Is it normal to have 3 different military numbers for one person

+8 votes
137 views

My ancestor [[Coote-278|Herbert Coote]] who was born in October 1881 was called up for military service in 1914.(WWI) I have found 3 entries for "his" military service. the name, birth date and location, and residence are identical. I can understand he could have been attached to different regiments at various points during the war but would that also mean he had a change of number, and if not how do I figure out which one applies to him?

 

WikiTree profile: Herbert Coote
in The Tree House by Wendy Sullivan G2G6 Pilot (145k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
Yes it is possible, as you stated different regiments - I know almost nothing about military except my family were in the military.

In the case of an in-law - he was promoted and he from recollection had two different military records.  Hopefully someone with more knowledge will come along and advise why this happens.
Thank you for your reply T.Cassidy. It looks like he may have been made an Honorary Colonel from the records I found on Forces war records, so maybe that is the reason. They don't have a number at all though as it seems the numbering of personnel was somewhat haphazard then and often duplicates were made.

They apparently didn't have  what we know as army service numbers in the British Army until 1920 . Before that numbers were issued by the regiment or corps so as your man served with three regiments, then it seems right that he had three numbers. http://www.1914-1918.net/renumbering20.htm 

Thank you Helen, that makes perfect sense, although in my mind not sensible when keeping track of men and paperwork for pensions etc.

3 Answers

+1 vote
Normal, no, but it can and does happen.
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
+1 vote
I have found two numbers quite a few times but never three!
by Iain Cooke G2G6 Mach 1 (10.6k points)
+1 vote
In this case, Mr Coote was a British Soldier.  We must keep in mind that the British army Balloned from from 100ks to multiple Millions.  I am currently reading CALL TO ARMY - British Army 1914-1919.  It highlights the BRITS were dealing Territorials, New Army and such.  One key factor is there a was  a major restructuring around 1912.  The situation was there was no central control over the service / regimental numbers.  The 1920s service number control was the result of lessons learned.  Another thing to keep in mind is that everything was handraulic - easy to register not so easy to retrieve.

For Canadian Soldiers, I have seen on rare occasion as many as four (4) regimental / service numbers.  A key observation is the Canadians retained the same service number when transferring from unit to unit.  There are two circumstances that a Canadian would have multiple service numbers.  One would be transferring from the NPAM (Non Permanent Active Militia) to a member of the CEF.  The other situation is where an individual was released from service and rejoined the CEF, in that case he would be issued a new service number.

I just wonder if there was similar mechanism for the British Army soldier?  It is one that I had thought about nor investigated why.
by Elgin Smith G2G5 (5.1k points)

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