7 March 2011

South Down sample

Of all British regiments, I probably have the most detailed information on The Royal Sussex Regiment and I thought I’d illustrate this post with a small sample of data from my South Down Battalions’ database. A large number of service records survive for men in these battalions and in the attached image these are indicated by the triumphant YES within a yellow highlight. That particular column indicates a surviving record in WO 363. The column immediately to its left is for WO 364. The links will take you to the Ancestry website where these records are available to view.

With this particular number series, my process was first to identify the men by searching the FREE Campaign Medal index on The National Archives website. The results below were returned after I keyed in Suss* as the regiment and 131 as the number. Of the five returned results, only one bears the SD/ prefix and the surname Welchman fits nicely into this particular alphabetical sequence.

Not all numbers carry the SD/ prefix and where this is the case it can be guesswork as to whether a particular soldier is a South Down volunteer or not. Again, the broadly alphabetical ordering of names can help here but in some cases there are no identifiable results and I indicate as much on my own records. Of course, the easiest solution to all of this guesswork would be to consult the medal rolls but at the moment these are not published on-line.

Having built up a list of numbers and men it’s then a case of checking this information against WO 363 and WO 364 on the Ancestry website. As I say, records for this particular section of South Down men are prolific and of the 21 men listed in the sample above, service records survive for 17 of them, all of these in WO 363. Bold indicates that the man was killed in action, died of wounds or died as a result of sickness or accident. This information was compiled as a result of checking through Soldiers Died in The Great War and takes no account of those men who may have transferred out of the Royal Sussex Regiment and subsequently died whilst in the service of another regiment. The sample here shows a number range between SD/111 and SD/147 but the same sad proliferation of bold entries appears throughout this dataset.

Finally, and as mentioned in my post on the 11th Royal Sussex Regiment (1st South Down Battalion) and elsewhere, men joining the original contingents of the South Down battalions were first grouped into broadly alphabetical sections and then numbered and this can be clearly seen from the small sample illustrated on this post.

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