14 February 2019

3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, Gordon Highlanders


This post will look at regimental numbering in the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, Gordon Highlanders between 1908 and November 1914.

Men signed up for six years' service on the understanding that they were "liable to be called out or detained whilst called up for training, in case of imminent national danger, or great emergency, on permanent service in the United Kingdom, or elsewhere..." and furthermore that they "could be detained in army service for the unexpired portion of [their] term of service in the Army Reserve and for a further period not exceeding 12 months..." And when Britain went to war in August 1914, that is exactly what happened. Men in the Special Reserve were called up and were soon forming drafts to replace casualties in the regular battalions which, in the case of the Gordon Highlanders, were the 1st and 2nd Battalions.

The regimental numbering sequence used by the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion was entirely separate from the numbering series used by the 1st and 2nd Battalions and in fact was a continuation of the number series that had been used by the 3rd (Militia) Battalion before the militia was replaced by the Special Reserve in April 1908. 

Here then, are some regimental numbers for the 3rd Gordon Highlanders; all of these issued sequentially. Use these sample regimental numbers to ascertain when a man would have joined this particular battalion.

5264 joined on the 23rd November 1908
5564 joined on the 14th March 1910
5823 joined on the 3rd August 1911
6077 joined on the 4th November 1912
6128 joined on the 29th April 1913
3/6207 joined on the 20th February 1914
3/6491 joined on the 18th August 1914
3/6779 joined on the 3rd September 1914
3/7100 joined on the 19th September 1914
3/7239 joined on the 24th October 1914
3/7319 joined on the 11th November 1914

The 3/ prefix was used inconsistently and it can therefore be confusing at times when it comes to trying to ascertain, from a man's regimental number alone, whether he was a regular soldier or a man who had originally joined the Special Reserve. For instance, whilst the number 6128, above, was issued to a Special Reservist in April 1913, the same number would have been issued to a man signing up as a regular in 1897.

Men joining the newly forming service battalions from August 1914 were issued with numbers from the series that had been used by the regular battalions albeit the prefix S/ (for service) was applied (again, inconsistently) to these numbers. So 1423 was a regular who joined in May 1914, whereas S/1601 was a man who enlisted on the 12th August 1914 for wartime service only.

I have also written posts on regimental numbering in the 1st and 2nd Battalions
4th (TF) Battalion5th (Buchan & Formartin) Battalion6th (Banff & Donside) Battalion and 7th (Deeside Highland) Battalion.

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