24 January 2009

The Manchester Regiment - Regular, Special Reserve & Extra Reserve enlistments 1881-1914

This post will just look at sample joining dates for the regular battalions of the Manchester Regiment and - from 1908 - army service numbers and corresponding joining dates for men in the 3rd (Special Reserve) and 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalions. The period covered is 1881 to August 1914.

There are over 71,000 Manchester Regiment service and pension records (for this regiment - and its antecedents) in various War Office series held at the National Archives. Clicking on the link will take you to the results on Findmypast but you will need a subscription or Pay-Per-View credits to actually view the records. Some of these records can also be viewed on-line on Ancestry although Findmypast has by far the most comprehensive service record collection.

Use the regimental numbers and dates on which these were issued, below, to determine parameters for when your own Manchester Regiment ancestor would have joined up. Note though that these numbers are only for regular enlistments. Special Reserve and Territorial Force battalions operated completely separate regimental number sequences.

The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Manchester Regiment were formed out of the 63rd (West Suffolk) Regiment of Foot and the 96th Regiment of Foot respectively.

The Regular Battalions - 1st and 2nd - The Manchester Regiment
36 joined on 23rd July 1881
433 joined on 10th October 1882
678 joined on 10th November 1883
744 joined on 26th January 1884
1254 joined on 18th November 1885
1314 joined on 6th January 1886
1908 joined on 15th April 1887
2377 joined on 1st October 1888
2566 joined on 4th Ma 1889
2817 joined on 1st March 1890
3301 joined on 20th August 1891
3507 joined on 6th January 1892
3967 joined on 11th August 1893
4348 joined on 1st October 1894
4635 joined on 15th August 1895
4839 joined on 12th February 1896
5030 joined on 12th February 1897
5373 joined on 21st February 1898
5888 joined on 15th November 1899

In times of need: two more for the Manchesters

Two more regular battalions, the 3rd and 4th, were raised at Aldershot on 1st March 1900. Men joining these battalions were given numbers in the same series that was in use for men joining the 1st and 2nd Battalions. There was no numbering distinction between the four battalions. The 3rd and 4th recruited throughout the Boer War and beyond. It wasn't until 13th September 1906 that an Army Order (number unknown to me) approved the reduction of both battalions. The disbandment of both battalions was completed by the end of that year.

6440 joined on 14th November 1900
6877 joined on 9th September 1901
7520 joined on 25th February 1902
8528 joined on 22nd January 1903
9975 joined on 27th May 1904

During the Boer War, the Manchester Regiment fielded four Volunteer Service Companies and numbering in these companies DID NOT follow the sequential patterning of the time. I have explained this in greater detail on a separate post. Click on the link in this paragrpah to read more.

In 1904, King's Regulations for the Army (Provisional), extended the series of numbering to "19,999 in each regiment of foot guards, infantry of the line and Royal Army Medical Corps..." Presumably though, the Manchesters, approaching 9,999 (the limit set under previous regulations), had already allowed the "sufficient time" specified, and applied to the Adjutant-General to obtain authority to commence a new series. That they were approaching 9,999 as early as 1904 was certainly due to the addition of the 3rd and 4th Battalions in 1900. In any event, the Manchesters started a new series, from 1 in 1904.

39 joined on 8th July 1904
391 joined on 2nd March 1905
915 joined on 9th April 1906
1304 joined on 21st September 1908
1551 joined on 9th February 1909
1675 joined on 11th January 1910
2014 joined on 17th January 1911
2258 joined on 15th February 1912
2509 joined on 12th March 1913
2772 joined on 12th February 1914

By late June 1914, numbering in the two regular battalions had reached the 2800s and when the First World War began, the service battalions would continue with the same series. I'll deal with the service battalions and pals battalions in a future post because the numbering - and allocation of blocks - is by no means a straightforward matter.

3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, The Manchester Regiment

751 joined on 23rd July 1908
1114 joined on 30th April 1909
1319 joined on 10th February 1910
1591 joined on 2nd June 1911
1857 joined on 13th March 1912
2126 joined on 4th September 1913
2226 joined on 10th March 1914

By mid June 1914, numbering in the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion had reached around 2300.

4th (Extra Reserve Battalion) Battalion, The Manchester Regiment

688 joined on 25th July 1908
1114 joined on 16th January 1909
1555 joined on 25th August 1910
1629 joined on 23rd February 1911
1759 joined on 1st February 1912
1942 joined on 9th September 1913
1998 joined on 16th February 1914

By 20th June 1914, numbering in the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, had reached 2050.

Both the 3rd (Special Reserve) and the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalions of the Manchester Regiment did not start numbering from 1 in 1908 but continued with the separate numbering series which had been in use for the two militia battalions they were born out of.

Read my other posts on the Manchester Regiment:

The Manchester Regiment, The Regular Battalions 1881-1914

The Manchester Regiment - Volunteer Service Companies 1900-1902

5th Bn, Manchester Regiment (TF)
6th Bn, Manchester Regiment (TF)
7th Bn, Manchester Regiment (TF)
8th Bn, Manchester Regiment (TF)
9th Bn, Manchester Regiment (TF)
10th Bn, Manchester Regiment (TF)

Manchester Regiment Service Battalion numbers 1914-1916
16th, 17th & 18th Manchesters (1st, 2nd and 3rd City Battalions)
19th, 20th & 21st Manchesters (4th, 5th and 6th City Battalions)
22nd, 23rd & 24th Manchesters (7th & 8th City Battalions and the Oldham Pioneers)

A Manchester Pal's War - 9814 Pte Harry Bardsley, 18th Manchesters

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

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.

Search for your Manchester Regiment ancestor's army service number, service record and pension record with a FREE 14 day trial to Ancestry.co.uk - Click here!

HISTORY OF THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT (63rd and 96th Regiments): VOLUMES I (1758-1883) AND II (1883-1922)

This from the Naval & Military Press:

"This is a history of three regiments: Vol I The 63rd and 96th Foot; Vol II The Manchester Regiment.

"The 63rd began as the 2nd Battalion 8th Foot in 1756; in 1758 it became a separate regiment, was numbered 63 and almost immediately sent to Guadeloupe with an expedition against the French. Subsequently it fought in the American War of Independence, in Flanders and the ill-fated Walcheren expedition, in the Crimea, India and Burma and the 2nd Afghan War, gaining fifteen battle honours in all.

"The 96th, raised in 1824, was the sixth regiment to have that number, taking the Egyptian and Peninsular honours of its immediate predecessor, 96th Queen’s Own, disbanded in 1818. It fought in the First Maori War adding the battle honour “New Zealand” to the other two. Volume II is concerned with the regular battalions of The Manchester Regiment which came into being in 1881 with the Cardwell Reforms, when the 63rd and 96th were paired to form the 1st and 2nd Battalions respectively of the new regiment. Both battalions fought in the South African war and in 1900 two more regular battalions, 3rd and 4th, were formed, both were in the South African war and both were disbanded in 1906.

"In the Great War there were 42 battalions but this volume deals only with the 1st and 2nd Battalions. The 1st served with the 3rd (Lahore) Division on the Western Front, in Mesopotamia and Palestine, the 2nd on the Western Front from Mons to the Armistice, first with 5th Division, and then from the end of 1915 with the 32nd Division. The final chapter provides comprehensive and historically valuable details for the three regiments on uniforms, Colours, badges, weapons, equipment, followed by several useful and interesting appendices. There is correspondence (1922-23) requesting the restoration of the Fleur de Lys cap badge of the 63rd Ft to replace the much disliked Manchester City Coat of Arms cap badge, a badge which was worn by "every worker in the employment of the City corporation.” (request approved). There is the succession of Colonels and an alphabetical roll of regimental officers from 1758 to 1923 showng dates of service with the Regiment, dates of promotion and date and reason for being struck off. The list of Honours and Awards, including foreign, is for all three regiments,. Incidentally the heading for the Order of the British Empire should read "Most Excellent”; the names listed here do not indicate which of the five grades was awarded. Citations of 14 VC awards are given. Officers of the 1st and 2nd Battalions killed in action in the Great War are shown by name, for the rest there is a table summarising the total dead by battalions, giving an overall figure of 14,122 of whom 723 were officers: the total number of casualties of all types numbered some 45,000."


Anonymous said...

I do enjoy this site and take my hat off to you for bringing it to the attention of those wishing to know more.

The numbering and enlistment dates of the 5th Manchesters as seen here seem to be pretty straight forward. However in reality it's too simplistic as you'll find that large numbers being transferred in will throw your enlistment dates well out.

My own database concerning the Northumberland Fusiliers has traced over 65,000 individuals and is still growing.

Dating origianl members of it's Territorials is pretty similar to the Manchesters, but once you start hitting higher four figure or six figure numbers, where transferred men are concerned, their enlistment dates throw the neat enlistment date pattern well out the window.

The NF had large Territorial drafts from Norfolk and Hertfordshire and the dates of their enlistment can date from 1908 through to 1916 and it's these that upset everything.

This could cause confusion among those new to the system. For instance;- "great uncle Ted was originally East Lancs(TF) and is numbered 4*** with tne 5th Manchesters, but he enlisted in 1912, why isn't his enlistment date following the pattern???????".

The same problem occurs with New Army battalions as the higher your numbers go the less chance that the man involved is infact a Manchester enlistment, with an enlistment date that just doesn't tally with the neat 1914/15 enlistment patterns from the Depot.

Do hope you don't mind my replying, but it's a problem I've already encountered.

Anyway all the best with the site,
Graham Stewart

Paul Nixon said...

Thanks Graham, yes I need to post a large caveat somewhere concerning this - or probably large caveats on each of the posts. I take on board what you say and I have similar oddities in other battalions, some of which I've drawn attention to here - see my posts on the 23rd Londons and 5th Londons for instance.

As you will have found with the NF, I'm sure, even though the orderly system breaks down in places and new numbers start appearing, there are often patterns within those new series (again, see my post on the 23rd Londons as a very small example).


But you're right to point out the anomalies of course. The blog is intended to assist researchers in ascertaining, from a regimental number, when a person joined a particular regiment / battalion and so I'll add the caveats I mentioned earlier.

Paul Nixon

PammyAnny said...

What a stupendous piece of work, and it will probably help me to identify the battalion my grandfather was in. I've hunted through the online records, record by record for the first 3 initials of his surname, but nothing. I was finally able to find out who had his medals and managed to identify his MIC from them. From your numbers, it looks as though he was in the 9th, but I'll have to check where they were in Nov 1914. Many, many thanks for all your hard work.

Paul Nixon said...

Thanks PammyAnny, glad you found it useful.

You might also want to check out the Manchester Regiment forum at: http://www.themanchesters.org/forum/index.php or post your relative's number here and I'll see whether I can narrow down his joining date. The numbers I have published on this blog are just samples from a far larger database.

PammyAnny said...

Hi Chailey, thank you for the offer. George (Herbert but he appears not to have used his middle name) Burton, service no 1611, Theatre 3 on 5/11/14.
Medals: British, Victory, 15 Star.

Labour Corps 666435

I visited the Manchesters about 6 months ago, at the beginning of my search, but didn't have his service numbers then. Yes, I'll go back again with considerably more idea now of the size of the task :)

Paul Nixon said...

Well Theatre 3 - as I'm sure you probably know - is Egypt, so that narrows down the battalions that he could have served with by November 1914. It can't have been a regular battalion (they were in France) or a service battalion (not overseas until 1915) so he must have served with one of the Territorial Force battalions - and logic would suggest that it was probably his local TF battalion.

All of the Manchester TF battalions had issued number 1611 before Britain went to war in 1914 and in the case of the 9th Manchesters, the number was issued in the first half of February 1914. The battalion appears to have had something of a recruiting drive in early 1914 with around 300 men joining the Terriers between January and July 1914. You should also check http://www.ashtonpals.fusiveweb.co.uk (and probably contact the website owner to see if George Burton is on the database).

Finally, if 1611 is a TF number, he obviously transferred to the Labour Corps (and probably as a result of sickness or wounding) before the TF was re-numbered in 1917, otherwise he would also have a six digit number appearing on his medal index card.

Hope this helps.

PammyAnny said...

I finally went to Kew yesterday to check the medal rolls and found that George Burton 1611 was in the 6th Bn. Hope that's of some use to you! Searched the burnt records, but no luck unfortunately.

Paul Nixon said...

That's great; glad you had some luck with the medal rolls and hope you enjoyed your time at Kew. I always find, on visits there, that there are way too few hours in a day.

Paul Nixon

PammyAnny said...

If copies of the 2 pages would be useful, I'm happy to send them.

Yes, time flew at Kew. I'd planned for a long opening on Tuesday, but had to leave earlier than anticipated because of the Tube strike. Next time I hope to stay longer. Bonus was taking photos of a grey heron and an Egyptian goose outside.

Paul Nixon said...

Thanks for the offer PammyAnny, but not necessary thanks. Hi number though, indicates that he joined up pre WW1. The closest I can get is 1604 who joined on 24th Feb 1913, then I have 1673 who joined up on 25th April 1913. So I'd be guessing that George joined up late Feb or early March 1913.

The geese are a permanent and pleasant fixture at the National Archives.

PammyAnny said...

Many thanks for the estimate of his joining up date, it's much appreciated.

Unknown said...

Greetings Paul!

I came across your post whilst researching another of my WW1 relatives and would like to thank you for your efforts.

Born in April 1893, my Great Uncle, James Francis McGreavy, appears on the 1911 Census, taken April 2nd, where his occupation is listed as "Apprentice - Finishing". His service number in the 1st Manchesters became 2205 and your post helped me asecrtain that Gt Uncle James must have finished whatever apprenticeship he had been undertaking to become a regular soldier a little while after that particular census. Prior to reading your post concerning the new numbering starting from "1" in 1904, I had struggled to reconcile his service number with his age etc. Thanks once again!


Bryan1510 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bryan1510 said...

Why don't you even mention the 12th bn?

Paul Nixon said...

Bryan 1510. I'll let you know when I offer a free research-on-demand service, shall I?

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