Did your ancestor serve with the oldest regiment in the British Army? Discover multiple records for one ancestor. Reveal your ancestor through our unique Honourable Artillery Company collection. Explore a selection of rare photographs of the HAC from World War 1, full admission and regimental records 1848 to 1922. Most of the collection is focused on the years 1908 to 1922. As far as regimental records of World War One are concerned, this is one of the most complete collections you are likely to find.
Every record will include a digitised image of the original source and a transcript. The transcripts will give you structured details about your relative. Through viewing these fantastic images of original sources, you will be able to gain significant facts and enrich your family history further.
The collection includes 12 different sources:
1848-1914 Admission Registers
1908-1922 Membership Books, Honourable Artillery Company
1914-1919 1st Battalion Register
1914-1919 Record Cards
1914-1919 Regimental Number Registers
1914-1919 Papers & Photos
1915-1919 Membership Lists
1916-1919 2nd Battalion Rolls and Papers
1917-1918 Depot Register
1939-1945 Prisoners of War
1939-1945 Record Cards
We have listed each source individually below and have explained the details which are available in both the transcript and the image.
Maj. George Mayhew MC (admitted in 1911) was the Quartermaster of the HAC’s 1st Battalion throughout World War 1 and in addition to the duties of that position (for which he was awarded the MC), he maintained his own register of this unit. Mayhew records the name and service number of every member of the 1st Battalion, then notes each man’s sub-unit and rank; he also records whether the man was a member of the original strength that went to France on 18 September 1914 or with which draft a man later joined his battalion sub-unit. The detail in each record can vary, but most will include:
The ‘Remarks’ field often covers such matters as promotions, wounding, attendance on courses, hospitalisations and discharges for commissioning or demobilisation.
The entries are neat but highly abbreviated. Please refer to the Honourable Artillery Company glossary link to further assistance. For further information about these specific records consult our ‘Discover more’ section.
This source includes a collection of rolls and papers relating to the 2nd Battalion: the nominal roll of 1 October 1916, the embarkation lists of drafts until March 1919 and other papers including field service reports and officers’ casualty forms.
Nominal rolls will include service number, name, rank and date. Embarkation papers will include even further information, such as embarkation date and port of embarkation. The details found in both the transcripts and image are similar. The material in each record can differ due to the variety of papers within this source, but you may find a combination of the following:
For further information about these specific records consult our ‘Discover more’ section.
These volumes list members chronologically by their date of admission to the Company and give certain biographical details about them (with all entries relating to members admitted before 1848 created retrospectively, with the earliest admission being 1794). The amount of detail in each record may vary but many will include:
This Depot register contains useful information on men recruited into the HAC units for army service during the last year of the First World War. The final entry is for Reginald Victor Moore, a clerk by occupation, who is described as a ‘repatriated civilian prisoner of war’. This volume is arranged in chronological order and contains similar information to the Regimental Number Registers which cover a similar period but this register includes additional details, as follows:
View rare portrait photographs of members who were killed in action or who died of wounds in World War 1.
A high quality portrait photograph of members and letters from next of kin.
This 100-page notebook contains details of HAC officers serving in HAC units as of 24 December 1914 until the end of their careers. Dates refer back to before 1914 for older members.
The ‘Remarks’ field may include details about the expeditionary force with which he served overseas and notes of any wounding.
These printed membership lists were (and still are) periodically and sometimes annually printed for circulation amongst members of the HAC. So far, available in this record set are those for June 1915 and December 1919 (none were published between these dates). These lists provide the name, initials (or full names), admission year, unit, sub-unit and usually the home and/or work address of members.
For further information regarding the abbreviations used within the printed list, consult the Honourable Artillery Company glossary link.
These registers record the allocation of HAC regimental numbers. Entries begin with a man’s surname, forename(s), regimental number and the date that this number was allocated (this is also his embodiment date or membership date for joining the Company side). The remainder of the record summarises the member’s war service.
The record might end if and when a member transferred to, or was commissioned, into a different regiment and is not necessarily, therefore, a complete narrative of his war service.
For further assistance with the complex abbreviations found within these registers, please consult the Honourable Artillery Company glossary. To learn more about these specific records review our ‘Discover more’ section.
This series of slim, large-format, vellum-bound admission registers records admissions to the Company. The details in both the transcript and the image are the same. The name and address have been entered by each new member, having sworn an oath on admittance. By viewing the image, you will be able to see your ancestor’s own signature.
In 1919, the Company decided to write a history of its activities during the First World War and appealed to its members to provide details of their war service. On receipt, each card was checked by A.W. Saunders, a meticulous clerk who worked for the Company between April 1919 and the autumn of 1920 under the supervision of Richard Atkinson Robinson (admitted in 1899), the former Quartermaster of the 2nd Battalion.
When necessary, Saunders re-wrote the information supplied by members more legibly and in the form desired by those at Armoury House. As the details on the cards have been supplied by members themselves or by the history editors, they are not official service records and are subject to several potential pitfalls, including that of memory. A member’s card can include the following information:
To learn more about these specific records review our ‘Discover more’ section.
The record card index was compiled during and after the Second Word War for regimental administration purposes. The card does not provide a formal service record, each card usually shows a combination of the following:
Abbreviated details of service careers including any promotions or where served
An index of those who were held as prisoners of war, the amount of information in each record can vary depending on the type of document and the amount of detail recorded at the time of the event. You may or may not find some of the following information:
POW ref no/remarks
The Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) is the oldest regiment in the British Army. It traditionally traces its origins to 1537 when King Henry VIII granted a charter to the Fraternity of Artillery of Longbows, Crossbows and Handguns. The military side of the HAC has been a regiment of the Territorial Army (now called the Army Reserve) since 1908.
The Company initially comprised only infantry sub-units but in 1781 an artillery division was created for the first time. Members of the HAC fought in the South African War and seven HAC units distinguished themselves in World War One on the Western Front (winning two VCs in 1917) and in the Middle East. Around 4,000 members were commissioned into other units of the armed forces during this war. The partnership page contains further information about the HAC. We have included additional material below about each source within the record collection.
HAC 1st Battalion register 1914-1919
The register is arranged in alphabetical sections. Within each section, the names of the members of the original 1st Bn (which sailed for France on the SS Westmeath on 18 September 1914) are followed in turn by the names of those who formed each of the sixty-three drafts by which the original Bn was, over the years, reinforced. The neat register supplements the information found in the Regimental Number Registers. This book is often referred to on the Index card as MMB (‘Major Mayhew’s Book’).
HAC 2nd Battalion rolls & papers 1916-1919
Two collections of papers cover the 2nd Battalion, although there is no surviving register for this unit as there is for the 1st Battalion. The nominal roll of 4 October 1916 lists the names of the original members of the 2nd Battalion who sailed for France with this unit on 1 October 1916.
The embarkation lists of drafts to the battalion until 13 March 1919 provide the draft number and date, man’s name, initials, regimental number, port of embarkation and ship’s name.
Other papers, dating from 16 January 1917 until June 1919 include Field Service reports on deaths of 2nd Battalion officers and papers on honours for and awards to battalion members; officers’ casualty forms and more miscellaneous information on members of this unit are also included.
HAC regimental number register 1914-1919
These registers details of members’ war service. This series originally comprised five volumes, of which four now survive. Each RNR volume is divided into alphabetical sections. Within each letter section, entries for men who served with the Company in this war are listed in approximate alphabetical order by surname. The series of three HAC admission registers (begun in 1848) was allowed to lapse after July 1914. On the outbreak of the First World War, staff at Armoury House (the depot) then began to keep a new series of registers, known as Regimental Number Registers (RNR 1-5).
*RNR1 - September 1914 to December 1915; this first register also includes lists of the HAC’s Drummers and Musicians. *RNR2 - January 1916 to September 1917 *[RNR3 - October 1917 to May 1918, surnames beginning with A-K – this register has been missing since at least 1950] *RNR4 - October 1917 to May 1918, surnames beginning with L-Z *RNR5 - May 1918 to January 1919
A man’s military career has usually been condensed into about two lines and since the volumes are working documents, areas of some pages were deliberately left blank to allow room for those who joined later to be added as close as possible to their correct alphabetical position.
The handwriting in the registers is difficult to decipher. It is thought to be that of Francis Stohwasser (admitted 1865), the voluntary officer in charge of records at Armoury House during the war. Information is presented in a highly-condensed form using specially-devised abbreviations and symbols, with the narrative of a man’s war service generally occupying no more than two lines.
HAC World War One record cards 1914-1919
In 1919, the Company decided to write a history of its activities during the First World War and appealed to its members to provide details of their war service. As a result, in March 1919, when a copy of the Special Order by Col. The Earl of Denbigh (a sixteen-page summary of the services of HAC units in the war) was sent to all members of the Company, the order included a blank postcard pre-printed with headings indicating the classes of information sought. In addition, advertisements requesting the supply of service information were placed in The Times and other national newspapers. Approximately 4,000 cards were completed by members (or, in the case of a casualty, by his family) and returned to Armoury House. On receipt, each card was checked by AW Saunders, a meticulous clerk who worked for the Company between April 1919 and the autumn of 1920 under the supervision of Richard Atkinson Robinson (admitted in 1899), the former Quartermaster of the 2nd Battalion.
When necessary, Saunders re-wrote the information supplied by members more legibly and in the form desired by those at Armoury House. As the details on the cards have been supplied by members themselves or by the history editors, they are not official service records and are subject to several potential pitfalls, including that of memory. Saunders wrote his notes, additions and clarifications on to cards that the member or his next-of-kin had returned to the Company. This means that some of these cards are crowded and hard to read, but the original handwriting and wording of the person who initially completed the card have been preserved. In the case of cards which were returned to Armoury House by post, the stamp and the 1919 (or occasionally 1920) postmark also survive. Saunders himself additionally compiled many other cards and similarly-sized notes from information found in registers then held at Armoury House in order to furnish a record for those members who had not, for whatever reason, returned a card themselves. About one third of those in the Company who served in WWI – or around 4,000 members - were commissioned into other regiments and this is usually noted on their WWIRC.
At the end of the project there were WWIRCs for 12,964 members of the Company, but a few of the original cards are known to have been destroyed or lost over the years (especially when a member died and also from the letter ‘A’). Musicians and drummers, as noted at the back of RNR1, do not appear to have been recorded by means of these cards. Men attached to HAC units from other regiments are also not covered by this record. The surviving cards, still close to the original number, can be found in this digitised collection.
Printed leaflets and press-cuttings concerning the owner of the card are occasionally found attached to or pasted on the back of the card, as are letters from respondents or their next-of-kin giving additional details for which there was not space on the card. ‘Per MMB’, stamped on around one third of the cards, denotes that the information had been extracted from Major Mayhew’s register of the 1st Bn (see MMB). See also the list of abbreviations for further guidance through the Honourable Artillery Company glossary.
Two HAC infantry battalions and five artillery batteries were mobilised for active service overseas during the First World War. After the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914, the existing half Infantry Battalion was brought up to full strength and became the 1st Battalion, serving in France and Flanders from 18 September 1914. The 2nd Battalion was raised in September 1914 and sailed for France on 1 October 1916 and saw active service in France, Flanders and Italy. The Reserve (or 3rd) Battalion supplied the other two battalions with drafts from England.
The existing A and B Batteries of horse artillery were brought up to strength and sailed for Egypt on 9 April 1915, serving both separately and together there and elsewhere in the Middle East. The 309th (HAC) Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery and the two second-line horse artillery batteries, 2/A Battery and 2/B Battery, saw action in France and Flanders from April and June 1917 respectively. The three (later two) reserve batteries remained in England.
Around 13,000 members served with the HAC during this war and over 4,000 of these men were commissioned into other units. The Company’s casualties during this conflict totalled about 1,650 men who died serving either with HAC units or other units of the armed forces.
Records for all three Victoria Cross recipients are available in the Honourable British Artillery record collection.
Lieutenant (later Lieutenant-Colonel) Reginald Leonard (Bill) Haine, VC, MC
A member of the 1st Battalion’s No. 3 Company, he went with it to France on 18 September 1914. He won the VC for his actions at Gavrelle on the 28-29 April 1917, when, as stated in his citation, ‘our troops, occupying a pronounced salient, were repeatedly counter-attacked. There was an ever-present danger that if the enemy attack succeeded, the garrison of the salient would be surrounded.’ His ‘superb courage, quick decision and sound judgement were beyond praise, and it was his splendid personal example which inspired his men to continue their efforts during more than thirty hours of continuous fighting’. Haine later served in the Indian Army’s 35th Sikhs and was awarded the Military Cross for his actions on the North West Frontier of India on 17 May 1919.
Lieutenant (later Captain) Alfred Oliver Pollard VC MC and Bar DCM
Pollard was a member of the 1st Battalion’s No. 3 Company in 1914 and won the VC for his actions at Gavrelle on 29 April 1917. His citation states that ‘With only four men he started a counter-attack with bombs, and pressed it home till he had broken the enemy attack, regained all that had been lost and much ground in addition…By his force of will, dash and splendid example, coupled with an utter contempt of danger, this Officer, who has already won the DCM and MC, infused courage into every man who saw him.’ Pollard served in the Royal Air Force during the 1920s and was a writer of crime and mystery fiction; his many works also include an autobiography about his First World War experiences.
Lieutenant (Acting Captain) Thomas Tanatt Pryce VC MC and Bar
Pryce, who had also joined the HAC’s 1st Battalion in 1914, was commissioned into the Gloucestershire Regiment in 1915 and won his posthumous VC as Lieutenant in the 4th Battalion, the Grenadier Guards. This was awarded as a result of his actions on 13 April 1918 when, with only forty men, he held back an enemy battalion for ten hours. He was aged thirty-two when he died, ‘last seen engaged in a fierce hand-to-hand struggle with overwhelming numbers of the enemy’. He has no known grave but is remembered on the Ploegsteert Memorial in Hainaut, Belgium.
Other notable members who can be found in these records include the actors (William) Nigel Bruce (playing Dr Watson to Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes in a series of Hollywood films) and John Lawrie (well-known for his dour Private James Frazer in the ‘Dad’s Army’ sitcom). The official war artist Adrian Hill and the philosopher and poet TE Hulme were also members of the 1st Battalion. Hulme joined the HAC in August 1914 as a Private, was drafted to France at the end of that year and was badly wounded in the arm in 1915; later commissioned into the Royal Marine Artillery, he was killed in action in 1917 whilst serving in Flanders with its Heavy Siege Train.
The Hon. George Herbert Chubb (of the locksmith family), admitted to the HAC in 1900, served in the Royal Artillery’s Reserve of Officers, whilst Harry Neville Moss (who later ran the family firm of gentlemen outfitters) joined the HAC in 1916 and was a Private in its Reserve Battalion, later transferring to the Artists’ Rifles and being commissioned into the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. Some men had well-known descendants like Reginald Lawrence Fowles, also admitted in 1900; he had resigned in 1902 but rejoined the HAC in 1917 and was drafted to France only to be killed in action at Bullecourt on 18 July that year. He was the brother of Robert John Fowles MC (admitted in 1914) and uncle to Robert’s son, the novelist John Robert Fowles (author of The Magus).
Povesh Lal Roy (an Indian student studying in London) joined the 1st Battalion in 1914 and Jal Dalal joined the same unit in 1917.