This post will look at numbering in the two regular battalions of The Connaught Rangers between 1881 and 1914. Service records for all of the sample numbers and dates below survive in the series WO 363 and WO 364 at the National Archives (and also online at Ancestry.co.uk) and WO 97 (on line courtesy of Findmypast).
In fact, there are over 19,000 Connaught Rangers 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 Connaught Rangers 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.
The Connaught Rangers was formed on 1st July 1881; the 1st Battalion from the 88th (Connaught Rangers) Regiment of Foot, and the 2nd Battalion from the 94th Regiment of Foot.
The newly formed regiment was established as the county regiment for Galway, Leitrim, Mayo and Roscommon. It started numbering from 1 in 1881.
8 joined on 13th July 1881
97 joined on 19th January 1882
412 joined on 13th January 1883
713 joined on 10th April 1884
1720 joined on 1st July 1885
2076 joined on 22nd May 1886
2499 joined on 27th January 1887
2792 joined on 4th January 1888
3379 joined on 23rd January 1889
3673 joined on 15th April 1890
3950 joined on 21st March 1891
4071 joined on 17th January 1892
4441 joined on 10th January 1893
4824 joined on 7th February 1894
5251 joined on 28th January 1895
5614 joined on 8th January 1896
6031 joined on 5th April 1897
6346 joined on 9th March 1898
6733 joined on 6th September 1899
6804 joined on 10th January 1900
7092 joined on 3rd April 1901
7362 joined on 13th February 1902
7736 joined on 6th February 1903
8135 joined on 17th February 1904
8450 joined on 4th January 1905
8714 joined on 9th January 1906
9048 joined on 16th January 1907
9420 joined on 1st September 1908
9596 joined on 28th January 1909
10041 joined on 11th October 1910
10125 joined on 6th February 1911
10347 joined on 5th January 1912
10605 joined on 14th January 1913
10860 joined on 3rd February 1914
The First World War
As well as its two regular battalions, The Connaught Rangers had, since 1908, had a Special Reserve Battalion (the 3rd Battalion) and an Extra Reserve Battalion (the 4th Battalion). These two battalions were the natural heirs of the 4th and 5th Militia Battalions, respectively. The 3rd (Militia) Battalion was one of twenty-three infantry militia battalions which had not been converted into a Special Reserve or Extra Reserve battalion when the militia was disbanded in 1908. Two service battalions, the 5th and 6th Battalions, were added during WW1 and each had its own number series prefixed by the battalion number. Men joining the regular battalions during the First World War were issued with numbers in continuation of the series outlined above. The Connaught Rangers, in common with all Irish regiments, had no Territorial Force battalions.
Recruitment rates 1881-1911
Between 1st July 1881 and 21st March 1891, The Connaught Rangers recruited 3,950 men, a high average of 405 soldiers a year and one which placed the regiment in the top ten infantry recruiters for the decade. It was also to be the regiment’s most successful recruiting period.
Recruitment in the 1890s tailed off dramatically, the regiment adding just over 3100 men between March 1891 and April 1901. It would be a similar picture in the next decade too.
On average, The Connaught Rangers had recruited 312 men per annum between March 1891 and April 1901 and this average would fall again to 308 per annum in the period to February 1911. In terms of recruitment, by 1911 The Connaught Rangers ranked fifty-second out of sixty-nine.
In total, between 1st July 1881 and 27th June 1911, The Connaught Rangers recruited 10,125 men.
1st Battalion stations 1881-1914
1899 South Africa
1914 France & Flanders (from October)
2nd Battalion stations 1881-1914
1881 South Africa
1914 France & Flanders (from August)
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