21 December 2012

King's Own Scottish Borderers - 1st and 2nd Battalions

The War Office had intended that the regiment should be named The York Regiment (King’s Own Borderers) and with the regimental depot in York.  Instead, it became the King’s Own Borderers with its depot at Berwick-upon-Tweed.  It was formed on 1st July 1881 from the 25th (The York) Regiment of Foot (King’s Own Borderers) and started numbering from 1 in 1881.

There are over 28,000 King's Own Scottish Borderers 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 KOSB 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.

15 joined on 31st October 1881
324 joined on 23rd September 1882
775 joined on 16th August 1883

1182 joined on 23rd October 1884
1460 joined on 22nd June 1885
1958 joined on 11th March 1886
2107 joined on 23rd February 1887

On 1st May 1887, the regiment’s name was changed again to The King’s Own Scottish Borderers; the regiment reorganised as the county regiment of Berwickshire, (which had been transferred from The Royal Scots’ district) and Dumfriesshire, Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire (which had all been transferred from The Royal Scots Fusiliers’ district).  Numbering was unaffected and continued sequentially.

2608 joined on 10th January 1888
3073 joined on 25th January 1889
3439 joined on 25th February 1890
3569 joined on 9th January 1891
3928 joined on 10th January 1892
4394 joined on 19th January 1893
4758 joined on 4th January 1894
5161 joined on 3rd January 1895
5603 joined on 20th January 1896
5926 joined on 22nd February 1897
6328 joined on 6th January 1898
6650 joined on 10th January 1899

In 1899 the Galloway (Kirkcudbright and Wigtown) recruiting area was transferred from the Royal Scots Fusiliers to the King’s Own Scottish Borderers.

6913 joined on 9th January 1900

During the South African War, the King’s Own Scottish Borderers’ two volunteer battalions contributed enough men to raised three volunteer service companies.  The regiment did not – at first - heed the Army Order regarding the numbering of VSC men and instead just continued with the next available number in the regular series.  Numbers were issued as follows:

1st VSC: numbers within the ranges 6927 to 7050 as well as the two numbers 7219 and 7306
2nd VSC: numbers within the ranges 7227 to 7330 and 8450 to 8496
3rd VSC: numbers 8516 to 8577

Exceptions to the above are the two numbers 7219 and 7306 which were issued to two 1st VSC men. Numbers in the 8400 and 8500 ranges date to 1901.

7437 joined on 18th January 1901
7802 joined on 20th January 1902
8168 joined on 19th January 1903
8634 joined on 11th January 1904
9113 joined on 4th January 1905
9649 joined on 11th October 1906
9820 joined on 18th July 1907
10209 joined on 5th May 1908
10374 joined on 15th February 1909
10780 joined on 18th March 1910
10941 joined on 17th January 1911
11230 joined on 8th January 1912

11534 joined on 29th April 1913
11791 joined on 13th January 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 in use by the two regular battalions.

Recruitment rates 1881-1911

Between 1st July 1881 and 18th March 1891, The KOSB recruited 3,653 men, a high average of 375 men each year.  Of the sixty-nine infantry regiments recruiting at this time, The King’s Own Scottish Borderers was the eighteenth most successful infantry recruiter.

Recruiting improved over the following decade.  

Between 18th March 1891 and 18th January 1901 the regiment recruited a further 3,800 men, an average of 385 men a year.  The regiment improved its ranking during this decade and finished as the twelfth most successful infantry recruiter during this time.

Although recruitment fell away slightly during the early 1900s, the regiment nevertheless recruited at an average annual rate of 350 men and as early as January 1911 had issued number 10941 to its latest recruit.
Overall, for the period 1881 to 1911, the KOSB was the eighteenth most effective recruiting regiment.

Further Reading

The KOSB in the Great War

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Draperju said...

As always a font of knowledge. Once again can you confirm following

King's Own Scottish Borderers

10715 LC James Edward Tosney

Enlisted late 1909

Best wishes Draperju

Paul Nixon said...


I'd have said a little later than that: late Jan or early Feb 1910.

Best wishes


Draperju said...

Thank you once again for your help

Bst wishes


Anonymous said...

I am researching the 155 boys of Gordons Boys Home who died in the Great War. Like all your followers your site has been a great help to me. My present problem is Charles Joseph Allen, 6011, KOSB whose Service History survived. Enlisted in March 1897 and was transfered to AR Sec A 8/9/04 and to AR Sec B in 1905. In 1911 he was a Farm Labourer and died serving with the 1/KOSB's in Galipolli with the number 8386. Any ideas?

Paul Nixon said...

Derek, thanks for commenting.

I'd guess that he completed his 12 years and then re-enlisted with the 3rd (Special Reserve) Bn in Dec 1914 and was sent out as part of a draft to the 1st Battalion.


Unknown said...

Hi,have a medal marked 8000 sergt 1 prosser K.o.S.R. its saysBurma 1887-89.Can you tell me anything about the past owner?.

Nicola. at P.old@sky.com

Paul Nixon said...

I can't find anything for this man, Nicola.

Anonymous said...

Hi there I have a medal KOSB either F or E Hickey service nu,ber 30391. Grateful for any insight.

Paul Nixon said...

"Please note that if your comment concerns research about a particular individual, you should read the RESEARCH tab at the top of the page."

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