Regimental-Sergeant-Major James Allford – a lifetime of Army service

James Allford, 1909

Title: James Allford, 1909
Description: SHC ref. QRWS 30/ALLF/5 by-nc

James Allford was born in 1871 in Woolwich and enlisted in the Army in 1891 with 1st Battalion, the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.

James Allford was a career soldier and his 28 years in the Army included imperial service in Malta and on the North-West Frontier, India. In India, the 1st Battalion formed part of a field force sent to deal with a local uprising and saw action in the Nawagai Valley in 1897. Further campaigns included the Mohmand and Tirah campaigns before the Battalion was posted to Rawalpindi and Sialkot in 1905.

In 1906 James Allford was posted to Permanent Staff Authority and transferred from the 1st Battalion to the 3rd Battalion, which was a Depot training battalion. He remained with 3rd Battalion for the rest of his Army career. He was promoted to Colour-Sergeant in 1907 and eventually Regimental-Sergeant-Major in May 1917.

The 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion remained a training battalion during the 1914-18 conflict, providing drafts to the active service battalions of the Queen’s.

At the outbreak of World War I, the Battalion proceeded to its mobilisation station in the Medway area (with its HQ at Chattenden).  Initially, the Battalion fitted out and drafted over 1,000 reservists for the frontline 1st & 2nd Battalions of the Queen’s. In November 1914, the Battalion was posted to Rochester and was at that time composed of regular and special reservists plus a sprinkling of British Expeditionary Force NCOs and private soldiers. Recruits from civilian life carried out their basic training at Chatham Lines  before being sent to service companies located at the various Medway forts, where they received further training. From 1915 onwards, reinforcement drafts were constantly being trained by the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion and then sent out to theatre in France and Belgium. In 1916, the Battalion moved to Sittingbourne and remained there until the end of the war, when in March 1919 its manpower was absorbed into the 1st Battalion.

James Allford retired from the Army in 1919 after 27 years’ service and settled in Stoughton, Guildford, with his wife Florence and their three children.

During his military service James Allford was awarded the India Medal in 1898, Good Conduct Medal in 1915 and the Meritorious Medal in 1919.

Archive records at Surrey History Centre (QRWS/30/ALLF) preserve, amongst other service records, Allford’s Army account book, pocket ledger, certificates of education and certificates of military proficiency (e.g. marksmanship).

James Allford's certificate of good character

James Allford’s certificate of good character.
SHC ref QRWS/30/ALLF/15.


SHC archives also hold a letter written by Allford from India to a relation soon after the birth of his first daughter, which can be viewed here (click on each image to see a larger version):

The records also include correspondence with the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, regarding the commutation of James Allford’s pension to assist in the purchase of a house in Guildford and related correspondence with the town clerk and solicitors.

Other sources: Ancestry (including 1911 census), the Long Long Trail website records ( and a History of the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment by Colonel H.C. Wylly (London & Aldershot, 1887).



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