30 May 2011

Royal Welsh Fusiliers 1881-1914 - 1st & 2nd Bns


This post will look at numbering in the two regular battalions of The Royal Welsh Fusiliers. 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 (also on line courtesy of Find My Past).


There are over 49,000 Royal Welsh Fusiliers service andpension 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 Royal Welsh Fusiliers 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 Royal Welsh Fusiliers was formed on the 1st July 1881 from the 23rd Regiment of Foot (Royal Welsh Fuzileers). and was established as the county regiment for Anglesey, Caernarvonshire, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Merionethshire. It started numbering from 1 in July 1881.

25 joined on 16th November 1881
73 joined on 15th January 1882
486 joined on 29th May 1883
644 joined on 8th January 1884
907 joined on 7th January 1885
1310 joined on 16th January 1886
1896 joined on 8th April 1887
2153 joined on 11th May 1888
2326 joined on 16th January 1889
2681 joined on 5th March 1890
3181 joined on 9th May 1891
3511 joined on 26th March 1892
3913 joined on 18th March 1893
4309 joined on 5th June 1894
4568 joined on 7th January 1895
4896 joined on 20th January 1896
5287 joined on 7th May 1897
5548 joined on 27th January 1898
5980 joined on 21st March 1899
6281 joined on 5th January 1900

During the South African War, the Royal Welsh Fusiliers raised three volunteer service companies and allocated numbers to the men joining these as follows:

1st VSC: numbers within the range 7301 to 7517
2nd VSC: numbers within the range 7343 to 7593
3rd VSC: numbers 8000 to 8039

6669 joined on 24th July 1901
7039 joined on 10th January 1902
7753 joined on 4th May 1903
8061 joined on 18th May 1904
8636 joined on 31st January 1905
9016 joined on 16th January 1906
9353 joined on 7th February 1907
9725 joined on 1st January 1908
10255 joined on 25th August 1909
10307 joined on 8th January 1910
10543 joined on 4th January 1911
10959 joined on 19th February 1912
11063 joined on 29th December 1913
11415 joined on 17th April 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 9th May 1891, The Royal Welsh Fusiliers recruited 3,181 men, an average of 321 men each year. Of the sixty-nine infantry regiments recruiting at this time, The Royal Welsh Fusiliers Regiment was the forty-seventh most successful infantry recruiter.


The pattern improved the following decade and up until the 24th July 1901, the regiment added close to 3,500 men to its books, an average of 343 men a year and a change in fortunes which saw the regiment finishing the decade as the twenty-seventh most successful infantry recruiter during this period.

Recruiting in the regiment improved still further in the 1900s and by 4th January 1911, the regiment issued number 10543 to its latest recruit. On average, since the regiment was formed in July 1881 it could boast an annual recruitment rate of 357 men.

1st Battalion stations 1881-1915
1881 Dum-Dum (India)

1885 Burma
1887 Lucknow
1891 Hazara expedition
1892 Bengal
1894 Nowshera
1896 Aden
1897 Devonport
1899 South Africa
1903 Lichfield
1905 Aldershot
1907 Cork
1910 Dublin
1912 Portland
1914 Malta
1914 France & Flanders (from September)

2nd Battalion stations 1881-1914
1881 Plymouth

1883 Templemore
1885 Fermoy
1887 Galway
1889 Curragh
1891 North Wales
1892 Aldershot
1896 Malta
1898 Crete
1899 Hong Kong
1900 Tientsin and Beijing
1900 Hong Kong
1902 Chakratta
1907 Schwebo
1911 Quetta
1914 France & Flanders (from August)

See also:

3rd (Special Reserve Battalion) Royal Welsh Fusiliers
7th (Merioneth and Montgomery) Battalion (TF) Royal Welsh Fusiliers

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

Frank Richards DCM, MM

Old Soldier Sahib - Frank Richards DCM, MM

Old Soldiers Never Die - Frank Richards DCM, MM

Nothing of Importance - 1st RWF October 1915 to June 1916

Frank Richards DCM MM

Essential reading for anybody with an interest in life in the British Army in the early years of the twentieth century. Frank Richards joined the 2nd Bn, RWF in 1901 serving in India and Burma during the first period of his "seven and five" and later, recalled to the regiment as a reservist on the outbreak of war in 1914, serving on the Western Front until 1918. I have read and re-read both of Richards memoirs many times and the two editions above, both from Naval & Military Press, are as good a place as any to start. My personal favourite is the less well known, Old Soldier Sahib.

29 May 2011

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


This post will look at regimental numbering in the Cheshire Regiment which was formed on 1st July 1881 from the 22nd (the Cheshire) Regiment of Foot.

There are over 63,000 Cheshire Regiment service andpension 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 Cheshire Regiment 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. George Henry Byrom (pictured above) was a Cheshire Regiment Special Reservist captured in 1914. You can read more about him by clicking on his name.

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

24 joined on 31st October 1881
73 joined on 20th January 1882
396 joined on 17th January 1883
984 joined on 11th January 1884
1391 joined on 5th January 1885
2165 joined on 1st February 1886
2498 joined on 12th January 1887
2617 joined on 26th November 1888
2675 joined on 1st July 1889
2868 joined on 15th January 1890
3277 joined on 7th March 1891
3562 joined on 6th January 1892
4224 joined on 7th April 1893
4629 joined on 13th February 1894
5041 joined on 9th April 1895
5204 joined on 8th February 1896
5394 joined on 15th February 1897
5669 joined on 22nd February 1898
6158 joined on 20th February 1899
6443 joined on 1st November 1900

During the South African War, The Cheshire Regiment raised three volunteer service companies. Men joining these companies were issued with numbers in the following ranges:

1st VSC: numbers within the range 7330 to 7526
2nd VSC: numbers within the range 7447 to 7578
3rd VSC: numbers within the range 7765 to 7780

On 17th February 1900, the 1st VSC comprising three officers – Captain S Thornley, Lieutenant J Bates and Lieutenant J S Craig – and 113 men, embarked for South Africa aboard SS Gascon.

6488 joined on 7th February 1901
6772 joined on 19th February 1902
7084 joined on 5th February 1903
7419 joined on 22nd February 1904
7868 joined on 7th February 1905
8099 joined on 11th January 1906
8232 joined on 21st January 1907
8850 joined on 8th January 1908
9170 joined on 16th February 1909
9408 joined on 7th February 1910
9658 joined on 27th June 1911
10002 joined on 26th November 1912
10103 joined on 27th May 1913
10523 joined on 3rd May 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 7th March 1891, The Cheshire Regiment recruited 3,277 men, an average of 336 soldiers a year. Although still well below the national average for the decade, this was nevertheless to be the regiment’s best showing.

By 7th February 1901, the regiment had enlisted its 6,488th recruit and could claim an average recruitment rate for the decade of 324 men. A little over ten years later and the average recruitment rate had dropped again, this time to 307 men per annum. In total, between 1st July 1881 and 27th June 1911, The Cheshire Regiment recruited 9,658 men, well below the national average (353) at 322 men a year.

1st Battalion stations 1881-1914
1881 Guernsey

1883 Portland
1885 Gibraltar
1886 Egypt
1887 Burma
1891 Belgaum
1895 Bellary
1897 Secunderabad
1901 Quetta
1903 Bombay
1904 Lichfield
1909 Belfast
1912 Londonderry
1914 France & Flanders (from August)

2nd Battalion stations 1881-1915

1881 Bengal
1885 Solon
1887 Burma
1889 Sheffield
1892 Aldershot
1895 Buttevant
1898 Limerick
1899 South Africa
1902 Aldershot
1904 Madras
1909 Schwebo (Burma)
1911 Jubbulpore
1915 France & Flanders (from January)

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

Further Reading

The History of the Cheshire Regiment in the Great War

The Cheshire Regiment - The First Battalion at Mons and the Miniature Colour

Cheshire Bantams - 15th, 16th & 17th Battalions, The Cheshire Regiment

War Record of the 1/5th (Earl of Chester's) Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment, August 1914 - June 1919

2 May 2011

East Surrey Regiment - Special & Extra Reserve

From 1908 The East Surrey Regiment fielded a 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion and a 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, both these battalions being the natural heirs of the 3rd and 4th Militia Battalions, respectively. Men who had served with these militia battalions and who wished to complete their service with the newly formed Special and Extra Reserve battalions, retained their old militia numbers. Both of the militia battalions had operated separate number series and these series continued in use with the Special and Extra Reserve battalions into 1915 (and possibly beyond, although my database peters out then).

When Britain went to war in 1914, the East Surrey Regiment created two additional number series for men joining the 3rd and 4th Battalions for wartime service only. These two numbers series, one for the 3rd Battalion and one for the 4th, both started from 1 and both were prefixed SRGS or SR/GS or SR/GS/ES (and probably a good many other combinations as well for that matter). The letters stand for Special Reserve General Service East Surrey.

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