3 December 2017

10th Middlesex footballers

I picked this photo up on eBay in the week. It's undated but the reverse gives some great detail which has enabled me to identify most of the men. Here's the reverse:

So clearly these are men from a detachment of the 1/10th Middlesex Regiment in Chakrata. My guess is that this photos dates to 1917 onwards and the 10th Middlesex Regiment - a Territorial Force battalion - was re-numbered in 1917 with numbers in the range 290001 to 315000. It stands to reason then that these men would have regimental numbers beginning with 290. And so it turned out. Here's my transcription and follow-up research:

Pte Gilham (D), L-Cpl Tindall (B), Cpl Bullen (B), Pte Cave (D)
Pte Fairbrother (B), L-Cpl Buttery (A), Sgt Hurford (C)
Pte Brocks (B), Pte Ruel (B), Pte Scales (B), Pte Brothwell (D)

Pte Gouge (B), L-Cpl Dale (A)

2527, later 290755 Pte Albert J Gilham/Gillham (D Coy)
L-Cpl Tindall (B Coy)
290720 Sgt Edward William Bullen (B Coy)
1309, later 290104 Pte Alfred Cave (D Coy)

2565, later 290783 Pte William J Fairbrother (B Coy)
1510, later 290197 Sgt Edwin Buttery (A Coy)
2299, later 290592 Sgt George Hurford (C Coy)

2513, later 290746 Pte William J Brocks (B Coy),
2476, later 290716 Pte Edward F Ruel OR 1055, later 290064 Pte William C D Ruel (B Coy)
Pte Scales (B Coy)
1632, later 290240 Pte Arthur Brothwell (D Coy)

1649, later 290253 Pte Richard Gouge (B Coy)
1726, later 290292 L-Cpl Raymond Dale (A Coy)

So apart from Tindall and Scales I have identified all of the men on this card and, what's more, I've added faces to the names on my British Army Ancestors website. I also used the site to search for them in the first place, typing in their names, a partial regimental number and the regiment name, like this:

This search criteria then returned the result I was looking for, and enabled me to upload the photo:

To me the photo is also interesting in that it demonstrates the powerful part that fate could play in an infantryman's life. Whilst this group was posing with their football in north India, thousands of others were dying on the battlefields of the Western Front.

21 November 2017

2nd Dragoon Guards - Other Rank PoWs 1914

There are only twenty men from the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays) who appear on a list of men from that regiment captured on or before the 25th December 1914. The Imperial War Museum reference is B.O.2 1/46 and the complete details are listed below; useful in that for the most part you get the date of capture and the home address.

7891 Private A G Ash; 2nd September 1914; Butkins Cottage, Luppitt, Near Honiton, Devon 
4298 Private J A Beresford; 23rd August 1914; 135 Salcott Road, Battersea, London SW 
4255 Private W T Bull; 29th August 1914; 63 Evelyn Street, Deptford, London SE 
2670 Corporal T L Burke; 26th August 1914; 39 Rainham Road, Chatham 
6028 Lance-Corporal G H Burton; 29th August 1914; 25 Alexandra Road, Aldershot 
2366 Private F W Garrick; 2nd September 1914; The Bungalow, Levens, Westmoreland 
6408 Private A Holmes; 26th August 1914; 23 Walker Street, Sheffield 
7322 Private E B Justice; 26th August 1914; Fir Lodge, The Ridges, Finchampstead, Wokingham 
7513 Private E Kent; 31st October 1914; 33 West Bank, Seamer, Scarborough 
7712 Private S King; 26th August 1914; 16 East Hill, Colchester 
6540 Private E Lawty; 26th August 1914; 107 Cline Road, Guildford 
3713 Private E P May; 1st September 1914; 253 Sandycombe Road, Richmond, Surrey 
4816 Cpl Frank Myson
5065 Private H D O'Keefe; 26th August 1914; 9 Elm Terrace, Cobham Road, Strood, Kent 
4898 Private E W Reynolds; 23rd August 1914; 10 Ewart Road, Milton, Weston-Super-Mare 
7041 Private T Riley; 31st October 1914; 10 Theaker lane, Town Street, Armley, Leeds
6423 Lance-Corporal P Rocker;  301 Barking Road, Plaistow, London E 
8090 Private J Ronayne; 31st October 1914; 3 Bryanstone Road, Leicester Dyke, Bradford, Yorks 
5162 Lance-Corporal G C Steward;  9 St James's Road, Lower Edmonton, London N

Read more about this data source on my 1914 PoWs page.

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9 November 2017

It's that time of year again...

Findmypast has opened up its military record collection free of charge for the Remembrance Weekend. Actually, the records all became FREE yesterday and the promotion will run until next Tuesday 12th. That's what you call a long weekend! Follow this FREE MILITARY RECORDS link to register.

What this means is that you'll be able to search ALL military records free, gratis and for nothing; and remember too that here, on Findmypast, you'll find indexes and images of military records all under the same roof and all easily searchable.  To get the best results on searches USE THE WILDCARD. This is one of THE best search facilities and you'll find it on Findmypast, The National Archives and my new British Army Ancestors' website.

To give you an idea of the importance of wildcard searching, if you were to enter Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders in the regiment field, you would only see records returned where the regiment has been transcribed exactly as Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. That would mean you'd miss out on all the records which have been transcribed as Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and Princess Louise's Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. And one of those missing records might just be the record you're looking for.

So save yourself the hassle (not to mention the unnecessary keystrokes) and just type *Arg*. That will return all the records you want.  Try it - and try it for FREE.

5 November 2017

The militia reserve, a curious beast

Writing in 1899 in The British Army (subsequently re-published by Greenhill Books as Scarlet into Khaki), Lieutenant Colonel James Moncrieff Grierson writes, 

"The militia reserve is not, what its name seems to imply, a reserve for the militia, but for the regular army. It consists of militia-men whose number must not exceed a quarter of the establishment of a battalion of infantry, or a third of a battalion of garrison artillery, and who bind themselves, in return for a bounty of £1 a year, to remain with the militia either six years or the whole time of their service. In case of war they enter the regular army on the same terms as the army reserve men and can be employed in every quarter of the world. On entering the militia reserve the men must be between 19 and 34 years of age, and must have passed through two drill periods of the militia; they are liable to be called out to a yearly drill practice of 56 days. Service in the militia reserve cannot be extended beyond the age of 34. If called out on continuous service they are to be regarded as regular soldiers, and are discharged earlier or later on the same terms as the men of the army reserve. In times of peace the men of the militia reserve stand on the same footing as the other militia men and join in the yearly practice of their militia district."

The italics in the paragraph above are mine and explain why some oddities in regimental numbering can appear in Second Anglo-South African War (Boer War) medal rolls (when the militia had been mobilised). Take this example from the 2nd Hampshire Regiment Queen's South Africa Medal roll:

The regimental numbers for 2212 Lynch and 9548 Leary are not Hampshire Regiment numbers at all, they're the men's militia reserve numbers for the 5th Leinster and 4th East Surrey Regiment respectively. 

Section 14 (2) of the Reserve Forces Act of 1882 deals with the Militia Reserve and explains how this apparent anomaly in regimental numbering arises:

"A man called out on permanent service shall during his service form part of the regular forces and be subject to the Army Act 1881, accordingly, and the competent military authority within the meaning of Part Two of that Act may, if it seems proper, appoint him to any corps as a soldier of the regular forces..."

Again, the italics are mine. So both men were called out on permanent service and both appointed to a different regiment from the regiments they'd served with up to this point - "any corps" to use the language of the Reserve Forces Act - retaining their original militia reserve numbers in the process. 

22 October 2017

British Army Ancestors - Search, Upload, Remember

British Army Ancestors

I'm going to use this post to shamelessly promote my new British Army Ancestors website.

Some while ago, responding for the umpteenth time to a query about trying to find a photo of a British Army soldier, it occurred to me that setting up a website where people could search for photos or upload their own images, might not be such a bad idea. I wrote a post on my Army Ancestry Research blog about the steps I would take to try and find a photo and then set about working on a bespoke site. The result is British Army Ancestors.

There must be millions, literally millions, of photos of British Army soldiers in private collections and in museums. A quick search on ebay just now reveals 1100 photos from the 19th century and nearly 5,000 from the period 1914-1945. The vast majority of these will be of unnamed individuals but there will be some which do have the person's name scribbled on the front or reverse.

I know from personal experience how important a photo can be. I have been researching the community of Chailey in Sussex for the past 35 years, on and off, and as a result of the information I have posted on my Chailey 1914-1918 blog, people have come forward over the years and offered photos which I have gladly published. My simple belief is that our British Army Ancestors deserve to be remembered and that the world wide web is the best place to do so because of the access it provides. I quickly reasoned, when pulling together the research for my Chailey site, that if I chose to publish it in book form, it would quickly become out-dated. Publishing online allows me to add new information as it becomes available.

This blog is all about army numbers; about using regimental numbers to help piece together a man's army career; understanding when he enlisted, when he transferred, and working out when he might have arrived overseas; the battalion or unit he might have served with. I've spent the last fifteen years digging deep into British Army regimental numbers - and I've not finished yet - and I also appreciate that for many people, finding a photograph of their British Army Ancestor can be the icing on the cake.  

At the moment, a couple of  weeks after launch, British Army Ancestors is a database of millions of names and a few photographs. This is entirely as expected. But it's great to see people registering, and hugely satisfying to see photos being uploaded. Even though I say so myself, I'm impressed with the search functionality, and it's dead easy to upload a photo. There will be enhancements that I will be adding over the coming months - a gallery of recent additions; the ability to add comments; the ability to connect with other registered users - but at the moment it is very much in promotion mode; posting on Facebook and Twitter, going out to a wider audience, and of course, uploading photos.

So I encourage you to get involved: search for a soldier, upload a photo, remember our British Army ancestors. And if, in the meantime, you need help with research, drop me a line.

15 October 2017

Every roll tells a story

The following list of Northumberland Fusiliers men wounded in action was published in The Times on the 6th February 1915. Apart from knowing that these casualties were reported to the War Office on the 6th December 1914 (because The Times tell us so) what else can we glean from this information?

8049 L-Cpl Joseph Atkinson 
892 Pte H Brown 
145 Pte H Causon 
682 L-Cpl S Cooper 
767 Pte W Craze 
8732 Pte E Deeming 
1491 Sgt J Drayson 
8755 Pte T Forrest 
3519 Pte J Foster 
8184 Pte B Ginn 
2013 Pte J Glynn 
2303 Cpl J F Jordan 
2199 Pte J E Langford 
219 Pte C E Loughman 
3616 Pte Tom Lumb 
554 L-Cpl J Marlow 
9636 Pte J Purdy 
9597 Pte B Ryley 
1068 Pte W Schofield 
1096 Pte P Shoosmith 
545 Pte T E Smith 
8663 Pte C E Turton 

There is broad range of regimental numbers here and below I have sorted these into the order in which they would have been issued. The Northumberland Fusiliers reached the number 9999 on the 2nd December 1903 and them commenced a new number series beginning at 1. 

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Assuming that all of the men here were regular, career soldiers, here's that same list organised in the order in which these regimental numbers would have been issued.

8049 L-Cpl Joseph Atkinson 
8184 Pte B Ginn 
8663 Pte C E Turton 
8732 Pte E Deeming 
8755 Pte T Forrest 
9597 Pte B Ryley 
9636 Pte J Purdy 
145 Pte H Causon 
219 Pte C E Loughman 
545 Pte T E Smith 
554 L-Cpl J Marlow 
682 L-Cpl S Cooper 
767 Pte W Craze 
892 Pte H Brown 
1068 Pte W Schofield 
1096 Pte P Shoosmith 
1491 Sgt J Drayson 
2013 Pte J Glynn 
2199 Pte J E Langford 
2303 Cpl J F Jordan 
3519 Pte J Foster 
3616 Pte Tom Lumb

Lance-Corporal Joseph Atkinson's number dates to June 1901 whereas Privates Joseph Foster and Tom Lumb were recent recruits from 1913.

In 1904, King's Regulations regarding regimental number series were revised so that infantry regiments could number to 19,999 before they needed to apply to commence a new series beginning from 1.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information. 

5 October 2017

South Staffordshire Regt - Other Rank PoWs 1914

There are 282 South Staffordshire Regiment men listed in this prisoner of war roll-call; men who between them had solid soldiering experience at home and abroad, and some of whom had seen service against the Boers two monarchs ago. Their experience, close to three companies' worth under the old infantry company establishment, would be sorely missed by their King and Country.

These men's names appear in two lists now catalogued by the Imperial War Museum:

B.O.2 1/265 is an eight-page typed and handwritten list of South Staffordshire Regiment Prisoners of War, sent on 1st January 1919 by the South Staffordshire Regiment Prisoners of War Care Committee
B.O.2 1/266 is a nine-page typed and handwritten list of South Staffordshire Regiment Prisoners of War.  The date and sender are unknown but this list appears to pre-date B.O.2 1/265.  

I have just reproduced basic details in my roll-call below, but my full transcription also includes - for the most part - date of capture and home address. Some records have additional notes. The full transcription is available for sale as a download or CD for £20. Contact me if you would like to purchase a copy. For more information on the PoWs of 1914, follow the link.

I also offer a fast, efficient and cost-effective military research service

6903 Private S Abley 
9061 Private E Adams 
8766 Private F Adams 
9310 Private W M Allen 
8889 Private H C Anderson 
8440 Private E E Andrews 
8248 Corporal H Appleby 
8188 Private E Argent 
9252 Lance-Corporal V H Arkle 
9024 Private G Bagnall 
8961 Pte Arthur Baker 
8848 Private J Baker 
8456 Private J W Baker 
9096 Private T G Baker 
8850 Private R Ball
8705 Private T H Banbury 
8363 Private G H Barker 
8308 Private W Barnbrook 
7918 Private Bertram Barnett 
7038 Private W Barton 
8801 Private G Bate 
9029 Private T Bateman 
8786 Private C Beckett 
9330 Private W Beckett 
5763 Private J Beebee 
9724 Private H N Beer 
8928 Private T Beesley 
8774 Lance-Corporal T H Bellerson 
7911 Private A Benton 
8454 Private J W Bishop 
8594 Private G Blackwell 
9203 Private T Bloomfield 
8523 Private R Bood 
9146 Pte William Bromley 
8891 Private G Brooks 
8898 Private G Brooks 
7692 Private T Brown 
8381 Private E Bucknall 
7745 Private J Bullock 
8616 Private O Burke 
8871 Private A Burns 
8583 Private A Busby 
8153 Private J Butler 
8972 Private G Caley 
8628 Private W Carlisle 
8699 Private T Carnelley 
8783 Lance-Corporal J Cartwright 
7589 Sergeant J Castleford 
7765 Private H Chambers 
8907 Lance-Corporal D Choyce 
4861 Private C Clansey 
8980 Private J Clarke 
8877 Private J T Clarke 
6983 CQMS A Clay 
9308 Private J T Clee 
8790 Private A Cook 
7463 Private G Cooke 
8724 Private A Coulson 
8462 Private G Cox 
8970 Lance-Corporal O Cox 
8390 Private F Davies 
9154 Private J Davies 
9175 Private R Davies 
9247 Private W Davies 
8275 Private G Dawson 
8323 Private W Dean 
7014 Private J Denham 
8512 Private H Denson 
6688 Pte Edward Drinkwater 
7085 Corporal T Dryden 
9118 Private A F Dunn 
7326 Private G H Earp 
6068 Private G Ellis 
7754 Private W Evans 
6177 Sergeant T Farmer 
8838 Private W Farmer 
8644 Corporal W T Farmer 
8897 Private J Faulkner 
8242 Pte Joseph E Faulkner 
9301 Pte George Fellows 
9243 Private W Ferns 
7785 Corporal N Field 
7907 Private A Fisher 
8513 Private E Fisher 
7994 Lance-Corporal N Fitzpatrick 
7548 Private T Flanagan 
9170 Private L Flavell 
7859 Private T R Ford 
8835 Private W H Foster 
8532 Private H Freeman 
7733 Sergeant H Frost 
8855 Private C Fryer 
8869 Private J Fulford 
9179 Private C Godwin 
8313 Private C Gough 
8600 Private A Gould 
7436 Sergeant J C Greaves 
8282 Private J Green 
7510 Corporal W Green 
8536 Corporal W Griffiths 
9382 Private H Hagger 
8570 Private F W Hancox 
8574 Private J Handley 
7882 Corporal C H Handy 
8501 Pte Thomas Hawkes 
8300 Private H Haynes 
8654 Corporal H J Heath 
7685 Private W Hiden 
9050 Lance-Corporal A Higgins 
7744 Private J T Highfield 
8756 Private J Hill 
7081 Private G Hinde 
8800 Private J Holden 
8318 Bandsman T G Hollington 
9065 Lance-Corporal J Holmes 
8937 Private Cecil Hoseason 
7830 Private J Howell 
8108 Private J H Howell 
8472 Private J Howles 
8228 Private A Hughes 
8563 Private J Hyden 
5285 CSM G A James 
9230 Private E Jarvis 
8442 Private W Johnson 
7790 Private David Jones 
9140 Private E Jones 
7604 Private E Jones 
8273 Private G A Jones 
8959 Private R Jones 
9093 Private G A Jordan 
5245 Sergeant T Joyce 
8713 Private W Kane 
8781 Private D Keeble 
8151 Private C J Kendrick 
9514 Sergeant J W Kick
8841 Sergeant T King 
8661 Private J Kirkham 
7612 Private J Knight 
8070 Private H Lacey 
7217 Sergeant Percy Sydney Harold Lamb 
8865 Drummer Vincent H Lamb 
8515 Private W G Langrish 
8914 Lance-Corporal Frederick J Law 
7481 Private W Law 
8923 Private H Lee 
8690 Private G Lewis 
8146 Private W Lewis 
7986 Corporal Thomas William Lindsay 
7845 Private R V Linton 
9188 Private S Loftus 
8265 Private P Lowe 
8846 Private A Luke 
7818 Private G Maddocks 
9363 Private J Marchant 
8989 Private J Marsh 
8561 Private S Marsh 
8773 Private Joseph D Mason 
8673 Private J Matthews 
8244 Private N Matthews 
9144 Private J H Mawer 
9398 Lance-Corporal J H Mayfield 
9300 Lance-Corporal W McHugh 
7252 Private R McLeed 
8448 Private P McNally 
9223 Private J Meanley 
9173 Private W E Medhurst 
8098 Corporal J W Middleton 
8581 Private B Molineux 
7739 Lance-Corporal J Moody 
8833 Private Alfred Moorman 
9408 Private J Morley 
5591 Private J Morris 
9368 Private A W Mumford 
8592 Private S E Mumford 
8287 Private F B Newman 
9125 Lance-Corporal R Northover 
5643 Sergeant J W Oakley 
7827 Private R Oakley 
8767 Private J O'Donnell 
9402 Private H Page 
8360 Lance-Corporal A Painting 
8235 Corporal J Parker 
9005 Private P Parkes 
8687 Private J Peakman 
8494 Private W Pearce 
7460 Private G H Pitt 
8518 Private G Poole 
8174 Private A Potts 
6645 Private C Potts 
9141 Private F Powell 
8740 Private F Price 
5963 Private H Price 
9043 Private J Price 
9311 Private J S Price 
8913 Private J W Price 
8218 Private J Priest 
7844 Lance-Corporal W Pritchard 
9002 Pte Thomas Henry Pugh 
8338 Private G Rawlings 
7531 Lance-Corporal R S C Ray 
9062 Private L Reade 
8991 L/Cpl James S Reeves 
9010 Private F T Reynolds 
8964 Private F Rhead 
9049 Private T Ritter 
8238 Corporal C Roberts 
8223 Private C J Robins 
8081 Private W Rochell 
8618 Private G Rogers 
6148 Private J Rollason 
6879 Private A Ruskin 
9370 Private Frederick W Russon 
8487 Private G Sankey 
9342 Private E Sant 
8224 Lance-Corporal A H Saunders 
9133 Private E Saunders 
8272 Private W L Sayfritz 
8587 Lance-Corporal W G Scott 
7962 Private R Shaw 
4035 Private I Shepherd 
8867 Private D Sheppard 
8160 Private W Sheppard 
7871 Private A J Simcox 
6689 Private G Sketchley 
7972 Corporal J H Slater 
8672 Private T Smallman 
8118 Private A Smith 
8706 Driver S Smith 
5663 Sergeant W Spink
9079 Private E Steadman
8716 Private J Steele 
8247 Private W Stevens 
8595 Private W Stone 
9212 Private A Taylor 
8481 Driver F C Taylor 
8384 Private J Taylor
8490 Corporal A Terry 
8015 Private A E Thomas 
8922 Private H Thomas 
8486 Private A Thompson 
7850 Private Harry Thornton 
9121 Private A Thorpe 
9100 Private T H Titley 
8824 Corporal W Tombs 
8230 Private C Toomer 
8986 Lance-Corporal A C Townend 
9295 Private H W Tranter 
8203 Private G B Tristram 
7399 Private H Turner 
8471 Private J Turner 
9091 Private A Turton 
9148 Private W Unitt 
8679 Private E Upton 
6243 CQMS W Wall 
6109 Private W Walton 
7123 Private H Warburton 
7872 Private H Warrilow 
8671 Lance-Corporal E Watkins 
8215 Private F S Weaver 
8353 Private H Webb 
9282 Private H Wells 
8996 Private Edward White 
9325 Private H Whitehead 
9235 Private H Whitehead 
7903 Private J W Whitehouse 
7594 Private J W Wickson 
8674 Private R A Wilding 
9201 Lance-Corporal A Wilkes 
8129 Private G H Williams 
9143 Private G Wilson 
8738 Pte R Wilson 
8619 Private C R Winfield 
8369 Private F E Witts 
7824 Private A W Wood 
8393 Private C Wood 
9343 Lance-Corporal S Wood 
8310 Lance-Corporal C Woollett 
9023 Lance-Corporal A W Woolley 
8209 Private T Worley 
8449 Private T H Worton 
9184 Private H Wright 
9117 Private W Wright

23 September 2017

Regimental Numbers - a 60 second overview

Army Order 338 of 1920 introduced a new system of  'army numbers'. Up until that point, men were issued with regimental numbers by the regiment or corps that they joined.

Over the last nine years this blog has detailed regimental and corps numbers issued between 1881 and 1918, with the majority of the focus on the period 1881 to 1914. I chose 1881 as my starting point because this was then the majority of the old infantry Regiments of Foot were officially re-designated along county or 'territorial' lines, and men joining these newly named regiments were, from 1st July 1881, issued with a number from a new number series which began at 1. 

Such a system invariably meant that there was massive duplication of regimental numbers in the British Army. Furthermore, the regimental number series operated by the regular battalions of each regiment would prove to be just one of several series operated by the regiment. 

A typical line infantry county regiment could expect to administer one regimental number series for its regular battalions, and a separate number series for each militia battalion. Volunteer Force battalions also each had a separate regimental number series and later, so too would each Territorial Force battalion - yes EACH Territorial Force battalion, and with some battalions running multiple number series to boot.

On this blog you will find regimental number pointers for ALL line infantry regiments, ALL cavalry, ALL yeomanry, and a good deal more besides.  Use the INDEX to find the regiment you are interested in BUT be careful.  As I said, regiments operated multiple regimental number series and understanding which battalion a man served with is the key to understanding what his service looked like.

The extract below shows regimental numbers issued by the King's (Liverpool Regiment) between 1908 and 1912. Here, straight away, you can see that there were nine separate series in use between those years. Later, in 1917, when the Territorial Force was re-numbered, serving members of the TF were all issued with new regimental numbers, the lowest number in each series being issued to the longest serving member of that battalion or TF unit. This re-numbering, designed to cut some of the confusion with duplicate numbering would have been better had not the new number series also been duplicated across battalions.  By my reckoning, when the new number blocks were introduced in 1917, 61 regiments started re-issuing numbers from a series which began with 200001!

So using the example above, if your King's (Liverpool Regiment) British Army Ancestor had the regimental number 10030, he could have been a regular soldier who joined the regiment some time before 1908, or he could have been a man who joined the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion in January 1912.  Similarly, if your ancestor was in the Territorial Force and had the number 1100, he could have served with any of the six TF battalions listed here - and he could have therefore joined up in either 1908, 1909 or 1910 depending on which battalion he joined.

I have published a fraction of the information from my database on this blog. Contact me via the RESEARCH tab if you need help with your British Army Ancestors.

Some other points to bear in mind; this from Queen's Regulations for 1889:

There are two key points to bear in mind here. The first is the scope of the number series expressed in paragraph 38, particularly the point about applying to start a new series. As an example, between 1881 and 1914, the Rifle Brigade reached 9999 on two occasions and therefore started a new number series beginning with 1. So if we see a Rifleman from the Rifle Brigade with the number 5000, that number could date to 1882 (the Rifle Brigade did not start numbering from 1 in 1881) or 1897 or 1913.

The second point to note is paragraph 41. Regimental numbers were not re-issued. If a man was discharged from a regiment, walked around the block and then re-enlisted with the same regiment he would be issued with a new regimental number. I have published extracts from King's and Queen's Regulations on this blog.

There is a lot of information that i have published over the years and I am happy to answer general questions. Post a comment and I'll post a response. For individual RESEARCH projects, contact me via the RESEARCH tab.

The photograph on this post is from my collection and shows two unnamed KRRC rifleman in 1912.

10 September 2017

Regimental numbers are windows into the past

A regimental number is like a window into the past. And for many soldiers for whom no service or pension records survive, it may often be the only window.

This blog will demonstrate why regimental numbers are so important for today's family and military historians. To illustrate this have taken a list of men from the King's Royal Rifle Corps whose names were all published in The Times on the 30th January 1915. All had been posted as missing; and officially notified by the War Office on the 6th December 1914.

I've arranged the numbers chronologically. If - and it's a big IF - these numbers had all been issued to men joining the regular battalions - that's the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions - it would be a simple job to identify when these men joined the KRRC. However, there will be men in this list who had originally enlisted with the 5th (Special Reserve) or 6th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, and both of these battalions operated their own distinct regimental number series.

I am often queried why someone's regimental number does not fit with the sequences I have published on this blog. "It can't possibly be correct..." goes the hypothetical cry, "according to your information he must have enlisted in 1894 when he was nine!  The answer is invariably that the ancestor concerned did not originally enlist with a regular battalion - and remember, it's mostly regular battalions that I have concentrated on to date - but with a special or extra reserve battalion; or later, a Territorial Force battalion or New Army battalion.

But for the purpose of this exercise - and because I don't have the time to look at each of these 229 records individually - let's assume that all of these men were issued with these numbers when they enlisted as career soldiers with the King's Royal Rifle Corps.

The first man on this list was certainly a career man. Philip Horace Taylor originally enlisted at Aldershot in 1898. His service record shows that he served in the Boer War and was reported missing and a prisoner of war on the 3rd November 1914. He would spend the rest of the war in captivity and would finally be transferred to Class Z of the Army Reserve in 1919 having served 21 years and 37 days; enough time to claim a pension.

So Private Turner appears to be the longest-serving man here, but  - and assuming we're just talking about regulars, remember - all the men in this first group had joined the KRRC while Queen Victoria was still on the throne:

802 Pte Philip Horace Taylor
891 Pte J Barrett
900 Pte W Walton
1182 Pte F Wood
1315 Pte J Murphy
1403 Pte J Benson
1447 Pte J Brady
1466 Col-Sgt Harry W Charles
2043 Pte F Potter
2125 Pte G Winsor
2151 Pte H Turner
2179 Pte J Speak
2200 Pte A Duggan

In order for these pre-August 1900 KRRC enlistments to still be serving in August 1914 they must have either re-engaged to complete 21 years with the colours OR enlisted as Section D reservists. This would have extended their period on the reserve for a further four years. As a reward for this commitment they were paid the grand sum of 6d per day. Colour-Sergeant Harry Charles had certainly re-engaged and must have cursed his luck - and the odd German - when he was captured at Ypres on the 2nd November 1914. He has a number of papers held by the International Committee of the Red Cross archive. Follow the ICRC PoW link to search for prisoners of war. The site is FREE!

2262 Pte J Walsh
2268 Pte B Cocker
2274 Pte W Corser
2463 Pte J Wilkins
2471 Pte J Street
2499 Pte T McQueeney
2563 Pte G Clarke
2569 Pte T Farley
2570 Pte A Payne
2573 Sgt F Tyler
2727 Pte W Eaton
2989 Pte S Johnston
3033 Pte N Bartley
3069 Pte S Sykes
3334 Pte Bert Cooper (enlisted 7th December 1900)
3347 Pte Samuel Beach

Numbers in this range would have been issued to regulars joining up in 1901:

3347 Pte Samuel Beach
3487 Pte Jonathan Bingham
3575 Pte W Wilson
3686 Pte J Lalley
3917 Pte H Clarke
3939 Pte S Pammant
3963 Pte W Bailey
3998 Pte H Chesterton
4081 Pte E Revell
4139 Pte T Ball

Numbers in this range would have been issued to regulars joining up in 1902:

4170 Pte J Cade
4187 Pte Eli Henry Meecham
4210 Pte W Birkett joined on the 28th January 1902
4221 Pte A Grant
4245 Pte C Moore
4250 Pte W Cox
4320 Pte J Watt
4330 Pte P Murphy
4368 Pte A Stockwell
4390 L-Cpl J Brown
4499 Bugler C Simpson
4563 Pte P Newton
4581 Pte J Sheldon
4658 Pte J Whalley
4660 Pte J Conley
4685 Pte J Barfield
4771 Pte H Jayes
4808 Pte W Jones
4813 Pte F Adfield
4841 Pte J Roberts
4944 Pte W Leyland
5075 Pte J Allen
5098 Pte T Hill
5225 Pte J Rafferty

These numbers would all have been issued to career KRRC enlisting in 1903:

5260 Pte W Andrews
5297 Pte J Quinn
5406 Pte R Robinson
5432 Pte T Batson
5454 Pte G Ashton
5502 Pte W Towler
5529 Pte C Thompson
5575 Pte A Garrison
5602 Pte J Dunn
5608 Pte W Gilbert
5630 Pte J Fell
5704 Pte H Donnelly
5710 Pte J Kempton

And so on...

The point is that by analysing the regimental numbers it is possible to work out not only when a man joined the regiment but also what his subsequent service probably looked like. I find this actually more interesting than analysing service records; although I have plenty of experience of doing both - drop me a line if I can help you with your research.

5743 Pte W Barker
5782 Pte G Savigar
5794 Pte G Samuels
5813 Pte J Cook
5856 Pte A Nash
5871 Pte W Garner
5875 Pte G Allen
5894 Pte W Fox
5903 Pte F Mockford
5909 Pte E Barker
5910 Pte C Hurt
5915 Pte R Topper
5922 Pte A Dean
5980 Pte H Drummond
5997 Pte L Broadbent
6036 Pte J Cannon
6047 L-Cpl W Meadley
6088 Pte G Wolliter
6133 Pte J Forengo
6136 Pte J Holden
6205 L-Cpl J Almond
6277 Pte J Cahill
6297 Pte P Gunning
6385 Pte T Campey
6410 Pte F Jagger
6434 Pte E Myers
6457 Pte S Bowers
6511 L-Cpl F Callaway

What is easy to forget when looking at the lists of 1914 casualties is the loss to the British Army in terms of experience. Many of these men had more than a dozen years' service under their belts before they sailed for France in 1914. They were efficient at musketry and drill, and many of them would have served throughout the British Empire.

6514 Pte E Stinson
6522 Pte W Swingle
6539 L-Cpl G Cooper
6556 Pte C Crook
6579 Pte M Stephenson
6605 Pte J Franklin
6630 Pte H Freeman
6651 Pte G Coake
6678 Pte F Harratt
6681 Pte C Cammaeron
6687 Pte J McDermott
6697 Pte J Blunt
6710 Pte T Maughan
6751 Pte W Phillips
6759 Sgt S Thompson

Men from about this point onwards are all enlistments from 1907 onwards. Typical terms of enlistment at this time would have seven years with the colours and five on the reserve, although if a man was serving overseas during his period of colour service he could expect to actually serve eight years with the colours and four years on the reserve.

6759 Sgt S Thompson
6791 Pte G Davies
6833 Pte H Greenwood
6978 Pte W Freatwell
6987 Pte W Champion
7022 Pte J Fereday
7026 Pte W Emery
7055 Pte L Posnett
7064 Pte W Smith
7067 Cpl H Revell
7110 Pte C Cully
7120 Pte T Starkie
7141 Pte J Meakins
7165 L-Cpl S Crockett
7209 Pte F Roberts
7247 L-Cpl O Mullarkey
7270 Pte W Colfar
7300 Pte W Chapman
7316 Pte R Fitt
7320 Sgt T Painting
7334 Pte J Parker
7339 Pte W Pallin
7358 Pte B Edmunds
7364 Pte D Kingston
7370 Pte S Hill
7411 Cpl A Chapman
7414 Pte C Easden
7417 Pte J Farrell
7418 Pte W Brown
7442 Pte A Smithurst

7462 Pte V Conn
7469 Pte W Ryan
7502 Pte W Collins
7512 Pte J Coleman
7531 Pte C Amass
7540 Pte B Gayler
7574 Pte R Chambers
7590 Pte F Hines
7649 Pte H Bradley
7659 Pte George Cutler
7867 Pte J Whitney
7871 Pte S Shemmings
7890 Pte J Lee
7947 Pte Thomas Baister
8002 Pte S Chater
8011 Pte A Mullins
8032 Pte W Johnson
8047 L-Cpl E Amies
8058 L-Cpl J Garwood
8115 Pte D Cullimore

Use my snapshot of KRRC enlistment dates in my King's Royal Rifle Corps to work out for yourself when the men in this list would have joined the regiment. Don't forget too that many of the men in this list will also appear in my list of KRRC prisoners of war. I'll publish that soon. 

8679 Col-Sgt J Reynolds
9111 Sgt S Gilbert
9277 Pte A Day
9354 Pte C Casey
9358 Cpl P Freeman
9373 Pte F Noble
9379 Pte H Beel
9452 L-Cpl T Waud
9579 Pte H Walters
9749 Pte P Broughton
9842 Pte J Burke
9866 Pte C Ayres
10006 Cpl A Morgan
10043 Pte F White
10324 Cpl A Lee
10346 Pte G Stonham
10436 L-Cpl W Dalby
10462 Pte H Moore
10463 Pte A Pitman
10526 Pte P Bell
10530 Pte C Parrott
10688 Pte T Day
10718 Pte C Wills
10768 Pte G Young
10777 Pte R Cox
10892 Pte S Booker

All of the men below had only joined the regiment in 1913 and thus could still be considered to have been learning their craft as soldiers.

10912 Pte A Burridge
10928 Pte E Paveley
10933 Pte W Ward
10948 Pte W Allen
10950 Pte H Sims
10963 Pte A Fry
10976 Pte G Pearson
10977 Pte W Ramsay
10980 Pte G Symes
10983 Pte P Brown
10990 Pte A Lloyd
11002 Pte W Strong
11005 Pte R Reeve
11012 Pte A Beale
11013 Pte L Price
11025 Pte W Soppitt
11027 Pte Walter John Shubrook
11046 Pte George Henry Peter Lanz
11049 Pte S Francis
11054 Pte A Silverton
11082 Pte B Pocock
11100 Pte G Ford
11101 Pte F Williams
11104 Pte H Thorpe
11133 Pte A Gilbert
11134 Pte J Reynolds
11140 Pte B Brown
11141 Pte G Walker
11145 L-Cpl F Adams
11151 Pte A Evans
11214 Pte B Wood
11246 Pte H Tiplady
11262 Pte L Davis
11296 Pte E Morgan

The last two men on this list are both 1914 enlistments, still wet behind the ears:

11319 Pte H Searle
11545 Pte F Thomas

All photos on this post are from my own KRRC collection. Service record extract courtesy of The National Archives.