22 March 2012

Royal Berkshire Regiment - 1st & 2nd Battalions - 1881-1914

This post will look at regimental numbering sequences for the regular battalions of the Royal Berkshire Regiment between July 1881 and March 1914. The Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Berkshire Regiment) was formed on the 1st July 1881; the 1st Battalion from the 49th (Princess Charlotte of Wales’s) (Hertfordshire) Regiment of Foot, and the 2nd Battalion from the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment of Foot.

There are over 27,000 Royal Berkshire 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 Royal Berkshire 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 newly formed regiment was established as the county regiment for Berkshire and started numbering from 1 in 1881.

3 joined on 29th July 1881
201 joined on 13th February 1882
717 joined on 6th February 1883
988 joined on 9th January 1884
1278 joined on 30th March 1885

The regiment became The Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire Regiment) in 1885. The Royal accolade was bestowed for the 1st Battalion’s distinguished conduct at the Battle of Tofrek in Egypt on the 22nd March 1885. Numbering was unaffected by the new title.

1586 joined on 8th January 1886
2203 joined on 2nd February 1887
2559 joined on 31st August 1888
2586 joined on 10th January 1889
2872 joined on 14th January 1890
3253 joined on 16th July 1891
3575 joined on 30th July 1892
3705 joined on 5th February 1893
4203 joined on 26th September 1894
4360 joined on 27th February 1895
4653 joined on 21st March 1896
4784 joined on 4th January 1897
5334 joined on 21st April 1898
5554 joined on 15th April 1899
5822 joined on 11th April 1900

During the South African War, men joining the Royal Berkshire Regiment’s 1st VSC were allocated numbers 6791 to 6953. Numbers 6791 to 6926 were issued between 1st February and 20th April 1900. Numbers 6927 to 6953 were issued in March and April 1901.

6133 joined on 3rd April 1901
6470 joined on 13th January 1902
6978 joined on 8th January 1903
7700 joined on 23rd May 1904
7944 joined on 18th March 1905
8165 joined on 20th January 1906
8427 joined on 7th January 1907
8859 joined on 23rd April 1908
9083 joined on 13th January 1909
9279 joined on 23rd February 1910
9442 joined on 10th January 1911
9771 joined on 11th April 1912
9932 joined on 27th March 1913
10151 joined on 21st 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 that had, up until that point, been the sole preserve of the regiment’s two regular battalions.

Recruitment rates 1881-1911

Between 1st July 1881 and 16th July 1891, the Royal Berkshire Regiment recruited 3,253 men, an average of 323 men each year. Of the sixty-nine infantry regiments recruiting at this time, The Royal Berkshire Regiment was the forty-eighth most successful infantry recruiter.

As with so many regiments, recruitment dropped during the next decade, the Royal Berkshires recruiting around 3,000 men; an average of 295 new soldiers per annum and a rate which ranked sixty-third out of sixty-nine.

Recruitment picked up in the early 1900s with 3,309 men joining the Royal Berkshire Regiment between 3rd April 1901 and 10th January 1911. Nevertheless, the regiment still averaged an annual recruitment rate of just 319 men since it had been formed thirty years earlier.

1st Battalion stations 1882-1914

1882 Malta
1882 Egypt
1883 Gibraltar
1884 Egypt
1885 Sudan
1886 Malta & Cyprus
1893 Bermuda
1895 Halifax, Nova Scotia
1897 West Indies
1898 Portsmouth
1900 Gibraltar
1901 Aldershot
1903 Woking
1904 Curragh
1906 Dublin
1910 Dover
1913 Aldershot
1914 France & Flanders (from August)

2nd Battalion stations 1881-1914

1881 Parkhurst
1883 Chatham
1885 Athlone
1888 Templemore
1891 Cork
1893 Portland
1895 Aldershot
1897 Cape Colony
1899 South Africa
1902 Egypt
1906 Subathu
1909 Meerut
1912 Jhansi
1914 France & Flanders (from November)

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Mark said...

I have a mess spoon that was my great grandfathers I was told that the ST7668 stamped on the spoon was his service number. I was trying to figure out what the ST stood for. the spoon also has a W what appears to be a pyrimid D12 stamp on the back. It was made by Wilkinson & Sons in Birmingham. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Paul Nixon said...

No idea I'm afraid. What was your grandfather's name? ST could be Stockbroker's battalion perhaps but that's a long shot and the number seems too high.

curiouskiwi said...

Just to give you another data point, great-grandfather 2571 joined up on 2 Jan 1889. Cheers.

Paul Nixon said...

Thanks curiouskiwi.

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