55th (Westmorland) Regiment of Foot

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55th (Westmorland) Regiment of Foot
55th Colour detail.JPG
Detail from 1786 Regimental colour of the 55th (Westmorland) Regiment.
Active 1755–1881
Country  Kingdom of Great Britain (1755–1800)
 United Kingdom (1801–1881)
Branch  British Army
Role Infantry
Size One battalion
Garrison/HQ Carlisle Castle
Nickname(s) "The Two Fives"
Engagements French and Indian War
Pontiac's War
American Revolutionary War
French Revolutionary Wars
Napoleonic Wars
Fifth Xhosa War
Coorg War
First Opium War
Crimean War
Bhutan War
Commanders
Notable
commanders
George Augustus, Lord Howe
For other units with the same regimental number, see 55th Regiment of Foot (disambiguation)

The 55th Regiment of Foot was a British Army infantry regiment, raised in 1755. After 1782 it had a county designation added, becoming known as the 55th (Westmorland) Regiment of Foot. Under the Childers Reforms it amalgamated with the 34th (Cumberland) Regiment of Foot to form the Border Regiment in 1881.

History[edit]

Formation[edit]

Recreation of the uniform of the regiment, c.1755
Lord George Augustus Viscount Howe, who was killed while commanding the regiment in a skirmish the day before the Battle of Carillon in July 1758, by Sir Joshua Reynolds

The regiment was raised in Stirling by Colonel George Perry as the 57th Regiment of Foot in 1755 for service in the Seven Years' War.[1] It was re-ranked as the 55th Regiment of Foot, following the disbandment of the existing 50th and 51st regiments, in 1756.[2]

French and Indian War service[edit]

The regiment embarked for North America for service in the French and Indian War and arrived in Nova Scotia on 8 July 1757 with the objective of taking part in the abandoned attack on the Fortress of Louisbourg. Following the death of Colonel Perry, Lord George Augustus Viscount Howe was appointed Colonel of the regiment in September 1757.[1] After the regiment arrived in Albany, New York in November 1757, Howe accompanied Major Robert Rogers, commander of His Majesty's Independent Companies of Rangers on a scout, to learn the art of "bush fighting."[3] Howe's willingness to learn from the American rangers and his interaction with subordinates won him the respect of both colonist and British redcoat being described as the "Idol of the army."[4] In the spring of 1758, Howe began to train and accoutre the men in the regiment more like rangers to better adapt them to warfare in America.[1] He was killed in a skirmish the day before the Battle of Carillon in July 1758.[1]

After Howe's death John Prideaux was appointed commander of the regiment. In an unfortunate accident Prideaux was killed by the blast of a cohorn while walking through the entrenchments during the Battle of Fort Niagara in July 1759.[5] The regiment, as part of General Jeffery Amherst's army, participated in the Battle of Ticonderoga and the capture of Fort Crown Point later that month.[1]

In 1760 Colonel James Adolphus Oughton took command of the regiment and led it up the Saint Lawrence River: the regiment witnessed the Siege of Montreal in August 1760.[1] William Gansell became the colonel of the regiment in 1762.[1]

Pontiac's War[edit]

In summer 1763, volunteers from the regiment were sent to reinforce the British post at Fort Detroit, which was under siege from neighbouring Native Americans led by Pontiac. The British force was ambushed and badly mauled en route at the Battle of Bloody Run in July 1763.[6] In 1764 many surviving members of the regiment were drafted into the 17th Regiment of Foot. Anne Grant, whose father was an officer in the 55th Regiment, wrote; "they were going to become part of a regiment of no repute; whom they themselves had held in the utmost contempt when they formerly served together."[7]

American Revolutionary War[edit]

The Siege of Brimstone Hill at which most of the regiment were captured in February 1782

The regiment returned to North America for the American Revolutionary War.[8] The regiment fought at the Battle of Long Island in August 1776 and the Battle of Princeton in January 1777.[8] It went on to take part in the Philadelphia campaign and saw action at the Battle of Brandywine in September 1777, the Battle of Paoli later that month and the Battle of Germantown in October 1777.[8] The regiment was transferred to the West Indies in November 1778 and saw action at the Battle of St. Lucia in December 1778.[1] Most of the regiment were captured at the Siege of Brimstone Hill in February 1782 during the French invasion of Saint Kitts.[6] The regiment adopted a county designation as the 55th (the Westmoreland) Regiment of Foot in August 1782.[2]

Napoleonic Wars[edit]

In 1793 the regiment embarked for Flanders for service in the French Revolutionary Wars and saw action at the Siege of Ypres in June 1794.[8] It then moved to the West Indies and took part in the attack on Martinique in February 1794, on Saint Lucia in April 1794 and on Guadeloupe later that month as well as the capture of Saint Lucia in May 1796.[8] It also helped suppress an insurrection by caribs on Saint Vincent in June 1796.[8] After returning to England in 1797 the regiment landed at Ostend in 1798 for service in the Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland.[8] It saw action at the Battle of Bergen in September 1799 and the Battle of Alkmaar in October 1799.[8] After returning home in 1800 the regiment was deployed to the West Indies again in 1800 and went to the aid of Britain's new found Spanish allies during the Spanish reconquest of Santo Domingo in July 1809.[8] The regiment returned home in 1812 and, having been sent to Holland in 1813, took part in the Siege of Bergen op Zoom in March 1814.[8]

The Victorian era[edit]

The regiment at the Battle of Inkerman in November 1854

The regiment sailed for the Cape of Good Hope in 1819 and saw action in the Fifth Xhosa War.[8] It also served in the Coorg War in 1834.[8]

In 1841 the regiment was deployed to China for service in the First Opium War. It was selected as part of the expeditionary force that moved north from Hong Kong and participated in the Battle of Amoy in August 1841.[9] The regiment was the first to land when British forces disembarked from boats at the Capture of Chusan in October 1841. It landed on a beach and then assaulted an enemy strong point called Guards Hill, where it ascended under heavy fire but eventually took the hill. It then proceeded to take the heights overlooking Tinghai and then immediately descended and placed its regimental colours on the walls of the city.[10] After the battle, a detachment of the 55th and 18th Regiment of Foot were left to garrison the city. On 10 October 1841 the 55th again was part of the force that engaged Qing troops at the Battle of Chinhai: the regiment was left to garrison the city after the battle and remained there for the remainder of the year.[11]

In 1842, the regiment saw action at Chapu in May, and Chinkiang in July. It then garrisoned Chinkiang until the Treaty of Nanking was signed. Part of the regiment remained in Hong Kong after the war.[12] For its service during the war it was allowed the addition of a dragon badge superscribed "China" on its regimental colour.[2]

The regiment saw active service in Turkey and Russia during the Crimean War. The regiment saw action at the Battle of Alma in September 1854, the Battle of Inkerman in November 1854 and the Siege of Sevastopol in winter 1854.[2] After returning home in 1857 it was deployed to India in 1863 and saw action during the Bhutan War in 1864.[8]

As part of the Cardwell Reforms of the 1870s, where single-battalion regiments were linked together to share a single depot and recruiting district in the United Kingdom, the 55th was linked with the 34th (Cumberland) Regiment of Foot, and assigned to district no. 2 at Carlisle Castle.[13] On 1 July 1881 the Childers Reforms came into effect and the regiment amalgamated with the 34th (Cumberland) Regiment of Foot to form the Border Regiment with the former 55th forming the 2nd battalion.[2] There is a memorial chapel for the Border Regiment, housing the colours of the 55th regiment, at Kendal Parish Church.[14]

Battle Honours[edit]

The regiment received the following battle honours:[2]

Victoria Crosses[edit]

Victoria Crosses awarded to men of the regiment were:

Colonels[edit]

The Colonels of the regiment have been:[15]

57th Regiment of Foot[edit]

  • 1755–1757: Col Charles Perry

55th Regiment of Foot[edit]

55th (Westmoreland) Regiment

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "55th (Westmorland) Regiment of Foot: Record of Service". Ballindalloch Press. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "55th (the Westmoreland) Regiment of Foot". Regiments.org. Archived from the original on 27 February 2007. Retrieved 27 February 2007. 
  3. ^ Knox, p. 185-186
  4. ^ Putnam, p. 23
  5. ^  "Prideaux, John (1718-1759)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  6. ^ a b "55th (Westmorland) Regiment of Foot". National Army Museum. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  7. ^ Grant, p. 237
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "55th (Westmorland) Regiment of Foot: locations". Archived from the original on 22 February 2007. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  9. ^ Frontier and Overseas Expeditions From India, pp. 380-382
  10. ^ MacPherson, pp. 213-217
  11. ^ Frontier and Overseas Expeditions From India, pp. 385-385
  12. ^ Frontier and Overseas Expeditions From India, pp. 386-392
  13. ^ "Training Depots". Regiments.org. Archived from the original on 10 February 2006. Retrieved 16 October 2016. 
  14. ^ "History". Kendal Parish Church. Retrieved 8 January 2007. 
  15. ^ "55th Regiment of Foot-Colonels". Retrieved 6 July 2016. 

Sources[edit]

  • Grant, Anne (1846). Memoirs of an American Lady. D. Appleton & Co. 
  • Knox, Captain John. Historical Journal of the Campaigns in North America for the Years 1757, 1758, 1759 and 1760. Edited by Arthur Doughty. Champlain Society. 
  • MacPherson, Duncan (1843). Two Years in China (2nd edition). Saunders and Otley. 
  • Putnam, Rufus (1903). The memoirs of Rufus Putnam. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin. 
  • Frontier and Overseas Expeditions From India, Volume IV: Expeditions Overseas (PDF). Calcutta: Superintendent Government Printing. 1911. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Sutherland, Douglas (1972). Tried and Valiant: The Story of the Border Regiment 1702–1959. London: Leo Cooper Ltd. ISBN 0-85052-042-8. 

External links[edit]