25 February 2009

8th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

Click on the 1923 map above (courtesy of The Picture Parlour) to get a better picture of the geographical spread covered by the 8th (The Argyllshire) Battalion, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. This was a Territorial Force (TF) battalion which, at the beginning of 1914, was headquartered at Dunoon. A Company recruited men from Inverary, B Company from Campbeltown, C Company from Southend, D Company from Dunoon, E Company from Lochgilphead, F Company from Ballachulish, G Company from Bowmore and H Company from Easdale. (Source: The Territorial Force 1914 - Ray Westlake). All Companies, with the exception of D Company (Dunoon), had drill stations in multiple locations.

Early recruits to the 8th A&S Highlanders came from the 5th Volunteer Battalion, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. As with the 6th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, numbering in this battalion - starting from 1 in April 1908 - does not always follow a logical, sequential path and so for the time being I'm going to start the series on the Bank Holiday Monday, August 1914; the day before Britain went to war with Germany.

1791 joined on 3rd August 1914
1941 joined on 4th September 1914
2168 joined on 2nd October 1914
2316 joined on 4th November 1914
2466 joined on 7th December 1914
2592 joined on 4th January 1915
2991 joined on 1st February 1915
3240 joined on 19th March 1915
3267 joined on 6th April 1915
3331 joined on 26th May 1915 [Sup Coy]
3336 joined on 8th June 1915 [Sup Coy]
3366 joined on 5th July 1915
3411 joined on 25th August 1915
3417 joined on 1st September 1915
3468 joined on 12th October 1915
3544 joined on 25th November 1915
3658 joined on 7th December 1915
3760 joined on 8th February 1916
3864 joined on 8th May 1916
4703 joined on 28th June 1916
4748 joined on 13th July 1916
4872 joined on 8th August 1916
5096 joined on 2nd September 1916
5324 joined on 23rd October 1916
5346 joined on 11th November 1916

Note the large jump from 3864 in May 1916 to 4748 the following month. Also, throwing another spanner in the battalion's numbering works are those men from the National Reserve who attested on form E.514 for one year's service at home. Numbers 2201 and 2203 for example, both attested on 4th September 1914. Later, men joining Number 1 Supernumerary Company, attached to the 2/8th A&S Highlanders, would be given numbers that fell perfectly in the sequence being used by the battalion; see the men indicated with [Sup Coy] above.

When the Territorial Force was re-numbered in 1917, the 8th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders were issued numbers within the range 300001 to 325000. Here are some sample six digit army service numbers from this series:

300048 originally joined on 15th March 1909
300120 originally joined on 20th February 1912
300182 originally joined on 13th January 1913
300292 originally joined on 26th January 1914
300382 originally joined on 8th August 1914
300518 originally joined on 15th September 1914
300573 originally joined on 8th October 1914
300645 originally joined on 5th November 1914
300861 originally joined on 9th January 1915
301108 originally joined on 11th February 1915
301184 originally joined on 6th April 1915
301268 originally joined on 6th September 1915
301300 originally joined on 1st November 1915
301409 originally joined on 6th December 1915
301495 originally joined on 8th February 1916
301722 originally joined on 15th May 1916
301825 originally joined on 3rd June 1916
302228 originally joined on 18th July 1916
302368 originally joined on 21st August 1916
302561 originally joined on 15th September 1916

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)
7th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (TF)
9th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (TF)
Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders service battalions 1914-1917

And finally...

BEWARE! 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.

The First World War

During the Great War, The Argyllshire Battalion formed part of the 51st Division (from 12 May 1915), the 61st (2nd South Midland) Division (from 7th February 1918) and finally the 15th (Scottish) Division from 1 June 1918. The following Naval & Military re-reprints may be of interest:


This is a fantastic book. I paid £160 for an original copy of this a few years ago. The N&MP re-print is considerably cheaper. Here's what N&MP say about the book:

"The senior of Kitchener’s Second New Army Divisions, the 15th (Scottish) was raised at Aldershot in September 1914 with a nucleus of men surplus to the requirements of the 9th (Scottish) Division and brought up to strength with drafts sent down from Scotland. It arrived in France in July 1915 and its first major battle was at Loos in which it captured its objectives, Loos itself and Hill 70, at a cost of 6, 404 casualties. All five VCs the division was to be awarded were won during the battle, four of them in twenty-four hours at Hill 70. The division remained in this sector till July 1916 when it moved down to the Somme where it achieved a notable success in capturing Martinpuich on 15th September. It took part in the Arras offensive in April 1917 and three months later it was fighting in the Battle of Pilckem Ridge during Third Ypres. It was back in the Arras sector when the German March 1918 offensive was launched and where the division held the enemy drive on Arras. For a short spell in July/August the division was under French command and took part in the capture of Buzancy and neighbouring villages. Total casualties throughout the war amounted to 45,542.

"This is an excellent history, well set out and with very good maps to support the interesting and well-written account of the division’s record. A most useful innovation is the provision of marginal notes which highlight events described in the accompanying text, and the top of each page is dated, a most welcome feature in a fast-moving narrative. A remarkable feature is the number of appendices which take up 192 pages and provide a wealth of detail: Order of Battle; Commanders and Staff both divisional and brigade with all changes; chronology of moves and events; casualties by battalions/units by dates with officers named and other ranks tabulated; complete list of recipients of Honours and Awards, by battalions/units. Of special interest are the operation orders for the Battle of Loos and the translation of a German report on the battle."

"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."

"The author served in the 7th Battalion (TF) Gordon Highlanders, 153rd Brigade, 51st Highland Division, and the period covered 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 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."


Anonymous said...

My G/father joined the 8th Bn in Campbeltown on the 10/03/1914 as private 1677. He was later given 300302. He was transfered to the 4th Camerons in 1917 as 220035 and on into the 6th Service Bn Cameron Highlanders until he was demobbed 31/03/1920 He then re-enlisted in the 8th Bn A&SH as 2968983 on the 13/08/1920

Paul Nixon said...

Great, thanks for that information. Those pre-war 8th Bn numbers certainly tie in with what I have. My info on the Camerons TF battalions is less comprehensive.


Anonymous said...


I've being carrying out some research on Private William R Arthur, 1/8th Bn Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, Reg. No. 3770 and thought you may be interested. Attestation on 24 Novemebr 1915, K.I.A 13 November 1916.

Paul Nixon said...

Great, thanks for that. The actual issue of the number dates to a little later so, as you say, attested in November 1915 (perhaps under the Derby Scheme) but actually joined the battalion (and was issued with his number at the regimental depot) in February 1916.

Unknown said...

I am trying to trace my great uncle whose name was Thomas Robertson or Mitchell ha was a Lance sergeant in the 10thor18th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders his service number was 2972601 and may have served in Korea any help would be greatly received thank you

Paul Nixon said...

Re 2972601 Robertson/Mitchell you'll need to contact the MoD as they hold papers from 1920: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/requests-for-personal-data-and-service-records

Charlie said...

My Great Great Uncle, Ronald Dewar was with 8th Btn, would love to learn more about the action he seen.

Unknown said...

I've just discovered that the number 3000001 was given to Corporal Robert Campbell of Inveraray, who originally had a service number 13 (thirteen, unfortunately his service records did not survive.

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