3 August 2014

Regimental number prefixes - a Royal Sussex Regiment case history


Earlier this year I responded to a query concerning a Royal Sussex Regiment man whose regimental number was recorded variously as SR/2245 (GRO Death Index Army Other Ranks), S/2245 (Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Soldiers Died in The Great War), 2245 (De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour) and LSR/2245 (medal index card). So which prefix, if any, is the correct one?

The Royal Sussex Regiment, in common with most other infantry regiments, employed a number of different regimental number prefixes during the First World War but L/ and LSR/ were both used inconsistently before the war; L/ to denote a regular enlistment in either the 1st or 2nd Battalions, and LSR to denote an enlistment into the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion. These prefixes would be more consistently applied from August 1914 when men joining the newly forming service battalions for wartime service only had their numbers prefixed by G/ (for General Service) or SD/ (if they joined the South Down battalions, the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th (Reserve) battalions, and men joining the Special Reserve for wartime service only had their number prefixed with GSSR/ (or General Service Special Reserve).

So the short answer is that LSR is the correct prefix here, and remember too that the medal index card is the official source; showing the number that would have been impressed on the man's medals. SR (on the GRO index) conveys the correct notion that the man served in the Special Reserve and S/ (CWGC and SDGW) is a commonly found prefix for the Special Reserve but was not, as far as I'm aware, used by the Royal Sussex Regiment. The entry in De Ruvigny's roll is the least trustworthy but we should remember that like the National Roll of the Great War series, the information about the men and women whose names appear in these rolls was generally supplied by next of kin rather than from official sources.

As for LSR/, I have also seen this expressed on attestation papers as L/SR/ and, confusingly, G/SR.

For further information on regimental number prefixes see the separate page on this blog and also look out for Howard Williamson's new book which will be published later this year.  The image ion this post shows would-be recruits in Durham in 1914 and appears on the Durham County Record Office website.

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