29 March 2011

A 2345 Essex Regiment case study

I've just posted on my Army Ancestry blog about pulling together information from army service numbers. It may not tell regular visitors to this blog, anything they don't already know, but there is a logical process there which may be of interest to beginners frustrated by missing service records.

You can read my 2345 Essex Regiment case study HERE.

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

23 March 2011

Yorkshire Regiment 1881-1914 - 1st & 2nd Battalions



There are nearly 28,000 pre-First World War service and pension records, and over 8,000 Yorkshire Regiment service and pension records covering the First World War which have been digitised and published online.  Clicking on the links above 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.

This post will look at numbering in the two regular battalions of the Yorkshire Regiment (the 1st and 2nd battalions) between 1881 and 1914. Service number information comes primarily from WO 97 and from WO 363 and WO 364. Battalion locations are taken from the now sadly defunct www.regiments.org.

The Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment) was formed from the 19th (The 1st Yorkshire North Riding – Princess of Wales’s Own) Regiment of Foot. The naming for the Princess Alexandra, Princess of Wales, had taken place in October 1875.

The newly formed regiment was established as the county regiment for the Yorkshire North Riding and started numbering from 1 in 1881.

22 joined on 20th July 1881
334 joined on 8th March 1882
776 joined on 5th October 1883
934 joined on 3rd March 1884
1333 joined on 3rd February 1885
1868 joined on 10th January 1886
2194 joined on 1st July 1887
2446 joined on 13th March 1888
2919 joined on 17th August 1889
3158 joined on 31st July 1890
3489 joined on 21st August 1891
3605 joined on 16th April 1892
4157 joined on 1st June 1893
4438 joined on 8th March 1894
4830 joined on 7th January 1895
5214 joined on 10th June 1896
5449 joined on 10th June 1897
5689 joined on 14th February 1898
5978 joined on 3rd January 1899
6260 joined on 17th January 1900

During the South African War, the Yorkshire Regiment raised two volunteer service companies and allocated numbers as follows:

1st VSC: numbers within the range 7235 to 7350
2nd VSC: numbers within the range 7353 to 7384

On 17th February 1900 the 1st VSC departed for South Africa aboard the SS Guelph. It comprised Captain Bell, lieutenant R W T Ewart, Lieutenant F C Houseman and 113 men. The 2nd VSC departed six days later. It departed aboard the SS Avondale Castle on the 23rd February 1900 with Captain T W Simpson, Lieutenant F Head, and 113 men.

6469 joined on 31st January 1901

In 1902 the regiment became Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment). Numbering was unaffected by the name change.

6838 joined on 5th April 1902
7127 joined on 15th January 1903
7778 joined on 4th July 1904
8060 joined on 23rd February 1905
8355 joined on 28th May 1906
8648 joined on 1st January 1907
9242 joined on 5th May 1908
9375 joined on 30th November 1909
9423 joined on 21st March 1910
9701 joined on 30th June 1911
9973 joined on 22nd January 1912
10159 joined on 3rd April 1913
10421 joined on 22nd 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

The years 1881 to 1891 were the most effect recruiting years as far as the regiment was concerned. Between 1st July 1881 and 21st August 1891 The Princess of Wales’s Own recruited 3,489 men, a rate which saw the regiment fall within the top fifty per cent of infantry recruiting regiments for the decade.

Between August 1891 and January 1901 however, the regiment recruited fewer than 3000 men and fell to forty-ninth position in the recruitment league stakes. It was the same story in the early 1900s. The regiment had recruited 316 men per annum in the 1890s and in the 1900s this fell slightly to 314. By September 1911, the regiment was issuing number 9821 to its latest recruit.

1st Battalion stations 1881-1914
1881 Halifax, Nova Scotia
1885 Malta
1885 Sudan
1888 Cyprus
1889 Portsmouth
1892 Jersey
1895 Curragh
1897 Dublin
1898 Gibraltar
1899 South Africa
1902 Sheffield
1904 Aldershot
1908 Egypt
1910 Sudan
1912 Sialkot
1914 Rawalpindi (remained in India throughout WW1)


2nd Battalion stations 1881-1914
1881 Belfast
1882 Curragh
1885 Buttevant
1886 Aldershot
1890 Bangalore
1892 Burma
1897 Rhaniket & Jullunder
1897 Tirah
1898 India
1899 Dagshai
1902 Cawnpore
1904 Bombay
1906 South Africa
1909 York
1911 Blackdown
1913 Guernsey
1914 France & Flanders (from September)

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

Further Reading

A History of the 19th Regiment
Covering the period from formation in 1688 until Khartoum in 1885.

Green Howards in the Great War

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.

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