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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Regimental Numbers


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Hi All,

Had some great response to my post in the 'soldiers' forum. This research thing could become addictive!!

I think I understand that that all the armies had it's own unique method of giving out regimental numbers to it's personel. My question is this (and please forgive me if I am ignorant):

If I had a family member that joined the RFA in Essex on such and such a day, and was given a number of xxxxxx. At the same time in say Yorkshire, someone else joined the RFA, how would they know which number to give him???

I know that someone is going to come up and give the simple answer, but as I am new to this, am just intrigued.


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Men were actually allocated their Service Numbers when they arrived at the Regimental/Corps Depots - not necessarily at the time and place they enlisted (unless they enlisted at the depot). After enlisting they would be given a travel warrant (if necessary) and told where to report. The paperwork would follow on behind and then the regimental clerks etc. would dish out the numbers from the "master list" so to speak. For this reason, sequential numbers aren't necessarily chronological, and sometimes the corresponding enlistment dates vary by a day or so, depending on how far the man had to travel to get to the depot.

Don't worry, it used to vex me as well, until I figured out just what was going on when a man enlisted. :blink:

Best wishes.


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Hi Andy,

I new there would be a simple answer.

I guess it is just like opening a bank account. Someone in central office would just hand out account numbers, whichever landed on there desk first. Now I know why it is hard to trace people by sequence of numbers.

many thanks for your reply.

Kind regards,


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