25 February 2010

7th (Deeside Highland) Battalion, Gordon Highlanders

The 7th (Deeside Highland) Battalion, Gordon Highlanders was the natural heir to the 5th Volunteer Battalion, Gordon Highlanders and was headquartered at Banchory. It was administered by two Territorial Force County Associations and, certainly until 1914, ran two distinct series of numbers - the first series starting at 1, the second series starting at 2000.

In 1914, the disposition of the battalion's companies was as follows:

A Company:
Banchory; drill stations at Durris and Torphins
B Company:
C Company:
D Company:
Laurencekirk; drill stations at Auchenblae, Bervie, Fettercairn, Fordoun and Marykirk
E Company:
Ballater, drill stations at Crathie and Braemar
F Company:
Aboyne; drill stations at Tarland, Finzean and Logie Coldstone
G Company:
Kemnay; drill stations at Skene, Blackburn, Monymusk and Echt
H Company:
Peterculter; drill station at Countesswells.

Numbering in the battalion, pre 1917, appears to follow a fairly logical and sequential path but the re-numbering certainly does not and is a hotch-potch (for want of a better technical term) of numbers from both series and with no apparent logic.

As an example of this, see below the first 100 numbers from the six digit block allocated to the 7th Gordon Highlanders (290001 to 315000). I searched for the medal index cards (MICs) on Ancestry and then, armed with these numbers and names, went looking for service records in the WO363 and WO364 series.

The first thing to say is that for 42 men in that first re-numbered sequence of 100, I found no MICs at all. This high failure rate could be due to a number of factors including mis-transcribed numbers, cards not yet uploaded onto the Ancestry website (although I understand that these particular MICs should all now be present), missing MICs, and of course no entitlement to medals because the man or men concerned neither served overseas nor received a silver war badge.

Of the 58 MICs I did find, enlistment dates were recorded on five cards (dates which should always be treated with caution as they may not necessarily refer to the same regiment / battalion - see Donald McLaren below as a possible example of this). I subsequently found no records at all in the WO 363 series but did locate five records in the WO 364 pension series. My commentary is below. Links are to the main Ancestry website which is currently offering a FREE 14-day trial.

290001 - Not Found
290002 - Not Found
290003 - Not Found
290004 - Not Found
290005 (formerly) 29 William Hendry
290006 - Not Found
290007 (formerly) 5 William Lamb
290008 (formerly) 36 John Milne
290009 (formerly) 45 James Robertson
290010 (formerly) 555 George W Dunbar
290011 - Not Found
290012 (formerly) 558 Fred Davison
290013 (formerly) 51 Andrew Taylor

290014 (formerly) 53 Douglas G Wilson
Only two pages from Douglas Wilson's service record survive in WO 364. His pensioner's record card gives his enlistment date as 5th August 1914 but this is clearly incorrect and is probably his date of embodiment rather than enlistment. Douglas Wilson was born in 1879 and I think it likely that he was a pre 1908 5th VB man who enlisted with the 7th Gordons in April 1908.

290015 - Not Found
290016 (formerly) 560 James Wallace
290017 (formerly) 561 Angus Cooper
290018 - Not Found
290019 - Not Found
290020 (formerly) 103 William L Bain
290021 - Not Found
290022 - Not Found
290023 (formerly) 565 John Tough
290024 (formerly) 267 David Milne
290025 (formerly) 271 Douglas Wilson
290026 (formerly) 568 Samuel McPherson
290027 - Not Found
290028 - Not Found
290029 - Not Found
290030 (formerly) 311 Charles Duncan
290031 (formerly) 76 James A Jamieson

290032 (formerly) 61 John Jamieson
John Jamieson's MIC gives his enlistment date as 1st April 1908 and he was almost certainly on old 5th VB man.

290033 - Not Found
290034 (formerly) 86 Andrew Walker
290035 - Not Found
290036 - Not Found
290037 (formerly) 134 William Blackhall
290038 (formerly) 139 Walter C Cruse
290039 (formerly) 127 George McDonald
290040 (formerly) 157 George Reith
290041 - Not Found
290042 - Not Found
290043 - Not Found
290044 - Not Found
290045 (formerly) 253 J A McLaren
290046 (formerly) 304 William Stewart
290047 (formerly) 2136 William Anderson
290048 - Not Found
290049 (formerly) 2141 George Duthie
290050 (formerly) 2165 James Lorimer
290051 (formerly) 2167 John Lorimer

290052 (original number unknown) John Sinclair
John Sinclair's MIC gives his enlistment date as 17th May 1915 which again would appear to be incorrect and may again reflect a date of embodiment. As no original number is given on his MIC however, it is virtually impossible to tell when this man originally joined the 7th Gordons.

290053 (formerly) 2179 Frank Shivas
290054 - Not Found

290055 (formerly) 2135 William Watson
Joined on 1st April 1908, an old 5th VB man.

290056 (formerly) 2224 Robert G Bain
290057 - Not Found
290058 (formerly) 2216 Robert Dowers
290059 - Not Found
290060 - Not Found
290061 (formerly) 2009 Donald Coutts
290062 (formerly) 2011 John Cumming
290063 (original number unknown) Frank Duguid
290064 (formerly) 2015 Robert Ewan
290065 - Not Found
290066 (formerly) 2031 Alexander McIntosh
290067 (formerly) 2189 John McHardy
290068 - Not Found
290069 (formerly) 2220 Joseph Coutts
290070 (formerly) 2313 Peter Lamont
290071 - Not Found
290072 - Not Found
290073 (formerly) 2250 William Findlater
290074 - Not Found
290075 - Not Found
290076 - Not Found
290077 (formerly) 2205 William Harper Henderson
290078 - Not Found
290079 (formerly) 2069 Gordon Smith
290080 (formerly) 361 James C Greig
290081 (formerly) 2357 Charles Dunbar
290082 - Not Found

290083 620 George Wood Main
George Wood's MIC gives an enlistment date of 2nd December 1913 and this is confirmed by surviving papers in WO 364.

290084 360 William Dunbar
290085 N/A A Lawson
290086 (formerly) 356 James McGregor

290087 (formerly) 358 Donald G McLaren
Donald McLaren's MIC gives an enlistment date of 3rd March 1910 (but see below).

290088 (formerly) 327 Robert Masson
Robert Masson's service record in WO 364 gives a joining date of 28th March 1910. This, sequentially, is at odds with Donald McLaren's original three digit number and it may be that McLaren previously served with another battalion or regiment before joining the 7th Gordons. (Or it could simply be another number anomaly).

290089 (formerly) 357 Joseph R Robb
290090 (formerly) 328 Victor Valentine
290091 (formerly) 341 William Fraser
290092 - Not Found
290093 - Not Found
290094 - Not Found
290095 (formerly) 351 William Emslie
290096 - Not Found
290097 - Not Found
290098 (formerly) 2368 Alexander Cruickshank

290099 (formerly) 2328 George Ross
George Ross's MIC gives an enlistment date of 14th March 1910 which fits in perfectly with other 7th Gordons numbers I have for this four digit series.

290100 - Not Found

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17 February 2010

Seaforth Highlanders numbering 1900-1906

I have previously published sample numbers and joining dates for the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Seaforth Highlanders. I also mentioned that there were some peculiarities, and I'd like to expand upon that now.

Seaforth numbering trundles along quite happily and sequentially until March 1900, by which time the regiment was numbering in the 7300s. By the end of March, however, numbers in the 8200 range start appearing and these continue into 1901 when again, certainly by March 1901, numbers in the 9500 range start surfacing - and keep on going, at least until January 1902. By June 1902 (and probably a good deal earlier) we're back in the 7000s again and numbering continues sequentially from there.

Not for the first time, I am at a loss to explain why there were these big leaps in numbering. There doesn't appear to be any pattern as far as place of enlistment is concerned and neither does there in terms of the enlistment periods for which men were signing up. If anyone can suggest an explanation, or provide me with additional confirmed enlistment dates and corresponding numbers for the period below, please do so.

Here though, for what it's worth, are my rough estimates on Seaforth numbering for the period 1900 to 1906, this information based on the dates and numbers recorded on attestation papers of the time.

28th March 1900
7361 joins
31st March 1900 - 14th Jan 1901
Numbers in the range 8273 to 8515 are issued
25th March 1901 - 20th Jan 1902
Numbers in the range 9561 to 9911 are issued
5th June 1902 - 21st November 1903
Numbers in the range 7604 to 8188 are issued. Numbers 8273 to 8515 have already been issued in 1900 and 1901.
19th January 1904 to October 17th 1906
Numbers in the range 8689 to 9524 are issued. Numbers 9561 to 9911 have already been issued in 1901 and 1902.
20th November 1906
10021 joins

From here on in, numbering returns to a sequential pattern without gaps, albeit the Seaforths, A&S Highlanders and the Gordon Highlanders would abandon their number series in 1908 and commence a new series beginning at 1.

Attestation papers for all these numbers - and many more besides - are accessible on-line as part of a FREE 14 day trial with Ancestry.co.uk.

I've borrowed the photograph on this page from Roger Clarke's family history website. It shows 1822 Corporal Thomas Hunter Dawson Cheeper of the 4th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders. Hunter Cheeper (as he was known) was born on the 8th February 1898 and judging by his number, joined the 4th Seaforths two or three days before Britain went to war in August 1914. He would have been sixteen years old at the time, and was probably no more than 17 or 18 years old when this photo was taken. Nevertheless, he arrived in France on the 7th November 1914 and appears to have served throughout, ending the war as Second Lieutenant, and staying on with the British Army. He would also serve his King and Country during WW2.

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11 February 2010

The 7th (Merioneth and Montgomery) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers

The 7th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers was administered by two County Associations. The Montgomery County Association administered the headquarters at Newtown and four companies of the battalion, whilst the Merioneth County Association administered the other four companies.

As far as numbering in the battalion was concerned, each County Association issued numbers to new recruits from two different number series. Merioneth CA issued numbers beginning at 2000 in April 1908, whilst Montgomery CA issued numbers beginning at 1 in April 1908. Both associations ran their number series sequentially until the Montgomery series was abandoned (or discontinued) at around 1205. I don't yet have an accurate date when this series was stopped but it was certainly post September 1914 (which was when 1144 was issued).

When it came to renumbering the battalion in 1917, the 7th Battalion issued numbers from the block 290001 to 315000. Those Montgomery men who were still serving (or still 'on the books') when the re-numbering exercise took place, were issued with numbers first. When all of these men had been given new six digit numbers, the next number along went to the longest serving man from the Merioneth companies.

My lowest six digit number for a Merioneth County man is 290366 which was issued to a man who had originally joined the battalion on the 29th April 1908. It's reasonable to assume therefore that of the approximately 1205 men who'd originally joined a Montgomery-administered company, around 360 were still 'on the books' in early 1917, (and close to half of this number were men who'd joined the battalion before the First World War began).

Finally, publishing this post on the 7th Battalion, presents me with an opportunity to also publish the attached undated photograph of 7th RWF men which was taken in Ingatestone in Essex, and which I picked up in an Ingatestone antique shop at least twenty years ago.

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


4 February 2010

8th Royal Scots

The 8th Battalion of the Royal Scots Regiment was a Territorial Force battalion administered by three separate County Associations. In order to differentiate between each, three separate number series were used for this single battalion.

The Territorial Year Book for 1909 reports:

"Hon Col Sir G D Clerk VD; O.C. Lt-Col Master of Polwarth VD; Adj Captain N K Charteris, Royal Scots; Hdqrs Haddington; strength 29 officers, other ranks 787. Former Volunteer units, 6th and 7th V Bns, R Scots; Camp 1908, number trained for 8 days 355, for 15 days 295. South Africa 1901; uniform scarlet, facings blue."

In February 1914, the battalion, headquartered at Haddington, was distributed as follows:

A Company: Haddington
B Company: Tranent
C Company: Prestonpans
D Company: North Berwick
E Company: Dalkeith
F Company: Loanhead
G Company: Peebles
H Company: Innerleithen

Men joining companies A, B, C and D were issued with sequential numbers from the series 1-3999. These four companies (and one squadron of the Lothians and Border Horse Yeomanry)were administered by the Haddington County Association .

Men joining companies E and F were issued with sequential numbers from the series 4000 through to 6999. These two companies were administered by the Midlothian County Association (which also administered the 7th Battalion, Royal Scots and the Midlothian Battery of the 1st Lowland Brigade, Royal Field Artillery).

Men joining companies G and H were issued with sequential numbers from the series 7000 through to, presumably 9999. These two companies were administered by the Peebles County Association. In 1909, according to the Territorial Year Book published that year, the strength of these two companies was eight officers (establishment: seven) and 128 men (establishment 235).

In early 1915 the Territorial Force infantry battalions were doubled up and reduced from eight to four. Nevertheless, the county associations still maintained their respective number series up until 1917 when the Territorial Force as a whole, was re-numbered. When this exercise took place, the 8th Royal Scots was allocated six digit numbers within the range 325001 to 350000 and within this, again, the three county associations were differentiated as follows:

Haddington: 325001 - 330000
Midlothian: 330001 - 335000
Peebles: 335001 - 340000 (presumably)

What all of this means to the modern day researcher is that it should be possible to at least narrow down the company to which an 8th Royal Scots soldier must have belonged; a potentially useful tip.

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

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