|The Essex Regiment|
|Motto||Montis insignia calpe (Badge of the Rock of Gibraltar)|
|Anniversaries||Gaza, 4 November|
The Essex Regiment was an infantry unit of the British Army that saw active service from 1881 to 1958. Members of the regiment were recruited from across the county of Essex. Its lineage is continued by the Royal Anglian Regiment.
- 1 Origins
- 2 Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902)
- 3 First World War (1914-1918)
- 4 Irish War of Independence(1919-1921)
- 5 Turkey (1922)
- 6 Saar Plebiscite (1935)
- 7 Palestine (1936-1939)
- 8 India (1922-1935)
- 9 Between the Wars
- 10 Second World War (1939-1945)
- 11 Post-1945
- 12 Territorial Army
- 13 Battle Honours
- 14 Recipients of the Victoria Cross
- 15 Essex Regiment Chapel
- 16 Essex Regiment Museum
- 17 Notes
- 18 References
- 19 External links
The Essex Regiment was formed in 1881 following the union of the 44th (East Essex) Regiment of Foot and the 56th (West Essex) Regiment of Foot. The merger was part of the Childers Reforms of the British Army.
The new regiment was designated 'The Essex Regiment'. The Old 44th became the 1st Battalion of the new regiment, the Old 56th became the 2nd Battalion.
For the history of the regiment prior to 1881 see:
Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902)
First World War (1914-1918)
During World War I, the Essex Regiment provided 30 infantry battalions to the British Army. The 3rd (Special Reserve) (formerly the Militia) battalion was mobilised to supply drafts to the two Regular battalions. On the outbreak of war, the Territorial battalions (4th-7th, and 8th (Cyclist) Battalions), all formed second line (2/4-2/8th) and eventually third line (3/4th-3/8th) battalions. Three service battalions (9th, 10th and 11th) and one reserve battalion (the 12th), were formed from volunteers in 1914 as part of Kitchener's Army. A further service battalion (the 13th (West Ham)), was raised by the Mayor and Borough of West Ham. Reserve battalions were created as the war progressed, included the 14th (from the depot companies of the 13th), the 15th, 16th and 17th (from provisional battalions), the 18th (Home Service) and 1st and 2nd Garrison Battalions. The regiment's battle honours for the First World War include Le Cateau, Ypres, Loos, Somme, Cambrai, Gallipoli and Gaza.
Battle of the Somme
The 1st Battalion took part in the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916. The battalion, (comprising W, X, Y, and Z companies), took up position in the British trenches at 3:30 am. At 8:40 am, the battalion received orders to advance and clear the German first-line trenches. It was delayed by heavy enemy fire and congestion in the communication trenches. The Newfoundland Regiment advancing to the left of the Essex battalion, was almost entirely wiped out as it advanced towards the German lines. At 10:50 am, the Essex companies were in position and received orders to go "over the top". The companies came under heavy artillery and machine gun fire almost soon as they appeared over the parapet, causing heavy losses. The attack became bogged down in no man's land. The battalion received orders from 88th Brigade headquarters to recommence the attack at 12:30 pm, but at 12:20 pm the battalion commander advised brigade HQ that "owing to casualties and disorganisation", it was impossible to renew the attack. The survivors of the battalion received orders to hold their position along the line of 'Mary Redan' – 'New Trench' – 'Regent Street'.
The names of 949 members of the Essex Regiment are recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, commemorating the officers and men of the regiment who died on the Somme and have no known grave.
Irish War of Independence(1919-1921)
From 1920, Major Arthur Ernest Percival (later a Lieutenant-General) served as a company commander, then as the battalion's intelligence officer. Percival later volunteered to serve with the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) during the Irish Republican Army (IRA) campaign for Irish independence. Through him, large numbers of Essex regiment veterans joined the RIC. Percival's First World War experience quickly got him seconded toward intelligence, counter-intelligence and counter-insurgency operations. As such he and his fellow Essex regimental colleagues were trained in counter-insurgency tactics. Combining both intelligence and rapid response teams in mobile squads, Percival and his Essex veterans staged numerous operations to break the back of the IRA. Consequently, he and his fellow Essex men were regarded by the Royalists as an efficient counter-terrorist force. This effectiveness appears to be seconded by the Republicans who came to regard Percival and the Essex men as one of its primary foes. As the IRA guerrilla war intensified and IRA assassinations were met with death squads, a large bounty was placed on Percival's and the Essex men's death. The IRA eventually increased its bounty on Percival to £1,000, a significant sum of money for the period. Although numerous Essex men were assasinated by the IRA, all attempts to assassinate Percival failed. In July 1920 the Essex Regiment captured Tom Hales, commander of the IRA's 3rd Cork Brigade, and Patrick Harte, quartermaster of the West Cork Brigade. Both men were severely beaten during interrogation - Harte was subsequently sent to Broadmoor.
As a result of the intelligence gained by captured IRA leaders such as Harte and Hales, headquarters at Dublin Castle took over command of the Cork area of operations from Percival, hoping to use a combined Royal Irish Army and RIC force to smash the IRA. The Castle's general goal was to use a series of interlocking regular military positions to encircle the area and then using reinforced RIC patrols to search and flush the IRA out from within its community. In March 1921 at Crossbarry in County Cork, the Essex regiment encircled the IRAs "West Cork Flying Column" with 1,200 troops and soon managed to expose a company sized element of the IRA.
The IRA flying column, under the command of Tom Barry, numbered 104 'volunteer's. However, rather than attempting to immediately destroy this IRA element which had been met in contact, Percival, the RIC and the Essex regiment were ordered to link with the larger regular forces in an attempt to encircle the entire 1,200-strong IRA force. However, the delay in tempo needed to carry out this move and a lack of communications between RIC mobile teams and the Regulars, resulted in the pressure being taken off Barry's IRA men. This allowed the IRA force to attack and overwhelm a number of isolated army positions, which appeared to create an opening out of the encirclement. Foreseeing a break-out, Percival ordered his Essex and RIC mobile teams to regroup and lay an ambush outside the opening. Simultaneously, the larger regular force misunderstood Percival's objective and thought it saw an opportunity created to destroy the entire IRA in Cork. Consequently, it abandoned most of its encircling positions and regrouped the regulars for a single large attack on the ambush site. Meanwhile, believing his column had little chance of escaping, Barry ordered his IRA men to break out in small groups as best they could throughout the encirclement. Thus, in a stroke of luck, most of Barry's IRA column simply passed through the abandoned encircling army posts. A small IRA detachment did attempt to break out through the British ambush site. However, as the RIC and Essex group were about to spring their ambush, an Irish regular force racing to the ambush site ran into the IRA detachment and was quickly engaged. In the resulting firefight, the IRA detachment disrupted the Royal column and then melted away.
In total, the Royal Army stationed 12,500 troops in County Cork during the conflict, while Barry's men numbered no more than 110 soldiers and a few hundred supporters, suppliers, and armourers. The British Army failed to subdue the IRA flying column, and Barry's tactics made West Cork ungovernable for the British. In Tom Barry's book Guerrilla Days In Ireland written in 1949, he gives a first-hand account on the Essex collision with his flying column.
At the conclusion of the First World War the Britain maintained a garrison at Constantinople to ensure free passage of the sea lanes between the Aegean and Black Seas.
The dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and its transformation into the Turkish Republic coincided with the rise of Greek nationalism, resulting in the Greco-Turkish War. British Prime Minister David Lloyd George increased the size of the British garrison - which included the 2nd Battalion of the Essex Regiment. The garrison was withdrawn in 1923. 
Saar Plebiscite (1935)
As part of the Treaty of Versailles, the Saarland province, on the border of France and Germany, was put under French control. In 1935, by the terms of the treaty, the people of the Saarland were to determine whether to remain as part of France, or to become German. The British government sent the 13th Brigade as a supervisory force to the Saarland, which comprised 1st Battalion, the Essex Regiment, 1st Battalion, the East Lancashire Regiment, and the 16th/5th Lancers. The result of the plebiscite was 90.3% voting to join Germany (then under Nazi government).  [dead link]
The 2nd Battalion spent the 13-year period from 1922 to 1935 as part of the British garrison in India. During this lengthy time, the 2nd Battalion was stationed at Ambala (1922–1927), Landi Kotal (1927–1929), Nowshera (1929–1931), Nasirabad (1931–1933) and Bombay (1933–1935). The 2nd Battalion spent an additional year overseas in Sudan (1935–1936), before returning to Britain and the regimental depot at Warley near Brentwood in Essex. [dead link]
Between the Wars
Second World War (1939-1945)
Of the Regulars, the 1st Battalion served in British and Indian Infantry Brigades in Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Burma. The battalion served in 23 Infantry Brigade for a few months at the beginning of the war and rejoined it in October 1941 and remained with it until mid-1945 when it joined 29 Infantry Brigade. It served in Tobruk, in the campaign in Syria, before moving to India with 70 Infantry Division, which became the core of a Special Force. The brigade's role changed to Long Range Penetration in September 1943; the 1st Battalion formed 44 and 56 Columns of the Chindits and operated in the Japanese rear during the battles of Imphal and Kohima. The battalion had the rare achievement of fighting against the Italians, Germans, French and Japanese.
The 2nd Battalion was part of the independent 56th Infantry Brigade. This brigade was landed on Gold Beach on D-Day from roughly 1.00 pm and immediately set off inland. Taking part in the battle of Le Havre, elements of the regiment discovered the German payroll for the Le Havre garrison in the basement of the hospital.
At the onset of war the two remaining Territorial battalions once again raised duplicate units; all four (1/4th, 2/4th, 1/5th and 2/5th) began the war in the 161st Infantry Brigade, but 2/4th was immediately detached to help form 163rd Infantry Brigade as a duplicate of 161 Bde. Both brigades were part of 54th (East Anglian) Infantry Division, but in January 1941, 161 Bde was sent by sea to Sierra Leone in West Africa. In June that year it was sent the 'long' way around Africa by sea to join Middle East Command, where it was transferred to the Indian Army. The 1/4th Bn served with the 4th Indian Division and 1/5th and 2/5th (merged to form the 5th Battalion) when it served with the 8th Indian Division. Both units saw service in Palestine, North Africa and Italy, with the 4th Indian Division in action at the Second Battle of El Alamein. The 2/4th Bn remained in the UK throughout the war.
A 7th (Home Defence) Battalion was formed in 1939 but disappeared in 1941.
The 8th Battalion, raised in 1940, was converted to armour in 1941, becoming 153rd Regiment Royal Armoured Corps, but continued to wear their Essex cap badge on the black beret of the RAC. During the conversion, surplus personnel were formed into 'R' Company Essex Regiment, which soon afterwards was designated V Corps HQ Defence Company. 153 RAC fought in Normandy.
New 9th and 10th Battalions were also formed in 1940, and served in various home defence brigades before being disbanded in 1941 and 1942 respectively, the 10th Battalion forming the bulk of the 9th (Eastern and Home Counties) Parachute Battalion. 
A 19th Battalion was also formed, which carried out line of communication duties in the Middle East and Eritrea.
After defending Essex during the Battle of Britain and Blitz, 59 (The Essex Regiment) HAA Regiment landed in North Africa with First Army in November 1942, and later saw service with the Eighth Army in Italy.
The 2nd Battalion was disbanded in 1948. In 1951-53 the Regiment was stationed in Luneburg, Germany, as part of the BAOR (British Army of the Rhine). In mid 1953 the regiment sailed on the Troopship "Asturias" for a year in Korea. The next move was in 1954 to be part of the Hong Kong Garrison. The 1st Battalion merged with the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment in 1958 to form the 3rd East Anglian Regiment (16th/44th Foot). In 1964 the regiments of the East Anglian Brigade formed the new Royal Anglian Regiment. The Essex heritage continued in the regiment's 3rd Battalion (also known as 'The Pompadours'). In 1992, the 3rd Battalion was disbanded and the old Essex connection ceased. However, infantry recruits from Essex are assigned to companies in the 1st Battalion, the Royal Anglian Regiment if they wish to serve with others from their county. C (Essex) Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment continues the Essex link.
The "Essex" tradition also continues in the Territorial Army. The Essex infantry reservists are represented by E (Essex and Hertford) Company, The East of England Regiment.[dead link] Under recent changes the East of England Regiment was retitled 3rd Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment.
The drums of the former 4/5th Battalion are still carried by the Corps of Drums of King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford. who also wear the Regiment's full dress of scarlet tunic and Pompadour purple facings.
The King Edward VI Grammar School Corps of Drums is currently led by Drum Major Christopher Nisbett. The Corps has approximately 25 members with the older drummers passing on their skills to the junior drummers and new recruits. The Corps of Drums plays at Warley Barracks, to the veterans of the Essex Regiment at the annual Reunion.
- From 44th Regiment of Foot: Egypt, Badajoz, Salamanca, Peninsula, Bladensburg, Waterloo, Ava, Alma, Inkerman, Sevastopol, Taku Forts
- From 56th Regiment of Foot: Moro, Gibraltar 1779-1783, Sevastopol
- Havannah, Nile 1884-85, Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, South Africa 1899-1902
- Great War (31 battalions): Le Cateau, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914, Messines 1914, Armentières 1914, Ypres 1915, '17, St. Julien, Frezenberg, Bellewaarde, Loos, Somme 1916 '18, Albert 1916 '18, Bazentin, Delville Wood, Pozières, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, Thiepval, Le Transloy, Ancre Heights, Ancre 1916 '18, Bapaume 1917 '18, Arras 1917 '18, Scarpe 1917 '18, Arleux, Pilckem, Langemarck 1917, Menin Road, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917 '18, St. Quentin, Avre, Villers Bretonneux, Lys, Hazebrouck, Béthune, Amiens, Drocourt-Quéant, Hindenburg Line, Havrincourt, Épéhy, St. Quentin Canal, Selle, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914-18, Helles, Landing at Helles, Krithia, Suvla, Landing at Suvla, Scimitar Hill, Gallipoli 1915-16, Rumani, Egypt 1915-17, Gaza, Jaffa, Megiddo, Sharon, Palestine 1917-18
- Second World War: St. Omer-La Bassée, Tilly sur Seulles, Le Havre, Antwerp-Turnhout Canal, Scheldt, Zetten, Arnhem 1945, North-West Europe 1940 '44-45, Abyssinia 1940, Falluja, Baghdad 1941, Iraq 1941, Palmyra, Syria 1941, Tobruk 1941, Belhamed, Mersa Matruh, Defence of Alamein Line, Deir el Shein, Ruweisat, Ruweisat Ridge, El Alamein, Matmata Hills, Akarit, Enfidaville, Djebel Garci, Tunis, Ragoubet Souissi, North Africa 1941-43, Trigno, Sangro, Villa Grande, Cassino I, Castle Hill, Hangman's Hill, Italy 1943-44, Athens, Greece 1944-45, Kohima, Chindits 1944, Burma 1943-45
Recipients of the Victoria Cross
The following members of the Essex Regiment have been awarded the Victoria Cross according to The Essex Regiment Museum:
- McDougall, John - ribbon and bar held at Essex Regiment Museum
- McWheeney, William - medal held at Essex Regiment Museum
- Newman, Augustus Charles - Ashcroft Collection
- Parsons, Francis Newton - medal held at Essex Regiment Museum
- Rogers, Robert Montresor - not publicly held
- Wearne, Frank Bernard - Ashcroft Collection
Essex Regiment Chapel
The Essex Regiment Chapel is located in Eagle Way, Warley (Grade II listed building. It was originally constructed for the British East India Company, but with the establishment of the Essex Regiment Depot at Warley, the chapel became the regiment's "home" church. The chapel's interior contains displays of regimental history, memorials, heraldry, and old regimental colours. The chapel is open by appointment, and on regimental heritage days.). The chapel was built in 1857 and is a
The chapel is near to the Warley (Brentwood) Territorial Army drill hall, which is the headquarters of 124 Petroleum Squadron, part of 151 (London) Transport Regiment of the Royal Logistics Corps.
The site of the old regimental depot and barracks at Warley is now the headquarters of the Ford Motor Company in the UK. Most of the barracks have been demolished and only the chapel, the officer's mess (now the Marillac Nursing Home) and one of the regimental gyms (Keys Hall), remain.
Essex Regiment Museum
The Essex Regiment Museum is part of the Chelmsford Museums and is located in Oaklands Park, Moulsham Street, Chelmsford ( ). It has been redeveloped and re-opened in early 2010.
- The Essex Regiment in 1914-1918
- [dead link]
- The mental toll of revolution
- Tom Barry Leads West Cork Flying Column To Victory at Crossbarry
- The Essex Regiment [UK]
- RA 1939-45 59 HAA Rgt
- How many bty,s was there in the Royal Artillery
- Joslen, pp. 349, 533–4.
- Joslen, pp. 235, 286, 351, 369.
- Forty, pp. 50–1.
- 153 RAC War Diary, December 1941, The National Archives, Kew, file WO 166/1438.
- Joslen, pp. 366, 373, 382, 389.
- Joslen, pp. 446, 484–5.
- Seax Archeaology - Unlocking Essex's Past
- Joslen, pp. 465, 467.
- George Forty, British Army Handbook 1939–1945, Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1998, ISBN 0 7509 1403 3.
- Lt-Col H.F. Joslen, Orders of Battle, United Kingdom and Colonial Formations and Units in the Second World War, 1939–1945, Volume I, London: HM Stationery Office, 1960/Uckfield: Naval & Military, 2003, ISBN 1843424746.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Essex Regiment.|
- Royal Anglian Regiment website[dead link] (official)
- UK Ministry of Defence (official)
- Essex Regiment Museum
- The Essex Regiment in 1914-18
- Essex Regiment at regiments.org[dead link]
- Charles Holman, Essex Regiment veteran (1916-1919)
- Personnel lists of the Essex Regiment up to 1914
- Seax Archaeology: Unlocking Essex's Past
- British Army Rumour Service