28 March 2010

Suffolk Regiment - 5th Battalion

I was in 5th Suffolk territory today. En route to Bury St Edmunds, the headquarters of the 5th Battalion (and also home to a splendid Boer War Memorial, above) I passed through Sudbury. In the days before the Territorial Force was formed, Sudbury was home to two companies of the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, and the building which housed D Company is still standing and still in use by today's territorials. There, above the large red doorway, carved into stone, is the legend, "D Company, 2nd Vol Batt, Suffolk Regt". That gives me as good an excuse as any to write a little bit about the 5th Suffolk Regiment.

This post will look at numbering in the 5th Suffolk Regiment between 1908 and 1916. All of the number information below is taken from service records which survive in the WO 363 and WO 364 series at the National Archives. You can view these there, or on-line via Ancestry which is offering a FREE 14-day trial.

Prior to 1908, the companies of the Suffolk Regiment's 2nd Volunteer Battalion were distributed as follows:

A Company: Stowmarket
B Company: Eye
C Company: Sudbury
D Company: Sudbury
E Company: Bury St Edmunds
F Company: Bury St Edmunds
G Company: Haverhill
H: Company: Newmarket

When the 5th Suffolk Regiment was born on the 1st April 1908, the distribution of its companies was slightly different:

A Company: Stowmarket, with a drill station at Eye
B Company: Beccles, with a drill station at Bungay
C Company: Hadleigh, with a drill station at Bildeston
D Company: Sudbury, with drill stations at Long Melford and Bures
E Company: Bury St Edmunds, with a drill station at Barrow
F Company: Bury St Edmunds, with a drill station at Lavenham
G Company: Haverhill, with a drill station at Clare
H: Company: Newmarket, with a drill station at Mildenhall

The battalion started numbering from 1 in 1908.

26 joined on 6th April 1908
654 joined on 18th January 1909
1062 joined on 21st February 1910
1167 joined on 6th March 1911
1504 joined on 27th March 1912
1690 joined on 25th January 1913
1944 joined on 20th February 1914
2080 joined on 10th August 1914
2190 joined on 2nd September 1914
2577 joined on 22nd October 1914
2715 joined on 14th November 1914
2876 joined on 15th December 1914
2964 joined on 2nd January 1915
3187 joined on 15th February 1915
3223 joined on 8th March 1915
3267 joined on 17th April 1915
3362 joined on 3rd May 1915
3519 joined on 1st June 1915
3656 joined on 26th July 1915
3752 joined on 20th November 1915
3774 joined on 25th January 1916
3832 joined on 8th February 1916
4062 joined on 1st March 1916
4545 joined on 12th April 1916
5189 joined on 31st May 1916
5636 joined on 17th July 1916
5697 joined on 4th August 1916
5719 joined on 4th September 1916
5848 joined on 12th October 1916
6285 joined on 11th November 1916

When the Territorial Force was re-numbered in early 1917, the 5th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment was issued numbers within the block 240001 to 256000.

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Suffolk Regiment titles from The Naval & Military Press:

History of the 12th (The Suffolk Regiment) 1685-1913

A very detailed history by an experienced author who observes that he was much assisted by the wealth of personal diaries, journals and varied reminiscences of the old 12th. There are informative appendices such as the succession of Colonels with biographies, succession of COs and Adjutants, and a chapter on uniform, equipment and the Colours.

During the almost 230 years covered by this history, the Suffolks served in India (Seringapatam is a principal battle honour), in Africa during the Kaffir and Boer Wars, in New Zealand in the Maori War, on the NW Frontier in the 2nd Afghan War, in the West Indies and Mauritius. Colour plates depict uniforms, battle scenes and the Colours in 1686 and 1849. CLICK HERE TO ORDER.

History of the Suffolk Regiment 1914-1927

This volume begins on 1st January 1914 when the Suffolk Regiment consisted of the 1st and 2nd Battalions, the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, and the 4th, 5th and 6th (Cyclist) Battalions of the Territorial Force. After the outbreak of war sixteen more battalions were raised and added, and in 1917 the Suffolk Yeomanry converted into the 15th Battalion, making a grand total of twenty-three. Battalions of the Regiment served in France and Flanders, Gallipoli, Macedonia, Egypt and Palestine, and at home.

This book, based on war diaries, private diaries, letters and interviews, tells the stroies of the men who served. 6,650 officers and men died for King and Country and two VCs were won and 73 Battle Honours awarded.

Given the scope of this volume and space considerations there is no Roll of Honour and the list of Honours and Awards is a very limited one showing only some of the more important honours gained. Inevitably some battalions get fuller treatment than others but the main events are clearly described.

The narrative appears in chronological order, beginning in 1914 with the 1st Battalion moving from Egypt to Khartoum and the 2nd Battalion in the Curragh with 14th Brigade, 5th Division, one of the original BEF divisions. As the story unfolds so the various battalions on active service are brought into the picture and the part they played in the battles is described. One chapter is given to the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion at home and another to all the other battalions that did not go on active service. There is a comprehensive, 26-page index. CLICK HERE TO ORDER.

Diary of Colonel Bayly, 12th Regiment, 1796-1803 (Seringapatnam 1799)

Entertaining, if bloody, account of the 12th Regiment of Foot in India and their struggles against Tippoo Sultan. CLICK HERE FOR FURTHER DETAILS.

Centurions of a Century

Nostalgic look back at Britain’s military campaigns, battles and leaders as well as (Suffolk) regimental actions and regimental life, all spread over more than a hundred years. Published in 1914, the book deals with Britain's colonial wars up until the death of Queen Victoria. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE.

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