View Full Version : Army service numbers

21-05-12, 03:05
Is there a standard lenght for army service numbers?

I'm, slowly, completing the form to apply for my Grandad's army records and they ask for the service number if known. I think I have it somewhere but have found a letter he sent to the War Office. In this letter he mentions that he was a lieutenant and a Sargent and there are numbers with these ranks. They look like service numbers but they are different numbers and they are different lenghts (6 and 7 numbers).

Does this sound right? I thought they would have kept the same numbers throughout their army career. (Grandad was only in for 7 years during and after WW2).

21-05-12, 06:06
Certainly army service numbers were not al the same length during WW2 (I looked at the CWGC site for confirmation). I'm also presuming numbers might be altered if a man changed regiments as they often did during WW1.

If I were you I would write down all the numbers you have on your application!

21-05-12, 06:34
Thanks Merry I will.

The next question they ask is if he claimed a disability pension and if so to give details. The answer is yes he did claim and it was granted but I have no further knowledge. I didn't know he was wounded until I found some papers when he died. For the life of me I can not remember where (on his body) he was wounded.

21-05-12, 06:43
I would imagine all these questions are designed to help ensure they send you the right papers! Obviously if his name was John Smith they might need all the help they can get, esp if you didn't know the service number. I would just say you believe he did caim a pension, but you don't know any details, and leave it at that. I would think it's better to say you don't know than to tell them someting that turns out to be wrong in case that leads them to the wrong papers.

21-05-12, 11:07
I was going to tell them he had claimed but I knew no further details. I can only think that question means there is a different place that the file may be kept, or that there is more than one file.

The wound can't have been too serious as he remained in the army and he was not visibly disfigured but it must have been bad enough to have paid him something. I hope they have the details.

21-05-12, 14:02
You should be able to confirm his commisssion (when he became an officer) in the London Gazette which is searchable online. Hopefully it might give his number when he was a Sergeant and MAY give his officers number. You could try searching the site by putting his number into the "with the exact phrase" box.

21-05-12, 15:47
I think though could well be wrong but a soldier got his number on enlistment each regiment using a number in their allocated block of numbers - however they also often had a regimental number which was usually 3 or 4 numbers.

However on being commissioned they'd be given a totally different army number. So it could well be both his army number as a Sergeant and the shorter one for him being an Officer.

I have a list of the numbers assigned to each regiment.

23-05-12, 13:35
Thanks Ann. I think I did find him in there ages ago. I'll have a look and see.

I'll also try searching by the numbers.

Showing my lack of knowledge here is an officer commissioned and is a lieutenant an officer?

Mum always said he had a 'good' war and indicated he didn't see action and I have it in my head he was a cook. Yet I have photos of him with canons and he got injured and I don't think he could cook very much.

JBee if I can't sort this out in the next few days can I tell you the numbers and what I think were the regiments?

23-05-12, 13:46
Showing my lack of knowledge here is an officer commissioned and is a lieutenant an officer?

Yes and yes.

23-05-12, 23:15
Thanks Kate.

I thought a commissioned officer was someone who bought their way into a rank, like the son of a rich man.

24-05-12, 06:05
In the British army regulations allowing the purchase of a commission were abolished in 1871.

24-05-12, 07:40
ah ha so I was right but I'm behind the times.

Nothing new there either. lol

24-05-12, 07:52
Not for a very long time has that happened Toni - don't recall when buying a commission ceased probably around Boer war perhaps. http://www.colonialwargaming.co.uk/Miscellany/Army/Commissions.htm reading this still don't know whether it was absolished in 1871 or later!!!!!

Just found this site but don't know anything about it whether its

24-05-12, 07:57
Thanks JBee. It's a paid site, you can search for free, but it didn't look like my grandad was there so I haven't joined up.