Monmouthshire Regiment

This article looks at the Monmouthshire Regiment during the First World War and will help you research soldiers who served with the Regiment. I’ve also written other guides to researching soldiers who served in the British Army:

The Monmouthshire Regiment in the First World War

The Monmouthshire Regiment was a Territorial Force regiment which on the outbreak of war consisted of three battalions. As a potential recruit had to live close enough to a drill hall to train prior to the outbreak of war, each battalion recruited from a specific area. During the war, each battalion raised second and third-line battalions.

1/1st Battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment

The 1st Battalion had its Headquarters at Newport where it was part of the Welsh Border Brigade of the Welsh Division. After embodiment, the Battalion moved to Pembroke Dock and then to Oswestry on 10 August. By the end of the month, the Battalion had moved to Northampton. Following the formation of its second-line in September 1914, the Battalion became the 1/1st Battalion. Further moves followed later in the year and in January 1915, the Battalion moved to Cambridge. On 13 February, the Battalion landed in France and joined the 84th Brigade of the 28th Division. On 27 May 1915, following heavy casualties sustained during the Second Battle of Ypres, the Battalion was amalgamated with 1/2nd and 1/3rd Battalions. On 11 August 1915, the Battalions were split once more and on 3 September 1915, the 1/1st Battalion was transferred to the 46th (North Midland) Division and became its pioneer battalion.

2/1st Battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment

The 2/1st Battalion was formed at Newport in September 1914 and moved to Cambridge on 20 February 1915 where it joined the Welsh Border Brigade of the Welsh Division. On 19 April 1915, the Battalion joined the 205th Infantry Brigade of the 68th Division at Northampton. In July, the Battalion moved to Bedford where it remained until November 1916 when it moved to Lowestoft. In spring 1917, the Battalion moved to Herringfleet before returning to Lowestoft in autumn 1917. In early 1918, the Battalion left the 68th Division and was disbanded on 31 March 1918.

3/1st Battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment

Formed in February 1915 and moved to Abergavenny at some point during the year, along with the two other third-line battalions of the Regiment. In September 1915, the Battalion moved to Oswestry. On 8 April 1916, the unit became a Reserve Battalion and on 1 September 1916, absorbed the 3/2nd and 3/3rd Battalions. In the summer of 1917, the Battalion moved to Gobowen, Shropshire where it absorbed the 1st Reserve Brecknock Battalion of the South Wales Borderers on 10 July 1917. In March 1918, the Battalion moved to Kinmel Park and to Herne Bay in July 1918.

1/2nd Battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment

The 2nd Battalion had its Headquarters at Pontypool where it was serving as part of the Welsh Border Brigade of the Welsh Division. After embodiment, the Battalion moved first to Pembroke Dock, then to Oswestry before moving to Northampton by the end of August. After the raising of its second-line in September 1914, the Battalion became the 1/2nd Battalion. On 7 November 1914, the Battalion landed at Le Havre where it joined the 12th Brigade of the 4th Division. Following heavy casualties sustained during the Second Battle of Ypres, the Battalion was amalgamated with the 1/1st and 1/3rd Battalions on 27 May 1915. This amalgamation ended on 24 July 1915 when the 1/2nd Battalion rejoined the 12th Brigade. On 30 January 1916, the Battalion left the 4th Division and moved to the lines of communication. On 1 May 1916, the 1/2nd Battalion became the pioneer battalion of the 29th Division.

2/2nd Battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment

The 2/2nd Battalion was raised at Pontypool in September 1914 and in November, moved to Northampton where it came under the command of the Welsh Border Brigade of the Welsh Division. In December 1914, the Battalion moved to Cambridge and in April 1915, the unit joined the 205th Brigade of the 68th Division at Northampton. In July, the Battalion moved to Bedford, then to Lowestoft in November 1916, to Herringfleet in the spring of 1917 and back to Lowestoft during Autumn. In early 1918, the Battalion left the 68th Division and was disbanded on 20 April 1918.

3/2nd Battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment

Formed in February 1915, the 3/2nd Battalion was moved to Abergavenny, Monmouthshire at some point during the year, along with the two other third-line battalions of the Regiment. In September 1915, the Battalion moved to Oswestry. On 8 April 1916, the unit became a Reserve Battalion and on 1 September 1916, was absorbed into the 3/1st Battalion along with the 3/3rd Battalion. During the summer of 1917, the Battalion moved to Gobowen where it absorbed the 1st Reserve Brecknock Battalion of the South Wales Borderers on 10 July 1917. In March 1918, the Battalion moved to Kinmel Park and to Herne Bay in July 1918.

1/3rd Battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment

The 3rd Battalion had its Headquarters at Abergavenny where it was serving as part of the Welsh Border Brigade of the Welsh Division. After embodiment, the Battalion moved to Pembroke Dock, then to Oswestry and by the end of the month was at Northampton. After the formation of its second-line, the Battalion became the 1/3rd Battalion. In December, the Battalion moved to Bury St Edmunds and the next month to Cambridge. On 14 February 1915, the Battalion landed in France and joined the 83rd Brigade of the 28th Division on 3 March. Following heavy casualties sustained during the Second Battle of Ypres, the Battalion was amalgamated with the 1/1st and 1/2nd Battalions on 27 May 1915. On 11 August 1915, the 1/3rd Battalion became a separate unit once more. On 2 September 1915, the Battalion joined the 49th (West Riding) Division as its pioneer battalion. On 9 August 1916, the Battalion left the Division and became General Headquarters troops before being disbanded on 31 August 1916. Following disbandment, its soldiers were sent to the 1/1st and 1/2nd Battalions.

2/3rd Battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment

The 2/3rd Battalion was raised at Abergavenny in September 1914 and in February 1915 joined the Welsh Border Brigade, Welsh Division at Cambridge. In April 1915, the Battalion joined the 205th Brigade of the 68th Division at Northampton and moved to Bedford in July. In November 1916, the Battalion was at Lowestoft, and in spring 1917 moved to Herringfleet. In August 1917, the Battalion was disbanded and its personnel absorbed into the 2/1st and 2/2nd Battalions.

3/3rd Battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment

Formed in February 1915, the 3/3rd Battalion moved to Abergavenny at some point during the year, along with the two other third-line battalions of the Regiment. In September 1915, the Battalion moved to Oswestry. On 8 April 1916 became a Reserve Battalion and on 1 September 1916, was absorbed into the 3/1st Battalion along with the 3/2nd Battalion.

4th Battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment

The 4th Battalion was formed on 1 January 1917 following the redesignation of the 48th Provisional Battalion. The 48th Battalion had been formed in June 1915 from Home Service soldiers of the Monmouthshire and Herefordshire Regiments. On its formation, the 4th Battalion was stationed at Cromer, Norfolk before moving to Mundesley during the summer of 1917. By May 1918, the Battalion was stationed at Happisburgh, Norfolk.

Researching Soldiers who Served in the Monmouthshire Regiment

Start off with my generic guides to researching British Army soldiers, especially those concerning medal records and abbreviations and acronyms. If the soldier served abroad with the Monmouthshire Regiment you will need to download the correct battalion war diaries (see below). If you’re researching a soldier who served with the 2nd Battalion I would recommend getting hold of A History of the 2nd Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment by Capt. G. A. Brett which I have discussed below.

Officers: A service record is the most important document to find but not all have survived. If a service record has survived it will either be at the National Archives or if an officer served past April 1922 with the Ministry of Defence. There are over 350 service records for officers of the Monmouthshire Regiment at the National Archives. I have written a guide to help you Order Service Records from the Ministry of Defence. Look through the relevant Battalion’s war diaries as officers are often mentioned and for the 2nd Battalion get hold of a copy of the Battalion history. My guides on the London Gazette, Hart’s Army List and Army Lists will help you research officers who served with the Monmouthshire Regiment.Richard Tudor Reese Monmouthshire Regiment

This photograph shows Captain Richard Tudor Reese of the 3rd Battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment who was killed in action on either the 23 or 24 August 1918 while attached to the 1st Battalion The King’s (Liverpool Regiment). Captain Reese is buried in the Bucquoy Road Cemetery, Ficheux and his service record is held at the National Archives. The Monmouthshire Regiment’s cap badge can be seen which was a Welsh dragon facing right. This photograph appeared in The Sphere which published thousands of officer casualty photographs throughout the war.

Other ranks: Start off by looking for a service record, however, many were destroyed in the Blitz. If a soldier continued to serve past April 1922 then the Ministry of Defence should have their service record: Ordering a Service Records from the Ministry of Defence. If a soldier served abroad then look at their medal index card and medal roll entry. A medal roll will record which battalion/s a soldier served with abroad and you can then download the appropriate war diaries below. If they served with the 2nd Battalion then I would recommend getting a copy of the Battalion history. Also, have a search of the official casualty lists which are available online. Casualties are also recorded in some of the Battalions’ war diaries.

Regimental History of the Monmouthshire Regiment

Unfortunately, no regimental history was published for the Monmouthshire Regiment in the First World War. However, there are two battalion histories.

A History of the 2nd Battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment compiled by G. A. Brett. This previously difficult to find book has been reprinted by the Naval and Military Press. There is a short account of the 2nd Monmouthshire Rifle Volunteer Corps 1858-85 and the 3rd Volunteer Battalion South Wales Borderers 1885-1908 Also, the activities of the 2nd Battalion in the years prior to the outbreak of war. The bulk of the book concerns the activities of the 1/2nd Battalion, The Monmouthshire Regiment during the First World War with the 2/2nd and 3/2nd Battalions covered very briefly. I’d recommend combining the book with the Battalion’s war diary. There are eight appendices which include a roll of officers, honours and awards 1914-1918, and a roll of honour 1914-1918. There are maps for the Second Battle of Ypres, Cambrai, Lys, and a general map showing the movements of the 1/2nd Battalion in the war.

On the Western Front. 1/3rd Batt. Monmouthshire Regiment Edited by W. H. N. Somerset, H. G. Tyler and L. D. Whitehead. This rare battalion history was published in 1926 and difficult to get hold of. I haven’t seen a copy of the history but it’s likely that a portion of it appears as an appendix in the 1/3rd Battalion’s war diary covering the Second Battle of Ypres. See the war diary entry for more information. A copy of the book is available at the British Library.

War Diaries of the Monmouthshire Regiment

A war diary was written by an officer of a unit and recorded its location and activities. They are usually the most important documents to find if you want to research a unit and often contain appendices in the form of orders, battle reports and maps. All war diaries are held at the National Archives in London but those covering service on the Western Front have been digitized.

1/1st Battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment

  • Date: 13 February – 31 August 1915
  • 84th Infantry Brigade, 28th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/2277/1
  • Notes: This is a good war diary, especially for the period covering the Second Battle of Ypres where there are some very detailed entries. There are a variety of appendices including a couple of sketch maps.
  • Date: 01 September 1915 – 22 July 1919
  • 46th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/2679/1
  • Notes: A good war diary with a wide variety of appendices.

2/1st Battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment

  • Date: 01 September 1915 – 29 March 1916
  • 205th Infantry Brigade, 68th (Welsh) Division
  • Reference: WO 95/5464
  • Notes: This is a typical war diary for a home service battalion with brief entries, especially after September. There’s a short summary of the state of the Battalion at the start of the war diary.

1/2nd Battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment

  • Date: 31 October 1914 – 31 January 1916
  • 12th Infantry Brigade, 4th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/1506/2
  • Notes: A good war diary with a lot of detail for the early months. Some of the later months have a lot of briefer entries but still contain good information. June 1915 is missing.
  • Date: 01 March – 31 July 1916
  • 29th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/2295/1
  • Notes: A good war diary with a lot of information and a wide variety of appendices, including maps.
  • Date: 01 August – 31 December 1916
  • 29th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/2295/2
  • Notes: A very good war diary with lots of information in the daily entries and a lot of appendices.
  • Date: 01 January – 31 March 1917
  • 29th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/2295/3
  • Notes: Another good war diary with a lot of detail and many appendices.
  • Date: 01 April – December 1917
  • 29th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/2295/4
  • Notes: The daily entries in this war diary are mostly brief. There are the usual appendices.
  • Date: 01 January 1918 – 31 May 1919
  • 29th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/2295/5
  • Notes: Another good war diary with a lot of appendices. March and April 1919 are missing.

2/2nd Battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment

  • Date: 01 August 1915 – 01 February 1916
  • 205th Infantry Brigade, 68th (Welsh) Division
  • Reference: WO 95/5464
  • Notes: This is a good war diary for a unit serving in Britain for the first few months but poor afterwards. There is a short summary of the state of the Battalion, written about 1 September 1915.

1/3rd Battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment

  • Date: 04 August 1914 – 31 September 1915
  • 83rd Infantry Brigade, 28th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/2274/4
  • Notes: This is a very good war diary which is packed full of information. It is very unusual as it starts when the Battalion was embodied and covers its service in Britain as well as on the Western Front. A lot of the Battalion’s casualties are recorded in the daily entries, though not for the Second Battle of Ypres, along with their regimental number and what happened to them. It looks like part of On the Western Front. 1/3rd Batt. Monmouthshire Regiment covering the Second Battle of Ypres appears as an appendix. However, I haven’t seen a copy of this book so can’t be sure. There are also annotated post-war photos of some of the areas the Battalion fought at Second Ypres.
  • Date: 01 November 1915 – 31 August 1916
  • 49th Division
  • Reference: WO 95/2787/1
  • Notes: This war diary contains mostly brief entries and no appendices. However, casualties are recorded along with their regimental number.

2/3rd Battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment

  • Date: 01 September 1915 – 27 March 1916
  • 205th Infantry Brigade, 68th (Welsh) Division
  • Reference: WO 95/5464
  • Notes: This is a poor war diary from January 1916 onwards with just a handful of entries. At the start of the war diary, there is a short summary of the state of the Battalion dated 1 September 1915 at Bedford.