29 July 2021

Border Regiment - regimental numbering in the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion 1908-1914

This article will look at regimental numbering in the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion of the Border Regiment between 1908 and 1914. As I have written before, the Special Reserve and the Extra Reserve were the natural heirs to militia battalions which, for the most part they replaced. My 2009 article on the Creation of the Special Reserve in 1908 may be helpful here.

As far as the Border Regiment was concerned, it was one of the regiments which lost a militia battalion with the creation of the Special Reserve in 1908. Up until that time it had recruited for the 3rd and 4th militia battalions. However, from 1908 it was just the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion which replaced both militia battalions. Men who were still serving with these miltiia battalions in 1908 were invited to join the new 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion.

Men joining the militia and special/extra reserve were not career soldiers. They were men who had completed a period of training alongside career soldiers at the regimental depot but they then went back to their homes, turning out annually for drills and camp. Men of the Militia and the Special Reserve signed up for six years' service and knew, in the event of war, that they would be called upon to fill gaps in the regular battalions. A glance at most 1914 Star rolls will show plenty of evidence of Special Reserve men who served alongside career soldiers. Sometimes their numbers are prefixed by the number of their battalion - typically a 3/ or 4/ in most line infantry regiments - but just as often there will be no prefix.

The lowest 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion number I have is 2585 for Thomas Walker who joined the newly formd battalion on the 12th July 1908. His number though, dates to the time when he had joined the 3rd (Militia) Battalion on the 8th June 1899. In common with many newly forming special reserve and extra reserve battalions, the 3rd Border Regiment just continued with the same numberv series that had been used for the 3rd miltiia battalion and old militiamen now joining the new special reserve simply brough their old militia numbers with them.

Here then, are some numbers for the 3rd Border Regiment.

3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, Border Regiment

2585 joined on 12th July 1908 (but the number dates to 1899)
3987 joined on 14th January 1909
4222 joined on 18th November 1910
4309 joined on 29th May 1911
4434 joined on 3rd January 1912
4887 joined on 4th October 1913
5022 joined on the 31st March 1914
5135 joined on 17th August 1914
5477 joined on the 3rd September 1914
6463 joined on the 19th October 1914

The regimental number series was unique to the 3rd Miltia/Special Reserve Battalion but care needs to be exercised when determining if a man's number belongs to this series or to the series that was issued from the regimental depot to men joining as career soldiers. For example, looking at the sequence above, it can be seen that the number 6000 would have been issued to a 3rd Bn man between September and October 1914. However, the same number would have been issued to a career soldier in the first quarter of 1899 and there were plenty of men who had enlisted as early as this who would still be liable to fight for King and Country in August 1914. See my article on regimental numbering in the 1st & 2nd Battalions of the Border Regiment.

And if all of this is still confusing, have a read of some of the articles towards the bottom of the Army Service Numbers 1881-1918 index.

Remember. I research soldiers!

To search for Border Regiment photos, check my British Army Ancestors website

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