Welch Regiment

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Welsh Regiment
Welch Regiment
Welsh Regiment Cap Badge.jpg
Welsh Regiment Cap Badge
Active 1881–1969
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Infantry
Role Line infantry
Size

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

Up to 27 Hostilities-only battalions
Garrison/HQ Maindy Barracks, Cardiff
Motto(s) Gwell angau na Chywilydd (Better Death than Dishonour)
March Quick: Ap Siencyn (Son of Jenkin)
Mascot Goat
Anniversaries Gheluvelt, 31 Oct

The Welch Regiment (or "The Welch", an archaic spelling of "Welsh") was an infantry regiment of the line of the British Army in existence from 1881 until 1969. The regiment was created in 1881 under the Childers Reforms by the amalgamation of the 41st (Welch) Regiment of Foot and 69th (South Lincolnshire) Regiment of Foot to form the Welsh Regiment, which it was known as until 1920 when it was renamed the Welch Regiment. In 1969 the regiment was amalgamated with the South Wales Borderers to form the Royal Regiment of Wales.

Formation[edit]

The regiment was created in 1881 under the Childers Reforms by the amalgamation of the 41st (Welch) Regiment of Foot and 69th (South Lincolnshire) Regiment of Foot to form the Welsh Regiment.[1]

The 1st Battalion moved to Egypt in 1886.[2] The Battalion took part in the Battle of Suakin in December 1888 during the Mahdist War under the leadership of the force commander, Colonel Herbert Kitchener, who wrote in his dispatches:

The half-Battalion of The Welsh Regiment are seasoned soldiers and whatever I asked of them to do they did well. Their marksmen at Gemaizah Fort and the remainder of the half-Battalion on the left fired section volleys driving the Dervishes from their right position and inflicting severe punishment upon them when in the open. Significantly the Battalion did not lose a man.[3]

The 1st Battalion moved to Malta in 1889 while the 2nd Battalion went to India in 1892; the 1st battalion moved to Pembroke Dock in December 1893 where almost all the Regiment's artifacts, plate and silver was lost in a large fire in 1895.[2] The 1st Battalion was dispatched to South Africa in November 1899 for the Second Boer War: it was engaged in Battle of Paardeberg in February 1900, where they suffered heavy losses, and again at the Battle of Driefontein in March 1900.[4]

A 3rd, Militia Battalion, was embodied in December 1899, and embarked for South Africa in February 1900 to serve in the same war.[5]

First World War[edit]

13th Battalion The Welsh Regiment at Houplines in France on 13 March 1918

Regular Army[edit]

The 1st Battalion, after returning from India, landed at Le Havre as part of the 84th Brigade in 28th Division in January 1915 for service on the Western Front but moved to Egypt and then on to Salonika in November 1915.[6] The 2nd Battalion landed at Le Havre as part of the 3rd Brigade in the 1st Division in August 1914 for service on the Western Front.[6] Lance Corporal William Charles Fuller, of the 2nd Battalion, won the Welsh Regiment's first Victoria Cross of the war when, under withering and sustained rifle and machine gun fire, he advanced one hundred yards to rescue Captain Mark Haggard who was mortally wounded on Chézy sur Aisne on 14 September 1914.[7]

Territorial Force[edit]

The 1/4th Battalion and 1/5th Battalion landed at Suvla Bay as part of the 159th Brigade in the 53rd (Welsh) Division in August 1915; after being evacuated from Gallipoli in December 1915 the battalion moved to Egypt.[6] The 1/6th (Glamorgan) Battalion landed at Le Havre as part of the South Wales Brigade, which was unallocated to a division, in October 1914 for service on the Western Front.[6]

New Armies[edit]

The 8th (Service) Battalion landed at ANZAC Cove as part of the 40th Brigade in the 13th (Western) Division in August 1915; after being evacauted from Gallipoli in December 1915 the battalion moved to Egypt and on to Mesopotamia in February 1916.[6] Captain Edgar Myles, of the 8th (Service) Battalion, was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at the Siege of Kut in April 1916 during the Mesopotamian campaign.[8]

The 9th (Service) Battalion landed at Boulogne-sur-Mer as part of the 58th Brigade in the 19th (Western) Division in July 1915 for service on the Western Front.[6] The 10th (Service) Battalion (1st Rhondda) landed at Le Havre as part of the 114th Brigade in 38th (Welsh) Division in December 1915 for service on the Western Front.[6] The 11th (Service) Battalion landed at Boulogne-sur-Mer as part of the 67th Brigade in the 22nd Division in September 1915 for service on the Western Front and then moved to Salonika in late 1915.[6] Private Hubert William Lewis, of the 11th (Service) Battalion, was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at Evzonoi in Macedonia in October 1916 during the Macedonian campaign.[9]

The 13th (Service) Battalion (2nd Rhondda), the 14th (Service) Battalion (Swansea) and the 15th (Service) Battalion (Carmarthenshire) landed at Le Havre as part of the 114th Brigade in the 38th (Welsh) Division in December 1915 for service on the Western Front.[6] The 16th (Service) Battalion (Cardiff City) landed at Le Havre as part of the 115th Brigade in the 38th (Welsh) Division in December 1915 for service on the Western Front.[6] The 17th (Service) Battalion (1st Glamorgan) and 18th (Service) Battalion (2nd Glamorgan) landed in France as part of the 119th Brigade in the 40th Division in June 1916 for service on the Western Front.[6] The 19th (Service) Battalion (Glamorgan Pioneers) landed at Le Havre as pioneer battalion to the 38th (Welsh) Division in December 1915 for service on the Western Front.[6] The 23rd (Service) Battalion (Welsh Pioneers) landed in Salonika as pioneer battalion to the 28th Division in July 1916.[6]

Inter-war[edit]

Welch Regiment mascot Taffy IV c. 1921

The 2nd Battalion was deployed to Ireland in 1920 while the 1st Battalion returned to British India and served there until 1924 when it moved to Waziristan. The 2nd Battalion moved to Shanghai in 1927 for service with the Shanghai Defence Force and then on to India in 1935.[10]

Second World War[edit]

Men of the 4th Battalion, Welch Regiment, part of 158th Brigade of 53rd (Welsh) Division, clean their weapons outside s'Hertogenbosch, Holland, 25 October 1944
Welch Regiment Memorial, St. Mary's Church, Madras

The 1st Battalion moved to Palestine in 1939 to play its part in operations connected with the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine. The battalion first saw action in the Western Desert Campaign of 1940. The 1st Battalion landed in Crete in February but was overwhelmed by the enemy in fighting at Souda Bay in Chania and Sphakia Beach and had to be evacuated by the Royal Navy. Eventually the 1st Battalion was reformed in Egypt and joined the 5th Indian Infantry Brigade, part of the 4th Indian Infantry Division and moved back again to the Western Desert. In Crete alone the battalion had lost nearly 250 dead, with 400 being captured and the battalion was reduced to a mere 7 officers and 161 other ranks.[11] They received a large draft of 700 officers and men. After heavy fighting in the area of Benghazi the 1st Battalion was again overrun in 1942 and again suffered heavy casualties when the Afrika Korps swept through Cyrenaica, Libya in the First Battle of El Alamein. Following a period of rest and training in Egypt and the Sudan the 1st Battalion was re-organized in 1943 as 34th (Welch) Beach Brick and in March landed with the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division, part of General Montgomery's British Eighth Army, during the invasion of Sicily in July.[11]

In May 1944 the 1st Battalion received large numbers of replacements from retrained anti-aircraft gunners of the Royal Artillery and became an effective infantry battalion again. The battalion was now assigned to 168th (London) Infantry Brigade,[12] replacing the now disbanded 10th Royal Berkshire Regiment and serving alongside 1st London Irish Rifles and 1st London Scottish, making the brigade a mixture of Irish, Scottish and Welsh. The 168th Brigade was part of the 56th (London) Division, which had just been severely mauled fighting at Anzio. In July the battalion landed in Italy and fought in the Italian Campaign and would remain there for the rest of the war. They took part in heavy fighting on the Gothic Line, one of many German defensive lines in Italy, and in the Croce area where the battalion, and the rest of the 56th Division, suffered heavy casualties. As a result of the casualties sustained, and a severe shortage of British infantry replacements in the Mediterranean theatre, 168th Brigade was disbanded and the 1st Battalion was reduced to a small cadre of 5 officers and 60 other ranks. In March 1945 the 1st Battalion was transferred to the 1st Guards Brigade, serving alongside the 3rd Grenadier Guards and 3rd Welsh Guards and replacing the disbanded 3rd Coldstream Guards, part of 6th Armoured Division, and remained with it until the end of the war. In April they took part in Operation Grapeshot which ended with the capture of thousands of prisoners of war and the surrender of the German Army in Italy on 2 May.[11]

The 2nd Battalion had been retained in India but in October 1944 the battalion moved to Burma as part of the 62nd Indian Infantry Brigade attached to the 19th Indian Infantry Division where it joined the British Fourteenth Army, led by Bill Slim. The Battalion saw its bitterest fighting along the Taungoo-Mawchi Road where for a hundred miles, with deep jungle on either side, the Japanese defended vigorously all the way. In November the battalion crossed the Chindwin River at Sittang, captured Pinlebu and saw some very hard fighting on the Swebo Plain.[13]

The 4th Battalion was in Northern Ireland in the 160th Infantry Brigade attached to the 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division. In June 1944 the battalion was, after many years of training, ordered to France to join the British Second Army in the Normandy Campaign. From the start of the campaign the 4th Battalion was involved in fierce fighting during the Battle for Caen, and around the Falaise Pocket, the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of the Reichwald where it sustained very heavy casualties and involved some of the fiercest fighting in the North West Europe Campaign for British soldiers as they were up against determined German paratroopers.[14]

Meanwhile, the 1/5th and 2/5th battalions, mobilized at the same time as the 4th Battalion, were retained at home where the 2/5th also trained and prepared drafts for overseas although it remained at home throughout the whole war as a Home Defence battalion. The 1/5th Battalion, originally with the 160th Infantry Brigade, moved to Normandy in late June 1944 and fought alongside the 4th Battalion in the 53rd (Welsh) Division in the North West Europe Campaign distinguishing itself at 's-Hertogenbosch, the Falaise Gap, the Ardennes and the Reichwald Forest. In August 1944 the 1/5th Battalion was transferred from 160th Brigade to the 158th Infantry Brigade, still with 53rd (Welsh) Division. Some of the hardest fighting took place around the Falaise Gap where on 16 August 1944, near Balfour, Lieutenant Tasker Watkins of the 1/5th Battalion was awarded the Victoria Cross for supreme personal bravery and inspired leadership.[15]

Around 1,100 officers and other ranks of the Welch Regiment were killed or died from wounds or sickness during the Second World War, with many more wounded.[16]

Post-war[edit]

The 1st Battalion returned home in 1947 and was garrisoned at Malvern, Worcester with the 2nd Battalion that had returned from Burma.[17] The 1st Battalion moved to Dering Lines in Brecon in February 1948 and amalgamated with the 2nd Battalion in June 1948.[17] The Battalion moved to Sobraon Barracks in Colchester in October 1950 and was then deployed to Korea as part of the 29th British Infantry Brigade in the 1st Commonwealth Division in November 1951 for service in the Korean War.[17]

The Battalion moved to Hong Kong as part of the 27th Infantry Brigade in November 1952 and then returned home to Llanion Barracks in Pembroke Dock in 1954.[17] It moved to Lüneburg in Germany as part of 10th Infantry Brigade in June 1956 before being deployed to Cyprus in October 1957.[17] The Battalion moved to North Africa in December 1958 and established its Headquarters in Benghazi with company detachments at Derna, Marj and Al Adm and then returned to the United Kingdom the following year.[17] The Battalion was stationed at Brooke Barracks in Spandau from April 1961 where duties included guarding Rudolf Hess.[18] The Battalion returned to the United Kingdom and became the Demonstration Battalion of The School of Infantry, stationed first at Knook Camp in Heytesbury and then at the newly built Battlesbury Barracks in Warminster in 1965.[17] For its final overseas posting the Battalion moved to Stanley Fort on Hong Kong Island in June 1966.[17] It then amalgamated with the South Wales Borderers to form the 1st Battalion the Royal Regiment of Wales in June 1969.[17]

Regimental holders of The Victoria Cross[edit]

(Prior to 1881)

  • Lieutenant Ambrose Madden VC (Sergeant-Major in 41st (the Welsh) Regiment of Foot)
  • General Sir Hugh Rowlands VC KCB (Captain in 41st (the Welsh) Regiment of Foot)

(Post 1881)

Battle honours[edit]

The Regiment was awarded the following battle honours:[19]

From the above Battle Honours the following were actually borne on the Regimental and Queen's Colour:

  • The Regimental Colour:

Belleisle, Martinique 1762, St. Vincent 1797, India, Bourbon, Java, Detroit, Queenstown, Miami, Niagara, Waterloo, Ava, Candahar 1842, Ghuznee 1842, Cahool 1842, Alma, Inkerman, Sevastopol, Relief of Kimberley, Paardeburg, South Africa 1899–1902, Korea 1951–52.

  • The Queen's Colour:

Aisne 1914–18, Ypres 1914-15-17, Gheluvelt, Loos, Somme 1916–18, Pilkem, Cambrai 1917–18, Macedonia 1915–18, Gallipoli 1915, Gaza, Falaise, Lower Mass, Reichswald, Croce, Italy 1943–45, Crete, Canae, Kyaukmyaung Bridgehead, Sittang 1945, Burma 1944–45.

¹ Awarded for the services of the 69th Foot.

² Awarded in 1909 for the services of the 69th Foot, with the badge of a Naval Crown superscribed 12th April 1782.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The London Gazette: no. 24992. pp. 3300–3301. 1 July 1881.
  2. ^ a b "The History of the Royal Regiment of Wales: The Welsh Regiment (1881-1920)". Royal Welsh. Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  3. ^ "Dispatch from Herbert Kitchener". The Times. 12 January 1889. Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  4. ^ "Welsh Regiment". Anglo-Boer War. Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  5. ^ "The War - Embarcation of Troops" The Times (London). Tuesday, 13 February 1900. (36064), p. 11.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Welch Regiment". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  7. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 28983. p. 9663. 20 November 1914. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29765. p. 9418. 22 June 1915. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29866. pp. 12307–12308. 15 December 1916. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  10. ^ "Between the Wars – 1919-1939". Royal Welsh. Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  11. ^ a b c "1st Battalion Royal Welch" (PDF). Royal Welsh. Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  12. ^ Joslen, p. 230
  13. ^ "2nd Battalion Royal Welch" (PDF). Royal Welsh. Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  14. ^ "4th Battalion Royal Welch" (PDF). Royal Welsh. Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  15. ^ "1/5th Battalion Royal Welch" (PDF). Royal Welsh. Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  16. ^ "Regiment Timeline - The Regimental Museum of The Royal Welsh (Brecon)". royalwelsh.org.uk. Retrieved 1 November 2015. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Welch Regiment". British Army units 1945 on. Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  18. ^ Bainton, Roy (2003). The Long Patrol: The British in Germany Since 1945. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 978-1840187151. 
  19. ^ "The Welch Regiment [UK]". regiments.org. Archived from the original on 4 January 2006. Retrieved 1 November 2015. 

Sources[edit]

  • Joslen, Lt-Col H.F. (2003) [1960]. Orders of Battle: Second World War, 1939–1945. Uckfield: Naval and Military Press. ISBN 978-1-84342-474-1. 

Further reading[edit]

  • 'History of the services of the 41st (The Welsh Regiment)' by Captain and Adjutant D.A.N. Lomax,
  • 'The History of The Welsh regiment. 1719 – 1918' author unknown,
  • 'The History of The Welch Regiment 1919–1951'

External links[edit]

Preceded by
41st (Welch) Regiment of Foot
The Welch Regiment
1881–1969
Succeeded by
Royal Regiment of Wales