341: Cheshire (1689) Devonshire (1685) Dorsetshire (1702)

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341: British Infantry C-D

Cheshire Regiment

The Cheshire Regiment was an infantry regiment of the British Army, part of the Prince of Wales’ Division. The regiment was created in 1881 as part of the Childers reforms by the linking of the 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment of Foot and the militia and rifle volunteers of Cheshire. The title 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment continued to be used within the regiment.

The 22nd Foot was raised by the Duke of Norfolk in 1689 and was able to boast an independent existence of over 325 years, being one of five line infantry regiments never to have been amalgamated in its history; Up to 2006, it shared this claim with:

On September 1, 2007, the Cheshire Regiment was merged with other regiments to form part of the Mercian Regiment, becoming 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire)[1]


In 1689, Henry, Duke of Norfolk, raised a regiment on the little Roodee in Chester in an effort to resist any attempt by James II to re-take the English throne. For the early part of its formation, the regiment was known by the name of the current Colonel-in-Chief, later becoming known as the 22nd Regiment of Foot. In the same year that it was raised, the regiment saw its first action as part of a British force sent to Ireland under the command of General Frederick Schomberg, 1st Duke of Schomberg, taking part in the siege and capture of Carrickfergus. In 1690, the 22nd fought in the Battle of Boyne, and in 1691 at the Battle of Aughrim. The regiment continued to serve as a garrison in Ireland from this point until 1695, when it was sent to the Low Countries for a short time before returning to its duties in Ireland.

In 1702, the Regiment sailed to Jamaica, spending the next twelve years in combat duties against the French and native population, both on land and at sea.

In 1726 the Regiment was posted to Minorca where it remained for the next 22 years, although a detachment was present at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743, during the War of the Austrian Succession.

By 1751 the Regiment had become the 22nd Foot, having previously been called after its successive colonels. In 1758 it formed part of Lord Amhest’s expedition against the fortress of Louisberg in French Canada. The following year the Regiment took part in General Wolfe‘s victory over the French at Quebec. The 22nd Foot received two battle honours for taking part in the capture of Martinique and the British expedition against Cuba during 1762.

After home service the Regiment was sent to America in 1775. Having embarked in advance of the rest of the Regiment at the request of Colonel Gage, Lt. Col. Abercrombie arrived in Boston just before the Battle of Bunker Hill, where he was killed in action. The Regiment later evacuated from Boston to Halifax and then onto the New York and New Jersey campaigns of 1776. Its Light Infantry Company participated in the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777 and later the Southern Campaigns in the 1780s, eventually surrendering with Cornwallis at Yorktown. The Battalion Company’s occupied Newport Rhode Island, participating in the Battle of Rhode Island, eventually returning to New York City in 1779 and surrounding territory where the bulk of the Regiment would remain until the end of the War, participating most notably at the First Battle of Springfield in early June 1780.

Although the County designation existed as early as 1772, the Regiment was retitled The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment of Foot in 1782, the Regiment served in the West Indies from 1793, taking part in expeditions against Martinique, St Lucia, Guadeloupe and St Domingo. Between 1800 and 1803 the 22nd was posted to South Africa, then moving to India where it suffered heavy losses during the assault on Bhurtpore (1805). In 1810 the Regiment took part in the occupation of Mauritius where it remained in garrison until 1819.

In 1843 the Regiment gained the battle honours of or Meeanee, Hyderabad and Scinde during further Indian service.

As one of the older regiments of British line infantry already having two battalions, the regiment was not merged with another line regiment by the Cardwell reforms of 1881. The reforms added the militia and rifle volunteers of Cheshire and its recruiting area was confirmed as being the County of Cheshire.

Both battalions of the Regiment served in Burma between 1887 and 1891, while the 2nd Battalion saw active service in South Africa in 1900.

On 24 August 1914 the 1st Battalion suffered 771 casualties at Audregnies in France during the closing stages of the Battle of Mons. The reconstituted battalion served throughout World War I on the Western Front, winning 35 battle honours. Other battalions served at Gallipoli, in Palestine and on the Western Front. Total losses to the Regiment during 1914-18 were 8,420 dead.

In 1939-40 the 2nd Battalion of The Cheshires served in France before being evacuated from Dunkirk. The 1st Battalion fought in North Africa at Tobruk and subsequently took part in the crossing of the Rhine in March 1945. The 2nd Battalion took part in the D Day landings in 1944, while the 6th and 7th Battalions fought in Italy.

During the post-war years the Regiment served in Palestine, Egypt, Cyprus, Malaya, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bahrein, Belize, Berlin, West Germany, and Northern Ireland. It celebrated its Tercentenary in 1989, as one of only two English county infantry regiments never to have been amalgamated – retaining a distinct identity during 300 years of service .

Recent history

Between 1986 and 1988, the 1st Battalion was posted to Caterham as a public duties battalion. This was the first time that a line infantry unit had been posted as such – before this, although line infantry battalions had performed public duties, this had only been for brief periods. Amongst the duties performed was the mounting of the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace.

Reorganisation of the British Army

In 2004, as a part of the restructuring of the infantry, it was announced that the Cheshire Regiment would be amalgamated with the Staffordshire Regiment and the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters to form the new Mercian Regiment. In the August of 2007, the regiment moved to Catterick, simultaneously being renamed as the 1st Battalion, Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), in the light infantry role. The regiment resides in Marne Barracks, which it shares with 5th Regiment Royal Artillery.

Devonshire Regiment

The Devonshire Regiment was an infantry regiment of the British Army which served under various titles from 1685 to 1958. Its lineage is continued today by The Rifles.

Origin and Titles

In June, 1667, Henry Somerset, Marquess of Worcester, was granted a commission to raise a regiment of foot, The Marquess of Worcester’s Regiment of Foot. The regiment remained in existence for only a few months and was disbanded in the same year. It was re-raised in January 1673 and again disbanded in 1674. In 1682, Henry Somerset was created Duke of Beaufort, and in 1685 he was again commissioned to raise a regiment, The Duke of Beaufort’s Regiment of Foot, or Beaufort Musketeers, to defend Bristol against the Duke of Monmouth’s rebellion. The Regiment served under the name of its various Colonels until it was numbered as the 11th Regiment of Foot when the numerical system of regimental designation was adopted in 1751. It was given the additional county title of 11th (North Devonshire) Regiment of Foot in 1782. In 1881, under the Childers Reforms it became the Devonshire Regiment, at the same time merging with the militia and rifle volunteer units of the county of Devon.


Early years

The Regiment was not required to fight at the time of its formation since the Duke of Monmouth was drawn away from Bristol. Its first action came in Ireland in 1690 at the Battle of the Boyne when it fought for William III against the deposed James II. It then joined the armies of the Duke of Marlborough in Holland in the War of Spanish Succession, and also fought in the Iberian Campaign, being captured by the French at Portalegre in 1704 and part of the British army defeated at the Battle of Almansa. Back in Britain, it helped put down the Jacobite Risings of 1715, fighting the rebels at the inconclusive Battle of Sheriffmuir, and 1719, fighting at the Battle of Glen Shiel). In the War of Austrian Succession, it took part in the battles of Dettingen, Fontenoy and Rocoux. In the Seven Years War, it fought at the battles of Warburg, Kloster Kampen, Villinghausen and Wilhelmstahl and took part in the inconclusive Iberian campaign. After the war, it garrisoned the island of Minorca.

French and Napoleonic Wars

The 11th Regiment spent the early years of the French Revolutionary Wars serving as detachments in the Mediterranean with the Royal Navy. It acted as marines in the naval Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1797 and was part of the force that besieged Malta in 1798 and captured the island in 1800. It also took part in an abortive raid on the port of Ostend in 1798. From 1800 to 1806, it was stationed in the West Indies, returning to Europe to fight in the Peninsular War and earning its nickname, The Bloody Eleventh, at the Battle of Salamanca. A 2nd Battalion was formed in 1809 and took part in the disastrous Walcheren Campaign before being disbanded in 1816.

Pax Britannica

Following the defeat of Napoleon, the Regiment spent most of the 19th Century on garrison duty throughout the Empire. It took part in the Tirah Campaign in 1897-1898 and the Second Boer War from 1899 to 1902. The 2nd Battalion was re-formed in 1858 and fought in the Second Anglo-Afghan War, the Ashanti Wars and the Second Boer War.

The Great War

In the Great War, a total of 25 battalions were raised, which fought on the Western Front, in Italy at the battles of the Piave and Vittorio Veneto, Macedonia, Egypt and Palestine, and Mesopotamia. The 2nd Battalion was awarded the French Croix de guerre for its gallant defence of Bois des Buttes on 27 May, 1918, the first day of the Third Battle of the Aisne[4].

Second World War

The 1st Battalion was in India when the Second World War broke out, and spent the entire war in India, Ceylon and Burma. The 2nd Battalion was part of 231st Infantry Brigade for the duration of the war, fighting in Malta, Sicily, and Italy. On D-Day, it was intended that the Battalion should land at Le Hamel, on Gold Beach, behind the 1st Hampshires. However, owing to adverse sea conditions and an unexpectedly high tidal surge, three of the four Companies were carried over a mile to the east before they could make landfall and had to make their way to their assigned assembly point on foot. Of the four Company commanders, two were wounded and one was killed. The Battalion continued to fight with the 231st Brigade throughout the Battle of Normandy and the liberation of North-West Europe.

Post-war and amalgamation

The 2nd Battalion was disbanded in Exeter in 1948. The remaining Battalion was in Malaya from 1948 to 1951 at the time of the Malayan Emergency and in Kenya from 1953 to 1955, during the Mau Mau Uprising.

In 1958, the Regiment was amalgamated with the Dorset Regiment to form The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment. Since 2007 its lineage has been continued by The Rifles.

Dorset Regiment

The Dorset Regiment was an infantry regiment of the British Army from 1881 to 1958. Until 1951 it was formally called The Dorsetshire Regiment, although usually known as “The Dorsets”.


The Dorsetshire Regiment was formed in 1881 under the Childers Reforms by the amalgamation of the 39th (Dorsetshire) Regiment of Foot and the 54th (West Norfolk) Regiment of Foot[1].

The 1st Battalion took part in operations on the North West Frontier of India in 1897-98 and the 2nd Battalion fought in the Second Boer War, participating in the Relief of Ladysmith.

During the Great War, nine hostilities-only battalions were formed, six battalions serving overseas. The 1st and 6th Battalions served on the Western Front throughout the war[2]. The 2nd Battalion was in Poona, India, when war broke out and was shipped to Mesopotamia where it was trapped in the Siege of Kut and captured by the Turks. (Of the 350 men of the battalion captured, only 70 survived their captivity.) During the siege, returning sick and wounded, and the few replacements who were sent out, were unable to re-join their battalion, so they, and similar drafts of the 2nd Battalion, The Norfolk Regiment, were amalgamated into a scratch battalion forming part of the force attempting to relieve Kut[3]. This battalion was formally titled the Composite English Battalion, but was more commonly known as The Norsets, and was broken up in July, 1916, when the 2nd Dorsets was re-constituted. 1/4 Battalion served in India and Mesopotamia and 1/5 Battalion in India and Egypt and Palestine. The 5th Battalion fought at Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine, and the Western Front.

In 1921, the 2nd Battalion was in India and helped put down the Moplah Rebellion. It was stationed in Palestine in 1936 to 1939, at the time of the Arab revolt.

In World War II, eight hostilities-only battalions were raised. The 1st Battalion was part of 231st Infantry Brigade for the duration of the war, fighting in Malta, Sicily, and Italy. It landed on Gold Beach on D-Day and fought with the Brigade in the Battle of Normandy and North-West Europe. The 2nd Battalion was part of 5th Infantry Brigade throughout the war, participating in the Battle of France and the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940. In 1944, it took part in the Burma Campaign of 1944-1945 and the Battle of Kohima. The 4th and 5th Battalions fought in the liberation of Northwest Europe in 1944-1945. The 30th Battalion was with 43rd Infantry Brigade in North Africa and the invasion of Sicily, after which it spent the rest of the war in Gibraltar.

In 1958 the regiment amalgamated with The Devonshire Regiment to form the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment.

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