Cap badge (left) and back badge (right) of the Gloucestershire Regiment
|Garrison/HQ||Horfield Barracks, Bristol|
|Nickname(s)||The Glorious Glosters|
|Motto(s)||By our deeds we are known|
|March||The Kennegad Slashers|
|Anniversaries||Back Badge Day (21 Mar)|
|Decorations||United States Army Presidential Unit Citation|
The Gloucestershire Regiment was a line infantry regiment of the British Army. Nicknamed "The Glorious Glosters", the regiment carried more battle honours on their regimental colours than any other British Army line regiment. The Gloucestershire Regiment existed from 1881 until 1994 when it was amalgamated with the Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire) to form the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment which was merged with the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, The Light Infantry and the Royal Green Jackets to create a new large regiment, The Rifles.
Soldiers of the Gloucestershire Regiment, and subsequently the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment from 1994 onwards, wore a cap badge on both the front and the rear of their headdress, a tradition maintained by soldiers in The Rifles when in service dress. The back badge is unique in the British Army and was adopted by the 28th (North Gloucestershire) Regiment of Foot to commemorate their actions at the Battle of Alexandria in 1801.
- 1 Origins
- 2 Formation of the Gloucestershire Regiment
- 3 Second Boer War
- 4 First World War
- 5 Second World War
- 6 Korean War
- 7 Modern history
- 8 Regimental museum
- 9 Battle honours
- 10 Victoria Crosses
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
- 13 External links
The Gloucestershire Regiment traced its roots to Colonel Gibson's Regiment of Foot which was raised in 1694 in Portsmouth and first saw action in 1705 during the War of the Spanish Succession. Having been commanded by (and therefore named after) a succession of colonels, the regiment was renamed in 1742 as the 28th Regiment of Foot and fought under this name during the War of the Austrian Succession. Another predecessor, the 61st Regiment of Foot, was formed in 1758 when the British Army was expanded during the Seven Years' War. The 61st gained its first battle honour a year later during the invasion of Guadeloupe, the same year that General Wolfe placed himself at the head of the 28th on the Plains of Abraham just prior to the capture of Quebec.
In 1782 the British Army began linking foot regiments with counties for the purposes of recruitment. For the first time the county of Gloucestershire was associated with both the 28th and the 61st, which became known as the 28th (North Gloucestershire) Regiment of Foot and the 61st (South Gloucestershire) Regiment of Foot. Both regiments began to recruit from the county, and it was in Gloucester in December 1782 that the 61st was presented with new Colours to replace those lost during the Franco-Spanish invasion of Minorca earlier that year.
In March 1801 the 28th formed part of the British expeditionary force that landed at Aboukir Bay in Egypt to oppose Napoleon's Army of the East. On 21 March, during the Battle of Alexandria, French cavalry broke through the British lines, formed up behind the 28th, and began to charge. Still heavily engaged to their front, the order was given "Rear Rank, 28th! Right About Face", and standing thus in two ranks, back to back, the regiment successfully defended itself. For this action the 28th was accorded the unique privilege of wearing the regimental number both on the front and the back of its head-dress. The 61st also deployed to Egypt and, although arriving too late to play an active part, was, like the 28th, awarded the battle honour 'Egypt' and the right to display the Sphinx on its Colours.
During the 19th century relatively uneventful postings at home and abroad were punctuated with periods of active service. Both the 28th and the 61st fought against Napoleon in Spain and Portugal during the Peninsular War. The 28th also participated in the final defeat of Napoleon, being commended by the Duke of Wellington for gallantry in the Battle of Quatre Bras, and seeing action again in the Battle of Waterloo. In the mid-19th century both regiments were deployed to India, with the 61st seeing active service during the Second Anglo-Sikh War and the Indian Mutiny, resulting in the addition of 'Chillianwallah', 'Goojerat', 'Punjaub', and 'Delhi 1857' to the list of 61st battle honours that the Gloucestershire Regiment would soon inherit. The 28th, whose time in India was shorter and less eventful, was meanwhile deployed to the Crimea, adding 'Alma', 'Inkerman', and 'Sevastopol' to its legacy.
Another thread that would be woven into the story of the Gloucestershire Regiment concerns the civilian administered auxiliary forces that supported the army in times of need. In the mid-18th century county militias were raised for home defence and as a pool of reserves for the regular army. By 1760 Gloucestershire had raised two battalions of militia, and in 1763 these were organised as the South Gloucestershire Militia based at Gloucester and the North Gloucestershire Militia at Cirencester. In 1795 both militias were granted the 'Royal' prefix. In 1859 the raising of county-based volunteer rifle corps was authorised, leading to the formation of the 1st (City of Bristol) Gloucestershire Rifle Volunteers and the 2nd Gloucestershire Rifle Volunteers.
Formation of the Gloucestershire Regiment
In 1872 the Cardwell Reforms began the process of organising the British Army along county lines based on two-battalion line infantry regiments, a process that was completed by the Childers Reforms nine years later. As a result, in 1881 the 28th and the 61st regiments were amalgamated to form the Gloucestershire Regiment, headquartered at Horfield Barracks in Bristol. The reforms also added the county's auxiliary forces to the establishment, and at its formation the regiment thus comprised two regular and four auxiliary battalions...
- 1st Battalion – formerly the 28th (North Gloucestershire) Regiment of Foot
- 2nd Battalion – formerly the 61st (South Gloucestershire) Regiment of Foot
- 3rd (Militia) Battalion – formerly the Royal South Gloucestershire Militia
- 4th (Militia) Battalion – formerly the Royal North Gloucestershire Militia
- 1st (City of Bristol) Volunteer Battalion – formerly the 1st (City of Bristol) Gloucestershire Rifle Volunteers
- 2nd Volunteer Battalion – formerly the 2nd Gloucestershire Rifle Volunteers
Despite the reforms, over three centuries of tradition that the two former regiments had between them amassed did not simply disappear into history. The Gloucestershire Regiment inherited from the 28th the privilege of wearing the back badge. It was a privilege that the 2nd battalion did not want, but it was made palatable to the former 61st by replacing the number 28 with the Sphinx, a battle honour awarded to both predecessor regiments.
Although both battalions were forced to give up their individual facing colours on their uniforms – yellow for the 28th and buff for the 61st – when the government imposed a standard white across all English and Welsh regiments, the Gloucestershire Regiment never accepted this change when it was applied to the Regimental Colour; both battalions retained their former Regimental Colours until 1929, when a compromise primrose yellow was finally chosen and a new Regimental Colour subsequently issued.
The 1st battalion celebrated the bicentenary of the regiment at Malta in 1894. The 2nd battalion would hold special games followed by a dinner and a ball on the anniversary of the 61st Regiment's victory at Chillianwallah when overseas or on the anniversary of that regiment's victory at Salamanca when at home. The 1st battalion, on the other hand, would celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of Alexandria. The two battalions continued to refer to themselves by their former regimental numbers right up until they were merged in 1948, when the Gloucestershire Regiment became a single-battalion regiment.
Second Boer War
The Gloucestershire Regiment began life quietly, the two battalions alternating between postings at home and overseas, for the most part in India, but its baptism of fire came in 1899 during the Second Boer War. Deployed to Ladysmith, the 1st battalion was part of a column sent out on 24 October to cover the withdrawal of a brigade after the Battle of Talana Hill. When the column came under fire near Rietfontein, the battalion was detached and ordered forward, but the order was ambiguous and the battalion advanced too far. The troops were caught in the open for several hours before they were able to extricate themselves at the cost of five men killed, including the battalion commander, and 58 wounded.
Five days later some 450 men of the 1st battalion were part of a small force tasked with seizing Nicholson's Nek, a pass some six miles (10km) north of Ladysmith, during the Battle of Ladysmith. Intending to be in position before the main battle started, the troops moved out on the night of 29 October, but left too late to reach their objective before daybreak. As they took up an alternative position on the nearby Tchrengula Hill the pack-mules bolted, taking most of the heavy weaponry and ammunition with them. Alerted to the presence of the enemy, the Boers quickly surrounded the position, and although the British held out for several hours they were forced to surrender at 12:30. The 1st battalion lost 38 killed and 115 wounded, with the survivors being held as prisoners of war (POWs) in Pretoria.
While the remainder of 1st battalion helped in the defence of Ladysmith (the city was eventually relieved on 1 March) the 2nd battalion deployed to South Africa, arriving in January 1900. The battalion played an active part in the Battle of Paardeberg, a nine-day battle which ended 27 February with the capture of the Boer general Piet Cronjé and his force of some 4000 men. The 2nd battalion saw action again on 10 March in the Battle of Driefontein, and on 15 March entered the Boer city of Bloemfontein, where it was to remain on garrison duties until 1904. The 1st battalion, re-united when its POWs were liberated after the capture of Pretoria on 5 July, was posted in August 1900 to Ceylon, where it remained until 1903 guarding Boer prisoners of war.
Some of the regiment's auxiliary battalions, which in 1900 were increased in number with the formation of the 3rd Volunteer Battalion, also played a role in the war. On 16 March 1900 a volunteer company of 124 officers and men from the 1st and 2nd volunteer battalions landed at Cape Town. They served for a year alongside 2nd battalion, and were replaced by a second volunteer company in April 1901. The 4th (Militia) Battalion, meanwhile, guarded Boer prisoners held on St. Helena. By the war's end the regiment had lost 2 officers and 94 other ranks killed, and 13 officers and 201 men wounded, with a further 250 deaths caused by sickness. The regiment added 4 new battle honours to its Colours: 'Defence of Ladysmith'; 'Relief of Kimberley'; 'Paardeberg'; and 'South Africa, 1899-1902'; the last of which was also awarded to the 1st and 2nd volunteer battalions.
First World War
Following the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 – part of the Haldane Reforms which restructured the British Army, and converted the militia and volunteer battalions into the Special Reserve and the Territorial Force – the 4th (Militia) Battalion was disbanded, and at the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 the Gloucestershire Regiment comprised...
- 1st Battalion – assigned to the 3rd Infantry Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, British Expeditionary Force
- 2nd Battalion – deployed to Tianjin, China
- 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion – formerly 3rd (Militia) Battalion
- 4th (City of Bristol) Battalion, Territorial Force – formerly 1st (City of Bristol) Volunteer Battalion
- 5th Battalion, Territorial Force – formerly 2nd Volunteer Battalion
- 6th Battalion, Territorial Force – formerly 3rd Volunteer Battalion
During the course of the war the regiment raised an additional 18 battalions. Each of the Territorial Force battalions volunteered for service overseas and raised a second battalion, the six battalions being numbered 1/4th, 2/4th, 1/5th, 2/5th, 1/6th, and 2/6th. The Territorials also raised a 3rd battalion each in 1915 as home-based reserves, though in 1916 these were merged to form the 4th Reserve Battalion. Another home-based territorial battalion, the 17th, was raised in 1917. Additionally, as volunteers answered Kitchener's call to arms, between 1914 and 1916 ten New Army battalions, the 7th to the 16th, were added to the regiment's establishment. Finally, the 18th battalion was raised in 1918 from a cadre of the 5th Battalion, the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry. In total, 16 battalions of the Gloucestershire Regiment saw active service during the war; in France and Flanders, Italy, Gallipoli, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, and Macedonia.
The 1st Battalion landed at Le Havre in August 1914 as part of 3rd Brigade in the 1st Division and saw action on the Western Front. The 2nd Battalion landed at Le Havre in December 1914 and saw action on the Western Front as part of the 81st Brigade in the 27th Division; the battalion moved to Salonica in late November 1915 and saw action on the Macedonian Front before transferring to the 82nd Brigade in same Division in November 1916.
The 1/4th (City of Bristol) Battalion landed at Boulogne in March 1915 and saw action on the Western Front as part of the 144th Brigade in the 48th (South Midland) Division. The 1/5th Battalion landed at Boulogne in March 1915 and also saw action on the Western Front as part of the 145th Brigade in the 48th (South Midland) Division. The 1/6th Battalion landed at Boulogne in March 1915 and saw action on the Western Front as part of the 144th Brigade in the 48th (South Midland) Division. The 2/4th (City of Bristol) Battalion landed in France in May 1916 and saw action on the Western Front as part of the 183rd Brigade in the 61st (2nd South Midland) Division. The 2/5th Battalion landed in France in May 1916 and saw action on the Western Front as part of the 184th Brigade in the 61st (2nd South Midland) Division. The 2/6th Battalion landed in France in May 1916 and saw action on the Western Front as part of the 183rd Brigade in the 61st (2nd South Midland) Division.
The 7th (Service) Battalion landed at Gallipoli in June 1915 as part of the 39th Brigade in the 13th (Western) Division and, having been evacuated from Gallipoli in December 1915, was deployed to Egypt in January 1916. The 8th (Service) Battalion landed in France in July 1915 as part of the 57th Brigade in the 19th (Western) Division and saw action on the Western Front. The 9th (Service) Battalion landed in France in September 1915 as part of the 78th Brigade in the 26th Division before moving to Salonika in November 1915 and returning to France in July 1918. The 10th (Service) Battalion landed in France in August 1915 as part of the 1st Brigade in the 1st Division. The 12th (Service) Battalion (Bristol) landed in France in November 1915 as part of the 95th Brigade in the 5th Division. The 13th (Service) Battalion (Forest of Dean) (Pioneers) landed in France in March 1916 as Divisional Pioneers to the 39th Division. The 14th (Service) Battalion (West of England) landed at Le Havre in January 1916 as part of the 105th Brigade in 35th Division. The 18th (Service) Battalion landed in France in August 1918 as part of the 49th Brigade in the 16th Division.
Second World War
The 1st Battalion was serving in British India on the outbreak of the Second World War, having been there since 1932. The battalion saw active service in the Burma Campaign against Imperial Japanese Army forces in early 1942 whilst serving with the 63rd Indian Infantry Brigade, 17th Indian Infantry Division in the early stages of the campaign. The battalion spent the rest of the war mainly on internal security duties in India.
The 2nd Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment was a Regular Army unit originally assigned to the 8th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division and was sent to France in September 1939, shortly after the outbreak of war. The division was commanded by Major-General Bernard Montgomery. In February 1940 the battalion was exchanged for the 4th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment and joined the 145th Infantry Brigade attached to 48th (South Midland) Infantry Division and fought with them in the Battle of Dunkirk and were evacuated there after fierce fighting in Belgium and France. After returning to England, the battalion spent many years on home defence, anticipating a German invasion which never arrived. The battalion remained with 145th Brigade until late December. Later, in early 1944, the battalion was reassigned to the 56th Infantry Brigade (including 2nd South Wales Borderers and 2nd Essex Regiment). The brigade was involved in the D-Day landings on 6 June 1944 and fought through the entire Normandy Campaign attached to many different divisions until August 1944 when it officially joined the 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division and remained with it for the rest of the war. By the end of the war in Europe 2nd Glosters had suffered 718 officers and men killed, wounded or missing in action.
The 5th Battalion was a Territorial Army unit that served with the 2nd Battalion in the 48th Division and was also involved in the fighting around Dunkirk and were evacuated to England. In 1941, the battalion was transferred to the Reconnaissance Corps and redesignated the 48th Battalion, Reconnaissance Corps and acted as the divisional reconnaissance for the 48th (South Midland) Division. In November 1941 it was transferred to the 43rd (Wessex) Division and was again redesignated the 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment. The regiment served with the 43rd (Wessex) Division for the rest of the war in particular during the Normandy Campaign and Operation Market Garden.
The 7th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment was raised in 1939 as a 2nd Line duplicate of the 5th Battalion when the Territorial Army was doubled in size as another large European conflict seemed almost inevitable. The battalion was assigned to the 183rd Infantry Brigade, 61st Infantry Division and served with the same brigade and division until July 1944 when it was transferred to the 213th Brigade, 47th Division and was converted into a reserve training battalion.
The 8th (Home Defence) Battalion was raised in late 1939 from the National Defence Companies and, like most other home service units, consisted of a mixture of older veterans with previous military experience who were too old for active service and younger soldiers who were too young to be conscripted. These younger soldiers would later be transferred to help form the 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion.
The 10th Battalion was raised in 1940 due to the huge expansion of the Army and was assigned to the 212th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home). The battalion was converted to armour in 1942 as 159th Regiment in the Royal Armoured Corps though retaining its Glosters cap badge on the black beret of the Royal Armoured Corps and, after being sent to India, joined the 255th Indian Armoured Brigade. It re-converted to infantry as 10th Glosters the following year in India and joined the 72nd Infantry Brigade attached to the 36th Infantry Division.
The 11th Battalion was raised in 1940, assigned to the 221st Independent Infantry Brigade (Home). In February 1942 it was transferred to the Royal Regiment of Artillery and converted into the 118th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, serving with the 49th (West Riding) Division from May to August. From August 1942 to June 1943 it served with Home Forces and was sent to British India.
The 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion was formed in 1940 from young soldiers around the ages of 18 and 19 who were, at the time, too young to be conscripted into the military as the age was 20. Like other similar units, the battalion remained in the United Kingdom throughout the war on internal security duties and was disbanded in late 1942, shortly before the British government lowered the age of recruitment to 18.
The regiment saw heavy fighting in the Korean War. After their actions at Gloster Hill during the Battle of the Imjin River in 1951, following which the regiment was awarded the United States Distinguished Unit Citation for its heroic last stand against overwhelming Chinese forces. This entitled the 1st Battalion of the regiment to place a blue streamer on the regimental colour and to wear a dark blue watered ribbon in a gold frame on the shoulder of the uniform.
The regiment amalgamated with the Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment in 1994 to form the 1st Battalion, the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment.
The regimental archives and memorabilia of The Glosters as well as their antecedents, The 28th and 61st Regiments of Foot are held by The Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum, which is located within the Historic Docks in Gloucester and available on-line at Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum.
- From 28th Regiment of Foot: Egypt, Corunna, Barrosa, Albuhera, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes, Toulouse, Peninsula, Waterloo, Alma, Inkerman, Sevastopol
- From 61st Regiment of Foot: Egypt, Maida, Talavera, Salamanca, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes, Toulouse, Peninsula, Chillianwallah, Goojerat, Punjaub, Delhi 1857
- Ramillies, Louisburg, Guadaloupe 1759, Quebec 1759, Martinique 1762, Havannah, St Lucia 1778, Busaco, Defence of Ladysmith, Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, South Africa 1899–1902
- The Great War (25 battalions): Mons, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914 '18, Ypres 1914 '15 '17, Langemarck 1914 '17, Gheluvelt, Nonne Bosschen, Givenchy 1914, Gravenstafel, St Julien, Frezenberg, Bellewaarde, Aubers, Loos, Somme 1916 '18, Albert 1916, '18, Bazentin, Delville Wood, Pozières, Guillemont, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, Ancre Heights, Ancre 1916, Arras 1917 '18, Vimy 1917, Scarpe 1917, Messines 1917 '18, Pilckem, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917 '18, St Quentin, Bapaume 1918, Rosières, Avre, Lys, Estaires, Hazebrouck, Bailleul, Kemmel, Béthune, Drocourt-Quéant, Hindenburg Line, Épéhy, Canal du Nord, St Quentin Canal, Beaurevoir, Selle, Valenciennes, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914–18, Piave, Vittorio Veneto, Italy 1917–18, Struma, Doiran 1917, Macedonia 1915–18, Suvla, Sari Bair, Scimitar Hill, Gallipoli 1915–16, Egypt 1916, Tigris 1916, Kut al Amara 1917, Baghdad, Mesopotamia 1916–18, Persia 1918
- The Second World War: Defence of Escaut, St Omer-La-Bassée, Wormhoudt, Cassel, Villers Bocage, Mont Pincon, Falaise, Risle Crossing, Le Havre, Zetten, North-West Europe 1940 '44–45, Taukyan, Paungde, Monywa 1942, North Arakan, Mayu Tunnels, Pinwe, Shweli, Myitson, Burma 1942 '44–45
- Korean War: Hill 327, Imjin, Korea 1950–51
- 4th Battalion (Militia): St. Helena 1901, South Africa 1900–02
(Under an Army Order issued in October 1910 battle honours awarded to former militia battalions were to cease to be borne: special reserve battalions could continue to carry colours with the old honours "as a temporary measure" if they chose, but only until they were presented with replacement colours.)
- 4th, 5th Battalions: South Africa 1900–02
(Following the First World War it was decided that each infantry regiment, including the territorial battalions, should have a single roll of battle honours. Accordingly, the territorial battalions of the Gloucestershire Regiment adopted the honours of the regular battalions.)
The regiment was awarded the following Victoria Crosses:
- Daniel Burges : World War I, also a holder of the DSO and Croix de Guerre
- James Power Carne : Korean War for action during the Battle of the Imjin River, also awarded the DSO
- Manley Angell James : World War I, survived and also served in World War II, retiring as a Brigadier
- Philip Curtis : Korean War awarded posthumously for actions during the Battle of Imjin River. (Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry attached to 1st Battalion)
- Francis George Miles : World War I
- Hardy Falconer Parsons : World War I
- Herbert Taylor Reade : Indian Mutiny
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