Catalogue description War Office: Foreign Legions Muster Books, Pay Lists and Courts Martial Register

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Details of WO 15
Reference: WO 15
Title: War Office: Foreign Legions Muster Books, Pay Lists and Courts Martial Register

This series consists of muster rolls, service records and attestation papers for the British German and British Swiss Legions. In addition there are lists of officers and men from the British German Legion who settled in the Cape, and a register of court martial proceedings against men in the British German Legion. There are no records for the British Italian Legion.

Date: 1854-1856
Related material:

See also Division within WO

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

War Department, 1855-1857

War Office, 1857-1964

Physical description: 102 volume(s)
Publication note:

Further information about the legions is to be found in C C Bayley Mercenaries for the Crimea (London, 1977).

Administrative / biographical background:

The Enlistment of Foreigners Act 1854 allowed the government to recruit foreign mercenary troops to make up the low number of British men being recruited during the Crimean War. These mercenaries formed the British German, British Swiss and British Italian Legions, often collectively called the British Foreign Legion. Recruitment began at the beginning of 1855, and eventually 14,000 men joined the legions. None of these men saw active service, although a number of regiments had arrived in Turkey when peace was signed. At the end of the War the Legions were disbanded. Men were encouraged to emigrate to the colonies and many from the British German Legion went to Cape Colony.

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