Soldiers’ numbers in the Cambridgeshire Regiment 1908-1918

Knowing the regimental number of a soldier can help researchers understand when that person enlisted or was posted to a particular regiment. Territorial Force battalions used a number sequence running from 1 to 9,999 for each individual battalion.

On its formation in 1908, the Cambridgeshire Regiment began issuing numbers to those men who had transferred from the 3rd Volunteer Btn Suffolk Rgt. It started with F (Whittlesey) company, with the honour of being No. 1 given to Clr-Sgt J T Barwell.

Here’s how the numbering continued before the war:

Number - Date allocated

493 - January 14th, 1909

909 - December 31st, 1909

1120 - November 1st, 1910

1221 - November 14th, 1911

1259 - February 2nd, 1912

1444 - December 18th 1912

1476 - January 24th, 1913

1677 - December 28th, 1913

2042 - January 12th, 1914

War enlistments to the Cambs Rgt

It seems numbers issued after about 2060 were for recruits from August 4th, 1914 onwards. Soon after the outbreak of war the Cambridgeshire Regiment raised a 2nd battalion (known as 2/1st btn). It continued using the same block of 1-9,999 numbers.

Number - Date issued

2188 - September 7th, 1914

2896 - September 28th, 1914

3103 - October 31st, 1914

3223 - November 28th, 1914

3244 - December 2nd, 1914

Once the 1/1st btn went to the Western Front on February 14th, 2015, the regiment recruited a 3rd battalion (known as the 3/1st btn) and used the same 1-9,999 number block. Its initial recruits were numbered from 3398 onwards from mid to late February 1915.  The formation of the 4/1st btn took place on November 6th, 1915.

Number - Date issued

3403 - February 28th, 1915

3497 - March 30th, 1915

3713 - April 29th, 1915

3885 - May 31st, 1915

3986 - June 28th, 1915

4059 - July 27th, 1915

4108 - August 28th, 1915

4209 - September 30th, 1915

4283 - October 30th, 1915

4509 - November 30th, 1915

4607 - January 11th, 1916

The Derby Scheme and Conscription

The Derby Scheme was introduced in late 1915 to find more recruits and it was these men who would use up the remaining four-figure numbers of TF battalions. They came forward for attestation and sorting into relevant groups from late 1915, but began to be called for training in January 1916.

Number - Date allocated

4765 - February 28th, 1916

4856 - April 16th, 1916

Numbers from around 4886 to about 5642 were used by 2/1st btn and 4/1st btn in April 1916. May 1916 saw those two battalions issuing numbers from 5865 to 6151 by May 31st.

Number - Date allocated

6168 - June 3rd, 1916

6644 - June 30th, 1916

6701 - July 3rd, 1916

6770 - July 28th, 1916

6797 - August 11th, 1916

It seems likely that much of the 7000 number block was not allocated. A few anomalies appear, but the 2/1st and 4/1st btns seemed to issue the bulk of numbers in October.

Number - Date allocated

7842 - August 18th, 1916

7969 - August 30th, 1916

8264 - September 29th, 1916

9024 - October 27th, 1916

9431 - December 1st, 1916

9675 - December 2nd, 1916

Six-figure Numbers

As numbers in the Territorial 1-9,999 sequence began to run out, it was decided to start a six-figure series for the TF from March 1st, 1917.

Each corps of infantry was allocated a block of TF numbers starting 200001 & the allocation was broken into smaller blocks for each battalion. The Cambs Rgt was numbered in the Suffolk Rgt series. Originally allocated 315001 to 340000, it was soon amended to 325001 to 350000.

Renumbering took place by allocating the new numbers to men who were still serving in each regiment. The man with the lowest four-figure number got the first of the six-figure sequence. For instance, No 51 in the Cambs Rgt was allocated 325003. Most of the remaining pre-war TF men of the Cambs Rgt were dealt with when 325470 was issued to No. 2003. No 326067 went to No. 3004 and 326560 to 4003, 327087 to 5020 and 327744 to 6006 and 328240 to 6931.

Six-figure numbers beginning 328, 329 and 330 were allocated to men with four-figure numbers ranging from 7001 to about 9900.

A TF soldier retained his six-figure number as long as he served in a particular corps, so a Cambs Rgt man would keep his number if he served in any Suffolk Rgt battalion (TF or Regular).

If he transferred to another corps, he received a new number; he was initially posted to a TF unit in another corps, given a new TF number, and then could be posted to a Regular unit, so might never have served in a TF unit associated with his new number. A Regular soldier retained his existing number as long as he served in that corps, but if he transferred to a different infantry regiment, he received a Regular number in his new unit.

Many men issued with six-figure Suffolk TF numbers also later saw service in the Cambs Rgt and retained their number. They can be identified if their number falls in any of the following blocks: 200001-240000 = a battalion of the 4th Suffolk TF; 240001-265000 = 5th Suffolk TF; 265001-290000 = 6th Suffolk TF; 290001-315000 = 14th Suffolk TF; 315001-325000 = 15th Suffolk TF.

Men with Five-figure Numbers

The Cambs Rgt never issued five-figure numbers, but men from its parent unit, The Suffolk Rgt, could end up in the Cambs Rgt and retain their five-figure number.

So, a five-figure number in the Cambs Rgt might be allocated either: (a) to Suffolk Rgt men at home who were then drafted to the Western Front and into the Suffolk Rgt or Cambs Rgt; or (b) to men drafted to the front from other regiments and into the Suffolks or Cambs and then numbered from the Suffolk Rgt’s five-figure number sequence.

Men with the Suffolk Rgt’s five-figure sequences arrived in the Cambs Rgt mostly from 1918, with a few exceptions in late 1917. After 1916, these numbers do not necessarily indicate enlistment, only when a man was allocated that number. When the 7th Suffolk was disbanded in 1918, some of its men were posted to the Cambs Rgt and would have retained their own numbers.

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Cambridgeshire Regiment, C/Sgt Barwell

C/Sgt Barwell, regimental number 1.

Medal numbering detail for Cambs number 6.

Back detail of 1914/15 Star, Cambridgeshire Regiment

Numbering detail on the back of a 14/15 Star.

W02 Grange, numbers 112 and 325007.

Medal index card numbering details.

A late war Suffolks transfer to the Cambs.

This site went live on the 14th February 2015 to mark  100 years since the 1/1st Cambs went off to war.


Copyright 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 by Felix Jackson. The information and images on this site should not be reproduced without prior permission.