North Staffordshire Regiment
|North Staffordshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's)|
Regimental cap badge
|Nickname||The Black Knots|
|Colors||Maroon, black and silver|
|March||God Bless the Prince of Wales (slow march)
The Days We Went a'Gypsying (quick march)
|Anniversaries||31 July, Third Battle of Ypres|
|Disbanded||31 January 1959|
|HRH The Prince of Wales|
The North Staffordshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's) was an infantry regiment of the British Army, which was in existence between 1881 and 1959. The 64th Regiment of Foot was created on 21 April 1758 from the 2nd Battalion of the 11th Regiment. In 1881, the 64th Foot was merged with the 98th (Prince of Wales's) Regiment of Foot (originally raised in 1824) to form the new regiment.
Formed at a time when the British Empire was reaching its peak, the Regiment served all over the Empire, in times of both peace and war, and in many theatres of war outside the Empire. It fought in World War I and World War II, as well as in other smaller conflicts around the world. These other wars included the Second Sudanese War, the Second Boer War, the Anglo-Irish War and the Third Anglo-Afghan War.
In 1959, as part of a defence review, the regiment was amalgamated with the South Staffordshire Regiment to form the Staffordshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's). Today the traditions of the Regiment are continued by the 3rd Battalion, the Mercian Regiment.
- 1 Formation history
- 2 Early service (1881–1914)
- 3 First World War (1914–1918)
- 4 Interwar years (1918–1939)
- 5 Second World War (1939–1945)
- 6 Postwar service (1945–1959)
- 7 Amalgamation
- 8 Battle honours
- 9 Football
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
The Prince of Wales's (North Staffordshire) Regiment was formed under the Childers Reforms on 1 July 1881, by the amalgamation of the 64th (2nd Staffordshire) Regiment of Foot and 98th (Prince of Wales's) Regiment of Foot. These two regular regiments became, respectively, the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the new regiment. The militia and Rifle Volunteers forces of North Staffordshire were also incorporated into this new regiment, and a permanent depot was established at Whittington Barracks, Lichfield, which also housed the newly formed South Staffordshire Regiment.
The 64th Foot was originally raised in 1756 as the 2nd Battalion of the 11th (Devonshire) Foot, and was renumbered the 64th in 1758. It had a long history of overseas service with much less time spent in Europe. It had served in the West Indies during the Seven Years' War, America during the American War of Independence, South America, the West Indies and Canada during the Napoleonic Wars. Subsequent long periods were spent in Ireland and the West Indies before action was seen in India during the Indian Mutiny. At the time of the forming of the amalgamation with the 98th Foot, the 64th was based in Ireland.
The 98th Foot, raised in 1824 in Chichester, had a much shorter history, but like the 64th had spent the majority of its time overseas spending a long time in South Africa before seeing action in China in the First Anglo-Chinese (or Opium) War and India on the North West Frontier. It was based in Afghanistan when the amalgamation occurred.
The battalions that formed as part of the regiment in 1881 were as follows:
- 1st Battalion: the 64th (2nd Staffordshire) Regiment of Foot;
- 2nd Battalion: the 98th (Prince of Wales's) Regiment of Foot;
- 3rd (Militia) Battalion: The King's Own (2nd Staffordshire) Light Infantry Militia, based in Stafford;
- 4th (Militia) Battalion: The King's Own (3rd Staffordshire) Rifles Militia, based in Newcastle-under-Lyme;
- 1st Volunteer Battalion: 2nd Staffordshire (Staffordshire Rangers) Rifle Volunteer Corps, based in Stoke-on-Trent;
- 2nd Volunteer Battalion: 5th Staffordshire Rifle Volunteer Corps, based in Lichfield but later moved to Burton-on-Trent.
The reserve battalions of the regiment were reorganised in 1908 by the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907, with the two militia battalions being redesignated the 3rd and 4th "Special Reserve" Battalions, and the volunteer battalions being redesignated as Territorial Force and renumbered as the 5th and 6th Battalions (TF).
Early service (1881–1914)
Garrison duties and the Mahdist War
The 1st Battalion was in Ireland at the time of the amalgamation. It moved to England in 1883, and the following year to the West Indies, based mainly in Barbados, but with detachments on other islands. It moved to Natal in 1887, to Mauritius in 1890, to Malta in 1893 and to Egypt in 1895. From there the 1st Battalion took part in operations in the Second Sudanese War under Lord Kitchener. During the campaign, the 1st battalion were based initially at Wadi Halfa but moved to Gemai to avoid a cholera outbreak. In September the battalion took part in the action against the Dervish Army at Hafir, which was decisive in ending the campaign. As a result, the North Staffordshire Regiment received the unique “Hafir" battle honour, given to no other British regiment.
Second Boer War
The 2nd Battalion was stationed in India in 1881 when the North Staffordshire Regiment was formed, and remained there until 1886. During this time period, it took part in an expedition to the Zhob Valley in 1884, thus making it the first battalion in the regiment to see active service. In 1886, it returned to England via Aden, and then deployed to Ireland in 1893. In 1899, 2nd Battalion mobilised and moved to South Africa, where it took part in the Second Boer War. Forming part of 15th Brigade in the 7th Division, the majority of the battalion saw little action throughout the conflict, being mostly occupied in garrison duties in Johannesburg in 1900. In 1901, the battalion was part of a mobile column under Brigadier-General Dartnell in the Eastern Transvaal which carried out a scorched earth campaign, and it also took part in the subsequent blockhouse occupation of the Transvaal.
More action was seen by the mounted infantry company of the regiment that had been formed on arrival in South Africa. In January 1900 Lord Roberts, commander of the British forces in South Africa, ordered that every infantry battalion in South Africa was to raise a company of mounted infantry. These companies were to be detached from their parent units and operate as part of eight independent mounted infantry battalions. The North Staffs company thus formed became part of the 8th Battalion, Mounted Infantry. This unit was involved in the pursuit of Koos de la Rey and was present when he was captured at Wildfontein. The militia and volunteer battalions also saw service in the Second Boer War. The 4th Battalion was deployed in the Cape Colony and later the Bechuanaland Protectorate before being replaced by the 3rd Battalion. Additionally, the two volunteer companies which formed from the 1st and 2nd Volunteer Battalions served alongside the 2nd Battalion at various times. As a result of these contributions and those of the two regular battalions, the regiment was awarded the "South Africa 1900–1902" battle honour.
At the war's end in 1902, the battalion returned briefly to England. In the following year, it returned to India, remaining there until 1919.
Meeting in India
The 1st Battalion was subsequently stationed in India from 1897 until 1903. Here, the 1st and 2nd Battalions met for the first time, and no fewer than 590 men from the 1st Battalion were transferred to the 2nd Battalion. Thus 1st Battalion was reduced to a small cadre, which served for nine years upon its return to Lichfield and other stations in England, before moving to Ireland in 1912.
First World War (1914–1918)
The North Staffordshire Regiment was heavily committed to the fighting during the First World War, and over the course of the conflict, was expanded to 18 battalions, some by duplication of the Territorial Force battalions and others, labelled "service" battalions raised as part of Field Marshal Kitchener's New Army. These battalions saw service in a number of theatres including on the Western Front, at Gallipoli, in the Middle East, and India. The following list details the involvement of these battalions:
- 1st Battalion – served in France from September 1914 until November 1918;
- 2nd Battalion – served in India throughout the war;
- 3rd (Reserve) Battalion – operated as a training battalion in the United Kingdom throughout the war;
- 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion – garrison battalion in Guernsey 1914–1916. Returned to United Kingdom in 1916. Served in France 1917–1918;
- 1/5th Battalion Territorial Force (TF) – mobilised in 1914, and served in France from 1915 to 1918;
- 1/6th Battalion TF – mobilised in 1914, served in France from 1915 to 1918;
- 2/5th Battalion TF – formed in 1914, moved to Ireland in 1916 where it was involved in the Easter Rising, served in France 1917–1918. Merged with 1/5th Battalion in February 1918;
- 2/6th Battalion TF – formed in 1914, moved to Ireland in 1916 where it was involved in the Easter Rising, served in France 1917–1918. Merged with 1/6th Battalion in July 1918;
- 3/5th Battalion TF – formed in 1915. Renamed 5th (Reserve) Battalion in April 1916. Served as a training battalion in England 1915–1918;
- 3/6th Battalion TF – formed in 1915. Renamed 6th (Reserve) Battalion in April 1916. Merged with 5th (Reserve) Battalion in September 1916;
- 7th (Service) Battalion – formed in 1914. Took part in Gallipoli Campaign July 1915 – January 1916. Evacuated to Egypt. Served in Mesopotamia from February 1916. From July 1918 were part of North Persia Force (Dunsterforce) and ended the war in Baku, Armenia.
- 8th (Service) Battalion – formed in 1914. Served in France 1915–1918;
- 9th (Service) Battalion (Pioneers) – formed as a service battalion in 1914. Became a pioneer battalion in 1915. Served in France 1915–1918;
- 10th (Reserve) Battalion – formed as a service battalion in 1914. Became a reserve battalion in 1915. Renamed as 3rd Training Reserve Battalion of 1st Reserve Brigade in 1916;
- 11th (Reserve) Battalion – formed as a service battalion in 1914. Became a reserve battalion in 1915. Renamed as 4th Training Reserve Battalion of 1st Reserve Brigade in 1916;
- 12th (Service) Battalion – formed 1918 in France from 11th Garrison Guard Battalion. Renamed as a service battalion and continued to serve in France;
- 1st (Garrison) Battalion – formed in 1916. Served in France 1916–1918. Renamed 13th (Garrison) Battalion in July 1918;
- 2nd (Home Service Garrison) Battalion – formed in 1916. Became 17th Battalion Royal Defence Corps in 1917.
The numbering of the Territorial Force battalions was laid down by War Office instructions issued in 1914 and 1915. On joining the Territorial Force men were asked if they would serve overseas (foreign service) or just volunteered for service in the United Kingdom (home service) and their service records amended accordingly. At the declaration of war all Territorial battalions were mobilised and on 15 August 1914 the War Office issued instructions for those men who had volunteered for foreign service to be separated out into what were called first line battalions. Home service men were placed in second line battalions. Thus there would now be a first line 5th Battalion and a second line 5th Battalion. On 24 November 1914, as the first line battalions began to go overseas, additional instructions were issued allowing the raising of a third line battalion once the first line battalion was on foreign service. In January 1915 these designations were simplified and the battalions called the 1/5th, 2/5th and 3/5th battalions respectively.
The battalions that served in France took part in many of the major actions of the war including the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, the Battle of Loos, the Battle of the Somme, the Third Battle of Ypres and the Battle of Amiens.
The 1st Battalion went to France in September 1914 as part of 17th Brigade in 6th Division. It took part in the First Battle of Ypres being based in the Armentieres sector on the southern flank of the battle. In December 1914 it was in trenches in the Rue-du-Bois area (near Fleurbaix), and participated in the Christmas truce.
In October 1915 17th Brigade was exchanged with 71st Brigade of 24th Division, as part of an official policy of mixing Regular with New Army units. Immediately on joining 24th Division, the battalion was moved to 72nd Brigade within the division. It was to remain part of this formation until the end of the war.
In August–September 1916, the 24th Division participated in the Battle of the Somme. The 1st Battalion was engaged in the fighting around Guillemont and later the defence of Delville Wood, suffering a total of more than 350 casualties.
In June 1917, the 1st Battalion was involved (and suffered over 150 casualties) in the assault on Messines Ridge, one of the most successful British offensives of the war. This battle formed a prelude to the Third Battle of Ypres, when the battalion took part in the initial assault on 31 July 1917. Its objectives were to capture the German frontline trench called Jehovah trench, the second line trench called Jordan trench and the remains of Bulgar Wood. These three objectives were 1,000 yards (910 m), 1,500 yards (1,400 m) and 1,750 yards (1,600 m) from the British front line. The battalion managed to capture both the trenches and a platoon reached Bulgar Wood before events around them forced a retreat from Bulgar Wood and Jordan trench. The battalion dug in on the Jehovah trench line having lost 11 officers and 258 other ranks as casualties, almost 50% of the battalion strength. After the war, the anniversary of this attack became the main Regimental Day.
On 21 March 1918, the 1st Battalion was in front-line trenches near St. Quentin when the Germans launched Operation Michael, the opening attack in their Spring Offensive. The battalion was virtually wiped out, losing 19 officers and 662 men in the attack itself and the withdrawal which followed. The re-formed battalion took part in the Battle of the Selle, in which it suffered nearly 200 casualties, in the last weeks of the war in October 1918.
The 2nd Battalion was one of only eight Regular battalions of the British Army to remain in India throughout the war. It took part in operations on the North West Frontier in 1915, as a result of which the regiment was awarded the battle honour "North West Frontier, India, 1915". Amusingly, the commanding officer at this time was Major Fox and the adjutant Captain Squirell. Although it was a Regular Army battalion, it received very few replacements during the war. From a pre-war establishment strength of a HQ plus eight companies, after the 1915 North West Frontier campaign the battalion comprised only a HQ company and four rifle companies. This cannot be attributed to war casualties as the battalion suffered less than 100 casualties throughout the entire war.
The 1/5th and 1/6th Battalions arrived in France in February 1915 as part of 137th (Staffordshire) Brigade of 46th (North Midland) Division. Among the first territorial units to go to France, these two battalions took part in the Battle of Loos, especially the battles around the Hohenzollern Redoubt in 1915, and at Gommecourt on the northern flank of the Battle of the Somme.
By September 1918 the 1/5th Battalion had been reduced to a cadre and had been transferred away from 46th Division. The 1/6th remained and with the rest of 137th Brigade took part in the storming of the St Quentin Canal. It was a company of the 1/6th Battalion, led by acting Captain A. H. Charlton, that seized the Riqueval Bridge over the St Quentin Canal on 29 September before the Germans could fire the explosive charges, an action for which Charlton was decorated with the Distinguished Service Order.
The 12th Battalion formed part of 40th Division and served in France on the River Lys during the advance in Flanders (18 August to 6 September 1918) and the Fifth Battle of Ypres, and in France and Belgium during the final weeks of the war.
Awards and decorations
Four Victoria Crosses were awarded to men of the regiment during World War I:
- Sergeant John Carmichael, 9th Battalion; for gallantry on 8 September 1917 during the Third battle of Ypres;
- Lance-Corporal William Harold Coltman, 1/6th Battalion; for gallantry on the nights of 3 & 4 October 1918 near Sequehart, France;
- Acting Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Elers Delaval Henderson, 7th Battalion (attached 9th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment); for gallantry on 25 January 1917 in Mesopotamia. This award was made posthumously;
- Lance-Corporal John Thomas, 2/5th Battalion for gallantry on 30 November 1917 during the Battle of Cambrai.
Reputation for profanity
Even by the standards of the British Army, the Regiment (and the 1st Battalion in particular) seems to have gained a reputation during the First World War for profane language. When the 1st Battalion was relieved in the front line following its defence of Delville Wood in September 1916, one of the advanced posts was missed out by mistake. The lance corporal in command, suspecting something was amiss, sent a man back to the front-line trench to investigate. The soldier realised he was at some risk of being shot by his own side, and so "when he had crawled within shouting distance he enquired politely but firmly what —— bastards were holding that —— trench. The 9th East Surreys, who were the troops thus addressed, recognised the North Stafford idiom and let him in unhurt". Bernard Martin, who served as a second lieutenant with the 1st Battalion, records another incident which probably took place in 1917, when (very unusually) the battalion was addressed at a church parade by a general, who railed against "the disgusting word many of you utter every time you speak. ... I tell you again this indecent word is not to be used any longer. It is so common amongst you that it has become the shameful nickname by which your battalion is known throughout my Division". As the parade ended, one soldier was heard to ask, "What was that bugger gassing about?"; to which another replied, "Buggered if I know, I was having a kip. Where's the old bugger gone now?".
Interwar years (1918–1939)
The 1st Battalion was posted to the Curragh, Ireland after the armistice, becoming involved in the Irish War of Independence until 1922, when it moved to Gibraltar. In the following year it was moved to Thrace, where it played a peace-keeping role in the conflict between Greek and Turkish forces. In 1923 it moved to India and remained in the Far East until 1948.
The 2nd Battalion was stationed in India in 1919 when Afghan forces crossed the border and occupied some Indian territory, sparking the brief Third Anglo-Afghan War. During this conflict, the battalion was involved very early on, firstly in the investing of Peshawar City, where Afghan sympathisers were mooting a holy war and on 11 May 1919 when they were involved in a bayonet charge on the Afghan forces at Bagh, near Landi Kotal. For their involvement, the regiment received the battle honour "Afghanistan NWF 1919". The battalion returned to England via Egypt and the Sudan in 1921, and was quickly redeployed to Ireland. On the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, it returned to the regimental depot at Lichfield. Until 1939, it spent time in "home stations". Apart from England, this included service in Gibraltar from 1930 to 1932 and a year in Palestine in 1936–7.
The 3rd and 4th (Special Reserve) Battalions were placed in suspended animation in 1921, finally being disbanded in 1953. The Territorial Force was reconstituted as the Territorial Army in 1920, and the 5th and 6th Battalions were reformed. In 1936, the 5th Battalion was converted to an anti-aircraft unit of the Royal Engineers as 41st (North Staffordshire Regiment) Anti-Aircraft Battalion and thus ceased to be a part of the regiment. However the affiliation with the regiment was retained and the battalion number was reinstated when the 41st Anti-Aircraft Battalion was transferred to the Royal Artillery in 1940 as the 41st (5th North Staffordshire) Searchlight Regiment TA. In 1939 the size of the Territorial Army was doubled, and the remaining 6th Battalion formed a duplicate 7th Battalion.
In 1921, the regimental title was altered to The North Staffordshire Regiment (The Prince of Wales's). In 1937, the black facings formerly worn by the 64th Foot were restored, replacing the white colour that had been imposed on all non-royal English regiments in 1881.
Second World War (1939–1945)
In September 1939, the North Staffordshire Regiment consisted of two regular and two Territorial battalions — the 1st, 2nd and 6th and 7th Battalions. Following the outbreak of the Second World War, the regiment was expanded as it had been during the First World War. This expansion, however, was limited this time only to the addition of two more battalions — the 8th and 9th Battalions, raised in 1940. The roles of the two regular battalions were reversed this time, with the 1st Battalion serving in India and Burma throughout the war, while the 2nd Battalion remained in Europe and North Africa.
The 1st Battalion saw no action until 1942, when one company that was stationed on the Andaman Islands were involved in the defence of the islands during the Japanese invasion. In 1943, the battalion served for six months in Burma before being withdrawn to India again. For the rest of the war, the battalion was employed on internal security duties.
The 2nd Battalion went to France in September 1939 as part of the 2nd Infantry Brigade of 1st Infantry Division of the British Expeditionary Force, and was involved in the Battle of France before eventually being evacuated from Dunkirk on 1 June 1940. Following that, it remained in the United Kingdom until 1943 when, still as part of 1st Infantry Division, it sailed to North Africa and took part in the Tunisian Campaign. The battalion did not participate in the invasion of Sicily or the initial invasion of Italy but was one of the lead units in the Anzio landings. As part of the Allied 15th Army Group and later British Eighth Army, the 2nd Battalion continued to serve in Italy until January 1945 when the battalion and the rest of 1st Infantry Division were transferred to Palestine.
The two Territorial battalions both formed part of 176th Infantry Brigade of 59th (Staffordshire) Division. The division spent several years training until it landed in Normandy in June 1944. Only the 6th Battalion landed in France as the 7th Battalion had been transferred in 1942. The 6th Battalion had been in France for less than two months when, in August 1944, along with all the other infantry units of 59th Division, it was broken up to supply replacements to other units. The 7th Battalion, upon leaving 59th Division, served with the 228th and 207th Infantry Brigades in the Orkney and Shetland islands in 1943–1945, before being transferred to Italy in 1945 as an administrative unit in the 183rd Infantry brigade within the 61st (South Midland) Infantry Division. The battalion was disbanded in 1947.
The 8th and 9th Battalions were initially raised as training battalions. The 8th Battalion was converted to artillery in March 1942 becoming the 180th Field Artillery Regiment, RA. This unit was disbanded in August 1944. The 9th Battalion transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps (RAC) in December 1941 becoming 154th Regiment RAC, retaining their North Staffs cap badge on the black beret of the RAC. This unit was disbanded in July 1943.
The regiment was awarded 22 battle honours for the war but, as at the end of the First World War, only 10 could be displayed on the colours.
Postwar service (1945–1959)
Following the independence of India in 1947, all infantry regiments in the British Army were reduced to a single regular battalion. Accordingly the 1st Battalion left India to take part in a ceremony officially amalgamating with the 2nd Battalion in Egypt in 1948. The new 1st Battalion remained in Egypt until 1950, when it returned to the depot in Staffordshire. A year later, the battalion was posted to the disputed port city of Trieste. In 1953, the battalion was transferred to Korea, where they were stationed on garrison duties as part of the United Nations force established at the end of the Korean War. In 1954, it moved to Hong Kong, where the regiment's 200th anniversary was celebrated in 1956.
In July 1957, a defence review was announced, which resulted in the amalgamation of the North Staffordshire Regiment with The South Staffordshire Regiment, with the new regiment becoming part of the new administrative Mercian Brigade. The amalgamation of the 1st Battalions of the two regiments took place on 31 January 1959 at Minden, Germany, to form the 1st Battalion, The Staffordshire Regiment (The Prince of Wales's).
The 6th Battalion continued as a Territorial unit of the new regiment without a change of title. In 1961, it merged with the 441st Light Anti Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, the successor to the 5th North Staffords, to become the 5th/6th Battalion. The combined battalion was abolished in 1967 on the creation of the Territorial Army and Volunteer Reserve in 1967.
The Staffordshire Regiment only had a separate existence from 1959–2007. As part of the reforms proposed in the 2003 Defence White Paper, Delivering Security in a Changing World, the regiment was merged with the Cheshire Regiment and the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment to form the Mercian Regiment. The amalgamation took place on 1 September 2007 when the Staffordshire Regiment became the 3rd Battalion, the Mercian Regiment.
The following lists all battle honours awarded to the Regiment or inherited by the regiment from the 64th Foot and 98th Foot.
Prior to 1914 all battle honours awarded to a unit were displayed upon the colours. However the number of battle honours awarded during the First World War was such that it was ordered that no more than 24 honours were to be carried on the colours, of which no more than 10 were to be honours relating to the First World War. Similarly, following the Second World War it was ordered that up to 10 honours relating to that conflict could be displayed on the colours, in addition to honours already carried. The choice of the honours to be displayed were at the discretion of regimental committees.
The honours chosen by the North Staffordshire Regiment to be carried on the colours are shown in capitals in the following list.
Honours awarded to the 64th Foot
Honours awarded to the 98th Foot
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- Army Order 509/1920
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- Army Order 338/1922 paragraph 1(d).
- Army Council Instruction 58/1956 paragraph 5.
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