29 March 2019

3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)

This post will look at regimental numbering in the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) between 1908 and September 1914.

Men signed up for six years' service on the understanding that they were "liable to be called out or detained whilst called up for training, in case of imminent national danger, or great emergency, on permanent service in the United Kingdom, or elsewhere..." and furthermore that they "could be detained in army service for the unexpired portion of [their] term of service in the Army Reserve and for a further period not exceeding 12 months..." And when Britain went to war in August 1914, that is exactly what happened. Men in the Special Reserve were called up and were soon forming drafts to replace casualties in the regular battalions which, in the case of the Black Watch, were the 1st and 2nd Battalions.

The regimental numbering sequence used by the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion was entirely separate from the numbering series used by the 1st and 2nd Battalions and in fact was a continuation of the number series that had been used by the 3rd (Militia) Battalion before the militia was replaced by the Special Reserve in April 1908. 

Here then, are some regimental numbers for the 3rd Battalion, Black Watch; all of these issued sequentially. Use these sample regimental numbers to ascertain when a man would have joined this particular battalion.

760 joined on the 18th March 1908

3/998 joined on the 3rd February 1909
3/1315 joined on the 10th January 1910
3/2102 joined on the 29th March 1912
3/2407 joined on the 3rd December 1913
3/2474 joined on the 27th February 1914
3/2642 joined on the 6th August 1914
3/3425 joined on the 1st September 1914

The 3/ prefix was used inconsistently which means that it can be confusing when it comes to trying to ascertain, from a man's regimental number alone, whether that men was a regular soldier or a man who had originally joined the Special Reserve. For instance, whilst the number 2407, above, was issued to a Special Reservist in December 1913, the same number 2407 (albeit from a different number series) would have been issued to a man signing up as a regular in 1912.

For information on numbering in the regular battalions have a look at my post here: 1st and 2nd Battalions, Black Watch


RedLichtie said...


Good to see more work being done on Black Watch numbering.

This is the earliest dozen dates of enlistment i've come across.

3 1946 02/02/1906 (militia joining date?)

3 295 26/07/1908
3 2340 26/07/1908
3 8440 26/07/1908 (all same date in July oddly)
3 9502 26/07/1908
3 9541 26/07/1908

3 9508 22/08/1908
3 883 28/08/1908

3 943 30/11/1908
3 193 01/12/1908
3 992 27/01/1909
3 1041 05/03/1909

From 3/1*** onward it's much more even going, with only the odd one out.

Paul Nixon said...

Nice work, thank you :)

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