Royal Sussex Regiment

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The Royal Sussex Regiment
Royal Sussex Regiment Badge.jpg
Badge of the Royal Sussex Regiment
Active 1881–1966
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Infantry
Role Line Infantry
Size

1–2 Regular Battalions
1–2 Militia and Special Reserve Battalions
1–3 Territorial and Volunteer Battalions

Up to 17 Hostilities-only Battalions
Garrison/HQ Chichester
Nickname The Prince of Orange's Own
The Orange Lilies
The Haddocks
The Iron Regiment
Motto Honi soit qui mal y pense
(unofficial) Nothing succeeds like Sussex
March The Royal Sussex
(unofficial) Sussex by the Sea
Anniversaries 13 September Quebec
30 June (1916) - The Day Sussex Died
Engagements Egyptian Expedition
Anglo-Boer War
First World War
Second World War

The Royal Sussex Regiment was an infantry regiment of the British Army from 1881 to 1966. The regiment was formed as part of the Childers reforms by the amalgamation of the 35th (Royal Sussex) Regiment of Foot and the 107th Regiment of Foot (Bengal Light Infantry). Its lineage is continued today by the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment.

History[edit]

The Royal Sussex Regiment 1881 - 1914[edit]

Following its formation, the regiment was sent to Egypt in 1882 as part of General Wolseley's expedition to crush the Urabi Revolt and conquer Egypt in the name of the Khedive. The 2nd Battalion was stationed in Alexandria after its bombardment by the Royal Navy and the 1st Battalion was engaged in several of the decisive land battles in that short-lived conflict. Later, in 1884, the regiment was part of the Nile Expedition—the unsuccessful attempt to save General Gordon and his garrison at Khartoum during the Mahdist War. Twenty men of the regiment, led by Lt. Lionel Trafford, led the advanced party towards Khartoum. Having been informed that the enemy would flee at the sight of the British in their red coats, the Royal Sussex contingent, who had been issued with a grey serge campaign uniform, borrowed scarlet frocks from the Guards regiment of the Camel Corps. Nevertheless, the British relief force was two days too late, as Khartoum had fallen and Gordon was killed.

The 2nd Battalion, stationed in India, was part of the Black Mountain Expedition of 1888, as one of many battles fought along the North-West Frontier Province.

In 1900, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd (Royal Sussex Militia) Battalions of the regiment joined the British Army in the bloody Anglo-Boer War.

World War I 1914 - 1918[edit]

The regiment raised 23 battalions for the war all of which saw action. The regiment had a battalion in every theatre including in Russia in 1919. The regiment lost 6,800 men during the war and four Victoria Crosses were awarded to men from the regiment. After the war St Georges Chapel, in Chichester Cathedral, was restored and furnished as a memorial to the fallen of the Royal Sussex Regiment. It now has all their names recorded on the panels that are attached to the chapel walls.[1]

2nd Battalion[edit]

The 2nd Battalion crossed the channel with the British Expeditionary Force in 1914 and fought through the war on the Western Front. It was during the first Battle of Ypres that the 2nd Battalion was given the unofficial title "The Iron Regiment" as an unsolicited testimonial by German prisoners captured on 1 November 1914.

The battalion subsequently fought alongside the 5th (Cinque Ports) Battalion during the Battle of Aubers Ridge on 9 May 1915. Later that year, on 25 September, during the Battle of Loos Sgt Harry Wells won a posthumous VC, when the battalion took part in the attack in the vicinity of the Lone Tree in front of Hulluch. The battalion moved to the Somme in 1916 where it was involved in actions including High Wood, moving back to the Ypres Sector in 1917. The battalion lost 1,723 officers and men killed by 1918.

Battle of the Boar's Head[edit]

At Richebourg, in 1916, the 11th, 12th and 13th (Southdowns) Battalions of the Royal Sussex, made up the 116th Southdowns Brigade of the 39th Division in Kitchener's New Army. On 30 June 1916 they took part in the Battle of the Boar's Head, Richebourg L'Avoue. After a bombardment of the German trenches the 12th and 13th Battalions went over the top (most for the first time) and, under heavy fire, attacked the enemy trenches, bombing and bayoneting their way in. The 11th Battalion supplied carrying parties. They succeeded in taking the German front line trench, holding it for some four hours, and even briefly took the second line trench for about half an hour, beating off repeated counterattacks, and only withdrew from the shortage of ammunition and mounting casualties. Over a period of less than five hours the three Southdowns Battalions of The Royal Sussex lost 17 officers and 349 men killed, including 12 sets of brothers, of whom three were from one family. A further 1000 men were wounded or taken prisoner. In regimental history this is known as The Day Sussex Died. The following day the Battle of the Somme began and 20,000 died on the first day. The Royal Sussex attack at Richebourg was just a diversion, not even considered a separate action in the history of the war, and remains largely unmentioned in any of the official histories. There is a brilliant account of this in Edmund Blunden's memoir "Undertones of War" (he was an a 2nd Lieutenant in 11th Battalion).

Victoria Crosses during World War I[edit]

World War II[edit]

The Royal Sussex Regiment raised 14 battalions for the Second World War, although only a few saw active service during the war. The regiment was awarded one Victoria Cross during the war, that of Lionel Ernest Queripel

1st Battalion[edit]

The 1st Battalion was based in Egypt at the outbreak of the Second World War, where it was attached to the 4th Indian Infantry Division, with whom it remained for the rest of the war. The battalion took part in the Western Desert Campaign and the Italian Campaign, where it was involved in the bloody Battle of Monte Cassino. During the battle the elements of the 1st Battalion were ordered into an attack in which they sustained over 50% casualties. In 1944 the battalion was shipped across to Greece with Scobie's III Corps, remaining there until 1946.

2nd Battalion[edit]

The 2nd Battalion was based in Ireland at the outbreak of war. They were joined with the 4th and 5th Battalions of the Regiment in the 133rd (Royal Sussex) Infantry Brigade as part of the 44th (Home Counties) Infantry Division. They were sent to France in 1940, taking part in the fighting and rapid retreat to Dunkirk where they were evacuated. The brigade was sent to North Africa in 1942 where they fought in the Battle of Alam Halfa. The 44th Division was reported to have performed badly during that battle and was disbanded afterwards, the Royal Sussex Brigade was attached to various units after this. They fought at the Battle of El Alamein. In 1943 the 2nd Battalion and volunteers from the 4th and 5th Battalions were formed into the 10th Parachute Battalion which landed with the 4th Parachute Brigade at Arnhem during Operation Market Garden in 1944. Captain Lionel Ernest Queripel, from the Royal Sussex won the Victoria Cross posthumously, at Arnhem. After the battle the battalion was dispersed.

A new 2nd Battalion was raised again, after the old one became 10th Para, and along with the 4th and 5th Battalions, was reformed with the 133rd Brigade which was sent to the forgotten theatre of war in Iraq and Persia in 1943 with the 6th Indian Infantry Division where they remained for the rest of the war.

Rest of the Regiment[edit]

The regiment also raised the 6th and 7th Battalions (both 2nd Line Territorial Army battalions) which were both in the 37th Infantry Brigade, part of the 12th (Eastern) Infantry Division. They also served in France in 1940 but suffered heavy casualties during the fighting. The 6th Battalion served as a Home Defence unit for the rest of the war and was disbanded in 1946. The 7th Battalion defended Amiens against air raids and the German 1st Panzer Division who captured the town on 20 May. Of 581 men with the battalion, 70 survived to be captured and only three escaped back to the battalion HQ. The battalion was disbanded in 1942.

The 9th Battalion was raised in 1940 but in 1942 it converted to armour as 160th Regiment in the Royal Armoured Corps.[2] The 9th Battalion returned to the infantry role in 1943[3] and was sent that year with the 72nd Infantry Brigade to fight in the Burma Campaign with the 36th Infantry Division. The battalion saw action in the Arakan, was airlifted into Myitkyina and fought its way to Mandalay by April 1945. It was in Burma when the Japanese surrendered. Two books cover the period," Not Forgetting The 9th," The War Diaries of Cyril Grimes 1944 & 45, Ed S. Fox, published by TimeBox Press and The "Shiny Ninth" by Murray Gillings.

The Royal Sussex raised another five battalions, mostly for home defence or as training units.

General Von Arnim's Staff Car at Eastbourne Redoubt

Post 1945[edit]

The Eastbourne Redoubt South Seaward facade

On 31 December 1966 the regiment was amalgamated with The Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment, The Queen's Own Buffs, The Royal Kent Regiment and The Middlesex Regiment to form The Queen's Regiment.

The Regimental Museum is at the Eastbourne Redoubt, Royal Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex, United Kingdom. The regiment appeared in Atonement as the regiment in which Robbie Turner was a Private during the Battle of France, although the film incorrectly identified Robbie as serving with the 1st Battalion.

Battle honours[edit]

  • From 35th Regiment of Foot: Maida
  • Gibraltar 1704-05, Louisburg, Quebec 1759, Martinique 1762, Havannah, St. Lucia 1778, Egypt 1882, Abu Klea, Nile 1884-85, South Africa 1900-02
  • The Great War (23 battalions): Mons, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914 '18, Aisne 1914, Ypres 1914 '17 '18, Gheluvelt, Nonne Bosschen, Givenchy 1914, Aubers, 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, Vimy 1917, Scarpe 1917, Arleux, Messines 1917, Pilckem, Langemarck 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917 '18, St. Quentin, Bapaume 1918, Rosières, Avre, Lys, Kemmel, Scherpenberg, Soissonais-Ourcq, Amiens, Drocourt-Quéant, Hindenburg Line, Épéhy, St. Quentin Canal, Beaurevoir, Courtrai, Selle, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914-18, Piave, Vittorio Veneto, Italy 1917-18, Suvla, Landing at Suvla, Scimitar Hill, Gallipoli 1915, Rumani, Egypt 1915-17, Gaza, El Mughar, Jerusalem, Jericho, Tell 'Asur, Palestine 1917-18, N.W. Frontier India 1915 1916-17, Murman 1918-19
  • Afghanistan 1919
  • The Second World War: Defence of Escaut, Amiens 19140, St. Omer-La Bassée, Forêt de Nieppe, North-West Europe 1940, Karora-Marsa Taclai, Cub Cub, Mescelit Pass, Keren, Mt. Engiahat, Massawa, Abyssinia 1941, Omars, Benghazi, Alam el Halfa, El Alamein, Akarit, Djebel el Meida, Tunis, North Africa 1940-43, Cassino I, Monastery Hill, Gothic Line, Pian di Castello, Monte Reggiano, Italy 1944-45, North Arakan, Pinwe, Shweli, Burma 1943-45

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Atkinson, Pete; Poyner,Ruth (2007). Chichester Cathedral. Norwich: Jarold. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-7117-4478-3. 
  2. ^ George Forty, "British Army Handbook 1939-1945", Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1998, p. 51
  3. ^ The Royal Sussex Regiment [UK]
  • Fox, Sylvia, ed. (2013). Not Forgetting The 9th: The War Diaries of Sgt. Cyril Grimes 1944–1945. TimeBox Press. ISBN 978-0-9550219-1-6. 
  • Gillings, Murray. The Shiny 9th. 

External links[edit]