Andre Chissel wrote:Thank you everyone for your replies ......
I have a problem !
29 Officers and 856 men of the 1st Battalion, the Gordon Highlanders set sail for South Africa in November 1899.
I have proof of the existence of the following companies A, B, D, F, H and K of the Gordons in South Africa prior to the battle of Magersfontein and when the 1st Service volunteers arrived in April 1900, they became M Company indicating that the 1st Gordons set sail with 12 Coys - A-L.
Do the maths the numbers of men do not add up - yes they got replacements and batches of reserves but only after Magersfontein and the existence of K Coy was before Magersfontein - so I am asuming they went to war with under strength companies knowing that their numbers would be augmented.
Am I wrong ?
Some regiments chose to have their 1st battalion with companies A to H and their 2nd battalion from I to P. A few started with I to P and then carried on and some even ran from S to Z. This has carried on into modern times when some regiments instead of having A, B, C and D, have W, X, Y, Z. Add to this mix companies from Volunteer and Militia battalions and you can have an alphabet soup.
To find out which regiment (i.e the Gordons) did what, you would need to read their official 'War Diaries', which each unit was obligated by regulations to keep (although I am unsure when this practice was first laid down as mandatory).
Companies might well have operated under strength (perhaps with only one large platoon instead of two) and by the time detached duties (such as Fmn HQ sentries, mounted infantry dets and block house guards until the Militia arrived) were taken into consideration the battalions ORBAT could be very different from what was laid down on paper.