Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey
|Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey|
Badge of the Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey (1901-1946)
|Type||Militia (United Kingdom)|
|Garrison/HQ||Royal Engineer's Yard, Mount Bingham, St. Helier (present day).|
|Engagements||Battle of Jersey and The Great War.|
Formed in 1337, the Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey can claim to be the oldest regiment of the British Army, although, because it is a Militia regiment, and was disbanded for some years in the late 20th Century, it is not the most senior.
In 1336, King David II of Scotland raided the island of Jersey whilst in exile in France. The following year, in response to the threat of a repeat of this invasion, King Edward III ordered Thomas de Ferrers, Warden of the Isles, to levy and equip a militia of "all men capable of bearing arms, and to form them into companies of thousands, hundreds and twenties, and to lead them well-armed and arrayed for the defence of the islands". Although this threat came to nothing, Jersey was invaded by the French in 1461 and occupied until 1468 when the invaders were expelled by an English army supported by the Seigneur of Saint Ouen.
In 1545, the Jersey Militia consisted of 12 parochial bands which, in 1622, were organized into three regiments, the North, West and East. It was reorganized and uniformed in scarlet by the Governor of Jersey, Sir Thomas Morgan, in 1678, and in 1685 a Troop of Horse was raised (which later became Dragoons). Around 1730, it was divided into five regiments, based on the Parishes of the island, the 4th Regiment (that of the parishes of Saint Lawrence and Saint Helier) consisting of two battalions. Compulsory military service was introduced in 1771 and the militia was increased to a Regiment of Cavalry, a Regiment of Artillery and five Regiments of Infantry.
On 1 May 1779, a Franco-Dutch force attempted a landing at St Ouen's Bay. Early that morning lookouts sighted five large vessels and a great number of boats some three leagues off the coast, proceeding towards the coast in order by a coup de main to effect a landing. Guns on the cutters and small craft supporting the landing fired grapeshot at the defenders on the coast. The defenders, the 78th Regiment of Foot and the Jersey Militia, together with some field artillery that they dragged through the sand of the beaches, had by fast marching arrived in time to oppose the landing. The defenders were able to prevent the landing, suffering only a few men wounded when a cannon burst.
The Militia fought alongside Regiments of the regular British Army at the Battle of Jersey in 1781, when together they defeated an attempted French invasion (intended to remove the threat the island posed to American shipping in the American Revolutionary War).
In 1831, the Militia was designated the Royal Jersey Militia on the 50th anniversary of this battle. The regiments were re-organized on several occasions between 1870, when the Troop of Dragoons was disbanded, and the outbreak of the Great War.
In 1915, one company was detached to the 7th (Service) Battalion, the Royal Irish Rifles. In 1917, the 7th Battalion was disbanded, and personnel transferred to 2nd Battalion, The Hampshire Regiment. Other members of the Regiment served as guards at a Prisoner of War Camp located at St Brélade.
The Militia was reconstituted in 1921 as one infantry battalion, the Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey.
In World War II, it served as the 11th (Royal Militia Island of Jersey) Battalion, The Hampshire Regiment, which was disbanded in 1946. Because the National Service Act did not apply in the Channel Islands, the Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey went into suspended animation (sc. it existed on paper, but had no personnel) until it was formally disbanded, along with the other British Militia regiments, in 1953.
In 1987, it was re-formed as a Territorial Army regiment, the Jersey Field Squadron (The Royal Militia Island of Jersey), 111th Regiment, Royal Engineers, later 73rd Regiment, Royal Engineers. In 2007, it came under the operational control of the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers.
The regiment was awarded the following battle honours.
- Jersey 1781
- The Great War
Both these honours are unique to the regiment.
- T.F. Mills What is the Oldest/Senior Regiment in the British Army? (Archive of the Regiments.org page)
- Royal Jersey Militia ROYAL JERSEY MILITIA REGIMENTAL HISTORY
- T.F. Mills Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey (Archive of Regiments.org page)
- This is Jersey David Bruce
- Guernsey Society Thomas de Ferrers
- Jersey Heritage The History of the Jersey Militia[dead link]
- The London Gazette: . 4 May 1779.
- Monmouth Castle Museum The Royal Jersey Militia[dead link]
- The Long, Long Trail The Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey
- Ministry of Defence  Way Back to the Waybackmachine
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