346: The Norfolk (1685) & Suffolk Regiment (1685)

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 Royal Norfolk Regiment

The Royal Norfolk Regiment, originally formed as the Norfolk Regiment, was an infantry regiment of the British Army. The Norfolk Regiment was created on 1 July 1881 as the county regiment of Norfolk. It was formed from the 9th (East Norfolk) Regiment of Foot[note 1] and covered the local militia and rifle volunteers.

Battalions of the Norfolks fought in the First World War on the Western Front and in the Middle East.

It became the Royal Norfolk Regiment on 3 June 1935. In the Second World War, the regiment’s battalions were in action in the Battle of France, the Far East, and then in the invasion of, and subsequent operations in, north-west Europe.

The Royal Norfolks were amalgamated in 1959 with their neighbours, the Suffolk Regiment, to become part of the 1st East Anglian Regiment; this in turn became part of the Royal Anglian Regiment, of which “A” Company of the first battalion is known as the “Royal Norfolk”.


First World War

The Norfolk Regiment entered the First World War with two regular, one reserve and three Territorial Force battalions (one of cyclists), with the regiment expanding to nineteen battalions.

Of these, the Territorial Force raised the 2/4th, 2/5th and 2/6th battalions all of which were 2nd-Line duplicates of the original three battalions, which were redesignated the 1/4th 1/5th and 1/6th battalions to avoid confusion. The 2nd-Line battalions were used to supply the 1st-Line TF units with replacements.

The Norfolk Regiment also raised many service battalions during the war who were a part of Lord Kitchener‘s New Armies. The service battalions were created specifically for service in the war, believed, at the time, to be the War To End All Wars. Four service battalions were raised in the early months of the war, three of which saw active service overseas as the 10th Battalion was kept as a reserve battalion intended to supply the service battalions with replacements.

The total number of men raised during the war and who served with the Norfolk Regiment amounted to 32,375 of whom 5,576 were killed and many thousands wounded.

In the East

The 2nd Battalion of the Norfolks fought in the Mesopotamian Campaign. The treatment of prisoners after the fall of Kut al Amara mirrors that that would later befall the Royal Norfolks in the Far East during the Second World War.

The two territorial battalions served in Gallipoli. The 1/5th included the “Sandringham Company” which recruited from the Royal estate at Sandringham. On 12 August 1915, the Sandringham company suffered heavy losses at Gallipoli when it became isolated during an attack. A myth grew up after the War that they had advanced into a mist and simply disappeared. A BBC TV drama, All the King’s Men (1999), starring David Jason as Captain Frank Beck, was based upon their story.

In the Second Battle of Gaza, the 4th and 5th Territorial battalions suffered 75% casualties, about 1,100 men.[2]


The 8th Battalion as part of the 18th (Eastern) Division was present on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916. They got beyond their initial target and had by 5.00pm reached the German trenches known as “Montauban Alley”. Over one hundred men and three officers had been killed.

During the war, Lt.Col. Jack Sherwood Kelly, a Norfolk regiment officer, won a Victoria Cross leading a trench assault by Irish troops during the Battle of Cambrai in 1917.

Second World War

Royal Norfolk Regiment on 3 June 1935 to celebrate 250 years since the regiment was first raised and also to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of King George V. In 1940, the first decorations for gallantry awarded to the British Expeditionary Force in France were gained by men of the 2nd Battalion. Captain Frank Peter Barclay, was awarded the Military Cross, and Lance-Corporal Davis the Military Medal. Captain F.P. Barclay would later lead the 1st Battalion in the North-West Europe Campaign towards the end of the war. Five members of the Royal Norfolks, the highest number of any British regiment during the Second World War, were awarded the Victoria Cross:

Le Paradis Incident

During the Battle of France in 1940 Company Sergeant-Major George Gristock of the 2nd Royal Norfolks was awarded the Victoria Cross. During the battle, members of the Royal Norfolks were victims of a German war crime at Le Paradis in the Pas-de-Calais on 26 May.

The 2nd Royal Norfolks were attached to the 4th Infantry Brigade, part of 2nd Infantry Division, which was holding the line of the La Bassée Canal and covering the retreat to Dunkirk. Units became separated from each other and HQ Company had formed a defensive position based at the Duriez farmhouse. They carried on their defence until the afternoon, by which point many were injured and the enemy were shelling the farm. Making a last stand in the open they were outnumbered and surrendered to a unit of the 2nd Infantry Regiment of the SS ‘Totenkopf’ (Death’s Head) Division, under SS Obersturmfuhrer Fritz Knoechlein. The 99 prisoners were marched to some farm buildings on another farm where they were lined up alongside a barn wall. They were then fired upon by two machine guns; 97 were killed and the bodies buried in a shallow pit. Privates Albert Pooley and William O’Callaghan had hidden in a pigsty and were discovered later by the farm’s owner, Mme Creton, and her son. The two soldiers were later captured by a Wehrmacht unit and spent the rest of the war as prisoners of war. Fewer than 140 men of the 2nd Royal Norfolks managed to return to Britain.

The bodies of the murdered soldiers were exhumed in 1942 by the French and reburied in the local churchyard which now forms part of the Le Paradis War Cemetery. The massacre was investigated by the War Crimes Investigation Unit and Knoechlein was traced and arrested. Tried in a court in Hamburg, he was found guilty and hanged on 28 January 1949. A memorial plaque was placed on the barn wall in 1970.

Far East

The Territorial 4th, 5th and 6th Battalions, along with battalions of the Suffolk Regiment, served in the Far East, as part of the 18th (East Anglian) Infantry Division, a 2nd Line Territorial Army duplicate of the 1st Line 54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division The 18th Division fought in the defence of Singapore and Malaya against the Japanese advance. The men of these battalions, and other East Anglian battalions of other regiments, ended up as prisoners of war when Singapore fell in February 1942. They would remain so until August 1945 during which time they were used as forced labour on projects such as the Death Railway through Burma.

The 2nd Battalion, still as part of the 4th Infantry Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, also served in the Far East in the Burma Campaign participating in battles such as the Battle of Kohima until the end of the war against Japan in 1945. They served with the British Fourteenth Army, known as the ‘Forgotten Army’ as their actions were generally over-looked and the main focus was in the North West Europe Campaign. The Fourteenth Army was commanded by the popular and highly respected William Slim, 1st Viscount Slim. Both John Niel Randle and George Arthur Knowland were posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross whilst serving with the 2nd Battalion in the Far East, both for extraordinary heroism.

Normandy 1944

The 1st Battalion was a regular army unit that was stationed in India at the outbreak of war and was recalled to Britain, arriving in July 1940 during the Battle of Britain. They were part of the 185th Infantry Brigade originally assigned to the 79th Armoured Division but the brigade (including the 2nd Royal Warwickshire Regiment and 2nd King’s Shropshire Light Infantry) transferred to the 3rd Infantry Division, with which it would remain with for the rest of the war. The battalion landed on Red Queen Beach, the left flank of Sword Beach, at 07:25 on 6 June 1944, D-Day, and fought with distinction through the Normandy Campaign and throughout the North West Europe Campaign. On 6 August 1944 at Sourdeval, Sidney Bates of B Company was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his great courage in the Battle of Sourdevallee against the crack 10th SS Panzer Division. Miles Dempsey, British Second Army Commander, stated that by holding their ground in the battle the battalion made the subsequent breakthrough in August possible. By the end of the war in Europe, the 1st Battalion had gained a remarkable reputation and was claimed by Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery, known as Monty, as ‘second to none’ of all the battalions in the 21st Army Group. The 1st Royal Norfolks had suffered 20 officers and 260 other ranks killed with well over 1,000 wounded or missing in 11 months of almost continuous combat. Further information on this unit can be found in Thank God and the Infantry – From D-Day to VE-Day with the 1st Battalion The Royal Norfolk Regiment, by John Lincoln who himself served as a young 20-year-old Officer Commanding 17 Platoon, D Company, in the 1st Battalion in 1944 and was awarded the Military Cross.

The 7th Battalion of the Royal Norfolks was a 2nd Line Territorial Army unit formed, along with the 6th Battalion, at the outbreak of war and originally a part of the 51st (Highland) Infantry Division, serving with them as part of the British Expeditionary Force in France in 1940. The 51st (Highland) Division was stationed on the Maginot Line and therefore escaped encirclement with the rest of the BEF during the Battle of France where they spent some time attached to the FrenchTenth Army. The 7th Royal Norfolks suffered heavy casualties when the 51st Division was surrounded and had no choice but to surrender, on 12 June 1940, with only 31 members of the battalion managing to return to Britain. Re-formed in 1941, the battalion was transferred to the 176th Infantry Brigade of the 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division, one of the follow-up units after D-Day and was considered by General Montgomery as one of his best divisions. On the night of 7/8 August 1944, Captain David Auldjo Jamieson of D Company was awarded the Victoria Cross for his heroic leadership which greatly helped to fend off several enemy counter-attacks in a 36-hour period. Due to an acute shortage of infantrymen in the British Army at the time, the battalion and division were disbanded in late August 1944 and its men used as replacements for other British divisions in the 21st Army Group who had also suffered heavy casualties in Normandy. Many men of the 7th Royal Norfolks would go on to serve with the 1st Battalion for the rest of the war.


Other battalions

The 8th Battalion was raised in 1939 alongside the 9th Battalion with many veterans of the Great War. Both battalions were used mainly to supply other battalions of the regiment which were overseas with reinforcements. Neither of these battalions saw service overseas and remained in the UK throughout the war as part of the Home Forces with the 9th Battalion apparently being disbanded in August 1944 when its parent unit (25th Brigade attached to 47th (Reserve) Infantry Division) was disbanded.

The 8th Battalion was renumbered as the 30th Battalion and used for garrison duties in Italy during which the 43rd Infantry Brigade, which included 30th Somersets and 30th Dorsets, was made to appear as a full division for deception purposes.

The 50th (Holding) Battalion was raised in 1940.

The 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion was raised in 1940 for those young soldiers, mostly around the ages of 18 or 19, who had volunteered for the Army and therefore had not reached the compulsory age for conscription. The battalion would spent most of its time in the UK guarding against a German invasion. However, the battalion was disbanded in 1943 due to the British government lowering the age of conscription to the British Armed Forces to the age of 18 earlier in the year. This decision was due to a growing shortage of manpower, especially in the British Army and in the infantry in particular and the young soldiers of the disbanded 70th were sent to other battalions of the regiment serving overseas.

Post World War II

The regiment served in Korea in 1951–52 during the Korean War, and in Cyprus in the fight against EOKA in 1955–56.

In 1959 the Royal Norfolk Regiment was amalgamated as part of the reorganisation of the British Army resulting from the 1957 Defence White Paper becoming part of a new formation, the 1st East Anglian Regiment, part of the East Anglian Brigade.

Uniform and insignia

The dress worn by the Regiment’s predecessor units in the late 17th and early 18th centuries included orange and subsequently green facings. In 1733, official permission was given to change from bright green back to light orange facings. By 1747, this unusual shade had evolved into yellow which was retained until 1881 when, in common with all English and Welsh regiments, the newly renamed Norfolk Regiment was given white distinctions on its scarlet tunics.  In 1905, the traditional yellow facings were restored for full dress and mess uniforms.  Another distinction of the Norfolk Regiment was the inclusion of a black line in the gold braid of officers’ uniforms from 1881 onwards. When the regiment was redesignated as the “Royal Norfolk Regiment” in 1935 it was specially permitted to retain the yellow facings instead of changing to blue.

The figure of Britannia was officially recognised in 1799 as part of the insignia of the 9th Regiment of Foot.   Regimental tradition claimed that it was granted to the regiment by Queen Anne in 1707 in recognition of its service at the Battle of Almanza. However there is no evidence that it was used before the 1770s, and it was not listed as an authorised device in the royal warrants of 1747, 1751 or 1768. It subsequently became a central part of the badge of the Norfolk Regiment.


The Royal Norfolk Regiment held an anniversary on 25 April for the Battle of Almanza which they inherited along with the regimental nickname of the “Holy Boys” from the 9th Regiment of Foot. They gained the “Holy Boys” nickname during the Peninsular War from the misidentification by a Spanish soldier of Britannia on their cap badge as the Virgin Mary.

Victoria Cross

In total six members of the Norfolk or Royal Norfolk Regiment were awarded the Victoria Cross:

Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum  

The history of the Royal Norfolk Regiment and its predecessors and successors is recorded at the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum. The museum moved from the Britannia Barracks, now part of Norwich prison, to the Shirehall and then to the Norwich Castle Museum. Although archives and the reserve collections are still held in the Shirehall, the principal museum display there closed in September 2011, and relocated to the main Norwich Castle Museum, reopening fully in 2013.  Its exhibits illustrate the history of the Regiment from its 17th-century origins to its incorporation into the Royal Anglian Regiment in 1964, along with many aspects of military life in the Regiment. There is an extensive and representative display of medals awarded to soldiers of the Regiment, including two of the six Victoria Crosses won.

Other regimental artefacts are on display at the Royal Anglian Regiment Museum based at the Land Warfare Hall of the Imperial War Museum Duxford.



The Suffolk Regiment

The Suffolk Regiment was formed in 1685 when King James II ordered the Duke of Norfolk to raise a regiment against the threatened Monmouth Rebellion. This Regiment included men from Norfolk and Suffolk and incorporated a company at Windsor Castle. The company at Windsor Castle had origins dating back to 1660 and had seen active service in Virginia in 1676.

The connection with Norfolk remained strong and nearly 100 years later a Colonel of the Regiment wrote that “we considered Norfolk to be our county”. In 1782 the title of ‘East Suffolk’ was added to the numerical title of the Xllth Foot for recruiting purposes; Norfolk had already been allotted to other regiments.

Initially, the Regiment had often depended on the Suffolk Militia for recruits and had maintained recruiting parties in the County. These links were formally recognised with the Cardwell reforms of 1873. Cambridgeshire was added to the recruiting area and, most importantly, the Depot of the Regiment was established at Bury St Edmunds where the barracks to house the Depot was built in 1878.

In 1881, the title of the Regiment became The Suffolk Regiment with The West Suffolk Militia and The Cambridgeshire Militia becoming the 3rd and 4th Battalions respectively. By the end of the century, 90% of the men came from Suffolk.

The Territorial Force, the forerunner of the Territorial Army was formed in 1908. It strengthened the county links and established the 4th Battalion throughout East Suffolk and the 5th Battalion in West Suffolk.

Early Days

The newly formed Regiment was stationed with companies at Great Yarmouth and Landguard Fort. It was later moved to various towns in the south of England and took part in the King’s annual review of the Army on Hounslow Heath. In 1688 the Regiment was specially picked to support the catholic King James II. It had a high proportion of Roman Catholic officers but the King was surprised and disappointed when the men from East Anglia showed their independence by grounding their arms rather than support him. A few months later the whole of the Army failed to rally to James when he fled to France and the next year the Regiment was in Ireland fighting against the uprising by him. They helped to storm Carrickfergus Castle and took part in other actions including the Battle of the Boyne when James’ forces were decisively beaten. The Regiment then spent much time until 1696 in Flanders fighting in the campaign against Louis XIV of France. Over the next forty years it served in the West Indies, Flanders, Catalonia, Minorca, Ireland and at home.

In 1769 a 14 year period in Gibraltar began. The Regiment took an active part in the Great Siege when Gibraltar was besieged by the Spanish and French between 1779 and 1783. Under Colonel William Picton, the Regiment formed the main body of the Grand Sortie which broke the siege on 17 November 1781. In recognition of its services in the siege the Regiment added the illustrious name Gibraltar to its Colours and the arms of Gibraltar was taken as its crest. This comprised a Castle and Key with Montis Insignia Calpe (The arms of the Rock of Gibraltar) beneath, to be worn thereafter in its cap badge and Colours.

South Africa and the Wreck of the Birkenhead

In 1851 the Reserve Battalion was sent to South Africa to play its part in the Kaffir Wars. The men earned much praise for their conduct in operating in difficult terrain against the rebellious natives. The Battle Honour South Africa 1851-2-3 was awarded.

Men from the First Battalion formed the largest draft on board HMS Birkenhead when she was shipwrecked off the Cape coast on 26th February 1852. The draft, on its way to join The Reserve Battalion, consisted of one Sergeant and 70 privates, 55 of whom were drowned. Nine of the men came from Suffolk. The discipline of the soldiers on board was such that they paraded on deck

while the women and children were put into the lifeboats, calling forth the admiration of the world. One survivor had an extraordinarily adventurous life. After surviving 24 hours in the sea, he took part in various actions against the Kaffirs and went on serving with other units in South Africa on active service until 1880!

Other survivors included the wife and two sons of the Quartermaster of the Reserve Battalion. A memorial to the drowned men can be seen in St Mary’s Church, Bury St Edmunds.

South Africa

The First Battalion, apart from a short period in Malta, had been stationed in England. It was in Dover when the South African War broke out and mobilisation was ordered. (512 out of 514 reservists rejoined; one was in prison for debt but joined in the field, the other was in India and rejoined at his own expense.) One month after mobilisation the Battalion was at the Cape. In January 1900 the first major battle was to assault a hill near Colesberg. The Regiment suffered many casualties, including the Commanding Officer. The hill was subsequently renamed Suffolk Hill by the Boers in recognition of the courage during the assault. There followed three years of arduous campaigning.

The Great War

The new century saw the advent of the Territorial Army in which The 4th Battalion based at Ipswich , The 5th Battalion at Bury St Edmunds and The Ist Battalion of The Cambridgeshire Regiment at Cambridge brought with them the traditions of the old Volunteers. The Militia became the 3rd Battalion (Special Reserve).

In August 1914 The First Battalion was in Khartoum having previously been in Malta and Egypt. The Second Battalion was at the Curragh in Ireland. It had felt very involved in the repercussions of the Government’s proposal to grant Home Rule to Ireland. The ‘Curragh Incident’ arose from misguided instructions emanating from the War Office giving officers the option of resigning their commissions or to taking action against Ulster. A letter from the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Brett DSO, found its way to King George V and alerted His Majesty to the crisis amongst his Officers. The outbreak of the War stopped any further action.

When Britain entered the war on August 4th 1914, The Second Battalion was immediately mobilised and was in France with the British Expeditionary Force by the 17th. It was soon in action against the advancing Germans near Mons and on 25 August at Le Cateau. There the decision was taken to stand and fight. Along with other Battalions of 14 Brigade acting as rearguard of 5 Division they fought against overwhelming forces for nine hours before being overrun. Losses were over 700. Among the German forces was a regiment wearing on its sleeve the honour Gibraltar, the successor to Hardenburg’s Hanoverians who had fought alongside the XII Regiment at Minden and Gibraltar; in support was 11 Battery RFA, also at Minden. The Battalion spent the rest of the War in France taking part in all the major battles.

The First Battalion moved from Khartoum and arrived in France in 1915. It was involved in heavy fighting around Ypres and in May was nearly wiped out with over 400 casualties. After further service in France it was moved to Macedonia where it saw service until the end of the War.

The 4th (Territorial) Battalion was in France before the end of 1914. Its first major battle was that of Neuve Chapelle in 1915. It was to see further battles for the rest of the War. The 5th Battalion (TF) was sent to Gallipoli in 1915 and thereafter served in Palestine taking part in two Gaza battles and subsequent actions in 1918. Also in Gallipoli and Palestine was the Suffolk Yeomanry which became the 15th Battalion of the Regiment in 1915 and went on to serve with distinction on the Western Front.

The lst Battalion The Cambridgeshire Regiment served continuously in France and Flanders from 1915 to 1918 earning 27 Battle Honours and over 300 awards for gallantry. It earned a high reputation as an outstanding Battalion.

Mention might be made of the ordeal suffered by The 2nd Battalion on March 28th 1918 at Wancourt (first battle of Arras 1918) during the great March offensive by the German Army. Two companies, commanded by Captain W L Simpson MC from Bury St Edmunds and Captain L J Baker MC from Lavenham, fought desperately, holding the German attack up in an action described by The Times: “There is a story , such as painters ought to make immortal and historians to celebrate, of how certain Suffolks, cut off and surrounded fought back to back on the Wancourt-Tilloy road.”

Two VCs were awarded to men of the Regiment: Sergeant Saunders of the 9th Battalion at Loos in September 1915 and Corporal Day of the 11th near Peronne in 1917. Thanks to Sergeant Saunders’ bravery – despite wounds which cost him his leg – Lieutenant Christison of the Cameron Highlanders, though badly wounded, survived to become General Christison and celebrate his 100th Birthday in 1993.

Five other Battalions of the Regiment all raised in wartime served in France. Eight Battalions (including the Cambridgeshires) were involved in the Somme campaign of 1916. More detailed accounts of the many battles fought cannot be covered, but the eighty one Great War Battle Honours, from Mons to Palestine 1917-18, listed on the back cover of this history show their range.

In total, 23 Battalions of The Suffolk Regiment were raised during the Great War.

Between the Wars

The First Battalion, after a short period near Thetford – the first time since 1782 that a regular battalion had actually served in Suffolk – was posted to India. There it took part in the campaign against the Moplahs in Malabar in 1922.

From India it went to Gibraltar where for a short time it found itself together with the Second Battalion – a unique occasion though the two Battalions had met once in passing in Flanders in 1915. Back in England at Colchester in 1927 it took part in an historic recruiting march through the County with parades in Ipswich, Stowmarket, Bury St Edmunds and Sudbury. After a short tour in Malta, the outbreak of War in 1939 found it stationed at Devonport.

The Second Battalion from Gibraltar was sent hurriedly to Shanghai in 1927 from where it moved to India in 1929. On the outbreak of war it was on the North West Frontier at Razmak.

The 4th Battalion was reformed as part of the Territorial Army, but the 5th Battalion was not revived until 1939. A 2nd Battalion of The Cambridgeshire Regiment was also raised in that year.

World War II

The First Battalion formed part of the British Expeditionary Force in the 3rd Division. It fought in France and Belgium in 1940 and was evacuated from Dunkirk. After arduous training, still with the 3rd Division in the United Kingdom, it landed as part of the Assault Brigade on 6 June 1944 on Sword Beach, Normandy. It fought with distinction throughout the Normandy campaign and thereafter in Belgium, Netherlands and Germany right through to the end of the war ending up near Bremen.

On 28 June the Battalion fought a bitter and costly battle to capture the Chateau de la Londe, near Caen, after two previous attacks by other battalions of the Brigade had failed. Despite counter attacks by infantry and armour, the Chateau was taken at a cost of 161 casualties. Other notable actions were at Sannerville and Banneville (part of the better known Operation Goodwood involving three armoured divisions), the highly successful pursuit of German parachutists down the Vire-Tinchebray road, the clearing of Overloon and Venraij in the Netherlands and the final battles at Brinkum near Bremen. There are memorials to The Battalion at Colleville-Montgomery and the Chateau de La Londe.

The Second Battalion was initially occupied in the rigorous life of guarding the North West Frontier but later took a notable part in the Arakan and Imphal campaigns in Burma against the Japanese. In the Arakan, the Battalion’s determined attack on a Japanese bunker known as ‘Bamboo’ brought high praise from the Army Commander downwards. In the Imphal sector to which the Battalion had been flown, there was more bitter fighting to clear Japanese fortified positions. One named ‘Isaac’ was extremely strong but fell to the Battalion after three days fighting.

The 4th and 5th Battalions as part of the 18th Division were diverted to Singapore on the entry of Japan into the War. They fought gallantly in the battle for Singapore but were mostly made prisoners of war and found themselves constructing the infamous Burma railway where many lost their lives due to the inhuman treatment they received. The 1st and 2nd Battalions of The Cambridgeshire Regiment were also part of the same Division. The 2nd Battalion arrived in time to become involved in the confused fighting on the mainland in the withdrawal to Singapore; it acquitted itself well, but at a high cost. The 1st Battalion, like the two Suffolk Battalions, joined in the desperate final battles for the island and found themselves prisoners of war and subject to the same intolerable conditions.

Eleven Suffolk Home Guard Battalions were raised during the war. These units provided the Regiment with plenty of trained young soldiers when they came of age.

The 8th Battalion formed in April 1940 became a training Battalion. It saw no active service, but sent a great many drafts overseas. In 1946 it sailed for the West Indies to garrison Jamaica and Bermuda but was disbanded a year later.

The 31st Battalion originating from the 6th (Home-Defence) Battalion after service in this country was sent abroad first to Tunisia, then to Italy performing various administrative duties in support of the Allied Armies and then to Gibraltar.

The 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion in its short existence helped guard airfields in Suffolk in 1940-43. Many of its soldiers found their way to other Suffolk battalions.


The Second Battalion remained in India after the war. As Independence approached and the political situation grew worse the Battalion helped with the peace keeping operations. In May 1947 the Battalion was reduced to a cadre and returned to Bury St Edmunds where it was placed in ‘suspended animation’ – a state which was to prove indefinite.

The First Battalion spent uncomfortable service in Palestine (1946-48) attempting to keep the Jews and Arabs apart. The Battalion were the last British unit to leave Jerusalem, 30 years after General Allenby entered the city in 1918. In 1948 it left for Greece as a ‘backstop’ to the country’s civil war against attempted communist takeover.

In 1949 it was sent to Malaya to help deal with communist terrorists.

In 1953 it went to Trieste where it had to deal with some rioting between the Italians and Yugoslavs who both claimed sovereignty over the city and its surrounding territory.

In 1954, the Battalion moved to Germany, then still an occupied country. On 23 May 1955 new Colours to replace the old ones, presented in 1849, were presented by the Regiment’s first and only Royal Colonel-in-Chief, Her Royal Highness the Princess Margaret (Countess of Snowdon).

In 1956 the Battalion went to Cyprus to combat EOKA terrorists and deal with riots under very different conditions to Malaya. Once again, the Battalion was very successful. It was in Cyprus in 1958 that the Regiment became part of the East Anglian Brigade, and was aware for the first time that the Suffolk Regiment was soon to be no more.

The Territorial Army was reformed in 1947, and the 4th Battalion came into being again with companies all over Suffolk and one in the Isle of Ely thus maintaining the Cambridgeshire link.

The Cambridgeshire Regiment was to have a very varied role on reforming before it returned to the Suffolk fold. In 1947 it was established as a light anti-aircraft regiment retaining Colours, Drums and buttons and in 1954 it was converted into the heavy mortar regiment of 16 Airborne Division learning to become parachutists. In 1956, once again, it became lst Battalion The Cambridgeshire Regiment.

On 29 August 1959, The First Battalion Suffolk Regiment amalgamated with The First Battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment to form The First Battalion, The First East Anglian Regiment (Royal Norfolk and Suffolk).

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