WW1 Service Numbers and possible personnel codes

My mum is trying to put together some geneology and has asked me (as apparently I am in the know...) to research her paternal granfather, my great grandfather.

We know he was in the Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment (can't pinpoint East or West yet, but I think West) and then the Labour Corps.

Tracing WW1 soldiers' records is difficult due to the numbers destroyed and I have got some way into discovering some info - I have a copy of a medal card (from Mum, but also seen listed online) and some incidental info (enlisted 1914, injured - GSW to shoulder, exit chest, supervised POWs burying dead, cleared Ash ranges post war), but I don't know his Regiment and can't be clear of his military number.

On the medal card, he is listed as Queen's Regiment (didn't exist, but presumed abbreviation of QRWS Regt), No L/10808 and then Labour Corps with a number.

Ah ha, thinks I, I have a number, maybe if I search that on the various sites proclaiming help in tracing WW1 soldiers' records, I'll get a hit. BUT, there were 10 individual's entries with the service number of L/10808, most appearing to have transfered from their original unit to the Labour Corps (but not all).

Does anyone know if the L/10808 number is a code or spoof number assigned to an individual when posted out from a "Regular" unit to the Labour Corps, or if it has any other significance?

There is more info in the medals section, including roll numbers, which have borne some fruit, but then an entry at the end which is mostly illegible, but I think says something like SWL and then a number. I don't know if there is a common code indicating discharge or invaliding out of the service. The card states discharge date as 7/7/1916, but we're pretty sure he was Labour Corps until after the war - would this mean discharge from QRWS into Labour Corps?

Quite a few questions there, but I am betting that someone has done this sort of diggin before and will know more than me and there are bound to be a few experts lurking in the ARRSE shadows...

Many thanks in advance. Django
If you haven't done so already, check in to the British Medals Forum. Their resident WW I experts can usually figure out a soldier's entitlement from their resources. I do remember there was some talk on the board about the Army numbering system. It was completely changed in around 1916 or 1917. Before that time each regiment had its own number block that it assigned to recruits. There were often duplicate numbers as each regiment started with 1 and went on from there. After 1916 the number blocks were assigned to all recruits Army wide and there should be no duplication no matter what regiment the recruit is assigned to join.

The mavins at the British Medals web site can explain it all in excruciating detail if you like. The url is this: British Medals Forum • Index page


Kit Reviewer
As I believe, there was not an Army number issued as it was later to be; Yours for life. It was a 'Pay' number you received at the unit you served. That is where tracing relatives becomes complex, especially if their Surname started with A to C, as their records were destroyed in the Blitz of WW2. The painting on my Avatar is in the Paris War Museum - It could be my Great Grandfather, but other than the surname and first initial on the back of the painting, it can't be proven as fact.

Good luck all the same
As I believe, there was not an Army number issued as it was later to be;
What he said. Service numbers weren't issued until 1922. Before that date numbers were issued by regiments and corps (hence the term 'regimental number'), you'll find duplicates issued and in use at the same time.
Many thanks for this so far - still complex but now with 2 numbers, 2 Regiments, some rough dates, his exact name and his medal card, hopefully I can dig some more. I am awaiting a response from the Regimental Records to let me know whether he is listed in the recruitment lists (the only real list of individuals they have) and from NAtional Archives for a section of a document roll.

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