28 February 2015

4081 Pte Robert Mather, 1st Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment

My thanks to Mike Gregson for contacting me after he noticed his great grandfather - Robert Mather - in the list of PoWs for the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment that I published in January this year. Mike had already known that his great grandfather had been a prisoner and has added additional information about him which I am pleased to publish here.

From the Lancashire Fusiliers Enlistment book 1882-1902:
Robert Mather was born in St Mark's, Bolton and was a Piercer by trade when he attested with the Lancashire Fusiliers at Bolton on the 3rd May 1892. He was aged 18 years and one month. He gave his religion as Church of England and his physical description notes that he had a fresh complexion, brown eyes and brown hair. He was five feet five and three quarter inches in height, had a thirty three inch chest, a scar on forehead, a scar on left eyelid and weighed one hundred and eleven pounds.  After serving his initial period of probably 10 to 12 weeks at the regimental depot he was posted to the 1st Battalion. He was transferred to the Army Reserve on 2rd May 1899 (exactly seven years after he had enlisted) and served with the 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers during the Boer War and was invalided on the 13/05/01 (also appears as 4058). He received the Queens South Africa medal with clasps: Orange Free State, Transvaal, Tugela Heights, Relief of Ladysmith, Laing's Nek, South Africa 1901.  
Robert re-enlisted on 12th September 1914, this time with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (4081) and arrived overseas on 29th November 1914. He was captured at Givenchy on 22/23rd December and spent time in Wittenberg and Merseburg PoW camps.
After the war, Robert Mather was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal along with others, for his service in Wittenberg during a Typhoid epidemic when he volunteered as a medical orderly.
The image on this page comes from the Europeana19141918 website and specifically, the page which tells the story of another LNL PoW regular, 2838 L/Cpl John Johnson. Like Robert Mather, Johnson was also a time-expired regular who re-enlisted in the Special Reserve when Britain went to war in August 1914.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information. 

27 February 2015

Findmypast webinar - join me today

I'm giving a webinar for Findmypast later today and will be spending the majority of this session talking about British Army regimental numbers.  To register for this broadcast, click on the military webinar link.  There will be live Q&A during this event.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

22 February 2015

The colourful guide to regimental numbering

Regimental number series, Essex Regiment
Here's a visual attempt to try and explain regimental numbering in a typical infantry regiment.  In the pre-1908 example above we see my local regiment, the Essex Regiment, which has:

1.A regimental depot and two regular battalions
2.Two militia battalions
3. Four Volunteer Force battalions

Each of the colours in the image represent a different regimental numbering series. So we can see that the regimental depot and the first and the second battalions shared one number series, whilst all the other battalions had their own unique numbering series.  In total then, we have seven different numbering series being used by the Essex Regiment at this time (and by the way, there's nothing particularly special about 1899; I simply use that year as a snapshot in time).

Regimental number series, Essex Regiment
Fast forward ten years. In 1908, the Special Reserve and the Extra Reserve replaced the militia, and the Territorial Force replaced the Volunteer Force. Twenty-three infantry regiments each lost a militia battalion and the Essex Regiment was one of these, losing its 4th Battalion.
I've maintained the same colour schemes to illustrate the different number series used:
1. The regimental depot and 1st and 2nd regular battalions continued with the same numbering series just as they had done in 1899.
2. Men joining the 3rd (Special Reserve) from the 3rd ((Militia) Battalion, carried their old militia battalion with them. Men joining from the old 4th (Militia) Battalion as well as new recruits, were all given numbers from a new number series which began at 1.
3. All Territorial Force battalions started numbering from 1.  The 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Battalions were the natural successors to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Volunteer Force battalions respectively. The Essex & Suffolk Cyclist Battalion was a new battalion formed on 1st April 1908. It was ultimately short-lived and in June 1910 became the 8th Battalion, Essex Regiment, the Suffolk elements being formed into the 6th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment.
But in any event, by April 1909 there were eight distinct regimental number series in use in the Essex regiment (including two being used by the 3rd Battalion - the old militia series and the new series begun in 1908).
I use this example of the Essex Regiment simply to illustrate that there were many number series in use at any one time in the British Army. I started this blog to help to make sense of it all and have information on regimental number series for most battalions and units of the British Army between 1881 and 1918 (and a good deal earlier for most cavalry units). If you can't find what you're looking for on this blog and need more help, please visit my Research Page. Research requests are normally fulfilled within 48 hours.
I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

14 February 2015

Bedfordshire Regiment - PoW Other Ranks 1914

The following men were all serving with regular battalions of The Bedfordshire Regiment, when they became prisoners of war of the Germans on or before Christmas Day 1914. There are 173 names in this list.  Read more about this Prisoner of War data source on my 1914 PoWs page.

This data has been transcribed from the following sources which are now housed at the Imperial War Museum:

1. B.O.2 1/108. A five-page handwritten list from Bedfordshire Regiments' [sic] Prisoners of War Care Committee dated 5th January 1919

2. B.O.2 1/110. A nine-page handwritten list to Sir Ernest Goodhart from colonel i/c No 2 Records, Warley, Essex; letter dated 18th January 1919

My full transcription of this Bedfordshire Regiment Prisoners of War roll call of other ranks (not reproduced here) also contains the battalion, and home address or next of kin address. 

The full transcription is available for sale as a download or CD for £20. Contact me if you would like to purchase a copy.

6601 Private E Alexander
8315 Private G Anderson
8628 Lance-Corporal J Andrews
8016 Private A Ansell
8582 Private S Archer
10166 Private G Argent
9985 Lance-Corporal A Austin
7849 Private E Ayres
7809 Private C Baker
10321 Private F C Baker
10208 Private L Baker
7801 Private H Banks
10279 Private H Banyard
10169 Private F Bateman
10218 Private L Beard
8449 Private E P Beech
8252 Lance-Corporal W Benton
8951 Private S Bilcock
9923 Private A Bowskill
7448 Private W Branch
6886 Private A Brooks
9137 Private F G Brown
5946 Private J A Brown
8468 Private R Brown
8076 Sergeant W Brown
3/5946 Private W A Brown
7858 Private G W Byerly
8060 Private A Cambers
8213 Private T Cambers
8295 Private B Chamberlain
10206 Private S Chambers
7452 Private R Christmas
8373 Private A W Clarke
10008 Private E Clarke
10004 Private T Clarke
8373 Private W A Clarke
8798 Private A Cobbett
7954 Private J Cook
10134 Private A Crawley
10176 Private J Cuthbert
8408 Private C M Day
7457 Corporal E Day
8988 Lance-Corporal H Delamore
7624 Private W Dobson
7545 Private J Dorling
10035 Private T Dowse
9741 Private A Duberry
8132 Lance-Corporal J Eames
6668 Private H Elliott
8824 Private W Evans
9692 Private E Farrant
9416 Lance-Corporal W Fenning
7713 Private A Fensome
7950 Private W Fish
8149 Private A Freeman
8915 Private A French
8185 Corporal J Galvin
7603 Private W Garner
7799 Private H Gilbert
7967 Private J Glenn
7729 Private J Good
7850 Private H Green
8740 Private F Grey
6227 Private R Hallett
7432 Private B Hammett
7767 Private W Harvey
8313 Private C Hatcher
9402 Private H Haynes
8781 Private C Hebbs
7431 Private A Henman
7796 Private T Higgins
10153 Private Frederick Hilton
12371 Lance-Corporal Walter S Hoar
8807 Private A Holland
10020 Private A Hollingsworth
7977 Sergeant J Hoptroff
10249 Private W Horne
8068 Private R Hornett
7758 Private F Howard
10170 Private N Howe
9683 Sergeant Harry Charles Hubbard
7479 Private H Humphrey
9590 Private H Jackson
7587 Corporal H Jaggers
8727 Lance-Corporal A James
7345 Private J Jenkins
8788 Lance-Corporal F Jones
9896 Private L Jordan
9132 Private B King
7366 Drummer P Lambert
14336 Private J Larman
7972 Private C Laxton
8359 Private B Lay
8517 Private W Lewington
8083 Private George T Lewis
8629 Private M Mackeon
9800 Private S Males
10157 Private J Marks
7364 Private T Martin
7186 Private A Mason
10275 Private G Maxwell
9429 Private F McCarthy
8629 Private M McKeon
8906 Private G G Meadlarkan
5946 CSM W Mears
6998 Private S Mobley
6864 Sergeant J Moore
8106 Private John F Morgan
8266 Private S Moules
10112 Private J Moult
8685 Private W Mynott
9749 Private A C Nash
8369 Private A J Norman
6676 Private C Odell
8687 Private Charles Pallett
9123 Private F Papworth
10175 Private P Papworth
8602 Private F Parker
6344 Private A Payne
8871 Private L Petchey
10028 Private C Petts
10172 Private A Piggott
7658 Private A Pinney
10051 Private C Porter
10174 Private T W Preston
8795 Private E Prior
8767 Private G Prior
10033 Private A Rayment
6993 Private P Richardson
8842 Private E Rodwell
10197 Private W A Rogers
8330 Private W Rose
8760 Private E Russell
10200 Private G Rutland
9289 Private J Sambridge
7572 Private T Samuels
7460 Private A Saville
8173 Corporal H Sheppard
7147 Private J Short
7761 Private J Simkins
9237 Private A Skinner
9625 Lance-Corporal A Smewing
10071 Private R Smith
9040 Private W Smith
7605 Private W Smith
10239 Private A F Sole
7429 Private C Southgate
7533 Private G Sparkes
7696 Private E Stevens
9410 Private C Stringer
7671 Private J Taylor
9938 Private H Thompson
8141 Private H Turner
10187 Private W G Turner
6131 Private W Valentine
10289 Private W Villiers
8000 Private J Walker
8176 Private F Ward
8994 Private F Watson
9673 Private F Wells
8625 Private C White
7472 Private D White
7911 Private J White
9437 Corporal H Wilders
7319 Private A Williams
7755 Corporal T Williams
7830 Lance-Corporal T Williams
7755 Corporal T Williams
8471 Private S Woodman
9170 Private H Wright
8268 Private J Wright
8003 Private L Wright
9794 Private C York

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8 February 2015

Charles Naish - a numbering oddity explained

On the face of it, Charles Naish's medal index card (below) is fairly easy to read. It shows service with a Territorial Force (TF) battalion of the Middlesex Regiment and an original number 160, later 202642. Charles served overseas from 12th March 1915 and was therefore entitled to a WW1 trio. The pencil-written number 57 in the top left hand corner is a throwback to the time, pre July 1881, when the Middlesex Regiment was the 57th (West Middlesex) Regiment of Foot.

Hold on a minute though. His original TF number indicates very early entry into this battalion. In fact, he was probably a member of the Volunteer Force who, on the demise of the VF, joined the TF.  Why then is his second, six-digit number, so high?

Readers of this blog will hopefully have picked up that in general, when these five and six digit numbers were issued to men of the TF in 1917, the lowest number of the new series was issued to the longest serving man in the battalion; the second lowest number to the next longest serving man, and so on. There were exceptions, but as a rule, this logic was fairly consistently applied. These new numbers were issued to men who were still "on the books" of the relevant TF unit which meant, inevitably, that some numbers were issued to men who were missing in action but not confirmed, or officially presumed, to have been killed in action.

Charles Naish's number, 202642, belongs to the series which was issued to the 7th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, a series which started at 200001 and extended to 240000. 202642 implies that there were 2,641 men who had been issued numbers before Charles, and yet he was an old soldier. What's going on?

Fortunately, Charles Naish has a surviving service record which explains everything. He was indeed an old soldier who had served with the 1st Volunteer Battalion since 1903. He enlisted with the 7th Middlesex on the 2nd April 1908 for a period of four years and then re-engaged for one year annually thereafter. Re-engaging for one year in April 1914 he could have had no idea that Britain would be at war within four months, and had probably overlooked that crucial clause 15d. on his original E.502 attestation which stated:

"... if your term of service expires when a proclamation ordering the Army Reserve to be called out on permanent service is in force, you may be required to prolong your service for a further period not exceeding 12 months."

So Charles went to France with the 7th Middlesex Regiment in March 1915 and remained with the battalion until he was discharged as a time-expired Territorial in April 1916, having served an additional twelve months. By then of course, conscription had been in force for a month and it wasn't long before Charles was back with his old battalion. In fact he joined the 7th Middlesex again at Purfleet in July 1916. By this time, regimental numbers being issued to men in this battalion were in the early 7000s and Charles was given the new number 7010. It doesn't appear on his medal index card because by the time he went overseas, the new six-digit number series had come into force and he landed in France as 202642.

I am pleased to say that Charles Ernest Naish survived the war as a high ranking NCO. I hope his service, illustrated above, could be a useful test case in solving similar numbering conundrums.

The posts on my Army Service Numbers blog are intended to assist today's researchers and family historians in piecing together service histories of their military ancestors. I also offer a British Military History research service. Click on the link for further information.

Images:7th Middlesex marching through Sittingbourne in 1914 courtesy of Sittingbourne Heritage Museum. Medal index card courtesy of Ancestry.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.

5 February 2015

1st Life Guards - 1881-1914

1st Life Guards charge at Klein Zillebeke 1914

Here are some regimental numbers and the dates on which these were issued to men joining the 1st Life Guards:

1052 joined on 24th May 1881
1110 joined on 24th June 1882
1160 joined on 3rd January 1883
1234 joined on 15th February 1884
1342 Joined on 7th May 1885
1403 joined on 16th September 1886
1435 joined on 1st June 1887
1470 joined on 14th February 1888
1529 joined on 22nd April 1889
1553 joined on 14th January 1890
1633 joined on 23rd February 1891
1693 joined on 6th January 1892
1758 joined on 17th February 1893
1814 joined on 19th January 1894
1860 joined on 16th January 1895
1912 joined on 2nd March 1896
1983 joined on 9th February 1897
2048 joined on 20th April 1898
2073 joined on 30th January 1899
2212 joined on 6th June 1900
2330 joined on 14th January 1901
2399 joined on 16th January 1902
2460 joined on 26th June 1903
2487 joined on 20th June 1904
2512 joined on 10th January 1905
2576 joined on 2nd February 1906
2613 joined on16th May 1907
2648 joined on 8th January 1908
2727 joined on 26th April 1909
2777 joined on 18th February 1910
2887 joined on 12th April 1911
2919 joined on 17th September 1912
2934 joined on 13th January 1913
2995 joined on 9th January 1914
3028 joined on 17th August 1914
3078 joined on 5th September 1914
3199 joined on 15th October 1914
3561 joined on 4th November 1914
3685 joined on 3rd December 1914

Use the numbers and dates above to estimate enlistment/joining dates for your own 1st Life Guards ancestor. If you still need help, contact me through the military research page.

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