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.

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Anonymous said...


I am trying to trace my grandfather's WW1 service record.

I have tried a search through the Ancestry website with no luck. I am hoping his record is not one of the many that were lost during the London bombings in WW2.

My grandfather was in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and I know he served in Egypt and Palestine. I have photos of him being there in 1918.

As he was from Penmaenmawr, Caernarvonshire I am assuming he was in the 6th battalion RWF. I am not sure when he joined up but as he was born 1892 he would have been old enough from 1914.

My grandfather's name was Robert John Roberts.

Any information you could give me would be very much appreciated.

Many thanks
Gareth Owen

Paul Nixon said...

I'd like to be able to help, Garthe, but there are just too mnay many of that name who served with the RWF for me to make a positive match. Ancestry lists 17 Robert J Roberts with the RWF who had medal index cards.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for having a look for me Paul.I appreciate that a welsh name in a welsh regiment is always a tough one to pinpoint.

Since my initial communication I have found my grandfather's actual medals which show his number, rank and regiment on their sides.
With this I have found his medal card which re-confirms he had the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.

I have not found his war record though. So this maybe one of the many lost during the blitz in ww2.

I noticed in some of your discussions with others that you have an idea of roughly when a person may have joined up by their service number? My grandfather's service number was 201389. As I said before I knew he was in the RWF in Egypt and Palestine and I believe with the 6th Battalion but I am trying to establish if he served with them in Gallipoli as well.
Thanks again

Paul Nixon said...

Gareth, that helps a lot! Lucky you, to have his medals. The number belongs to the series used by the 4th Battalion and dates to around April 1916. The 6th Battalion drew numbers from the series 265001-290000 so we can rule this battalion out.

Best wishes


Anonymous said...

Paul, Thanks for the feedback. Interesting to see he joined up about April 1916. I'm surprise though that he was with the 4th Battalion RWF as they where in France. I have no family knowledge of him being in the French campaign. As far as the family are aware he was in Egypt and Palestine for his entire combat career. We even have photos and mementos from him from those places.
Is there a possibility part of the 4th could have been assigned to a division in Egypt and Palestine?


Paul Nixon said...

I'm not sure, Gareth; might be worth contacting the RWF museum to see if they can shed any light: http://www.rwfmuseum.org.uk/

Anonymous said...

Once again thanks for your help.
The RWF Museum research facility is suspended at the moment due to the retirement of their curator but once its up and running I will make contact with them.
Best wishes

Darren Owen said...

Hi Paul,
first of all, thank you for this great blog, it is very helpful and interesting.

I am researching my great uncle's military service. He was Frank Owen, 16th RWF, died 22 April 1918, along with many from his and other RWF battalions that day.

He has 2 service numbers, 240786 which I now learn from your site was a 5th battalion number, and 55380.

On the CWGC site and Soldiers Died in the Great War he is given as 55380 Frank Owen.

Is it likely that he may have started in the territorials then been posted to a service battalion? If so, would he have had to volunteer to do that, or could it have been compulsory?

I was aware that men were given new numbers when transferring between regiments, but not between battalions of the same regiment.

Any pointers you could give me would be gratefully received, regards Darren.

Paul Nixon said...

Sorry for the delay, Darren. The numbers indicate that he was indeed a TF soldier first and yes, the numbering series used by the TF battalions were entirely separate from the series used by the RWF regular/service battalions. HisTF number dates to Nov 1914 and his five digit number to post October 1916 - Nove or Dec 1916 at a very rough guess.


Anonymous said...

Gday, I am looking for information on my Great Unlce.
Living in Australia, It is a obviously a bit hard to know where to start on the Web.
My Great Uncles name is Will Jennings Sgt D.C.M 204832.
He won a Military Cross which is on display in Caernarfon Castle.
My father is wanting further information and I have offered to help.
I know this is a huge ask and am unsure if you are able to help.
Thanks heaps
Patricia - Newcastle Australia

Paul Nixon said...

Hello Patricia

Did he win the MC during the First World War? I can see that he won the DCM. He served with the 5th battalion, attached to the King's African Rifles at one stage. If you would like me to research this further please drop me a line: paulcanixon@yahoo.co.uk


ventwistle said...


I am trying to work out which battalion and division my great grandfather fought in so that I can look through the war diaries but struggling to work it out. His name was Wright Parkinson, he was in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Regiment number 74091. on his serves medal and awards roll it says 5/6 R.W.Fus so I was taking this as he was in the 5th/6th batallion but I'm unsure and wondering what division he would of been under.

Thank you for any help/explanation you could give me.


Paul Nixon said...

Looks like 158 Bde in the 53rd Division, Victoria.

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