20 October 2014

Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) 1881-1914 - 1st and 2nd Battalions

The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) were formed on 1st July 1881; the 1st Battalion from the 26th (The Cameronian) Regiment of Foot, and the 2nd Battalion from the 90th Regiment of Foot (Perthshire Volunteers) (Light Infantry).  

There are over 28,000 Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) 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 Scottish Rifles 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.

Along with The Highland Light Infantry, the Scottish Rifles was established as the county regiment for Lanarkshire and started numbering from 1 in 1881.
195 joined on 13th December 1881
363 joined on 8th June 1882
494 joined on 18th April 1883
1121 joined on 29th July 1884
1481 joined on 9th April 1885
1957 joined on 19th April 1886
2498 joined on 18th April 1887
2753 joined on 2nd June 1888
2921 joined on 11th January 1889
3179 joined on 25th March 1890
3819 joined on 4th February 1891
4307 joined on 1st January 1892
4777 joined on 15th September 1893
4942 joined on 3rd February 1894
5262 joined on 7th May 1895
5546 joined on 4th August 1896

5890 joined on 18th June 1897
6062 joined on 21st January 1898
6369 joined on 9th January 1899
6804 joined on 20th February 1900

The Scottish Rifles fielded two volunteer service companies during the South African War and also sent a further draft of 38 men to join the 2nd VSC.
Men joining the 1st VSC were issued numbers within the range 7820 to 7981.  Some 2nd VSC men were also issued with numbers in this range, from 7939 onwards.  The bulk of the 2nd VSC men were issued numbers within the range 7984 to 8082. The thirty-eight men who joined the 3rd VSC were given numbers 8093 to 8131.  All Scottish Rifles VSC numbers were issued in early 1900.
On 17th February 1900, the 1st VSC comprising three officers – Captain J W Young, Lieutenant A A Kennedy and Lieutenant Clarke - and 113 men, embarked aboard SS Gascon for South Africa.
7294 joined on 8th May 1901
7435 joined on 2nd January 1902

7780 joined on 11th February 1903
8511 joined on 19th July 1904
9102 joined on 14th December 1905
9188 joined on 28th March 1906
9551 joined on 7th May 1907
10113 joined on 21st September 1908
10312 joined on 26th January 1909
10444 joined on 12th March 1910
10520 joined on 3rd February 1911
10783 joined on 6th July 1912
10941 joined on 11th January 1913
11150 joined on 2nd 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 in use by the two regular battalions.
Recruitment rates 1881-1911
Between 1st July 1881 and 10th January 1891, The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) recruited 3,753 men, an average of 392 soldiers a year and the eleventh best recruitment rate of all the British infantry regiments that decade.  This however, was to be the regiment’s best showing and recruitment into the regiment would show marked dips over the next two decades.
Between the 10th January 1891 and the 8th May 1901, The Scottish Rifles recruited 3,541 men, an average of 343 men per annum, and in the period 8th May 1901 to the 3rd February 1911, recruitment dropped again to an average of 331 men per year. From having been the 11th most successful recruiting regiment by January 1891, twenty years later the regiment had fallen to 37th position.
Overall, between 1st July 1881 and 3rd February 1911, The Scottish Rifles recruited 10,520 men, bang on the national average of 355 men a year.
1st Battalion stations 1881-1914

1881     Shornecliffe
1884     Glasgow
1886     Cork
1892     Aldershot
1894     Plymouth
1894     India
1897     Rhaniket
1899     Lucknow
1904     Nowshera
1909     Cawnpore
1909     South Africa
1912     Glasgow
1914     France & Flanders (from August)

2nd Battalion stations 1881-1914

1881     Bengal
1885     Cawnpore
1889     Ranikhet
1892     Jubbulpore
1895     England
1897     Parkhurst
1899     Gibraltar
1899     South Africa
1907     Aldershot
1910     Malta
1914     France & Flanders (from November)

Also see these related posts regarding regimental numbering in the regiment's four Territorial Force battalions:

Further reading:

From the Naval and Military Press:

"The 8th Battalion Scottish Rifles (Cameronians), which was based in Glasgow, was part of the Scottish Rifle Brigade (later 156th), Lowland Division (later 52nd). In May 1915 it sailed, with the division, for Gallipoli where it landed on 14th June. During the fighting at Gully Ravine only two weeks after landing the battalion lost 25 officers and 448 men; only four of the officer casualties ever returned to serve with the battalion. Following the action the 7th Battalion (which had also suffered heavily) and the 8th formed a composite battalion which was eventually taken off the Peninsula on 9th January 1916 and went to Egypt, where, after a few weeks, it was reorganized into the two battalions. The division took over part of the Suez Canal Defences and in August 1916 the battalion fought in the battle of Romani in which its casualties totalled 3 officers and 31 other ranks. Subsequently the battalion fought in Palestine at the battles of Gaza and took part in operations leading to the capture of Jerusalem.

"In April1918 the 52nd Division was sent to France and in June the battalion was transferred to the re-constituted 34th Division (103rd Brigade) with which it took part in the Advance to Victory. After the armistice the 34th Division was selected for the march into Germany and with it went the 8th Scottish Rifles. The author, who commanded the battalion from June 1917, originally intended this to be an official history of the 8th Scottish Rifles, but he found the records were not complete, in addition to which friends and colleagues were suggesting that a personal touch would make the book more interesting and acceptable to the prospective readers, and that is how he wrote it. This is apparent in the observations and criticisms he makes which would have been out of place in an official version. In a series of appendices there is a very brief account of the second and third line battalions, neither of which went on active service.

"The roll of officers, by companies, who embarked with the battalion for Gallipoli is given as is the Roll of Honour, the summary of casualties (1976 in all of whom 628 were dead), and the list of Honours and Awards."

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