Wessex Regiment

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Wessex Regiment
Wessex Regiment Badge.jpg
Cap badge of the Wessex Regiment
Active 1971–1995
Country United Kingdom
Branch Army
Type Line Infantry
Size 2 Battalions
Motto(s) Their Land to Defend
March Quick: The Farmer's Boy
Quick: The Hampshire
Quick: The Dashing White Serjeant
Slow: God Bless the Prince of Wales
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Holmes (military historian)

The Wessex Regiment was a Territorial Army (TA) infantry regiment of the British Army between 1971 and 1995.[1] It had two battalions: The 1st Bn (Rifle Volunteers) with its headquarters at Le Marchant Barracks in Devizes and the 2nd Bn (Volunteers), which was headquartered at Brock Barracks in Reading. In 1994, the battalions were amalgamated to form the 2nd Bn The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment, later The Royal Rifle Volunteers. Most recently, its remnants can be traced to the formation of The Rifles.

1st Battalion The Wessex Regiment (Rifle Volunteers)[edit]

Le Marchant Barracks, Devizes

1 Wessex was formed in TAVR II with headquarters in Exeter from former Territorial Army companies from units in the Wessex Brigade. It was a NATO-roled Battalion, the TA infantry component of 1 Brigade, which formed, with logistic elements, the UK Mobile Force with deployment options in the Baltic Approaches (Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein)[2]

The Battalion comprised:

  • HQ Company (Devizes)
  • A Company (Gloucester) – Coy HQ, 1 Platoon and Anti-tank Platoon; 2 and 3 Platoons were in Bristol.
  • B Company (Winchester) – Coy HQ, 5 and 7 Platoons in Southampton and 6 Platoon on the Isle of Wight. This Company was transferred to 2 Wessex (in 1985); 1 Wessex then formed:
  • C Company (Dorchester) – with a remote (11) Platoon in Poole; later, this Platoon was swapped with D Company (Bournemouth) for the remote Platoon in Weymouth.
  • D Company (Reading) was co-located with Bn HQ 2 Wessex; it was later swapped with 2 Wessex for:
    • D Company (Bournemouth) – Coy HQ, 13 and 14 Platoons; 15 Platoon was in Poole. The company later moved from Bournemouth to Poole and formed a new remote Platoon at Fordingbridge.
  • E Company (Exeter) Coy HQ and 18 Platoon; with 17 Platoon in Plymouth and 19 Platoon in Barnstaple.

C Company (Dorchester), D Company (Poole) and E Company (Exeter) were later removed from 1 Wessex and formed the base for the 4th Battalion, The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment. 1 Wessex then formed a new C Company in Newbury, which was based on a remote Platoon transferred from 2 Wessex.

In addition to the five Rifle Companies, 1 Wessex had the following support Platoons under HQ Company:

  • Anti tank Platoon (Gloucester) – originally equipped with Wombat, later with Milan guided missiles
  • Recce Platoon (Cheltenham) – originally equipped with Fox armoured reconnaissance vehicles; from 1990, these were replaced with stripped Land Rover 110s
  • Mortar Platoon (Andover)
  • Machine Gun Platoon (Swindon). This Platoon moved to Devizes in 1990 & combined with the Drums Platoon.
  • Assault Pioneer Platoon (Cinderford)

There was also from 1983, a HSF (Home Service Force) company.

The Battalion also had the distinction of being able to parade with two Bands, one based in Exeter and one in Devizes, as well as a Corps of Drums founded by the HQ Coy (Devizes).

2nd Battalion The Wessex Regiment (Volunteers)[edit]

Brock Barracks, Reading, headquarters of 2 Wessex, 1971–1995

2 Wessex was formed on 1 April 1971 with Headquarters at Brock Barracks, Reading from cadres of The Buckinghamshire Regiment RA, The Royal Berkshire Territorials, The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Territorials and The Dorset Territorials.

The Battalion comprised:

  • HQ Company – Reading
  • A (Duke of Connaught's) Company – Portsmouth
  • B (Royal Buckinghamshire Yeomanry) Company – originally at Bletchley; later at Reading, with 6 Platoon at Basingstoke. B Coy was disbanded in 1986; 4 Platoon transferred to D Coy as 12 Platoon, 6 Platoon transferred to C Company as 9 Platoon (see below). The remainder of the Coy staff became the Regimental Recruit Training Team. The Coy was replaced by the transfer of B Coy from 1 Wessex:
    • B Company (Winchester) – platoons in Southampton and Newport, Isle of Wight
  • C (Royal Berkshire) Company – Coy HQ and 7 Platoon at St. Lukes Road, Maidenhead; 8 Platoon at Uxbridge Road, Slough; and 9 Platoon at Newbury, later 6/9 Platoon at Penrith Road, Basingstoke
  • D (Queen's Own Dorset Yeomanry) Company – at Poole, Bournemouth and Weymouth.[3] It was later swapped with 1 Wessex for:
    • D Company (Reading) – which then relocated to St Michael's Road, Newbury
  • E (HSF) Company

Dress distinctions in 2nd Battalion[edit]

Soldiers in A Company originally wore collar badges of the 6th Battalion The Royal Hampshire Regt (Duke of Connaught's Own), later replaced with the 'Wyvern'. Soldiers in C (Royal Berkshires) Company wore the "Brandywine Flash", a triangle of red cloth sewn behind the cap badge inherited from the Royal Berkshire Regiment – this was also worn by the Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment (DERR).

Officers wore Royal Hampshire Regiment pattern Sam Browne with whistle. Officers and Warrant Officers wore Black (Royal Hampshire) pullovers in Barrack Dress.

Officers, Warrant Officers and SNCOs of the 2nd Battalion wore a green lanyard on the left shoulder (as opposed to blue in the 1st Bn).

The regimental Stable Belt of the 2nd Bn was striped blue over gold over grass green over gold over blue, as opposed to the plain blue of the 1st Bn.



  • Litchfield, Norman E H, 1992. The Territorial Artillery 1908–1988, The Sherwood Press, Nottingham. ISBN 0-9508205-2-0
  • Lee-Browne, Martin, 2009. '1 Wessex - A West Country Territorial Army Battalion - 1967-1995'.

External sources[edit]