2 September 2008

12th (County of London) Bn, The London Regiment (The Rangers)

This battalion had its origins in the 22nd Middlesex Volunteer Rifles Corps. Its headquarters was at Chenies Street, Bedford Square, Bloomsbury.

Here is a sample sequence of army service numbers and enlistment / joining dates for the 12th London Regiment between the years 1909 and 1916. There is an inconsistency in sequential numbering in this battalion. When it reached number 7999 in July 1916, the battalion went back to 6000, continued numbering up until 6999 in November 1916 and then reverted to 8000. I'd be interested to hear an explanation from anybody as to why this is, although looking at my database for this battalion, there appears to be a corresponding jump from the 5000s to the 7000s in May/June 1916. It's almost as if somebody 'forgot' or 'missed out' the numbers between 6000 and 6999 when men were enlisting in May/June 1916.

Another inconsistency in this battalion is the numbering in 1908 which is a good deal more chaotic than in most of the other London Regiment battalions for this period. Thus number 7 joined on 1st April (straight from the 22nd Middlesex VRC), 239 joined on 23rd June, 379 on 29th June, 417 on 26th October, 439 on 12th August, 510 on 1st April...

For this reason, I'll start my sample overview of the 12th Londons from 1909, by which time the numbering appears to have settled down.

545 joined on 1st January 1909
1192 joined on 10th January 1910
1295 joined on 9th January 1911
1440 joined on 2nd April 1912
1558 joined on 29th January 1913
1848 joined on 13th January 1914
2007 joined on 5th August 1914
2954 joined on 7th September 1914
3453 joined on 1st March 1915
3646 joined on 6th April 1915
4125 joined on 7th August 1915
4202 joined on 11th September 1915
4274 joined on 16th October 1915
4307 joined on 30th November 1915
4542 joined on 14th December 1915
4696 joined on 12th January 1916
4988 joined on 1st February 1916
5445 joined on 25th March 1916
5718 joined on 6th May 1916
7514 joined on 20th June 1916
7633 joined on 10th July 1916
6094 joined on 7th August 1916
6454 joined on 22nd September 1916
6459 joined on 11th October 1916
6605 joined on 1st November 1916
8031 joined on 23rd November 1916

When the Territorial Force was re-numbered in 1917, The 12th Londons re-numbered within the block 470001 to 490000.

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RANGERS’ HISTORICAL RECORDS From 1859 to the Conclusion of the Great War

This from the Naval & Military Press:

"This book is laid out in five parts. The first takes the history of the Regiment from 1859 to the outbreak of the Great War and the remaining four consist of one each to the First Battalion, the Scond Battalion, the Amalgamated Battalion and finally the Depot and Reserve battalion during the war. There is a list of honours and awards but no roll of honour nor index.

"The foundation of the Rangers as a unit of the Volunteer Force was laid in 1859 and the first part of the book contains a brief record of their history from 1859 until the outbreak of war, including descriptions of dress and equipment and names of officers and the Rangers's part in the South African War. On formation of the Territorial Force in 1908 the battalion became “The Rangers,” the 12th (County of London Battalion), The London Regiment, in the 3rd Brigade of the 1st London Division.

"In December 1914 the battalion left the division and landed in Le Havre on Xmas Day and joined GHQ troops (Line of Command) till February 1915 when it was transferred to 84th Brigade, 28th Division. It sustained heavy casualties during Second Ypres. Then it moved down to Gommecourt and in that ill-fated attack suffered 560 casualties. There is an error on page 48 where the other division in that attack is referred to as the ‘48th’; it should, of course, be ‘46th’.

"A second-line battalion (2/12th) was formed in September 1914 (the original battalion became 1/12th) and went to France in February 1917 with 175th Brigade, 58th Division and the third part of the book describes its formation, training and actions at the front. A year later, in February 1918, the two battalions amalgamated to become 12th London (Rangers) in the 58th Division and fought with that division for the rest of the war. The chapters in each part of the book were written by various contributors who were present during the events they describe, which include activities out of the line. The list of contents names the authors of each chapter.

"The maps are good and there is some good detail in the narrative, including identification of officers and other ranks in the action. Soldiers Died lists 1140 dead in addition to fifty officers. Twenty eight battle honours were awarded.

Read my other posts on numbering in the London Regiment battalions:

City of London Battalions

1st (City of London) Battalion (Royal Fusiliers)
2nd (City of London) Battalion (Royal Fusiliers)
3rd (City of London) Battalion (Royal Fusiliers)
4th (City of London) Battalion (Royal Fusiliers)
5th (City of London) Battalion (Rifle Brigade)
6th (City of London) Battalion (Rifles)
7th (City of London) Battalion
8th (City of London) Battalion (Post Office Rifles)

County of London Battalions

9th (County of London) Battalion (Queen Victoria's Rifles)
10th County of London) Battalion (Hackney) [Originally Paddington Rifles]
11th (County of London) Battalion (Finsbury Rifles)
13th (County of London) Battalion (Kensington)
14th (County of London) Battalion (London Scottish)
15th (County of London) Battalion (Prince of Wales's Own Civil Service Rifles)
16th (County of London) Battalion (Queen's Westminster Rifles)
17th (County of London) Battalion (Poplar & Stepney Rifles)
18th (County of London) Battalion (London Irish Rifles)
19th (County of London) Battalion (St Pancras)
20th (County of London) Battalion (Blackheath & Woolwich)
21st (County of London) Battalion (First Surrey Rifles)
22nd (County of London) Battalion (The Queen's)
23rd (County of London) Battalion
24th (County of London) Battalion (The Queen's)
25th (County of London) Cyclist Battalion
28th (County of London) Battalion (Artists Rifles)

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QVR said...


One of my men joined 4th Sept 1914 and he is numbered 2418. Your records show that 2954 joined on 7th Sept. This would suggest 500+ men joined over this 4 day period. Is this about right for Sept 1914?


Paul Nixon said...

Hi Andy

It could be. I also have 2647 who joined on 5th September so it's not beyond the realms of possibility. I do however, have a gap between 2136 (10th August) and 2647 so tread cautiously. Let me see if I can fill that gap somehow. Keep watching this space.


David Kosh said...

Dear Paul - After drawing a blank in the Army Service Records, the WWI Medal Index gives Regimental Numbers of 5099 and 472111 for my paternal grandfather Clarence W(ard)HUNT (born 1884). He was entitled to the Victory Medal and British War Medal. First Internet research indicates that he enlisted in 1/12 Battalion, The London Regiment, end 1915?. Can your records verify any of the above? As he was already 31 and married in 1915 is it likely that he served in France or Belgium? Any comments and suggestions for further research would be hugely appreciated. David Kosh, Switzerland

Paul Nixon said...

Dear David

Thanks for your message. 5096 joined on 9th Feb 1916 so I would imagine that your grandfather joined on the same day or the following day. It may be that your grandfather had attested in late 1915, possibly under the Derby Scheme, but the number dates to Feb 1916 so that's when he was issued with it. If he had medals he certainly served overseas. I'm afraid that I don't know exactly where the 12th Londons served but there are books and the war diaries which would enable you to plot his likely service record.


Unknown said...

My great grandfather was with the rangers JR Kingston he was Kia 11/10/18 where were they fighting that day

Paul Nixon said...

He was unlucky to be killed so close to the end of the war, but there were thousands of men who fell into that category. My Great uncle was KiA a week earlier on the 3rd October 1918.

Unknown said...

Hi Paul

I watched your FMP video yesterday and I'm trying to use your tip to find service records. My G-Grand father served with 1/12 London Regt from 1915 and had the number 3651. Using your tip I've found a couple of records; 3646 and 3654, near that number which have records but they both seem to have been assigned to 3/12 London Regt.

My question is therefore whether the 12th duplicate battalions used the same numbering sequence or did they use separate ones. If they use the same I can be confident that my G-G-F signed up between 6th and 9th April 1915 probably at Chenies Street.

Many thanks for any help


Paul Nixon said...

Hello Guy

The 1/12th, 2/12th and 3/12th all used the same number series. He would have joined the 3/12th and then been posted to the 1/12th Battalion overseas. So your logic is sound, he would have joined between those dates. Clever isn't it?

Unknown said...

I am just going through my grandfather’s archive. His playbook shows he joined up on 1/1/16 with the 12th Rangers with number 12/4649 (which matches your number sequence exactly). At some point he was transferred to the 9th QVR with number 415049. Was this unusual? Many thanks for any insights. Roger Loxley

Paul Nixon said...

It wasn't unusual to transfer between battalions, Roger. The transfer must have taken place after Jan 1917 when the TF was re-numbered.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul

my Grandad Leonard Nutbrown joined the 1/12th bn london regiment - The rangers with a regimental number of 2969. Does this mean he enlisted on the 7th September 1915.

There is a second no. 470713. could this be when the Bn renumbered or could it be when re was commission into the 21st bn first surrey rifles in 1917?


Paul Nixon said...

Re Leonard Nutbrown. Yes, using my guide above, the number probably dates to about 7th September 1914, give or take a day or two. The six-digit number dates to early 1917 when the TF was re-numbered. Officers did not have regimental numbers during WW1.

Unknown said...

Hello my great grandfather lance coperal j r edwards 470009 had his time with the unit and lost his middle right finger in a mortar blast , anyone have any photos of the unit or anyone have any pictures that might have him in them? I've seen pictures of him as an old man but never young handsome and in uniform , any help id be grateful.

Paul Nixon said...

Please have a look at the tips on my British Army Ancestors site: https://www.britisharmyancestors.co.uk/soldier-photos-sought/

Matt said...

Hi Paul
Is there a definitive list of which men served with the 1/12th and 2/12th BNs London Regiment (the Rangers)?

Plus my grandfather was mentioned in dispatches for his role in "the events of March 1918" but how do I find details of what he did? He was Leonard A Nutbrown serving as a lieutenant with the 21st London regiment but was attached to the 15th London Regiment the time of his MIB.

Paul Nixon said...

Matt, re 12th London nominal roll, I am not sure, but check the conversations on the Great War Forum. Failing that, coinsider building your own list by referring to medal rolls, SDGW, CWGC and service/pension records.

Leonard Nutbrown has no surviving papers but he may be mentioned in the relevant war diaries which you can download free of charge from the National Archives' website.

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