25 October 2020

Northumberland Fusiliers - 5th Battalion (Territorial Force)

This post will look at regimental numbering in the 5th (TF) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers between 1908 and 1914.

The 5th Battalion was a Territorial Force unit which was formed on the 1st April 1908.  This had formerly been the 2nd Volunteer Battalion. In 1908, as The Territorial Year Book for 1909 records, the battalion strength comprised 22 officers and 621 men. 189 men attended camp in 1908 for 8 days and 406 attended for 15 days.

The following year, The Territorial Year Book for 1910 recorded that the strength of the battalion in 1909 had risen to 30 officers and 893 men. Colour-Sergeant Armstrong of A Company was the best shot of the battalion and at the annual camp at Berwick in 1909, 212 officers and men attended for eight days whilst 677 officers and men attended for 15 days. 

The battalion was headquartered at Walker, Newcastle-on-Tyne and drew men from the following areas:

A, B and C Companies recruited in Walker, and D E and F Companies recruited in Wallsend. G and H Companies recruited in Gosforth, with G Company having drill stations at West Moor and Seaton Burn.

Here are some sample regimental numbers and joining dates for the the 5th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers. The majority of men signing up from April 1908 would have been men who, up until the 31st March, had been serving members of the 2nd VF Battalion.

102 joined on the 3rd April 1908
657 joined on the 18th January 1909
1035 joined on the 3rd March 1910
1163 joined on the 1st February 1911
1352 joined on the 8th February 1912
1757 joined on the 3rd April 1913
2010 joined on the 9th March 1914
2245 joined on the 10th August 1914 

As can be seen from the patterns above, recruitment was steady throughout this period, and would continue to be strong during the First World War.

A reserve or ‘second-line’ battalion was formed at Blyth in November 1914, the original 5th Battalion now becoming the 1/5th Battalion and the new reserve battalion becoming the 2/5th Battalion. A 3/5th Battalion would be formed in June 1915. Neither the 2/5th nor the 3/5th Battalion would serve overseas, rather training men who were then sent overseas as part of drafts for the 1/5th Battalion.

Use the regimental numbers above to estimate when a man would have joined this battalion between 1908 and August 1914. For example, if your man had the number 800 and lived in the West Moor area, he would have joined this battalion at some time between January 1909 and March 1910, and furthermore he would probably have served with G Company. 

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To search for photos of your Northumberland Fusiliers ancestors, check my British Army Ancestors website.

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