27 July 2009

Lancashire Fusiliers - Regular Battalions

This post will look at army service numbers issued to men joining the regular battalions - principally the 1st and 2nd Battalions - of the Lancashire Fusiliers between July 1881 (when the regiment was formed) and February 1914. The regiment was formed out of the old 20th Regiment of Foot (Lancashire Fusiliers) and up until April 1898 comprised two regular battalions, the 1st and 2nd. However, two more regular battalions, the 3rd and 4th, were formed in 1898 and 1900 respectively and I'll deal with these as we come to them.

There are over 48,000 Lancashire Fusiliers 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 Lancashire Fusiliers 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.

112 joined on 26th July 1881
425 joined on 29th April 1882
571 joined on 22nd June 1883
766 joined on 28th May 1884
1122 joined on 6th July 1885
1739 joined on 8th June 1886
2126 joined on 11th February 1887
2538 joined on 23rd February 1888
2877 joined on 12th January 1889
3321 joined on 2nd July 1890
3362 joined on 14th April 1891
4048 joined on 23rd April 1892
4510 joined on 8th August 1893
4718 joined on 18th January 1894
5117 joined on 15th January 1895
5464 joined on 4th June 1896
5818 joined on 7th September 1897
5953 joined on 18th March 1898

A 3rd regular battalion was raised on 6th April 1898 in Ireland and would be disbanded in 1906. The same number series as that used for men joining the 1st and 2nd Battalions, was used for the newly formed 3rd Battalion.

6722 joined on 27th January 1899

A 4th regular battalion was raised on 3rd February 1900 in England and would be disbanded in 1906. The same number series as that used for men joining the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions, was used for the newly formed 4th Battalion.

7839 joined on 9th May 1900
8462 joined on 7th May 1901
9068 joined on 19th August 1902
9381 joined on 21st January 1903

The addition of two regular battalions had had a dramatic effect on recruitment into the Lancashire Fusiliers. Whereas in the three years prior to the formation of the 3rd Battalion it had taken the regiment over three years to recruit a thousand men, in the four years between January 1899 and January 1903 (and with Britain at war with the Boers) the regiment recruited 2,600 men. In 1903, with the number series fast approaching the limit of 9,999, the regiment applied to the Adjutant-General to commence a new number series. Approval was duly given and before the year was out, the Lancashire Fusiliers had started numbering from 1 again.

378 joined on 3rd August 1904
559 joined on 20th April 1905
1035 joined on 23rd January 1906
1305 joined on 19th August 1907
1486 joined on 11th May 1908
1793 joined on 2nd January 1909
2015 joined on 8th February 1910
2292 joined on 12th January 1911
2652 joined on 16th September 1912
2847 joined on 8th October 1913
2911 joined on 16th February 1914

The famous photograph reproduced on this post shows men of the 1st Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers in a communication trench near Beaumont Hamel, possibly on 1st July 1916.

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Further Reading

History of the XX Regiment 1688-1888

History of the XX Regiment 1688-1888

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