21 August 2008

Regimental numbering series

Section XXII of the Queen's Regulations for the Army 1895 reads as follows:

31. The regimental series of numbers will commence with 1. The numbers will be given in sequence, according to the date of application. When the series approaches 9999, application should be made to the Adjutant-General in sufficient time to obtain authority to commence a new series. In the Royal Artillery the series will extend to 99,999, in the Royal Engineers to 29,999, and in the Army Service Corps and Medical Staff Corps to 19,999.

Fast forward nine years to the King's Regulations for the Army 1904 (Provisional) and paragraph 2144 reads:

The regimental series of numbers will commence with 1. The numbers will be given in sequence, according to the date of application. The series will extend to 49,999 in the Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery, and to 49,999 in the Royal Garrison Artillery; to 29,999 in the Royal Engineers and Army Service Corps; to 19,999 in each regiment of foot guards, infantry of the line, and Royal Army Medical Corps; and to 9,999 in cavalry regiments and in corps not named above. When these numbers have been reached, a new series will be commenced.

Concerning ourselves just with infantry regiments for now, the point about commencing a new series of numbers is important. In the example I gave a couple of days ago with numbering in the regular battalions of The Essex Regiment, I showed that there was a continual uninterrupted sequence which had reached number 9242 by July 1908 and had reached the 10,000s by 1914. For the most part, recruiting in infantry regiments was a desperately slow business but there are a number of regiments which, having reached 9999, started a new series of numbers and I'm going to note those regiments here.

The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders
By August 1907 this regiment had passed the 9999 mark and was numbering in the 10500s. By 1908 however, a new series had commenced, number 2 being issued on 16th June that year.

I am at a loss to explain why this regiment started re-numbering from 1 in 1908. Under existing King's Regulations it should have continued numbering up to 19,999. Possibly the decision to start afresh had something to do with the newly created Territorial Force battalions starting their numbering series from 1 (albeit in April that year). I don't know the answer but I'd like to know.

The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
Had reached 9981 by September 10th 1904 and by 1905 was on a new series of numbers. Number 209 was issued on 2nd May 1905.

The Gordon Highlanders
Like the A&S Highlanders, men in the two regular battalions of this regiment were already numbering in the 10,000s when they commenced a new series. On 27th April 1908, number 10717 was issued to a new Gordon Highlanders recruit but by March 2nd 1909 a new series was already well under way with number 274 issued on this date.

The King's Royal Rifle Corps
Reached number 9981 by March 1897 and two months later, on May 14th, was already well into a new series of numbers with number 274 issued on this date.

The Lancashire Fusiliers
Had reached 9504 by March 12th 1903 and on September 8th 1904 issued number 445 of a new number series.

The Manchester Regiment
Started a new number series in 1904. Number 9992 was issued on 8th June and on July 8th, number 39 was issued to a new recruit.

The Northumberland Fusiliers
Started re-numbering in 1903. Number 9998 was issued on December 1st and 9999 the following day. It was at this point that the regiment commenced a new numbering series from 1 and by April 6th 1904 numbering had already reached 165.

The Rifle Brigade
Note, this regiment did not start numbering from 1 in 1881 but continued with the numbering sequence already in place. By 18th November 1881 the Rifle Brigade had reached number 5043 and four years later by 12th January 1889 it had reached 9919. Number 12 of a new number series was issued on 13th February 1889. By August 1903, this regiment (which had four regular battalions) was approaching 9999 (number 9932 was issued on 15th August) and applied to commence a new series. Number 27 was issued to a Rifle Brigade recruit on 7th January 1904.

The Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Reached 9968 by February 1904. Number 108 in a new series of numbers had been issued by June that year.

Note, the above refers to infantry regiments only. I will deal with the Guards regiments in future posts.

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