Northamptonshire Regiment

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Northamptonshire Regiment
Northamptonshire regt.png
Cap badge of the Northamptonshire Regiment
Active 1881-1960
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Infantry
Role Line infantry

2 Regular battalions
1–2 Militia and Special Reserve battalions
Up to 4 Territorial and Volunteer battalions

Up to 8 Hostilities-only battalions
Garrison/HQ Simpson Barracks, Northamptonshire
Colours Black/Buff/Sky Blue

The Northamptonshire Regiment was a line infantry regiment of the British Army in existence from 1881 until 1960. In 1960 it was amalgamated with the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment to form the 2nd East Anglian Regiment (Duchess of Gloucester's Own Royal Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire) which was again amalgamated with the 1st East Anglian Regiment (Royal Norfolk and Suffolk), the 3rd East Anglian Regiment (16th/44th Foot) and the Royal Leicestershire Regiment to form the present Royal Anglian Regiment.


The Northamptonshire Regiment was formed as part of the reorganisation of the infantry by the Childers Reforms. The 48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment of Foot (raised in 1741) and the 58th (Rutlandshire) Regiment of Foot (raised in 1755) were redesignated as the 1st and 2nd battalions of the Northamptonshire Regiment, with the regimental depot at Northampton.

As well as the two regular battalions, the Northampton and Rutland Militia became the 3rd (Militia) Battalion, and the 1st Northamptonshire Rifle Volunteer Corps became the First Volunteer Battalion. With the enactment of the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907, they became the 3rd (Special Reserve) and 4th (Territorial Force) battalions respectively.


In the years 1881-1914 the two regular battalions saw overseas service in Hong Kong, India, Singapore and South Africa, with the regiment receiving battle honours for actions in the North West Frontier Province and the Second Boer War.

First World War[edit]

During the First World War the regiment was expanded to comprise 13 battalions which served on the Western Front in France and Flanders, the Gallipoli Campaign, Egypt and Palestine.

Between the wars[edit]

Between the two world wars the regular battalions were in a number of overseas locations including Burma, China, Egypt, Iraq, Ireland, Palestine and Sudan.

On 17 October 1935 a Royal Scot Class locomotive of the London Midland and Scottish Railway was named The Northamptonshire Regiment at a ceremony at Northampton (Castle) Station.[1]

Second World War[edit]

In the Second World War battalions of the regiment fought in France, North Africa, Burma, Sicily, Italy and Madagascar.

Regular Army battalions[edit]

The 1st Battalion was a Regular Army unit that served in the Burma Campaign and India throughout the war with the 32nd Indian Infantry Brigade, 20th Indian Infantry Division.

Troops from 2nd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, part of the 17th Brigade of the 5th Division, wait to board landing craft at Catania, Sicily, for the invasion of Italy, 2 September 1943.

The 2nd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment was also part of the Regular Army. Throughout the war the battalion was assigned to the 17th Infantry Brigade, alongside the 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers and 2nd Seaforth Highlanders, part of the 5th Infantry Division. The battalion saw active service as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in the battles of Belgium and France and had to be evacuated at Dunkirk. After being evacuated to England the battalion spent two years on home defence, re-training and re-equipping. 2nd Battalion then joined the forces sent to invade Madagascar in May 1942 and then travelled to India and overland to Persia (now Iran) and Iraq in September of the same year. It travelled to Egypt and next fought in Sicily and Italy before being transferred to North-West Europe as part of 21st Army Group in February 1945.

Territorial Army battalions[edit]

The 4th Battalion was transferred to the Royal Engineers and converted, before the war, into the 50th (Northamptonshire Regiment) Anti-Aircraft Battalion, Royal Engineers. On the outbreak of war it was serving with the 32nd (Midland) Anti-Aircraft Brigade, 2nd Anti-Aircraft Division. In August 1940 the battalion was transferred to the Royal Artillery and became 50th (Northamptonshire Regiment) Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery. Due to a severe shortage of manpower in the 21st Army Group fighting in North-west Europe, particularly in the infantry, the regiment was re-converted back into infantry, becoming 637th (Northamptonshire Regiment) Infantry Regiment, Royal Artillery and joined the 304th Infantry Brigade.

Troops of the 5th (Huntingdonshire) Battalion, 11th Infantry Brigade, 78th Infantry Division pick their way through the ruins of Argenta, 18 April 1945.

The 5th (Huntingdonshire) Battalion was assigned to the 143rd Infantry Brigade, part of the 48th (South Midland) Infantry Division. The 48th Division was sent to join the British Expeditionary Force in France in early 1940, the first Territorial division to be sent overseas in World War II, and the battalion was exchanged for the 1st Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry and transferred to the 11th Infantry Brigade, 4th Infantry Division. It saw extensive service in France, Tunisia, Sicily and Italy before ending the war in Austria.

The 4th Battalion was reformed as a 2nd Line Territorial Army formation serving in the 183rd Infantry Brigade, as part of the 61st (South Midland) Infantry Division. It was raised in 1939, when the Territorial Army was doubled in size, as the duplicate of the 5th Battalion. Despite being raised for war service, it remained in the United Kingdom until February 1945 when, now as part of the 115th Infantry Brigade, it went to North West Europe.


The 50th (Holding) Battalion was raised on 12 June 1940. The role of the Holding battalion was to temporarily 'hold' men who were medically unfit, temporarily homeless, returning from abroad or awaiting orders. It was redesignated the 6th Battalion in October 1940 and was assigned to the 223rd Independent Infantry Brigade (Home). However, the battalion would remain in the United Kingdom throughout the war, later transferring to 204th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home) and becoming a reserve training battalion for the rest of the war.


In 1948 the regiment was reduced to a single regular battalion. Following the recommendations of the 1957 Defence White Paper, the 1st Battalions of the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment and the Northamptonshire Regiment were merged on 1 June 1960 to form the 2nd East Anglian Regiment (Duchess of Gloucester's Own Royal Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire). This regiment was short-lived, becoming part of the Royal Anglian Regiment on 1 September 1964.

The Museum of the Northamptonshire Regiment is housed at Abington Park, Northampton.[2] The regiment were stationed at the former Quebec Barracks, later renamed Simpson Barracks on a large site at Wootton, south of the town adjacent to the Newport Pagnell road which include the old Hardingstone Workhouse building. They also had an ammunition dump at Yardley Chase.

Badges and dress distinctions[edit]

Northants regt collar.png

The badges of the regiment included references to the units combined in 1881. The cap badge featured a representation of a castle and key and the battle honour "Gibraltar", earned by the 58th Foot in 1779-1783. Below the castle was a scroll bearing the honour "Talavera", and the badge was encircled by a laurel wreath earned by the 48th Foot in 1809 during the Peninsular War.[3]

The collar badge (which was also used as the design for the regimental "crest"), was based on that of the Northamptonshire and Rutland Militia. This featured the cross of St George within a crowned circle. Around the circle was a laurel wreath, on the base of which was a horseshoe, representing Rutland.[4]

The regimental buttons of other ranks bore the castle and key surmounted by a crown, while those worn on officers' mess dress displayed a scroll inscribed "Talavera" below a crown.[5]

The facing colours of the 48th and 58th Foot were buff and black respectively, and although white facings were imposed in 1881 by the Childers reforms, the old colours were still used in the regiment. The regimental stable belt consisted of equal stripes of black, buff and sky blue. In 1927 the regiment's facings were changed to buff.[6] The scarlet and blue officers' mess dress worn in the 1930s included collar and cuffs in the buff of the 48th and waistcoats in the black of the 58th.[7] A black lanyard was worn on the battle-dress blouse introduced in 1937, and this was later adopted by the 2nd Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment.[8]

Battle honours[edit]

The regiment was awarded the following battle honours:[9][10]
Awarded for the actions of the 48th and 58th Regiments of Foot:

  • Louisburg
  • Quebec 1759
  • Martinique 1762
  • Havannah
  • Gibraltar 1779-'83 (Awarded as a badge consisting of a castle and key with the mooto Montis Insignia Calpe.)
  • Martinique 1794 (awarded 1909)[11]
  • Maida
  • Egypt (Awarded as a badge of the sphinx superscribed "Egypt".)
  • Douro
  • Talavera
  • Albuera
  • Badajoz
  • Salamanca
  • Vittoria
  • Pyrenees
  • Nivelle
  • Orthes
  • Toulouse
  • Peninsula
  • New Zealand
  • Sevastopol
  • South Africa 1879

Awarded for the actions of the Northamptonshire Regiment prior to 1914:

Awarded for the actions in the First World War. Ten selected honours, shown in bold type, were displayed on the colours:[9][10][12]

  • Mons
  • Retreat from Mons
  • Marne 1914
  • Aisne 1914, '18
  • Ypres 1914, '17
  • Langemarck 1914, '17
  • Gheluvelt
  • Nonne Boschen
  • Givenchy 1914
  • Neuve Chapelle
  • Aubers
  • Loos
  • Somme 1916, '18
  • Albert 1916, '18
  • Bazentin
  • Delville Wood
  • Pozieres
  • Flers-Coucelette
  • Morval
  • Thiepval
  • Le Transloy
  • Ancre Heights
  • Ancre 1916, '18
  • Bapaume 1917, '18
  • Arras 1917, '18
  • Vimy 1917
  • Scarpe 1917, '18
  • Arleux
  • Messines 1917
  • Pilckem
  • Passchendaele
  • Cambrai 1917, '18
  • St Quentin
  • Rosieres
  • Avre
  • Villers Bretonneux
  • Amiens
  • Drocourt-Queant
  • Hindenburg Line
  • Epehy
  • St Quentin Canal
  • Selle
  • Sambre
  • France and Flanders 1914-'18
  • Suvla
  • Landing at Suvla
  • Scimitar Hill
  • Gallipoli 1915
  • Egypt 1915-'17
  • Gaza
  • El Mughar
  • Nebi Samwil
  • Jerusalem
  • Jaffa
  • Tell' Asur
  • Megiddo
  • Sharon
  • Palestine 1917-'18

Awarded for the actions in the Second World War. Ten selected honours, shown in bold type, were displayed on the colours:[9][10][12]

  • Defence of Escaut
  • Defence of Arras
  • Ypres-Comines Canal
  • North-West Europe 1940, '45
  • Djediada
  • Djebel Djaffa
  • Oued Zarga
  • Djebel Tanngoucha
  • Sidi Ahmed
  • North Africa 1942-'43
  • Landing in Sicily
  • Adrano
  • Sicily 1943
  • Sangro
  • Garigliano Crossing
  • Anzio
  • Cassino II
  • Monte Gabbione
  • Trasimene Line
  • Monte La Pieve
  • Argenta Gap
  • Italy 1943-'45
  • Madagascar
  • Yu
  • Imphal
  • Tamu Road
  • Bishenpur
  • Monywa 1945
  • Myinmu Bridgehead
  • Irrawaddy
  • Burma 1943-'45


  1. ^ "Naming an Engine". The Times. 17 October 1935. p. 12. 
  2. ^ Museum of Northamptonshire Regiment (Northamptonshire Community Portal)
  3. ^ Arthur Kipling and Hugh King, Headdress Badges of the British Army, 2 volumes, London, 1978
  4. ^ Colin Churchill, History of the British Army Infantry Collar Badge, Uckfield, 2002
  5. ^ Howard Ripley, Buttons of the British Army 1855-1970, Hampstead, 1971
  6. ^ The Bulletin of the Military Historical Society, Special Issue No.1, London, 1968
  7. ^ page 101 Dress Regulations for the Army 1934
  8. ^ Symbols and Badges (Royal Anglian Regiment Museum)
  9. ^ a b c Chant, Christopher (1988). Handbook of British Regiments. Routledge. pp. 128–129. ISBN 9780415002417. 
  10. ^ a b c Beckett, Ian (2008). Discovering English County Regiments. Osprey. p. 90. ISBN 9780747805069. 
  11. ^ Rodger, Alexander (2003). Battle Honours of the British Empire and Commonwealth Land Forces 1662–1991. Marlborough, Wiltshire: The Crowood Press. p. 75. ISBN 1-86126-637-5. 
  12. ^ a b Swinson, Arthur (1972). A Register of the Regiments and Corps of the British Army. London: The Archive Press. p. 232. ISBN 0-85591-000-3. 

External links[edit]