18 June 2009

The Devonshire Regiment - 1st & 2nd Battalions

There are nearly 36,000 Devonshire Regiment service and pension records (for this regiment - and its antecedents) in various War Office series held at the National Archives. Clicking on the link will take you to the results on Findmypast but you will need a subscription or Pay-Per-View credits to actually view the records. Some of these records can also be viewed on-line on Ancestry although Findmypast has by far the most comprehensive service record collection.

Prior to 1st July 1881, the Devonshire Regiment was the 11th Regiment of Foot. It started a new regimental number series from this date, some examples of which I list below. Use this list as a guide to determine when your own ancestor might have joined this regiment - but note that this list is for regular enlistments only. Special Reserve and Territorial Force battalions operated their own distinct regimental number series.

245 joined on 21st May 1882
483 joined on 2nd June 1883
737 joined on 2nd January 1884
1259 joined on 29th July 1885
1435 joined on 3rd February 1886
1736 joined on 5th July 1887
2009 joined on 18th February 1888
2337 joined on 2nd January 1889
3007 joined on 11th June 1890
3231 joined on 29th May 1891
3442 joined on 25th January 1892
3653 joined on 26th January 1893
3985 joined on 10th August 1894
4226 joined on 22nd June 1895
4742 joined on 29th July 1896
4793 joined on 4th January 1897
4969 joined on 5th January 1898
5267 joined on 4th January 1899
5974 joined on 22nd March 1900
6503 joined on 3rd January 1901
6914 joined on 10th March 1902
7269 joined on 12th January 1903
7607 joined on 24th January 1904
7906 joined on 9th March 1905
8130 joined on 8th May 1906
8290 joined on 13th February 1907
8615 joined on 23rd January 1908
8928 joined on 8th March 1909
9005 joined on 24th July 1910
9218 joined on 4th January 1911
9598 joined on 30th July 1912
9720 joined on 28th May 1913
9952 joined on 31st March 1914

When Britain went to war with Germany a few months later, men joining the newly forming service battalions of the Devonshire Regiment were issued service numbers which belonged to the same series as that which had been in use for the regular battalions. 10102 enlisted with the Devons for a term of regular service - 7 years with the Colours and 5 on the Reserve - on 14th August 1914. 10121 issued for war-time service only, the following day.

The image above (taken from a cigarette card) shows Private Thomas William Henry Veale of the 8th Devonshire Regiment who was awarded the Victoria Cross for "most conspicuous bravery" at High Wood, The Somme on 20th July 1916. His medals are held by the Devonshire Regiment Museum at Dorchester

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

Devonshire Regiment literature from the Naval & Military Press

1st Battalion, Devonshire Regiment during the Boer War, 1899-1902
The Devonshires took a leading role in the relief of Ladysmith after a lengthy siege by the Boers. They subsequently fought at Inagane and Lydenburg in Natal and South-eastern Transvaal. Their battle honours included the charge at Wagon Hill outside Ladysmith, and the night action at Elandslaagte. In his introductoion, Gen. William Kitchener calls attention to the main qualities of the Devon men who served under him: their ‘dogged devotion to duty’ which helped overcome the Boers’ stubborn resistance; their improvisation and their smart turnout in the worst of conditions. ‘In conclusion’ writes Kitchener, "a more determined crew I never wish to see, and a better regiment to back his orders a General can never hope to have." Iliustrated with 25 photographs and two maps. Also includes Roll of Honour.

Devonshire Regiment 1914-1918

When war broke out in 1914 the Devonshire Regiment consisted of two regular battalions, a Special Reserve Battalion and four Territorial battalions. By the end of the war the total was twenty-nine. This history contains the account of the operations of those battalions which took an active part in the war which earned them two VCs and sixty battle honours at a cost of 5,787 dead. They served on the Western Front, in Italy, Macedonia, Egypt, Palestine, India and in Mesopotamia.

C T Atkinson is among the foremost of the Great War divisional and regimental historians and this book is typical of his standard of writing and composition. He has provided a continuous narrative in a chronological order, bringing in the various battalions as they came onto the stage in the relevant theatre of war. He has made use of war diaries, not only of the battalions but also, where appropriate of brigades and divisions. He was also able to make use of collected accounts of various actions and experiences of those who took part in them, giving the point of view of the man in the trenches. One third of the book, some 250 pages, contains the complete list of honours and awards, including Mention in Despatches, and the Roll of Honour, listed alphabetically by battalions.

Through Hell to Victory

This book deals exclusively with the 2nd Devons (23rd Brigade, 8th Division) during the last year of the war. It describes what the battalion did in the early days of 1918, touches briefly on their movements in January, deals fully with the March retreat in the face of the German offensive, follows them in the fighting to save Amiens and goes on to describe at length the battalion’s heroic stand at the Bois des Buttes, under the shadow of the Chemin des Dames, on the 27th May and following days. For this action the battalion was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palm. This account comes not from official records but from the information of those who took part, and it took the author more than a year to assemble all the details. The casualties in the action at the Bois des Buttes, as given in the regimental history, amounted to twenty three officers and 528 men killed or missing.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic site you have created - most useful in my trying to record every person named Kingdon or Kingdom who ever served in any part of the Armed Forces at any time in history, an awe inspiring challenge! Many Kingdon/Kingdom soldiers served with the Devon Regiment & I thought that I might share this additional WW1 Great War Battalion information with you.

1st Bn - Regular Regiment stationed in Jersey in 1914;

2nd Bn - Regular Regiment stationed in Egypt in 1914;

3rd Bn - Training Bn. who stayed in England but thousands of their recruits from their recruiting marches in Devon went to the front from here. They also handled recovered wounded soldiers & sick men who came to the Bn to be transferred or to return to their units;

1st / 4th Bn - In India & Mesopotamia until returning home in August 1919;

2nd / 4th Bn - In India & Palestine until they were broken up in August 1918;

4th Reserve Bn - Although this was called a Home Posting, they served in Ireland;

5th Bn - In India, Egypt, Palestine & France occupation of the Rhine, returning home in November 1919;

2nd / 5th Bn - In Egypt until disbanded in June 1915;

1st / 6th Bn - In India & Mesopotamia returning home in August 1919;

2nd / 6th Bn - In India & Mesopotamia returning home in August 1919;

3rd / 6th Bn - Stayed in England & conducted local recruiting marches. Generally consisted of 'older men' but they did participate in camp training?

7th Bn - A Cyclist Bn which was demobilised already;

2nd / 7th Bn - A Cyclist Bn which was demobilised already;

8th Bn - ("Bullers Own") In France, Belgium & Italy, returning home in March 1919;

9th Bn - In France, Belgium & Italy, returning home in June 1919;

10th Bn - In France, Slavonica, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Bucharest & Caucasus, disbanded in 1919;

11th Bn - In England as a Training Bn for men for drafts to the 8th & 9th Devon Battalions. Later they trained men for any Regiment that was down on numbers;

12th Bn - A Labour Bn in England;

13th Bn - Stayed in England;

14th Bn - Stayed in England;

15th Bn - Stayed in England;

16th Bn - (Formerly the Royal North Devon Hussars & Yeomanry). Served in the Dardanelles as the Royal North Devon Hussars where many of their men were severly frost bitten. They were evacuated to Egypt & then served in Palestine & France;

51st Bn - A young soldiers' Battalion;

52nd Bn - A young Graduates Battalion;

53rd Bn - A young soldiers' Battalion;

1st Garrison Bn - (North Russia Company) Served in action at Ust Vaga against the Bolsheviks in 1919;

In general each Battalion numbered about 1,000 men (Officers & OR's), but often in operations they had well below this number;

The foregoing is as best as I can ascertain for the Devonshire Regiment in WW1;

Black Sapper (A Kingdon family researcher)

Anonymous said...

As I mentioned in an earlier comment on the Devonshires, I am currently recording every Kingdon or Kingdom named soldier, seaman or airman who ever served in any armed force at any time in history. The project is still in the early stages but I have a query on Devonshire Regiment soldier's numbers?

I have wife's grandfather - Sergeant Albert Edwin Kingdon who served in the 6th Bn. Devonshire Regiment in Mesopotamia & was mentioned in Despatches for Bravery on 07.02.1919. He also served with the 4th Reserve Bn. Devon Regt at time of Discharge 21.02.1919; His Regimental number was #266049 but his MIC card also has number #2711 recorded? We know he enlisted for WW1 on 14.09.1914 in South Molton from his discharge papers & we know that he was born on 09.08.1883 from family history & birth certificate, making him 31 years old.Am I missing something with his early #2711 number because the dates do not fit? Possibly a local service with Militia or Yeomanry?

Similar case with cousin's Father (Ernest William Francis B. Kingdon) - he served with 'D' Company of the 6th Bn. Devonshire Regt. as Private #265375 & probably enlisted with Albert Edwin Kingdon in September 1914 in South Molton (as he was his grandson & lived with them). Ernest was born 01.02.1898 but his MIC card has another number #1833 which doen't fit the regimental numbering records?

Please suggest what I'm missing?
Thanks in advance;
Black Sapper (Kingdon Family)

Paul Nixon said...

Black Sapper, thanks for commenting.

Re the 3rd Bn, this was the Special Reserve rather than a training a battalion, but it did feed men into the regular battalions.

2711 fits exactly for 14th Sept 1914 for the 6th Bn and the six digit number was the number he was given when the TF renumbered in 1917.

Ernest Kingdon enlisted some while before Albert, around 10th January 1914. Good luck with your mammoth research project.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Paul,
Appreciate the reply.
Apologies for the Battalion details - guess I should have looked in the Long, Long Trail first? They have much more Devonshire Regt details.
Best regards
Black Sapper
(In honour of my father who served with the Queen Victoria's Own Madras Sappers & Miners in Bangalore, India 1945-1946).

Paul Nixon said...

Please, no apologies necessary. Thanks for posting.

Interesting to see your dad's military details. I lived in Bangalore for seven years and know the Madras Sappers & Miners locations in the city well. They have a large base on Ulsoor Lake which we passed regularly.


Anonymous said...

Hi Paul,
Query on Devonshire Regiment numbers?
I am finding conflict with my named Kingdon soldiers records & the 4 digit numbers on their MIC cards and your enlistment dates for similar numbers?
It's not a major problem but I would like to try & find out why the enlistment dates for those Devon Regimental numbers don't fit my family individual profiles?
For example:
I have #2705, later #266045 serving with 'C' Coy. 1st / 6th Devons from 01.05.1917;
He volunteered for overseas service on 14.09.1914 aged 26.
He appears to have been taken on strength 14.09.1916; embarked on leave in India 30.04.1918, disembarked 25.07.1918 from Indian leave;
He was drafted to Salonika & finally struck off strength 09.12.1918;
His date of birth was definitely 1887 or 1888 as I also have his gravestone pix.
Using your regimental numbering enlistment dates you get dates between 02.01.1889 & 11.06.1890? Impossible for this guy as he was only just born?
This is happening with many of my Kingdon Devonshire soldiers?
Am I missing something or just being stoopid?
Best regards
Black Sapper

Paul Nixon said...

Thanks for this and your other comment (not published), Black Sapper.

The discrepancy is easily explained. The numbers I published here are for the regular battalions only. The 3rd (Special Reserve) Bn had its own number series as did each of the TF battalions, the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th. When Britain went to war in 1914, the service battalions continued numbering from the same series as the 1st and 2nd Bns. As I mention at the end of the post, "When Britain went to war with Germany a few months later, men joining the newly forming service battalions of the Devonshire Regiment were issued service numbers which belonged to the same series as that which had been in use for the regular battalions. 10102 enlisted with the Devons for a term of regular service - 7 years with the Colours and 5 on the Reserve - on 14th August 1914. 10121 issued for war-time service only, the following day."


Paul Nixon said...

Black Sapper, thanks for your subsequent notes on the 1st devon Militia which I have published on my Army Ancestry blog here: http://armyancestry.blogspot.com/2012/02/54-years-with-1st-devon-militia.html


Unknown said...

Hi can anyone help me out here.
My grandfather Devon Regiment Service Number 15763

Name was John Boothman. On his 1914-15 star his name on the back is spelt wrongly ie Bootham.
I wold like to Know more about his ww1 locations.
All iI have been told from him and others was that he was subject to gas attack was wonded and got back home Ok

I did know him but like so many others you don't think to ask untill it's too late. Any Information would be greatfully recived. Ken In sunny Scunny

Paul Nixon said...

Best thing to do, Ken, is to try and identify the battalion first by looking at his medal rolls. I see that he transferred to the RE and it may also be an idea to contact the regimental museum in Chatham to see if they have transfers-in books still from WW1. Once you do find out the Devonshire Bn you'll be able to access the relevant war diaries which are helad at The National Archives.

Unknown said...

My granddad was in 2nd battalion in 1911 of Devonshire regiment, on census it says Malta. He seemed to join the Cheshire Reg by 1919. i wondered why they would move to a different regiment?

Paul Nixon said...

Could have been for any one of a number of reasons, Amanda, but basically, the over-riding principle was that men were posted where they were needed most. It's possible that during the war he became a time-expired regular (having served an additional bounty year) and then re-enlisted, this time with the Cheshire Regiment. What was his name and number/s?

JP said...

Hi, first may I say how great this website is - you've obviously put in a lot of effort!
Could you help me pin down the rough enlistment date for my grandad, Pvte Walter Thomas Price, service no. 32789, 9th Devonshire regiment.
He later transferred to the DCLI with service number 32516, but the medal roll doesn't give a battalion.

His medal roll shows the British and Victory medal, but not the 1914/15 star.
Thanks in advance!

Paul Nixon said...

JP, sorry for the delay.

My data become more unreliable the later the war progresses. It doesn't look as though he was given his number before August 1916, but I can't tell you exactly when it was issued.


JP said...

Thanks very much for taking a look. Any ball-park figure is better than nothing. A date sometime after Aug 1916 is interesting - possibly he was conscripted?
I have actually asked the same question on the Great War forum, and a member suggested the following for the 9th Devonshires:-
32709 - 1.12.1915
32831 -11.12.1915
32867 - 11.12.1915
32989 - 12.5. 1916
But with not all numbers being sequential.
Quite a mystery!

Paul Nixon said...

JP, your Great War Forum respondent has mislead you by giving Derby Scheme attestation dates for the first three numbers. So the men attest for service in December 1915 and are called up (and issued with numbers) much later in 1916.


JP said...

Ah.... That explains it - many thanks for clearing that up! So it's possible that he attested for deferred service?

Paul Nixon said...

Effectively, yes. Attestation under the Derby Scheme signalled your acceptance of servive and men were then called up according to their status - so a single man would be called up before a man who was married with children. Have a look at The Long Long Trail website as this will give you chapter and verse on the Derby Scheme.

JP said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Hi, i have just stumbled over this amazing site. My Grandfather joined the Devons at Tidworth in 1910. He served with the 2nd Devons until early 1916 where a large block of soldiers were transferred to make up the 23rd Machine Gun Coy, 23rd Brigade. As you probably know the 4 MGC coys were reorganised, and renamed the 8th Btn MGC. Grandad was taken POW on 27th May 1918, he was captured at Berry au Bac and held at Langansalza POW camp. Grandad served in the army from 1910-1931 where he retired as CSM. Ernest Albert West DCM service no 9067 - 17551.

Unknown said...

Hi Paul

I came across your site whilst trying to fill a gap in my Great-Grandfather's war service. He was 71651 Arthur Ernest Nash. I’m hoping that you might be able to help.

We know he was discharged from the Worcestershire Regiment in Sept 1916 when they discovered that he was only 16. We also have a subsequent discharge paper (dated 26 Mar 1919) from the Gloucestershire Regt (2/5th Bn)which gives a joining date of 24 Oct 1917, and states that he had previous service in the Devonshire Regt. No battalion is stated there or on his medal card.

Some digging has revealed that apparently a number of men transferred from the Devons to the Glosters simultaneously and from what I can tell there were two batches. One group joined the 8th Glos. and their records all state that they came from the 2nd Devons. The other group, including Arthur, joined the 2/5th Glos. and all of their records say simply that they originated in the ‘Devonshire Regiment’. Again, no indication of battalion. Most of those in Arthur’s category have Devons numbers either 715** or 716** and Glos. numbers 444** or 445** (Arthur’s was 44500).

So, he joined the Devonshire Regt from civvy street some time between Sept 1916 and Oct 1917, and transferred from there to 2/5th Glosters. I know your records are less reliable for that period of the war but any indication of likely enlistment date with the Devons or a battalion would be very welcome if at all possible. Alternatively, can you suggest any resources that might help me along the way?



Paul Nixon said...

Anonymous, many thanks for your comments and the detail about CSM Ernest West DCM.

MargaretL said...

Thanks for all this info. I'm researching a Lieutenant Michael William Maxwell Windle, 8th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. He was killed on the Western Front on 25 September 1915 and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial. My query is relating to the fact that he was posted/training in Ireland earlier in 1915, apparently at the barracks in Fermoy, County Cork. Does anyone know about troop movements or postings in Ireland.

Paul Nixon said...

Margaret, I don't, but try posting this query on The Great War Forum: http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php


Neil said...

Hi my great great uncle Arthur harvey howes 31227 was in first battalion devonshire regiment, he lost his life at 30yrs in may 2 1918 in France I'm trying to follow his journey and where he would of been fighting at this time would you be able to help at all .Regards neil

Paul Nixon said...

Yes, almnost certainly; please drop me a line to paulcanixon@yahoo.co.uk.

Dave Whiting said...

Hi Paul, please could you help me with a query? I am reseaching my great grandfather who was in the Devonshire regiment in WW1. I think I have identified his service numbers - 2876 and 201127. I think the latter number puts him in the 4th battalion after renumbering, but please could you help me identify where and when the former number would equate to? Thanks, Dave Whiting

Paul Nixon said...

It's probably his original 4th Battalion number, Dave, which would date to about the 6th October 1914.

Dave Whiting said...

Okay, thanks very much Paul

The Laird said...

Hello, Paul. I've just come across this remarkable site, while wandering rather aimlessly on the internet. My grandfather George Robert Gomez, from Trinidad (British West-Indies), served with the 2/6 Devonshire Regiment during The Great War. He survived the war to become a medical student in Edinburgh, completing his studies there in 1924. While attempting to discover exactly where and when he served, I have come across some information. In the University of Edinburgh Roll of Honour, he is listed as having served from January 1916. (He left Trinidad 29 Dec, 1915 with the 2nd Merchants' Contingent for Tilbury, England, disembarking 17 January, 1916). After training, his regiment (Devons, Devonshire Reg. or Devon Rifles - I assume these are all the same thing, am I right?) sailed for India mid-July 1916. I have more details, but what is not clear is if he was stuck in India for the remainder of the war. Some other searches for information have presented me with news that the 2/6 Devons was moved to Basra, Mesopotamia arriving there on 14 September, 1917 "then remaining until the end of the war as Lines of Communication troops", according to a regimental history I've unearthed. However, I have noticed in the University of Edinburgh's Roll of Honour that as well as India (Mesopotamia is not mentioned) he served in Salonika. Additionally, he is referred to as a Student of Medicine 1918, but as a Private Jan. 1916 to March 1919. I am a bit baffled by this seemingly contradictory last set of dates, ie 1918/1919. Is it likely that he would have been granted leave to take up his studies in Medicine in Edinburgh BEFORE the war's end and in time for the start of the academic year of 1918 , remaining enlisted while at university, not discharged (if that is that the correct term) until March 1919? And, another query: When would he have served in Salonika? I presume this could only have happened post-Mesopotamia. I do hope you manage to have the patience to answer this message. I live in Sydney, Australia, a long way from Trinidad and UK. Doesn't look good for the Aussies in India: so close, but so far.

Paul Nixon said...

Thanks for commenting on this blog. I see you have also emailed me and so I'll respond more fully by mail. Paul

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul, I'm tryi g to find out when my relative Arthur Harvey howes' would have been transferred to the 1st Devonshire regiment from the 20th hussars 5th Calvary unit.. he served from August 1914 with hussars but we understand he was wounded then on leave then he returned in the Devonshire regiment? He was killed around morbeque on may 2 1918. Where would I find this information. Regards Neil

Paul Nixon said...

Re Arthur Harvey Howes. The information would survive in a service record, failing that it could be researched by working out when the regimental number must have been issued. See the RESEARCH tab here if you require help.

Unknown said...

Hi Paul, I'm researching the Memorial/graves at Perranzabuloe Parish in Cornwall. We have a headstone commemorating Cpl(?) James Crapper Bovey (married to a local girl hence the headstone), of the 2nd/6th Devons who lost his life (for his country) 19th Sept. 1919. He is interred at Tehran War Cemetery. I see that this battalion returned home in August 1919 so there is an anomaly here as well as the fact that hostilities had ceased in Mesopotamia unless you can correct me. Grateful if you can throw any light. Nick Beringer

Paul Nixon said...

I can't, I'm afraid Nick, please try the Great War Forum:https://www.greatwarforum.org/

Unknown said...

Hello can anyone tell where I can find more info about my great uncle Samual Blight. His service number was 241322. As I understand it he passed away in 1918 in Mesopotamia.

Unknown said...


I am trying to research my great great uncle who fought in world war 1. His name was Charles Sutton and our local church here in Brierley Hill, West Midlands, states he was in the Devons 9th Battalion 7th Division. It also states he was killed on 22nd June 1917. From the research I have done so far I believe his number was 30218 and is listed on the Arras memorial in France. I am unable to find his name listed anywhere when looking up the Devonshire 9th battalion and would love to find some photos but wanted to confirm if he was definitely in that regiment.

Any help appreciated.

Paul Nixon said...

Re 241322 Blight. There is no surviving service record for this man but there will be records surrounding his death and it would be possible to work out when he joined the regt. There may be other information too that a search would reveal. Please follow the information on the RESEARCH tab if you wish to pursue this.

Paul Nixon said...

Re 30218 Charles Sutton. Yes, he served with the Devons and, prior to that, the South Staffs (25210).

Andrew Howard said...

I've recently inherited my grandfather's medals and have tried some amateur sleuthing..but, is it possible for two soldiers in the same regiment to have the same Service Number?
I'm not sure how the numbering works, what I have from his medals is:

Albert John Howard
3/7002 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment

As a recipient of the Silver War Badge I came across

Alfred John Howard
3/7002 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment.

Surely the same person, or?

Any help very gratefully accepted

Regards Andrew Howard

Paul Nixon said...

Yes, they're the same person, albeit the forename has been incorrectly recorded/trancribed in one instance.

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