28 April 2010

8th (Lanark) Battalion, Highland Light Infantry

The 8th Battalion, Highland Light Infantry, was another of those Territorial Force which did not start numbering from 1 in 1908. Formerly the 9th Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteer Corps, it later became the 4th Volunteer Batttalion, HLI and continued with the 4th VB number series when the 8th HLI was born in April 1908. It was the only HLI Territorial Force battalion to adopt this practice.

5053 Pte James Dudgeon joined the 8th HLI on the 28th April 1908. His number though, dates way back to the 5th February 1902. By March 1908 the 4th VB was numbering at 5683 and I'll pick up the tale at this point.

This post will look at numbering in the 8th HLI between 1908 and December 1914. As usual, all of the information recorded below is taken from surviving service records in the WO 363 and WO 364 series at the National Archives. These records can also be accessed via Ancestry.co.uk.

5683 joined the 4th VB HLI on the 20th March 1908
6060 joined the 8th HLI on 18th June 1908
6147 joined on 19th January 1908
6605 joined on 10th February 1908
6853 joined on 6th February 1911
7083 joined on 14th April 1912
7196 joined on 30th January 1913
7554 joined on 19th February 1914
7628 joined on 6th August 1914
7844 joined on 28th September 1914
7860 joined on 2nd October 1914
7893 joined on 2nd Novembber 1914
8016 joined on 23rd December 1914

When the Territorial Force was re-numbered in 1917, the 8th HLI was allocated numbers within the range 305001 to 330000. 305005, for instance, was issued to William Speirs whose original TF number, recorded on his attestation papers when he joined the TF on 28th April 1908, was 5229. This number, in turn, had originally been issued to William when he joined the Volunteer Force in 1903 or Pre-April 1904.

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7 April 2010

Royal Welsh Fusiliers - 3rd Bn 1908


The creation of the Special Reserve and Extra Reserve in 1908, marked the end of the Militia. As far as the infantry was concerned, of the 124 infantry militia battalions on the establishment, 74 became 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalions and 27 became 4th or 5th (Extra Reserve) Battalions. The remaining 23 militia battalions, 15 in Great Britain and eight in Ireland, were disbanded.

The Royal Welsh Fusiliers was one of those regiments to lose a militia battalion and it is interesting to see how this was dealt with by the RWF in 1908.

Men who had been serving with the 3rd Militia Battalion retained their militia numbers when they joined the newly created 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion. Thus, for example, William Griffiths, who had been given the number 1766 when he joined the 3rd Militia Battalion way back in January 1893, was still 1766 William Griffiths when he joined the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion on 28th June 1908. 2296 Llewellyn Edward, who had joined the militia in 1897, was still 2296 on 28th June 1908, and so on.

But what about those men who had originally joined the 4th Militia Battalion but who still wanted to serve with the new 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion? Both the militia battalions had issued numbers to their recruits from separate number series. To also allow the old 4th Militia men to retain their original numbers would lead to duplication of numbers in the same battalion, and so 4th Militia men were issued with new numbers.

The old 3rd Militia Battalion numbers cease in the 35** range, and then the old 4th Battalion men start appearing. Here is a sample from my data. Numbers in square brackets are the years in which the men originally joined their militia battalions.

3507 William Barker, formerly 3507 3rd Militia Bn [1907]
3559 Richard Hughes, formerly 3428 4th Militia Bn [1905]
3584 John Griffiths, formerly 3327 4th Militia Bn [1904]
3593 Thomas Johnson, formerly 3135 4th Militia Bn [1902]
3599 Owen Edward Williams, formerly 3529 4th Militia Bn [1906]
3603 Ellis Evans, formerly 2336 4th Militia Bn [1895]
3655 Griffith Evans, formerly 3626 4th Militia Bn [1907]

As far as my incomplete data is concerned, the highest number for an old 4th Militia Battalion man joining the 3rd RWF is 3789. He joined the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion in October 1908. The next man on my database is number 3897, a man with no prior militia service who joined the Special Reserve on 2nd December 1908.

To summarise then:

1. Numbers up until 3507 at least, all appear to be ex 3rd Militia Battalion men
2. Numbers from at least 3559 through to 3789 all appear to be ex 4th Militia Battalion men
3. Numbers from at least 3897 all appear to be men with no prior militia service

The "appear to be" 'clause' above, is purely to allow for exceptions - and there often "appear to be" exceptions when it comes to regimental numbering. As usual though, I'll be happy to be corrected on any of the above. All of the data used in this post comes from surviving service records in WO 363 and WO 364 at the National Archives, also on line and accessible via a FREE trial with Ancestry.

The photograph, courtesy of David Langley, shows 3rd Battalion warrant officers and NCOs and dates to the 11th July 1915. Seated, left to right: Colour-Sergeant Jackson, RSM O'Leary, CSM Frederick Barter VC (although wearing the rank of colour sergeant in this photo), Acting Sergeant-Major Schofield, and QMS Holloway. CSM Barter had been awarded his VC for his actions at Festubert in May 1915.

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