28 October 2009

London Regiment - six digit number anomalies

This post will look at sequential anomalies in six digit numbering for London Regiment battalions.

All specific army service numbers referenced below have been sourced from the National Archives in London, either from records in the WO 363 and WO 364 series or from the First World War medal index cards. These records/cards can also be viewed on-line via Ancestry.co.uk which is currently offering a FREE 14 day trial.
Introduction
For the most part, when the re-numbering of the Territorial Force took place in 1917, the lowest number in the new six or five digit series was issued to the longest serving man still with that particular unit.

So taking the 5th London Regiment as an example, it would be reasonable to assume that Harry Goodwin Marner, who was given the number 300004 (from the allocated series 300001-320000) was probably an early 5th London Regiment recruit. He was. Harry joined the 5th Londons on 1st April 1908, the day the Territorial Force came into being, and at that stage he'd already served for over 12 years with the 1st London Volunteer Rifle Corps. By the time he was finally discharged from the army in 1919 (with the rank of Regimental Quarter Master Sergeant) he was 45 years old, had a conduct described as "exemplary" and had notched up close to 24 years' service.

Actually, the 5th London Regiment is probably not the best example to use because, alone of the London Regiment battalions, it did not start a new number series from 1 in April 1908 but continued with the number series that had been used by its predecessor, the 1st London Volunteer Rifle Corps. Harry Marner's number was 6633 which dated to November 1895.

But apart from the 5th Londons, the other London Regiment battalions started numbering from 1 in April 1908 and then (in 1917) issued the lowest six digit numbers to their longest serving men. For the most part...

9th (County of London) Batalion, The London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles)

The new six digit block of numbers allocated to the 9th Londons was 390001 to 420000. For some reason however, the lowest numbers in that range seem to start with men who joined in 1911. The lowest six digit number / joining date on my database is currently 390009 which was issued to a man who had originally joined in March 1911.

Men who joined before this date and who were still serving (or still not officially noted as dead) when the TF was re-numbered, have numbers in the 394*** range. I am not sure exactly when these numbers kick in. Number 394214 was issued to William John Andrew who joined the 9th Londons on 1st April 1908 and was given the number 124. He had been a serving member with the 1st Middlesex Volunteer Rifle Corps since November 1903.

It may be the case that numbers 394210 to 394213 also went to April 1908 men. 394206 however, was issued much later in the war.

So to summarise for the 9th Londons:

April 1908 to circa Jan 1911 - Numbers in the range c394210 to 394264.
Jan 1911 to Dec 1917 - Numbers in the range 390001 to c394209 and then, allowing for the block above, c394265 onwards.

15th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Civil Service Rifles)

The new six digit block of numbers allocated to the 15th Londons was 530001 to 550000. Afain, for some reason currently unknown to me, re-numbering in April 1908 begins not at 530001 but either 530396 or 530397. I have an unknown for 530396 but 530397 was certainly issued to George Herbert Flew who joined the 15th Londons on 9th April 1908 and was given the number 35.

The numbers then continue sequentially up to 530467 which was issued to a man who joined on 29th March 1909. 530468 and 530469 are unknowns for me, but 530470 was issued to man who joined on 28th August 1914.

Again, to summarise:

April 1908 to March 1909 - Numbers in the range c530397 to 530467
April 1909 to 12th August 1914 - Numbers in the range 530001 to c530395
28th August 1914 onwards - Numbers from c530470


19th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (St Pancras)

The new six digit number block for this battalion was 610001 to 630000. However, it is incorrect to assume that 610001 was issued to a man who joined the battalion In April 1908. It wasn't. The earliest number that I have in this series is 610009 which was issued to Albert Coles. His original number was 1851 and he joined the 19th London Regiment on 28th January 1914. 610010 was issued to a man who joined the same day, and from here on, the new six digit numbering is sequential - up until late 1916 at least.

But what about those men who had joined the 19th Londons January 1914 and were still serving with the battalion (or not confirmed as dead) in 1917? After a little digging around numbers on the medal index cards it became clear that numbers from later on in the 610001-630000 series were used for those early 1908-1914 recruits.

613356 was issued to George Alfred Earl. His original number was 27 and I presume he joined the regiment on 1st April 1908. Number 66 was issued to Ernest Windust (joined 1st April 1908) and he would later be given the number 613360. Here is the range that I have, for the re-numbered 19th Londons between April 1908 and October 1913.

613356 joined on (approx) 1st April 1908 (originally 27)
613418 joined on 22nd August 1909 (originally 918)
613423 joined on 5th May 1910 (originally 1062)
613433 joined on 9th Feb 1911 (originally 1139)
613473 joined on 1st Jan 1912 (originally 1327)
613638 joined on 8th October 1913 (originally 1742)

I'd be interested to hear from anybody who can confirm at what point in the 613*** range the numbering for 1908 TF volunteers began, and similarly, where it ended; also the date that the 610*** series started. 1st January 1914 would seem to be a logical starting point for the 601*** series - as if logic played a part in 19th London re-numbering.

24th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (The Queen's)

The six digit number range for this battalion was 720001 to 740000 but as with the 19th Londons, 720001 was not issued to the battalion's longest serving terrier.

720092 was issued to Edwin Cecil Cox who had originally joined the battalion on 1st April 1908 and had been given the number 14. Numbers 720001 through to 720089 however, all date to much later in the war and appear to have been issued to men who transferred into the 24th Londons from Essex Regiment TF battalions. As an example of this, 720014 for instance, was issued to a man who had originally attested under the Derby Scheme, was mobilised with the 4th Essex Regiment on 7th April 1916 (number 3931) and then transferred to the 24th Londons on the 25th January 1917 (probably at around the same time that the 24th Londons had just been issued with its new six digit number series).

Again, Id' be interested to hear from anybody who has chapter and verse on the 24th London numbers 720001 to 720089.

Also see my posts on:

9th London Regiment
15th London Regiment
19th London Regiment
24th London Regiment

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

20 October 2009

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

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. 

There are over 32,000 Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry 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 Ox and Bucks Light Infantry 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.

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. 

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.

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 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.

13 October 2009

Royal Munster Fusiliers - 1st & 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 Royal Munster Fusiliers. The period covered is 1881 until 1913 which is where my data - currently - runs out.

The regiment was born on 1st July 1881. The 1st Battalion was previously the 101st Regiment of Foot (Royal Bengal Fusiliers), whilst the 2nd Battalion was previously the 104th Regiment of Foot (Bengal Fusiliers). Both new battalions drew their numbers from the same series which started at 1 on 1st July 1881.

There are over 13,000 Royal Munster 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 Munster Fusiliers 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.

125 joined on 13th December 1881
973 joined on 4th November 1882
1023 joined on 2nd June 1883
1252 joined on 2nd January 1884
1573 joined on 8th June 1885
2025 joined on 26th August 1886
2257 joined on 31st January 1887
2634 joined on 10th September 1888
2814 joined on 10th April 1889
3344 joined on 22nd February 1890
3540 joined on 17th February 1891
3933 joined on 14th January 1892
4378 joined on 17th July 1893
4652 joined on 23rd April 1894
4840 joined on 17th January 1895
5201 joined on 17th February 1896
5434 joined on 22nd February 1897
5576 joined on 13th January 1898
6212 joined on 6th January 1899
6435 joined on 29th January 1900
6738 joined on 6th March 1901
6979 joined on 27th February 1902
7263 joined on 14th January 1903
7569 joined on 15th February 1904
8037 joined on 21st January 1905
8409 joined on 19th July 1906
8509 joined on 20th February 1907
8844 joined on 24th September 1908
8973 joined on 15th March 1909
9303 joined on 31st January 1910
9522 joined on 13th February 1911
9725 joined on 4th January 1912
10045 joined on 2nd June 1913

By the time Britain went to war with Germany in August 1914, the Royal Munster Fusiliers had five battalions: the regular 1st and 2nd Battalions, the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion and the 5th (Extra Reserve Battalion). The 3rd, 4th and 5th Battalions each maintained separate number series.

With the call to arms, the Munsters started forming new battalions. The 6th and 7th were formed in August 1914, followed by the 8th and 9th the following month. Two garrison battalions would also be formed in April and November 1917. All of these new battalions were allocated numbers from a new number series which started from 1 in August 1914. This series appears to have been reserved solely for men joining these battalions for war-time service only.

The number series detailed above, that was originally the preserve of career soldiers joining the 1st and 2nd Battalions, continued to be maintained for men who wished to join up during war-time under regular terms of enlistment. Thus, for example, you have number 10596 being issued to a regular enlistment in March 1915 whilst men joining the New Army battalions at this time were being issued numbers in the 4000s.

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 Bengal European Regiment

This history is dedicated to The Royal Munster Fusiliers whose origins go back to the very early days of the East India Company when each of the three Presidencies (Bengal, Madras and Bombay) had their own armies of Native and European troops. The latter were initially organised in companies and it was as a small guard of honour (an Ensign and thirty men) that the Bengal Regiment began life in 1652. This grew into several companies till 1756 when, under Clive’s orders, they were grouped to form the regiment, then known as “The Bengal European Battalion.” In 1839 a second Bengal European Regiment was formed so we now had the 1st and 2nd Regiments. In 1858 the Presidencies’ European regiments were taken over by the Crown and the two Bengal regiments became the 1st and 2nd Bengal Fusiliers, redesignated in 1861 as the 101st Royal Bengal Fusiliers and the 104th Bengal Fusiliers.

As detailed above, it was in 1881 that they became the 1st and 2nd Battalions The Royal Munster Fusiliers and this book is really an account of the conquest of India by the British. The narrative covers all these events which involved the regiment in frequent fighting. At the beginning of the book is a list of the Regiment’s war services from 1756 to 1858 - no less than 83 wars, battles and engagements, all are described in these pages and at the end of each chapter is a select list of references or bibliography. From time to time lists of officers serving in the regiment are given as are casualties in various actions. There are also interesting details on reorganisation, on pay and conditions of service and on dress and establishments which, altogether, make this a very comprehensive history. CLICK HERE TO ORDER.
History of the Royal Munster Fusiliers from 1861 to 1922
This history relates the story of one of the British Army’s fighting Irish units from the middle of the 19th century to its disbandment on the attainment of Irish independence in 1922. Originating in India as the 101st Regiment of Foot (Royal Bengal Fusiliers) the Munster Fusiliers subsequently served in the Boer War. The bulk of this history, however, covers their distinguished record in the Great War when they were deployed at Gallipoli - being among the units that landed on ‘V Beach’ from the ‘River Clyde’ on April 25th 1915. The Munsters subsequently landed at Suvla Bay in August 1915, and continued to serve in the Dardanelles until the evacuaion in January 1916. After being re-deployed to France in March 1916, the Munsters served at Ginchy on the Somme; at Wytschaete in the battle of Messines in June 1917; at Cambrai in November 1917; and resisted the German offensive in March 1918. They took part inn the final Allied advance to victory from July 1918, serving on the Drocourt-Queant Line; and the Canal du Nord. The Munsters were formally disbanded in July 1922. This is a handsome unit history, with colour illustrations, which will fascinate any student of the Great War - particularly Gallipoli- and anyone interest in the Irish units of the British Army. CLICK HERE TO ORDER.

6 October 2009

Gordon Highlanders - 1st & 2nd Battalions


This post will look at army service numbers issued to men joining the two regular battalions of the Gordon Highlanders. The regiment was formed on 1st July 1881. The 1st Battalion had previously been the 75th (Stirlingshire) Regiment of Foot whilst the 2nd Battalion was formed from the old 92nd Regiment of Foot. This post will look at numbering in these battalions between July 1881 and August 1914.

There are over 30,000 Gordon Highlanders service and pensionrecords (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 Gordon 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.

219 joined on 14th September 1881
351 joined on 25th July 1882
1002 joined on 4th May 1883
1354 joined on 12th March 1884
1748 joined on 13th February 1885
2073 joined on 13th March 1886
2492 joined on 15th March 1887
2904 joined on 5th January 1888
3104 joined on 12th January 1889
3392 joined on 16th April 1890
3614 joined on 2nd January 1891
4237 joined on 9th June 1892
4840 joined on 18th July 1893
5089 joined on 27th June 1894
5315 joined on 29th January 1895
5615 joined on 3rd March 1896
5946 joined on 11th March 1897
6397 joined on 8th February 1898
6685 joined on 6th March 1899
7102 joined on 4th January 1900
7696 joined on 5th March 1901
8671 joined on 27th May 1902
8873 joined on 19th March 1903
9267 joined on 5th January 1904
9656 joined on 3rd January 1905
10053 joined on 18th June 1906
10269 joined on 8th January 1907
10560 joined on 9th January 1908

In 1908 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. As I have mentioned elsewhere, the Seaforth Highlanders and the Argyll & Sutherland 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. In any event, when I get to the bottom of this little conundrum, I'll post again here. In the meantime though:

274 joined on 2nd March 1909
420 joined on 21st February 1910
647 joined on 22nd February 1911
886 joined on 17th January 1912
1181 joined on 26th February 1913
1307 joined on 3rd January 1914

By August 1914, the battalions were numbering in the 1500s and when the new service battalions began forming, men who joined up as war-time only enlistments were given numbers from the same series that had been used by the regulars, albeit these war-time enlistment numbers prefixed (for the most part) with the letter S/.


The romanticised image (above) of the 2nd Gordon Highlanders storming a hill at Elandslaagte during the Boer War is taken from the British Battles website page that deals with that action.

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


From The Naval & Military Press


Life of a Regiment: The History of the Gordon Highlanders from its Formation in 1794 to 1816. Vol 1. Click the link to read more about this work. Volume 2, dealing with the regiment from 1816 to 1898 is HERE.