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61 Somerset Light Infantry

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I wonder if anyone can explain what my great grandfather's regimental details mean.  His name was John Frederick Mitchell. He was in the Royal Sussex and following injury returned to the Front in the 61 Somerset Light Infantry. His regimental number was 52054. I struggling to understand what the 61st was had where it saw action.  I know he was active as he was gassed but survived. He died in his own bed in 1966.


Many thanks in advance.



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Michelle Young

Possibly 7th SOMLI who were 61st Brigade of the 20th Division? 


Hopefully someone will be along soon to help. 


Regards, Michelle 

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Hi Mandy,


Welcome to the forum.


Unfortunately I didn't find any surviving service papers for John.


In the war there wasn't such a unit as 61st Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry - see here


His British War & Victory Medals roll show that John served overseas in active theatre firstly with the 9th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment (under the service number of 4227), and then with the 6th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry (as 52054). He was awarded the 1914/15 Star medal, The roll shows that he disembarked France/Flanders on 31st August 1915 as a 9/Royal Sussex man. From the Battalion war diary (National Archives here, Ancestry here) it would seem that he originally arrived with the unit, rather than being a later reinforcement. 


You might be able to establish when John was likely transferred to the Somerset Light Infantry by looking for papers for men near his 52054 number to see when they joined the unit, and making a reasonable inference - for example service records shown in this search.


Looking at Brigade HQ and Division HQ (General Staff) war diaries will augment the Battalion diary, and add greater context to John's likely war experience. They will be available from the National Archives (search page) and Ancestry (search page).


There is good advice on researching a soldier here.


Good luck with your research.




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