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Army Service Numbers in the City of London Battalions, The London Regiment 1908-1916

 


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This article will look at army service numbers in the City Battalions of the London Regiment between the years 1908 and 1916.

The London Territorial Force battalions, formed in 1908, all had their origins in various Volunteer Force Battalions. They numbered from the 1st (City of London) Battalion (Royal Fusiliers) through to the 25th (County of London) Cyclist Battalion. The Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) was to have been the 26th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Honourable Artillery Company) - and the Inns of Court was to have been the 27th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Inns of Court), but these titles were never used. Instead, the HAC, which could trace its history back to 1296, and the Inns of Court - which could trace its history back to 1584, were allowed to keep their original titles. The 28th (County of London) Battalion (Artists’ Rifles), completed the London Regiment roll call in 1908. Later, during the First World War, six more battalions were added to the London Regiment.

This article though, is only concerned with the London Regiment City Battalions; that is, from the 1st London Regiment through to the 8th London Regiment inclusive.

1st (City of London) Bn, The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)

This battalion had its origins in the 1st Volunteer Battalion Royal Fusiliers. In common with all Territorial Force battalions in 1908, the majority of men joining this new battalion that year would have seen prior service with the Volunteer Battalion.

Army Service Numbers and enlistment dates for the 1st London Regiment as follows:

401 allocated on 30th June 1908
613 allocated on 2nd February 1909
1013 allocated on 21st February 1910
1144 allocated on 22nd March 1911
1251 allocated on 26th February 1912
1522 allocated on 21st February 1913
1782 allocated on 13th May 1914
2059 allocated on 12th August 1914
2333 allocated on 1st September 1914
3290 allocated on 8th December 1914
3403 allocated on 12th January 1915
3525 allocated on 6th February 1915
4154 allocated on 6th May 1915
4662 allocated on 21st July 1915
4889 allocated on 30th August 1915
4904 allocated on 4th September 1915
5024 allocated on 5th October 1915
5568 allocated on 21st January 1916
6142 allocated on 27th March 1916
6540 allocated on 23rd May 1916
6716 allocated on 5th June 1916
8121 allocated on 28th August 1916
8351 allocated on 8th September 1916
8551 allocated on 11th October 1916
8859 allocated on 1st November 1916

When the battalion re-numbered in March 1917 men were allocated numbers within the range 200001 to 230000.

2nd (City of London) Bn, The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)

This battalion had its origins in the 2nd Volunteer Battalion Royal Fusiliers.

Army Service Numbers and enlistment dates for the 2nd London Regiment as follows:

340 allocated on 6th May 1908
670 allocated on 22nd March 1909
988 allocated on 23rd March 1910
1068 allocated on 19th January 1911
1209 allocated on 4th March 1912
1452 allocated on 8th January 1913
1775 allocated on 13th May 1914
1912 allocated on 10th August 1914
2472 allocated on 7thy September 1914
3169 allocated on 20th October 1914
3248 allocated on 17th November 1914
3277 allocated on 2nd December 1914
3475 allocated on 20th January 1915
3636 allocated on 15th February 1915
4429 allocated on 10th May 1915
4605 allocated on 5th June 1915
4918 allocated on 28th August 1915
5004 allocated on 7th October 1915
5092 allocated on 1st November 1915
5224 allocated on 17th January 1916
5552 allocated on 1st February 1916
5631 allocated on 20th March 1916
6423 allocated on 3rd April 1916
6605 allocated on 15th May 1916
6628 allocated on 3rd June 1916
6667 allocated on 18th July 1916
6802 allocated on 1st August 1916
8176 allocated on 11th September 1916
8266 allocated on 14th October 1916
8434 allocated on 4th November 1916

When the battalion re-numbered in March 1917 men were allocated numbers within the range 230001 to 250000.

3rd (City of London) Bn, The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)

162 allocated on 26th May 1908
639 allocated on 18th May 1909
900 allocated on 2nd June 1910
959 allocated on 12th January 1911
1079 allocated on 9th January 1912
1446 allocated on 4th February 1913
1947 allocated on 3rd May 1914
2114 allocated on 4th September 1914
3058 allocated on 28th October 1914
3148 allocated on 18th December 1914
3408 allocated on 18th January 1915
3883 allocated on 9th March 1915
4104 allocated on 29th April 1915
4229 allocated on 27th May 1915
4350 allocated on 2nd June 1915
4781 allocated on 7th July 1915
5008 allocated on 30th September 1915
5628 allocated on 25th February 1916
5697 allocated on 22nd March 1916
6235 allocated on 1st April 1916
6656 allocated on 10th May 1916
6725 allocated on 16th August 1916
8030 allocated on 2nd November 1916
8185 allocated on10th January 1917

When the battalion re-numbered in March 1917 men were allocated numbers within the range 250001 to 280000.

4th (City of London) Bn, The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)

This battalion had its origins in the 4th Volunteer Battalion Royal Fusiliers.

Army Service Numbers and enlistment dates for the 4th London Regiment as follows:

220 allocated on 2nd April 1908
502 allocated on 11th February 1909
1086 allocated on 7th February 1911
1203 allocated on 9th January 1912
1783 allocated on 24th April 1913
1933 allocated on 10th March 1914
2156 allocated on 10th August 1914
2318 allocated on 1st September 1914
3035 allocated on 15th October 1914
3275 allocated on 2nd November 1914
3505 allocated on 14th December 1914
3796 allocated on 27th January 1915
3919 allocated on 16th February 1915
4013 allocated on 25th March 1915
4110 allocated on 5th May 1915
4486 allocated on 15th June 1915
4787 allocated on 16th August 1915
5003 allocated on 1st November 1915
5163 allocated on 21st January 1916
5486 allocated on 12th February 1916
5546 allocated on 20th March 1916
6190 allocated on 1st April 1916
6429 allocated on 2nd May 1916
6641 allocated on 12th August 1916
6771 allocated on 13th October 1916
8056 allocated on 21st November 1916

When the battalion re-numbered in March 1917 men were allocated numbers within the range 280001 to 300000.

5th (City of London) Bn, The London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade)

This battalion had its origins in the 1st Volunteer Rifle Corps. It was affiliated to The London Rifle Brigade and had its headquarters at Bunhill Row in the City of London.

Unlike all of the other London Regiment battalions, the 5th did not start numbering from 1 in April 1908 but appears to have continued with the numbering series which had been in use for the 1st VRC. I am assuming that the old 1st VRC men re-enlisted with the 5th (City of London) Bn and retained their old VRC numbers but this is just an assumption in the absence of further evidence via attestation papers or documentation from the time. In any event, the 5th London Regiment numbering sequence is certainly unique within the London Regiment.

By the time the First World War was declared, the battalion had reached the high 9000s and it wasn't long before it got to 9999 and started re-numbering from 1 again. Number 35 was issued on 6th August 1914.

Here are some numbers and joining dates / enlistment dates for the 5th London Regiment.

8304 allocated on 5th May 1908
8525 allocated on 16th February 1909
9166 allocated on 16th June 1910
9266 allocated on 9th March 1911
9415 allocated on 30th May 1912
9668 allocated on 4th December 1913
35 allocated on 6th August 1914
281 allocated on 1st September 1914
1326 allocated on 10th December 1914
1588 allocated on 6th February 1915
1701 allocated on 3rd March 1915
2087 allocated on 27th April 1915
2171 allocated on 25th May 1915
2916 allocated on 29th October 1915
3755 allocated on 6th December 1915
4310 allocated on 16th March 1916
4676 allocated on 26th April 1916
4783 allocated on 5th May 1916
5446 allocated on 26th August 1916
5863 allocated on 18th October 1916

When the Territorial Force re-numbered in 1917 men from this battalion were allocated numbers within the range 300001 to 320000.

6th (City of London) Bn, The London Regiment (City of London Rifles)

This battalion had its origins in the 2nd London Volunteer Rifle Corps with headquarters in Farringdon Road in the City of London.

441 allocated on 4th November 1908
1053 allocated on 17th May 1909
1104 allocated on 1st March 1910
1175 allocated on 8th March 1911
1276 allocated on 5th February 1912
1361 allocated on 7th January 1913
1851 allocated on 7th August 1914
2375 allocated on 3rd September 1914
3289 allocated on 9th March 1915
3419 allocated on 3rd May 1915
4622 allocated on 12th July 1915
4856 allocated on 11th August 1915
5302 allocated on 10th February 1916
5738 allocated on 1st June 1916
6331 allocated on 15th August 1916
6720 allocated on 23rd October 1916
6941 allocated on 3rd November 1916

Known as “The Cast Iron Sixth", when the Territorial Force was re-numbered in 1917, the 6th Londons were allocated numbers within the range 320001 to 350000.

7th (City of London) Bn, The London Regiment

This battalion had its origins in the 3rd City of London Volunteer Rifle Corps and was headquartered in Sun Street, Finsbury Square in the City of London.

Here are some army services numbers and enlistment / joining dates for “The Shiny Seventh":

343 allocated on 30th June 1908
507 allocated on 26th February 1909
968 allocated on 18th April 1910
1105 allocated on 7th March 1911
1217 allocated on 15th March 1912
1331 allocated on 8th February 1913
1598 allocated on 24th February 1914
1740 allocated on 4th August 1914
2143 allocated on 2nd September 1914
3108 allocated on 14th October 1914
3160 allocated on 16th November 1914
3276 allocated on 7th December 1914
3314 allocated on 6th January 1915
3392 allocated on 20th March 1915
3469 allocated on 6th April 1915
4079 allocated on 3rd May 1915
5153 allocated on 5th June 1915
5485 allocated on 22nd July 1915
5558 allocated on 19th August 1915
6263 allocated on 1st June 1916
6638 allocated on 6th July 1916
6924 allocated on 4th August 1916
7385 allocated on 18th October 1916
7674 allocated on 2nd November 1916

When the Territorial Force was re-numbered in 1917, the 7th London Regiment were allocated numbers within the range 350001 to 370000.

8th (City of London) Bn, The London Regiment (Post Office Rifles)

This battalion had its origins in the 24th Middlesex Volunteer Rifle Corps and, like the 5th (City of London) Bn, The London Regiment, had its headquarters in Bunhill Row in the City of London.

Here are some army service numbers and enlistment / joining dates for the Post Office Rifles:

357 allocated on 8th April 1908
765 allocated on 25 January 1909
1270 allocated on 15th July 1910
1295 allocated on 14th January 1911
1412 allocated on 27th February 1912
1606 allocated on 25th March 1913
1767 allocated on 20th January 1914
1979 allocated on 15th August 1914
2162 allocated on 8th September 1914
3132 allocated on 15th February 1915
3263 allocated on 6th March 1915
3591 allocated on 17th April 1915
3758 allocated on 2nd May 1915
4007 allocated on 13th June 1915
4183 allocated on 10th July 1915
4386 allocated on 20th August 1915
4440 allocated on 6th September 1915
4567 allocated on 31st October 1915
4811 allocated on 3rd December 1915
4974 allocated on 9th January 1916
5193 allocated on 1st February 1916
5765 allocated on 5th April 1916
6018 allocated on 6th May 1916
6213 allocated on 6th June 1916
6571 allocated on 25th August 1916
6761 allocated on 6th September 1916
8184 allocated on 2nd November 1916
8657 allocated on 5th December 1916
8695 allocated on 3rd January 1917

When the Territorial Force was re-numbered in 1917, the Post Office Rifles re-numbered within the block 370001 to 390000.

The 8th City of London Regiment was the last of the City Battalions. In conclusion let me highlight some numbering patterns within these battalions.

When the Territorial Force came into existence in 1908 large numbers of men who'd served with the Volunteers, re-enlisted in the newly formed battalions. By 1910 though, recruitment into the City of London battalions had slowed dramatically. Looking across the eight battalions, the Post Office Rifles (8th London Regiment) seems to have been most popular with 765 Riflemen having enlisted since 1st April 1908, whereas the 5th City of London Regiment seems to have struggled more than the others.

From 1910 until August 1914, most of the battalions were recruiting at the rate of only one or two hundred a year - if that. Taking the 3rd (City of London) Bn as an example of low recruitment, number 900 was signed up on 2nd June 1910. Number 942 joined on 11th October that year, and number 959 by January 1911. By 26th September 1911 the battalion recruited its 1043rd rifleman. So that's just 143 enlistments for that battalion in 16 months, less than nine recruits a month.

That all changed in 1914. Let's look at the period August to December 1914.

1st Londons
1231 enlistments between 12th August and 8th December 1914
2nd Londons
1457 enlistments between 10th August and 29th December 1914
3rd Londons
1392 enlistments between 3rd May 1914 and 26th December 1914
4th Londons
1349 enlistments between 10th August and 14th December 1914
5th Londons
1534 enlistments between 4th August and 10th December 1914
6th Londons
By September 8th 1914 the battalion was numbering at 3091 and by 9th March 1915 it had reached 3289. From 7th August 1914 until 8th September 1914, the battalion appears - unless there was a large block of numbers which was not used, to have recruited 1215 men.
7th Londons
1536 enlistments between 4th August and 7th December 1914
8th Londons
By September 28th the battalion was numbering at 2994 and by 15th February 1915 it had reached 3132. From 15th August 1914 until 28th September 1914, the battalion appears - unless there was a large block of numbers which was not used, to have recruited 1015 men.

Adding up the totals above, we arrive at 10729 men or the equivalent of close to eleven battalions of men enlisting with Territorial Force City of London Regiments in the space of five months (with the exceptions to the 3rd, 6th and 8th battalions mentioned above). These patterns would be repeated in virtually every other battalion and army unit throughout Britain in 1914. Nevertheless, these numbers would dip dramatically in 1915, leading to the creation of the Derby Scheme (and another peak in attestations in November and December 1915) and ultimately the introduction of conscription in 1916.

Article by Paul Nixon. This was originally published as a series of separate articles on http://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.com - the blog concerning Army Service Numbers in the British Army between the years 1881 and 1918

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