Royal Berkshire Regiment

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The Royal Berkshire Regiment
Vouziers-FR-08-cimetière communal-sépulture militaire britanique-15.jpg
Badge of The Royal Berkshire Regiment
Active 1881–1959
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Infantry
Role Line Infantry
Size 2 Regular Battalions
1 Militia Battalion (Royal Berkshire Regiment of Militia)
1 - 2 Territorial and Volunteer Battalions
Up to 12 hostilities-only Battalions
Garrison/HQ Reading
Nickname The Biscuit Boys
Anniversaries Maiwand (27 July)

The Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) was an infantry regiment of the line in the British Army, formed in 1881 by the amalgamation of the 49th (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) (Hertfordshire) Regiment of Foot and the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment of Foot.[1] Its lineage is continued today by The Rifles.[1]

Formation and antecedents[edit]

The regiment was formed as part of the reforms carried out by Edward Cardwell and Hugh Childers, Secretaries of State for War in the late nineteenth century. The first stage, under Cardwell in 1873, introduced a "localisation scheme". This saw the United Kingdom divided into "Brigade Districts" consisting of a county or counties. Each district was assigned two regular infantry battalions, one of which would be on foreign service while the other was on home service. The home-based battalion was to provide drafts to the battalion on foreign duty as required. County militia regiments were also to be linked with the regular battalions, with all sharing a single depot in the brigade district. It was announced that a depot was to be built at Reading, Berkshire, which would serve a district comprising the County of Berkshire. The two line battalions which were to be linked were the 49th and 66th Regiments of Foot, along with the Berkshire Militia.[2] On 1 July 1881, the reforms were completed under Childers, with the formation of the The Princess Charlotte of Wales's (Berkshire Regiment)

  • 1st Battalion (formerly the 49th (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) (Hertfordshire) Regiment of Foot). The regiment had been raised in 1743, and had been granted the title "Princess Charlotte of Wales's" in 1816.[3][4]
  • 2nd Battalion (formerly the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment of Foot) . The regiment had been raised in 1758.[4]
  • 3rd (Militia) Battalion (formerly the Berkshire Militia)[1][5]
  • 1st Volunteer Battalion (formerly the 1st Berkshire Rifle Volunteer Corps, formed in 1859).[5]

In 1885, following its service at the Battle of Tofrek, the regiment was granted "royal" status, to become The Princess Charlotte of Wales's (Royal Berkshire Regiment)[6]

The regiment, in common with the rest of the British Army, saw a huge expansion during the First World War and many service battalions were created. In 1915, 22-year old Alexander Buller Turner of the 1st Battalion was awarded the Victoria Cross. Miles Dempsey, future Commander of the British Second Army in the Second World War, served with the Royal Berkshire Regiment from 1915 to the end of the war. In 1921 the titles switched to become The Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales's).

The Second World War also saw an expansion for the regiment but not quite to the extent of the Great War. The 1st Battalion was part of the 2nd Infantry Division and also a part of the British Expeditionary Force that was sent to France in 1939 after war was declared. They took part in the Battle of France in 1940 and were evacuated during the Battle of Dunkirk. The 2nd Division, 1st Royal Berkshires included, then went on to fight in the Far East as part of the British Fourteenth Army under the command of Lieutenant-general William Slim. They were destined to fight in the Battle of Kohima, which turned the tide of the war against Japan. The 2nd Battalion served in the 19th Indian Infantry Division and also served in the Far East and the Fourteenth Army. The 4th Battalion was a Territorial Army unit serving in the 3rd Infantry Division under Major-General Bernard Montgomery in France 1940 before being evacuated to Dunkirk. The battalion then became an officer training unit for the rest of the war. The 10th Battalion was part of the 168th (London) Infantry Brigade and fought in the Allied invasion of Sicily, briefly as part of the under-strength 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division, and then the Italian Campaign with the 56th (London) Division, part of the British Eighth Army, in some of the worst and fiercest fighting of the war. Due to the severe shortage of manpower in the British Army at the time, the 10th Battalion was disbanded in 1944.

After service in the First and Second World Wars, it was amalgamated into The Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire) in 1959.


  • 1881 - 1891: General Thomas Henry Johnston (formerly colonel of 66th Foot)[7]
  • 1891 - 1894: General Sir William Pollexfen Radcliffe, KCB[8]
  • 1894 - 1905: Lieutenant-General Robert William Lowry, CB[9][10]
  • 1905 - 1913: Major-General Sir William Bellairs, KCMG, CB[11][12]
  • 1913 - 1930: Major-General Edward Thompson Dickson[13][14]
  • 1930 - 1940: General Sir Felix Fordati Ready CB, CSI, CMG, CSO[15]
  • 1940 - 1947: General Robert John Collins
  • 1947 - 1956: General Sir Miles Dempsey[16]
  • 1956 - 1959: Brigadier Dudley William Bruce Trower Hogg

Battle Honours[edit]

Members of the 10th Battalion climbing the heights of Calvi Risorta in the Allied invasion of Italy, October 1943
  • From 49th Regiment of Foot: Egmont-op-Zee, Copenhagen, Queenstown, China, Alma, Inkerman, Sevastopol
  • From 66th Regiment of Foot: Douro, Talavera, Albuhera, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes, Peninsula, Kandahar 1880, Afghanistan 1879-80 (Maiwand)
  • St. Lucia 1778, Egypt 1882, Tofrek, Suakin 1885, South Africa 1899-1902
  • The Great War (16 battalions): Mons, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914 '18, Ypres 1914 '17, Langemarck 1914 '17, Gheluvelt, Nonne Bosschen, Neuve Chapelle, Aubers, Festubert 1915, Loos, Somme 1916 '18, Albert 1916 '18, Bazentin, Delville Wood, Pozières, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, Thiepval, Le Transloy, Ancre Heights, Ancre 1916 '18, Arras 1917 '18, Scarpe 1917 '18, Arleux, Pilckem, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917 '18, St. Quentin, Bapaume 1918, Rosières, Avre, Villers Bretonneux, Lys, Hazebrouck, Béthune, Amiens, Hindenburg Line, Havrincourt, Épéhy, Canal du Nord, St. Quentin Canal, Selle, Valenciennes, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914-18, Piave, Vittorio Veneto, Italy 1917-18, Doiran 1917 '18, Macedonia 1915-18
  • The Second World War: Dyle, St. Omer-La Bassée, Dunkirk 1940, Normandy Landing, Rhine, North-West Europe 1940 '44-45, Pursuit to Messina, Sicily 1943, Monte Camino, Calabritto, Garigliano Crossing, Damiano, Anzio, Carroceto, Italy 1943-45, Donbaik, Kohima, Mao Songsang, Shwebo, Kyaukmyaung Bridgehead, Mandalay, Fort Dufferin, Rangoon Road, Toungoo, Burma 1942-45


  1. ^ a b c "The Berkshire Regiment 1881-1885, The Royal Berkshire Regiment 1885-1959". The Rifles (Berkshire and Wiltshire) Museum. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "The Army Localisation Scheme". The Morning Post. 12 February 1873. p. 3. 
  3. ^ "His Royal Highness the Prince Regent has been pleased, in the name and on behalf of his Majesty, to approve of the 49th (or the Hertfordshire) Regiment being in future styled the 49th (or Princess Charlotte of Wales's) Regiment, retaining its County Title." The London Gazette: no. 17111. p. 308. 17 February 1816.
  4. ^ a b Swinson, Arthur (1972). A Register of the Regiments and Corps of the British Army. London: The Archive Press. ISBN 0-85591-000-3. 
  5. ^ a b "The Militia, Volunteers and Territorial Army". The Rifles (Berkshire and Wiltshire) Museum. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  6. ^ "The Queen has been graciously pleased to approve... of the Princess Charlotte of Wales's (Berkshire Regiment), being in future designated " Princess Charlotte of Wales's (Royal Berkshire Regiment), in recognition of the gallant conduct of the 1st Battalion of the Regiment, in the action at Tofrek, near Suakin, on the 22nd March, 1885." The London Gazette: no. 25515. p. 4558. 29 September 1885.
  7. ^ "Deaths". The Times. 31 December 1891. p. 1. 
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 26263. p. 1201. 1 March 1892.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 26492. p. 1370. 6 March 1894.
  10. ^ "Obituary". The Times. 9 June 1905. p. 9. 
  11. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27821. p. 5145. 25 July 1905.
  12. ^ "Obituary: Sir William Bellairs". The Times. 25 July 1913. p. 11. 
  13. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28750. p. 6083. 26 August 1913.
  14. ^ "Deaths". The Times. 24 August 1938. p. 1. 
  15. ^ "Military Appointments". The Times. 3 June 1930. p. 16. 
  16. ^ "Obituary: Gen Sir Miles Dempsey An outstanding Second World War Commander". The Times. 7 June 1969. p. 10. 


Further reading[edit]

  • Blight, Gordon. The History of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, Princess Charlotte of Wales's, 1920-1947. London: Staples Press, 1953. OCLC 4042787
  • Chapman,John. Friends and Enemies: The 7th Royal Berkshire Regiment in World War One. Purley on Thames: Goosecroft Publications, 2012. ISBN 0-956-63414-1 OCLC 830344994
  • Crutwell, Charles. Hearts and Dragons: The 4th Royal Berkshire Regiment in France and Italy During the Great War, 1914-1918. United Kingdom: Leonaur, 2007. ISBN 1-846-77361-X OCLC 310355857
  • Cruttwell, C. R. M. F. The War Service of the 1/4 Royal Berkshire Regiment (T.F.). Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1922. OCLC 12206318
  • Cull, Ian, John Chapman, Martin McIntyre, and Len Webb. Second Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment in World War One: The China Dragon's Tales. Stroud: Tempus Pub, 2005. ISBN 0-752-43571-X OCLC 159579502
  • Fox, Colin. Arras to Cambrai: The Kitchener Battalions of the Royal Berkshire Regiment 1917. Reading: Centre for Continuing Education (Extramural Studies), University of Reading, 1997. ISBN 0-704-91161-2 OCLC 38207869
  • Fox, Colin. On the Somme: The Kitchener Battalions of the Royal Berkshire Regiment 1916. Reading: [University of Reading], 1996. ISBN 0-704-91160-4 OCLC 36261087
  • Fox, Colin. Their Duty Done: The Kitchener Battalions of the Royal Berkshire Regiment 1918. Reading: Centre for Continuing Education, Extramural Studies, University of Reading, 1998. ISBN 0-704-91162-0 OCLC 43070989
  • Hill, John. China Dragons: A Rifle Company at War, Burma 1944-45. London: Blandford, 1991. ISBN 0-713-72275-4 OCLC 26052837
  • McIntyre, Martin. The Royal Berkshire Regiment 1914-1959. Stroud: Tempus, 2005. ISBN 0-752-43471-3 OCLC 60368626
  • McIntyre, Martin. Royal Berkshire Regiment 1743-1914. Stroud: Tempus, 2006. ISBN 0-752-43914-6 OCLC 467716523
  • Myatt, Frederick. The Royal Berkshire Regiment (the 49th/66th Regiment of Foot). London: H. Hamilton, 1968. ISBN 0241015367
  • Myatt, Frederick. The Last Twelve Years 1948-1959: The Royal Berkshire Regiment (49th and 66th). Salisbury: Wardrobe Museum Trust, 2001. ISBN 0-954-03650-6 OCLC 59476016
  • Petre, F. Loraine. The Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales's). Reading: The Barracks, 1925. OCLC  15692937
  • Thoyts, Emma Elizabeth. History of the Royal Berkshire Militia:(Now 3rd Battalion Royal Berks Regiment). Reading: Printed for the authoress by J. Hawkes, 1897. OCLC 6766088

External links[edit]