9 January 2009

23rd (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment

The 23rd (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment had its origins in the 4th Volunteer Battalion, East Surrey Regiment. Its headquarters was at Battersea in south London.

Here are some sample army service numbers and corresponding joining dates for the 23rd Londons:

43 joined on 1st April 1908
466 joined on 4th January 1909
1100 joined on 21st February 1910
1202 joined on 7th March 1911
1315 joined on 14th February 1912
1474 joined on 13th January 1913
1875 joined on 7th May 1914
1956 joined on 6th August 1914
2405 joined on 2nd September 1914
3217 joined on 2nd October 1914
3323 joined on 10th November 1914
3399 joined on 2nd December 1914
3428 joined on 6th January 1915
3468 joined on 24th February 1915
3471 joined on 1st March 1915
3510 joined on 24th April 1915
3809 joined on 5th May 1915
4345 joined on 3rd June 1915
4560 joined on 14th July 1915
4604 joined on 9th August 1915
4622 joined on 6th September 1915
4635 joined on 18th October 1915
4689 joined on 16th November 1915
4723 joined on 2nd December 1915
4737 joined on 11th February 1916
4807 joined on 3rd March 1916
5205 joined on 29th April 1916
5299 joined on 29th May 1916
5330 joined on 1st June 1916
6432 joined on 3rd July 1916
6791 joined on 19th August 1916
7010 joined on 29th September 1916
7088 joined on 13th October 1916

When the Territorial Force was re-numbered in 1917, the 23rd Londons were allocated six digit numbers within the range 700001 to 720000. Men who were already serving in the battalion were given new numbers, as were men who were missing in action but not confirmed dead. The man with the lowest original TF number was given the lowest six digit number and so on, so the sequential numbering practice carried on into the six digit series.

Here are some six digit numbers for the 23rd Londons, with original TF numbers in brackets where applicable (or known). Please do contact me if you can help fill any of the considerable gaps.

700004 originally joined on 1st April 1908 (unknown)
700047 originally joined on 14th February 1912 (1315)
700110 originally joined on 5th March 1913 (1537)
700266 originally joined on 3rd June 1914 (unknown)
700417 originally joined on 26th August 1914 (2282)
700493 originally joined on 3rd September 1914 (2471)
700882 originally joined on 26th October 1914 (unknown)
700899 originally joined on 12th November 1914 (3336)
700980 originally joined on 24th February 1915 (3468)
701008 originally joined on 24th April 1915 (3510)
701193 originally joined on 6th May 1915 (3826)
701633 originally joined on 7th September 1915 (4623)
701654 originally joined on 31st October 1915 (unknown)
701752 originally joined on 3rd March 1916 (4826)
702033 originally joined on 29th April 1916 (5205)
703034 originally joined on 2nd August 1916 (6741)
703225 originally joined on 29th September 1916 (7010)
703339 originally joined on 13th October 1916 (7088)

1916 certainly gets messier as far as sequential numbering is concerned.

During 1916 there are transfers to the 23rd Londons from the 3rd Londons, the 9th Londons and the 10th Londons. These transfers appear to kick in - as far as 23rd London numbering is concerned - at around 750*. These following ranges are approximate:

7500 - 7539
Men with these numbers transfered from the 9th London Regiment. They were grouped in chronological number order (ie, lowest number first) and then re-numbered.

7540 - 7571
Men with these numbers transfered from the 3rd London Regiment on 9th September 1916. From 7547 onwards, they appear to have been grouped (broadly) alphabetically by surname and then re-numbered.

Of the 16 service records I have found within the range above, all 16 men transferred to the 23rd Londons on 9th September 1916. Assuming therefore, that all men within the range 7500 to 7571 transferred on this date, it is sobering to note that at least 33 of these were subsequently killed in action or died of wounds. And of these 33 men, 24 lost their lives on the Somme on the 15th and 16th September 1916.

7572 - 7574
Oddities! (Possibly). For example, 7574 Roland George Wickens (whose service record survives in WO 364) was an original 23rd London enlistment. He joined the battalion on 20th August 1914 and was given the army service number 2198. He later transferred to the 2nd London Divisional Cycle Coy and was given a new number, 485. Later, in May 1916 he was again attached to the 23rd Londons and was re-numbered 7574, later 703616.

7575 - 7625
Men with these numbers transfered from the 10th London Regiment. There are at least two alphabetical groupings by surname: from P to W in both cases. There is also at least one transferee from the 2nd London Regiment (7623) and another from the 3rd London Regiment (7625).

For the most part, when the TF was re-numbered in 1917, men having numbers in this 75** and 76** range were mostly numbered logically and sequentially, thus:

7529 is later re-numbered 703580
7530 is later re-numbered 703581
7531 is later re-numbered 703582, and so on.

To complicate matters further, four digit numbers in the 80** range were issued to men in August 1916; thus:

8021 (later 703833) joined on 22nd August 1916
8034 (later 703898) joined on 23rd August 1916
8044 (later 703907) joined on 31st August 1916

Those men that I have come across in this number range appear to have been conscripted into the army. Also worth pointing out are those men who joined the battlion between May and July 1916. These recruits appear to largely consist of men who had attested under the Derby Scheme in November and December 1915. A lot of these, in turn appear to have been grouped alphabetically by surname and then given four digit numbers within the range being applied at the time (ie 5000s and 6000s).

So, a snapshot in August/September 1916 would show three distinct numbering patterns in use:

1. Men joining up in the UK and being assigned numbers roughly in the 6730 to 6980 range
2. Transfers from other battalions of the London Regiment, certainly from 7500 to 7625.
3. Conscripts in the 80** range and over

Find your London Regiment ancestors today with a FREE 14 day trial to Ancestry.co.uk - Click here!. Photo shows unidentified sergeant.

23rd LONDON REGIMENT 1798 - 1919

Reprinted by the Naval & Military Press who have this to say:

"The 23rd Battalion, The London Regiment, which came into being on 1 April 1908 with the creation of the Territorial Force, was the lineal descendant of the Newington Surrey Volunteers, formed in 1799 as one of the corps of the new volunteers. During the Great War it had two active service battalions, 1/23rd, the original unit, and its second line, 2/23rd. There was also a third line , 3/23rd, but this unit served as a reserve battalion and did not go overseas. Apart from four pages on the 3/23rd this book is concerned entirely with the two active battalions. At the end there is a Roll of Honour which includes all those who died without distinguishing battalion. There is no list of Honours and Awards.

"The 1/23rd Londons went to France in March 1915 with the 142nd Brigade, 47th London Division with which it remained throughout the war. Its first offensive operation was an attack on the German line at Givenchy on 25/26 May 1915; the objective was seized but the cost was considerable - 237 killed and 262 wounded. Other major actions included Loos, Somme (581 casualties at High Wood), and Messines. The 2/23rd, raised in August 1914, had a more varied war. It went to France in June 1916 with the 181st Brigade 60th Division and spent the next four months in the Roclincourt sector (north of Arras). In November 1916 the division was transferred to the Macedonian front and there the battalion spent about six months holding a section of the line before the division was again moved, this time to Palestine, in June 1917. For the next year the battalion fought a much more active war against the Turks as part of the EEF under Allenby, but in May 1918 seven of the division’s battalions, including the 2/23rd, were transferred back to France where the German offensive was still in progress. In July the battalion joined the 21st Brigade in the reconstituted 30th Division, its final change."

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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)
12th (County of London) Battalion (The Rangers)
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)
24th (County of London) Battalion (The Queen's)
25th (County of London) Cyclist Battalion
28th (County of London) Battalion (Artists Rifles)


32bravo said...

my grandfathers brother was originally in the 1/17 and was numbered 45546, later served in the 1/23 and had the number 29443 , both 5 digit nos, can anyone shed light on this.
He was K.I.A in Aug 1918

Paul Nixon said...

Thanks for your enquiry. Please go to the research tab and follow the instructions there if you would like this researching.


Anonymous said...


my Aunt has a photo of my Grandfather who was a Private in the 1/23rd Londons, perched on exactly the same wooden balustrade in front of a slightly different backdrop. Do you know the identity of this Sergeant?


Richard Green

Pullen said...

Pte j j porter 702400 was originally 5650

Anonymous said...

I have a medal in my possession that was given to em when i was doing my family tree. It is the british war medal for 1914-1918 for a private S Alderson of 23rd London Regiment ~702169

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