20 February 2009

6th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

Above, Renfrewshire in the 1840s. Click on the image to see a larger version of it.

The 6th (Renfrewshire) Battalion, Princesss Louise's Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders was a Territorial Force (TF) battalion which, at the beginning of 1914, was headquartered at 66 High Street, Paisley. A, B and C Companies drew men from Paisley, D Company from Renfrew, E Company from Johnstone, F Company from Thornliebank, G Company from Barrhead and H Company from Pollokshaws. (Source: The Territorial Force 1914 - Ray Westlake).

In April 1908, upon the formation of the new Territorial Force, men who were serving with the 2nd Volunteer Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, were now asked to attest with the newly created 6th Battalion. Many did so.

It appears that although one series of numbers was used for the battalion as a whole (certainly I have not come across any duplicate numbers), different sequences within this series were allocated to specific companies. I list below, for comment as much as anything, army service numbers for this battalion by company headquarters. In most cases, albeit with blips here and there - see G Company as an example - the numbering is largely sequential.

Paisley - A, B & C Companies
1029 - Apr 30th 1909
1089 - Apr 6th 1909
1350 - Jun 21st 1909
1483 - Nov 4th 1910
1505 - Feb 15th 1911
1512 - Mar 15th 1911
1526 - Apr 27th 1911
1583 - May 26th 1911
1601 - Jun 1st 1911
1665 - Apr 5th 1912
1673 - Apr 19th 1912
1699 - Jun 11th 1912
1708 - Jun 25th 1912

Renfrew - D Company
1145 - Mar 15th 1909
1646 - Feb 27th 1912
1648 - Mar 1st 1912
1650 - Jan 16th 1912
1860 - May 23rd 1912
1932 - Jun 30th 1913

Johnstone - E Company
1587 - Nov 4th 1910
1804 - Dec 21st 1911
1812 - Jan 18th 1912
1821 - Jan 23rd 1912
1830 - Apr 8th 1912
1839 - Jun 13th 1912
2061 - Mar 17th 1913

Thornliebank - F Company
1377 - Mar 2nd 1910
1576 - Apr 11th 1911

Barrhead - G Company
1633 - Jul 6th 1911
1723 - Jun 5th 1912
1729 - Mar 30th 1912
2050 - Dec 1st 1912
2039 - Jan 28th 1913
2090 - May 23rd 1913

Pollokshaws - H Company
1760 - Jan 18th 1912
1790 - Apr 18th 1912
1882 - May 28th 1912
2029 - May 6th 1913
3097 - Dec 9th 1913

I am guessing - but I'd like to know for sure - that at some point in mid to late 1913, somebody in authority said words to the effect of, "Look, can we please stop all this messing around with blocks of numbers and just start issuing them in sequence?" There's certainly a leap from the 2000s to the 3000s in 1913 and thereafter, numbering for the battalion as a whole, appears to calm down somewhat.

Incidentally, service records for ALL of the army service numbers listed on this post, survive in the WO 363 and WO 364 series at the National Archives. They can all be accessed on-line via Ancestry.co.uk

Here is a further sample of army service numbers and corresponding joining dates for the 6th A&S Highlanders, starting the day after Britain declared war on Germany.

3307 joined on 5th August 1914
3426 joined on 1st September 1914
4344 joined on 26th October 1914
4437 joined on 4th November 1914
4712 joined on 18th January 1915
4789 joined on 27th March 1915
4830 joined on 1st April 1915
4896 joined on 1st May 1915
5248 joined on 4th June 1915
5367 joined on 12th July 1915
5386 joined on 2nd August 1915
5496 joined on 8th September 1915
5538 joined on 23rd October 1915
5558 joined on 3rd November 1915
5603 joined on 15th December 1915
5615 joined on 14th January 1916
5658 joined on 17th March 1916
5744 joined on 29th April 1916
6109 joined on 3rd May 1916
6495 joined on 25th July 1916
6611 joined on 24th August 1916
6817 joined on 26th September 1916
6915 joined on 6th October 1916

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Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders service battalions 1914-1917


As I hope I have illustrated above, 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.

When the Territorial Force was re-numbered in 1917, the 6th A&S Highlanders were issued numbers within the range 250001 to 275000.



Stewart Dickson said...

Hi there. I'm researching my Grandpa's service in the 1/6 Bn A&SH in the Great War. I know that he served in the A&SH TF pre-war for 4 years. His attestation papers state this was with the 6th Bn so I am intrigued by your comments re: 2nd Bn. He lived in Linwood. Can you help me shed more light on the A&SH TF during the pre-war period? Thanks.

Paul Nixon said...

SD, thanks for your post.

As I mention, it appears that different number blocks were allocated to different companies pre war. I can't be more specific than that without accessing the County Territorial Force notes/minutes (if they still exist). What was your grandfather's name and number?

Stewart Dickson said...

Name: John Dickson.
Born: 1891.
Home: Linwood.
I have no pre-war TF information to go on other than what his attestation papers say. Where might the TF notes/minutes you mention be located?

Paul Nixon said...

I'll check this for you next week. The county record office/s may well have the minutes so you you should probably check there first.

StevieMc said...

This ties in with my research of my GGF William George McGinnigle who joined the 1/6th A&SH with the date of his medical examination 2 May 1911. He was given the service number of 1529.

Paul Nixon said...

Thanks, Stevie Mc; glad the theory works.

Anonymous said...

I believe your grandfather was awarded the military medal and bar and was also mentioned in dispatches.

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