81: The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire L.I. (1741) & West Riding (1702) Duke of Wellington

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Duke of Wellington’s Regiment

The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (West Riding) was an infantry regiment of the British Army, forming part of the King’s Division.

In 1702 Colonel George Hastings, 8th Earl of Huntingdon, was authorised to raise a new regiment, which he did in and around the city of Gloucester. As was the custom in those days the regiment was named Huntingdon’s Regiment after its Colonel. As Colonel succeeded Colonel the name changed, but in 1751 regiments were given numbers, and the regiment was from that time officially known as the 33rd Regiment of Foot. In 1782 the regiment’s title was changed to the 33rd (or First Yorkshire West Riding) Regiment, thus formalising an association with the West Riding of Yorkshire which, even then, had been long established. The First Duke of Wellington died in 1852 and in the following year Queen Victoria, in recognition of the regiment’s long ties to him, ordered that the regiment’s title be changed to the 33rd (or The Duke of Wellington’s) Regiment. In 1881, following the Cardwell Reforms, the 33rd was linked with the 76th Regiment of Foot, who shared their depot in Halifax. The 76th had first been raised in 1745, by Simon Harcourt and disbanded in 1746, re-raised in 1756 disbanded again in 1763, before being raised again in 1777, disbanded in 1784 and finally re-raised, in 1787, for service in India, by the Honorable East India Company.[1][2] The two regiments became, respectively, the 1st and 2nd Battalions of The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. In 1948 the 1st and 2nd Battalions were amalgamated into a single battalion, the 1st Battalion. On 6 June 2006 The ‘Dukes’ were amalgamated with the Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment of Yorkshire and The Green Howards to form the Yorkshire Regiment.

In 1881 the 76th Regiment, which shared the same Depot in Halifax as the 33rd, was linked to the 33rd, under the Cardwell Reforms, to become the 2nd Battalion. Although retitled as the Halifax Regiment (Duke of Wellington’s) this title only lasted six months until it was changed on 30 June 1881, in a revised appendix to General order 41, to:- The Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment), or ‘W Rid R’ for short. In January 1921 it was again retitled to The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (West Riding), or ‘DWR’ for short. On 6 June 2006 The ‘Dukes’ were amalgamated with the Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment of Yorkshire and The Green Howards, all Yorkshire-based regiments in the King’s Division, to form the Yorkshire Regiment.
The 1st Battalion began the first year of the 20th century at war when it arrived in South Africa, in 1900, as reinforcements for British forces fighting Boers, in the Second Boer War. The battalion took part in the Relief of Kimberley, in February 1901, which had been under siege by the Boers since October 1899. The battalion also took part in the Battle of Paardeberg, which was eventually captured by the British, after the Boers surrendered on 27 February 1901. The battalion saw action at the British victory at Driefontein on 10 March 1901.

On 29 November 1901, Lieutenant Colonel George Evan Lloyd, the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, was killed in action at Rhenoster Kop. The 1st Battalion saw numerous small-scale actions against the elusive Boer commandos for the duration of the war, returning home in 1902. The regiment gained the battle honour “Relief of Kimberley” and the theatre honour “South Africa 1900-02”.

The 1st Battalion’s stay in England was relatively brief, as it departed for India in 1905, where it remained until 1921.

2nd Battalion

Meanwhile, the 2nd Battalion (formerly the 76th Regiment) had deployed to Bermuda in 1886 for garrison duty, where they remained until 1888 when it arrived in Nova Scotia, Canada. In 1891 they moved to the West Indies and in 1893 moved to South Africa leaving just before the start of the Boer War, for service in Burma. The Battalion was stationed in Ireland when the First World War began in 1914.

World War I (1914–1918)

The 1st Battalion (Regular) remained in India throughout the war, but the 2nd Battalion (Regular) first saw action at the Battle of Mons. It then fought a rearguard action at the Battle of Le Cateau, a vital action during the retreat from Mons. Despite being heavily outnumbered, the British forces inflicted severe casualties on the Germans. The British soldier’s ability to fire the Lee-Enfield rifle with deadly accuracy and speed was certainly a deciding factor in the engagement. Although it was a victory for the Germans, at least tactically, the brave actions of the British soldiers that fought the rearguard effectively saved the war for the Allies.

The 2nd Battalion also fought at the First Battle of the Marne, the Battle of the Aisne, the Battle of La Bassée and the brutal first Battle of Ypres. First Ypres began as an offensive battle, with the attacking and exposed British infantry taking heavy casualties from German machine guns. The battle soon bogged down into trench warfare. The British Expeditionary Force suffered some 54,100 casualties, astonishing figures that would be eclipsed within two years.

The ‘Dukes’ raised twenty three battalions for service during the First World War, including two labour Battalions. Fourteen of these Battalions (Regular, Territorial Force and Service) took part in several of the greatest battles of World War I: , the 8th Battalion saw service in the Gallipoli Campaign and the 10th Battalion was in action at Piave in Italy. In all, during the course of World War I, the Regiment suffered many casualties, with over 8,300 killed. Having fought in nearly every theatre of the war the Regiment’s service was recognised by the award of 197 Battle Honours, many of which were to separate battalions in the same theatre of action, 10 of which are emblazoned on the King’s Colour.

Inter-war (1919–1938)

In 1919, the 1st Battalion took part in the Third Anglo-Afghan War and eventually returned home in 1921 where it arrived in Ireland during tumultuous times there. It was stationed in Germany as part of the British Army of the Rhine in 1922. It was posted to Malta in 1935, the last overseas deployment for the battalion in the inter-war period. The Battalion returned to the UK in 1937.

The 2nd Battalion was posted to Ireland in 1919 before it deployed to Egypt in 1922. It was based in Singapore in 1926, and returned to India in 1928.

Meanwhile, the Regiment’s title had altered slightly in 1921 to its present-name of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (West Riding).

World War II (1939–1945)

1st Battalion

Men of 1st Battalion, The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, advance past a burning fuel store on Pantelleria during Operation Corkscrew

In World War II, the 1st Battalion was immediately sent to France as part of the British 3rd Infantry Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division of 1st Corps of the BEF. During the retreat to Dunkirk, the ‘Dukes’ forming part of the rearguard.

The ‘Dukes’ next fought in North Africa, fighting with distinction in a number of actions and gaining several Battle Honours. They fought at the Battle of Medjez Plain, as well as the Battle of Djebel bou Aoukaz, taking the town on 27 April 1943. The town however, was re-taken by German forces on the 30 April, after heavy fighting. On the 5 May, the British forces re-took the town from the Germans.

The ‘Dukes’ also fought in Italy, taking part in the Anzio Campaign in early 1944 in an attempt to outflank the Gustav Line and force a German retreat from Monte Cassino. The Regiment was involved at the Battle of Campoleone, when two veteran German divisions (one armoured, the other a parachute division) attacked. The British forces defended stoutly, suffering 1,000 casualties in the first day alone. They only withdrew after further heavy fighting took place. The ‘Dukes’ fought with distinction at the Battle of Monte Ceco in October 1944 where Private Richard Henry Burton, of the 1st Battalion, was awarded a Victoria Cross for his courageous action in the battle. The regiment also won a Battle Honour for the engagement.

2nd Battalion

In the Far East, the 2nd Battalion took part in the rearguard action at the Battle of Sittang Bridge in February 1942 and in the Battle of Paungde in March that year. The plan was to advance and occupy Paungde. The strike force advanced on the 29 March, but had to fight Japanese forces just north-east of their objective in the area of Padigon. The force made some progress in the Paungde area before meeting stiff resistance. Due to their orders not to be cut off, the 2nd ‘Dukes’ and the 7th Hussars withdrew. A Japanese regiment had crossed the west bank of the Irawaddy River, digging in at Shwedaung, just behind the British strike force. An engagement ensued, with the Indian 17th Infantry Division attacking, the Japanese held the town. The British force suffered heavy casualties in fighting their way through Shwedaung to rejoin the 17th Indian Division.

Korean War (1952–1956)

The 1st Battalion was deployed to Korea in 1952, two years after the Korean War had broken out. They were part of the 1st Commonwealth Division.


In December 2004, as part of the re-organisation of the infantry, it was announced that the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment would be amalgamated with the Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment of Yorkshire and the Green Howards‘, all Yorkshire-based regiments in the King’s Division, to form the Yorkshire Regiment. The re-badging parade took place on 6 June 2006.

Wiltshire Regiment

The Wiltshire Regiment (Duke of Edinburgh’s) was an infantry regiment of the line in the British Army, formed in 1881 by the amalgamation of the 62nd (Wiltshire) Regiment of Foot and the 99th Duke of Edinburgh’s (Lanarkshire) Regiment of Foot.

The regiment was originally formed as The Duke of Edinburgh’s (Wiltshire Regiment), taking the county affiliation from the 62nd Foot (which became the 1st Battalion) and the honorific from the 99th Foot (which became the 2nd Battalion). In 1921 the titles switched to become The Wiltshire Regiment (Duke of Edinburgh’s)

After service in the First and Second World Wars, it was amalgamated into The Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire) in 1959. Following further mergers, the regiment’s lineage is today continued by The Rifles. The regiment’s depot was at Devizes.

Following amalgamation of the 62nd and 99th regiments into the Duke of Edinburgh (Wiltshire Regiment) in 1881, the regiment rotated through various posts of the British Empire. In 1899, the 1st Wilts were stationed in India, while the 2nd Wilts were on Guernsey. This changed in 1899 when the 2nd Wilts were dispatched to South Africa to take part in the Second Boer War. Arriving in time to take part in Lord Roberts‘ campaign against the Boers. Upon arrival, the 2nd Wilts were brigaded with the 2nd Bedfordshire Regiment, 1st Royal Irish Regiment, and 2nd Worcestershire Regiment to form the 12th Brigade under Major General Clements.

Although initially assigned to Lieutenant General Kelly-Kenny‘s Sixth Division, the brigade was used as an independent force. Dispatched to the Colesberg district, they were soon on the defensive against Boer raids once the cavalry under Major-General French were withdrawn to be used to use in the relief of Kimberly. Assigned to garrison an exposed position at the town of Rensburg, the 2nd Wilts lost 14 men killed, 57 wounded, and more than a 100 prisoners taken. Eventually, the brigade commander was forced to pull back the Wiltshires to prevent the Boer Commandos from breaking through and threatening other towns. However, in issuing the order to retreat from Rensburg, two companies of the 2nd Wiltshires, assigned to outpost duty, were never given the word of the retreat. When they tried to reenter what had been the main camp for the battalion, they found it occupied by the Boers. Although they attempted to escape, the Boer commandos soon caught up with the two companies, and after a fight, forced them to abandon the surrender.

Despite losing almost a third of its strength, once Lord Robert’s operations began to succeed, the Boer reaction allowed the 12th Brigade, and the 2nd Wilts, to go back on the offensive against the Boer Republics. Although a part of the Sixth Division, the brigade did not take part in the ill-fated attack on Bloody Sunday during the Battle of Paardeberg. Instead the Wilts were tasked with guarding Bloemfontein and Kroonstad. Eventually, the 12th Brigade was ordered to move in conjunction with another independent brigade and capture the town of Bethlehem, where Christiaan de Wet‘s commando was operating from. Although the town was taken, De Wet escaped. Pausing to resupply, Clemments’ brigade attempted to destroy De Wet’s commando at the Battle of Slabbert’s Nek (23–24 July 1900). With the Royal Irish Regiment, two companies of the 2nd Wilts conducted a night assault up the Nek, capturing the ridge over looking the Boer position. Although they cleared the Nek, taking 4000 prisoners, the British forces had not been in time to capture De Wet and some his commando who managed to escape to the mountains.

After the capture of Bethlehem, the Boer War was moving from its second phase and into the third, guerrilla, phase. the 12th Brigade was broken up and its units sent out to other commands. The 2nd Wilts would join Major-General Paget and the West Riding Regiment in patrolling the areas northeast and northwest of Pretoria. After being moved to help block De Wet’s attempt to raid the Cape Colony in February 1901, it was assigned to defend the Pretoria-Pietersburg rail line with the 2nd battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment.

In addition to protecting the Pretoria-Pietersburg line, the 2nd Wilts also contributed four companies of infantry to Lieutenant-Colonel Grenfell’s column. Along with the Kitchener Fighting Scouts, 12th Mounted Infantry, and some artillery, left Pietersburg in May 1901. Between May and July 1901, the Wiltshires participated in Grenfell’s operations, capturing 229 Boer commandos and 18 wagons.

The combination of the blockhouses, sweeper operations and concentration camps proved to be too much for the Boers. In 1902, the war ended as the last of the Boer commandos surrendered and the Treaty of Vereeniging was signed. With the war over, the 2nd Wiltshires returned to the England in 1903.

The First World War

At the start of World War I, the Wiltshire Regiment, like most of the rest of the British Army, consisted of two regular battalions (1st and 2nd), a reserve battalion (3rd), and a Territorial Force battalion. Eventually, the Wiltshire Regiment expanded to ten battalions, seven of which served overseas. These included three additional Territorial Force battalions (1/4th, 2/4th, and 3/4th Battalions) as well as four service battalions (5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th battalions) formed for the Kitchener Army formations.

Regular Army battalions

Upon mobilization and declaration of war, the 1st Wilts deployed to France as part of the 3rd Infantry Division‘s 7th Brigade, landing in France on 14 August 1914. The 1st Wilts remained with the 3rd Division until the 7th Brigade was transferred to the 25th Division on 18 October 1915. The 1st Wilts served with the 25th Division until was transferred on 21 June 1918. On 21 June 1918, the 1st Wilts joined the 110th Brigade, part of the 21st Division, with which it served for the rest of the war.

At the outbreak of war, the 2nd Wilts was serving as part of the Gibraltar Garrison. Recalled home to Britain, the 2nd Wilts was attached to the 21st Brigade, part of the 7th Division. As part of the 21st Brigade, the 2nd Wilts arrived in France in October 1914, in time to take part in the First Ypres, where it suffered heavy casualties in helping to stop the German advance. In December 1915, the 21st Brigade transferred to the 30th Infantry Division. In three years of action on the Western Front, the 2nd Wilts took part in most of the major engagements, including the battles of Neuve Chapelle, Aubers, Loos, Albert, Arras and Third Ypres.

In May 1918, the 2nd Wilts received orders to join the 58th Brigade, part of the 19th (Western) Division. As part of the 19th Division, the 2nd Wilts would see action with the division through Hundred Days Offensive. In 1919, with the division’s disbandment, the 2nd Wilts returned to its pre-war duties of policing the Empire.

In 1921, the regiment was retitled as The Wiltshire Regiment (Duke of Edinburgh’s). The regiments two battalions returned to policing the British Empire. The 1st Battalion would serve as part of the Dublin garrison during the Irish War of Independence. After the treaty, the 1st Battalion would then see service in Egypt in 1930 and Shanghai in 1931. The battalion was then made part of the Singapore garrison in 1932, where it would remain for four years. In 1936, the battalion would be assigned to India.

Following the Great War, the 2nd Battalion was sent to Hong Kong. In 1921, the battalion began nine years as part of Indian Army. The battalion became part of the Shanghai garrison in 1929 before being rotated back to the Home Islands in 1933. The 2nd Battalion was dispatched to join the British Forces policing the Palestinian Mandate. The battalion served there during the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine.

At the start of the Second World War, the Wiltshire Regiment found its two regular battalions stationed in India (1st Battalion) and Palestine (2nd Battalion). Eventually two more battalions would be raised for the war. The 1st Battalion remained in India, performing internal security duties at the outset of the war. During the reorganization of the Burma front in 1943, the battalion became responsible for guarding the lines of communications and support for the Arakan offensive as part of the Eastern Army. The 1st Wilts were transferred to the 4 Indian Infantry Brigade, part of 26th Indian Infantry Division, in October 1943. As part of the 26th Division, the 1st Wilts took part in the Battle of the Admin Box. Before Slim’s offensive to recapture Burma, 1st Wilts was rotated back to serve along the North-West Frontier.

The 2nd Battalion, Wiltshire, began the war as part of the 13th Infantry Brigade, part of the British 5th Infantry Division of the BEF. The 2nd Wilts fought in a series of engagements during the Battle of France, most notably at the Battle of Arras. After being evacuated at Dunkirk, the Wiltshires participated in Operation Ironclad, the capture of Vichy-held Madagascar. Following Madagascar, the Wiltshires, as well as the rest of the brigade were sent to the Middle East. As part of 13th Infantry Brigade, the Wiltshires spent the early part of 1943 operating in Persia, Iraq, and Syria throughout. Eventually, the brigade participated in Operation Husky and the follow-on invasion of the Italian mainland in 1943. During the Italian campaign, the 2nd Wilts would win battle honours for its actions at Garigliano River crossing, as well as taking part in the Moro River Campaign, Anzio and the subsequent capture of Rome. Eventually the battalion, as well as the rest of the brigade would be withdrawn from the Italian Campaign. After a brief period to refit, in Palestine, the 2nd Wilts returned to Italy in late 1944. The 5th Division, which the 2nd Wilts were a part, joined the British 2nd Army in North-West Europe in to participate in the final drive into Germany in April 1945. They took part in the Elbe River crossing as well as the encirclement of Army Group B.

Post-war and amalgamation

As part of Britain’s post-war reduction, each regiment was required to reduce its strength by one battalion. In the case of the Wiltshire Regiment, this meant amalgamating the 1st and 2nd Battalions. This was done on 10 January 1949 while the regiment was part of the British Army of the Rhine. For the remainder of its existence, the Wilts would remain a one battalion regiment.

After the end of the Second World War, the Wiltshire regiment would add one more campaign to its list. Although initially earmarked to be sent to Malaya during the Emergency, the Wilt’s orders were changed en route and they joined the Hong Kong garrison in 1950. After returning home to Britain in 1953, the Wilts were ready for foreign service once more. The Wilts final campaign as an independent regiment came in 1956, when it deployed to Cyprus as reinforcements for the British garrison during the Cyprus Emergency. The battalion, deployed in response to EOKA attacks which escalated in 1955, remained on Cyprus until its amalgamation in 1959. The Wiltshires would be amalgamated with The Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales’s) to form The Duke Of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire) on 9 June 1959. The ceremony took place at Albany Barracks, Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight.

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