16 May 2020

Durham Light Infantry - 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion - 1908-1914

In my blog post today I will look at numbering in the 3rd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry between 1908 and 1914.

The 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion was the natural heir to the 3rd Militia Battalion which it replaced in 1908, and many of the men enlisting with the 3rd Special Reserve Battalion in 1908 were former militia men from the 3rd and 4th militia battalions who joined the new special reserve battalion but retained their old militia numbers. There are numerous examples of this in 1908 and a note on my spreadsheet for this battalion reads,

"Looks as though all men with prior service went into the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, whilst men with no previous service went into the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion. Numbering for new recruits in this battalion starts where numbering in the 4th (Militia) Battalion finished."

As an example of the militia / special reserve cross-over, see 7493 Joseph William Barker who has papers in WO 363 which show that he originally enlisted with the 3rd (Militia) Battalion on the 12th April 1907. The same number 7493 appears again on his special reserve attestation paper when he joined the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion on the 26th July 1908.

The lowest/earliest number I have for 3rd (Special Reserve) men is 6319 William Potts who would have originally joined the 3rd (Militia) Battalion in early 1904 and who re-enlisted with the special reserve with his same number on the 26th July 1908. Note though, that the man with the number 7246, George King, had actually joined before William. He was a former 4th (Militia) Battalion man. For all of these militia men and for the regiment, there would have been nothing unusual about this. The men would have originally signed up for six years' service with the militia and they were simply continuing their service with the newly formed special reserve. 

As noted above, men with former service in the 4th (Militia) Battalion also joined the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion and these men also retained their old 4th (Militia) Battalion numbers. And so when you look at regimental numbers for the 3rd Battalion in 1908 you have a combination of old 3rd Battalion numbers, old 4th Battalion numbers, and new numbers issued to men who had no prior service with the militia.  This from my notes on men who joined the 3rd Battalion in 1908:

6319 William Potts, 3rd Militia Bn
6743 Alfred Campbell, 3rd Militia Bn (attest date not shown)
6912 Ralph Gibson, 3rd Militia Bn
7026 Thomas Joyce, 3rd Militia Bn
7109 Watson Mills, 3rd Militia Bn
7246 George King, 4th Militia Bn att 06/11/1902
7373 George Davidson, 3rd Militia Bn
7417 John Golden, 3rd Militia Bn
7493 Joseph William Barker, 3rd Militia Bn
7693 James Garvey, no prior service
7771 Michael Gaffney, Time Ex 3rd Militia Bn
7790 Joseph Douglass, no prior service
7803 James Tuck, time-expired 3rd Militia Bn
8226 Elijah Brown, formerly 8226 4th Militia Bn
8580 William Baxter, formerly 8580 4th Militia Bn
8967 Frank Deary, formerly 8967 4th Militia Bn
9170 John Sawyer, formerly 156 7th DLI
9264 Patrick Donnelly, No prior service
9279 Ralph Hutton
9302 Michael McMahon
9355 William Barnfield, No prior service

9371 John McDonell

Both the 3rd and the 4th Militia Battalions had maintained completely separate regimental number series in the years to 1908 and both would continue to operate separate regimental number series from 1908 as the 3rd (Special Reserve) and 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalions.

Some regimental numbers and enlistment dates for the period 1908 to 1914:

7790 Joseph Douglass (above), joined 26th May 1908

There appear to have been very few attestations in 1909 and I am guessing that this was because the battalion had reached its establishment; hardly surprising if it was taking in men from two former militia battalions.

9394 Joseph Rutley joined 19th December 1910
9474 John Atcheson joined on 9th October 1911
9533 Edward Armstrong joined on 27th January 1912
9685 Wilfred Clarke joined on the 17th February 1913
3/9775 Joseph Fraser joined on the 17th April 1914
10186 George Aberdeen joined on the 27th August 1914

Remember. I research soldiers!

To search for Durham Light Infantry photos, check my British Army Ancestors websiteImage source used on this blog post is unknown.

No comments:

Grab a book bargain - 1000s of titles