22 March 2012

Royal Berkshire Regiment - 1st & 2nd Battalions - 1881-1914


This post will look at regimental numbering sequences for the regular battalions of the Royal Berkshire Regiment between July 1881 and March 1914. The Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Berkshire Regiment) was formed on the 1st July 1881; the 1st Battalion from the 49th (Princess Charlotte of Wales’s) (Hertfordshire) Regiment of Foot, and the 2nd Battalion from the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment of Foot.

There are over 27,000 Royal Berkshire Regiment pension and 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 Royal Berkshire 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.

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

3 joined on 29th July 1881
201 joined on 13th February 1882
717 joined on 6th February 1883
988 joined on 9th January 1884
1278 joined on 30th March 1885

The regiment became The Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire Regiment) in 1885. The Royal accolade was bestowed for the 1st Battalion’s distinguished conduct at the Battle of Tofrek in Egypt on the 22nd March 1885. Numbering was unaffected by the new title.

1586 joined on 8th January 1886
2203 joined on 2nd February 1887
2559 joined on 31st August 1888
2586 joined on 10th January 1889
2872 joined on 14th January 1890
3253 joined on 16th July 1891
3575 joined on 30th July 1892
3705 joined on 5th February 1893
4203 joined on 26th September 1894
4360 joined on 27th February 1895
4653 joined on 21st March 1896
4784 joined on 4th January 1897
5334 joined on 21st April 1898
5554 joined on 15th April 1899
5822 joined on 11th April 1900

During the South African War, men joining the Royal Berkshire Regiment’s 1st VSC were allocated numbers 6791 to 6953. Numbers 6791 to 6926 were issued between 1st February and 20th April 1900. Numbers 6927 to 6953 were issued in March and April 1901.

6133 joined on 3rd April 1901
6470 joined on 13th January 1902
6978 joined on 8th January 1903
7700 joined on 23rd May 1904
7944 joined on 18th March 1905
8165 joined on 20th January 1906
8427 joined on 7th January 1907
8859 joined on 23rd April 1908
9083 joined on 13th January 1909
9279 joined on 23rd February 1910
9442 joined on 10th January 1911
9771 joined on 11th April 1912
9932 joined on 27th March 1913
10151 joined on 21st March 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 that had, up until that point, been the sole preserve of the regiment’s two regular battalions.

Recruitment rates 1881-1911

Between 1st July 1881 and 16th July 1891, the Royal Berkshire Regiment recruited 3,253 men, an average of 323 men each year. Of the sixty-nine infantry regiments recruiting at this time, The Royal Berkshire Regiment was the forty-eighth most successful infantry recruiter.

As with so many regiments, recruitment dropped during the next decade, the Royal Berkshires recruiting around 3,000 men; an average of 295 new soldiers per annum and a rate which ranked sixty-third out of sixty-nine.

Recruitment picked up in the early 1900s with 3,309 men joining the Royal Berkshire Regiment between 3rd April 1901 and 10th January 1911. Nevertheless, the regiment still averaged an annual recruitment rate of just 319 men since it had been formed thirty years earlier.

1st Battalion stations 1882-1914

1882 Malta
1882 Egypt
1883 Gibraltar
1884 Egypt
1885 Sudan
1886 Malta & Cyprus
1893 Bermuda
1895 Halifax, Nova Scotia
1897 West Indies
1898 Portsmouth
1900 Gibraltar
1901 Aldershot
1903 Woking
1904 Curragh
1906 Dublin
1910 Dover
1913 Aldershot
1914 France & Flanders (from August)

2nd Battalion stations 1881-1914

1881 Parkhurst
1883 Chatham
1885 Athlone
1888 Templemore
1891 Cork
1893 Portland
1895 Aldershot
1897 Cape Colony
1899 South Africa
1902 Egypt
1906 Subathu
1909 Meerut
1912 Jhansi
1914 France & Flanders (from November)

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2 March 2012

Northumberland Fusiliers - Regular battalions


This post will look at regimental numbers in the regular battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers between 1881 and 1914. The Northumberland Fusiliers was formed on the 1st July 1881 from the 5th Regiment of Foot (Northumberland Fusiliers).

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

There are over 48,000 Northumberland Fusiliers service records which survive in various National Archives' series, and clicking on the link will take you to the results on Findmypast, although you will need a subscription or Pay-Per-View credits to actually get into the records.

21 joined on 29th August 1881
96 joined on 5th January 1882
253 joined on 23rd January 1883
518 joined on 17th January 1884
803 joined on 14th January1885
1314 joined on 23rd January 1886
1757 joined on 26th January 1887
2028 joined on 11th January 1888
2355 joined on 5th January 1889
2632 joined on 9th January 1890
2964 joined on 8th January 1891
3284 joined on 7th January 1892
3798 joined on 6th January 1893
4042 joined on 12th January 1894
4451 joined on 16th January 1895
4825 joined on 6th January 1896
5053 joined on 22nd January 1897
5307 joined on 10th January 1898
5695 joined on 7th January 1899
6341 joined on 10th January 1900

With Great Britain at war with the Boers, the Northumberland Fusiliers had been given permission to raise two more regular battalions. The 3rd Battalion was raised at York on the 10th January 1900 and the 4th Battalion at York on the 17th February 1900. Men joining these battalions were given numbers in the same series that was already in use for the 1st and 2nd Battalions. There was no numbering distinction between the four battalions.

The regiment’s volunteer battalions also contributed enough men for four volunteer service companies and one volunteer section. Numbers within the range 7400 through to 7742 were issued in early 1900 to men joining the 1st and 2nd VSCs. Numbers within the range 8891 to 9090 were issued in 1901 to men joining the 3rd and 4th VSCs. Numbers within the range 9401 to 9456 were issued in 1902 to men joining Number 3 Volunteer Section.

Men from the 1st and 2nd VSCs sailed with their officers for South Africa aboard the SS Avondale Castle on the 23rd February 1900.

7799 joined on 16th January 1901
8395 joined on 17th January 1902
9137 joined on 22nd January 1903

The addition of two regular battalions had had a dramatic effect on recruitment into the Northumberland Fusiliers and by October 1903, the regiment had passed 9800. Application was made to the Adjutant-General to obtain authority to commence a new series and on 2nd December 1903, the regiment issued number 9999 to a new recruit and then immediately commenced a new number series starting from 1.

236 joined on 7th January 1904
862 joined on 4th February 1905
1900 joined on 26th January 1906

The 4th Battalion was disbanded on the 26th January 1907, the 3rd Battalion in April 1907.

2069 joined on 7th June 1907
2326 joined on 30th July 1908
2501 joined on 13th January 1909
2845 joined on 28th July 1910
3090 joined on 1st June 1911
3356 joined on 14th February 1912
3544 joined on 9th May 1913
3883 joined on 1st August 1914

The First World War

When Britain went to war in August 1914, men joining the new wartime-service only battalions were issued with numbers from the same series that had, up until that point, been the sole preserve of the regiment’s two regular battalions. The Northumberland Fusiliers also raised a number of ‘Pals’ battalions and these battalions operated different number series again, all of these numbers prefixed by the number of the battalion. For instance, 22/96 was the 96th man to be issued with a number from a new series issued by the 22nd (Service) Battalion (3rd Tyneside Scottish), Northumberland Fusiliers. He received his number in November 1914.

Recruitment rates 1881-1911

Between 1st July 1881 and 28th March 1891, The Northumberland Fusiliers recruited 3,039 men, an average of 312 men each year. Of the sixty-nine infantry regiments recruiting at this time, The Northumberland Fusiliers was the fifty-fourth most effective recruiter.

Recruitment rates leapt during the next decade, largely as the result of the addition of another two regular battalions during the South African War period. Between 28th March 1891 and 3rd July 1901 The Northumberland Fusiliers recruited a further 5,040 men, an average of 488 men a year. The regiment’s recruitment ranking leapt from 54th to 4th place.

Recruitment continued apace in the early 1900s and by 1st June 1911 the regiment had well and truly passed 9,999 and was issuing number 3090 from a new number series to its latest recruit, an average of 505 men recruited per annum during the decade, and an overall average of 435 men per annum since the regiment had been formed thirty years earlier. Overall, the Northumberland Fusiliers was the fifth most successful recruiting infantry regiment.

1st Battalion stations 1881-1914

1881 Portsmouth
1882 Ireland
1885 Dublin
1887 Colchester
1892 Dover
1894 Aldershot
1895 Gold Coast
1896 Gibraltar
1897 Egypt
1898 Sudan
1898 Crete
1899 Gibraltar
1899 South Africa
1903 Mauritius
1905 Peshawar
1912 Bombay
1913 Portsmouth
1914 France & Flanders (from August)

2nd Battalion stations 1881-1914

1881 Bengal
1888 Black Mountain expedition (NW Indian frontier)
1889 Hazara
1892 Peshawar
1894 Cherat
1895 Singapore
1896 Gibraltar
1897 UK
1899 South Africa
1903 Gravesend
1909 Dover
1912 Sheffield
1913 Sabathu (India)
1915 France & Flanders (from January)

3rd Battalion stations 1900-1907

1900 Raised at York on the 10th January
1902 Antigua
1902 South Africa
1907 England, disbanded in April

4th Battalion stations 1900-1907

1900 Raised at York on the 17th February
1901 Ireland
1907 Disbanded on the 26th January

Pictured, 237082 Sergeant Alfred James Woodley of the 1/5th Northumberland Fusiliers (formerly Welsh Regiment) who died on the 27th May 1918.

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

Further Reading

The following books can all be obtained from the Naval and Military Press. Click on the links to read more.
Northumberland Fusiliers

What the Fusiliers Did
An account of the 5th Regiment of Foot and the Afghan Campaigns of 1878-1880

A History of the Northumberland Fusiliers 1674-1902
One of the appendices contains extracts from the Army List between 1688 and 1900.

The Fifth in the Great War.
A History of the 1st and 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers, 1914-1918. A rare history now reprinted by Naval & Military Press.

A record of the 17th and 32nd Battalions, Northumberland Fusiliers
The NER Pioneers 1914-1919.  Nominal rolls which consist of the embarkation roll of officers, a list of officers joining subsequently with dates, the roll of men who served with the battalion showing number, rank, name, company, whether embarked with the battalion, casualty details and any awards.

18th Service Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers
The volume includes this Pioneer Battalion's embarkation roll from January 1916; its Roll of Honour; honours and awards and appendices

Story of the Tyneside Scottish
The 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd Battalions, Northumberland Fusiliers during the Great War

Tyneside Irish
The 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th Battalions, Northumberland Fusiliers during the Great War. Appendices contain the complete nominal roll of every man who served in these battalions.

Irish Heroes in the War
Includes alphabetical lists of officers of the Tyneside Irish brigade, with biographical details, along with lists of NCOs and men, all shown by battalion and by company within each battalion.