An unusual number.............

Discussion in 'Old & Bold' started by abeaumont, Jul 10, 2012.

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  1. There's been a thread or two about army numbers in the past, so now for something completely different.

    The lowest number?

    I was in Canterbury Cathedral this morning and looked at the memorial books listing the fallen from 1914 onwards. On one of them the name of Major Kealy, he of Mirbat, was showing, but another caught my eye because of the numbers.


    I've had a look at the CWGC website and there is indeed a Private E H Jeffrey listed as having died on 2nd May 1915 and commemorated on the Menin Gate which rather implies he didn't die in India. But, it gives his service number as 9797 instead of 1.

    Can anyone shed any light on why he might have the number 1 by his name, and also India when he died on the Western Front?

    I've tried checking Cpl Bishop (from the top of the image) and his number was indeed 2404, and his name is on a memorial in Delhi. Others in the image also have the correct numbers and did indeed die in India.
  2. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours

    The EH Jeffrey on the Menin Gate is Canadian
    CWGC - Casualty Details

    Can't, at the moment, find another EH Jeffrey who died on that date.
  3. Yes, he would have been a Canadian.

    One of the memorial books, that the image is of, in Canterbury Cathedral is that of the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, there because of the close links it had with The Buffs (East Kent) Regiment.
  4. Didn't they used to have Regimental numbers initially?
  5. I'm sure you are right - it would explain the four digit number for most of them. Odd though that a man whose real number was 9797 should have 1 as his number in the memorial book.
  6. When the Territorial Force was formed from the volunteers in 1908 some units continued the numbers used by a pre-existing volunteer unit, some began afresh at 1, and some did odd things - e.g. adding 1000 to a man's volunteer number. Therefore it was possible for a man to receive number '1' in 1908 - and remeber that every TF battalion had its own set of numbers, so you could get a 1 in 4 Loamshires, 5 Loamshires, 4 Blankshires, 5 Blankshires, etc, etc. so there would be more than one 1, if you see what I mean.

  7. Taken from Wikipedia, Quite an interesting subject.

    Soldiers in the British Army are given an eight-digit number, e.g. 25232301. Prior to 1920 each regiment issued their own service numbers which were unique only within that regiment, so the same number could be issued many times in different regiments. When a serviceman moved, he would be given a new service number by his new regiment. The modern system was introduced by Army Order 338 in August 1920. Numbers were then a maximum of seven digits, later groups of numbers up to eight digits were added.[SUP][3][/SUP][SUP][4][/SUP]

    For Example Royal Army Service Corps 1 to 294000Lancers 309001 to 386000Royal Corps of Signals 2303001 to 2604000Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers 16000001 to 16100000
  8. Could he, perhaps, have been given the number 9797, then transferred to a different batallion or whatever and given a new number, ie 1? That might explain the change in number and the different place of death.........
  9. That's what happened in the case of the first RSM of the Welsh Guards. He was given the regimental number of 1 when they were first formed in 1915.
  10. It appears to be Pte E H JEFFERY, 21st Lancers, died 1 Nov 1918.

    21st Lancers were in India during the war taking part in the fighting on the North-West Frontier.

    E H J.jpg
  11. At some point during WW1 cavalrymen were enlisted in the Corps of Dragoons, Corps of Hussars and Corps of Lancers rather than individual regiments - I don't know when this began or ended. Men enlsiting into the Corps of Lancers were given numbers with the prefix 'L'. So possibly this man was the first to so enlist - somebody had to be.

    'Died', if used accurately by the records office concerned, suggests death by some cause other than KIA (strictly died before entering the medical chain) or Died of Wounds (made it at least as far as the RAP but later sucumbed) e.g. illness, disease, accident.
  12. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours

  13. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    I was reading Bradford Pals and the regy numbers had the Bn number first so 10/101 for the 101st person to enlist in the 10th Bn! Enlisting in a corps was the norm when I joined!

    Sent from my BlackBerry 9780 using Tapatalk
  14. I can't find his service record online so it may be one of those destroyed during WW2.

    He was born in Rotherithe in 1887 and the 1911 shows him as a L/Cpl in the 21st Lancers based in Egypt.

    EHJ 2.jpg

    Pte E H Jeffery