For the last (too many) years I have been compiling a Nominal Roll of the 1/6th, 2/6th and 3/6th Battalions from 1908 to 1918.
It currently comprises of over 5000 men and includes the service records of over 1500 men (18,000 pages in total!).
The names of 976 men that sailed to France with the 1/6th battalion in February 1915 can be found on this page.
Until the beginning of 1917 each man in a Territorial Force unit (such as an infantry Battalion) was numbered using a scheme that was unique to that unit. In the case of the 6/Sherwood Foresters the number 1 was allocated to the first man to join the unit on its formation in 1908 (WN Broomhead) and successive numbering continued from there. This Battalion numbering would have been performed in the first instance by the Battalion staff of the 1/6th Battalion, and then subsequently by the staff of the 2/6th Reserve Battalion on its formation in September 1914 and then by the 3/6th Reserve Battalion (formed March 1915) as new recruits joined from 1914-15 onwards.
This Nominal Roll was assembled by using the 1917 renumbering of the Territorial Force to develop an initial framework and then supplementing this with information from various Nominal Rolls, Army Service Records, Medal Index Cards (MIC), Battalion War Diary, Battalion History and local newspapers.
The 5th Battalion History records that in March 1917; “A very big undertaking was now in progress, viz., the changing of the regimental numbers of the men of the whole Battalion, involving not only the Orderly Room in checking rolls, but the marking and issue of new identity Discs, the destruction of the old, and entries in pay books – and this with a fluctuating ‘population’.”
Each of the four Battalions comprising the 139th (Sherwood Foresters) Brigade was allotted specific blocks of regimental numbers.
|Battalion||Number start||Number finish|
|5th Battalion (Derby)||200001||240000|
|6th Battalion (Derbyshire)||240001||265000|
|7th Battalion (Nottingham)||265001||305000|
|8th Battalion (Nottinghamshire)||305001||330000|
|21st Home service personal||330001||355000|
The 6th Battalion was allocated the series 240001 to 265000 and by using the medal index cards available at the Public Record Office to compare these numbers to the original 3 and 4 digit pre-1917 regimental numbers it is clear that in the vast majority of cases the re-numbering followed the order of the original regimental numbers (see Table 2). This consecutive numbering of the men would suggest that the nominal rolls were drawn up in the Battalion Headquarters (or home station), in the case of the 6th Battalion this would have been Chesterfield, and then forwarded to the orderly room of each Battalion in France.
|Soldiers name||Rank||Original number||New number||Arrival and Disembarkation in France|
|Hubert Bacon||Sergeant||812||240064||Arrived F & F 28.2.15; Disemb 21.3.19|
|Peter Bond||Private||815||240065||Arrived F & F 28.2.15; d/w 6.6.17|
|William Burrows||Corporal||816||240066||Arrived F & F 28.2.15; Disemb 2.4.19|
|Richard Large||Corporal||825||240067||Arrived F & F 28.2.15; Disemb 27.2.19|
|Frederick Robinson||Corporal||828||240068||Arrived F & F 28.2.15; Disemb 24.2.19|
However, it is clear that there are many discrepancies in the re-numbering of the Battalion. These are either missing ‘original numbers’ or unassigned ‘new numbers’. Although some of these Discrepancies may have occurred through administrative errors or even lost medal index cards it is more likely that men were attested but then subsequently deemed medically unfit and discharged from service. Furthermore, it is clear from the records that there were a number of transfers to other Regiments and/or Corps, most notable of these was Machine Gun Corps (MGC).
It is noted in several Battalion Histories that at the end of 1916 the men in the Brigade Machine Gun Company were transferred to the Machine Gun Corps and struck off strength. Earlier in the year these men had transferred from the Battalion Machine Gun section to the Brigade MG Company. For example, on 16th February Lt GF Gardiner, 2/Lt Grimshaw and 35 other ranks joined the 139th Brigade Machine Gun Company. These men were issued new MGC numbers in the range 24230-24239
Several other transfers are noteworthy
- Many men from the 2/6th Battalion joined the 24th London Regiment in early 1918.
- Many men from the 1/Derbyshire Yeomanry joined the 6th Battn in December 1917.
Even with these potential areas for error it is still possible to derive a fairly comprehensive list of the’ pre-War Territorials’ that sailed with the 6th Sherwood Foresters in February 1915 and the subsequent drafts of reinforcements in the summer and autumn of 1915.
Assignment of numbers 1908-1916
Overview of numbering systems used