31 December 2011

Royal Warwickshire Regiment - Militia and Special Reserve


This post will look at numbering in the regular, militia, special and extra reserve battalions of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and will attempt to explain the vagaries (and applied logic) of regimental numbering.  But first, a snapshot of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in 1897.  The regiment had two regular battalions; men generally enlisting for short service (typically seven years with the colours and five on the reserve) or for long service (twelve years with the colours and no obligation to serve with the reserve).  In 1897 the two regular battalions of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment were disposed as follows:

1st Battalion: Stationed in Egypt
2nd Battalion: Stationed in Chatham, Kent

Both of these battalions drew their regimental numbers from the same number series. A man joining the regiment as a regular soldier in 1897 would typically arrive at the regimental depot, be issued with his number and then undergo ten weeks' training at the depot before joining the 2nd Battalion (or whatever the home battalion happened to be). Typically, after two years' service with the home battalion, he would then be posted to the 1st Battalion (or whatever regular battalion of the regiment was serving overseas). This was a pattern that was repeated throughout the British Infantry of the Line regiments and one which meant that the most experienced soldiers were generally serving in the British Empire's far-flung outposts, whilst the newer, more inexperienced men were learning the ropes with the home service battalion in the UK (which at that time included the whole of Ireland). Battalions were supposed to do an overseas tour of duty for 16 years and then swapped places with the home battalion. 

In 1897, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment also had two militia battalions, the 3rd and 4th Battalions. These two battalions each had their own distinctive regimental number series and both battalions, like the two regular battalions, were administered from the regimental depot at Warwick. The militia was a part-time, home service army which largely drew its recruits from the local area. The regular battalions, whilst territorially organised since 1st April 1873, recruited men locally but also drew men from further afield. See my post on Border Regiment recruitment in 1906 as an example of this.

On the 6th April 1898, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment raised a third, regular battalion in Ireland which was designated the 3rd Battalion. The regimental depot was thus now issuing numbers to men who could be posted to any of the three regular battalions - and be posted between battalions - and still retain their regular number. The creation of a fourth regular battalion (the 4th Battalion, raised at Colchester on the 3rd February 1900) was treated in exactly the same way: one number series for regular soldiers which was shared between the (now) four regular battalions.

The creation of two more regular battalions with numbers already allocated to militia battalions now created a problem which was logically solved. What had been the 3rd and 4th Militia Battalions of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment now became the 5th and 6th Militia Battalions. Although I've not seen any Army Council Instruction dealing with the re-numbering of militia battalions, it would appear that this happened at around the same time as the new 3rd (Regular) Battalion was formed. Alfred Ashfield and Frank Kirk both joined the 4th (Militia) Battalion on the 7th April 1898 (the day after the 3rd Regular battalion was formed) and Richard Ryan joined the 4th Battalion on the 12th April 1898. All of their attestation papers clearly show that they joined the 4th Battalion, rather than the 6th. By the 15th of April 1898 however, John Coney had joined the 6th Battalion, and my research of attestation papers for the Royal Warwickshire Regiment militia battalions for April 1898 onwards would suggest that by the middle of the month, the 3rd and 4th militia battalions had ceased to exist, being replaced by the 5th and 6th Battalions. It's interesting to note however, that old rubber stamps for the 4th Battalion (and probably the 3rd as well) were still being used as late as September 1898, the new number 6 being crudely over-written, as in the example below.


As for the numbering in the militia battalions, this remained unchanged. Men who had joined the 3rd militia battalion and now found themselves with the 5th Battalion, retained their 3rd Battalion numbers. New men joining the 5th Battalion from around mid April 1898 were simply given numbers in continuation of the (old) 3rd Battalion number series. The process worked in exactly the same way for the serving men and new recruits into the 4th/6th militia battalions.

Fast forward nine years.

By April 1907 the two newest regular Royal Warwickshire Regiment battalions - the 3rd and 4th - had both been disbanded and so when the Special Reserve was formed in 1908, the two Royal Warwickshire Regiment SR battalions were designated the 3rd (Special Reserve) and 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalions. Men transferring from the militia battalions into the Special Reserve retained their old militia numbers whilst new recruits into the two Special Reserve battalions were simply given numbers in continuation of what had been the old militia number series. For example, 129 Leon Taylor joined the 6th (Militia) Battalion on the 5th March 1907 and 367 William Dearn (a man with no prior military service) joined the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion on the 10th April 1908.

This concludes my post on militia and SR numbering in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and indeed my posts for 2011. I wish all readers of this blog a happy and successful 2012.

The image I've chosen for this post is an anachronism, depicting a cross belt plate of the 6th Regiment of Foot. It comes from the 1812 History website.

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27 December 2011

3rd & 4th Scottish General Hospitals


Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow was opened in 1904. In 1914 it was requisitioned by the Royal Army Medical Corps and operated as the 3rd and 4th Scottish Hospitals.

My data on personnel working for these two hospitals is very thin indeed but it looks as though men joining the 3rd Scottish General Hospital commenced a new number series in early 1913, these numbers later suffixed with the letter A. So for instance, 91A George Pirie joined the 3rd Scottish General Hospital on the 14th November 1914, 92A John Gracie on the 21st, 96A Archibald McDonald on the 2nd December 1914 and so on.

Men joining the 4th Scottish General Hospital were given numbers from a different series and again, it looks as though a new number series was also begun for these men in early 1913. These numbers had no suffix and it seems logical to suggest that this was deliberate and a way of differentiating 3rd SGH men from 4th SGH men.

See also, 1st Scottish General Hospital, and 2nd Scottish General Hospital.

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

20 December 2011

2nd Scottish General Hospital


The 2nd Scottish General Hospital was, during the war years at least, situated at Craigleith, Edinburgh and a new numbering series appears to have been instituted in August 1914. This from my number series for the 2nd Scottish General Hospital.

My data for Royal Army Medical Corps personnel serving at the hospital is thin and I would welcome additional details to help fill some of the gaps.

555 joined on 18th November 1908
1311 joined on 23rd January 1911
1504 joined on 22nd March 1912

New series of numbers commenced at some point; possibly on the outbreak of war.

19 joined on 9th August 1914
59 joined on 3rd September 1914
88 joined on 10th October 1914
95 joined on 2nd November 1914
116 joined on 27th January 1915
130 joined on 24th May 1915
136 joined on 8th July 1915

See also, 1st Scottish General Hospital and 3rd & 4th Scottish General Hospitals.

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

19 December 2011

1st Scottish General Hospital


The 1st Scottish General Hospital was situated at Aberdeen and during WW1 had capacity for 62 officer beds and 1297 Other Rank beds.

My data for Royal Army Medical Corps personnel serving at the hospital is thin and I would welcome additional details to help fill some of the gaps.

844 joined on 8th June 1909
1267 joined on 26th March 1912
1368 joined on 23rd April 1913
1469 joined on 13th January 1914
1471 joined on 8th February 1915
1476 joined on 11th March 1915
1487 joined on 15th April 1915
1495 joined on 12th May 1915
1572 joined on 7th June 1915
1611 joined on 7th July 1915
1613 joined on 9th August 1915
1666 joined on 16th October 1915
1687 joined on 11th December 1915

See also, 2nd Scottish General Hospital, 3rd & 4th Scottish General Hospitals.

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

9 December 2011

Highland Light Infantry - Regular enlistments 1914


I've just been browsing back issues of the Highland Light Infantry Chronicle for 1914.  Volume XIV, No 4 published in October 1914 (priced fourpence) gives the following list of "recruits joined since last issue and during mobilisation".  All of these men are regular recruits, the gaps in between their numbers being filled - so I believe - by men joining up for wartime service only.  I have identified some of these men as having surviving service records in WO 364 and have therefore been able to put dates next to their numbers.

12325 Pte E Semple
12326 Pte J Baker
12327 Pte S Haughey joined 6th July 1914
12329 Pte P Leith
12331 Pte E King
12332 Pte J Hall
12333 Pte G Taylor
12334 Pte John Livingstone joined 29th July 1914
12335 Pte H Whitehurst
12336 Pte R McCallum
12337 Pte T Lenaghan
12338 Pte J Goodlad
12339 Pte J McCabe
12340 Pte E Conway
12343 Pte G Braid
12344 Pte W Barrett
12345 Pte G McLeod
12346 Pte E McKay
12347 Pte R Brough
12348 Pte A Brown
12349 Pte W Miller
12350 Pte G Haynes
12351 Pte J Johnston
12352 Pte D Craig
12353 Pte J Milligan
12354 Pte W Dick
12355 Pte G Kidd
12356 Pte S Proctor
12357 Pte J Todd
12358 Pte H Forbes
12359 Pte W Anderson
12360 Pte A Osbourne
12361 Pte H Lennon
12362 Pte J McDonald
12363 Pte R Russell
12364 Pte J Summerville
12365 Pte E Connall
12366 Pte G Quigley
12367 Pte S Rankin
12368 Pte P Milligan
12369 Pte James McNaughton joined 10th August 1914
12370 Pte C Sneddon
12371 Pte J Barbour
12372 Pte P Callaghan
12373 Pte J McAulay
12374 Pte J Ross
12375 Pte G Dunn
12376 Pte W Wilson
12377 Pte P Montgomery
12378 Pte W Stevenson
12379 Pte G Monaghan
12380 Pte J Barrie
12381 Pte J Hartvig
12382 Pte L Waterston
12383 Pte J Schuman
12384 Pte A Reid
12385 Pte H McSherry
12386 Pte T McCurdy
12387 Pte E Benson
12388 Pte P Shearer
12389 Pte P Carroll
12390 Pte W Kennedy
12391 Pte D McKeegan
12392 Pte A McDonald
12393 Pte J Beverley
12394 Pte W Roy
12395 Pte T White
12396 Pte James Marshall Rankin joined 15th August 1914
12397 Pte A Watt
12398 Pte D Simpson
12399 Pte A Fleming

[Note gap between 12399 and 12901]

12901 Pte W Green
12902 Pte E Bray
12903 Pte J Scott
12904 Pte J Lugton
12905 Pte G Carter
12906 Pte Francis Gillespie joined 25th August 1914
12907 Pte W Martin
12908 Pte H Forrester
12909 Pte J Hoggan
12910 Pte H Hynman
12911 Pte S Ryder
12912 Pte E Simons
12913 Pte A Paterson
12914 Pte James Mooney joined 10th August 1914
12915 Pte R Nairn
12916 Pte W Clark
12917 Pte W Robb
12918 Pte J Watters
12919 Pte N Haggerty

[Note gap between 12919 and 16370]

16370 Pte J Ferrell
16371 Pte D McIntyre
16372 Pte P Carroll
16373 Boy H G Robinson (injured by a runaway horse and lorry on December 15th 1914)
16374 Pte J Anderson
16375 Boy W Venables
16376 Boy S Kirkland
16377 Pte T McCabe

The next volume, XV, No 1, dated January 1915, continues where the previous volume left off:

16378 Boy F H Green

16379 Boy William Button joined aged 14 years and 351 days on 26th October 1914.  Later transfered to Army Cyclist Corps and discharged from ACC on 22nd November 1918.

16380 Boy G H King

1720 Boy Joseph James Burgess joined as a 14 year old on 4th December 1914.  Discharged medically unfit on the 2nd February 1915.  I have no idea why this boy was given this number.

18279 Boy E White
18280 Boy W Short

18364 Boy George Copeland joined 20th January 1915 aged 15 years and 10 months.  Discharged medically unfit on the 13th November 1915 (but not before he'd appeared before a District Court Martial in January in September 1915 and been sentenced to 56 days detention for "when on active service stealing goods, the property of a comrade...").

18502 Pte Patrick King joined on 29th January 1915, General Service for duration of war.
18526 Pte G Davison
18527 Pte R Corinns
18528 Pte E Gittings

Note that with two exceptions, numbers 16373 to 16380 are all Boy enlistments, then there's an odd number - 1720 - and then another large gap until we get to 18279 and 18280 (two more Boys). 18502, Patrick King is a war-time service only enlistment, I'm not sure about Privates Davison, Corinns and Gittings.

The portrait is of Captain Robert Guy Ingledon Chichester, 2nd Battalion, Highland Light Infantry and a veteran of operations in India (1897-1898) and the Boer War, who was killed in action on the 13th November 1914.  He wears the India Medal and the Queen's South Africa Medal.

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