26 December 2012

6th (Banff & Donside) Battalion, Gordon Highlanders

The 6th (Banff and Donside) Battalion, Gordon Highlanders was a Territorial Force Battalion formed on 1st April 1908. It was formed by the amalgamation of the 4th and 6th Volunteer Battalions of the Gordon Highlanders, each of these battalions contributing four companies of men (the 4th VB accounted for companies E to H, whilst the 6th VB accounted for companies A to D). The 6th Battalion was headquartered at Keith and was administered by the Banff Association. The distribution of companies and drill stations was as follows:

A Company
Banff; drill stations at Aberchirder, Cornhill, Portsoy.
B Company
Dufftown; drill stations at Aberlour, Chapelton (Braes of Glenlivet), Glenrinnes, Minmore
C Company
Keith; drill station at Grange.
D Company
Buckie; drill stations at Findochty, Cullen.
E Company
Inverurie; drill stations at Pitcaple.
F Company
Alford; drill stations at Cushnie, Lumsden, Glenbuckat, Strathdon, Corgarff, Towie.
G Company
Bucksburn; drill station at Dyce.
H Company
Huntly; drill stations at Insch, Rhynie.

There were certainly two number series in use for this battalion, and what follows is largely conjecture based on what is a relatively small sample of data from my own database.

One number series (which I’ll call Series One) began at 1 in 1908. The second number series (which I’ll call Series Two for the sake of consistency) may have started at 10000 or 12000 or higher. The lowest number I have for this series is 12094 David Allen Clark. His surviving attestation papers in WO 364 show that he joined the 4th VB Gordon Highlanders on 7th April 1896. He then attested with the 6th (Banff & Donside) Battalion at Alford on 17th April 1908. He was signed up on Army Form E.502 which was the form to be used by “Imperial Yeomanry or Volunteers, enlisted or enrolled before the 1st April 1908, enlisting in the Force”. Pages one and three of his attestation papers give the number 468 which is crossed out and over-written with the number 10294.

It is this lower number series which appears to have been discontinued after war broke out. Beginning at 1, here are some sample numbers and enlistment dates up to 3rd August 1914:

167 joined on 16th April 1908
208 joined on7th April 1909
664 joined on 7th November 1910
723 joined on 2nd February1911
901 joined on 12th January 1912
1159 joined on 13th February 1913
1431 joined on 31st January 1914
1675 (the highest four-digit number on my 6th Gordons database) joined on 3rd August 1914

From the five digit series:

10394 joined on 14th June 1908
10492 joined on 16th February 1909
10701 joined on 12th September 1910

I have nothing at all after 10701 until we get to 25th August 1914 when 10705 joined the battalion. It almost looks as though in September 1910 the decision was taken to abandon the five digit number series and just continue with the series which had started at one. This decision, if indeed it was a decision, was reversed in August 1914 when the five-digit series was continued at the expense of the other series. As I said, this is all conjecture on my part, and if anyone knows any different, or can add further speculation, please do post a comment. On the face of it, given that the 6th Battalion was the result of a merger between two distinct Volunteer Battalions, logic might suggest that one series was used by men from the area previously covered by the 4th VB whilst the other series was used by men from the area previously covered by the 6th VB. Unfortunately, an analysis of places of enlistment for men from both series does not support this theory.

10705 joined on 25th August 1914
10732 joined on 6th September 1914
11119 joined on 1st October 1914

A 2/6th Battalion was formed at Keith in October 1914 and upon formation the 6th Battalion became the 1/6th Battalion Gordon Highlanders. The 2/6th Battalion used the same number sequence as the 1/6th.

11480 joined on 2nd November 1914
11664 joined on 7th December 1914
11746 joined on 14th January 1915
11816 joined on 6th February 1915
11864 joined on 22nd March 1915
12094 joined on 17th May 1915

A 3/6th Battalion was formed in May 1915 and it too used the same number sequence as that being used by the 1/6th and 2/6th Battalions.

12208 joined on 1st June 1915
12302 joined on 13th July 1915
12456 joined on 16th November 1915
12575 joined on 21st February 1916
12585 joined on 2nd March 1916
12671 joined on 14th June 1916
12870 joined on 25th July 1916
12912 joined on 4th August 1916

When the Territorial Force was re-numbered in 1917, men from the 6th Gordons were issued numbers in the range 265001 to 290000, the lowest number being issued to the man with the lowest number from the first series. For instance, 265005 was issued to J McLaren who had originally joined the battalion on the 1st April 1908 and who, before that time, had served with the Volunteer Force.

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