9 July 2009

Essex Regiment - 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion

This post will look at numbering in the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, The Essex Regiment. Service records for all of the numbers referred to in this post survive at the National Archives in the WO 363 (Burnt Documents) and WO 364 (Pension) series. They can also be viewed on-line via the Ancestry.co.uk website.

The Essex Regiment was one of those regiments which, under the Army Order of 23rd December 1907, lost a militia battalion when the Militia was converted into the Special Reserve.

The old 3rd (Militia) Battalion was converted into the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, but the 4th (Militia) Battalion was one of 23 militia battalions to be disbanded. These battalions are listed in the Army Order appendices.

My data suggests that 3rd Militia Battalion men transferring to the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, retained their old militia numbers whereas old 4th Militia Battalion men and new recruits were given numbers from a new series beginning with 1.

So 6472 Pte Thomas Page and 9507 Pte John Ballinger, who both joined the 3rd Essex on 12th July 1908, were old militia men of long-standing. Thomas Page had originally joined the 3rd Militia Battalion in March 1900 and had fought against the Boers in South Africa. John Ballinger had enlisted later, probably in 1902 or 1903, but both men retained their militia numbers when they joined the 3rd Essex in 1908. Leonard Collard, on the other hand, who was given the number 8820 when he joined the 4th Militia Battalion on 11th June 1902, was re-numbered 77 when he transferred to the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion on 10th February 1908. I've reproduced a letter from him (above) which outlines his extensive military service with the Essex Militia, the Essex Special Reserve, the 2nd Essex Regiment and finally the Machine Gun Corps. The image is Crown Copyright.

Here then, are some sample 3rd Essex army service numbers from the 'new' number series, and their corresponding joining dates.

3/460 joined on 19th August 1908
3/695 joined on 29th March 1909
949 joined on 26th May 1910
1256 joined on 24th Match 1911
1614 joined on 16th May 1912
1938 joined on 11th June 1913
3/2218 joined on 20th April 1914
3/2304 joined on 8th August 1914
2583 joined on 4th September 1914
3321 joined on 5th October 1914
3/3547 joined on 4th November 1914

My data for 3rd Essex enlistments ends at this point, and as can be seen from the small series above, the 3/ prefix was used on some but by no means all numbers issued to 3rd Battalion men.

Also see my posts on other Essex Regiment battalions:

1st and 2nd Battalions

4th Battalion (TF)
5th Battalion (TF)
6th Battalion (TF)
7th Battalion (TF)
8th (Cyclist) Battalion (TF)

9th – 14th (Service) Battalions

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