31 December 2011

Royal Warwickshire Regiment - Militia and Special Reserve


This post will look at numbering in the regular, militia, special and extra reserve battalions of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and will attempt to explain the vagaries (and applied logic) of regimental numbering.  But first, a snapshot of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in 1897.  The regiment had two regular battalions; men generally enlisting for short service (typically seven years with the colours and five on the reserve) or for long service (twelve years with the colours and no obligation to serve with the reserve).  In 1897 the two regular battalions of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment were disposed as follows:

1st Battalion: Stationed in Egypt
2nd Battalion: Stationed in Chatham, Kent

Both of these battalions drew their regimental numbers from the same number series. A man joining the regiment as a regular soldier in 1897 would typically arrive at the regimental depot, be issued with his number and then undergo ten weeks' training at the depot before joining the 2nd Battalion (or whatever the home battalion happened to be). Typically, after two years' service with the home battalion, he would then be posted to the 1st Battalion (or whatever regular battalion of the regiment was serving overseas). This was a pattern that was repeated throughout the British Infantry of the Line regiments and one which meant that the most experienced soldiers were generally serving in the British Empire's far-flung outposts, whilst the newer, more inexperienced men were learning the ropes with the home service battalion in the UK (which at that time included the whole of Ireland). Battalions were supposed to do an overseas tour of duty for 16 years and then swapped places with the home battalion. 

In 1897, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment also had two militia battalions, the 3rd and 4th Battalions. These two battalions each had their own distinctive regimental number series and both battalions, like the two regular battalions, were administered from the regimental depot at Warwick. The militia was a part-time, home service army which largely drew its recruits from the local area. The regular battalions, whilst territorially organised since 1st April 1873, recruited men locally but also drew men from further afield. See my post on Border Regiment recruitment in 1906 as an example of this.

On the 6th April 1898, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment raised a third, regular battalion in Ireland which was designated the 3rd Battalion. The regimental depot was thus now issuing numbers to men who could be posted to any of the three regular battalions - and be posted between battalions - and still retain their regular number. The creation of a fourth regular battalion (the 4th Battalion, raised at Colchester on the 3rd February 1900) was treated in exactly the same way: one number series for regular soldiers which was shared between the (now) four regular battalions.

The creation of two more regular battalions with numbers already allocated to militia battalions now created a problem which was logically solved. What had been the 3rd and 4th Militia Battalions of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment now became the 5th and 6th Militia Battalions. Although I've not seen any Army Council Instruction dealing with the re-numbering of militia battalions, it would appear that this happened at around the same time as the new 3rd (Regular) Battalion was formed. Alfred Ashfield and Frank Kirk both joined the 4th (Militia) Battalion on the 7th April 1898 (the day after the 3rd Regular battalion was formed) and Richard Ryan joined the 4th Battalion on the 12th April 1898. All of their attestation papers clearly show that they joined the 4th Battalion, rather than the 6th. By the 15th of April 1898 however, John Coney had joined the 6th Battalion, and my research of attestation papers for the Royal Warwickshire Regiment militia battalions for April 1898 onwards would suggest that by the middle of the month, the 3rd and 4th militia battalions had ceased to exist, being replaced by the 5th and 6th Battalions. It's interesting to note however, that old rubber stamps for the 4th Battalion (and probably the 3rd as well) were still being used as late as September 1898, the new number 6 being crudely over-written, as in the example below.


As for the numbering in the militia battalions, this remained unchanged. Men who had joined the 3rd militia battalion and now found themselves with the 5th Battalion, retained their 3rd Battalion numbers. New men joining the 5th Battalion from around mid April 1898 were simply given numbers in continuation of the (old) 3rd Battalion number series. The process worked in exactly the same way for the serving men and new recruits into the 4th/6th militia battalions.

Fast forward nine years.

By April 1907 the two newest regular Royal Warwickshire Regiment battalions - the 3rd and 4th - had both been disbanded and so when the Special Reserve was formed in 1908, the two Royal Warwickshire Regiment SR battalions were designated the 3rd (Special Reserve) and 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalions. Men transferring from the militia battalions into the Special Reserve retained their old militia numbers whilst new recruits into the two Special Reserve battalions were simply given numbers in continuation of what had been the old militia number series. For example, 129 Leon Taylor joined the 6th (Militia) Battalion on the 5th March 1907 and 367 William Dearn (a man with no prior military service) joined the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion on the 10th April 1908.

This concludes my post on militia and SR numbering in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and indeed my posts for 2011. I wish all readers of this blog a happy and successful 2012.

The image I've chosen for this post is an anachronism, depicting a cross belt plate of the 6th Regiment of Foot. It comes from the 1812 History website.

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

27 December 2011

3rd & 4th Scottish General Hospitals


Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow was opened in 1904. In 1914 it was requisitioned by the Royal Army Medical Corps and operated as the 3rd and 4th Scottish Hospitals.

My data on personnel working for these two hospitals is very thin indeed but it looks as though men joining the 3rd Scottish General Hospital commenced a new number series in early 1913, these numbers later suffixed with the letter A. So for instance, 91A George Pirie joined the 3rd Scottish General Hospital on the 14th November 1914, 92A John Gracie on the 21st, 96A Archibald McDonald on the 2nd December 1914 and so on.

Men joining the 4th Scottish General Hospital were given numbers from a different series and again, it looks as though a new number series was also begun for these men in early 1913. These numbers had no suffix and it seems logical to suggest that this was deliberate and a way of differentiating 3rd SGH men from 4th SGH men.

See also, 1st Scottish General Hospital, and 2nd Scottish General Hospital.

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

20 December 2011

2nd Scottish General Hospital


The 2nd Scottish General Hospital was, during the war years at least, situated at Craigleith, Edinburgh and a new numbering series appears to have been instituted in August 1914. This from my number series for the 2nd Scottish General Hospital.

My data for Royal Army Medical Corps personnel serving at the hospital is thin and I would welcome additional details to help fill some of the gaps.

555 joined on 18th November 1908
1311 joined on 23rd January 1911
1504 joined on 22nd March 1912

New series of numbers commenced at some point; possibly on the outbreak of war.

19 joined on 9th August 1914
59 joined on 3rd September 1914
88 joined on 10th October 1914
95 joined on 2nd November 1914
116 joined on 27th January 1915
130 joined on 24th May 1915
136 joined on 8th July 1915

See also, 1st Scottish General Hospital and 3rd & 4th Scottish General Hospitals.

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

19 December 2011

1st Scottish General Hospital


The 1st Scottish General Hospital was situated at Aberdeen and during WW1 had capacity for 62 officer beds and 1297 Other Rank beds.

My data for Royal Army Medical Corps personnel serving at the hospital is thin and I would welcome additional details to help fill some of the gaps.

844 joined on 8th June 1909
1267 joined on 26th March 1912
1368 joined on 23rd April 1913
1469 joined on 13th January 1914
1471 joined on 8th February 1915
1476 joined on 11th March 1915
1487 joined on 15th April 1915
1495 joined on 12th May 1915
1572 joined on 7th June 1915
1611 joined on 7th July 1915
1613 joined on 9th August 1915
1666 joined on 16th October 1915
1687 joined on 11th December 1915

See also, 2nd Scottish General Hospital, 3rd & 4th Scottish General Hospitals.

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

9 December 2011

Highland Light Infantry - Regular enlistments 1914


I've just been browsing back issues of the Highland Light Infantry Chronicle for 1914.  Volume XIV, No 4 published in October 1914 (priced fourpence) gives the following list of "recruits joined since last issue and during mobilisation".  All of these men are regular recruits, the gaps in between their numbers being filled - so I believe - by men joining up for wartime service only.  I have identified some of these men as having surviving service records in WO 364 and have therefore been able to put dates next to their numbers.

12325 Pte E Semple
12326 Pte J Baker
12327 Pte S Haughey joined 6th July 1914
12329 Pte P Leith
12331 Pte E King
12332 Pte J Hall
12333 Pte G Taylor
12334 Pte John Livingstone joined 29th July 1914
12335 Pte H Whitehurst
12336 Pte R McCallum
12337 Pte T Lenaghan
12338 Pte J Goodlad
12339 Pte J McCabe
12340 Pte E Conway
12343 Pte G Braid
12344 Pte W Barrett
12345 Pte G McLeod
12346 Pte E McKay
12347 Pte R Brough
12348 Pte A Brown
12349 Pte W Miller
12350 Pte G Haynes
12351 Pte J Johnston
12352 Pte D Craig
12353 Pte J Milligan
12354 Pte W Dick
12355 Pte G Kidd
12356 Pte S Proctor
12357 Pte J Todd
12358 Pte H Forbes
12359 Pte W Anderson
12360 Pte A Osbourne
12361 Pte H Lennon
12362 Pte J McDonald
12363 Pte R Russell
12364 Pte J Summerville
12365 Pte E Connall
12366 Pte G Quigley
12367 Pte S Rankin
12368 Pte P Milligan
12369 Pte James McNaughton joined 10th August 1914
12370 Pte C Sneddon
12371 Pte J Barbour
12372 Pte P Callaghan
12373 Pte J McAulay
12374 Pte J Ross
12375 Pte G Dunn
12376 Pte W Wilson
12377 Pte P Montgomery
12378 Pte W Stevenson
12379 Pte G Monaghan
12380 Pte J Barrie
12381 Pte J Hartvig
12382 Pte L Waterston
12383 Pte J Schuman
12384 Pte A Reid
12385 Pte H McSherry
12386 Pte T McCurdy
12387 Pte E Benson
12388 Pte P Shearer
12389 Pte P Carroll
12390 Pte W Kennedy
12391 Pte D McKeegan
12392 Pte A McDonald
12393 Pte J Beverley
12394 Pte W Roy
12395 Pte T White
12396 Pte James Marshall Rankin joined 15th August 1914
12397 Pte A Watt
12398 Pte D Simpson
12399 Pte A Fleming

[Note gap between 12399 and 12901]

12901 Pte W Green
12902 Pte E Bray
12903 Pte J Scott
12904 Pte J Lugton
12905 Pte G Carter
12906 Pte Francis Gillespie joined 25th August 1914
12907 Pte W Martin
12908 Pte H Forrester
12909 Pte J Hoggan
12910 Pte H Hynman
12911 Pte S Ryder
12912 Pte E Simons
12913 Pte A Paterson
12914 Pte James Mooney joined 10th August 1914
12915 Pte R Nairn
12916 Pte W Clark
12917 Pte W Robb
12918 Pte J Watters
12919 Pte N Haggerty

[Note gap between 12919 and 16370]

16370 Pte J Ferrell
16371 Pte D McIntyre
16372 Pte P Carroll
16373 Boy H G Robinson (injured by a runaway horse and lorry on December 15th 1914)
16374 Pte J Anderson
16375 Boy W Venables
16376 Boy S Kirkland
16377 Pte T McCabe

The next volume, XV, No 1, dated January 1915, continues where the previous volume left off:

16378 Boy F H Green

16379 Boy William Button joined aged 14 years and 351 days on 26th October 1914.  Later transfered to Army Cyclist Corps and discharged from ACC on 22nd November 1918.

16380 Boy G H King

1720 Boy Joseph James Burgess joined as a 14 year old on 4th December 1914.  Discharged medically unfit on the 2nd February 1915.  I have no idea why this boy was given this number.

18279 Boy E White
18280 Boy W Short

18364 Boy George Copeland joined 20th January 1915 aged 15 years and 10 months.  Discharged medically unfit on the 13th November 1915 (but not before he'd appeared before a District Court Martial in January in September 1915 and been sentenced to 56 days detention for "when on active service stealing goods, the property of a comrade...").

18502 Pte Patrick King joined on 29th January 1915, General Service for duration of war.
18526 Pte G Davison
18527 Pte R Corinns
18528 Pte E Gittings

Note that with two exceptions, numbers 16373 to 16380 are all Boy enlistments, then there's an odd number - 1720 - and then another large gap until we get to 18279 and 18280 (two more Boys). 18502, Patrick King is a war-time service only enlistment, I'm not sure about Privates Davison, Corinns and Gittings.

The portrait is of Captain Robert Guy Ingledon Chichester, 2nd Battalion, Highland Light Infantry and a veteran of operations in India (1897-1898) and the Boer War, who was killed in action on the 13th November 1914.  He wears the India Medal and the Queen's South Africa Medal.

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

24 November 2011

1st (Royal) Dragoons 1880-1906


This post will look at numbering in the 1st (Royal) Dragoons. The information on this post has been compiled as a result of examining service records in WO 97, WO 363 and WO 364.  All of these series are now online via subscription or pay per view.

2035 William Henry Jeffrey joined on 23rd April 1880
2076 Patrick McCarthy joined on 13th January 1881
2120 Edwin Alfred Harris joined on 19th November 1882
2135 Francis Oxley joined on 6th January 1883
2394 Francis William Henry Potter joined on 29th March 1884
2560 James Miller joined on 16th Janaury 1885
2720 Robert Nicholson joined on 1st April 1886
2832 John Milligan joined on 1st January 1887
2947 John Spencer joined on 16th April 1888
3163 Thomas Singleton joined on 13th May 1889
3215 Spencer George Gill joined on 3rd January 1890
3374 Charles Smith Bond joined on 2nd July 1891
3472 Robert Hide joined on 18th March 1892
3595 Joseph Murphy joined on 4th April 1893
3721 Henry Edward John Edgington joined on 18th January 1894
3849 Henry Clue joined on 29th January 1895
3967 Tom May joined on 27th February 1896
4048 John Edwin Barker joined on 23rd January 1897
4280 Harry Hart joined on 20th June 1898
4390 Alfred Bearman joined on 27th January 1899
4664 Walter Bush joined on 5th March 1900
5171 George Alfred Gatland joined on 24th July 1901
5573 Thomas Ernest Bishop joined on 29th March 1902
5705 Frank Bonnet joined on 31st October 1903
5714 Paul Ensell joined on 1st May 1904
5826 William Niven joined on 7th September 1905
5879 John Burns joined on 5th September 1906

Army Order 289 of December 1906 changed the numbering as far as cavalry of the line was concerned.

Prior to this Army Order, all cavalry regiments had numbered individually by regiments. Now, line cavalry and household cavalry were differentiated, and each corps of line cavalry was to use a separate number series extending to 49,999.  So beware, a line cavalryman with the 1st (Royal) Dragoons number 2035 could be William Jeffrey (above) who joined in 1880 or it could be a man from any one of the Corps of Dragoons regiments who joined up in May 1908.

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

10 November 2011

Silver War Badge roll on Ancestry


This post really belongs over on my Army Ancestry blog, but as I've already posted there today about the Imperial War Museum's marvelous new Faces of the First World War project on flickr, I'll write about the SWB rolls here.

Pictured above is an extract from the Silver War Badge Roll for the East Surrey Regiment, and an old favourite of mine, Charles Sabourin.  Charles lost his right leg at Mons on the 23rd August 1914 and, taken prisoner by the Germans, was repatriated to England in early 1915, then spending several months convalescing at Chailey in Sussex.  You can read more about Charles Sabourin - and see a photo of him - on my Chailey 1914-1918 blog.

The Silver War Badge roll is probably the most comprehensive of all the WW1 medal rolls and now you can search them on Ancestry - but only if you have a premium membership.

Typical information you'll get from these rolls will be the man's name, number, regiment, battalion, date of enlistment, date of discharge, cause of discharge and sometimes, the man's age or his date of birth.  The badge number is always given and the rolls tend to be organised in badge number order. The East Surrey roll above does not give the battalion or the man's age. However, the London Regiment extract below, gives both.


With a bit of care, it is also possible to use the information on the SWB rolls to determine enlistment dates for a soldier you are researching.  Care should be taken however, because although the man's date of enlistment may be given, the regiment he was discharged from may not necessarily be the regiment he originally joined.

However, looking at the East Surrey Roll we see the following numbers and enlistment dates:

8505 on 1st February 1905
7487 on 15th September 1902
9733 on 6th November 1908
10864 on 29th April 1914
10536 on 1st October 1912
6738 [Charles Sabourin] on 31st October 1900
8860 on 7th August 1906...

As it happens, all of these numbers are spot on for The East Surrey Regiment for the dates given, the majority of these men presumably having gone out with the BEF in August 1914 and, like Charles Sabourin, being wounded - or falling sick - shortly afterwards.

So all in all another great resource from Ancestry but it's a pity that more and more of the military stuff on their site seems to be falling into the premium rate category.  I'm lucky that I can afford to subscribe at that level and I personally still think that it's a bargain, but then again I'm a heavy Ancestry user and now that these SWB rolls have appeared, I shall be an even heavier one.

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

26 October 2011

South Wales Borderers 1881-1914 - 1st and 2nd Battalions


The information contained this post has been compiled as a result of looking at service records in WO 97, WO 363 and WO 364. All of these series, joy of joys, are now online via subscription or pay per view. Clicking on the links will take you to these pay-sites. My online correspondent, Greenwich Pensioner (GP), has also contributed data for 1907-1908 and I am grateful to him for his research.

There are over 28,000 South Wales Borderers pensionand 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 Wales Borderers' 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 South Wales Borderers was formed on the 1st July 1881 from the 24th (the 2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot.

The newly formed regiment was established as the county regiment for Brecknockshire, Cardiganshire, Monmouthshire, Montgomeryshire and Radnor and started numbering from 1 in 1881.

12 joined on 12th August 1881
263 joined on 29th June 1882
732 joined on 26th June 1883
985 joined on 8th January 1884
1433 joined on 7th April 1885
1725 joined on 21st January 1886
2169 joined on 5th April 1887
2355 joined on 16th February 1888
2621 joined on 26th April 1889
3237 joined on 28th April 1890
3598 joined on 13th January 1891
3910 joined on 22nd January 1892
4150 joined on 13th March 1893
4520 joined on 10th January 1894
4851 joined on 10th January 1895
5188 joined on 25th January 1896
5551 joined on 12th January 1897
5894 joined on 18th March 1898
6076 joined on 13th January 1899
6623 joined on 9th March 1900


The South Wales Borderers raised two complete volunteer service companies during the South African War and one volunteer service section comprising one officer and 31 men. Numbers were allocated as follows:

1st VSC: numbers within the ranges 6720 to 6738 and 7502 to 7612
2nd VSC: numbers within the range 7613 to 7727
3rd VSC: numbers 7731 to 7761

The 1st VSC departed home locations on 29th January 1900 and by May that year had joined the 2nd Battalion at Osfontein in South Africa. The 2nd VSC was mobilized at Brecon on the 15th February and arrived at Cape Town on the 16th April 1901.

6977 joined on 1st April 1901
7257 joined on 16th April 1902
7868 joined on 8th January 1903
8341 joined on 28th January 1904
8841 joined on 31st July 1905
9246 joined on the 3rd July 1906

1907-1908

By 1905, the 1st Battalion South Wales Borderers was in Karachi and a number of drafts from the UK were sent to Karachi during the time frame 1907-8 (about 450 men in all). When it was time for the 1st to come back to the UK, and for the 2nd Battalion to deploy overseas to South Africa (Pretoria), around 250 men were transferred to the 2nd so that the new overseas battalion was well up to strength.

The majority of the following numbers and names from 1907 and 1908 are reproduced here thanks to research undertaken by GP.

9495 Thomas Thomas joined on 8th January 1907
9510 joined on 29th January 1907
9579 Alfred Walker joined on 11th July 1907
9605 Ernest Charles Andrew joined on 24th August 1907
9607 Morgan Hopkins joined on 21st August 1907
9610 Harry Jenkins joined on 26th August 1907
9613 Albert William Powell joined on 22nd August 1907
9614 John Carlton joined on 29th August 1907
9616 Noah Francis joined on 30th August 1907
9617 William Gabb joined on 29th August 1907
9621 William Gough joined on 4th September 1907
9624 Walter Nash joined on 2nd September 1907
9630 Bedwin Robert Watson joined on 3rd September 1907
9637 David Williams joined on 3rd September 1907
9641 Arthur Ernest Peacock joined on 5th September 1907
9642 William Storer joined on 5th September 1907
9643 Joseph Humphries joined on 6th September 1907
9644 Osborn James Hales joined on 4th September 1907
9645 Will F Manning joined on 4th September 1907
9648 Alfred Smith joined on 5th September 1907
9656 James Camplin joined on 7th September 1907
9664 William Pope joined on 9th September 1907
9669 Eugene McCarthy joined on 11th September 1907
9679 Alfred E Box joined on 11th September 1907
9680 Henry George Spencer joined on 12th September 1907
9683 Sidney Ernest Collins joined on 12th September 1907
9686 William Joseph Powell joined on 12th September 1907
9690 George Warner joined on 16th September 1907
9696 William Suggett joined on 16th September 1907
9700 Isaac Rees Evans joined on 18th September 1907
9704 Peter Blake joined on 19th September 1907
9715 Evan John Davies joined on 23rd September 1907
9720 Eric Leslie Bowyer joined on 23rd September 1907
9726 Edgar William Wall joined on 23rd September 1907
9729 Nathan John Goat joined on 24th September 1907
9739 Alfred Ernest Mayhew joined on 12th October 1907
9745 Alfred Gibbons joined on 19th October 1907
9746 Thomas Davies joined on 21st October 1907
9750 John Hudson joined on 22nd October 1907
9752 Francis John Court joined on 24th October 1907
9758 Joseph Jennings joined on 5th November 1907
9769 Thomas Jones joined on 22nd November 1907
9785 John Dillon joined on 30th December 1907
9790 Robert Carver joined on 4th January 1908
9791 William Ludwick joined on 4th January 1908
9805 Ernest Cruise joined on 17th January 1908
9818 Fred Round joined on 16th January 1908
9861 Ernest Reuben Loveridge joined on 29th April 1908
9908 Gerbert Cockeran joined on 20th July 1908

10238 joined on 15th January 1909
10492 joined on the 12th August 1910
10648 joined on the 6th July 1911
10818 joined on 28th May 1912
11041 joined on 5th May 1913
11115 joined on 5th February 1914

The First World War

When Britain went to war in August 1914 an attempt appears to have been made to differentiate between those men who were enlisting for war-time service only and those men who were enlisting during war-time, but under regular terms of enlistment.

By August 1914, The South Wales Borderers had three separate number series running: one for the two regular battalions, one for the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, and one for the Territorial Brecknockshire Battalion. Quite a simple differentiation on the face of it, but the South Wales Borderers numbering is far from straightforward from August 1914 onwards.

Numbers prefixed with the number 3/ start appearing on attestation papers of men who were joining up for a career in the army. The 3/ appears to be a red herring, a way of differentiating perhaps, between war-time only enlistments and regular enlistments. However, the same prefix also appears – as it might be expected to do - on some 3rd Battalion numbers. Thus, for example 3/11283 joined up for seven years with the colours and three years on the reserve on the 2nd September 1914. However, the same number had already been issued to a man joining the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion in March 1913.

At the same time, some men who were joining up for war-time service only were issued with numbers from the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, even though their papers are clearly not those of Special Reservists but rather men signing up for active service for three years or duration.

In summary, and ignoring the 3/ prefix, it looks as though numbers up until around 12300 were held back for men who wanted to join the SWB as career soldiers whilst numbers higher than this were issued to war-time only recruits.

Recruitment rates 1881-1911

Between 1st July 1881 and 25th February 1891, The South Wales Borderers recruited 3,598 men, a good average of 375 men each year. Of the sixty-nine infantry regiments recruiting at this time, The South Wales Borderers was the seventeenth most successful infantry recruiter.

Recruitment in the 1890s dipped for the regiment and by April 1901 it was issuing number 6977 to its latest career soldier, an average recruitment rate of 330 men per annum and put the regiment in thirty-eighth place out of the sixty-nine infantry regiments recruiting at the time.

Recruitment in the regiment picked up in the first decade of the twentieth century and by July 1911 the regiment had issued number 10648 to its latest recruit; an above-average recruitment rate for the 1900s of 358 men.

1st Battalion stations 1881-1914

1881 Colchester
1883 Kilkenny
1885 Curragh
1887 Dublin
1889 Aldershot
1893 Egypt
1895 Gibraltar
1897 Chakratta
1903 Dalhousie
1905 Karachi
1909 Quetta
1910 Chatham
1913 Bordon
1914 France and Flanders (from August)

2nd Battalion stations 1881-1914

1881 Sheffield
1883 Mullingar (India)
1888 Cork
1891 Devonport
1892 Secunderabad
1897 Bellary
1899 Ahmednagar
1901 Subathu
1904 Quetta
1906 South Africa
1908 (Sep) - 1910 (Jan) Pembroke Dock
1910 (Jan) - 1912 (Oct) Pretoria
1912 (Oct) - 1914 (Sept) Tientsin, China

1914 Tsingtao / Hong Kong
1915 (Jan) UK

The photo on this blog is an anachronism and shows men of the 24th Regiment of Foot in 1879.  Image taken from Historik Orders.

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

Further reading:

The South Wales Borderers, 24th Foot 1689-1937

Historical records of the 24th Regiment (South Wales Borderers)

History of the South Wales Borderers 1914-1918

17 October 2011

Dorsetshire Regiment 1881-1914 - 1st and 2nd Battalions


The Dorsetshire Regiment was formed on 1st July 1881; the 1st Battalion from the 39th (Dorsetshire) Regiment of Foot, and the 2nd Battalion from the 54th (West Norfolk) Regiment of Foot.

There are over 28,000 Dorsetshire 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 Dorsetshire 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 newly formed regiment was established as the county regiment for Dorsetshire and started numbering from 1 in 1881.

6 joined on 5th July 1881
262 joined on 6th February 1882
465 joined on 2nd March 1883
1089 joined on 13th June 1884
1555 joined on 11th April 1885
2306 joined on 28th December 1886
2320 joined on 10th January 1887
2681 joined on 1st June 1888
2792 joined on 7th January 1889
2998 joined on 13th January 1890
3162 joined on 6th January 1891
3446 joined on 13th June 1892
3693 joined on 22nd March 1893
4310 joined on 5th March 1894
4607 joined on 7th January 1895
4805 joined on 16th January 1896
5350 joined on 26th March 1897
5645 joined on 18th January 1898
5872 joined on 5th April 1899
6114 joined on 27th February 1900

The Dorsetshire Regiment fielded one volunteer service company during the South African War. It did not leave “… an interval of a clear thousand between the last number received by an ordinary recruit… and the first Volunteer number” but carried straight on from where regular numbering left off. Numbers 6020 to 6101 were all 1st VSC men who joined in January 1900, so too were the drafts numbered 7108 to 7126 who joined in 1901.  The 1st VSC sailed for South Africa aboard the SS Devon on 29th March 1900.

6367 joined on 9th September 1901
6422 joined on 17th January 1902
6674 joined on 4th March 1903
7142 joined on 11th February 1904
7533 joined on 25th January 1905
7990 joined on 18th July 1906
8280 joined on 30th January 1907
8440 joined on 3rd January 1908
8657 joined on 2nd January 1909
8915 joined on 5th April 1910
9094 joined on 27th February 1911
9318 joined on 17th January 1912
9500 joined on 6th January 1913
9784 joined on 9th June 1914
9828 joined on 5th August 1914

The First World War

When Britain went to war in August 1914, men joining the new service battalions were issued with numbers from the same series in use by the two regular battalions.

Recruitment rates 1881-1911

Between 1st July 1881 and 21st March 1891, The Dorsetshire Regiment recruited 3,162 men, a below average rate of 330 soldiers a year and one which placed the regiment in the fortieth position out of sixty-nine infantry recruiting regiments. Nevertheless, it was to be the regiment’s most successful recruiting period.

Recruitment in the 1890s tailed off considerably, the regiment adding just over 3,205 men between January 1891 and September 1901; or a rate of 300 men per annum for the decade. It would be a similar picture in the next decade too.

Between September 1901 and February 1911, the regiment added a further 2,727 men to its ranks, an average of 290 men per year for the decade. From being 38th in the 1880s, the regiment fell to sixty-first position in the 1890s, climbing one position to sixtieth in the first ten years of the 1900s.

In total, between 1st July 1881 and 27th February 1911, The Dorsetshire Regiment recruited 9,094 men, well below the national average (355) at just 307 men a year.

1st Battalion stations 1881-1914

1881 Bengal
1882 Chatham
1885 Malta
1886 England
1888 Malta
1889 Egypt
1893 Meean Meer
1895 Bangalore
1897 Tirah
1898 Nowshera
1902 Feroxepore
1906 Gosport
1909 Farnborough
1911 Blackdown
1913 Belfast
1914 France and Flanders (from August)

2nd Battalion stations 1881-1914

1881 Cherat
1885 Aden
1887 Malta
1888 Portsmouth
1891 Plymouth
1893 Enniskillen
1898 Crete
1899 Malta
1899 South Africa
1902 Portland
1904 Colchester
1906 Madras
1910 Poona
1914 Mesopotamia (from November)

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5 October 2011

George Henry Johnson

I've received an enquiry asking for any information about George Henry Johnson of The Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghmashire and Derbyshire Regiment) who died in Flanders in 1917.

Soldiers Died in The Great War notes two men of this name who died whilst serving with this regiment, one in 1916 and one in 1917. The man who died in 1917 was killed in action on the 28th November 1917. He was born in Farndon, Nottinghamshire and enlisted at Newark. At the time of his death he was serving with the 1/6th Battalion, a Territorial Force Battalion and had the number 242600. He was entitled to the British War and Victory medals.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes that he was the husband of H Johnson of 20 George Street, Newark, Notts. He is buried in Philosophe British Cemetery in Mazingarbe; grave reference III.A.40 (see map above).

George's number is a mystery to me. I had suggested that his original number -20007 - noted on his medal index card, suggested enlistment into a service battalion in 1914. However, Stuart, in a comment on this post (below) has put me right. He writes:

"This particular number, 20007, is not an original enlistment number, which explains your difficulty in pinning it down. The N&D territorials used the 20*** series of numbers for inter-TF battalion transfers during 1915 and 1916. In this particular case, with the man residing and enlisting in Newark, he would almost certainly have enlisted originally with the 8th Bn (original TF number unknown) and at a later date was posted to the 6th Bn, with subsequent change of number. Unfortunately, the Notts and Derby Regt usually work in alphabetical order (rather than original TF number order), so it is very difficult to work out the original numbers."

Stuart, thank you very much for that.

George's six-digit number certainly belongs within the range of numbers allocated to the 6th Battalion when the Territorial Force was re-numbered in 1917. The fact that he was only entitled to the British War and Victory medals means that he certainly didn't arrive overseas until 1st January 1916 or later. No service record appears to survive for this man.

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