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Remembered Today:

Multiple Regiments and Army Numbers


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7527crater

This is an off-shoot of other topics and may well be covered elsewhere but I couldn't find an exact match. I'm researching a friend's grandfather - Ernest William Mildenhall, born Hampstead, London in 1892 and who was awarded the DCM for actions during the retreat of March 1918. My problem is that one medal record (for the DCM) shows him as a Cpl in the Royal Scots and another shows him as eligible for 'pip, squeak and Wilfred' but as a Private. To make matters worse the latter shows him as having served in 5th Battalion Royal Fusiliers (Army No. SR/8736) then the Labour Corps (With Army No. 353184) then the Royal Scots (Army No. 363184). To confuse me still further the Medal Card for the DCM shows his Number as 353184, but his regiment as Royal Scots and his rank as Corporal. I'm going round in circles here. Could a soldier be transferred between units and get a new number each time? Or does this imply that he was discharged and re-enlisted? Is the confusion with numbers just a typing error? Am I somehow confusing two different individuals (despite the matching numbers?) Can anyone unravel this conundrum for me?

I thank you all in advance for any words of wisdom you may have and wish you all a happy 2020.

 

 

   
   
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If a man was transferred to another regiment he would be given a new  number

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They are not ‘Army numbers’, but Regimental numbers.  As johnboy has said the numbers were allocated to a man regimentally at that time and if he changed regiment he would be allocated a new number.  There is a website where you can read about this: http://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.com/p/index.html?m=1

You should also be cautious about names as a great many names were duplicated in the largest Army ever put into the field by Great Britain and Ireland.  Finally, most men served in a number of different regiments if they served over the course of WW1. The infantry was a voracious machine and men were often reallocated there from other arms over time, or moved between regiments after wounding and recovery. Many men also moved to the Labour Corps after wounding if they recovered but fell below the minimum physical standard required by the infantry.  You would do well to read the section on ‘Researching a Soldier’ in the ‘Long Long Trail’ adjunct to this forum accessible from the top left of the page.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Thanks for expanding on my post

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Neill Gilhooley

This man has Service Records on Ancestry. They appear to show him as R Fus 8736 attesting 1911, overseas 1914, wounded 21.12.14 (GSW back or r side), back to BEF 7.12.15-11.5.16, 2/9 Royal Scots 353184 in late 1916 (this is a 9RS regtl serial number), posted 11 RS 22.8.17, discharged 19.2.19, enlisted 23rd London Regt 1921 with an army number, Defence Force 1921. 

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7527crater

Thank you Gentlemen. I had sort of worked out bits of this man's history but you have clarified it perfectly. Neil, in particular, a masterful synopsis of a military career. Presumably the period you have summarized as 'back to BEF '15 and '16' was spent in the Labour Corps after he was wounded. Then when pronounced fit he was transferred to the Royal Scots.

Now all I need is a photo of him in uniform (or perhaps just a Royal Scot Corporal that might be him) - anyone?

A final thought; it must have been a bit of a shock to the system of a north London boy, after 24 years of wearing trousers, to have to go to war in a kilt!

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The Royal Scots was a lowland regiment with a very long history that included warfare with extreme prejudice against highlanders in kilts.  There was only one battalion of the Royal Scots that wore the kilt; an aberration in the typical, contrary style of British infantry (just to be different) and that was the 9th (Highlanders) Battalion, aka ‘the Dandy Ninth’.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Neill Gilhooley

Morning,

His Royal Scots number 353184 looks correct for transfer to 2/9 Royal Scots in December 1916, and he would have been in a kilt then, but Frogsmile is right, it looks likely he was posted to 11RS before he left Etaples and so went to war again in trousers.

I have not been through his record with a fine tooth comb, but I did not see the Labour Corps mentioned at all, though that is quite possible. I also agree that 363184 looks like an error. 

I hope the records are of interest to your friend - the Defence Force attestations are not common.

Kind regards, N

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He did not serve in the Labour Corps. 

 

He originally enlisted in the Special Reserve on 13 March 1911 and was allocated the number 8736. The SR was mobilised at the beginning of the war, in August 1914 as shown in his entry in the National Roll of the Great War.   The Royal Scots Medal Rolls for the BWM and VM show he first entered a theatre of war as a reinforcement for the 4th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, he retained the number 8736 when posted to the 8th Royal Fusiliers. The Rolls show he was renumbered 363184 11th Royal Scots.  Medals were named to the first unit he served with in a theatre of war, and their issue administered by his last units.  For the issue of medals it was not necessary to show intermediate units therefore his service in the 2/9 Royal Scots and 4th Reserve Battalion are not shown on the Roll.

 

However there is an anomaly in the 14 Star Roll in that he appears on the 4th Royal Fusiliers Roll with the note 'Trans. Labour Corps 31.2.1917 No 353184'. This Roll is dated 14 January 1918. The Labour Corps was raised in February 1917.  There is nothing in his record to suggest service in the Labour Corps at any time.

 

His initial term of enlistment in the SR was six years, this was extended because of the war under the terms of the Military Service Act.  He re-enlisted in the 23rd County of London Regiment Territorial Army on 2nd February 1921 and was numbered 6768333, originally for 3 years but only served 66 days, transferring to the Defence Force.

It may be the MOD hold further records on this man as he served beyond 1920.

 

There is an interesting letter from his wife on the birth of a child stamped April 1916 which drills down his service in the Royal Fusiliers to Platoon level.

 

He was wounded twice.

 

As previously suggested have a look at researching a soldier on the LLT.

 

Ken

 

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Neill Gilhooley

Incidentally, he would have been in Ireland for the first part of 1917 with 2/9 Royal Scots.

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