27 August 2011

The Sherwood Foresters - 1st & 2nd Battalions - 1881-1914

This post will look at numbering in the two regular battalions of The Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) between 1881 and 1914. The regiment was formed on 1st July 1881; the 1st Battalion from the 45th (Nottinghamshire) Regiment of Foot, and the 2nd Battalion from the 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment of Foot. The newly formed regiment was established as the county regiment for Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire and started numbering from 1 in 1881.

I have compiled the information on this post as a result of examining service records in WO 97 (online with Findmypast) and WO 363 and WO 364 (online with Ancestry). Note that Findmypast has also indexed WO 363/4 (and uncovered an additional half a million names).

In fact, there are over 43,000 Sherwood Foresters service and pension 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 Sherwood Foresters 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.

10 joined on 6th July 1881
221 joined on 21st February 1882
451 joined on 2nd January 1883
726 joined on 11th January 1884
1017 joined on 7th January 1885
1363 joined on 11th February 1886
1886 joined on 24th March 1887
2229 joined on 5th January 1888
2494 joined on 15th January 1889
2749 joined on 27th February 1890
3125 joined on 8th April 1891
3469 joined on 10th January 1892
3978 joined on 16th January 1893
4624 joined on 21st March 1894
4993 joined on 15th January 1895
5358 joined on 21st February 1896
5559 joined on 16th February 1897
5784 joined on 7th January 1898
6200 joined on 7th March 1899
6519 joined on 16th February 1900

The Sherwood Foresters raised three volunteer service companies during the South African War and issued numbers as follows:

1st VSC: numbers within the range 7331 to 7553
2nd VSC: numbers within the range 7443 to 7587
3rd VSC: numbers within the range 7592 to 7619

On 23rd February 1900, the 1st VSC embarked aboard the SS Avondale Castle for South Africa. It comprised Captain Turner Lee, Lieutenant Kingdom, Lieutenant R K Ellis, Lieutenant F A C Wright and 113 men.

6808 joined on 16th January 1901

In 1902 the regiment’s name was changed to The Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment). Numbering was unaffected by the title change.

7310 joined on 3rd May 1902
8565 joined on 6th January 1903
9058 joined on 8th January 1904
9770 joined on 17th February 1905
9980 joined on 12th January 1906
10241 joined on 15th January 1907
10730 joined on 7th April 1908
11182 joined on 4th February 1909
11277 joined on 8th January 1910
11567 joined on 6th March 1911
11897 joined on 13th June 1912
11998 joined on 17th January 1913
12197 joined on 21st February 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 8th April 1891, The Sherwood Foresters recruited 3,125 men, an average of 318 men each year. Of the sixty-nine infantry regiments recruiting at this time, The Sherwood Foresters was the fifty-second most successful infantry recruiter.

The pattern improved dramatically over the following decade and up until the 16th January 1901, the regiment added close to 3,700 men to its books, a high average of 378 new recruits a year and a rate which saw the regiment leap up the recruiting table to be the fourteenth most successful infantry recruiter.

The trend continued into the next decade as well and by March 1911 the regiment had issued number 11567 to its latest recruit; an average recruitment rate for the decade of 468 men; the eighth best recruitment rate for an infantry regiment in the British Isles.

Overall, the Sherwood Foresters’s recruitment rate for the period July 1881 to March 1911 was an impressive 388 men per annum; a rate which made it the thirteenth most successful infantry recruiter in the United Kingdom.

1st Battalion stations 1881-1914

1881 Chatham
1882 Athlone
1885 Kilkenny
1888 Limerick
1889 Colchester
1894 Curragh
1898 Malta
1899 South Africa
1902 Hong Kong
1904 Singapore
1906 Bangalore
1909 Secunderabad
1912 Bombay
1914 France & Flanders (from November)

2nd Battalion stations 1881-1914

1881 Aldershot
1882 Gibraltar
1882 Egypt
1882 Lucknow
1888 Sikkim
1888 Lucknow
1892 Umballa
1894 Solon
1897 Sitapore
1897 Tirah
1897 Sitapore
1898 Aden
1899 Malta
1902 Parkhurst
1904 Aldershot
1907 Kinsale
1909 Fermoy
1910 Plymouth
1913 Sheffield
1914 France & Flanders (from September)

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Taiwaneil said...

Hi, I have a query about my great grandfather George Ernest Thompson. He was a private in the 6th Inniskilling dragoons from at least 1897 to 1902. He left the army in 1902. During WW1 he was a soldier again - Private in the 17th S...... ASL, 4SL or ASC 11496 hard to read on his wedding cert. (I guess that is his service number). Would this be a new service or a recycled one from the 6th dragoons? Any idea what his regiment would have been? Thanks neilcthompson at yahoo dot com

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Neil

His medal index card just lists RASC and the number would have been an entirely different number from any number he had with the 6th dragoons. The reference to 17th ??? is probably a company or section within whatever branch of the RASC he was serving with at the time. I have checked various military rolls for the period 1897 tom 1902 but have been unable to find your man listed with the 6th Dragoons.

Taiwaneil said...

Thanks for looking Paul. George E Thompson was definitely in the 6th Inniskillings at the turn of the century. I did once come across some medal rolls for the South Africa Medal from April 1901 for that regiment, there was a G Thompson but I have no idea if it was him. Thanks for confirming about the ASC, he was 49 years old in 1916, so quite old to be in the army. From what I've just read the corps didn't get the 'Royal' prefix until 1918.

GrahamC said...

Is it possible to determine approx. when L/Col Edward Bennett enlisted in the 17th Bn. Sherwood Foresters? His Service Number was 31885

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Graham

Looks like early Nov 1915.


Roger Blinko said...

Hi Paul,
i have J T Blinco Notts and Derbys who I know little about
. Regt numbers are 2108 and 122295 can you date enlistment.?


Paul Nixon said...

Hello Roger

I hope you're well. It's difficult to be conclusive about the first number. Almost certainly a TF number but there are no clues as to which battalion. I did checkl to see if any of the four battalions had arrived overseas on 1st March 1915 (when your man arrived overseas) but they'd all arrived the previous month. This suggests that your chap was sent out as part of a draft. The other number is much later; post June 1918 and possibly even post Nov 1918. I'm surprised tat there is no 6 figure TF number on his card but if 2108 did belong to the regular series it would have dated to back to 1887 (and therefore rules him out) or for the special reserve / militia to 1907.

Steve said...

Hi, I can add one for you:

1447 Frederick Elliott, joined 01-May-1886

He was my great grandfather, and I have his service records.


Steve said...

I can add one:

1447 joined on 1st May 1886

That was my great grandad Frederick Elliott, who enlisted for 12 years, then a further 4 years. I have his service records


Paul Nixon said...

Thanks Steve, and that also demonstrates how slow recruiting could be for some regiments, although the Notts and Derby's had, by then, accelerated their recruiting pace, adding around 500 men between Feb 1886 and March 1887.

Dawn said...

I have a Charles Butler on the 1911 census age 21 with the 1st Sherwood foresters at gough barracks Trimulgherry Deccan India. He was also in france in WW1 can't seem to find anything else about him?

Paul Nixon said...

10443 Corporal Charles William Butler. I don't believe that a service record survives from him.

Dawn said...

How did you find out his army number and rank? and the fact he was known as Charles William too! I am doing this for Charles's grandson. He said he was in WW1 and was in hospital in 1917 in notts where he met his wife Sarah burnikell and they married in Newcastle. at least 2 children were born one Vear 1924 was in Lahore india this man's mother is down as 1921 born Alexandria Egypt.
He spoke to his aunt vera she said her and her sister were born in india, but being the youngest I guess she assumed her sister was born there also!
The thing is I can't find anything about Charles not even a medal card or maybe a war badge record?
My grandfather's records haven't survived either but I have his medal card and silver war badge record. I even have my father's record of his medal when he was in Palestine in 1948.
Any help where to look would be appreciated

Paul Nixon said...

This link will get you to the medal index card: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/medal-index-cards-ww1.htm and it will also be on Ancestry. If you'd like me to research him further I can do so but please note that I make a modest charge for this: http://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.co.uk/p/research.html. As I said earlier, I don't believe a service record survives for this man.

Dawn said...

Hi, I checked that link, but it didn't exist I have checked the medal cards but only found two Charles butler Sherwood foresters and the army number was different plus it had Private. I was given information of "a clasp and roses and 14/11/1914. Do you know what the clasp and roses means? and would you know if all the medal cards be on ancestry? or are they constantly uploading?

Paul Nixon said...

The link does work. Try it again and enter 10443 in the number field and Butler in the last name field. The record is also on Ancestry. The clasp was the clasp worn on the 1914 Star ribbon to signify that Charles was an old contemptible. The rose was worn on the medal ribbon for that medal. Google "1914 clasp and roses" to see images. Also see my post on the 1914 Star: http://britisharmymedals.blogspot.co.uk/2009/06/1914-star-mons-star.html


Kevin Chapman said...

I have a bugle that belonged to N.Ewing inscribed forresters Notts and Derby Somme 1915-16 would like to find his relatives to see if they would like to have the bugle.

Paul Nixon said...

Needle in a haystack I'm afraid. I can't find any man of this name who served overseas with the SF, and no surviving service records for a man of this name either.


Jordan Branson said...

Hi I'm looking for some information on my great great grandfather he served with the sherwood foresters as private 70737 John Branson he was in the 1st Battalion and was killed in October 1916 - if anyone can share any info please do thanks

Paul Nixon said...

Jordan, there will be information that survives for this man in the usual places: CWGC, Soldiers Died in The Great War, medal card, medal rolls, soldiers' effects register etc. If you need help piecing all this together, please contact me via the research tab.


Emma said...

My G-Grandfather Thomas Kirkby served with Sherwood Foresters, not sure what dates, but my Grandad has a 14/18 medal for him for Pte T Kirkby No.11531.

He was wounded in WW1, and sent to a convalescent home in Oswaldtwistle to recover. My G/Dad also recalls him talking about serving in India, do you know if there are any records?

Paul Nixon said...


I don't think a service record survives. There is a medal index card and there will be medal rolls as well:


It would also be possible to work out when he enlisted and transferred etc. Drop me a line via the Research tab if you want to pursue this option.


Unknown said...

Hi. I am trying to trace if my great grandfather was in the Sherwood foresters. His name was James Connaughton he was born in 1878 and died in 1916.
Thank you
Sue Hurst

Lee Hobson said...

Hi Paul,

My great grandad was George Lambert, he enlisted for 1 year from the reservist list I think before the first world war, his number was 7235 and was in Notts and derby.
It says on his papers he had served in the 95th and 2nd notts and Derbyshire, I've tried everything to see his original service records but have got a brick wall, the only thing I can find is a George Lambert that joined in 1894, his number is 4642, the age is spot on and the area is spot on, I was wondering if you could clarify whether this is the same person? Sorry for a long email and thanks for your time,


Paul Nixon said...

Mt apologies for the tardy response, Lee. There are service records for the man/men who has/have these numbers and if you're quick you can view these free of charge on Findmypast. Access the names here through my British Army Ancestors website: https://britisharmyancestors.co.uk/search-result/?q=george+lambert+sher*

Unknown said...

Hi, I am looking for my granddad's service history, all I know if he served with notts and derby (Sherwood foresters) during the 1st world wars
His name was Frederick Richard Osborne
He was injured in battle. Any information you can find would be very much appreciated.

Paul Nixon said...

I can see two men called Frederick Osborne who served with the Sherwood Foresters, but no Frederick Richard Osborne.

Jonathan Straw said...

Looking for any information on my grandfather, one Cpl. Herbert Sydney Straw. Thanking you in advance - Jonathan Straw

Paul Nixon said...

Jonathan, re H S Straw there appears to be a surviving record for this man. Follow this link but note that you'll have to pay Findmypast/TNA if you want to view the actual documents: https://britisharmyancestors.co.uk/search-result/?q=herbert+sydney+straw+sher*

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul
I have a photo of my great grandfather in uniform. I took the photo the the Imperial War Museum in London (I live in Australia so can't go back for more information) and they identified cap badge as a Sherwood Forester. I have searched Ancestry and Find My Past without success. Any idea if any records exist for Sidney Walter ROE born 1891?
Many thanks in advance
Julie in Oz

Jeremy Gray said...

Hi Paul, I was wondering what you could tell me about Pte. 71630 from Sherwood Foresters. His name was Ernest A Hackney. Thanks in advance

Paul Nixon said...

Offhand, I don't know Jeremy. I'd need to research him. Please see the research tab on this blog.

Unknown said...

Im trying to find info on my great grandfather herbert hallam..not herbert palmer hallam. Sherwood forester signed up september 1914 army number 2065?
Can you please pount me in the right direction?

Paul Nixon said...

Re 2065 Hallam, I regret I can find nothing for this man.

Unknown said...

Hello Paul I am trying to find information about my Great grandad who served with the Sherwood forester's in ww1 his service no was 14165 James Holmes honourably discharged 22/9/1915 many thanks Mark Squires

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Mark, I have to repeat the message which is very clearly stated on the comments' page. Thank you for visiting this blog. Please note that if your comment concerns research about a particular individual, you should read the RESEARCH tab at the top of the page.