You may well be looking at this and thinking “If this site is dedicated to pre-war members of the SWB, why is there a postwar section?”

In a lot of cases, those men who had signed up pre-war still had to “serve their time.” Others had signed up for an extended duration. In these instances, the end of the war still meant they would be in uniform, whilst their colleagues – be they volunteers or conscripts – would be demobilised, given their terms were to be engaged in HM Forces for the duration of the war.

The administration of army records had been an unforeseen challenge, when Britain had its largest army in history. A separate warehouse for the records of the demobilised men who had fought in the Great War was set up at Walworth.

One administrative nightmare with soldiers of the British Army was the fact that the service numbers were not – to use a modern technological phrase – unique identifiers. It was therefore decided in 1920, following the demobilisations of 1919, that soldiers of the peacetime army would be renumbered. Each enlisted man would get a seven digit number, and blocks of numbers were allocated to various regiments. These men of the peacetime army did not in general have their record at Walworth, but at the regional office, now annotated with their new number.

In addition to renumbering, the infantry regiments started new Enlistment Books in 1920, to record the details of these soldiers. These Enlistment Books were passed on to various regimental museums in around 2005. In the case of the Irish infantry regiments, where the recruiting districts are now in the Republic of Ireland, the books were given to the National Army Museum. You may recall that in the FAQ, I mentioned that these have been digitised, and put in the public domain by the NAM. The Enlistment Book (Army Book 358) for the South Wales Borderers (and presumably the one for the Welch Regiment too) is at Brecon. If should be possible to hire a researcher to search the book in return for an administrative fee.

In 2014, a Freedom of Information request was made to the Ministry of Defence. They were asked to disclose the surname and service number of those men born before 1900 whose service records remained with the MOD. I have reproduced the 390???? series of numbers and surnames. If your man is on the list, you can apply to the MOD for his service record.

Two examples of men identified are:

3903248 ORGAN G A 1897-11-01

George Albert Organ enlisted on or about 31 August 1913. His original service number was 11028. He was with the 2nd Battalion in China when war broke out. He was awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct medal under Army Order 208 in late 1931.

3903072 BRIGGS F 1888-04-01

Frederick Briggs enlisted in 1906. His original service number was 9020. He was with “C” Company, 2nd Battalion in China when war broke out. He was awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct medal under Army Order 288 in late 1924.