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Author Topic: Troops - Numbered or Lettered  (Read 2767 times)
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« on: 15 September 2011, 07:14:39 pm »

Veteran Forum Member

1866 Posts   Posted - 02/11/2004 :  08:25:31 AM 
During my reseach I have found that there appears to be a number of differant ways of showing weather a Troop is lettered or numbered.
Now Troops in this day and age are always numbered while Sqn's are lettered.

But in the service records and documents of the time different Regt's appear to have both or either in their ranks.



William Cook C Sqn C Troop (all my records show Troops lettered),


Thomas Harris B Sqn D Troop (all Troops lettered),


James Ayliffe B Sqn A Troop
William Kemp B Sqn 2 Troop (both numbered and lettered)


George Letts A Sqn D Troop (all lettered)


Robert Forde C Sqn A Troop (all lettered)


Ernest Baker B Sqn B Troop (all lettered)


Francis Bull B Sqn C Troop (all lettered)


George Grant C Sqn B Troop (all lettered)


Ernest Lee A Sqn D Troop (all lettered)

10 LHR

Thomas Brown B Sqn B Troop (All lettered)

11 LHR

Henry Little A Sqn C Troop (all lettered)

12 LHR

Herbert Holroyd B Sqb 3 Troop (all numbered)

13 LHR

William Allan A Sqn 1 Troop (all numbered)

So we can see how these were used by the known soldiers that are in the records.

Do you know of any differents I've not shown?


Bill Woerlee
Veteran Forum Member

1069 Posts    Posted - 02/11/2004 :  10:41:37 AM   
Steve mate

During my research, on 1 January 1917, a notification was given to all Regiments regarding the structure of each Squadron within that Regiment.

Each Squadron had the following personnel to make up establishment:

Major 1, Captain 1, Subalterns 4, Senior Staff Sergeants 1, Senior Quartermaster Sergeant 1, Sergeants 8, Farrier Sergeant 1, Signal Corporal 1, Senior Staff Corporals 1, Corporals 8, Saddler 1, Signaller 2, Trumpeter 2, Troopers 104, Drivers 7, Shoe Smith 3, Batman and Groom 12, making a total of 158 men.

The Squadron was then divided into four troops on this pattern:

A 39 men
B 40 men
C 40 men
D 39 men

Making a total of 158 men.

This was to be uniform throughout the Australian forces.

Now as to the informal use of Troops 1, 2, 3, and 4, I imagine that was used for ease to distinguish between Squadron name and Troop name, something that could easily be confused in the heat of the moment. However, the use of numbers to designate a troop does not appear to have been official policy.

I hope this helps you Steve.



Senior Forum Member

601 Posts    Posted - 02/11/2004 :  11:40:11 AM 
Did the batman and groom (s) fight or did they remain with the staff party? Ditto, saddler etc.
Bill Woerlee
Veteran Forum Member

1069 Posts    Posted - 02/11/2004 :  1:05:07 PM   
G'day mate.

The simple answer to your question is that no one got a free ride in the Light Horse Regiments. Colonels fought as did the grooms when the time came for full strength engagement.

A troop of 39 or 40 was divided into 10 squads of 4 rides, each with its own NCO and led by a Subaltern. In such a structure, it is evident that there is no room for a free ride.

However, when it came to the routine work in the bivouac, that is when the specialties came into being. Obviously, the shoe smith would not be mucking out the horse dung while the grooms would be getting the extra rides, like the pack horses, cart horses and mules into good order. The troopers were detailed to look after the routine of feeding and watering horses.

In the 9th LHR there is an instance of the Signallers engaging in fighting during the fighting at Khan Kusseir on 2 October 1918:

"No 902 Signaller RN Smyth and No. 1258 Signaller MC Halliday were moving back to Regimental Headquarters signal station when they encountered a party of the enemy composed of 3 Germans and 35 Turks taking up a position within a few hundred yards of the signal station. A German officer was mounting an automatic rifle when Smyth and Halliday with great gallantry under bomb fire rushed the German officer taking his pistol and fired into the enemy and seized the automatic rifle. The enemy were so surprised that they surrendered in a body. This promptness of action prevented the enemy obtaining reverse fire on to the portion of the Regiment guarding the main column of prisoners."

Both these signallers were awarded the DCM.

Everyone shared the danger.

However, not everyone shared the discipline. The farriers and shoeing smiths in the 9th LHR were possibly the most rowdiest and disobedient group around. They were constantly on charges for drunken behaviour, getting court martialled for sneaking off to pubs and brothels and indeed creating havoc and headaches for the command. The shoeing smiths and farrier sergeants had their ranks go up and down like a bride's nightie. One minute a sergeant, next a corporal and then a sergeant again only to lose it again. They were a mischievous bunch of larrikins and a nightmare to the officers. But they had skills that were needed to keep the Regiment going so they were tolerated.

Batmen were the soldiers who usually were too stupid or lazy or both to be effective troopers. To get them out of the way of causing mayhem in the ranks, they were given the wonderful job of taking care of all the officers' needs. Most of the ranks were quite relieved to be done with them since they could endanger the troopers with their behaviour. Most felt safer without these duds.

If you look at the casualty lists for Gaza 2, the specialists as well as all other ranks up to senior officers were not spared injury; the 9th LHR lost about 25% of its men through death and wounds on 19 April 1917. So when it came to the crunch, everyone suffered together.

Hope that helps clear this up for you Kim.



Veteran Forum Member

1866 Posts    Posted - 02/11/2004 :  6:53:41 PM 
Thanks Mate,
Agreed lettered was how I've seen many records but as the those Troops numbered but for the 3rd LHR which shows both you are right all those numbered are later reinforcements.

But with both the 12th and 13th LHR's there appears to be numbered from the start? Why they did this is unknown to me perhaps Doug can fill in why the 13th LHR did it.

It also could be possible that the men I found with numbered Troops were later men who changed their letters to numbers?


To answer your question for the LH, Bill is right but in the Camel Corps things were a little different.

Each officer was entitled to a batman and there was a position at the Company HQ for them.

What they did during a battle was remain in the rear with the gear in most cases, few I've found followed the officer into battle but also there are many occisions that they did and fought with great valour wining medals saving their officer's.

Many of those who did this job (batman) in the Camel Corps were on the whole, older or not fully medical fit soldiers. But there were younger men who may have been in a similar job in civy street.

So Yes they did fight but also didn't.

These men on the whole did follow their officers during the war from unit to unit a number of my Camel Corps officers who went to the AFC took their batman with them.

I have lists of all known Camel Corps batman and a number were killed and wounded during the war.



The reason I should have included in my answer yesterday was because most batman were in fact the Camel/Horse holder when dismounted.

So most battles fought by either the LH or Camel Corps were without mounts so the batman were back with the animals not up front taking the odd angry shot.


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