29 August 2008

The London Regiment - City of London battalions

Before I move on to the County of London battalions I just thought I 'd pause for a minute to look at the recruiting patterns in the City battalions. They all follow a similar pattern but I think it's worth noting.

In the early days of the battalions' existence, that's to say 1908, you see large numbers of men who'd served with the Volunteers, re-enlisting in the newly formed battalions. Even so, many Volunteers chose not to re-enlist. I'll publish a more detailed article about Volunteers and the Territorial battalions at a later date.

By 1910 though, recruitment into the City of London battalions had slowed dramatically. Looking across the eight battalions, the Post Office Rifles (8th London Regiment) seems to have been most popular with 765 Riflemen having enlisted since 1st April 1908, whereas the 5th City of London Regiment seems to have struggled more than the others.

From 1910 until August 1914, most of the battalions were recruiting at the rate of only one or two hundred a year - if that. Taking the 3rd (City of London) Bn as an example of low recruitment, number 900 was signed up on 2nd June 1910. Number 942 joined on 11th October that year, and number 959 by January 1911. By 26th September 1911 the battalion recruited its 1043rd rifleman. So that's just 143 enlistments for that battalion in 16 months, less than nine recruits a month.

Now look at the picture for August to December 1914. Looking at my army service numbers database, I'm going to take the first date that I have for an enlistment in August 1914 and then the last date I have in December. Here's the picture:

1st Londons
1231 enlistments between 12th August and 8th December 1914
2nd Londons
1457 enlistments between 10th August and 29th December 1914
3rd Londons
1392 enlistments between 3rd May 1914 (I have no data for August currently) and 26th December 1914
4th Londons
1349 enlistments between 10th August and 14th December 1914
5th Londons
1534 enlistments between 4th August and 10th December 1914
6th Londons
I have no figures for this battalion for the months October 1914 to February 1915 inclusive. However, by September 8th the battalion was numbering at 3091 and by 9th March 1915 it had reached 3289. From 7th August 1914 until 8th September 1914, the battalion appears - unless there was a large block of numbers which was not used, to have recruited 1215 men.
7th Londons
1536 enlistments between 4th August and 7th December 1914
8th Londons
I have no figures for this battalion for the months October 1914 to January 1915 inclusive. By September 28th the battalion was numbering at 2994 and by 15th February 1915 it had reached 3132. From 15th August 1914 until 28th September 1914, the battalion appears - unless there was a large block of numbers which was not used, to have recruited 1015 men.

Adding up the totals above, we arrive at 10729 men or the equivalent of close to eleven battalions of men enlisting with Territorial Force City of London Regiments in the space of five months (with the exceptions to the 3rd, 6th and 8th battalions mentioned above). These patterns would be repeated in virtually every other battalion and army unit throughout Britain in 1914, but the numbers would dip dramatically in 1915, leading to the creation of the Derby Scheme (and another peak in attestations in November and December 1915) and ultimately the introduction of conscription in 1916.

Finally, I should not leave the City of London Regiments without mentioning my great uncle, S/18321 Rifleman John Frederick Nixon, known to his family as Jack. Jack attested with the London Rifle Brigade under the Derby Scheme in 1915 but it was whilst he was attached to the 8th London Regiment (Post Office Rifles), that he was killed in action on 3rd October 1918. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Vis En Artois memorial in France.


Amrita said...

Well, this is a very unique blog Chailley.

My church was a British garrison church and we have wall plaques which you would find interesting. i could send you photos of them.

Paul Nixon said...

Please do Amrita. Some of these old churches in India are fascinating. I would almost lay money on it that at least one of the plaques commemorates a soldierwho died as a result of being mauled by a tiger - most Indian churches seem to have at least one.

kevin said...

My Great Uncle William Thomas Lambert also served with the 8th City of London Regiment (Post Office Rifles). He was in for the entire war and very very lucky to survive.
I am trying to find his service records but my search at National Archives only shows his medal roll.
He was a Pte then Cprl. His service number was 4060 (on medals) but Dog Tags show 371756 would you know why they differ?
My mail address is k.williams67@btinternet.com if you can help I would appreciate it.



Paul Nixon said...


This was the number your great uncle was given when the TF was renumbered in 1917. His four digit number indicates that he originally joined the POR between 16th and 18th June 1915.

The Wartime Memories Project said...

Just a quick note to let you know that we have added a link to your this page of your website from ours: http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/londonrgt-gw.php

Paul Nixon said...

That's great, many thanks for the link.

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