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."


Anonymous said...

I'm trying to find out when my father was in The Buffs in WW1. He was in the 1st E. Kent and his reg. no was 26716. He was then in the 20th Middx when his reg. no became G/62154. His medal card states he received the Victory & British medals. He was born in Aug 1899.

Paul Nixon said...

I can't be sure I'm afraid, but 1918 looks like a good bet, based on the few high numbers I have for these regiments, and also his age.

Anonymous said...

I am tracing my grandfather d s grady who served in the royal west surrey reg. queens. He has 2 medal rolls. He was born in 1900 and one medal roll is dated 1915. At what age did young men join up and how can I find out where he enlisted? Any information would be great as I have very little info about.

Paul Nixon said...

He's unlikely to be 5089 David S Grady as he'd have been far too young. The other David S Grady for the Queen's Regt has the number L/12271 which is a regular enlistment dating to February 1916 (ie this man joined the army as a career soldier rather than for wartime service only). It's possible he went overseas when he was 18 (if indeed this is the man you're researching) but if he was born in 1900 the earliest he should have been in France would have been 1918.

Unknown said...

I'm looking for my great grandad William george curtis sergeant 6278105 1st battalion the east kent buffs. But to no avail.any help welcome.

Paul Nixon said...

Re 6278105 Curtis, the 7-digit number indicates service post 1920 and so you should contact the MoD and ask for his service records, see here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/requests-for-personal-data-and-service-records

Unknown said...

The service no is T/10014. It seems that he enlisted on or about the 16th May 1913. But why the T at the beginning of that number? Was he perhaps a territorial?

Paul Nixon said...

Thank you for your comment. Please see the Research tab on this blog if you are looking for specific information on a soldier.

Unknown said...

I believe my grandfather Samuel Parkin served with the East Kent regiment, reg no. L/12737. His pension record says that he was discharged in 1922, so I would be interested to know where he was after WW1 ended. There is a story that he was seen by a cousin in France at the end of the war and he said he had decided to stay there, as he had met a woman!

Karin Kreuzkamp said...

My g-grandfather, Alfred James Wildee Humphrey, born 28 Dec 1862, London St Lukes, claimed on his CEF attestation paper (reg. 204424) that he served in the East Kent Regiment for 5 years. I found one Alfred Humphrey, reg. no. 2072, but I don't know if that's him. Also, he lied about his age when he joined up in Canada because he was too old to serve, but I imagine he didn't need to do that when he served with the Buffs. Where can I look for his records? With thanks, Karin

Unknown said...

Hi All,
My Grandfather was in the Buffs and his service number was L/12124.
Could anyone tell me what year he enlisted please...
He was a regular soldier and had been in the Royal Sussex regiment in India prior to WW1 and his enlistment in the Buffs.
His MIC gave the area of service as 5G which was India. I know the Sussex regiment was out there at the outbreak of the war. His MIC gave the Service number for the Sussex and then the East Kent's next. I also know he was in Ireland with the Buffs in 1920 has my father was born over there whilst my grandfather was serving in Ireland. Any help appreciated...

Paul Nixon said...

Karin, if records for his earlier service survive they'll probably be in WO 97 which you can search on Findmypast or the other usual suspects.

Paul Nixon said...

Re L/12124 I need to refer you to this text which is very visible to all people posting here. It reads as follows:

"PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE COMMENTING. Thank you for visiting this blog. I welcome insights about regimental numbering but I do not have time to respond to individual research queries here. If you want me to undertake paid research, please follow the instructions on the RESEARCH tab."

Failing this, try posting on the Great War Forum: https://www.greatwarforum.org/

Unknown said...

I don't know if you can shed any light on a matter that has been confusing me for some time now. My father's military papers have him serving 1914-1919 BEF
East Kent Regiment. Service no G/25142 and Royal West Kent Regiment no G/38480
My wife found him on a site as serving in 1914. This seems unlikely to me as he would have been fifteen years old. Do you think his service numbers can confirm or dispel this theory?

Grateful for any help.

Paul Nixon said...

David, those regimental numbers certainly post date 1914 and I suspect your wife saw that information on Forces War Records where they by default record the year 1914 agaisnt anyone who has a medal index card. So beware. The date of enlistment and transfer, and probabkly more besides are researchable.

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