2 March 2012
Northumberland Fusiliers - Regular battalions
This post will look at regimental numbers in the regular battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers between 1881 and 1914. The Northumberland Fusiliers was formed on the 1st July 1881 from the 5th Regiment of Foot (Northumberland Fusiliers).
The newly formed regiment was established as the county regiment for Northumberland and started numbering from 1 in 1881.
There are over 48,000 Northumberland Fusiliers service records which survive in various National Archives' series, and clicking on the link will take you to the results on Findmypast, although you will need a subscription or Pay-Per-View credits to actually get into the records.
21 joined on 29th August 1881
96 joined on 5th January 1882
253 joined on 23rd January 1883
518 joined on 17th January 1884
803 joined on 14th January1885
1314 joined on 23rd January 1886
1757 joined on 26th January 1887
2028 joined on 11th January 1888
2355 joined on 5th January 1889
2632 joined on 9th January 1890
2964 joined on 8th January 1891
3284 joined on 7th January 1892
3798 joined on 6th January 1893
4042 joined on 12th January 1894
4451 joined on 16th January 1895
4825 joined on 6th January 1896
5053 joined on 22nd January 1897
5307 joined on 10th January 1898
5695 joined on 7th January 1899
6341 joined on 10th January 1900
With Great Britain at war with the Boers, the Northumberland Fusiliers had been given permission to raise two more regular battalions. The 3rd Battalion was raised at York on the 10th January 1900 and the 4th Battalion at York on the 17th February 1900. Men joining these battalions were given numbers in the same series that was already in use for the 1st and 2nd Battalions. There was no numbering distinction between the four battalions.
The regiment’s volunteer battalions also contributed enough men for four volunteer service companies and one volunteer section. Numbers within the range 7400 through to 7742 were issued in early 1900 to men joining the 1st and 2nd VSCs. Numbers within the range 8891 to 9090 were issued in 1901 to men joining the 3rd and 4th VSCs. Numbers within the range 9401 to 9456 were issued in 1902 to men joining Number 3 Volunteer Section.
Men from the 1st and 2nd VSCs sailed with their officers for South Africa aboard the SS Avondale Castle on the 23rd February 1900.
7799 joined on 16th January 1901
8395 joined on 17th January 1902
9137 joined on 22nd January 1903
The addition of two regular battalions had had a dramatic effect on recruitment into the Northumberland Fusiliers and by October 1903, the regiment had passed 9800. Application was made to the Adjutant-General to obtain authority to commence a new series and on 2nd December 1903, the regiment issued number 9999 to a new recruit and then immediately commenced a new number series starting from 1.
236 joined on 7th January 1904
862 joined on 4th February 1905
1900 joined on 26th January 1906
The 4th Battalion was disbanded on the 26th January 1907, the 3rd Battalion in April 1907.
2069 joined on 7th June 1907
2326 joined on 30th July 1908
2501 joined on 13th January 1909
2845 joined on 28th July 1910
3090 joined on 1st June 1911
3356 joined on 14th February 1912
3544 joined on 9th May 1913
3883 joined on 1st August 1914
The First World War
When Britain went to war in August 1914, men joining the new wartime-service only battalions were issued with numbers from the same series that had, up until that point, been the sole preserve of the regiment’s two regular battalions. The Northumberland Fusiliers also raised a number of ‘Pals’ battalions and these battalions operated different number series again, all of these numbers prefixed by the number of the battalion. For instance, 22/96 was the 96th man to be issued with a number from a new series issued by the 22nd (Service) Battalion (3rd Tyneside Scottish), Northumberland Fusiliers. He received his number in November 1914.
Recruitment rates 1881-1911
Between 1st July 1881 and 28th March 1891, The Northumberland Fusiliers recruited 3,039 men, an average of 312 men each year. Of the sixty-nine infantry regiments recruiting at this time, The Northumberland Fusiliers was the fifty-fourth most effective recruiter.
Recruitment rates leapt during the next decade, largely as the result of the addition of another two regular battalions during the South African War period. Between 28th March 1891 and 3rd July 1901 The Northumberland Fusiliers recruited a further 5,040 men, an average of 488 men a year. The regiment’s recruitment ranking leapt from 54th to 4th place.
Recruitment continued apace in the early 1900s and by 1st June 1911 the regiment had well and truly passed 9,999 and was issuing number 3090 from a new number series to its latest recruit, an average of 505 men recruited per annum during the decade, and an overall average of 435 men per annum since the regiment had been formed thirty years earlier. Overall, the Northumberland Fusiliers was the fifth most successful recruiting infantry regiment.
1st Battalion stations 1881-1914
1895 Gold Coast
1899 South Africa
1914 France & Flanders (from August)
2nd Battalion stations 1881-1914
1888 Black Mountain expedition (NW Indian frontier)
1899 South Africa
1913 Sabathu (India)
1915 France & Flanders (from January)
3rd Battalion stations 1900-1907
1900 Raised at York on the 10th January
1902 South Africa
1907 England, disbanded in April
4th Battalion stations 1900-1907
1900 Raised at York on the 17th February
1907 Disbanded on the 26th January
Pictured, 237082 Sergeant Alfred James Woodley of the 1/5th Northumberland Fusiliers (formerly Welsh Regiment) who died on the 27th May 1918.
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The following books can all be obtained from the Naval and Military Press. Click on the links to read more.
What the Fusiliers Did
An account of the 5th Regiment of Foot and the Afghan Campaigns of 1878-1880
A History of the Northumberland Fusiliers 1674-1902
One of the appendices contains extracts from the Army List between 1688 and 1900.
The Fifth in the Great War.
A History of the 1st and 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers, 1914-1918. A rare history now reprinted by Naval & Military Press.
A record of the 17th and 32nd Battalions, Northumberland Fusiliers
The NER Pioneers 1914-1919. Nominal rolls which consist of the embarkation roll of officers, a list of officers joining subsequently with dates, the roll of men who served with the battalion showing number, rank, name, company, whether embarked with the battalion, casualty details and any awards.
18th Service Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers
The volume includes this Pioneer Battalion's embarkation roll from January 1916; its Roll of Honour; honours and awards and appendices
Story of the Tyneside Scottish
The 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd Battalions, Northumberland Fusiliers during the Great War
The 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th Battalions, Northumberland Fusiliers during the Great War. Appendices contain the complete nominal roll of every man who served in these battalions.
Irish Heroes in the War
Includes alphabetical lists of officers of the Tyneside Irish brigade, with biographical details, along with lists of NCOs and men, all shown by battalion and by company within each battalion.