyne. He joined at Leamington on 15th November 1915 and was immediately posted to the 30th Royal Fusiliers. Like Bert Danson though, Bert Shaw never made it out of England and on 29th August 1916 he was discharged as no longer physically fit. He had served 292 days.

A Medical Board report dated 15th August 1916 concludes:

"Neurasthenia.
Originated 1915 at Leamington. Has always been highly nervous and found that he became worse when he was shooting on ranges. He is in a highly nervous state and is very tremulous and has a good deal of palpitations, has also a good deal of rheumatism in his shoulders and back. Heart sounds feeble. Not caused or aggravated by military service. Permanent. Prevents ¼."

Bert was paid a £25 gratuity under clause 7(2) Royal Warrant 1917. A pension claim in September 1916 was rejected the following month.

Private Jack Roberts was 202450 Pte John Roberts who enlisted with the 4th Dorsetshire Regiment on 14th November 1914 and was discharged due to sickness on 3rd May 1917. John Roberts remained in the UK for the duration of his army service.

29993 Private Peter Murphy of the 16th Cheshire Regiment enlisted in October 1914 according to the Ten Tommies leaflet. His army service number though, indicates that he joined up at least a year after this date and he certainly did not go overseas until 1st January 1916 or later. He was discharged from the army on 12th January 1917.

Bandsman Charles Clare was 2996 Private Charles Clapp who attested with the 2/2nd London Regiment at 9 Tufton Street, London on 23rd September 1914. He took the Imperial Service Obligation the same day. Charles was 20 years and nine months old and stood five feet ten inches tall. He served overseas in Malta and Egypt and was discharged in January 1916 due to rheumatism in his knee and shoulders. A Medical Board in June 1916 awarded him a pension of 4/8 per week for 18 months.

Private Frank Howell was 17457 Corporal Francis David John Howell who joined the Welsh Regiment on 15th October 1914, served with the 14th Battalion and was discharged on 23rd July 1917. He arrived in France on 2nd December 1915 and thus qualified for the British War and Victory Medals and the 1914-15 Star. His MIC does not indicate that he claimed the silver war badge.

In some respects, the Ten Tommies can be said to be representative of the British soldier between 1914-1918. None of the men were conscripted but the ten comprised one career soldier, two Old Contemptibles, Territorials, Pals and Kitchener men; not to mention a gallantry award winner. Three men never left Britain whilst the others served on the Western Front and at Gallipoli. At least two of the men were career Music Hall / Variety Artists and it's possible that some of the others were too.

I have no idea whether the entertainments the men presented were for the financial benefit of the Ten Tommies, the War Effort or a combination of both. In any event, by June 1918, the British population had been beaten down by four years of relentless and costly war and if nothing else, the Ten Tommies seem to have done "their bit" to buck up the spirits of wounded soldiers and the population alike.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has additional information about the Ten Tommies.

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

14 September 2009

West Yorkshire Regiment - 1st & 2nd Battalions


This post will look at army service numbers issued to men joining the regular battalions (1st and 2nd Battalions) of the Prince of Wales's Own (West Yorkshire) Regiment between 1882 and July 1914. The regiment started numbering from 1 in July 1881 but my data starts the following year.

Prior to the British Army Reforms of 1881, the West Yorkshire Regiment had been the 14th Regiment of Foot and had been conferred with the title The Prince of Wales's Own just five years earlier in 1876.


There are over 64,000 West Yorkshire Regiment serviceand 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.

117 joined on 26th January 1882
535 joined on 17th September 1883
666 joined on 22nd March 1884
994 joined on 1st March 1885
1225 joined on 2nd January 1886
1823 joined on 18th June 1887
2212 joined on 14th March 1888
2484 joined on 26th July 1889
2646 joined on 11th February 1890
2953 joined on 28th July 1891
3314 joined on 26th September 1892
3534 joined on 20th February 1893
4066 joined on 13th June 1894
4509 joined on 9th December 1895
4678 joined on 4th March 1896
5000 joined on 16th July 1897
5241 joined on 12th July 1898
5283 joined on 27th March 1899
5895 joined on 6th June 1900
6106 joined on 21st May 1901
6284 joined on 25th January 1902
6624 joined on 7th January 1903
7705 joined on 1st November 1904
7942 joined on 8th May 1905
8279 joined on 3rd January 1907
8751 joined on 29th January 1908
9064 joined on 12th January 1909
9321 joined on 9th March 1910
9453 joined on 29th January 1911
9675 joined on 11th March 1912
9863 joined on 6th January 1913
10172 joined on 8th July 1914

Less than a month later, Britain was at war with Germany and the newly forming service battalions (with the exception of the Pals' Battalions) would draw their numbers from the same series (above).

The image on this post comes from the intriguingly named, the internet bandsman's everything within and shows men of the 3rd (Special Reserve) Batttalion in presumably the early 1900s. A number of ther men pictured wear the Queen's South Africa and King's South Africa medals.

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

From The Naval & Military Press:


The West Yorkshire Regiment in the war 1914-1918

Another weighty regimental history, two volumes, 820 pages in all covering the record of twenty-two battalions in France, Flanders, Italy and Gallipoli (all of them served on the Western Front). When war broke out the regiment consisted of two Regular battalions (1st and 2nd), two Special Reserve (3rd and 4th) and four Territorial battalions (5th to 8th); the 1st Battalion went to France with 6th Division in September 1914, the 2nd Battalion came home from Malta to join the newly formed 8th Division (Regular) and went to France in November 1914. Both battalions remained in the same brigades (18th and 23rd) and divisions throughout the war.

The four Territorial battalions each formed a 2nd and a 3rd line battalion; the four original battalions made up the 146th Brigade, 49th (West Riding) Division, arriving in France in April 1915, the second line battalions combined to make the 185th Brigade, 62nd (2nd West Riding) Division which arrived in France in January 1917.

Kitchener’s call to arms resulted in eleven Service battalions being raised, 9th to 18th (the 17th was formed as a Bantam battalion) and 21st; of these only 13th and 14th did not go on active service. The 21st Battalion became a Pioneer battalion in 4th Division and the 22nd was a Labour battalion which also went to France.

This history records events in chronological order, the dates of the operations being described are shown in the margin as are the identities of the battalions involved. Volume 1 (x + 355pp with 18 maps and 15 b/w photos) covers the period from the outbreak of war to the end of 1916, the close of the Somme offensive and includes the Dardanelles campaign where the 9th Battalion was in action with the 11th (Northern) Division. On 1st July 1916, the first day of the Somme, the 10th Battalion attacked at Fricourt and incurred the heaviest casualties of any battalion - 710, of whom 307 were killed including the CO, 2IC, adjutant and two company commanders. More than half of them are in in Fricourt New Military Cemetery which is in the No Man’s Land across which they attacked and where they died. The CO (Lt Col Dickson) and his adjutant (Capt Shann) lie side by side.

There is a Roll of Honour for the period covered in which the other ranks are listed alphabetically by battalions as are the Territorial battalion officers; the other officers are shown in one group in alphabetical order with the battalion number in front of the name. Although the note at the head of the officer casualty list states that the theatre in which death occurred is France and Flanders unless otherwise indicated, nonetheless ‘Gallipoli’ is not shown against the names of the officers of the 9th Battalion who died there, and so one is left with the wrong impression they died on the Western front. Volume 2 (xi + 494pp with 9 maps and 8 b/w photos) covers 1917-18 and Italy where the 11th Battalion served from November 1917 to the end of the war in 23rd Division, suffering only two officers wounded, 11 other ranks killed and 58 wounded in that last year of the war. There is a Roll of Honour for 1917-18, arranged as in Volume 1. In all the regiment had 12,700 dead and was awarded four VCs for which the citations are all at the end of Volume 2. CLICK HERE TO ORDER.


Historical Records of the 14th Regiment... from 1689 to 1892

Despite the title the West Yorks came into existence in June 1685 at the time of the Monmouth Rebellion and, as then was the practice, was known after the man who raised it, Sir Edward Hales. Of immediate interest is the establishment of the regiment as at January 1686 showing the rates of pay for each rank and the numbers authorised, and the Regimental Roll of officers in 1687, the earliest roll that can be found. Hales unfortunately picked the wrong side in 1688 by supporting James II against William of Orange and ended up in the Tower; he was replaced by William Beveridge, appointed by the Prince of Orange who, in February 1689 was crowned William III with his consort Queen Mary.

In 1692 the regiment went on active service for the first time, joining the army in Flanders where it gained its first battle honour - Namur 1695. In 1751 with the introduction of the system of foot numbers the regiment became the 14th Regiment of Foot. and a few years later, in 1764, King George III directed their badge should be the White Horse of Hanover. Following the decision to affiliate regiments to counties to improve recruiting the regiment was, in 1782, styled the Fourteenth, or Bedfordshire Regiment of Foot, changed some twenty-five years later to Buckinghamshire. It wasn’t till the reforms of 1881 that the regiment became the West Yorks. A second battalion was formed in 1804 and between them they served in wars and expeditions across the globe, all carefully described. Lists of officers present for duty in either battalion are regularly featured - for example the complete roll of regimental officers as in the Army Lists of June 1873 and January 1893 are reproduced. The book is arranged on a year by year basis, each year being a heading. There is a detailed contents' list which is a great help in tracing events and appendices include biographies of Colonels of the Regiment from 1685 and of other eminent officers, copies of regimental correspondence and other matters of regimental interest. This is a very good example of what a regimental history should be. CLICK HERE TO ORDER.

9 September 2009

Seaforth Highlanders - 1st & 2nd Battalions


This post will look at army service numbers to men joining the regular battalions - the 1st and 2nd Battalions - of the Seaforth Highlanders between 1881 and August 1914.

The Seaforth Highlanders were born in July 1881. The 1st Battalion was formerly the 72nd (Duke of Albany's Own Highlanders) Regiment of Foot, whilst the 2nd Battalion was formerly the 78th (Highlanders - Ross-shire Buffs) Regiment of Foot. The newly created 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion was born out of the old Highland Rifle Militia.

The regiment started numbering from 1 in July 1881 and continued steadily and sequentially over the next 33 years. In 1908, and for some reason which I am yet to get to the bottom of, 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. It wasn't alone in doing this: the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and the Gordon 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.

It would be tempting to suggest that this was a highland regiment phenomenon, but the argument soon falls down. The Gordons, The A&S Highlanders and the Seaforths were the only three infantry regiments in the British Army to (unnecessarily) commence new number series for their regular battalions in 1908.

The records that follow are just a small sample from a far larger database. There are over 26,000 Seaforth Highlanders 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 Seaforth 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.

70 joined on 6th September 1881
587 joined on 11th February 1882
704 joined on 8th January 1883
947 joined on 12th January 1884
1500 joined on 7th January 1885
2041 joined on 5th April 1886
2447 joined on 18th May 1887
2738 joined on 10th January 1888
2985 joined on 2nd March 1889
3344 joined on 28th July 1890
3486 joined on 19th January 1891
4229 joined on 7th May 1892
4470 joined on 9th January 1893
4783 joined on 3rd January 1894
5220 joined on 18th May 1895
5467 joined on 11th January 1896
6145 joined on 25th May 1897
6356 joined on 5th December 1898
6869 joined on 30th November 1899
7361 joined on 26th March 1900
7604 joined on 5th June 1902
7827 joined on 2nd January 1903
8716 joined on 5th February 1904
9295 joined on 27th November 1905
9343 joined on 26th January 1906
10118 joined on 22nd January 1907
10584 joined on 29th January 1908

New number series begun in 1908. See above.

209 joined on 7th January 1909
462 joined on 4th January 1910
733 joined on 19th June 1911
982 joined on 12th January 1912
1228 joined on 7th August 1913
1435 joined on 5th August 1914

By 5th August Britain had been at war with Germany for precisely one day. When the new service battalions of the Seaforth Highlanders were formed, they too would draw their numbers from the same series that had, up until that point in time, been used by the two regular battalions. War-time enlistments though, would have their numbers prefixed with S/.

Finally, a word of warning. Whilst the numbers I have shown above follow a sequential pattern, it would be wrong to assume that this was always the case. It wasn't. As far as the Seaforths are concerned, from March 1900, numbers in the 8000s began to be used and from March 1901, numbers in the 9000s. I've expanded upon this HERE.

The image on this post is taken from The Regimental Records of the British Army 1660-1901, an excellent reference work by J S Farmer (illustrated by R Simkin), first published in 1901 and re-printed by Crecy in 1984.

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