This post will look at regimental numbering in the 5th (Territorial Force) Battalion, Prince Albert's (Somerset Light Infantry) between 1908 and 1914.
Until the 1st April 1908, the 5th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry had been the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry and by 1914 it was headquartered at Taunton, its eight companies drawing men from the following areas:
A Company: Taunton
B Company: Williton, with drill stations at Watchet, Minehead and Washford
C Company: Bridgwater, with a drill station at North Petherton
D Company: Langport, with drill stations at Highbridge & Somerton
E Company: Yeovil, with drill stations at Martock and Langport
F Company: Crewkerne, with a drill station at South Petherton
G Company: Wellington, with drill stations at Milverton and Wiveliscombe
H Company: Chard, with a drill station at Iminster
By August 1914 the battalion formed part of the South Western Infantry Brigade in the Wessex Division.
Here are some sample regimental numbers and joining dates for the the 5th Battalion, Prince Albert's (Somerset Light Infantry).
404 joined on the 18th April 1908
853 joined on the 10th March 1909
1066 joined on the 11th February 1910
1234 joined on the 21st February 1911
1530 joined on the 11th April 1912
1837 joined on the 7th July 1913
2035 joined on the 2nd April 1914
2197 joined on the 12th August 1914
A reserve or ‘second-line’ battalion was formed at Taunton in September 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 at Taunton in March 1915. The 2/5th Battalion - along with the 2/4th Battalion - was serving overseas (in India) as early as December 1914, but the 3/5th Battalion only ever remained in the UK, feeding recruits through to, for the most part, the 1/5th Battalion. All three battalions - the 1/5th, 2/5th, 3/5th - issued numbers from the same regimental number series and from 1917 reissued numbers to serving soldiers and to new recruits from a brand new numbers series which began at 240001 and extended to 265000.
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 1700 and lived in Yeovil, he would have joined the battalion between April 1912 and July 1913 - and probably served with E Company.
The image on this post shows the 3/5th Battalion football team in 1916.
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