9 March 2009

Dating photographs by regimental numbers

Andy Spiller has kindly sent me a photograph of four of his great uncles, circa 1905. Two of the men are dressed in the uniform of the St Giles and St George’s (Bloomsbury) 19th Middlesex Volunteer Rifle Corps (or "Bloomsburys" for short). Men from this Volunteer Corps and the Victoria and St George's (1st Middlesex) Volunteer Rifle Corps would later form the nucleus of the 9th (County of London) Bn, The London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles) and so I've also posted the photograph above on the 9th Londons' post.

So when was the photograph taken?

The two Bloomsbury men - Ted and Harry Spiller - are seated. Behind them, left to right, stand 8023 Private Walter Spiller of the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment and 9698 Guardsman Arthur Spiller of the 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards.

Walter Spiller enlisted on 20th July 1904 and Arthur Spiller on July 4th 1901. Just visible on Arthur's lower left hand sleeve is what looks like part of a good conduct chevron, awarded after two year's service. In any event, in this instance, Arthur's joining date is something of a red herring because the photo can only have been taken after Walter joined up in July 1904.

The two men wear the "Broderick" cap which, Andy Spiller notes, was phased out in 1906/07 as being too Germanic. Andy knows for a fact that one of his Bloomsbury great uncles, Harry Spiller (seated right), served with the Bloomsburys from 9th March 1905 until 31st March 1908, and therefore 1905 (or just after) looks to be the likely year that this photograph was taken. (7095 Ted Spiller had joined the Bloomsburys in 1901).

Walter Spiller, who would have been on the Reserve when Britain went to war with Germany in August 1914, was an early casualty. He was killed in action with the West Riding Regiment on 25th October 1914 and is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial.

My thanks to Andy Spiller for responding to my appeal for photographs and for telling me the story of his soldier great uncles. You can read more about his family at Family Spiller.

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

British Army WW1 Records

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