18 January 2012
5th (Flintshire) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers
This post will look at numbering in the 5th (Flintshire) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers between the battalion's formation in April 1908 and January 1915. Like its sister battalions, the 6th (Carnarvonshire and Anglesey) Battalion and the 7th (Merioneth & Montgomery) Battalion, the battalion was administered by two County Associations; in its case, the Flintshire Association (which administered seven companies), and the Denbigh Association (which administered one company, as well as the entire 4th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers).
The battalion had its origins as the 1st Admin Battalion of Flintshire Rifle Volunteers which was formed with headquarters at Rhyl in August 1860. In 1874, the 1st to 5th Carnarvonshire Corps were added and the battalion became the 1st Flintshire and Carnarvon Royal Volunteer Corps. Ten years later, General Order 78 of June 1884 redesignated the battalion as the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. By 1896 the establishment of the battalion had reached sixteen companies and this was reduced to eight the following year when the Carnarvonshire personnel were removed to form the 3rd Volunteer Battalion (later the 6th RWF).
By February 1914, the distribution of the companies (headquartered at Flint) was as follows:
A Company: Mold
B Company: Hawarden, with a drill station at Buckley
C Company: Rhyl, with a drill station at St Asaph
D Company: Holywell, with a drill station at Mostyn
E Company: Flint, with a drill station at Bagillt
F Company: Caergwrle
G Company: Colwyn Bay
H Company: Connah's Quay
The battalion formed part of the North Wales Infantry Brigade with the Welsh Division.
Although at this point in time I have nothing more than gaps in my database to base the following theory on, I suspect that as far as numbering in the battalion was concerned, the Flintshire companies all drew numbers from one series whilst the Denbighshire company - probably G Company based at Colwyn Bay - began its numbering at 2000, only later falling into line with numbering in the other seven companies. For now though, sample enlistment dates and numbers (for all companies except G Company) from 1908 to Jan 1915 as follows:
322 joined on April 10th 1908
623 joined on April 20th 1909
810 joined on 22nd September 1910
842 joined on 2nd March 1911
978 joined on 23rd March 1912
1174 joined on 4th March 1913
1442 joined on 26th March 1914
1546 joined on 4th August 1914 (the day Britain declared war on Germany)
2208 joined on 15th September 1914
2290 joined on 2nd October 1914
2442 joined on 10th November 1914
2561 joined on 30th November 1914
2627 joined on 4th January 1915
As far as the Denbighshire company is concerned, Soldiers Died in The Great war lists the following men:
2011 Pte Robert Jones, Died at Malta on 18th September 1915
2032 CQMS Ernest William Reckless, DoW at Sea on 23rd August 1915
I suggest both of these men were 1908 enlistments. Furthermore, there is a MIC for 2061 W T Williams whose enlistment date is given as 4th February 1909 and one for 2106 J M F Lyon Smith who enlisted on the 28th February 1912. I have no date for 2122 Thomas Roberts, but his renumbered TF number is 240582 which would normally have suggested September 1914 to me... had it not been for 2131 John Power whose MIC clearly states a joining date of 12th February 1913 (albeit the enlistment date on a MIC is just that: an enlistment date rather than the date the man joined the regiment he was being discharged from). 2143 John Owen Jones joined the 5th Battalion on the 12th November 1913, and so on. There's not a lot to go on, but enough for me to be as certain as I can be that the 5th Battalion, just like the 6th and 7th Battalions of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers operated two numbering systems - up until a point - this purely because the battalions were administered by more than one County Association.
When the Territorial Force was renumbered in 1917, the 5th RWF - all of the men in all of the companies - was allocated numbers within the range 240001 to 265000.
I've borrowed the photograph on this post from the website of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum. It shows the Machine-Gun section of the 5th (Flintshire) Battalion in 1915.
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