20 September 2015

Royal Irish Rifles - 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion

My thanks to pal Martin Gillott who posted much of the information below on my post concerning numbering in the regular battalions of the Royal Irish Rifles. Rather than hide his hard work there, I thought this deserved a post of its own. Thank you, Martin.

It's worth re-stating, again, that regular battalions (typically the 1st and 2nd Battalions) of line regiments used a single regimental number series. The 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion used a different number series which often, but not always, was a continuation of the series which had been used by its 3rd (Militia) Battalion predecessor, and the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, where these existed, used it's own number series which was also mostly, but not always, a continuation of the series which had been started by the 4th (Militia) Battalion. In the case of the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles, it continued the series that had begun with the 4th Militia Battalion. Numbers 6013 and 6132 below, were almost certainly militiamen re-enlisting in the Extra Reserve, possibly to complete their six year terms.

6013 attested on 28th June 1908
6132 attested on 28th June 1908
6320 attested on 14th June 1910
6331 attested on 16th September 1910
6429 attested on 17th October 1911
6519 attested on 5th June 1912
6626 attested on 3rd April 1913
6821 attested on 12th August 1913
6861 attested on 18th August 1914
6865 attested on 18th August 1914
6983 attested on 24th August 1914
7028 attested on 23rd August 1914
7070 attested on 26th August 1914
7207 attested on 26th August 1914
7262 attested on 25th August 1914
7333 joined on 16th November 1914
7392 joined on 22nd December 1914

Martin notes that 7028 attesting one day before 6983 and 7262 attesting one day before 7207 (both in italics above) suggests that batches of numbers were used at different recruiting stations. This may be the case but I don't think the army was that well organised. Note too that when a man attested, the attestation date was recorded at the bottom of the form but the regimental number would not have been added to the papers until the man presented himself at the depot. I think therefore that the out of sequence patterns - commonly seen on attestation papers - is probably explained by the time delay between attesting and then presenting at the depot where the number would have been issued.

The Special Reserve and Extra Reserve battalions all became simply 'Reserve' Battalions in late September 1915 and the specific numbering sequences for these battalions ceased.

As Martin noted on his comment, the Royal Irish Rifles is one of those regiments where there is room for numbering confusion:

"The 6XXX series was used by the Regulars between 1900 and 1902 so it is easy to get these mixed up. Also the 5th (Extra Reserve) Battalion kept a separate series which lagged the 4th Battalion series by a few hundred more risk for confusion) and in early 1915 the Kitchener battalions had reached 6,000 recruits, so again more scope for a lot of confusion. The numbers above all come from documents clearly marked 4th Battalion and most have a 4/prefix on the attestation as well."

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