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 Brock Barracks, 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.

History[edit]

Formation and antecedents[edit]

The Berkshire 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)

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 First World War[edit]

The regiment, in common with the rest of the British Army, saw a huge expansion during the First World War and many service battalions, for war service only, were created. Most battalions would see active service in the trenches of the Western Front in Belgium and France.

Regular Army

  • The 2nd Battalion was serving in India on the outbreak of war and was recalled to Britain, where, with other regular units also stationed abroad, it helped form the 25th Infantry Brigade and was attached to the 8th Infantry Division. They came to the Western Front in late 1914 and served there for the rest of the war.

Territorial Force

  • The Territorial Force saw a considerable expansion and raised the 1/4th, 2/4th and 3/4th battalions. The 1/4th Battalion was part of the South Midland Brigade of the South Midland Division. In 1915 it was designated the 145th Brigade, 48th (South Midland) Division. They served on the Western Front until 1917 when they were transferred to Italy and the battalion ended the war in Austria.
  • The 3/4th Battalion was raised in 1915 as a 3rd-Line duplicate of the 1/4th Battalion. The 3/4th remained in Britain for the war supplying drafts and replacements to the other Territorial Force battalions.

New Army

  • The regiment also raised many service battalions during the war, specifically for war service only. The 5th Battalion was part of the First New Army, part of Kitchener's Army, and joined the 35th Brigade attached to the 12th (Eastern) Division. They saw their first action in 1915 at Loos. Then in 1916 at the Battle of Albert and Pozieres in 1917. In 1918 the 5th Battalion was transferred to the 36th Brigade, still with 12th Division. They ended the war in Vieux Conde, France.
  • The 6th Battalion was formed as part of Kitchener's Second New Army and joined the 53rd Brigade, 18th (Eastern) Division and fought at the 1916 Albert battle, Delville Wood and the Battle of Thiepval Ridge. Then, in early 1918, the 6th Battalion was disbanded in France due to a manpower shortage where all infantry brigades were reduced from four to three infantry battalions to make up for the shortage and the men of the disbanded 6th were sent to the 1st, 2nd and 5th battalions.
  • The 9th Battalion was originally a service battalion of the Fourth New Army formed in 1914 until 1915 when it became the 37th Training Reserve Battalion and supplied the service battalions overseas with replacements.
  • The 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th Battalions were all formed in 1916, serving in France and were transferred to the Labour Corps and remained there for the rest of the war.

After the Great War, as it was and still is known, was over the 3rd Battalion was disembodied and all the service battalions were disbanded as well as the Territorial Force which was reformed in 1920 as the Territorial Army. Miles Dempsey served with the regiment after being commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1915, where he was awarded the Military Cross for bravery. He would serve with distinction in the Second World War in France, North Africa, Sicily, Italy and North-Western Europe and became the Commander of the British Second Army from D-Day onwards. In 1921 the titles switched to become The Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales's).

The Second World War[edit]

The Second World War also saw an expansion for the regiment but not quite to the extent of the Great War.

Regular Army

  • As in the First World War, the 2nd Battalion was stationed in India at the outbreak of war and remained there for the duration. In January 1943 the battalion was attached to 98th Indian Infantry Brigade, part of 19th Indian Infantry Division and, like the 1st Battalion, also served in the Burma Campaign under the command of Fourteenth Army. A memorial plaque stands at the entrance to a pagoda near the top of Mandalay Hill. It was erected in honour of the men of the 2nd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment who fought and died there and reads;

"Erected to commemorate the fierce fighting in the clearance and final capture of Mandalay Hill by the 2nd Bn. The Royal Berkshire Regiment, March 10th to 12th 1945."

Territorial Army

  • The 6th Battalion was raised in 1939 as a 2nd Line TA duplicate formation of the 4th Battalion, a 1st Line TA formation, and served in the 184th Infantry Brigade, attached to the 2nd Line 61st (South Midland) Infantry Division, a duplicate of 48th Division. The battalion remained with the division throughout the war. In 1945 the battalion were preparing for a move to the Far East to join the 1st and 2nd Battalions but the Japanese surrendered before the battalion arrived.

Hostilities-only

  • The 8th (Home Defence) Battalion was formed in 1939 from No. 84 Group National Defence Companies. The battalion was created specifically for home defence purposes. In 1940 the younger soldiers of the battalion formed a new 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion and in 1941 the 8th Battalion was re-designated as the 30th Battalion. The 30th mainly supplied drafts of men for other infantry regiments until early 1945 when they were ordered to transform into a field force unit and were sent to Belgium to join the 21st Army Group. They were assigned to the 1st Czech Armoured Brigade Group and were the first Allied unit into Amsterdam.
  • The 9th Battalion, nicknamed The Farmer's Boys, was formed in 1940 and joined the 213th Infantry Brigade (Home) and spent the war in the UK. The battalion was disbanded in December 1943 due to an increasing shortage of manpower in the Army, particularly in the infantry, and the men of the 9th Battalion joined many of their comrades fighting in Burma, India and Italy.
  • The 50th (Holding) Battalion was another war-formed unit of the regiment raised in 1940. The 50th (Holding) Battalion's job was to 'hold' men who were homeless, medically unfit or those awaiting orders, on courses etc. In late 1940 it was renumbered the 10th Battalion and, in 1941, joined the 168th (London) Infantry Brigade attached to the 56th (London) Infantry Division. In late 1942 the division was sent to the Middle East. The 168th Brigade was detached to fight with the 50th Division which was understrength after heavy fighting and casualties in the Battle of Gazala in North Africa. The brigade took part in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, and then fought in the Italian Campaign back with the 56th Division. The division came under the command of the US Fifth Army under Mark W. Clark for the landings at Anzio, where the battalion endured some of the bitterest fighting of the war so far. Fighting at Anzio was similar to the trench warfare of the Great War. However, due to the severe shortage of manpower in the British Army at the time, and the battalion being the most junior in 56th Division, it was disbanded in mid-1944 and the men used as replacements for other units of the 56th Division.
  • The 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion was raised in 1940 from the younger personnel of the 8th Battalion and mainly consisted of soldiers around the age of 18 who had volunteered for the Army. The battalion spent most of its time guarding areas of the UK against invasion. However, the unit was disbanded in July 1943 as with all such units of other regiments, due to the British government lowering the age of conscription to 18 earlier in the year, and the young soldiers were sent to the front-line battalions of the regiment.

Amalgamation[edit]

After service in both the First and Second World Wars, it was amalgamated with The Wiltshire Regiment (Duke oF Edinburgh's) into The Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire) in 1959. In 1994 the DERR was amalgamated with the Gloucestershire Regiment to form the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment. The RGBWR had a short existence before again being amalgamating with other regiments to form The Rifles.

Colonels[edit]

  • 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

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "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. 

References[edit]

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]