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
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
1914 France and Flanders (from August)
2nd Battalion stations 1881-1914
1883 Mullingar (India)
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.
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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