18 August 2008

Army Service Numbers 1881-1918

This blog is an information resource for which will look at British Army service numbers issued between the years 1881 and 1918. Its aim is to provide information which will help researchers and family historians determine - from a soldier's army service number - the date he joined a particular unit of the British Army.

The concept of this blog is simple. Every “Other Rank” soldier was issued with a service number. Although in most cases these numbers were far from unique and in fact often repeated many times in a single regiment, it is nevertheless still possible - in most cases - to estimate a likely joining date from a man’s army service number.

For the most part, I shall focus on army service numbers issued to Infantry of the Line. There are also some corps - The Army Service Corps and Labour Corps for instance - which are currently beyond the scope of this project.

A word of warning too. It is wrong to assume that numbering sequences in battalions always followed a sequential pattern. They didn't. As the war progressed and casualties grew, large numbers of men were often transferred from one battalion to another and allocated numbers within blocks which did not fit the sequential patterning seen to date. This becomes particularly evident in most battalions from 1916 onwards. For an example of this, see my post on the 23rd London Regiment.

I'll begin with army service numbers in the Essex Regiment. Don't forget there are millions of British Army records published on Findmypast and Ancestry.

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


Rod Pickles said...

Hello Paul,

Excellent site. I have most of the information on my Great-Uncle but not his date of enlistment. He was 19108 Private Thomas Brightmore 8th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers. He fought in Gallipoli and died on 26 September at
the battle of Thiepval during the attack on Mouquet Farm. I have the Ops report and the trench map. If you can trace the enlistment date through his service number that would be the final piece of the jigsaw. He was born in Featherstone, Yorkshire 6 July 1895.


Rod Pickles

Paul Nixon said...

Thanks Rod. Looks like 1st week of April 1915 to me, but I've forwarded your mail to a NF expert who dips into this blog on and off and I know he'll respond if there's additional information to add.


Paul Nixon said...

Rod, I've heard back from Graham Stewart (NF expert) and he narrows the joining date down still further to the 6th or 7th April 1915.

Best wishes


Unknown said...

your blog is so useful and interesting, thank you!

I was hoping to identify any information associated with service number 45457 connected with an ancestor who was in the Machine Gun Corps (nfi).

Any suggestions/advice welcomed!

Paul Nixon said...

Hello b nice. I would need to research this and so please follow the instructions on the RESEARCH tab if you'd like me to do this.


Unknown said...

Looking for information on my great grandfather his name guy Dodsworth Wilson his number 123443 RGA, I know he survived the great war. Any information would be fantastic thank you

Paul Nixon said...

Martin, please drop me a line to paulcanixon@gmail.com

Grab a book bargain - 1000s of titles