412: East Lancashire & South Lancashire

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East Lancashire Regiment

The East Lancashire Regiment was, from 1881 to 1958, an infantry regiment of the British Army. The regiment was formed under the Childers Reforms by the amalgamation of two 30th and 59th Regiments of Foot with the militia and rifle volunteer units of eastern Lancashire. Following a series of mergers since 1958, its lineage is today continued by the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.

Formation and service to 1914

Regular battalions

Private of the East Lancashire Regiment in pre-1914 full dress by Harry Payne (1858–1927)

The 1st Battalion was formed from the 30th (Cambridgeshire) Regiment of Foot (raised in 1702) and the 2nd Battalion from the 59th (2nd Nottinghamshire) Regiment of Foot (raised 1755).

Under the system introduced in 1881, one battalion of each infantry regiment was to serve at a home station while the other was in a foreign garrison or on active service. Due to the emergency caused by the outbreak of war in South Africa in 1899 most home service battalions were dispatched to the conflict.

First World War

Second Lieutenant Alfred Victor Smith 1/5th Battalion, posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry at Helles in December 1915

Members of the 4th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment in trenches near Givenchy on 28 June 1918

The size of the regiment was increased during the conflict, reaching a total of 17 battalions.

Victoria Crosses

Four members of the regiment were awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry:

  • Drummer Spencer John Bent, 1st Battalion (Le Gheer, Belgium, 1 –2 November 1914)
  • Private William Young, 8th Battalion (Fonquevillers, France, 22 December 1915)
  • Second Lieutenant Alfred Victor Smith, 1/5th Battalion (Helles, Galliopoli, Turkey, 23 December 1915)
  • Second Lieutenant Basil Arthur Horsfall, attached to 11th Battalion (Between Moyenneville and Ablainzevelle, France, 21 March 1918)

Inter war

Between the Wars the East Lancs served in many conflicts including Baluchistan, Afghanistan, Ireland, Turkey, Palestine and the North West Frontier of India.

Second World War

The regiment was again increased in size for the duration of the war, although not to such an extent as in 1914–1918. Firstly, prior to the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, the entire Territorial Army was doubled in size, with each unit forming a duplicate. Secondly, a number of wartime battalions were formed.

Victoria Cross

Acting Captain Harold Marcus Ervine-Andrews of the 1st Battalion was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry at Dunkirk on 31 May – 1 June 1940.

Post war

In 1948 the regiment was reduced to a single regular battalion. They served in the Middle East, Malaya, the Suez Canal Zone, and Aden.


When the two regiments of foot merged in 1881, new badges were designed. The headdress badge selected for the centre of the full dress helmet was a sphinx upon a plinth inscribed “EGYPT”. The sphinx had been awarded to the 30th Foot in 1802 to mark its participation in repelling the French invasion of Egypt The collar badge selected was the Red Rose of Lancaster to mark the regiment’s county affiliation. In 1897 a khaki uniform featuring a slouch hat was introduced, and a metal cap badge was devised for each regiment or corps. The badge of the East Lancs was the sphinx and “Egypt” above the rose, the whole enclosed within a laurel wreath topped by a crown. The laurel wreath had formed part of the insignia of the 59th Foot. A scroll inscribed “EAST LANCASHIRE” at the base of the badge completed the design. This design of cap badge was maintained for the rest of the regiment’s existence, subject to changes in the style of crown, and was worn on the later service dress and battle dress uniforms.


In 1957 defence cuts were announced that significantly reduced the size of the army. As a result the East Lancashire Regiment was amalgamated with The South Lancashire Regiment on 1 July 1958 to form The Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Volunteers). In 1970 The Lancashire Regiment was in turn amalgamated with The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment to form The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment.  In 2006 the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment was merged with the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment and The King’s Regiment to form a new large regiment, the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.

South Lancashire Regiment

The South Lancashire Regiment (The Prince of Wales’s Volunteers) was a regiment of the British Army from 1881 to 1958. It was formed as part of the Childers reforms as the Prince of Wales’s Volunteers (South Lancashire Regiment) by the amalgamation of the 40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot and the 82nd (Prince of Wales’s Volunteers) Regiment of Foot. In 1938, it was renamed the South Lancashire Regiment (The Prince of Wales’s Volunteers) and in 1958 was amalgamated with the East Lancashire Regiment to form the Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Volunteers).[2]



Formation to the First World War

The 1st Battalion was in Ranikhet, India, when the regiment was formed. It shipped to Aden in 1884 and to Britain in 1886 where it remained until the outbreak of the Second Boer War. After service in South Africa, it returned to India and garrison duty up to the outbreak of the First World War. The 2nd Battalion spent the years between 1881 and 1914 on garrison duty throughout the Empire, returning to Britain in 1903. The 3rd Battalion (previously the 4th Royal Lancashire Militia) was raised in 1899 for service in South Africa from 1900 to 1901, when it was disbanded.

The First World War, 1914–1918

The 1st Battalion spent the war on garrison duty in Quetta, Baluchistan, on the North-West Frontier. The 2nd Battalion spent the entire war on the Western Front. The 3rd (Reserve) Battalion was a depot and training battalion stationed in Lancashire throughout the war. The Territorial and war-service battalions fought on the Western Front, in Mesopotamia, Gallipoli and Macedonia.[3] Among its officers was future Prime Minister Clement Attlee, who served with the regiment at Gallipoli and was later wounded while serving in Mesopotamia and again on the Western Front.

Between the world wars

The 1st Battalion took part in Third Afghan War of 1919 before returning to Britain, where it remained (except for a brief period as part of the Army of Occupation of Germany in 1928) until the outbreak of the Second World War. The 2nd Battalion spent these years on garrison duty, from 1920 to 1922 in the new British Mandate of Palestine, and thereafter in India and the North West Frontier.

Men of the 1st Battalion in action in the Netherlands, November 1944

Second World War

The 1st Battalion was shipped to France on the outbreak of war in 1939 as part of the 12th Infantry Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, British Expeditionary Force, returning to England via Dunkirk. After returning to the UK it became part of the 9th Infantry Brigade (which included the 1st Suffolks and 2nd East Yorks) attached to 3rd Infantry Division, nicknamed Monty‘s Ironsides. With this division, it landed at Sword Beach on D-Day and fought its way through the Normandy, the Netherlands and later the invasion of Germany. Throughout the North West Europe Campaign the 1st Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment suffered the highest casualty rates of the 3rd Infantry Division, losing 288 officers and men killed and over 1,000 wounded.

The 2nd Battalion was in Bombay in 1939, being transported back to Britain in July 1940 to defend the home front against the expected German invasion. In 1942, attached to the 29th Infantry Brigade, it was part of Force 121, which invaded Madagascar in order to prevent use of the island by the Japanese. From April 1944 until the end of the war, it fought in the recapture of Burma with the 36th Infantry Division alongside the 2nd East Lancs.

The 2/4th Battalion was raised in 1939 as a 2nd Line Territorial Army battalion duplicate of the 4th Battalion, later redesignated the 1/4th Battalion. In 1943 the battalion was converted to become the 13th Parachute Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, part of the 5th Parachute Brigade, which itself was part of the newly raised 6th Airborne Division. The 13th Parachute Battalion saw combat during Operation Tonga, the British airborne landings in the early hours of 6 June 1944, D-Day. The battalion served as normal infantrymen for the duration of the Battle of Normandy until being withdrawn, with the rest of the division, to England in September 1944. The 6th Airborne Division was then sent to Belgium in December 1944 to fight in the Ardennes offensive, the Battle of the Bulge. They were then involved in the largest airborne drop of the entire war with over 16,000 airborne troops taking part, otherwise known as Operation Varsity, with the US 17th Airborne Division.

The regiment raised many other battalions for service before and during the war. However, none of these saw active service overseas and remained in the UK for the war.

Peace and amalgamation

Immediately after the war, the 1st Battalion served in Egypt and Palestine before being reduced to a cadre and alamgamated with the 2nd Battalion at Trieste in 1948. The surviving 1st Battalion saw further service in the Sudan, Britain, Berlin and Hong Kong where, in 1958, it was amalgamated with 1st Battalion, the East Lancashire Regiment, to form 1st Battalion, the Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Volunteers).

Battle honours

The regiment was awarded the following battle honours:

  • From 40th Regiment of Foot: Egypt, Monte Video, Rolica, Vimiera, Talavera, Badajoz, Salamanca, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Orthes, Toulouse, Peninsula, Waterloo, Candahar 1842, Ghuznee 1842, Cabool 1842, Maharajpore, New Zealand
  • From 82nd Regiment of Foot: Rolica, Vimiera, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Orthes, Peninsula, Niagara, Sevastopol, Lucknow
  • Louisburg, Martinique 1762, Havannah, St. Lucia 1778, Corunna, Relief of Ladysmith, South Africa 1899-1902
  • Great War (20 battalions): Mons, Le Cateau, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914 ’18, La Bassée 1914, Messines 1914 ’17 ’18, Armentières 1914, Ypres 1914 ’15 ’17 ’18, Nonne Bosschen, St. Julien, Frezenberg, Bellewaarde, Mount Sorrel1, Somme 1916 ’18, Albert 1916, Bazentin, Pozières, Guillemont, Ginchy, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, Le Transloy, Ancre Heights, Ancre 1916, Arras 1917 ’18, Scarpe 1917 ’18, Pilckem, Langemarck 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917 ’18, St. Quentin, Bapaume 1918, Rosières, Lys, Estaires, Hazebrouck, Bailleul, Kemmel, Scherpenberg, Drocourt Quéant, Hindenburg Line, Canal du Nord, Courtrai, Selle, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914-18, Doiran 1917 ’18, Macedonia 1915-18, Suvla, Sari Bair, Gallipoli 1915, Egypt 1916, Tigris 1916, Kut al Amara 1917, Baghdad, Mesopotamia 1916-18, Baluchistan 1918
  • Afghanistan 1919
  • Second World War: Dunkirk 1940, Normandy Landing, Odon, Bourguébus Ridge, Troarn, Falaise, Venraij, Rhineland, Hochwald, Bremen, North-West Europe 1940 ’44-45, Madagascar, Middle East 1942, North Arakan, Mayu Tunnels, Kohima, Meiktila, Nyaungu Bridgehead, Letse, Irrawaddy, Sittang 1945, Burma 1943-45

1. Awarded in error, and withdrawn in 1925

Victoria Crosses

The following members of the Regiment were awarded the Victoria Cross:


The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment Museum is at Fulwood Barracks, Preston, Lancashire.


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