15 June 2009

King's Royal Rifle Corps - Regular Battalions

This post will look at army service numbers issued to men joining the regular battalions of the King's Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC) between 1881 and August 1915.

There are over 69,000 King's Royal Rifle Corps 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.

Use the regimental numbers and dates on which these were issued, below, to determine parameters for when your own KRRC ancestor would have joined up. Note though that these numbers are only for regular enlistments. Special Reserve and Territorial Force battalions operated completely separate regimental number sequences.

315 joined on 10th December 1881
507 joined on 21st December 1882
876 joined on 21st April 1883
1616 joined on 21st January 1884
2638 joined on 10th January 1885
3489 joined on 18th March 1886
4221 joined on 9th November 1887
4289 joined on 11th January 1888
5054 joined on 13th March 1889
5566 joined on 15th January 1890
6211 joined on 31st January 1891
7056 joined on 2nd February 1892
7954 joined on 11th March 1893
8452 joined on 27th January 1894
8979 joined on 28th March 1895
9610 joined on 2nd October 1896
9795 joined on 5th January 1897

In accordance with Queen's Regulations, and fast approaching the 9,999 limit for numbering in Infantry of the Line battalions, the KRRC applied to the "Adjutant-General in sufficient time to obtain authority to commence a new [number] series." The regiment had reached 9881 by 22nd March 1897 and presumably reached 9999 by the end of that month or by the following month. Certainly by 14th May 1897, regular soldiers joining the KRRC were being given numbers in the high 200s.

674 joined on 18th January 1898
1732 joined on 2nd March 1899
2534 joined on 8th January 1900
3588 joined on 22nd April 1901
4311 joined on 18th March 1902
5327 joined on 9th January 1903
5795 joined on 11th January 1904
6542 joined on 28th June 1905
6858 joined on 2nd February 1906
8011 joined on 20th February 1907
8865 joined on 23rd June 1908
9166 joined on 6th January 1909
9551 joined on 12th January 1910
10334 joined on 2nd November 1911
10457 joined on 13th January 1912
11062 joined on 23rd April 1913
11374 joined on 17th January 1914

By 8th June 1914, numbering was up to 11615 for men joining one of the four regular battalions of the King's Royal Rifle Corps, and less than two months later Britain went to war with Germany. When it did so, new recruits to the KRRC were not given numbers from the series from that being used by the regular battalions. Instead, according to their status (for want of a better word), and the battalions they were joining, they were given numbers from several new series, these numbers prefixed with different letters. So A/ prefix men (up to the low 3900s at least) were Army Reservists who had been discharged or whose numbers had been re-allocated and who were now re-enlisting. R/ prefix men were New Army men; C/ prefix men were also New Army men joining the 16th to 21st Battalions. There were other prefixes too and I'll look at these and other KRRC battalion numbering patterns in future posts.

But during the First World War men could, and did, still enlist with the KRRC for regular terms of service (seven years with the Colours and five years on the Reserve), and army service numbers for these men continued to be drawn from the same series that had been in use before the First World war began.

11770 joined on 12th August 1914
12207 joined on 6th January 1915
12284 joined on 1st February 1915
12371 joined on 9th March 1915
12413 joined on 3rd April 1915
12508 joined on 6th May 1915
12671 joined on 30th June 1915
12745 joined on 3rd August 1915

Service records for all of the King's Royal Rifle Corps soldiers listed above (and those below) can be viewed on microfilm in the WO 363 (Burnt Documents) and WO 364 (Pension) series at The National Archives London. These papers are also now on-line via the Ancestry website. CLICK HERE for a FREE 14 day trial.

Also see my posts on:

Queen's and King's Regulations - Regimental Numbers
Regimental numbering series

The image on this post, taken from an old cigarette card, shows R/11941 George Stanley Peachment VC of the 2nd Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps. George originally joined the 5th KRRC on 18th April 1915, later transferring to the 2nd Battalion. The citation for his VC award reads:

"For most conspicuous bravery near Hulluch on 25th September 1915. During very heavy fighting, when our front line was compelled to retire in order to re-organise, Pte Peachment, seeing his Company Commander, Captain Dubs, lying wounded, crawled to assist him. The enemy's fire was intense, but, though there was a shell hole quite close, in which a few men had taken cover, Pte Peachment never thought of saving himself. He knelt in the open by his Officer and tried to help him, but while doing this he was first wounded by a bomb and a minute later mortally wounded by a rifle bullet. He was one of the youngest men in his battalion and gave this splendid example of courage and self-sacrifice."

Rifleman Peachment has no known grave and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial at Dud Corner Cemetery, France.

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


Simon said...

Thanks for the explanation of the regimental numbering system. 4673 WSmith enlisted in August 02. I was actually trying to figure out the length of service as he didnt appear to serve 7 years before going to reserves.

Paul Nixon said...

He probably joined up for "three and nine"; the periods with the Colours and on the Reserve did change over the years.

Searchfamilies said...

My Grandfather John McCarth joined the KRRC I have his regiment number as 5712
John was awarded 1914-15 Star Medal clasp/51372,The Victory Medal, The British War Medal & the Military Medal for Bravery in the Field France, (London Gazette 23/02/1918)

Yet this is not on his medal card & not be able to find his army record as believed to have been lost in WW2
I know he was in India in 1920/21 with 3rd Bn as he mention with photo in the Boxing section for those 2 years in the KRRC Chronicle

Paul Nixon said...

Re 5712 McCarthy

There were separate medal cards for the Military Medal and so I wouldn't be too surprised not to find the award mentioned on his campaign medal index card. These cards have not been digitised but I think that microfiche for these awards still survive at Kew. Was he also awarded the MSM? There is a card for a Colour Sergeant J McCarthy who was Acting Sergeant Major at the time of the award in 1928.

Unknown said...

Is there any way of getting further details on 12189 P F James KRRC I.e. recruitment area, enlistment date, battalion etc...looks like from the above he was K1 or K2 of the New Army

Paul Nixon said...


There look like three options here.

If there was no prefix then it was regular enlistment probably around Dec 1914.

If there was an R/ prefix then it would date to April 1915 and could be any of the service battalions up to the 15th Bn.

If there was a C/ prefix then the number belongs to the 21st battalion and dates to Nov 1915.

Anonymous said...

My Grandfather was in KRRC joined 1914 reg no A/809. cannot find out his records..know he was wounded in 2nd Ypes.and listed in National roll of great war.How can I find out more. His name was Francis T Beck. lived in Birmingham Thanks. Peter.

Paul Nixon said...


Re A/809 KRRC. I am no longer undertaking unpaid research but I am happy to undertake paid projects which I outline here: http://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.co.uk/p/research.html


Anonymous said...

Useful (as always Paul), but also (as always), numbers never quite do what they are supposed to do. I have a 5810 (Arthur Jones) who had the Queen's Medal for the South Africa Wars, but the above would suggest enlistment in 1904. Having said that, I have his number in relation to re-enlistment in October 1914. I don't know therefore whether he was given his old number, or a redundant number left over from 1904. Did such things happen?

Andrew Hesketh

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Andrew, good to hear from you. Currently overseas but will look at this for you at the weekend. Paul

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Andrew

Back in Blighty after a week in France - beaches rather than battlefields but none the worse for that.

The number probably belongs to the series that began in 1881 and which reached 9999 in March 1897. The KRRC then started another number series from 1 in that same month. So in your man's case, his number would date to July 1890 (5815 was issued on 1st August 1890). Mystery solved?


Andrew Hesketh said...

Hi Paul - sorry for the delay in replying. I knew I'd posted something, but then forgot what. Took me a while to find it again!

Thank you for your reply. What you say makes perfect sense, however Arthur Jones 5810 was born in 1882 so couldn't have enlisted in July 1890.

I hate regimental numbers......


Paul Nixon said...

Hmmm. I love 'em; but I'll re-visit this. Drat.


Unknown said...

Can anyone explain why an age or date of birth is ommitted from a 1st WW soldiers record please?

I have the Victory Medal of Arthur Pickles of the 12th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps who was KIA on the 8th October 1916 and is on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. Pier and Face 13A and 13B. His age is not recorded. Neither is it recorded on his Service Record.

Paul Nixon said...

If the age wasn't supplied at the time of enlistment, and was not provided by relatives after his death, that's the reason the age does not appear on the CWGC record. It's not that uncommon.


Unknown said...

Thanks Paul

Anonymous said...

My Grandfather George James Hickman was listed on the Absent Voters List of the Electoral registers as serving in the 1st & then 2nd K.R.R.C and his number is recorded therein as 6841430 which does not tally with the information you have supplied about the K.R.R.C.service numbers. It's all I have to go on as I havent been able to find his War Service Records or Medal Cards.

Paul Nixon said...

The number belongs to the 1920 army numbers series which suggests that his record may still be with MoD and so you should enquire there, Google VETERANS UK to get to the MoD website.

Anonymous said...

I have just received copies of my grandfather's records for his time in the 2nd Battalion KRRC. The only think I can't make out is whereabouts he served abroad. He went to India with the 2 Batt on 8 Jan 1907 and returned home on 1 Feb 1908. Any ideas?

Paul Nixon said...

I have a complete run of the KRRC Chronicle 1901-1914 so could provide more detail on battalion activities. Contact me through the research tab if interested.

chris Newman said...

With regards to service numbers with R/prefix it is stated that this was used up to 15th bn but my wifes grandfather,Joseph Hayes,Kings Royal Rifle Corps ,killed in 3rd battle of Ypers at Menin bridge,1917 ,had a R /prefix (38626)but was in the 21st BN How come ? Would he have got transfered .,This Bn was apparently drawn from Yorkshire farming societies,but her grandfather was a Londoner ,living in London at that period .Very confusing

Paul Nixon said...

Chris, he may have previously served in another battalion, and for that matter regimental numbering is not an exact science. Drop me a line via the research tab if you want me to look at this in more detail for you.


cmc575 said...

I have been researching THOMAS POTTER who enlisted in the Kings Royal Rifle Corps Special Reserve on 1 Nov 1909 and given the regimental number 5/3798. When war broke out in 1914 he was posted to the 2nd battalion KRRC and arrived in France on 8 Nov 1914. He kept his original regimental number. His service record has survived. The number 3798 doesn't fit into the series of numbers on your list, was this because he was a Special Reservist?

Paul Nixon said...

Yes, that is correct. His number belonged to the series that was reserved for the 5th Battalion.

Nugu54 said...

I have been trying to find out about my partner’s grandfather who was a Rifleman in KRRC from 27th August 1914 until 3rd February 1916. He was shot in the throat in Ypres but survived to tell the tale. He died in 1969. I don’t know what the date is that he was actually shot. Are there any records of Ypres for these dates? He was Henry Joseph Morgan and his number was 5/4925.

Paul Nixon said...

@Nugu54. If he has a surviving entry in series MH 106, currently being published on Findmypast, then that will give you the information you need. But even if one doesn't survive it will be possible to narrow down when he was wounded. See my RESEARCH tab if you want help.

Unknown said...

Hi, I'm researchiing my ancestor, Henry Joseph Humphriss, a rifleman with 3rd bn KRR, killed on 20/5/15.
I am very new to this so may have missed something very obvious.
The records I have suggest his service number is Y/661.
I'm trying to discover where he died (Ypres?) and why/how he came to be buried in Nuneaton?

Magoo said...

Sorry to trouble you I've just found out my Grandfather was in I believe to be 17th Bn KRRC. His regimental number was R38303 so would he have enlisted in 1915 ? He was from Newport in South Wales so not sure why he would have enlisted in this regiment !

Paul Nixon said...

I have to repeat the message which is very clearly stated on the comments' page. Thank you for visiting this blog. Please note that if your comment concerns research about a particular individual, you should read the RESEARCH tab at the top of the page.

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