78: British Infantry North Staffordshire – Rifle Brigade
British Infantry Regiment badges N – R
The “unknown use” badge of the Northamptonshire Regiment with the numerals 48 and 58 incorporated at either end is a bandsman’s pouch badge. These pouches were worn by all infantry bands with a special regimental badge on the flap. For normal line infantry they were whitened buff leather and for Rifle regiments, black patent leather. Royal regiments usually backed the badge with scarlet wool felt and some non-Royal units used a piece of felt of facing colour. It is probable that the 2nd Northants used black. They certainly did for the drummers arm badge.
These badges are poorly recorded and only a specialist historical society will have detailed information. Looking at the badge It has to be after 1881 when the 48th and 58th merged to form the Northants Regt and before they were merged too into the Royal Anglian Regt in 1964. They would have been used by the band throughout that time as such specialised badges were not ever made in anondised aluminium (so-called STABRITE) until after that latter date. I do not know if they were issued at ‘public expense’, and they might well have been purchased by the regiments themselves using the ‘band fund’ that was paid as an obligatory levy (from their salary) by all regimental officers.
North Staffordshire, Northamptonshire, Northumberland Fusiliers,
Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry,
Queens Surrey Regiment, Rifle Brigade,
North Staffordshire Regiment
The North Staffordshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s) was an infantry regiment of the British Army, which was in existence between 1881 and 1959. It can date its lineage back to 1756 with the formation of a second battalion by the 11th Regiment of Foot, which shortly after became the 64th (2nd Staffordshire) Regiment of Foot. In 1881, the 64th Foot was merged with the 98th (Prince of Wales’s) Regiment of Foot (originally raised in 1824) to form the new regiment.
Formed at a time when the British Empire was reaching its peak, the Regiment served all over the Empire, in times of both peace and war, and in many theatres of war outside the Empire. It fought in World War I and World War II, as well as in other smaller conflicts around the world. These other wars included the Second Sudanese War, the Second Boer War, the Anglo-Irish War and the Third Anglo-Afghan War.
In 1959, as part of a defence review, the regiment was amalgamated with the South Staffordshire Regiment to form the Staffordshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s). Today the traditions of the Regiment are continued by the 3rd Battalion, the Mercian Regiment.
The Prince of Wales’s (North Staffordshire) Regiment was formed under the Childers Reforms on 1 July 1881, by the amalgamation of the 64th (2nd Staffordshire) Regiment of Foot and 98th (Prince of Wales’s) Regiment of Foot.These two regular regiments became, respectively, the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the new regiment.The militia and Rifle Volunteers forces of North Staffordshire were also incorporated into this new regiment, and a permanent depot was established at Whittington Barracks, Lichfield, which also housed the newly formed South Staffordshire Regiment.
Early service (1881–1914)
Garrison duties and the Mahdist War
The 1st Battalion was in Ireland at the time of the amalgamation. It moved to England in 1883, and the following year to the West Indies, based mainly in Barbados, but with detachments on other islands. It moved to Natal in 1887, to Mauritius in 1890, to Malta in 1893 and to Egypt in 1895. From there the 1st Battalion took part in operations in the Second Sudanese War under Lord Kitchener.During the campaign, the 1st battalion were based initially at Wadi Halfa but moved to Gemai to avoid a cholera outbreak. In September the battalion took part in the action against the Dervish Army at Hafir, which was decisive in ending the campaign. As a result, the North Staffordshire Regiment received the unique “Hafir” battle honour, given to no other British regiment.
Second Boer War
The 2nd Battalion was stationed in India in 1881 when the North Staffordshire Regiment was formed, and remained there until 1886. During this time period, it took part in an expedition to the Zhob Valley in 1884, thus making it the first battalion in the regiment to see active service. In 1886, it returned to England via Aden, and then deployed to Ireland in 1893. In 1899, 2nd Battalion mobilised and moved to South Africa, where it took part in the Second Boer War. Forming part of 15th Brigade in the 7th Division,the majority of the battalion saw little action throughout the conflict, being mostly occupied in garrison duties in Johannesburg in 1900. In 1901, the battalion was part of a mobile column under Brigadier-General Dartnell in the Eastern Transvaal which carried out a scorched earth campaign,and it also took part in the subsequent blockhouse occupation of the Transvaal.
Meeting in India
The 1st Battalion was subsequently stationed in India from 1897 until 1903. Here, the 1st and 2nd Battalions met for the first time, and no fewer than 590 men from the 1st Battalion were transferred to the 2nd Battalion. Thus 1st Battalion was reduced to a small cadre, which served for nine years upon its return to Lichfield and other stations in England, before moving to Ireland in 1912.
First World War (1914–1918)
The North Staffordshire Regiment was heavily committed to the fighting during the First World War, and over the course of the conflict, was expanded to 18 battalions, some by duplication of the Territorial Force battalions and others, labelled “service” battalions raised as part of Field Marshal Kitchener’s New Army. These battalions saw service in a number of theatres including on the Western Front, at Gallipoli, in the Middle East, and India.
The battalions that served in France took part in many of the major actions of the war including the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, the Battle of Loos, the Battle of the Somme, the Third Battle of Ypres and the Battle of Amiens.
The 1st Battalion went to France in September 1914 as part of 17th Brigade in 6th Division. It took part in the First Battle of Ypres being based in the Armentieres sector on the southern flank of the battle.In October 1915 17th Brigade was exchanged with 71st Brigade of 24th Division. Immediately on joining 24th Division, the battalion was moved to 72nd Brigade within the division. It was to remain as part of this formation until the end of the war.
During the Third Battle of Ypres, the 1st Battalion took part in the initial assault on 31 July 1917. Its objectives were to capture the German frontline trench called Jehovah trench, the second line trench called Jordan trench and the remains of Bulgar Wood. These three objectives were 1,000 yards (910 m), 1,500 yards (1,400 m) and 1,750 yards (1,600 m) from the British front line. The battalion managed to capture both the trenches and a platoon reached Bulgar Wood before events around them forced a retreat from Bulgar Wood and Jordan trench. The battalion dug in on the Jehovah trench line having lost 11 officers and 258 other ranks as casualties, almost 50% of the battalion strength.After the war, the anniversary of this attack became the main Regimental Day.
The 2nd Battalion was one of only eight Regular battalions of the British Army to remain in India throughout the war. It took part in operations on the North West Frontier in 1915. Amusingly, the commanding officer at this time was Major Fox and the adjutant Captain Squirell. Although it was a Regular Army battalion, it received very few replacements during the war. From a pre-war establishment strength of a HQ plus eight companies, after the 1915 North West Frontier campaign the battalion comprised only a HQ company and four rifle companies. This cannot be attributed to war casualties as the battalion suffered less than 100 casualties throughout the entire war.
Four Victoria Crosses were awarded to men of the regiment during World War I:
Interwar years (1918–1939)
The 1st Battalion was posted to The Curragh, Ireland after the armistice, becoming involved in the Irish War of Independence until 1922, when it moved to Gibraltar. In the following year it was moved to Thrace, where it played a peace-keeping role in the conflict between Greek and Turkish forces. In 1923 it moved to India and remained in the Far East until 1948.
The 2nd Battalion was stationed in India in 1919 when Afghan forces crossed the border and occupied some Indian territory, sparking the brief Third Anglo-Afghan War. During this conflict, the battalion was involved very early on, firstly in the investing of Peshawar City, where Afghan sympathisers were mooting a holy war and on 11 May 1919 when they were involved in a bayonet charge on the Afghan forces at Bagh, near Landi Kotal. For their involvement, the regiment received the battle honour “Afghanistan NWF 1919″. It returned to England via Egypt and the Sudan in 1921, and was quickly redeployed to Ireland. On the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, it returned to the regimental depot at Lichfield. Until 1939, it spent time in “home stations”. Apart from England, this included service in Gibraltar from 1930 to 1932 and a year in Palestine in 1936–7.
In 1921, the regimental title was altered to The North Staffordshire Regiment (The Prince of Wales’s). In 1937, the black facings formerly worn by the 64th Foot were restored, replacing the white colour that had been imposed on all non-royal English regiments in 1881.
Second World War (1939–1945)
In September 1939, the North Staffordshire Regiment consisted of two regular and two Territorial battalions — the 1st, 2nd and 6th and 7th Battalions. Following the outbreak of the Second World War, the regiment was expanded as it had been during the First World War. This expansion, however, was limited this time only to the addition of two more battalions — the 8th and 9th Battalions,raised in 1940. The roles of the two regular battalions were reversed this time, with the 1st Battalion serving in India and Burma throughout the war, while the 2nd Battalion remained in Europe and North Africa.
The 1st Battalion saw no action until 1942, when one company that was stationed on the Andaman Islands were involved in the defence of the islands during the Japanese invasion. In 1943, the battalion served for six months in Burma before being withdrawn to India again. For the rest of the war, the battalion was employed on internal security duties.
The 2nd Battalion went to France in September 1939 as part of 1st Division of the British Expeditionary Force, and was involved in the Battle of France before eventually being evacuated from Dunkirk on 1 June 1940. Following that, it remained in the United Kingdom until 1943 when, still as part of 1st Division, it sailed to North Africa and took part in the Tunisian Campaign. The battalion did not participate in the invasion of Sicily or the initial invasion of Italy but was one of the lead units for the Anzio landings. As part of 15th Army, the 2nd Battalion continued to serve in Italy until January 1945 when the battalion and the rest of 1st Division were transferred to Palestine.
Postwar service (1945–1959)
Following the independence of India in 1947, all infantry regiments in the British Army were reduced to a single regular battalion. Accordingly the 1st Battalion left India to take part in a ceremony officially amalgamating with the 2nd Battalion in Egypt in 1948. The new 1st Battalion remained in Egypt until 1950, when it returned to the depot in Staffordshire. A year later, the battalion was posted to the disputed port city of Trieste. In 1953, the battalion was transferred to Korea, where they were stationed on garrison duties as part of the United Nations force established at the end of the Korean War. In 1954, it moved to Hong Kong, where the regiment’s 200th anniversary was celebrated in 1956.
In July 1957, a defence review was announced, which resulted in the amalgamation of the North Staffordshire Regiment with The South Staffordshire Regiment, with the new regiment becoming part of the new administrative Mercian Brigade. The amalgamation of the 1st Battalions of the two regiments took place on 31 January 1959 at Minden, Germany, to form the 1st Battalion, The Staffordshire Regiment (The Prince of Wales’s).
The 6th Battalion continued as a Territorial unit of the new regiment without a change of title. In 1961, it merged with the 441st Light Anti Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, the successor to the 5th North Staffords, to become the 5th/6th Battalion. The combined battalion was abolished in 1967 on the creation of the Territorial Army and Volunteer Reserve in 1967.
The Staffordshire Regiment only had a separate existence from 1959–2007. As part of the reforms proposed in the 2003 Defence White Paper, Delivering Security in a Changing World, the regiment was merged with the Cheshire Regiment and the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment to form the Mercian Regiment. The amalgamation took place on 1 September 2007 when the Staffordshire Regiment became the 3rd Battalion, the Mercian Regiment.
The regiment was formed as part of the reorganisation of the infantry by the Childers reforms. The 48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment of Foot,(raised in 1741) and the 58th (Rutlandshire) Regiment of Foot (raised in 1755) were redesignated as the 1st and 2nd battalions of the Northamptonshire Regiment, with the regimental depot at Northampton.
As well as the two regular battalions, the Northamptonshire and Rutland Militia became the 3rd (Militia) Battalion, and the 1st Northamptonshire Rifle Volunteer Corps became the First Volunteer Battalion. With the enactment of the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907, they became the 3rd (Special Reserve) and 4th (Territorial Force) Battalions respectively.
In the years 1881- 1914 the two regular battalions saw overseas service in Hong Kong, India, Singapore and South Africa, with the regiment receiving battle honours for actions in the North West Frontier Province and the Second Boer War.
In 1948 the regiment was reduced to a single regular battalion. Following the recommendations of the 1957 Defence White Paper, the 1st Battalions of The Royal Lincolnshire Regiment and The Northamptonshire Regiment were merged on 1 June 1960 to form the 2nd East Anglian Regiment (Duchess of Gloucester’s Own Royal Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire). This regiment was short-lived, becoming part of The Royal Anglian Regiment on 1 September 1964.
The Museum of The Northamptonshire Regiment is housed at Abington Park, Northampton. The regiment were stationed at the former Quebec Barracks, later renamed Simpson Barracks on a large site at Wootton, south of the town adjacent to the Newport Pagnell Road which include the old Hardingstone workhouse building. They also had an ammunition dump at Yardley Chase.
Badges and dress distinctions
The badges of the regiment included references to the units combined in 1881. The cap badge featured a castle and key and the battle honour “Gibraltar“, earned by the 58th Foot in 1779 – 1783. Below the castle was a scroll bearing the honour “Talavera”, and the badge was encircled by a laurel wreath earned by the 48th Foot in 1809 during the Peninsular War.
The collar badge (which was also used as the design for the regimental “crest”), was based on that of the Northamptonshire and Rutland Militia. This featured the cross of St George within a crowned circle. Around the circle was a laurel wreath, on the base of which was a horseshoe, representing Rutland.
The regimental buttons of other ranks bore the castle and key surmounted by a crown, while those worn on officers’ mess dress displayed a scroll inscribed “Talvera” below a crown.
The facing colours of the 48th and 58th Foot were buff and black respectively, and although white facings were imposed in 1881 by the Childers reforms, the old colours were still used in the regiment. The regimental stable belt consisted of equal stripes of black, buff and sky blue. In 1927 the regiment’s facings were changed to buff. The scarlet and blue officers’ mess dress worn in the 1930s included collar and cuffs in the buff of the 48th and waistcoats in the black of the 58th . A black lanyard was worn on the battle-dress blouse introduced in 1937, and this was later adopted by the 2nd Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment.
Royal Northumberland Fusiliers
The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers was an infantry regiment of the British Army. Originally raised in 1674, the regiment was amalgamated with three other fusilier regiments in 1968 to form the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
The regiment was originally part of the Dutch service and known as the Irish Regiment, or Viscount Clare’s Regiment. The regiment was transferred to the British Service on 5 June 1685, establishing its order of precedence as the 5th Regiment of the Line. Until 1751, like most other regiments, it was known successively by the names of the colonels who commanded them at the time.
In 1692 the unit sailed for Flanders where they were to remain for five years. In 1695 they were part of the allied forces that recaptured Namur. With the ending of the war by the Treaty of Ryswick they returned to England.
On 1 July 1751 a royal warrant provided that in future regiments would not be known by their colonels’ names, but by their “number or rank”. Accordingly Lieutenant-General Irvine’s Regiment was redesignated as the 5th Regiment of Foot.
Seven Years’ War
The next major conflict in which the 5th foot was involved was the Seven Years’ War. The regiment took part in the Raid on Cherbourg in 1758, the Battle of Warburg in 1760, the Battle of Kirch Denkern in 1761 (where they captured the entire French Rouge regiment) and the Battle of Wilhelmsthal in 1762.
The 5th left Monkstown, Ireland on 7 May 1774, for Boston, Massachusetts Bay Colony. Their presence was necessary because of strong civil unrest in the area. Arriving in July, 1774 the 5th camped on Boston Common.
On 19 April 1775, the Light Infantry and Grenadier Companies participated in the march to Concord, and the resulting fighting at Lexington, Concord, and the march back to Boston. Casualties were five men killed, three officers and 15 men wounded, and one man captured.
On 17 June 1775, after being under siege by American forces for two months, the regiment participated in the attack on the fortifications at Breed’s Hill (the Battle of Bunker Hill). The American forces were finally driven off after intense fighting. The regiment was heavily engaged and had suffered 24 dead, 137 wounded.
After spending two months on board ship in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the 5th sailed to New York to participate in the effort to capture the city from the Americans. They took part in the Battle of Long Island and the Battle of White Plains, the capture of Fort Washington, New York, the capture of Fort Lee, New Jersey. The then spent the winter of 1776-1777 quartered near New York City and were involved in skirmishes with the American forces. They were then part of Howe’s campaign to capture Philadelphia, being engaged in the Battle of Brandywine Creek, where they broke the Continental Army‘s center at Chadds Ford, capturing 5 cannon. On the retreat through New Jersey, on 28 June 1778, the regiment was involved in the fighting at Monmouth Court House. While in New York, the 5th participated in several raids and skirmishes, including a raid on Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey. The Americans had been using the harbour for privateering, and this raid succeeded in destroying many buildings and boats. The then embarked from New York on 3 November 1778, for the French West Indies, landing on 13 December 1778, on the island of Saint Lucia. The 5th was engaged with a small force of French and captured a 4 cannon battery. On the 18 December 1778, a force of 9,000 French troops were landed on St. Lucia. The small British force of 1,400 men occupied a hill located on the neck of a peninsula. The French were fairly raw soldiers trained to fight in the classic European style of linear battles. The French advanced on the British force several times. The British, veterans of colonial fighting, inflicted a stinging defeat on the French. The French lost 400 killed and 1100 wounded to the British losses of 10 killed and 130 wounded, which included two officers from the 5th Foot. As a result of the defeat, the French force abandoned the island. After the battle, the 5th Foot took the white plumes worn by the French soldiers and placed them on their caps as a sign of honour.
After 2 years in the West Indies, the 5th Foot was sent to Ireland in December 1780. They were still in Ireland when hostilities between Great Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, and the former Colonies officially ended in 1783.
On 1 August 1782, all those regiments of the line that did not have a special title were given a county designation. The primary purpose was to improve recruiting, but no links were actually formed with the counties after which the regiments were named. The 5th became the “5th (Northumberland) Regiment of Foot”: the county being chosen as a compliment to the colonel, Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland.
On 4 May 1836, the 5th became a fusilier regiment and was redesignated as the 5th (Northumberland Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot:
The King has been pleased to command, that the 5th, or Northumberland, Regiment of Foot shall in future be equipped as a Fusilier Regiment, and be styled the 5th Regiment of Foot, or Northumberland Fusiliers.
The Northumberland Fusiliers 1881–1935
Under the Childers reforms of 1881, the numbered regiments of the line were given new titles, and were linked with a particular recruiting district, usually a county or county. At the same time the existing militia and rifle volunteer units of the district became battalions of the regiment.
Accordingly on 1 July 1881 the Northumberland Fusiliers was formed as the county regiment of Northumberland, (including the Counties of the towns of Newcastle upon Tyne and Berwick upon Tweed) with the following battalions:
The Second Boer War
The 1st Battalion formed part of the 9th Brigade together with the 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment, 2nd Yorkshire Light Infantry, and part of the 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment). While the 2nd Battalion sailed as corps troops, and was then brigaded with the 1st Royal Scots, and 1st Sherwood Foresters, under General Sir William Gatacre. The battalions fought in the following battles:
The regiment received two battle honours for the conflict: “Modder River” and “South Africa, 1899–1902″.
With the continuation of the war in South Africa, a number of regiments containing large centres of population formed additional regular battalions. The Northumberland Fusiliers formed 3rd and 4th Battalions in 1900. The 3rd were stationed in South Africa, while the 4th formed part of the garrison in Ireland. Both were disbanded in 1907.
In 1908 a reorganisation of reserve forces was carried out under the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907. The militia were transferred to a new “Special Reserve” while the Volunteer Force was reorganised to become the Territorial Force. The “Volunteer Battalion” designation was discarded, and territorial battalions were numbered on after those of the regular army and special reserve. The new organisation was thus:
World War One
During World War I the Northumberland Fusiliers raised 52 battalions and 29 of them served overseas.
The increase in strength was done partly by forming duplicates of existing T.F. battalions, and partly by the creation of new “Service” battalions. An example of the first instance was the 4th Battalion, which the 1/4th in August 1914 on forming a duplicate 2/4th Battalion. A 3/4th Battalion followed in June 1915.
Among the Service Battalions were the Tyneside Scottish (20th – 23rd Battalions) and the Tyneside Irish (24th – 27th Battalions), while the 17th (Service) Battalion was formed by staff of the North Eastern Railway, and was involved in railway construction.
World War Two
The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers served in France (1939–1940), North Africa, Singapore, Italy, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, North West Europe (1944–1945), India and Greece. They were awarded twenty-nine battle honours:
The 1st Battalion was attached to the 29th Infantry Brigade which had been sent to Korea to reinforce the Allied effort there. When it arrived in Korea in December 1950 it comprised the 1st Battalion 1st Battalion, the Gloucestershire Regiment, later to win matchless fame, 1st Battalion, the Royal Ulster Rifles, 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars, C Squadron, 7th Royal Tank Regiment, with specialised armour, 45 Field Regiment RA, 11 LAA Battery RA, and 170 Mortar Battery RA, plus supporting units.
In July 1951 it was re-organized as 29th British Infantry Brigade and absorbed into the
Badges and dress distinctions
The 5th Regiment of Foot was one of the ‘Six Old Corps’, which entitled it to use a badge (St George killing the Dragon) on its Regimental Colours, drums and other devices rather than the typical GR cipher as used by normal Regiments of the Line.
In the center of their colours was an image of St. George killing the dragon, this being their ancient badge, and in the three corners of their second colour, the rose and crown.
As a fusilier regiment, it wore a hackle, which in this case is red over white. This distinction was originally a white plume which His Majesty’s Fifth Regiment of Foot had taken from the head dress of fallen French troops at St. Lucia in December 1778. The Fifth Regiment of Foot became His Majesty’s Fifth (Northumberland) Regiment of Foot with the county affiliations of 1782. In 1829 King George IV ordered the white plume to be worn by all infantry regiments, and in order not to take away from the Fifth (Northumberland) Regiment of Foot’s battle honour, their plume was distinguished by being made red over white. This came from the legend that the men of the Fifth ( Northumberland) Regiment of Foot having dipped the white plumes in the blood of the French at St. Lucia.
On 23 April 1968, following the publication of the following notice in the London Gazette:
By virtue of the provisions of the Royal Warrant dated 5th April, 1968 (published in Army Order 18 of 1968) all officers of the Land Forces belonging to The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers (5th), The Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers (6th), The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) (7th), and The Lancashire Fusiliers (20th) are transferred to the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers with effect from 23rd April, 1968.The regiment was amalgamated into the new Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
The regiment was formed as a consequence of Childers reforms, a continuation of the Cardwell reforms, by the amalgamation of the 43rd (Monmouthshire) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry) and the 52nd (Oxfordshire) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry), forming the 1st and 2nd Battalions, The Oxfordshire Light Infantry on 1 July 1881.
In 1908 the regiment’s title was altered to become the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, commonly shortened to the ‘Ox and Bucks’.
First World War (1914-18)
During the war, the Ox & Bucks raised 12 battalions (17 in all), six of which fought on the Western Front, two in Italy, two in Macedonia and one in Mesopotamia. The regiment won 59 battle honours and four theatre honours. Many gallantry honours were awarded to the Ox & Bucks, including two Victoria Crosses—the most prestigious honour for bravery in the face of the enemy—that were awarded to Company Sergeant Major Edward Brooks and Lance-Corporal Alfred Wilcox, both of the 2/4th Battalion.
In 1914 the 2nd Ox and Bucks arrived on the Western Front as part of the 5th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Division – one of the first divisions of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to arrive in France. The battalion took part in the first British battle of the war, at Mons, where the British defeated the German forces that they had encountered on 23 August. The battalion subsequently took part in the retreat that began the following day, not stopping until just on the outskirts of Paris, then halting the German advance at the First Battle of the Marne (5–9 September). The 2nd Ox & Bucks later took part in all the subsidiary battles of the First Battle of Ypres (19 October – 22 November) that saw the heart ripped out of the old Regular Army, with 54,000 casualties being sustained by the British Army. On 11 November the Germans made another attempt to capture Ypres, sending—on the orders of the German Kaiser—the élite Prussian Guard against the British forces. The 2nd Battalion counter-attacked them at Nonne Bosschen wood, proceeding to prevent their advance and rout them. First Ypres was the last major battle of 1914.
At the Battle of Festubert – which was launched in support of the French attack south of Vimy Ridge – in May 1915 the 2nd Ox and Bucks were part of the second wave of the 5th Brigade attack and, during the course of the battle, sustained just under 400 casualties; the largest the regiment had suffered so far in the war, and the largest it had suffered for over 100 years. Battalions of the regiment also saw action at Loos in September, and the 2nd Ox & Bucks alone took part in the subsequent attack against the Hohenzollern Redoubt in October. The 1/4th Ox & Bucks took part in the First Day of the Somme on 1 July 1916, in which the British Army suffered over 60,000 casualties – the largest casualties sustained in a day by the British Army. The battalions of the Ox & Bucks on the Western Front saw extensive service during the Battle of the Somme (1 July – 18 November), suffering heavily, including at Mametz Wood, Pozières, and at Ancre the last major subsidiary battle.
The 1st Ox & Bucks, as part of the 17th (Ahmednagar) Brigade, 6th (Poona) Division, left India for Mesopotamia (now Iraq); there, the Battalion took part in the campaign against the Ottoman forces that ruled the country.
The 1/4th Ox & Bucks and 1/1st Buckinghamshire Battalion were part of the 145th (South Midland) Brigade, 48th (South Midland) Division that left the Western Front for Italy in November 1917—a member of the Allies since May 1915—after it suffered very heavy casualties and came close to collapsing after it was defeated at the Battle of Caporetto. The Regiment and the rest of the British forces did not take part in a major battle until June 1918 when they took part in the Battle of Asiago (15–16 June) that saw the Austro-Hungarians—an ally of Germany—successfully defeated in their offensive against the Allies; it was the last Austro-Hungarian offensive against Italy. On 23 October the Allies launched a successful offensive against Austria-Hungary, with the Regiment crossing the Piave River, taking part in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto. The Austro-Hungarians signed an Armistice with the Allies on 4 November 1918 and the 1/4th Ox & Bucks and 1/1st Buckinghamshires ended the war in Austria-Hungary.
In October 1915 the British and French landed in Salonika at the request of the Greek Prime Minister. The British 26th Division—including the 7th (Service) and 8th (Service) Battalions, Ox & Bucks—landed between December 1915 and February 1916. The Regiment’s time in the Balkans was mostly quiet, experiencing sporadic fighting, but it included the repulsing of a Bulgarian invasion of Greece at Lake Doiran in April–May 1917. The Regiment saw very heavy fighting against the Bulgarians around Doiran the following September, after the Allies had launched an offensive in July 1918 with the intention of ending the war in the Balkans. The war did end on 30 September 1918, with Bulgaria signing an Armistice with the Allies. The Ox & Bucks, along with the rest of the division, was subsequently employed for a brief period of time on occupation duties in Bulgaria.
Second World War (1939-45)
On 3 September 1939—two days after Germany had invaded Poland—the British Empire, France, and their Allies declared war on Germany, beginning the Second World War. During the Second World War the Regiment raised 9 Battalions and the 3rd (Special Reserve) Training Battalion. The Regiment saw service in France, North Africa, Burma, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany.
1st Battalion The Buckinghamshire Battalion was part of the 6th Beach Group, landing on D-Day on 6 June 1944 as part of the beach group that organised the units on the landing beaches. In July the Battalion supplied companies for the Bridgehead defence particularly to the 2nd Ox and Bucks.
In 1941 the 2nd Battalion re-roled as an airborne, specifically an Air Landing, unit, joining the 1st Airborne Division and in 1943 the 6th Airlanding Brigade, 6th Airborne Division. As part of Operation Tonga just before the landings on D-Day 6 June 1944, D Company, 2nd Ox & Bucks Commanded by Maj. John Howard as well as Royal Engineers and men of the Glider Pilot Regiment (totalling 181 men), were to land via 6 Horsa gliders to capture the vital Pegasus Bridge over the Caen Canal and the bridge over the Orne River (known as Horsa Bridge and east of Pegasus). This was intended to secure the eastern flank to prevent German armour from reaching the British 3rd Infantry Division that was landing on Sword Beach.
The Ox and Bucks landed very close to their objectives at 16 minutes past midnight—the first Allied unit to land in France—they poured out of their battered gliders, completely surprising the German defenders, and taking the bridges within 10 minutes, losing two men—Lieutenant Den Brotheridge and Lance-Corporal Greenhalgh—in the process. One Glider assigned to the capture of Horsa Bridge was landed at the bridge over the River Dives, some 7 miles from where they were meant to land. They, in spite of this, captured the River Dives bridge, advanced through German lines towards the village of Ranville where they eventually rejoined the British forces. The Ox & Bucks were reinforced half an hour after the landings by 7 Para, with further units arriving shortly afterwards. The Germans launched many attempts to re-capture the bridges, all being repulsed. Later in the day, at about 1:00pm, Lord Lovat and elements of his 1st Special Service Brigade arrived to relieve the exhausted defenders, followed by the British 3rd Infantry Division. The operation was immortalised in the film The Longest Day.
The 2nd Ox and Bucks were once again involved in a gliderborne air assault landing, known as Operation Varsity, the objective of which was to cross the Rhine. Operation Varsity, which began on 24 March 1945, was the last major battle on the Western Front during the Second World War. The 2nd Ox and Bucks landed further east than any other British Army unit to capture bridges from the Germans. The Battalion, like many others during the assault, suffered heavily as the Germans met the landing gliders with ferocious fire in the air and on the ground, suffering hundreds of casualties. The 2nd Ox and Bucks casualties included 103 killed during the battle of the landing area. The Battalion had lost half its strength, companies were severely depleted and non commissioned officers were frequently required to act as platoon commanders. It saw very heavy fighting at Hamminkeln, where its objectives were the railway station and bridges over the River Issel between Hamminkeln and Ringenburg. Lieutenant Hugh Clark led a bayonet charge to take a road bridge for which he was awarded a Military Cross. CSM John Stevenson was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for defeating several enemy attacks with a platoon he commanded on the east bank of the River Issel. The 2nd Ox and Bucks captured and held all its objectives. The Germans launched a number of counter-attacks, all of which were repelled. The Battalion subsequently took a leading part in the 300 mile advance across Germany, mostly on foot, including taking part in the opposed crossing of the Weser and eventually linking up with the Russians near the Baltic port of Wismar on 3 May 1945. The Battalion was selected to represent the British Army in providing the Guard of Honour for the meeting between British commander Field Marshal Montgomery and his Russian counterpart, Rokossovsky, at Wismar on 7 May 1945.
During spring and summer 1945 two companies of the Buckinghamshire Battalion, along with the 5th Battalion of the King’s Regiment, were attached to a secretive unit known as T-Force. Their role was to locate Nazi scientists and military research facilities. The creation of T-Force had been inspired by James Bond author Ian Fleming who had created 30 Assault Unit, which worked alongside T-Force in Germany. They carried out investigations in Hanover, Bremen and Hamburg. Post-war, elements of the Bucks who had been attached to T-Force were absorbed into No.1 T Force which continued to search for military secrets in the Ruhr.
North Africa & Italy (1942-45)
The 7th Ox and Bucks, part of 56 (London) Division, took part in the final battle in Tunisia in 1942. The Battalion made a successful attack at Enfidaville following a 3000-mile road move from Iraq. In the Italian campaign 7th Ox and Bucks took part in the landings at Salerno and Anzio and had heavy casualties. The Battalion fought its way up Italy to the Gothic Line near Rimini. 7th Ox and Bucks were dispersed as reinforcements to other regiments in 56 Division in late 1944.
Far East (1944-45)
The 6th Ox and Bucks served on the Arakan Front during the advance down the west coast of Burma in 1944/45. The Battalion fought at Akyab in 1944 and at the main Japanese Base at Tamandu in 1945. An advance party of 2nd Ox and Bucks was in India in August 1945 preparing for an airborne assault in the Far East.
Post-World War II (1945-1966)
In 1949 the Regiment moved to Greece during the Greek Civil War. In October 1951, following a short period in Cyprus, the Regiment deployed to the British-controlled Suez Canal Zone in Egypt. There, the Regiment saw active service performing internal security duties. The Regiment left Suez in April 1953. It was subsequently based in Osnabrück, West Germany as part of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR). In July 1956 the Regiment took part in operations against EOKA terrorists in Cyprus. On 7 November 1958, after transferring from the Light Infantry Brigade to the Green Jackets Brigade, the Regiment was re-titled as the 1st Green Jackets (43rd and 52nd) and subsequently left Cyprus for home—the first time it had been based in the UK since 1939. The Regimental Depot which had been at Cowley Barracks, Oxford from 1876 to 1957 moved to Peninsula Barracks, Winchester in 1958. The Regiment was based at Warminster from 1959 to 1962 when it became the first regiment to be posted to the Far East without any National Servicemen following the end of conscription in 1961.
In April 1962, almost two years after the Malayan Emergency was declared over, the 1st Green Jackets (43rd and 52nd) arrived in the Malayan state of Penang. Peace did not reign for long and the Regiment led by Lieutenant Colonel Tod Sweeney MC was deployed to Brunei on the island of Borneo in December 1962, after an Indonesian-backed uprising occurred. In 1963, while still in Borneo, the 1st Green Jackets (43rd and 52nd) was re-designated as a rifle regiment to conform to the rest of the Green Jackets Brigade. The Regiment returned to Penang in April 1963. The Regiment was later involved in further operations in North Borneo and Sarawak. In March 1965 the Regiment was posted to West Berlin – its last overseas deployment as a regiment. On 1 January 1966 the Regiment amalgamated with the two other regiments of the Green Jackets Brigade to form the three battalion Royal Green Jackets, the 1st Green Jackets (43rd and 52nd) becoming the 1st Battalion Royal Green Jackets. The battalion was disbanded in 1992 as a consequence of Options for Change and the 2nd Battalion (formerly The King’s Royal Rifle Corps) was re-designated as the 1st Battalion. The 3rd Battalion was renumbered as the 2nd. In February 2007 the 1st Battalion The Royal Green Jackets became the 2nd Battalion The Rifles and the 2nd Battalion The Royal Green Jackets became the 4th Battalion The Rifles.
Queen’s Royal Regiment (West Surrey)
The Queen’s Royal Regiment (West Surrey) was a regiment of the English and later British Army from 1661 to 1959. It was the senior English line infantry regiment of the British Army, behind only the Royal Scots in the British Army line infantry order of precedence. In 1959, it was amalgamated with The East Surrey Regiment, to form The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment.
The Regiment was raised in 1661 by Henry Mordaunt, 2nd Earl of Peterborough as The Earl of Peterborough’s Regiment of Foot on Putney Heath (then in Surrey) specifically to garrison the new English acquisition of Tangier, part of Catherine of Braganza‘s dowry when she married King Charles II. From this service, it was also known as the Tangier Regiment. As was usual at the time, it was also named after its current colonel, from one of whom, Percy Kirke, it acquired its nickname Kirke’s Lambs. In 1685, it was given the Royal title the Queen Dowager’s Regiment of Foot (after Queen Catherine, widow of Charles II) and in 1703 became The Queen’s Royal Regiment of Foot. In 1715, it was renamed The Princess of Wales’s Own Regiment of Foot after Caroline of Ansbach, then Princess of Wales, and was re-designated The Queen’s Own Regiment of Foot in 1727 when the Princess became Queen. It was ranked as 2nd Foot in the clothings regulation of 1747, and was renamed 2nd (The Queen’s Royal) Regiment of Foot by Royal warrant in 1751. In the Childers reforms of 1881 it became the county regiment of West Surrey, named The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment). In 1921, its title was slightly altered to The Queen’s Royal Regiment (West Surrey). In 1959, it was amalgamated with The East Surrey Regiment, to form The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment.
The Regiment shipped to Tangier where it remained until the port was evacuated in 1684, when it returned to England. It took part in the suppression of the Monmouth Rebellion, fighting at the Battle of Sedgemoor, where it earned a widespread (but probably exaggerated reputation for brutality. After the Glorious Revolution, it fought in Ireland for the new King, William III, defending the besieged Londonderry in 1689 and at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. From 1692 to 1696 it fought in Flanders in the Nine Years’ War, at the Battle of Landen and the recapture of Namur in 1695.
During the War of Spanish Succession it served in the Iberian campaign, at Cadiz, Vigo, the sieges of Valencia de Alcantara, Alburquerque, Badajoz, Alcantara and Ciudad Rodrigo, and was virtually destroyed in the disastrous Battle of Almansa. In the campaign in the Low Countries in 1703, it defended Tongres against overwhelming odds, giving Lord Overkirk time to re-group his forces, until it was eventually captured. It was for this action that it was awarded its Royal title and its mottoes. It spent most of the remainder of the 18th Century on garrison duty, being one of the regiments involved in putting down the Gordon Riots.
French and Napoleonic Wars
On the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars, detachments were in the West Indies and acting as marines in the Channel Fleet, notably at the battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794, where they served on Howe’s flagship, Queen Charlotte and also on board Russell, Defence, Royal George and Majestic. In recognition of the Regiment’s service, it was granted the distinction of wearing a Naval Crown superscribed 1 June 1794 on its colours. Another Regimental tradition dating from this victory was that of drinking the Loyal Toast seated (as is Royal Navy custom, owing to the difficulty of officers standing in the low, crowded and often unsteady wardroom of a man-of-war). This tradition is maintained by the successor Regiment, the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment. The Regiment was then reunited and sent to the West Indies where it took part in the capture of Guadeloupe in 1794, although the occupation was short-lived owing to outbreaks of disease, particularly yellow fever, among the troops, and the capture of Trinidad in 1797. A second battalion was formed in 1795 and stationed in Guernsey before being shipped to Martinique, where it was disbanded in 1797, its personnel being absorbed by 1st Battalion.
The Regiment was transferred to Ireland in 1798 where it helped put down the Irish rebellion and then took part in the unsuccessful 1799 Helder campaign. In 1800, it was part of the abortive expedition to Belle-Isle, from which it sailed to Egypt where it fought at the Battle of Alexandria and the Siege of Alexandria.
During the Napoleonic Wars, the regiment first fought in the Peninsular War at the battles of Vimeiro and Corunna. It then took part in the disastrous Walcheren Campaign before returning to the Peninsula to fight at the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro, the second Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, the Battle of Salamanca and the unsuccessful Siege of Burgos. By the winter of 1812, the Regiment was so depleted by casualties and disease that four companies were amalgamated with the equally weakened 2nd Battalion, 53rd Foot, to form the 2nd Provisional Battalion. Six cadre companies returned home to re-form. As part of the 4th Division, the Provisional Battalion took part in the Wellington’s triumph at the Battle of Vittoria on 21 June, 1813, followed by the Siege of San Sebastian and, 1814, the battles of Orthes and Toulouse. In 1814, the Provisional Battalion was broken up and the Regiment re-formed.
Post Napoleonic 19th Century
The Regiment was on garrison duty in Baluchistan when the First Afghan War broke out in 1839. It formed part of the force that attacked the previously-impregnable city of Ghazni, taking the city by storm because the army lacked siege equipment, and opening the way to Kabul. It returned to India in November, 1839, storming the city of Khelat en route, and avoiding destruction along with the rest of Elphinstone’s army.
It was shipped to the Cape Colony during the Eighth Kaffir War in 1851. On February 25th 1852 a draft of 51 men under the command of Ensign Boyland were aboard HMS Birkenhead travelling from Simon’s Bay to Port Elizabeth when the ship struck rocks. The troops were assembled on deck and remained at attention to afford the embarked women and children time to take their place in the lifeboats. Shortly after this the ship broke up and the vast majority of the troops on board were either drowned or fell victim to sharks. The bravery of the troops, made up of cadres from ten different regiments, lead to the naming of Birkenhead Drill. It once again became the 1st Battalion when the 2nd Battalion was reformed in 1857, and went to China in 1860 at the time of the Second Opium War, fighting at the Third Battle of Taku Forts and the capture of Beijing. In 1897–98, it took part in the Tirah Expedition on the North-West Frontier. The 2nd Battalion fought in the Third Anglo-Burmese War from 1886 to 1888 and in South Africa from 1899 to 1904 in the Second Boer War.
In 1909, many years after the event, the Regiment was granted the Battle Honour of “Tangier 1662-80″, the oldest in the British Army. The Honour is still held by its successor, the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.
The Great War
The 1st Battalion landed at Le Havre in August, 1914, and spent the entire war on the Western Front. The 2nd Battalion was in South Africa when war broke out and was shipped to France in November, 1914. It fought in France and Flanders until November, 1917, when it was sent to the Italian Front, taking part in the battles of the Piave and Vittorio Veneto. The Territorial and New Army battalions undertook a number of duties, including training, garrison duty around the Empire and combat service on several fronts.
Between the wars
The 1st Battalion spent the inter-war years on garrison duty, both in Britain and overseas. The 2nd Battalion took part in the Waziristan campaign of 1919-1920, attempting to pacify the tribal areas during the unrest following the Third Afghan War. It was in Palestine during the Insurgency of 1936-1939.
The Second World War
The 1st Battalion was in India on the outbreak of the Second World War and fought in the Burma Campaign throughout the war. The 2nd Battalion spent the early years of the war in the Middle East and Syria before also going out to the far East.
Post-war service and amalgamation
The 2nd Battalion was disbanded in 1948 and its personnel transferred to 1st Battalion (which had previously been reduced to nil strength in 1947). The reconstituted 1st Battalion fought the Communist guerrillas during the Malayan Emergency from 1954-1957. In 1957, it returned to Germany where, in 1958, it was amalgamated with 1st Battalion, The East Surrey Regiment, to form 1st Battalion, The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment.
Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort’s Own)
The Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort’s Own) was an infantry regiment of the British Army, formed in 1800 to provide sharpshooters, scouts and skirmishers.
The brigade was distinguished by its use of green uniforms as standard in place of the traditional red—the first regular infantry corps in the British Army to do so.
First World War
The Rifle Brigade fielded 28 battalions in the First World War, from its original complement of 4 regular and 2 reserve, seeing service primarily on the Western Front, but also in Macedonia. The regiment lost 11,575 killed in the course of the war. They were awarded many battle honours, 10 Victoria Crosses and many other decorations.
The 8th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade (together with the 7th & 9th battalions) was part of the 41st Brigade of the 14th (Light) Division of XV Corps. They were mainly made up of volunteers from the outbreak of World War I. The battalion saw action including Ypres salient and the Somme. Notably the action they were in at Hooge, Belgium (30/31 July 1915) saw the first use of flamethrowers by the Germans, Sidney Clayton Woodroffe was awarded the VC for his actions in this battle.
Second World War
The Rifle Brigade raised seventeen battalions to fight in the Second World War . In 1937 the regiment formed the first motor battalions, a role that would allow The Rifle Brigade the freedom of movement that fitted their traditions of speed and initiative. The 1st Battalion of the regiment was forced to surrender during the Battle of France in 1940 with the survivors of the 2nd Battalion KRRC and the now embodied Territorial Army battalion of the Queen Victoria’s Rifles (KRRC),after a four day epic battle to hold Calais (only 30 men getting away by Royal Navy Launch just at the point of surrender (late afternoon 26 May), but not before they had fought a gallant last stand using up the last of their ammunition as they pulled back in to the port.
In 1958 the 1st Battalion was the last surviving battalion that traced its lineage back to the 95th. It was renamed the 3rd Green Jackets Regiment of the Green Jackets Brigade. When the brigade was amalgamated into the Royal Green Jackets in 1966, it became its 3rd Battalion. In 1970 it was reduced to company strength before being reconstituted at Shoeburyness in 1972. In 1992 the 1st battalion were disbanded and the 2nd and 3rd battalions were renumbered as the 1st and 2nd respectively. On 1 February 2007 the 2nd battalion were ceremonially rebadged at Kiwi Barracks in Bulford to become the 4th Battalion of the newly formed regiment – The Rifles.