17 February 2009

Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders - 3rd & 4th Battalions

This post will look at army service numbers and corresponding joining dates for the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion and the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders between the years 1908 and 1914.

These two battalions, when formed in 1908, did not start numbering from 1 but continued with the series that had been in use by the 3rd and 4th Militia Battalions they were created from. In my experience of looking at service records for men joining these two battalions, it is fairly common to see numbers allocated to 3rd Battalion men prefixed with 3/; far less common to see numbers allocated to 4th Battalion men prefixed with 4/.

The 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

3/4067 joined on 12th July 1908 (but had originally joined the 3rd Militia Bn - and been given the number 4067 - on 23rd November 1905)
3/6129 joined on 23rd March 1909
3/6238 joined on 1st March 1910
6463 joined on 2nd June 1911
3/6646 joined on 31st July 1912
3/6724 joined on 22nd January 1913
3/6952 joined on 2nd June 1914
7077 joined on 8th August 1914
7524 joined on 1st September 1914
7824 joined on 29th October 1914

This is currently the last number on my database for 3rd Battalion men.

The 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

4998 joined on 2nd August 1908
7393 joined on 5th July 1909
8189 joined on 7th January 1910
8338 joined on 17th January 1911
8517 joined on 17th September 1912
8692 joined on 16th August 1913
8822 joined on 15th January 1914
9012 joined on 18th August 1914
9655 joined on 26th August 1914
9709 joined on 12th October 1914

This is currently the last number on my database for 4th Battalion men.

There are a couple of points to note about these series. Certainly, as far as the 4th Battalion is concerned, I have numbers within the range 4998 (published above) to 7130 which were all issued on the 2nd August 1908 to men who noted on their attestation papers that they were already serving with the 4th [Militia] Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. These men were transferred from the Militia to the Special Reserve, retaining their Militia numbers (see comments below). New recruits joining the Special Reserve were, as I have mentioned, numbered as a continuation of the 4th Militia Bn number series rather than from a new series beginning with 1.

The same practice appears to hold good for 3rd Battalion men, thus 5997 Patrick Boyle who attested with the 3rd Battalion on 10th August 1908 was already a serving member of the 3rd Militia Battalion. He would not live long enough to serve in the First World War, dying of apendicitis in June 1912.

12th July 1908 looks to be the date on which 3rd Militia Battalion men transferred to the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion. The 2nd August 1908 appears to be the date on which the 4th Militia Battalion of the A&S Highlanders transferred to the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion. Militiamen had three options: to remain as Militiamen, to claim a free discharge or to convert to Special Reservists. By far the majority chose to convert.

Both the 3rd and the 4th Battalions - after the initial rush with old Militia men joining in 1908 - appear to have slowed down to an annual recruitment rate of around 200 men each, until we get to August 1914 of course, when the numbers leap again. My data ends for both battalions in October 1914 and it would appear that recruiting directly into these battalions (or certainly these number series) ceased in the autumn of 1914.

It may be stating the obvious, but it is worth pointing out that when Britain went to war in 1914, many men serving with the 3rd and 4th Battalions were immediately posted to the (regular) 1st and 2nd Battalions and were soon facing German troops in Belgium. Thus 21 year old 3/6061 Private Henry Campbell went missing on 21st October 1914 whilst serving with the 2nd Battalion, but his number belongs to the series used by the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion which he had joined on 4th December 1908. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial. A note in his file reads, "In accordance with the decision of the Army Council, this soldier is to be regarded for official purposes as having died on or since 21.10.1914."

Find Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders on-line with Ancestry.co.uk - Click here!

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
5th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (TF)
6th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (TF)
7th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (TF)
8th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (TF)
9th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (TF)
Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders service battalions 1914-1917

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Anonymous said...

Hi Paul,
Still following your blog regularly - all good stuff!

Re numbers dated 2nd August 1908

I agree that these are men who signed up with the Militia but I don't think they were discharged and renumbered. I think that there was some sort of official instruction which applied to this date for all Special Reserve units (see KOSB below), which involved a new set of service papers being drawn up. My data indicates that these men kept their original Militia numbers. To illustrate this, I list some KOSB Militia/Special Reserve numbers:

4485 3rd Oct 1903
4598 16th Feb 1904 [2nd Aug 1908]
5048 [2nd Aug 1908]
5082 5th May 1906
5169 22nd Jan 1907
5186 [2nd Aug 1908]
5270 [2nd Aug 1908]
5375 2nd Jul 1908
5524 12th Sep 1908

Paul Nixon said...

Thanks Stuart, I've added information to the original post.

I've also got three more 2nd August 1908 enlistments into the 3rd KOSB for you. Original joining dates with the 3rd Militia Bn in brackets.

4343 Andrew Pirie (09.03.1903)
4917 Harry Baker (04.05.1905)
5054 Samuel Currie (05.04.1906)

5402 Robert Barclay Hunter's service record indicates No Prior Service (and no existing service with the Militia). His attestation is with the 3rd KOSB and not the Militia (at least it's not an a Militia attestation form).

He joined on 27th July 1908 and was then posted to the 3rd Battalion on the 2nd August 1908.

5415 John Scott enlisted on 2nd September 1908.

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