24 February 2009

7th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

The 7th Battalion, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, was a Territorial Force (TF) battalion which, at the beginning of 1914, was headquartered at Stirling. A Company drew men from Stirling, B Company from Stenhousemuir, C Company from Falkirk, D Company from Lennoxtown, E and H Companies from Alloa, F Company from Alva and G Company from Kinross. (Source: The Territorial Force 1914 - Ray Westlake).

The battalion, formed in 1908, took in men who had previously served with the 4th Volunteer Battalion, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders.

The numbering series used for the 7th A&S Highlanders appears to be a good deal less complicated than that used for the 6th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. Typically, there is an exception and that appears to be those D Company men who joined at Lennoxtown and Kilsyth (which is where the drill station for D Company was situated). Up until the end of 1911 at least, their army service numbers appear to be out of step with men joining the other companies.

The following sequences to the end of 1911 show sample army service numbers for the 7th A&S Highlanders. Locations indicated in square brackets are the places of joining. Kilsyth & Lennoxtown men in blue.

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

880 joined on 12th January [Falkirk]
942 joined on 7th February [Kilsyth]
1006 joined on 28th January [E - Falkirk]
1016 joined on 25th March [Falkirk]
1038 joined on 8th April [Lennoxtown]
1062 joined on 4th March [Kelty]
1157 joined on 7th April [Kinross]

1219 joined on 24th February [Kilsyth]
1249 joined on 9th February [E - Falkirk]
1285 joined on 23rd April [Kilsyth]
1287 joined on 23rd April [Kilsyth]
1322 joined on 16th December [Kilsyth]
1330 joined on 1st November [Falkirk]

1324 joined on 16th January [Lennoxtown]
1334 joined on 20th February [Falkirk]
1349 joined on 15th March [Kilsyth]
1350 joined on 30th January [Stenhousemuir]
1353 joined on 31st January [Larbert]
1381 joined on 1st April [Kelty]
1382 joined on 11th April [Kelty]
1384 joined on 24th April [Alloa]
1403 joined on 2nd November [Lennoxtown]
1411 joined on 8th November [Lennoxtown]
1415 joined on 7th November [Kinross]

Now admittedly, what I have published above is a very small sample of army service numbers and joining dates for the 7th A&S Highlanders and I would love to see further evidence to support my theory that D Company men were - up until 1911 at least, and for want of a better term - out of kilter with the other companies. By 1912, as I say, the numbering appears to have settled down. I've added some six digit numbers into this following sequence. These were issued when the TF was re-numbered in 1917.

1438 joined on 17th January [Falkirk]
1467 joined on 29th January [Larbert]
1492 joined on 2nd February [Alva]
1515 joined on 18th March [Kilsyth]
1518 joined on 18th March [Kilsyth] later re-numbered 275112
1523 joined on 20th March[Kilsyth]
1534 joined on 26th March[Kinross]
1539 joined on 26th March [Kilsyth]
1553 joined on 27th March [Kilsyth] later re-numbered 275127
1567 joined on 2nd April [Denny]
1583 joined on 18th April [Kelty]
1594 joined on 16th April [Alloa]
1624 joined on 16th May [Alloa] later re-numbered 275160
1625 joined on 17th May [Alloa]
1665 joined on 31st July [Falkirk]
1689 joined on 6th November [Kilsyth]
1701 joined on 14th November [Falkirk] later re-numbered 275196
1727 joined on 5th December [Falkirk]

Here are some further sample army service numbers for the 7th A&S Highlanders from 1913 until 1916.

1784 joined on 21st January 1913
2132 joined on 31st March 1914
2248 joined on 11th August 1914
2359 joined on 7th September 1914
3004 joined on 14th October 1914
3151 joined on 2nd November 1914
3750 joined on 1st February 1915
3821 joined on 20th March 1915
4166 joined on 22nd April 1915
4181 joined on 3rd May 1915
4329 joined on 9th June 1915
4393 joined on 27th July 1915
4433 joined on 19th August 1915
4449 joined on 11th October 1915
4598 joined on 3rd November 1915
4745 joined on 24th January 1916
4824 joined on 2nd March 1916
5018 joined on 27th April 1916
5285 joined on 18th May 1916
5519 joined on 1st June 1916
6166 joined on 4th August 1916
6511 joined on 5th September 1916
6704 joined on 23rd October 1916
6838 joined on 29th November 1916
7274 joined on 29th December 1916

When the Territorial Force was re-numbered in 1917, the 7th A&S Highlanders (as can be seen above) were issued numbers within the block 275001 to 300000.

As 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.

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

Also see my posts regarding army service numbers issued to men in the following Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders battalions:

1st & 2nd Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders 1881-1914
3rd (Special Reserve) & 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion A&S Highlanders
5th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (TF)
6th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (TF)
8th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (TF)
9th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (TF)
Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders service battalions 1914-1917

The First World War

Two further battalions were formed during the First World War, the 2/7th and 3/7th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. The original, 7th Battalion became the 1/7th and, from January 1915, formed part of the 4th Division. In March 1916 it transferred to the 51st (Highland) Division.

The Naval and Military Press has re-published the 51st Divisional History. Here's what it says:

"The Highland Division was one of the pre-war Territorial divisions. Its HQ was in Perth with brigade HQs in Aberdeen, Inverness and Stirling. On mobilization the division moved down to its war station in Bedford where it remained, carrying out training till embarking for France in May 1915. During this period six of its battalions were sent to France, three in November 1914 and three in the following March, replaced by two Highland battalions and a brigade of four Lancashire battalions; it is not clear whether the latter were required to wear kilts. They were transferred to the 55th (West Lancashire) Division when that division reformed in France in January 1916 and were replaced, appropriately, by Scottish battalions. It was in May 1915, just as the division arrived in France, that it was designated 51st and the brigades 152nd, 153rd and 154th; by the end of the war the 51st (Highland) Division had become one of the best known divisions in the BEF."

I haven't read this divisional history but I do have an original copy of Fifty-First in France which I would recommend and which has also been re-published by N&M Press:

Here's the blurb:

"The author served in the 7th Battalion (TF) Gordon Highlanders, 153rd Brigade, 51st Highland Division, and the period covered in the book runs from their departure for France on 3rd May 1915 to the capture of Beaumont Hamel by the division on 13th November 1916. This is an unusual piece of work in that it is partly personal reminiscence and partly an account of his brigade and division in action. Thus we have extracts from his ‘trench journal’ on various dates describing his battalion’s experiences, but these are often set against a background of the brigade or division operations. It does not replace a divisional history as such but it certainly does give a very good picture of the Highland division at war and of a Highland battalion at war. Names of personalities mentioned are for real - not pseudonyms. This is a well-written account and a very satisfactory read but lacks maps and an index."


kayah said...

Very interesting, and one of those unexpected surprises looking at a site on village life just down the road in Sussex and there are the A & SH! My great uncle Percy Foster S/N 14176 was in the 14th (Service) Bn and was killed in an air raid on the base depot at Etaples on the 19/20 May 1918 along with a number of his comrades. A boot and shoe worker from Kettering he was one of two Englishmen in the bn killed that night. As far as I can tell he was with them from 1915 but look forward to you working your way up to 14
Super site

Paul Nixon said...

Thanks Ken.

I checked SDGW and your relative, Percy Foster, Died of Wounds on the date you mention. As regards his number, I can't give a precise date of joining because the A&S service battalion numbers tend to jump around a bit. Here's what I mean:

S/14041 - 26th Oct 1915
S/14062 - 17th Nov 1915
S/14109 - 24th Nov 1915
S/14125 - 15th Nov 1915
S/14133 - 15th Nov 1915
S/14139 - 22nd Oct 1915
S/14141 - 27th Oct 1915
S/14170 - 2nd Nov 1915
S/14246 - 8th Nov 1915
S/14259 - 3rd Nov 1915

All these numbers were issued to men who either went straight to the Regimental Depot or to the 14th or 15th Bns.


Unknown said...

do u have any info or insight into when and where my relative joined up, (7th A and s Highlanders) with his service number 278509 any help would be great!!


Paul Nixon said...


My data's a bit thin at this point but I'd guess around November / December 1916 or later, and possibly part of a draft transferring into the 7th Battalion from another outift, that transfer taking place overseas in France.


Unknown said...

thanks for that

if you come across anything else that could help me trace some info about him that would be great


Unknown said...

My great grandfather Donald McKinnon Anderson 276100 (originally 3647) from Alloa joined on 18/1/1915. Would you have any information on him Paul?

I have his service record, the pow records confirming his death, medal index card etc but any other information would be fantastic



Paul Nixon said...

Steven, if you have service reciord etc then you have far more than I do. I could only guess at his enlistment date based on his number, but you'll have all that already. You're luckier than most.


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