23 December 2009

South Staffordshire Regiment - 1st & 2nd Battalions


This post will look at numbering in the regular battalions of The South Staffordshire Regiment between 1881 and spring 1914.

The regiment was formed in July 1881; the 1st Battalion from the old 38th (1st Staffordshire) Regiment of Foot, and the 2nd Battalion from the old 80th (Staffordshire Volunteers) Regiment of Foot. Service records for all of the following numbers - a sample from a larger database - 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 39,000 South Staffordshire 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 South Staffordshire 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.

162 joined on 10th December 1881
361 joined on 16th August 1882
487 joined on 15th March 1883
796 joined on 2nd February 1884
1198 joined on 30th January 1885
1639 joined on 3rd January 1886
2269 joined on 29th July 1887
2530 joined on 10th October 1888
2616 joined on 10th February 1889
2761 joined on 14th January 1890
3053 joined on 29th May 1891
3315 joined on 27th February 1892
3679 joined on 14th January 1893
4211 joined on 21st July 1894
4675 joined on 29th May 1895
4862 joined on 8th April 1896
5096 joined on 13th August 1897
5292 joined on 24th February 1898
5589 joined on 19th January 1899
5944 joined on 11th June 1900
6202 joined on 18th June 1901
6333 joined on 10th January 1902
6719 joined on 7th January 1903
7126 joined on 1st May 1904
7261 joined on 9th January 1905
7540 joined on 4th January 1906
7971 joined on 29th April 1907
8249 joined on 17th January 1908
8619 joined on 4th August 1909
8761 joined on 5th January 1910
8968 joined on 6th April 1911
9127 joined on 10th April 1912
9419 joined on 3rd June 1913
9519 joined on 21st April 1914

In August 1914 Britain went to war with Germany, and when the new service battalions of the South Staffordshire Regiment started forming shortly afterwards, men joining these battalions for war-time service only (as well as those men who joined the regular battalions as career soldiers) were given numbers in continuation of the number series, above.

The photo on this post is borrowed from a family history website and shows 9152 Corporal Isaac Leonard Williams of the 2nd Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment. He would be killed in action with his battalion on 29th July 1916.

Len Williams was a 22-year-old sergeant when he died, and he was also the holder of the Military Medal. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission tells us that he was the son of Isaac and Harriet Williams, of High Street, Swindon, Dudley and that he is buried in Gordon Dump Cemetery at Ovillers La Boiselle. Len's number indicates that he joined the South Staffs between April and October 1912. He arrived in France on the 12th August 1914. Len Williams RIP.

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

17 December 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and so on.

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

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

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

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

12 December 2009

The expansion of the British Army in 1914

I've just posted another article on Ezine Articles with the rather wordy title, Regimental numbers and the expansion of British infantry regiments in 1914. CLICK HERE to read it.

Please note, there's a slight typo on the 10th number series which should read "10th series: supernumerary company men attached to the 5th (TF) Battalion."

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

7 December 2009

Wiltshire Regiment - 1st & 2nd Battalions

This post will look at numbering in the regular battalions of The Wiltshire Regiment between 1881 and August 1914.

The regiment was formed in July 1881; the 1st Battalion from the old 62nd (Wiltshire) Regiment of Foot, and the 2nd Battalion from the old 99th (Duke of Edinburgh's) Regiment of Foot.

There are over 20,000 Wiltshire 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 Wiltshire 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.

126 joined on 15th December 1881
139 joined on 12th January 1882
436 joined on 16th June 1883
628 joined on 13th February 1884
1036 joined on 2nd January 1885
1478 joined on 2nd April 1886
1737 joined on 27th January 1887
2222 joined on 25th April 1888
2466 joined on 23rd February 1889
2575 joined on 23rd April 1890
2950 joined on 30th July 1891
3151 joined on 12th January 1892
3384 joined on 17th January 1893
3795 joined on 29th January 1894
4235 joined on 2nd May 1895
4499 joined on 17th August 1896
4677 joined on 14th January 1897
5061 joined on 11th August 1898
5281 joined on 21st February 1899
5522 joined on 5th February 1900
5714 joined on 14th March 1901
5875 joined on 4th February 1902
6183 joined on 12th January 1903
6938 joined on 12th July 1904
7205 joined on 31st January 1905
7582 joined on 27th August 1906
7728 joined on 10th January 1907
8108 joined on 8th March 1908
8290 joined on 29th January 1909
8484 joined on 17th January 1910
8665 joined on 11th March 1911
8816 joined on 2nd February 1912
9011 joined on 1st May 1913
9088 joined on 9th January 1914
9282 joined on 13th August 1914

By the time 9282 Frederick Charles Allford joined the Wiltshire regiment on 13th August 1914, his King and Country had already been at war with Germany for a little over a week. Frederick Allford enlisted for seven years with the Colours and five years on the Reserve, but already there were other men who had signed up for war-time service only who would be given numbers from the same series which, up until August 1914, had been the sole preserve of the 1st and 2nd regular battalions.

From August 1914 until the end of the war, the 1st and 2nd Battalions would share their number series with men joining the 5th, 6th and 7th (Service) Battalions, and the 8th (Reserve) Battalion.

For more information on the Wiltshire Regiment, visit The Wardrobe. I've borrowed the photograph on this post from the excellent, Soldiers of The Queen website. It depicts an unnamed soldier of the 2nd Wiltshire Regiment (and dog) taken at Mandalay in 1894.

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