27 November 2009

Military Police

My data for certain periods between 1881 and 1918 is a little thin for the Military Police and so, for the purposes of this post, I'm going to use September 1914 as my starting point.

Service records for all of the following numbers survive in the WO 363 (Burnt Documents) and WO 364 (Pensions) series at the National Archives in Kew, London. These records can also be viewed on-line via Ancestry.co.uk which is currently offering a FREE 14 day trial.

The Military Mounted Police was formed in 1877 and the Military Foot Police in 1885. Although the two regiments were distinct, to all intents and purposes they functioned as a single organisation and shared the same number series.

Two series of numbers were used from 1908. Series one was used for the Military Foot Police (MFP) and the Military Mounted Police (MMP). Series two was used for the Military Foot Police Special Reserve and the Military Mounted Police Special Reserve. All numbers were prefixed by the letter P/ and it is common to see the ranks of the Military Mounted Police filled with men who had previously seen many years of service with a cavalry regiment.

MFP and MMP (series one)

P/65 joined on 6th September 1914
P/239 joined on 6th October 1914
P/514 joined on 3rd November 1914
P/710 joined on 15th December 1914
P/802 joined on 11th January 1915
P/1425 joined on 31st May 1915
P/1564 joined on 11th June 1915
P/1826 joined on 6th July 1915
P/2054 joined on 6th September 1915
P/2254 joined on 3rd November 1915
P/2635 joined on 13th December 1915
P/2919 joined on 5th January 1916
P/3011 joined on 9th February 1916
P/3041 joined on 24th March 1916
P/3052 joined on 3rd April 1916
P/3133 joined on 26th May 1916
P/3160 joined on 6th June 1916
P/3393 joined on 7th July 1916
P/3549 joined on 1st August 1916
P/3790 joined on 27th September 1916
P/4964 joined on 22nd November 1916
P/5832 joined on 6th January 1917
P/7921 joined on 18th February 1917
P/9147 joined on 9th March 1917
P/9917 joined on 23rd April 1917
P/10548 joined on 8th May 1917
P/11111 joined on 26th June 1917
P/13591 joined on 12th December 1917
P/15426 joined on 8th February 1918
P/15839 joined on 18th July 1918

MFP and MMP Special Reserve (series two)

My data for this series only extends between September and November 1914 and, if the infantry regiments are anything to go by, it seems probable that by the end of 1914, this number series had been abandoned.

P/79 joined on 8th September 1914
P/536 joined on 6th October 1914
P/547 joined on 3rd November 1914

I've borrowed the image on this post from the East Brighton Bygones website. It depicts 4469 Sgt Harry Coverdale of the MMP. His number indicates that he joined the MMP in late 1916 and he had prior service with the 16th Lancers.

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19 November 2009

London Regt - six digit numbers

Mike and Wienand, welcome. Thanks for following this blog.

Three weeks ago I published a post on six digit number anomalies in the 19th and 24th Battalions of the London Regiment; anomalies in the sense that sequential numbering is awry. I've just added to that post with anomalies in six digit numbering in the 9th and 15th Battalions of the London Regiment.

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15 November 2009

The Buffs (East Kent Regt) - 1st & 2nd Battalions

This post will look at numbering in the regular battalions of The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) between 1881 and August 1914. The regiment was formed in July 1881 from the 3rd (East Kent - The Buffs) Regiment of Foot.

There are over 49,000 Buffs (East Kent 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 collection of British Army service records.

96 joined on 15th December 1881
364 joined on 2nd March 1882
749 joined on 20th January 1883
1178 joined on 17th January 1884
1668 joined on 4th April 1885
2055 joined on 7th March 1886
2207 joined on 25th January 1887
2643 joined on 26th October 1888
2752 joined on 1st January 1889
3100 joined on 23rd April 1890
3419 joined on 21st February 1891
3818 joined on 10th May 1892
4162 joined on 21st February 1893
4536 joined on 18th May 1894
4810 joined on 3rd May 1895
4991 joined on 24th March 1866
5172 joined on 4th January 1897
5570 joined on 28th April 1898
5964 joined on 31st May 1899
6407 joined on 27th September 1900
6624 joined on 13th May 1901
6802 joined on 11th February 1902
7662 joined on 9th September 1903
8000 joined on 12th September 1904
8179 joined on 17th October 1905
8206 joined on 17th January 1906
8474 joined on 19th March 1907
8990 joined on 18th November 1908
9115 joined on 22nd February 1909
9192 joined on 11th January 1910
9553 joined on 31st March 1911
9794 joined on 14th May 1912
10013 joined on 16th May 1913
10118 joined on 13th February 1914
10247 joined on 24th August 1914

By the time 10247 joined The Buffs, Britain had been at war with Germany for nearly three weeks and volunteers throughout Britain had been flocking to recruiting offices. The Buffs did not extend the number series above to men joining its new service battalions. Those volunteers who enlisted for war-time service only, were issued with numbers from a new series which began at 1 and was prefixed with G/. Men who, during the war, continued to enlist under regular 7&5 terms, were issued with numbers in continuation of the series above. Their numbers were prefixed with the letter L/.

Thus, for example, L/10356 joined up for seven years with the colours and five on the reserve, on 13th December 1914. Had he joined up for war-time service only, his number would have been in the high 4000s or low 5000s and would have been prefixed with G/. The Royal Sussex Regiment and The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, also adopted the same numbering policy regarding war-time only recruits and those men who wished to forge a career in His Majesty's Army.

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Further Reading

Historical records of The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) 3rd Foot 1914-1919

The Buffs

This from The Naval & Military Press:

"During the Great War eight battalions of the regiment went on active service and another seven (including 1st Garrison Battalion) served at home. No less than 32,000 men passed through the ranks of the regiment of whom some 6,000 died; forty-eight battle honours were awarded and one VC.

"Appendices contain separate rolls of honour of officers and other ranks with names grouped alphabetically by ranks; all ranks list of honours and awards and foreign awards, and separate lists of Mention in Despatches. The 1st, 6th, 7th and 8th Battalions served on the Western Front, the 2nd Battalion in Macedonia with 28th Division following ten months in France and Belgium, the 1/4th in India and Aden, 1/5th in India and Mesopotamia and finally the 10th Battalion (formed in Egypt in Feb 1917 from two converted Kent yeomanry regiments) fought in Palestine and on the Western Front with 74th (Yeomanry) Division.

"Apart from one chapter describing the raising of wartime battalions and the initial disposition of the two TF battalions, and one on their affiliated regiment, the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, the chapters of this history each cover well-defined periods of the war in the various theatres in which the parts played by all battalions involved are recorded. The groundwork or skeleton is based on battalion, brigade or divisional war diaries, fleshed out by personal narratives and diaries provided by men who had fought and survived. Where possible, the names of the officers who became casualties in any action are given in the text after the record of the battle, but only the number in the case of other ranks. Again, wherever possible the recipients of honours (all ranks) have been named in the account as news of their decorations reached their battalion. A good history."

7 November 2009

16th Lancers - Bangalore memorial

I posted earlier today regarding a couple of cavalrymen. One of these men served in the 16th Lancers and purely by coincidence, whilst I was tidying up my files, I came across these photos of the memorial to the 16th Lancers in the Hosur Road, New Protestant Cemetery in Bangalore.

This memorial commemorates men of the 16th Lancers who died in the East Indies between 1865 and 1876, presumably the dates that the 16th Lancers were stationed in India.

We often complain about vandalism in the UK and whilst graffiti and vandalism are not as common in India as they are in the UK, this memorial has suffered. These photos date to June 2005 and so the memorial may have been cleaned since then. I must pop back and have a look.

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I presume the spelling of "private" is a south Indian one.

A cavalry numbering conundrum

Here are a couple of interesting pages from two cavalrymen's papers. You'll need to click on the images to be able to read them.

Henry Charles Bunn (above) joined the 15th Hussars on 10th June 1896 and was issued with his first number: 3536. On 25th April 1901 he was posted to the 8th Hussars and therefore given a new number: 5323. On 5th January 1902 he was posted back to his original regiment, the 15th Hussars.

King's (and Queen's) Regulations stated that, "... If the soldier is transferred or discharged, dies or deserts, the number will not be given to any other soldier." There was no reason therefore, why Henry Bunn shouldn't have been given back his old number, 3536 - and he was.

In March 1906, having extended his service to complete twelve years with the Colours, Henry was posted again, this time to the 19th Hussars. His new number was 6203. Two years later, he extended his service again, this time to complete 21 years' service, and in December 1910 he was posted for a third time to the 15th Hussars. This time, he was issued with a new number because by now, the line cavalry were numbering by corps. Henry Bunn's new number was 6606.

William Padfield (above) also joined the line cavalry in 1896. He was posted to the 16th Lancers on 12th October 1896 and given the number 4280. The following year, on 16th December, he was posted to the 12th Lancers and given a new number: 4325. A little under five years later, on 24th October 1902 he was transferred back to the 16th Lancers but unlike Henry Bunn, he was given a new 16th Lancers number: 4809.

So here we have two examples of cavalrymen both returning to a regiment they'd already served with (and prior to the 1906 change in regimental/corps numbering), one of these men being given back his old number, the other man being issued with a new number. I am at a loss to explain why there is this difference. Could it have anything to do with William being "transferred" whereas Henry was "posted"? I'd be interested to hear from anybody who has a theory on this.

Both men's records survive in the WO 364 (pensions) series at the National Archives and can be viewed on line via

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

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