20 March 2014

Rifle Brigade, 18th - 24th Battalions

This is a post which, I feel, will develop over time. It originates from correspondence with Jackie on another Rifle Brigade post in which she was enquiring about Ernest William Bush who was 571, later 200530 with the Rifle Brigade. Jackie's question was whether it was possible to identify his battalion and my answer was that my own data on these RB Battalions was not significant enough to hazard a guess.

Jackie has subsequently sent details of other men and I have also added to her list.  What follows is a very small sample but the obvious interest is in the alphabetical grouping of men.  It looks to me as though men were numbered in rough alphabetical order by battalion.

So in the examples below, 200505 to 200573 are, I would guess, all 18th Battalion men; 201497 to 201881 are all 19th Battalion men and so on. This would appear logical but this list does need to be expanded further.  It has been comprised from information on medal index cards and the silver war badge roll.  Note that the dates of enlistment given on the SWB roll are NOT the dates that the men joined the battalions they were being discharged from.

200505 ABBOTT, Henry; formerly 542
200510 ALDRIDGE, W. 18th Bn
200516 BURCHALL, Bert; formerly 555
200517 BARRY, James; formerly 556
200518 BROWN, Eugene; formerly 557; arr India 25/11/1915
200520 BALLS, William G; formerly 559
200521 BIDGOOD, William; formerly 560
200525 BRADBEER, William; formerly 565
200528; formerly 569
200526 BROWN, Henry; formerly 567
200527 BATTLEY, John W; formerly 568
200528; formerly 569 [Assumption based on numbers either side]
200529 BUCK, Thomas; formerly 570
200530 BUSH, Ernest William; formerly 571
200531 BEALES, Charles W; formerly 572
200533; formerly 574
200534 Rfn BARBER, Albert F V; formerly 575. 18th Bn; enlisted 16.10.14; discharged 5.3.19 Sick aged 41 yrs
200567 BATTLEY, John W; formerly 568

200573 BOUSTEAD, Thomas; formerly 573
201497 Sgt PHILLIPS, William 19th Bn; enlisted 2.12.14, discharged 31.7.19 Sick aged 38 yrs
201871 L/Cpl MORRISON, John 19th Bn; enlisted 8.9.14, discharged 6.1.19 Sick aged 40 yrs
201881 Rfn THOMSON, David 19th Bn; enlisted 17.9.14, discharged 17.3.19 Wnds aged 23 yrs
202569 Sgt LEVENY, James 20th Bn; enlisted 7.9.14, discharged 23.1.19 Sick aged 51 yrs
202993 Cpl GARVIN, Peter 20th Bn; enlisted 6.8.14, discharged 25.5.19 Sick aged 30 yrs

203150 Rfn BALL, Francis H 20th Bn; enlisted 3.9.14, discharged 10.3.19 Wnds aged 24 yrs
203162 Sgt GRANT, Robert C 20th Bn; enlisted 10.10.14, discharged 4.4.19 Wnds aged 22 yrs
203186 Rfn ROPER, Sydney C 20th Bn; enlisted 27.5.15, discharged 18.3.19 Wnds aged 23 yrs
203188 Rfn PEARD, Richard C 20th Bn; enlisted 19.9.14, discharged 17.7.19 Wnds aged 29 yrs

203533 ALLEN, William G; formerly 173
210977 Rfn MILLS, Albert C 20th Bn; enlisted 2.2.16, discharged 9.8.19 aged 24 yrs
213047 Rfn RAWLINGS, Joseph W 20th Bn; enlisted 12.1.15, discharged 31.7.19 Sick aged 24 yrs

The photograph I've used to illustrate this post shows men of the Royal Military Police, 24th (Home Counties) Battalion, Rifle Brigade, pictured in Agra in 1916.  Five of the men wear medal ribbons from the Boer War and the man standing in the middle is 502, later 206610 Thomas William Deadman of Chailey in Sussex who is noted on my Chailey blog.

The 24th (Home Counties) Rifle Brigade was a Territorial Force formation formed at Halton Camp West on 10th November 1915.  The Rifle Brigade had no pre-war TF battalions and the 18th through to the 24th Battalions were comprised of supernumerary TF companies from drafts men on the National Reserve who were used in guarding vulnerable points in Britain.  The 24th was composed of drafts from the Queens, Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Royal Sussex, East Surrey, Essex, Royal West Kent and Hertfordshire Regiments and was commanded throughout by Lieut-Col F.W. Burbury, a retired officer of the Royal West Kent Regiment. All seven of these Rifle Brigade battalions were posted overseas in late 1915 or early 1916 and the 18th, 23rd and 24th Battalions all served in India.

Jackie, thank you for stimulating this interesting - but as yet incomplete - snapshot of the men in these Rifle Brigade battalions.

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Unknown said...

Hi Paul - There was no set pattern to the numbering of these T.F. Rifle Brigade Battalions. The Army Council Instruction regarding the numbering of T.F. Battalions shows that the R.B. were allocated the Block number 200001 - 300000, but unlike other T.F. Battalions, there was no individual blocks between the 18th to 25th Bn's.


Paul Bowman said...

My Gt Grandfather, Charles William Foster was Rifleman in 24th (Home Counties) Rifle Brigade TF. Regt no. 206621. Formed 29 November 1915. A section 'D' reservist, having extended his time as a 'C'. Fitness class
'673'was his previous battalion number.
I have photos of his time in India, which fits with his WO medal card and also a group photo at what appears to be a UK barracks.

Paul Nixon said...

Paul, many thanks for reading and commenting.