20 June 2011

Worcestershire Regiment - regular battalions - 1881-1914

This post will look at numbering in the regular battalions of the Worcestershire Regiment between 1881 and 1914. Service records for all of the sample numbers and dates below survive in the series WO 363 and WO 364 at the National Archives (and also online at Ancestry.co.uk) and WO 97 (on line courtesy of Find My Past).

In fact, there are over 43,000 Worcestershire Regiment pension and service 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 service record collection.

Use the regimental numbers and dates on which these were issued, below, to determine parameters for when your own Worcestershire Regiment ancestor would have joined up. Note though that these numbers are only for regular enlistments. Special Reserve and Territorial Force battalions operated completely separate regimental number sequences.

The Worcestershire Regiment was formed on the 1st July 1881; the 1st Battalion from the 29th (Worcestershire) Regiment of Foot, and the 2nd Battalion from the 36th (Herefordshire) Regiment of Foot. The newly formed regiment was established as the county regiment for Worcestershire and started numbering from 1 in 1881.

23 joined on 10th September 1881
146 joined on 30th January 1882
370 joined on 28th March 1883
924 joined on 16th September 1884
1119 joined on 16th March 1885
1960 joined on 24th November 1886
2044 joined on 26th January 1887
2268 joined on 3rd December 1888
2494 joined on 30th July 1889
2665 joined on 26th March 1890
2991 joined on 24th August 1891
3225 joined on 13th April 1892
3597 joined on 3rd February 1893
4020 joined on 13th March 1894
4358 joined on 10th June 1895
4640 joined on 15th July 1896
4750 joined on 12th January 1897
5123 joined on 1st February 1898
5460 joined on 5th January 1899
5678 joined on 1st January 1900

The Second South African War 1899-1902

The Worcestershire Regiment raised two more regular battalions, the 3rd and 4th Battalions, in 1900. The 3rd Battalion was raised on the 14th February and the 4th Battalion on the 10th March. Men joining these battalions were numbered from the same series being used for the 1st and 2nd Battalions. The regiment maintained its additional two battalions after the war with South Africa had ended and thus went to war with Germany in 1914 with four regular battalions.

Volunteer Service Companies
During the South African War, the 7th and 8th Volunteer Battalions supplied enough men to enable the regiment to raise two volunteer service companies (VSCs). One hundred and thirty of these men came from the 8th Volunteer Battalion. Numbers were allocated to VSC recruits as follows:

1st VSC: numbers within the range 6693 to 6855
2nd VSC: numbers within the range 6808 to 6878

... back to the numbering:
6383 joined on 3rd June 1901

6656 joined on 13th January 1902
7445 joined on 2nd January 1903
8196 joined on 29th January 1904
9259 joined on 27th May 1905
9813 joined on 21st February 1906
10335 joined on 9th January 1907
11042 joined on 17th February 1908
11586 joined on 5th January 1909
12064 joined on 8th January 1910
12458 joined on 31st May 1911
12887 joined on 27th January 1912
13285 joined on 11th February 1913
13476 joined on 19th March 1914

The First World War
When Britain went to war in August 1914, men joining the new service battalions were issued with numbers from the same series in use by the four regular battalions.

Recruitment rates 1881-1911
Recruiting in the Worcestershire Regiment was a slow and often tedious affair in the 1880s. Between 1st July 1881 and 24th August 1891, the regiment recruited just 2991 men, an annual average of 294 men per annum. This however, was to be the regiment’s worst showing and its fortunes would improve dramatically over the next twenty years.

Between 1891 and 1901 the regiment recruited close to 3,400 men, improving its recruitment rate for the decade to an average of 345 men per annum, and finishing in twenty-sixth place.

The addition of two more regular battalions in 1900 had a marked effect on recruitment rates and between June 1901 and May 1911, the regiment added over 6000 men to its books; an annual recruitment rate of 613 men per annum for the last ten years and one which saw recruiting in the regiment surpassed only by The King’s Royal Rifle Corps and Middlesex Regiment.

Overall, after a slow start in the 1880s, the Worcestershire Regiment finished as the sixth most successful recruiter of British Army infantry between 1881 and 1911.

1st Battalion stations 1881-1914
1881 Bombay

1885 Karachi
1888 Quetta
1891 Poona
1893 Kemptee
1894 Burma
1895 Aden
1896 Devonport
1899 Guernsey
1900 South Africa
1903 Templemore
1906 Dublin
1908 Parkhurst
1913 Egypt
1914 France & Flanders (from November)

2nd Battalion stations 1881-1914
1881 Kinsale
1885 Jersey
1888 Pembroke Dock
1890 Curragh
1895 Malta
1897 Bermuda
1899 Halifax (Nova Scotia)
1900 South Africa
1904 Ceylon
1906 Ahmednagar
1909 Jhansi
1913 Aldershot
1914 France & Flanders (from August)

3rd Battalion stations 1900-1914

1900 Raised in Ireland on the 14th February
1900 Tipperary
1904 Aldershot
1907 South Africa
1908 Tidworth
1914 France & Flanders (from August)

4th Battalion stations 1900-1915

1900 Raised in Ireland on the 10th March
1903 Bermuda
1905 Malta
1909 Bareilly
1914 Burma
1915 Gallipoli (from April)

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

Further reading:
Try the excellent
Worcestershire Regiment website which, amongst other things, carries a complete roll of honour for Worcestershire Regiment men between 1808 and 1960!

I've borrowed the image on this post from the Worcester City Museums website. According to the caption, it shows a sergeant and a private in 1897.

The Naval & Military Press has re-published The Worcestershire Regiment in The Great War (above) and writes:

"Arguably the finest regimental history even written. A magnificent publication it is with its profusion of maps, illustrations and photos - each page of photos contains several. The Worcesters was one of the five regiments that had four regular battalions before the war, with two special reserve and two territorial battalions. By the end of the war another fourteen battalions had been raised for a total of twenty-two of which twelve went on active service. 9,460 officers and men gave their lives, 71 Battle Honours were awarded and eight VCs one of whom, attached to the RFC, was the airman Leefe Robinson, famous for shooting down a zeppelin. Battalions served on the Western Front, in Gallipoli, Macedonia, Mesopotamia, Italy; one battalion ended the war in North Persia. Appendices provide the Roll of Honour; Honours and Awards including Mention in Despatches, with date of Gazette (for ‘Companion' of the British Empire read ‘Commander'); details of Badges, Colours and Distinctions of the regiment; and the music for regimental marches. Illustrations are by well-known artists depicting battle scenes including each VC-winning action - apart from Leefe's zeppelin. After considering various factors, explained in his very informative preface, the author decided to present this history as one general story in which the number of the battalion concerned is printed in the margin of the pages dealing with its deeds. Attention is paid to minor actions such as trench raids, which usually find no place in compressed official histories; they are recorded in this history. The plans illustrate the engagements recorded in the book, and are designed to depict the part played by the several battalions in their battles and to enable the visitor to the battlefields to recognise the ground on which each fight took place, as much as to make clear the general course of those actions. The book opens with a very interesting account of the regiment in the years before the war, beginning at the turn of the century, and there is a very comprehensive index of 25 pages. This is a great piece of work and must rank as one of the finest of the Great War regimental histories, many would say the finest, and I wouldn't argue." Order it HERE.


Unknown said...


This is so through!
I have the medal card for my Grandfather Alexander Mark T.F. RAMC regimental number 1555.
He has born in December 1895 so his entry to theatre in November 1914 would have meant he was under 18 at the time. I am confused that he has only got a 4 digit number. Would it not have been superceded later? Is it possible to tell shich RAMC unit he served with?



Paul Nixon said...


Thanks for posting. Yes, you'd expect to see a six digit number if he was still serving when the TF was renumbered. The original medal rolls should indicate the particular TF unit he was serving with. These are not online but you can access them at The National Archives or hire a researcher to do that for you.


Unknown said...

Hello im wondering if you can help me?
Ive recently found out that my Great Great Grandfather William Butt served in the Worcestershire Regiment 1st Volunteer Battalion. I have his Service number 199 from when he was awarded the Volunteer long Service Medal. Is it possible to work out anything about when he started his service from this?

Thanks Craig

Paul Nixon said...


Records for the Volunteer Force do not survive as a complete collection although you do find some papers scattered within WO 363 / WO 364 and WO 97. The LSGC was awarded for 18 years' service and so if you know when he was awarded the decoration, you can count back 18 years. Which monarch's head appears on the LSGC? It will be either Victoria or Edward VII. If you know when he was born, this could also provide some pointers - at least you'd have a date range, albeit a large range.

BettyL said...

Hi wonder if you can help me i have just found my grandfathers Militia attestation form on FMP W. Lamping number 3608. Is there any way i could find more information I have been trying to find him for 20years and would love to know where he died if possible he joined on the 6th December 1892 thank you BettyL

Paul Nixon said...


The record doesn't tell you a great deal other than that he was with M Coy of the 4th Bn, Worcestershire Regt. You do though get his age and an address and so it's a case of checking through other record series like census returns and BMDs to see if you can add anything else. Luckily, the surname is not common and that's always a boon in family history research.


Dave Sissons said...

I hope you can help me trace the steps of my grandfather, he originally joined the Cheshire Regiment in Stockport, Cheshire as this is our home town. He was sent into action in France, I think, where he was seriously wounded. He was sent back to England to recover. When he was fit again he was sent to join the Worcestershire Regiment. This is all I know, as like lots of other children he did not talk to me of the war very much.
He was.. Private Harold Sissons, Service No. 52549.
Your help will be greatly appreciated.

Paul Nixon said...

Please ping me at paulcanixon@gmail.com, Dave.

denishowls said...

21 men of Ross . Transvaal 1899 !!! Nr then .
Great grand father returned mission complete with no lives lost .
Their troop had a monkey mascot .

james w burke said...

My grandfather James Francis Burke 9331, 2nd bttn Worcester regiment was a regular before WW1. We know he was wounded in 1914 at Aisne or Marne. He returned to active service after that. Can I find his 'wounded records' online? I have his metal wound stripe, medals and photos he took after the war in Ypres, Kemmel etc. I also have his big green Worcerestershire Regiment in the Great War book.

Paul Nixon said...

You'll need to check the casualty lists James. If you have access to The Times online you'll find them there. The genealogist has also indexed these.

Unknown said...

Hi there, I'm doing some research on a family member who was killed in action on 16/05/1915. His regimental number is 14630 and he was a private in the 2nd battalion for the worcestershire regiment. Any information would be welcome, thanks.

Paul Nixon said...

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.

Unknown said...


Thank you very much for this. My grandfather and great uncle served in the 4th Battalion and although I've got their service numbers, and much more, I couldn't nail down an enlistment year for my grandfather. Uncle's is 11621 and from his discharge certificate I get his enlistment date of 02/10/1910 (ten yrs 111 days service - discharge date of 21/01/1921 - maths being correct?) which is slightly out from the sequencing, but having not found his actual enlistment date anywhere it'll do. I have no references at all for my grandfather's enlistment, his number was 10944 which would give his enlistment around 23/12/1907 (he did say he joined up because he couldn't face another winter picking sprouts!).

Once again, many thanks


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