7 March 2009

The Queen's & King's Regulations - Regimental Numbers

This post will look at Queen's and King's Regulations for the Army between 1889 and 1914, and how they dealt with regimental numbering during those years. Click on the images below to see a readable version!

The Queen's Regulations and Orders for the Army. Part II. 1889

The Queen's Regulations and orders for the Army. 1895

The King's Regulations and Orders for the Army. 1904.

The 1904 Regulations ushered in fundamental changes regarding number sequences. Infantry regiments which had previously had to apply to start a new series once they were approaching 9,999 were now permitted to extend their numbering up to 19,999. (Nevertheless, the change in regulations came too late for some regiments which, having reached 9,999, had already started a new series from 1. I've mentioned these regiments in an earlier post on Regimental Numbering Series).

The Royal Artillery was now differentiated as [1] Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery and [2] Royal Garrison Artillery, both numbering up to 49,999 as opposed to the 99,999 which had been used prior to 1904 for the Royal Artillery as a whole.

The 1904 Regulations also specifically mentioned the cavalry regiments (numbering up to 9,999).

Army Order 289 - December 1906

Army Order 289 changed the numbering as far as the cavalry of the line was concerned. (The regiments of Household Cavalry retained their regimental numbering sequences but were to only number up to 9,999). Prior to this Army Order there had been no numbering differentiation between Household and Line cavalry, and each individual regiment had maintained a separate numbering series. Now, the line cavalry was to re-number by the three corps: Dragoons, Hussars and Lancers.

I am unsure of the precise date when this Order came into effect. The lowest numbers currently on my line cavalry databases are 30 (Dragoon Guards on 9th January 1907), 15 (Hussars - 1st January 1907), and 104 (Lancers on 12th February 1907). Men already serving with the cavalry line regiments were not re-numbered and so one assumes that there must have been duplicate numbers in the three corps.

For example, before the Order came into effect, most of the line cavalry were numbering in the high 5000s, 6000s and even 7000s in some regiments (7th Dragoon Guards, 7th Hussars and 5th Lancers to give three examples of the latter).

With the change in numbering, the Dragoons had again reached 5000 by August 1910, the Hussars by December 1909 and the Lancers (which had always had fewer regiments) by December 1913. This also presents today's researchers with another conundrum. Does my line cavalry ancestor's number belong to the pre 1906 series or the post 1906 series? I'll deal with the individual cavalry regiments and the corps of cavalry in future posts.

The King's Regulations and Orders for the Army. 1908.

The 1908 Army Order extended the numbering series in the RHA and RFA to 99,999 whilst the RGA maintained the 49,999 limit which had first been indicated in the 1904 King's Regulations.
The King's Regulations and Orders for the Army. 1912. Amended up to 1st August 1914.

The amended 1912 King's Regulations extended the numbering series in the Army Service Corps and Royal Engineers from 29,999 to 39,999; all other series remained unchanged. And when Britain went to war with Germany three days later, it was these regulations which were in force. There would be many more changes over the next four years.
My grateful thanks to joseph of the Great War Forum for the copy of the 1889 Queen's Regulations, and to Graham Stewart for all the others. View British Army WW1 Records here.
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Sikm said...

I've been wrestling with a conundrum (!?) and your mention of changed service numbers might offer the solution.

I have 2 ancestors who joined the 12th Lancers. The older, William Thomas b 1878 joined the 12th Lancers in 1896 and served in South Africa before being called up from the reserves for WW1. His original s/n was 3978 but when he died in 1917 his s/n was GS/16506.

The younger - Newman John Mead, 'Jack' b. 1891 and in 1911 still a civilian - joined in 1914 but his s/n was 3447.

Can you shed any light on this?

Regards, Simon

Melbourne Australia

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Simon

3978 is absolutely right for Jan or Feb 1896 for the 12th Lancers but if he was called up as a reservist in 1914 he must have extended his service at some point after 1896 as in the normal course of events he would have completed his 12 years' service by 1908. I couldn't find a medal index card for him and so I am assuming that he served out his time as 3978 and then re-enlisted with the corps of lancers after war had been declared. The GS/ prefix certainly dates it to a WW1 enlistment but I'm afraid I can't narrow down the date.

3447 for Jack Mead, coupled with his arrival date in France of 15th August 1914 suggests to me that he enlisted in May 1911 which is when this number for the corps of lancers dates to. So he would indeed have been a civilian in April 1911 when the census was taken but joined the army the following month and was one of the original expeditionary force arriving in France to meet the German Army.


Anonymous said...

I am studying my grandfathers war record and as he didn't seem to do anything spectacular (other than survive!)I cant find out very much. I have a couple of photos and think he was in the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry. I have his Victory medal and it is engraved with his name PTE. T.J. Davies and SR 6617. Is this his service number? It is very low for KSLI?
Any help or clarity would be appreciated. Thank you .

Paul Nixon said...

SR 6617 = Special Reserve 6617 which indicates that he joined up in 1914, probably at around the time war broke out. He landed in France on 20th October 1915 and, uncommonly, his medal index card notes "Spec[ial] Res[erve]" and a discharge date of 25/03/1919.

Anonymous said...

I have a 10th Hussar, Private Francis Smith, service number 7998, who was killed near Ypres on 13 May 1915. His medal card says he arrived in France on 6/10/1914. From his number can you suggest when he will have joined the 10th Hussars?
Many thanks if you are able to solve this puzzle.

Paul Nixon said...

Re 7998 Smith, 10th Hussars

The number dates to between 10th and 14th December 1911.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Paul. Francis (Frank) was my great Uncle. His father was a Colour Sergeant training rifle volunteers so military life was a family career.
Smashing site you are creating here.

John Lawson

Paul Nixon said...

Glad to have been able to assist, John. Good luck with your research.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul,

I'm trying to research my grandfather. He was in the Corps of Lancers (it might have been the 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers). Can you date when he joined the Corps of Lancers from his service number "L/ 12467" ?

He also served in the infantry and was transferred into the Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment his service number there was "G/ 22055". Can you date when he joined the Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment ?

Many thanks for any help you can offer.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul,

I tried commenting here last night but I don't see my question coming through on the blog, so I will try again.

I'm researching my grandfather William Kelly who had two army service numbers during WW1 in the 1914-1919 period.

He was in the cavalry in the Corps of Lancers (may have been the 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers Regiment) and his service number was "L/ 12467". Can you estimate when he joined/enlisted in the Lancers ?

He was also in the infantry in the Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment and his service number was "G/ 22055". Can you estimate when he joined/enlisted in the Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment ?

Many thanks for any help you can offer.

Paul Nixon said...

Re L/12467

Thanks for your comments. I can only be vague I'm afraid. Looking at his MIC I'd suggest that he enlisted with the Queen's first, probably post August 1916 and then subsequently transferred to the Lancers, although I can't be more specific on dates.


Anonymous said...

Just a point on the first comment - my Great Grandfather's SN was 3978! He was Pte Edmund Lloyd of the 9th (QR) Lancers, so I don't understand how someone else could have that number at the same time! How does that work?

Paul Nixon said...

Not unusual actually. The cavalry regiments operated individual number series by regiment up until 1907 and then drew numbers from a single series by corps. Later still, in the First World War, new number series were again started. So it was quite possible for men to have the same numbers which belonged to different series and which had been issued at different times. It's one of the interesting, and often puzzling, facts about regimental numbering.


tearh60 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
tearh60 said...

Hello, I am researching 4776 RFL Frederick Thomas Marshall who was born on 26 Oct 1875 in Haggerston, Shoreditch, England and died on 24 Mar 1914 in Military Hospital in Cork Ireland. He served as a Rifleman with the Rifle Brigade. In 1908 he was with A Coy, Rifle Brigade stationed in Raglan Barracks, Devonport, England and married Alma Francis JENN in the Spring of that year. He had 3 Chevrons on his uniform which I believe were for long service and good conduct. Looking at the list of Army Service Numbers, he may have joined in 1896 at the age of 21. I have been unable to find any service records for him on findmypast.com or ancestry.co.uk. We do have a copy of his death announcement that was written in Page I No 71 of the Rifle Brigade Military Orders on 24 Mar 1914 and one photo of him in uniform. I would like to know if his military records did survive the bombing in Kew, what overseas deployments he may have gone on, what medals he may have received and where he is buried. I have been unable to find him in the 1901 or 1991 England Census. Any info would be appreciated.


Paul Nixon said...

I can't see that any records survive, Teanna, but if you'd like me to dig deeper, please drop me a line - see the RESEARCH tab.


Ken Tyrrell said...

Hello, Paul.
Came across your site two years or so back. Been a great help with my medal collection ever since.
Recently came across a Nominal Roll for the 9th Lancers. My man has entries on this roll with abbreviations 'BHP 27.7.17' followed by 're-joined 5.9.17'. Then, later, 'HP on leave'.
Any bright idea as to what 'BHP' and 'HP' might mean? Been through my book on abbreviations without success.
Yours, hopefully!

Paul Nixon said...

No idea, Ken. Have you tried posting this query on The Great War Forum?

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