East Lancashire Regiment

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East Lancashire Regiment
Regimental badge
Active 1 July 1881–1 July 1958
Country United Kingdom
Branch Army
Type Line Infantry
Garrison/HQ Burnley (1881 – 1898), Fulwood Barracks, Preston (1898 on)
Motto Spectamur agendo (judge us by our deeds)
Colors White facings
Engagements Second Boer War, Western Front (World War I), Battle of Dunkirk, Burma Campaign

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.[1] Following a series of mergers since 1958, its lineage is today continued by the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.

Formation and service to 1914[edit]

Regular battalions[edit]

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.[1]

1st Battalion 2nd Battalion
Location Years Location Years
India
(Took part in the
Chitral Expedition of 1895)
1881 – 1897 England 1881 – 1883
Ireland 1883 – 1893
Gibraltar 1893 – 1895
England 1895 – 1897
England and Jersey 1897 – 1900 India 1897 – 1911
South Africa
(Second Boer War)
1900 – 1902
Ireland 1905 – 1908
England 1908 – 1914 South Africa 1911 – 1914


Militia and volunteer/territorial battalions[edit]

The 1881 reforms also linked the militia and rifle volunteer units of the area into the regimental structure:

  • The 5th Royal Lancashire Militia was redesignated as the 3rd (Militia) Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment.[1]
  • The 2nd Lancashire Rifle Volunteer Corps, based at Blackburn: renamed to 1st Volunteer Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment in 1889[1]
  • The 3rd Lancashire Rifle Volunteer Corps, based at Burnley: renamed to 2nd Volunteer Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment in 1889[1]

The militia was a reserve force that was only liable to service in the United Kingdom and in peace time assembled for period of annual training. In time of war it could be "embodied" or mobilised. When the war that broke out in South Africa in 1899 began to absorb a large amount of the regular army's resources, the terms of service of the militia were altered to allow them to serve in the war. The 3rd Battalion was embodied in January 1900 and served in South Africa until 1902. It was disembodied in March 1902. The battalion was awarded the battle honour "South Africa 1900–1902".[2]

The volunteer battalions were organised for home defence purposes, and their members were subject to regular drills and training. Like the militia battalion, elements of the volunteers fought in South Africa. While members of the Volunteer Force could not be required to serve overseas, members from the battalions were voluntarily formed into Active Service Companies, providing reinforcements for the regular battalion. Both volunteer battalions were awarded battle honours for the war.[3][4]

1908 reorganisation[edit]

In 1908, under the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 the militia and volunteer force were reconstituted as the "Special Reserve" and "Territorial Force" (TF). Territorial battalions were renumbered in series after the special reserve battalions. The resulting titles were:

  • 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion
  • 4th Battalion (TF) (formerly 1st Volunteer Battalion)
  • 5th Battalion (TF) (formerly 2nd Volunteer Battalion)

The Territorial Force was restructured into 14 infantry divisions, and the 4th and 5th Battalions formed part of the East Lancashire Division. It was as part of that division that were to be mobilised in 1914.[3]

First World War[edit]

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

The size of the regiment was increased during the conflict, reaching a total of 17 battalions.[5]

Members of the 4th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment in trenches near Givenchy on 28 June 1918
Battalion Notes Service
1st Regular battalion Western Front August 1914–1918
2nd Regular battalion in South Africa at outbreak of war, Western Front November 1914 – 1918
3rd Special Reserve Embodied at Preston August 1914, served in home stations at Plymouth and Marske by the Sea
1/4th Redesignation of 4th (TF) Battalion on formation of duplicate 2/4th in September 1914 Egypt September 1914, Gallipoli 1915, Egypt 1916, Western Front 1917 - 1918. Redesignated as 4th Battalion in 1918
2/4th Duplicate of 4th Battalion formed September 1914 Home service until March 1917, Western Front March 1917 – February 1918, when it was absorbed by 1/4th.
3/4th Formed March 1915 as duplicate of 1/4th Depot and training unit remained in UK
1/5th Redesignation of 5th (TF) Battalion on formation of duplicate 2/5th in September 1914 Egypt September 1914, Gallipoli 1915, Egypt 1916, Western Front 1917 - 1918.
2/5th Duplicate of 5th Battalion formed September 1914 Home service until March 1917, Western Front March 1917 – 1918. Disbanded July 1918.
3/5th Formed March 1915 as duplicate of 1/5th Depot and training unit remained in UK.
6th Service battalion formed August 1914. Gallipoli July 1915, Egypt January 1916, Mesopotamia February 1916 – 1918
7th Service battalion formed September 1914 Western Front 1915 – 1918. Disbanded February 1918.
8th Service battalion formed September 1914 Western Front 1915 – 1918. Disbanded February 1918., officers and men transferred to 11th Battalion
9th Service battalion formed September 1914 Western Front September – November 1915. Salonika November 1915 – 1918.
10th Service battalion formed October 1914 Home Service. Converted to reserve battalion 1915, redesignated 47th Training Reserve Battalion 1916 and ceased to be part of the regiment.
11th "Accrington Pals": Service battalion formed September 1914 by mayor and corporation of Accrington Egypt December 1915 – March 1916, Western Front March 1916 – 1918
12th Reserve battalion formed May 1915 Redesignated 75th Training Reserve Battalion 1916 and ceased to be part of the regiment.
13th Redesignation of 8th Garrison Guard Battalion July 1918. Western Front

Battle honours[edit]

The regiment was awarded the following battle honours for the war:[6]

Each regiment was permitted to select ten battle honours to be borne on the King's Colours. These are shown in bold type.

The Accrington Pals[edit]

The Accrington Pals, officially the 11th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment, was a pals battalion of Kitchener's Army raised in and around the town of Accrington.[7]

Recruiting was initiated by the mayor of Accrington following Lord Kitchener's call for volunteers, and it took only ten days to raise a complete battalion. The battalion's nickname is a little misleading since of the four 250-strong companies that made up the original battalion, only one was actually composed of men from Accrington. The rest volunteered from other East Lancashire towns nearby such as Burnley, Blackburn, and Chorley. The men from Chorley, who formed Y Company, were known as the Chorley Pals.[8] The men from Burnley, who formed Z Company, were known as the Burnley Pals.

The Accrington Pals joined the 94th Brigade of the 31st Division, a "pals" division containing many North Country pals battalions. With the 31st Division, the Accrington Pals were initially deployed to Egypt in early 1916 to defend the Suez Canal from the threat of the Ottoman Empire. The troopship carrying the Accrington Pals was narrowly missed by a torpedo; a fortunate miss because the ship also carried sixty tons of lyddite explosive.

The Accrington Pals next moved to France where they first saw action in the Battle of the Somme. On the first day on the Somme, 1 July 1916, the 31st Division was to attack the village of Serre and form a defensive flank for the rest of the British advance. The 31st Division's attack on Serre was a complete failure, although some of the Accrington Pals did make it as far as the village before being killed or captured. One of the battalion's signallers, observing from the rear, reported:

"We were able to see our comrades move forward in an attempt to cross No Man's Land, only to be mown down like meadow grass. I felt sick at the sight of the carnage and remember weeping."

Approximately 700 men from the Accrington Pals went into action on 1 July; 585 men became casualties, 235 killed and 350 wounded in about half an hour. The battalion's commander, Lieutenant-Colonel A. W. Rickman, was among the wounded. A rumour spread around Accrington that only seven men had survived from the battalion, and an angry crowd surrounded the mayor's house, demanding information.

Spencer John Bent VC

The Accrington Pals were effectively wiped out in a matter of minutes on the first day on the Somme. The battalion was brought back up to strength and served for the remainder of the war, moving to the 92nd Brigade of the 31st Division in February 1918.

A song[9] telling their story was written and recorded by English folk singer and comedian Mike Harding. A play based on the unit, The Accrington Pals, was also later written by Peter Whelan.[10][11][12]

Victoria Crosses[edit]

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[edit]

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

1st Battalion 2nd Battalion
Location Years Location Years
West Indies 1919–22 Ireland 1919–1923
Malta 1922–1923
Egypt 1923–1924 England 1923–1933
India 1924–1931
China 1932–1933
England 1933–1934 Hong Kong 1933–1937
Saarland 1934–1935
England 1935–1936
Northern Ireland 1936–1939
India 1937–1939

Second World War[edit]

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.[1]

Battalion Notes Service
1st Regular battalion North West Europe 1940, 1944 – 1945
2nd Regular battalion In India at outbreak of war. To United Kingdom in 1940. South Africa, Madagascar and East Africa 1942 –1943, India and Burma 1943 – 1945
4th Territorial battalion. Formed 1939 when 4th/5th Battalion was duplicated. North West Europe 1940
5th Territorial battalion. Formed 1939 when 4th/5th Battalion was duplicated. North West Europe 1944–1945.
Formed part of 197th Brigade (with the 1/7th Royal Warwicks and the 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers), 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division during its few months in action following the D-Day landings in the area of Galmanche near Epron during Operation Charnwood.[citation needed]
6th Home Defence battalion formed August 1939. Renumbered 30th 1941.
7th Raised 1940, disbanded 1941.
8th Raised 1940 from 50th (Holding) Battalion, converted to 144th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps in 1941 and served in 33rd Armoured Brigade in the Normandy Landings. The regiment continued to wear its East Lancashire cap badge on the black beret of the RAC.[13] On 1 March 1945 144 Regt RAC was redesignated 4th Royal Tank Regiment to replace the original 4th RTR, which had been lost at Tobruk in 1942.[14][15][16]
30th (renumbered from 6th Battalion 1941) Home Defence battalion Disbanded 1943
50th Holding battalion Formed from the East Lancashire company of a Mixed Holding Battalion at Huyton; brought to full war establishment by a draft of men returned from the Dunkirk evacuation and renumbered 8th 1940.[17]

Battle honours[edit]

A total of eighteen battle honours were awarded. As with honours for the First World War, ten were selected for display on the colours, indicated in bold:[1][18]

Victoria Cross[edit]

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.[19]

Post war[edit]

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

Badges[edit]

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".[20] The sphinx had been awarded to the 30th Foot in 1802 to mark its participation in repelling the French invasion of Egypt[21] The collar badge selected was the Red Rose of Lancaster to mark the regiment's county affiliation.[22] 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.[20] 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.

Amalgamation[edit]

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.[23] 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 (King's, Lancashire and Border).

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "The East Lancashire Regiment". Regiments.org. 15 July 2000. Archived from the original on 18 January 2008. Retrieved 5 October 2009. 
  2. ^ "5th Royal Lancashire Militia". Regiments.org. 15 July 2000. Archived from the original on 22 November 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "4th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment". Regiments.org. 15 July 2000. Archived from the original on 22 November 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2009. 
  4. ^ "5th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment". Regiments.org. 15 July 2000. Archived from the original on 22 November 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2009. 
  5. ^ Chris Baker. "The East Lancashire Regiment in 1914 – 1918". The Long, Long Trail The British Army of 1914-1918. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  6. ^ "Battle Honours. County Regiments". The Times. 13 April 1924. p. 9. 
  7. ^ Pals: the 11th (Service) Battalion (Accrington), East Lancashire Regiment, William Turner, ISBN 0-9507892-4-0
  8. ^ The Chorley Pals[dead link]
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ The Accrington Pals (play, 1984), Peter Whelan ISBN 0-413-77305-1
  11. ^ The Accrington Pals
  12. ^ Munin Productions
  13. ^ George Forty (1998), "British Army Handbook 1939–1945", Stoud: Sutton Publishing, pp. 50–1, 345.
  14. ^ 4th Royal Tank Regiment: Service
  15. ^ British Light Infantry Regiments & National Service
  16. ^ * Alan Jolly, Blue Flash: The Story of an Armoured Regiment, London 1952, p. 2.
  17. ^ * Alan Jolly, Blue Flash: The Story of an Armoured Regiment, London 1952, p. 1.
  18. ^ "Battle Honours. Fourteen Regiments Named in New List". The Times. 11 March 1957. p. 7. 
  19. ^ "East Lancashire Regiment". Find a Grave. Retrieved October 31, 2011. 
  20. ^ a b Kipling, Arthur L; King, Hugh L (2006). Head-Dress Badges of the British Army: Volume One - Up to the Great War. Uckfield: Naval and Military Press. pp. 152, 186–187. ISBN 1-84342-512-2. 
  21. ^ Sumner, Ian (2001). British Colours & Standards 1747 – 1881 (2) Infantry. Oxford: Osprey. p. 9. ISBN 1-84176-201-6. 
  22. ^ Churchill, Colin (2002). History of the British Army Infantry Collar Badge. Uckfield: Naval and Military Press. ISBN 978-1-84342-357-7. 
  23. ^ "A Short History of The Queen's Lancashire Regiment". 

External links[edit]

WWI commemorations must not turn into 'anti-German festival', Eric Pickles warns