Worcestershire Regiment

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The Worcestershire Regiment
Active 1881–1970
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Infantry
Role Line infantry
Size

1–4 Regular Battalions
2 Militia and Special Reserve Battalions
1–4 Territorial and Volunteer Battalions

Up to 14 Hostilities-only Battalions
Garrison/HQ Norton Barracks, Worcestershire
Motto Firm
March Quick: Royal Windsor, The Poacher
Slow: Duchess of Kent
Anniversaries Glorious First of June, 1 June
Battle of Gheluvelt, 31 Oct

The Worcestershire Regiment was a line infantry regiment of the line in the British Army, formed in 1881 under the Childers Reforms by the amalgamation of the 29th (Worcestershire) Regiment of Foot and the 36th (Herefordshire) Regiment of Foot. The regiment fought in many conflicts, including both World War I and World War II, until 1970 when it was amalgamated with the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) to form the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (29th/44th Foot) which was, in September 2007, amalgamated again with the Cheshire Regiment and the Staffordshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's) to form the Mercian Regiment.

History[edit]

Postings[edit]

During 1903 to 1905 the 4th Battalion were stationed in the West Indies, being responsible for guarding prisoners from the Boer War. In 1906–1907 they were stationed in Malta. From 1908–1913 they were stationed at Bareilly, India.

In August 1911 troops from the regiment shot dead 2 men during the Llanelli railway strike.[1]

First World War[edit]

A sentry from the Worcestershire Regiment manning a position in France during 1916

In the Great War the Regiment saw action in the retreat from Mons, the Battle of the Marne and at Langemark, Aisne, Gheluvelt and Ypres in 1914. Nonne Bosschen, Festubert and Gallipoli in 1915, and Loos and the Battle of the Somme in 1916. In 1917 it saw involvement in actions at Bagentin, Delville Wood, Le Transloy, Arras, Ypres Menin Road, Polygon Wood, and Passchendale. The regiment then fought at Cambrai, Lys, Bailleul, Kemmel, Hindenburg Line, St. Quentin Canal and Selle in 1918.

Members of the Regiment won nine Victoria Crosses, 70 Distinguished Service Orders (and 12 bars), 288 Military Crosses ( and 36 bars), 227 Distinguished Conduct Medals (and 8 bars).[2]

In December 1918 they were used to suppress the Taranto Revolt, executing one of the rebels by firing squad.[3]

Second World War[edit]

Regular Army[edit]

The 1st Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment was a Regular Army battalion that was stationed in the Middle East on the outbreak of war, having been stationed there since 1938 due to the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine. On 7 September 1939, just four days after the outbreak of World War II, Private Darby of the 1st Battalion died in Jerusalem of wounds he had sustained earlier in the year, the first British soldier to die in the war.[4] The battalion was destined to see service in the Western Desert. In July 1940 the the battalion was assigned to the 21st Infantry Brigade, serving alongside the 2nd West Yorkshire Regiment and 1st Essex Regiment. In 11 October 1940, however, the brigade was redesignated as the 29th Indian Infantry Brigade, and the other two battalions of the brigade were replaced by two battalions from the Indian Army, the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Punjab Regiment and 6th Battalion, 13th Frontier Force Rifles.[5] The brigade was part of the 5th Indian Infantry Division. In May 1942 the battalion, still fighting in North Africa, surrendered, along with 30,000 other British Commonwealth troops, at Tobruk during the disastrous Battle of Gazala, part of the First Battle of El Alamein. The battalion was reformed in England by the redesignation of the 11th Battalion, a war service battalion raised in 1940.

The 2nd Battalion was also a Regular Army unit that was stationed in British India on the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. The battalion had been there. The battalion operated in the Burma Campaign from 1944 to 1945, fighting the fanatical Imperial Japanese Army, with the 64th Indian Infantry Brigade attached to the 19th Indian Infantry Division, and were involved in the recapture of Mandalay.

Territorial Army[edit]

The 7th and 8th battalions were both 1st Line Territorial Army units. They were both part of the 144th Infantry Brigade attached to 48th (South Midland) Infantry Division. With the division, both battalions were sent overseas in early 1940 to join the British Expeditionary Force in France. Almost as soon as they arrived, however, the 7th Battalion were exchanged for the 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment and became part of the 5th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.[6] Both the 7th and 8th battalions fought in the battles of Belgium and France and were forced to be evacuated to England after the German Army attempted to surround the BEF and cut it off from the French armies. After preparing for the German invasion of England that never came, the 2nd Division was sent to India in April 1942, arriving in June. The 7th Battalion fought in the Burma Campaign and took part in the Battle of Kohima and the Battle of Imphal. After Dunkirk, the 8th Battalion spent the rest of the war as a training battalion.[7]

Both the 9th and 10th battalion were formed in late August 1939, the 9th as a 2nd Line duplicate of the 7th Battalion, and the 10th a duplicate of the 8th. Both were assigned to the 182nd Infantry Brigade of the 61st Infantry Division and remained in the United Kingdom throughout the war, as training battalions to supply drafts of replacements for battalions of other regiments overseas.[8][9]

Hostilities-only[edit]

The regiment also raised two other battalions for hostilities-only, the 11th and 12th, in 1940. The 11th Battalion was raised in July 1940 at Norton Barracks and joined the 213th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home). The 11th Battalion was disbanded on 1 January 1943 and renumbered the 1st Battalion after the original 1st Battalion was destroyed in North Africa. The reformed 1st Battalion transferred to the 214th Infantry Brigade, 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division. On 18 November 1944 the 1st Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, moved across the Dutch-German border and commenced an attack on German soil to take the village of Tripsrath. With their parent unit, 214th Infantry Brigade, they were the first British troops to fight on German soil. Their job was to take the north-west side of Gelsenkirchen to cover the left flank and support the American forces.

The 12th Battalion was raised as the 50th (Holding) Battalion on 1 June 1940 and was later, in October, redesignated as the 12th Battalion. In 1942 it was transferred to the Royal Artillery and converted into the 179th Field Regiment and served alongside the reformed 1st Battalion, previously the 11th Battalion, in the 43rd (Wessex) Division.

After the war[edit]

After service in the First and Second World Wars, it was amalgamated with the Sherwood Foresters to form The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (29th/45th Foot) in 1970.

Museums and memorials[edit]

Gheluvelt Park[edit]

Gheluvelt Park in Worcester was opened on 17 June 1922 to commemorate the Worcestershire Regiment's 2nd Battalion after their part in Battle of Gheluvelt, a World War I battle that took place on 31 October 1914 in Gheluvelt (near Ypres), Belgium. The park was opened by Field Marshal John French, 1st Earl of Ypres, who stated, "on that day the 2nd Worcesters saved the British Empire." A plaque inside the park commemorates Captain Gerald Ernest Lea, who died on 15 September 1914 while commanding D. Company of the 2nd Battalion.

Regimental Museum[edit]

The collections of the Worcestershire Regimental Museum are on display in the Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum in Worcester.

The museum was formerly operated as an independent museum that was located at Norton Barracks in Norton, Worcestershire, but became part of the Worcester City Museum in 1970.[10]

Battle honours[edit]

Grave of Pte. E Kyte of the Worcestershire Regiment, at St. Peter's Church, Little Aston, Staffordshire, England; showing the regimental badge.
  • From the 29th Regiment of Foot: Rolica, Vimiera, Talavera, Albuhera, Peninsula, Ferozeshah, Sobraon, Chillianwallah, Goojerat, Punjaub
  • From the 36th Regiment of Foot: Hindoostan, Rolica, Vimiera, Corunna, Salamanca, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes, Toulouse, Peninsula
  • Ramillies, Bellisle, Ushant, Mysore, South Africa 1900–02
  • The Great War (22 battalions): Mons, Le Cateau, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914 ‘18, La Bassée 1914, Armentières 1914, Ypres 1914 '15 '17 '18, Langemarck 1914 '17, Gheluvelt, Nonne Bosschen, Neuve Chapelle, Aubers, Festubert 1915, Loos, Somme 1916 ‘18, Albert 1916, Bazentin, Delville Wood, Pozières, Le Transloy, Ancre Heights, Ancre 1916, Arras 1917, Scarpe 1917, Arleux, Messines 1917 '18, Pilckem, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917 ‘18, St. Quentin, Bapaume 1918, Rosières, Villers Bretonneux, Lys, Estaires, Hazebrouck, Bailleul, Kemmel, Scherpenberg, Hindenburg Line, Canal du Nord, St. Quentin Canal, Beaurevoir, Courtrai, Selle, Valenciennes, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914–18, Piave, Vittorio Veneto, Italy 1917–18, Doiran 1917 ‘18, Macedonia 1915–18, Helles, Landing at Helles, Krithia, Suvla, Sari Bair, Landing at Suvla, Scimitar Hill, Gallipoli 1915–16, Egypt 1916, Tigris 1916, Kut al Amara 1917, Baghdad, Mesopotamia 1916–18, Baku, Persia 1918
  • The Second World War: Defence of Escaut, St. Omer-La Bassée, Wormhoudt, Odon, Bourguébus Ridge, Maltot, Mont Pincon, Jurques, La Varinière, Noireau Crossing, Seine 1944, Nederrijn, Geilenkirchen, Rhineland, Goch, Rhine, North-West Europe 1940 '44–45, Gogni, Barentu, Keren, Amba Alagi, Abyssinia 1940–41, Gazala, Via Balbia, North Africa 1941–42, Kohima, Relief of Kohima, Naga Village, Mao Songsang, Shwebo, Mandalay, Irrawaddy, Mt. Popa, Burma 1944–45
  • 7th Battalion: South Africa 1900–01

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Prior, Neil (16 August 2011). "Llanelli's 'forgotten' riot – 100 years ago". BBC News Wales. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  2. ^ Stacke, Capt H FitzM (1927) The Worcestershire Regiment in the Great War Kidderminster: G T Cheshire & Sons
  3. ^ Holding Aloft the Banner of Ethiopia: Caribbean Radicalism in Early Twentieth-Century America by Winston James, Verso, 1998
  4. ^ http://www.worcestershireregiment.com/bat_1_palestine_1938_39.php
  5. ^ http://www.britishmilitaryhistory.co.uk/webeasycms/hold/uploads/bmh_document_pdf/5_Indian_Division__1941_42_.pdf
  6. ^ http://www.worcestershireregiment.com/h_dunkirk_7thBn.php
  7. ^ http://www.worcestershireregiment.com/h_dunkirk_8thBn.php
  8. ^ http://www.worcestershireregiment.com/bat_9_1939_1945.php
  9. ^ http://www.worcestershireregiment.com/bat_10_1939_1945.php
  10. ^ "Worcestershire Regimental Collection". Retrieved 8 November 2014. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]