27 January 2012

Norfolk Regiment - 3rd (Special Reserve) Bn

This post will look at numbering in the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment.

The battalion was formed in January 1908 on the demise of the militia. Up until that point the Norfolk militia had had two battalions, the 3rd and the 4th, but the 4th was one of 23 infantry militia battalions which was ordered to be disbanded. Thus when the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment was formed, it took in men from both the 3rd and 4th militia battalions, these men retaining their old militia numbers. In theory then, it would have been possible for two men to share the same number: 1234 Tommy Atkins joining from the 3rd Militia Battalion and 1234 Bill Smith joining from 4th Militia Battalion. I have not so far come across any examples of duplicates but I wouldn’t bet against it.

New recruits to the 3rd Battalion start at around the 627* range in 1908 but there are plenty of examples of men with far lower numbers joining in 1908 who had already seen many years service in the militia.

By August 1914 numbering had reached 9999 and then there appears to have been a bit of confusion, men numbering after this point first being given numbers starting from 1 again; thus SR/1 (or 3/1), SR/2 (or 3/2) for example. This system can clearly be seen on the front of some attestation papers from this period although appears to have been rectified later on, men’s numbers appearing as 3/10001, 3/10002 etc.

Many of the men joining in August and September 1914 were old soldiers who had seen service in the regular army or in militia or volunteer battalions (and in some cases a combination). These men generally joined up for one year’s service (or duration) and many of these men would shortly find themselves rushed out to France to fill in gaps in the regular 1st Battalion.

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Further Reading

The Holy Boys
A history of the Royal Norfolk Regiment and the Royal Anglian Regiment 1685-2010.

The History of the Norfolk Regiment 1685-1914
Covers the period up until the outbreak of war.

The History of the Norfolk Regiment
History covering the period 4th August 1914 to 31st December 1918

18 January 2012

5th (Flintshire) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers

This post will look at numbering in the 5th (Flintshire) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers between the battalion's formation in April 1908 and January 1915.  Like its sister battalions, the 6th (Carnarvonshire and Anglesey) Battalion and the 7th (Merioneth & Montgomery) Battalion, the battalion was administered by two County Associations; in its case, the Flintshire Association (which administered seven companies), and the Denbigh Association (which administered one company, as well as the entire 4th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers).

The battalion had its origins as the 1st Admin Battalion of Flintshire Rifle Volunteers which was formed with headquarters at Rhyl in August 1860.  In 1874, the 1st to 5th Carnarvonshire Corps were added and the battalion became the 1st Flintshire and Carnarvon Royal Volunteer Corps.  Ten years later, General Order 78 of June 1884 redesignated the battalion as the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. By 1896 the establishment of the battalion had reached sixteen companies and this was reduced to eight the following year when the Carnarvonshire personnel were removed to form the 3rd Volunteer Battalion (later the 6th RWF).

By February 1914, the distribution of the companies (headquartered at Flint) was as follows:

A Company: Mold
B Company: Hawarden, with a drill station at Buckley
C Company: Rhyl, with a drill station at St Asaph
D Company: Holywell, with a drill station at Mostyn
E Company: Flint, with a drill station at Bagillt
F Company: Caergwrle
G Company: Colwyn Bay
H Company: Connah's Quay

The battalion formed part of the North Wales Infantry Brigade with the Welsh Division.

Although at this point in time I have nothing more than gaps in my database to base the following theory on, I suspect that as far as  numbering in the battalion was concerned, the Flintshire companies all drew numbers from one series whilst the Denbighshire company - probably G Company based at Colwyn Bay - began its numbering at 2000, only later falling into line with numbering in the other seven companies. For now though, sample enlistment dates and numbers (for all companies except G Company) from 1908 to Jan 1915 as follows:

322 joined on April 10th 1908
623 joined on April 20th 1909
810 joined on 22nd September 1910
842 joined on 2nd March 1911
978 joined on 23rd March 1912
1174 joined on 4th March 1913
1442 joined on 26th March 1914
1546 joined on 4th August 1914 (the day Britain declared war on Germany)
2208 joined on 15th September 1914
2290 joined on 2nd October 1914
2442 joined on 10th November 1914
2561 joined on 30th November 1914
2627 joined on 4th January 1915

As far as the Denbighshire company is concerned, Soldiers Died in The Great war lists the following men:

2011 Pte Robert Jones, Died at Malta on 18th September 1915
2032 CQMS Ernest William Reckless, DoW at Sea on 23rd August 1915

I suggest both of these men were 1908 enlistments.  Furthermore, there is a MIC for 2061 W T Williams whose enlistment date is given as 4th February 1909 and one for 2106 J M F Lyon Smith who enlisted on the 28th February 1912. I have no date for 2122 Thomas Roberts, but his renumbered TF number is 240582 which would normally have suggested September 1914 to me... had it not been for 2131 John Power whose MIC clearly states a joining date of 12th February 1913 (albeit the enlistment date on a MIC is just that: an enlistment date rather than the date the man joined the regiment he was being discharged from). 2143 John Owen Jones joined the 5th Battalion on the 12th November 1913, and so on.  There's not a lot to go on, but enough for me to be as certain as I can be that the 5th Battalion, just like the 6th and 7th Battalions of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers operated two numbering systems - up until a point - this purely because the battalions were administered by more than one County Association.

When the Territorial Force was renumbered in 1917, the 5th RWF  - all of the men in all of the companies - was allocated numbers within the range 240001 to 265000.

I've borrowed the photograph on this post from the website of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum.  It shows the Machine-Gun section of the 5th (Flintshire) Battalion in 1915.

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

13 January 2012

The formation of The Labour Corps in 1917

Not for the first time, I am indebted to my pal Graham Stewart for supplying the following scans of ACI 611 which in turn reference The Royal Warrant of 21st February 1917 (issued as Army Order 85 of 1917) which sanctioned the formation of The Labour Corps.

Whilst I have detailed information on the numbering patterns in most corps, I have always steered clear of The Labour Corps and The Army Service Corps.  This information from Graham therefore fills a huge gap for me personally and will, I hope, be of interest to others as well.  Click on the images for readable versions.

Army Council Instruction 611


Appendix 106


Appendix 107

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10 January 2012

North Staffordshire Regiment - 5th Battalion

This post is a snapshot of North Staffordshire Regiment enlistments into the 5th (Territorial Force) Battalion between 1908 and the end of 1914.  The information has been compiled from surviving service and pension records in WO 363 and WO 364. 

The 5th North Staffordshire Regiment was headquartered at Hanley. Prior to the formation of the Territorial Force in 1908 it had been designated the 1st Volunteer Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment (since 1883) and before that, the 2nd Staffordshire Rifle Volunteers

89 (a former member of the 1st North Staffordshire Volunteer Battalion) joined on 14th April 1908
445 joined on 17th February 1909
1042 joined on 11th March 1910
1334 joined on 19th February 1911
1649 joined on 23rd January 1912
2146 joined on 18th March 1913
2414 joined on 18th February 1914

On the outbreak of war the disposition of companies was as follows:

A Company: Longton
B Company: Hanley
C Company: Burslem
D Company: Tunstall
E Company: Stoke on Trent, with a drill station at Hanley
F Company: Stone
G Company: Newcastle-under-Lyme
H Company: Burton-on-Trent

The battalion was part of the Staffordshire Infantry Brigade of the North Midland Division in the Northern Command.

2590 joined on 11th August 1914
2919 joined on 3rd September 1914
3514 joined on 1st October 1914

A 2/5th Battalion was formed at Hanley on the 1st November 1914 and the 4th Battalion was now re-designated as the 1/4th Battalion.

3800 joined on 5th November 1914
3961 joined on 28th December 1914

A 3/5th Battalion was later formed in May 1915.

The photo on this post is borrowed from the Staffordshire Past-Track website and shows former 1/5th men at a reunion in 1927.  2/5th and 3/5th Battalion information courtesy of The Long, Long Trail website.

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

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