28 October 2009

London Regiment - six digit number anomalies

This post will look at sequential anomalies in six digit numbering for London Regiment battalions.

All specific army service numbers referenced below have been sourced from the National Archives in London, either from records in the WO 363 and WO 364 series or from the First World War medal index cards. These records/cards can also be viewed on-line via Ancestry.co.uk which is currently offering a FREE 14 day trial.
For the most part, when the re-numbering of the Territorial Force took place in 1917, the lowest number in the new six or five digit series was issued to the longest serving man still with that particular unit.

So taking the 5th London Regiment as an example, it would be reasonable to assume that Harry Goodwin Marner, who was given the number 300004 (from the allocated series 300001-320000) was probably an early 5th London Regiment recruit. He was. Harry joined the 5th Londons on 1st April 1908, the day the Territorial Force came into being, and at that stage he'd already served for over 12 years with the 1st London Volunteer Rifle Corps. By the time he was finally discharged from the army in 1919 (with the rank of Regimental Quarter Master Sergeant) he was 45 years old, had a conduct described as "exemplary" and had notched up close to 24 years' service.

Actually, the 5th London Regiment is probably not the best example to use because, alone of the London Regiment battalions, it did not start a new number series from 1 in April 1908 but continued with the number series that had been used by its predecessor, the 1st London Volunteer Rifle Corps. Harry Marner's number was 6633 which dated to November 1895.

But apart from the 5th Londons, the other London Regiment battalions started numbering from 1 in April 1908 and then (in 1917) issued the lowest six digit numbers to their longest serving men. For the most part...

9th (County of London) Batalion, The London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles)

The new six digit block of numbers allocated to the 9th Londons was 390001 to 420000. For some reason however, the lowest numbers in that range seem to start with men who joined in 1911. The lowest six digit number / joining date on my database is currently 390009 which was issued to a man who had originally joined in March 1911.

Men who joined before this date and who were still serving (or still not officially noted as dead) when the TF was re-numbered, have numbers in the 394*** range. I am not sure exactly when these numbers kick in. Number 394214 was issued to William John Andrew who joined the 9th Londons on 1st April 1908 and was given the number 124. He had been a serving member with the 1st Middlesex Volunteer Rifle Corps since November 1903.

It may be the case that numbers 394210 to 394213 also went to April 1908 men. 394206 however, was issued much later in the war.

So to summarise for the 9th Londons:

April 1908 to circa Jan 1911 - Numbers in the range c394210 to 394264.
Jan 1911 to Dec 1917 - Numbers in the range 390001 to c394209 and then, allowing for the block above, c394265 onwards.

15th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Civil Service Rifles)

The new six digit block of numbers allocated to the 15th Londons was 530001 to 550000. Afain, for some reason currently unknown to me, re-numbering in April 1908 begins not at 530001 but either 530396 or 530397. I have an unknown for 530396 but 530397 was certainly issued to George Herbert Flew who joined the 15th Londons on 9th April 1908 and was given the number 35.

The numbers then continue sequentially up to 530467 which was issued to a man who joined on 29th March 1909. 530468 and 530469 are unknowns for me, but 530470 was issued to man who joined on 28th August 1914.

Again, to summarise:

April 1908 to March 1909 - Numbers in the range c530397 to 530467
April 1909 to 12th August 1914 - Numbers in the range 530001 to c530395
28th August 1914 onwards - Numbers from c530470

19th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (St Pancras)

The new six digit number block for this battalion was 610001 to 630000. However, it is incorrect to assume that 610001 was issued to a man who joined the battalion In April 1908. It wasn't. The earliest number that I have in this series is 610009 which was issued to Albert Coles. His original number was 1851 and he joined the 19th London Regiment on 28th January 1914. 610010 was issued to a man who joined the same day, and from here on, the new six digit numbering is sequential - up until late 1916 at least.

But what about those men who had joined the 19th Londons January 1914 and were still serving with the battalion (or not confirmed as dead) in 1917? After a little digging around numbers on the medal index cards it became clear that numbers from later on in the 610001-630000 series were used for those early 1908-1914 recruits.

613356 was issued to George Alfred Earl. His original number was 27 and I presume he joined the regiment on 1st April 1908. Number 66 was issued to Ernest Windust (joined 1st April 1908) and he would later be given the number 613360. Here is the range that I have, for the re-numbered 19th Londons between April 1908 and October 1913.

613356 joined on (approx) 1st April 1908 (originally 27)
613418 joined on 22nd August 1909 (originally 918)
613423 joined on 5th May 1910 (originally 1062)
613433 joined on 9th Feb 1911 (originally 1139)
613473 joined on 1st Jan 1912 (originally 1327)
613638 joined on 8th October 1913 (originally 1742)

I'd be interested to hear from anybody who can confirm at what point in the 613*** range the numbering for 1908 TF volunteers began, and similarly, where it ended; also the date that the 610*** series started. 1st January 1914 would seem to be a logical starting point for the 601*** series - as if logic played a part in 19th London re-numbering.

24th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (The Queen's)

The six digit number range for this battalion was 720001 to 740000 but as with the 19th Londons, 720001 was not issued to the battalion's longest serving terrier.

720092 was issued to Edwin Cecil Cox who had originally joined the battalion on 1st April 1908 and had been given the number 14. Numbers 720001 through to 720089 however, all date to much later in the war and appear to have been issued to men who transferred into the 24th Londons from Essex Regiment TF battalions. As an example of this, 720014 for instance, was issued to a man who had originally attested under the Derby Scheme, was mobilised with the 4th Essex Regiment on 7th April 1916 (number 3931) and then transferred to the 24th Londons on the 25th January 1917 (probably at around the same time that the 24th Londons had just been issued with its new six digit number series).

Again, Id' be interested to hear from anybody who has chapter and verse on the 24th London numbers 720001 to 720089.

Also see my posts on:

9th London Regiment
15th London Regiment
19th London Regiment
24th London Regiment

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Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm doing some research into the military history of my great, great grandfather George Frederick Cull - I came across your section on the 19th London Regiment, and his number is one of the 610*** series (610737). From what we can make out he joined in either March, or April 1914 (his TA form is pretty hard to decipher). If I can help in any way, or if you are able to give me a bit more of an insight into his time within this regiment that would be great.

Paul Nixon said...

Hello, thanks for your post.

A service record for your great grandfather survives in WO 363 and you can view this on findmypast. He enlisted in November 1914, later transferring to the Northamptonshire Regiment.

Unknown said...

Hi - I have read all the posts about the renumbering with interest. My Grandfather's service record did not survive, but his medal card shows his regiment numbers as 15 London Reg 454426 and 23 London Reg 705233. I am curious as to why his first number shows as the 15th London Reg, when the article indicates a number in this range should have belonged to the 11th London Reg. Any reason for this?

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Ann

I would read this card that Bernard Hodges originally joined the 11th London Regt and later transferred to the 15th, and then later still to the 23rd. The reason he did not get a new number when transferring from the 11th to the 15th is succinctly explained on The Long Long Trail; website here: http://www.1914-1918.net/TF_renumbering_infantry.htm

But you raise a good point and I may write a separate blog post on this citing your grandfather as an example.


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