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Place of Enlistment


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I have always been puzzled as to why my grandfather joined the 1st Battalion Scottish Rifles when he enlisted in 1904. He was born and bred in Hoxton, London and as far as I am aware there were no family connections in Scotland. My assumption has always been that you were normally attached to a local regiment. Two of his brothers joined the 4th London Regiment when drafted in 1916.

Can anyone help to explain this mystery?

Laurence Cole

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Laurence, I have no explanation for the enlistment/regimental logic, but I can tell you that the 1st Battalion was never referred to as the Scottish Rifles! The two regular battalions were always the 1st Cameronians, and 2nd Scottish Rifles. The latter had been a light infantry regiment before the Cardwell reforms of 1881, and jealously guarded their perceived superiority over the footslogger line infantry. They were miffed to be the 2nd Battalion, and held on to their name. You may find John Baynes' excellent 'Morale', a book about the 2nd Battalion, interesting in this regard.

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My grandfather entered France on 15/8/14 per PRO Medal Roll. This is the exact date when the 1st Battalion arrived according to published histories of the regiment. Hence my assumption that he was attached to the 1st Batallion. The Medal Roll confirms Scottish Rifles but not the Battalion. His service history does not survive at the PRO.

He transferred to the RAF in 1919 - I have his RAF service record. This gives a brief summary of his army service but again fails to mention the Batallion.

If he was in the 2nd Batallion then he had a different war from the one he described. My grandfather took particular pride in the fact that he was one of the first soldiers to enter France and always referred to himself as a Scottish Rifle.

The London Scottish regiment is a possibility and I will look into this further. I am also approaching the MOD to see if they are holding his army service records with the RAF records.

Thanks

Laurence

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The confusion about the Scottish Rifles almost certainly stems from the 1881 Cardwell reforms when a two bn system was introduced and the old system of numbering regiments was dropped.

The 1st Bn title prior to this was 26th of Foot (The Cameronians). In May 1881

it was amalgamated with the 90th (Perthshire Volunteers) and renamed the 1st Bn The Scotch Rifles (Cameronians). Two months later a second Bn was formed and both units took the title Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). This stayed the same until the regiment was disbanded in 1968.

I don't doubt the veracity of Chris's source, however there was also a certain amount of snobbery (or pride) involved after the change over and many of the senior battalions persisted in referring to themselves by their former titles long after the event, but entirely unofficially.

Terry Reeves

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I should perhaps have said that the two battalions referred to themselves as 1st Cameronians and 2nd Scottish Rifles. The official title as Terry has said was Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) for both battalions.

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Annette Burgoyne

Hi Laurence

This is only a guess, but many small county Regiments would go to recruit in the big industral towns, the KSLI seem to have recruited many men from Blackburn, Lancs. So it may have been the same for The Scotch Rifles (Cameronians).

Regards

Annette

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Thanks for the information. I wonder if anyone can tell from his regimental number which Battalion he served. I have two the first 291555 appears to have ben given on enlistment with The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) in 1904. The second 8359 appears on his medals.

He always claimed that he witnessed the deeds of Pte. Henry May V.C. at La Boutillerie 22/10/14 that led to his award. May was 1st Battalion (Scottish Rifles) but I cannot find his regimetal number anywhere. This may give some clue. Can anyone help please?

Thanks

Laurence

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I've done a quick search using the Soldiers Died in the Great War CDROM.

Men of the Regiment with regimental numbers in the 83XX series served in a number of different Battalions: 1st, 2nd, 5th, 8th and 9th are all represented in the sequence 8300-8398. There are quite a few 1st Battalion men, but there does not seem to be a pattern in this series that would conclusively put 8359 in that Battalion. At the same time, it doesn't say he wasn't in the 1st!

If he witnessed May's VC-winning action, he must have been in the 1st, as 2nd and 5th were not yet in France at that time.

Men with 251XXX numbers were also in a wide variety of Battalions, including 5/6th, 8th, 9th and 11th. No man with a 251XXX number died before April 1917, which suggests to me that this number series was allocated to later joiners - Derby Scheme men perhaps, or later.

I would guess that 8359 was in fact your grandfathers original number, and that he was renumbered later on. Do you know if he was wounded? It was quite usual for a returning wounded soldier to be allocated a new number on rejoining.

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An answer to Laurence's question would be of interest to me too. One of my grandfathers enlisted at Accrington on 8th September 1914 and was also posted to the Cameronians. Again, no Scottish connections.

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He was wounded by gas sometime in 1915 and spent six months recovering. He returned to fight in the Egypt/Palestine campaign.

I understand from others on this forum that he may well have rejoined the war with the 1/8th Cameronians (territorial battalion).

The numbering now makes more sense than it did.

Thanks

Laurence

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  • 17 years later...

My grandfather Patrick O'Connor a Catholic born in Armagh Northern Ireland and at the age of 18 enlisted as a territorial with the Scottish Rifles 19 July 1904 and I am at a loss to understand why he would have done that, Does anyone have any thoughts

 

 

 

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tullybrone

Hi,

 

As you say he enlisted as a “Territorial” it is likely he was living in the west of Scotland at the time however as the Territorial Army wasn’t created until 1908 he likely enlisted into their direct predecessor organisation “The Militia”.

 

 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_battalions_of_the_Cameronians_(Scottish_Rifles)

 

http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/cameronians-scottish-rifles/

 

 

 

Steve

Edited by tullybrone
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  • Admin
21 minutes ago, tullybrone said:

As you say he enlisted as a “Territorial” it is likely he was living in the west of Scotland at the time however as the Territorial Army wasn’t created until 1908 he likely enlisted into their direct predecessor organisation “The Militia”.

 

I think it was more normally termed the Territorial Force upon its creation (rather than Territorial Army, which formally came into existence post war) and its predecessor organisation was the Volunteer Force. The Militia was the predecessor of the Special Reserve.

 

Regards

 

Russ

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