21 December 2012

South Lancashire Regiment - 1st & 2nd Battalions

The Prince of Wales's Volunteers Regiment (South Lancashire Regiment) was formed on the 1st July 1881; the 1st Battalion from the 40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot, and the 2nd Battalion from the 82nd (Prince of Wales’s Volunteers) Regiment of Foot. 

The newly formed regiment was established as the county regiment for south central Lancashire and started numbering from 1 in 1881.

There are over 40,000 South Lancashire 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 South Lancashire 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.

5 joined on 29th July 1881
349 joined on 5th January 1882
849 joined on 9th February 1883
1209 joined on 23rd June 1884
1410 joined on 2nd January 1885
1951 joined on 19th August 1886
2260 joined on 10th August 1887
2469 joined on 21st March 1888
2659 joined on 12th January 1889
3103 joined on 30th May 1890
3400 joined on 25th February 1891
3740 joined on 29th June 1892
3954 joined on 30th January 1893
4274 joined on 10th January 1894
4667 joined on 8th January 1895
4999 joined on 28th February 1896
5190 joined on 1st January 1897
5492 joined on 21st February 1898
5883 joined on 11th July 1899
6025 joined on 14th March 1900

The South Lancashire Regiment raised three volunteer service companies during the South African War.  Numbers were allocated as follows:

1st VSC: numbers within the range 7010 to 7176
2nd VSC: numbers within the range 7436 to 7584
3rd VSC: numbers 7500 to 7524

On 23rd February 1900, the 1st VSC comprising Captain F M Appleton, Lieutenant H H Lewis, Lieutenant E Robson and 113 men set sail for South Africa aboard the SS Avondale Castle.

6222 joined on 11th February 1901
6461 joined on 3rd February 1902
7280 joined on 4th November 1903
7407 joined on 11th February 1904
7919 joined on 9th January 1905

8237 joined on 7th July 1906
8655 joined on 27th April 1907
8928 joined on 30th May 1908
9254 joined on 15th February 1909
9373 joined on 4th February 1910
9677 joined on 8th October 1911
9803 joined on 14th June 1912
9955 joined on 1st January 1913

10167 joined on 1st 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 that had been used by the regiment’s two regular battalions. 

Recruitment rates 1881-1911

Between 1st July 1881 and 25th February 1891, The South Lancashire Regiment recruited 3,400 men, an average of 352 men each year.  Of the sixty-nine infantry regiments recruiting at this time, the South Lancashire Regiment was the twenty-ninth most effective infantry recruiter.

Recruitment in the 1890s dipped for The South Lancashire Regiment and by February 1901 it had added just 2800 men to its 1891 total, a disappointing average recruitment rate of 282 men per annum; the third lowest of all the infantry regiments for the decade.

From the low of the 1890s, recruitment in the regiment picked up in the first decade of the twentieth century and by October 1911 the regiment was issuing number 9677 to its latest recruit; an average recruitment rate for the decade of 324 men.

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Sue and/or David said...

Worth noting that the regiment didn't always draw men from Lancashire. My grandfather from Bexley, Kent (then) enlisted as 8849 on 11 March 1908. At that time the regiment was stationed at Tidworth and was recruiting 'in London'.

Paul Nixon said...

Indeed, and this was repeated throughout the British Army, albeit some regiments recruited from outside their recruiting areas more than others. This went against the spirit of the Territorial system but was the necessary consequence of lack of recruits in some areas in particular (although Lancashire, despite having four county regiments also had a populous area upon which to draw men and was not one of those regiments which was worst affected). See my post on Border Regiment recruitment in 1906: http://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.co.uk/2009/06/border-regiment-recruitment-in-1906.html

Unknown said...
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May Jordan said...

My great uncle was from Dublin and fought in WW1 in the south Lancashire regiment. He died in Belgium in 1917. Would love to see a photo of him, can’t find one anywhere. Went to Ypres to visit his grave! Lovely to finally get to see it.

Paul Nixon said...

Please see my tips on my British Army Ancestors website: https://britisharmyancestors.co.uk/about-us/

Gary Millen said...

My great grandfather served in the south Lancashires and lost both legs in one of the battles but I'm unsure which and wondered if there would be any information available? Pte Edgar Millen

Paul Nixon said...

Re 40311 Edgar Millen. Yes, there is some information available. He received campaign medals and a silver war badge. It would be possible to piece together his service history. See the research page on this blog.

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