Liverpool Rifles

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The cap badge of the Liverpool Rifles.

The Liverpool Rifles was a unit of the British Territorial Army, formed as a 'volunteer rifle corps' in 1859 before becoming a battalion of the King's Regiment (Liverpool) in 1881.

History[edit]

Formation and early history[edit]

The Liverpool Rifles was raised by Adam Steuart Gladstone in 1859, as the 5th Lancashire Rifle Volunteer Corps. In 1860, a number of corps formed in Lancashire during the French invasion scare were organised into the 2nd Administrative Battalion. The battalion consolidated as the 5th Lancashire (The Liverpool Rifle Volunteer Brigade) Rifle Volunteer Corps in 1862. When allocated to King's (Liverpool Regiment) during the Cardwell-Childers reforms of the British Armed Forces, the Liverpool Rifles became the 2nd Volunteer Battalion.

Further integration of the non-regular forces culminated in the establishment of the Territorial Force in 1908, and the Liverpool Rifles' redesignation as the 6th (Rifle) Battalion. The 6th was assigned to the Liverpool Brigade, West Lancashire Division, which was formed to administer territorial units in Lancashire. The battalion was based at Princes Park Barracks, Upper Warwick Street.

World War I[edit]

The battalion was not dispatched to the Western Front when the First World War began in August 1914, as initially only a select number of territorial battalions were chosen to join the British Expeditionary Force. The battalion moved to Canterbury, Kent in the autumn. In September the Liverpool Rifles formed a second-line duplicate battalion for home service, entitled the 2/6th. A third-line battalion, the 3/6th, was formed in May 1915. The newly redesignated 1/6th left England in February 1915, and landed at Le Havre on 25 February. The battalion moved to the Ypres area, where it formed part of the 15th Brigade, 5th Division. The 2/6th followed in February 1917.

The 1/6th's first major engagement occurred on 5 May, in a German attack on Hill 60 during the Second Battle of Ypres. Control of Hill 60 had briefly fluctuated after its capture in a British attack on 17 April, but fighting ended with the British in possession.[1] Poison gas was used during the preliminary German attack, facilitating the assault against positions held by the 2nd Duke of Wellington's Regiment.[2] After Hill 60 was lost, companies from the Liverpool Rifles were used suuccessively in support of the 1st Cheshires; "C" Company, heavily engaged, suffered 60 casualties.[3] The Liverpool Rifles collectively sustained nearly 100 casualties between the period of 5 May-6 May, 22 of whom were killed.[4] German control of Hill 60 was consolidated by 7 May.

In November the Liverpool Rifles left the 5th Division to become Third Army Troops, later transferring to the 166th Brigade, 55th Division in January 1916. After the beginning of the Somme Offensive on 1 July, the 1/6th was one of many battalions utilised as reinforcements. The 55th Division fought at Guillemont on 8 August and moved to the Ypres salient. There, on 31 July 1917, another Allied offensive was launched. The battalion's brigade fared better than the rest of the 55h Division, which faced considerable opposition.

The final German offensive of the war (the Spring Offensive) commenced on 21 March 1918. Substantial gains were made initially before the attack was halted on 25 March. The Liverpool Rifles was heavily engaged in the Allied defence. The eventual halting of the German offensives was followed by a period known as the Hundred Days Offensive, from August to November. The battalion was positioned west of Ath, Belgium, when the Armistce was signed on 11 November.

Interwar years[edit]

C Company of the 6th (Rifle) Battalion at Kinmel Park, near Rhyl, Wales. (July 1931)

Reorganisation of the Territorial Army in the mid-1930s entailed numbered infantry battalions converting to other roles; the Liverpool Rifles transferred to the Royal Engineers in 1936, becoming the 38th (The King's Regiment) Anti-Aircraft Battalion.

WWII[edit]

In 1940, the battalion transferred to the Royal Artillery as a searchlight regiment. The Liverpool Rifles served in Liverpool and Derby during the Blitz in 1940. In January 1945 the battalion returned to its infantry role while remaining part of the Royal Artillery, retitled as the 635th (King's Regiment) Infantry Regiment Royal Artillery in 303rd Infantry Brigade. After infantry training, including a short period attached to 61st Infantry Division, 303 Bde was sent to Norway in June 1945 following the liberation of that country (Operation Doomsday).[5][6][7][8]

Postwar[edit]

The regiment reconstituted into the Territorial Army in 1947, designated as the 573rd (Mixed) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment (The King's Regiment), based in Liverpool. Anti-Aircraft Command was disbanded in 1955 and the Liverpool Rifles was reduced in size. By 1967, it was a troop of P Battery, The West Lancashire Regiment. The regiment was reduced to cadre strength in 1969.

The regiment is currently B Troop, 208 (3rd West Lancs) Battery, 103 Regiment RA.

Battle honours[edit]

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Joslen, Lt-Col H.F. (2003) [1st. Pub. HMSO:1960]. Orders of Battle, United Kingdom and Colonial Formations and Units in the Second World War, 1939–1945. Uckfield: Naval & Military. ISBN 1-843424-74-6. 
  • Mileham, Patrick (2000). Difficulties Be Damned: The King's Regiment - A History of the City Regiment of Manchester and Liverpool. Fleur de Lys. ISBN 1-873907-10-9. 

External links[edit]