Regiments That Served With The 7th Armoured Division
During its history the 7th Armoured Division many different units served with the Division and its Brigades. I have tried to include as many as possible with as much information as possible, but I apologise is I have omitted any.
Listed below is the information I have found on the Brigades and Regiments that served in the Division. For the Brigades this is for the7th Motor Brigade and the 131st Infantry Brigade. For the Infantry Regiments that served with the Division, this will include the Rifle Brigade, King's Royal Rifle Corps, Devonshire Regiment, Durham Light Infantry, Queen's Royal Regiment and Scots Guards
Originally called the Pivot Group, the Brigade served with the Division until October 1942, when it left to join 1st Armoured Division. Here it served with distinction with 2nd KRRC and 2nd Rifle Brigade taking part in the action at 'Snipe' where over 50 enemy tanks where destroyed by 6-pdr Anti-Tank guns. The Brigade also served during 'Operation Supercharge' during the latter stages of El Alamein. Later on the Brigade was formally disbanded as a formation and its composite units assigned to other formations and redesignated as 18th Lorried Infantry Brigade, which served with 1st Armoured Division in Italy, until the it and 1st Armoured Division were both disbanded in January 1945.
|The role of the Support Group in an Armoured Division|
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|131st (Queen's) Lorried Infantry Brigade, later just 131st Lorried Infantry Brigade|
Originally, part of the 44th (Home Counties) Infantry Division and after 'mobilisation' in late August 1939 it was originally stationed in and around Guildford, Surrey. It consisted of 1/5th Bn., 1/6th Bn. and 1/7th Bn. Queen's Royal Regiment. Later in 1939 hard training followed in Dorset and then the Brigade was out on standby to move to Finland, but this did not materialise. The King inspected the 44th (Home Counties) Division in February 1940 and on 2nd April the Brigade, embarked at Southampton for Cherbourg and then formed part of the BEF (British Expeditionary Force), 1940. After being evacuated at Dunkirk the brigade was reformed and used for general guard duties, until in May 1942 large drafts were received to bring it up to war establishment. Then on 24th May 1942 it embarked for the Middle East. The convoy called at Freetown where General Sir George Gifford, Queen's, who was then GOC West Africa, and arrived at Durban at the end of June. From there the ships in the Convoy sailed individually without escort to Aden and on to Egypt. There along with the rest of 44th Division, the brigade disembarked in Egypt early in July 1942. The Brigade trained east of Cairo until it joined the 8th Army in August 1942. Its first action was at the Battle of Alam Halfa. It then became permanently part of the 7th Armoured Division in October 1942 and remained with the Division until the end of the war. During the remainder of the North African campaign the Brigade occupied Tobruk on 12th November 1942 and Benghazi, 350 miles on, eleven days later. The advance continued and Tripoli was entered on 23rd January 1943.
The Mareth Line was the next objective, but before that the enemy counter-attacked at Medenine, on 7th March 1942. The Mareth Line position was then captured at the end of March, and the 8th Army pressed on towards Tunis, after fighting on the Enfidaville Line. The Brigade fought with distinction throughout North Africa until the surrender of Tunis in May 1943. The 131st Brigade had been the leading infantry brigade of the 8th Army in the whole advance from Alamein to the Mareth Line, nearly 2000 miles. They had been the first infantry into Tobruk, the first into Benghazi and were the first to reach Tripoli. They then led the advance of the whole Army through difficult mine-strewn country to the Mareth Line
After resting in North Africa before going to Italy in September 1943 and on the 17th September, 131st (Queen's) Brigade, which was in reserve, took over in the line from 169th (Queen's) Brigade [2/5th, 2/6th, 2/7th Queen's]. It is believed that this battle relief by two brigades of the same regiment is unique in the history of the British Army. The subsequent break-out on to the Naples Plain was led by the two Queen's Brigades. In December 1943 131st Queen's Brigade returned to England to prepare for the invasion of North West Europe.
The Brigade landed in Normandy on 8th June 1944, two days after 'D' Day, and was heavily engaged at Villers-Bocage and Caen. Subsequently it was in action during the break-out and advance across North East France to Belgium and Holland. Following the Nijmegen and River Maas operations 131st (Queen's) Brigade was reorganised being renamed 131st Lorried Infantry Brigade when two out of the three Queen's Infantry Battalions left in December 1944. The replacement Battalions were 2nd Bn, Devonshire Regiment and 9th Bn. Durham Light Infantry, both from the 50th (Northumberland) Division. The Brigade crossed the Rhine on 28th March 1945, fought its way across North Germany, and on 3rd May 1945 led 7th Armoured Division into the ruins of Hamburg.
|The role of the Lorried Infantry Brigade in an Armoured Division|
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(Note Battle Honours on Cap Badge)
2nd BattalionRifle Brigade (95th Rifles)
9th BattalionRifle Brigade (95th Rifles)
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Rifle Brigade (95th)
Three different Battalions served as part of the Pivot (later Support) Group and then as part of 22nd Armoured Brigade with the Division. What follows is a brief report of what units each Battalion served in and when.
1st Battalion: When war was declared in September 1939 the 1st Bn. was part of 1st Support Group, 1st Armoured Division, stationed at Tidworth Barracks, London. During the Fall of France in 1940, it served as part of 30th Brigade in the defense of Calais, along with 2nd Bn. King's Royal Rifle Corps and 1st Bn. Queen Victoria Rifles, having originally gone to France as part of the 1st Armoured Division. In the battle of Calais all three of these battalions were lost, but not before they have held up a large German armoured force trying to get to the BEF at Dunkirk, for three important days. After the Fall of France the Battalion was reformed and then sailed to North Africa with 1st Armoured Division. It joined 22nd Armoured Brigade as part of 7th Armoured Division for El Alamein and continued to serve with the Brigade and Division until the end of the war. After the surrender of Hamburg in May 1945, the Battalion they passed through it and onto to Kiel where they were for V.E. day. There they found that the peninsular was "wall to wall" with men and equipment withdrawn or retreated from the Eastern Front, who had escaped from the Russians. Unlike the other Rifle Brigade Battalions instead of the usual A, B C and S (Support) Companies, 1st Bn The Rifle Brigade consisted of A, C, I and S (Support) Companies.
2nd Battalion: When war was declared in September 1939 the 2nd Bn. was part of 14th Infantry Brigade, 8th Infantry Division, stationed in Nablus, Palestine. It joined the 7th Armoured Divisions Support Group in November 1940 and served with the Division until the 7th Motor Brigade was transferred to 1st Armoured Division before El Alamein. It fought in the action at 'Snipe' or 'Kidney Ridge' and served with the brigade until the end of the North African Campaign. During this action, which lasted 36 hours the Battalion won the following decorations
|1 Victoria Cross|
|1 bar to a Distinguished Service Order|
|1 Distinguished Service Order|
|1 Bar to a Military Cross|
|4 Military Crossís|
|3 Distinguished Conduct Medals|
|1 bar to a Military Medal|
|10 Military Medals|
In September 1943 the battalion joined 7th Armoured Brigade, as part of 10th Armoured Division, when it returned from Burma, remaining with it until May 1944. It then joined 61st Infantry Brigade (along with 7th Bn. and 10th Bn. The Rifle Brigade) as part on 6th Armoured Division in Italy, until the end of the war. In March 1945, due to heavy losses and the effect of men returning to the UK under 'PYTHON' 2nd Bn was disbanded. The Support (S) Company was attached to the 61st Brigade Heavy Support Company, 'A' Company was posted to 10th Bn Rifle Brigade and 'B' Company to the 7th Bn. At the same time 10th Bn Rifle Brigade was disbanded and then renamed 2nd Bn Rifle Brigade, thus forming a new 2nd Bn. It was at this time that it was joined in 61st Brigade by 1st Bn. Kings Royal Rifle Corps, with which it had started the war with in 7th Armoured Division.
9th Battalion: In September 1939 this unit started the war as 1 Bn. Tower Hamlets Rifles, serving with 3rd London Infantry Brigade as part of 1st London Division. It was redesignated as 9th Bn The Rifle Brigade (Tower Hamlets Rifles) on 29th May 1941. It then served in North Africa with 2nd Support Group, 2nd Armoured Division, before the latter was lost. It then served with 200th Guards Brigade which was renamed the 201st Guards Motor Brigade, until June 1942. Then the battalion served with 4th Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Division during the Gazala Battles of 1942, before leaving it. In August 1942 that the sad decision was made at GHQ that the 9th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade and of the 60th Rifles (KRRC) should be disbanded. It was calculated that there would be insufficient reinforcements in the Middle East to maintain four battalions of the regiment in being. As the 9th Battalion had the highest number and was in the process of refitting in the Delta, then if any battalion was to be disbanded it should be the 9th. According the 9th Battalion The Rifle Brigade ceased to exist, except for its name and a cadre that eventually made its way to England and took up permanent residence at Retford.
The 9th Bn had seldom been lucky in the desert. They arrived as part of a division which was split in half shortly after its arrival and subsequently the Battalion never remained under the same command for long at a stretch being switched from one brigade or division or another at twenty-four hoursí notice or less at times. Their longest connection and happiest was 201st Guards Brigade, and when they finally left it the Brigade commander the Brigadier Marriot, wrote to the Lt-Colonel Purdon a charming letter in appreciation of their services in the brigade. Because of these constant changes of role and command the story of the Battalion is almost impossible to tell. For one thing, the most spectacular battles were generally fought by complete divisions, while the 9th Battalion stood by for emergencies or took over a task, which released others for the main battle. The only thing the 9th Battalion was lucky with was that it was twice reprieved from taking part in the defence of Tobruk and once from trying to hold Bir Hacheim.
The battalion was put into suspended animation in 1944 and in 1947 it became 656th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment RA (Rifle Brigade).
The Experimental Corps of Riflemen
By the end of the eighteenth century several European armies included infantry specialised in the rolls of skirmishing and reconnaissance and the British followed the formation of the 5th Battalion of the 60th Royal Americans with the creation in 1800 of an Experimental Corps of Riflemen, its members hand-picked from other regiments, dressed in green and armed with the Baker rifle. Within four months of its first parade the new unit led an assault landing at Ferrol and two months later it ceased to be 'experimental' and was gazetted under the new title of The Rifle Corps. Its first Colonel, Coote Manningham, was one of a handful of officers whose thinking shaped the Light Infantry of the Army, while William Stuart as Commanding Officer was ideally suited to putting theory into practice, as well as being an original thinker in his own right.
A year after its formation a company of the Rifle Brigade served aboard Nelsons ships at the battle of Copenhagen, earning its first battle honour and later a naval crown in its cap badge.
The Light Brigade
In 1803 the regiment, now named the 95th or Rifle Regiment, joined the 43rd and 52nd to form the Light Brigade under the command of Sir John Moore. But this formation was never kept in being for more than a few years at a time and in 1807, the 95th, now two battalions strong, took part in the storming of Monte Video and a mis-managed attack on Buenos Aires. Later that year, serving for the first time under Sir Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, both battalions were once again brigaded with the 43rd and 52nd for the siege of Copenhagen.
The Peninsula War - The First Round (1808-09)
On the renewal of hostilities in the Peninsula the two battalions of the 95th, at first grouped with the 5/60th in a brigade of Riflemen, fired the first shots of the campaign at Obidos. But shortly afterwards they were reunited with their colleagues of the Light Brigade for Moore's advance into Spain and provided the rearguard when the approach of a far larger French army forced him to retreat to Curunna and Vigo.
The Walcheren Expedition (1809)
During the summer of 1809 the 2nd battalion of the 95th, together with those of the 43rd and 52nd, took part in a fruitless expedition to the island of Walcheren in the Low Countries. There were few battle casualties but heavy losses from fever and their return to the Peninsula was delayed by a long period of recuperation and recruitment.
The Peninsula War - Second Round (1809-14)
The 1st Battalion 95th returned to the Peninsula in the summer of 1809 and took part in the Light Brigades famous forced to Talavera. During the next year further companies arrived piecemeal until three complete battalions were engaged. Throughout the rest of the Peninsula War the Light Brigade and later the Light Division was to make an outstanding contribution to Wellington's victories. At Tarbes in 1814, the three battalions of the 95th on their own dislodged and defeated a superior French force deployed in successive ranks on a hillside. Sixteen Battle Honours were earned by the regiment.
All three battalions were represented at Waterloo, the 1st holding the crossroads at la Haie Sainte all day and the 2nd and part of the 3rd in Adams brigade joined the famous charge of the 52nd which finally broke the French Imperial Guard. The 2nd Battalion was chosen to lead Wellington's army into Paris.
The Nineteenth Century
In 1816 the Rifles were taken out of the numbered regiments of the Line and re-titled The Rifle Brigade. They saw no more active service for thirty years, until they fought in South Africa in the Kaffir Wars of 1846-47 band 1852-53, against the Boers in 1848, in the Crimea, in the Indian Mutiny and colonial campaigns in Ashantee, Afghanistan, Canada, Burma and Sudan, including the Battle of Omdurman.
The Crimea War (1854-56)
Two battalions of the Rifle Brigade fought in the Crimea, one leading the advance over the River Alma and both taking part in the hard fought battle of Inkerman and the long siege of Sebastopol where they suffered severely from the bitterly cold Russian winter. This campaign saw the first awards of the Victoria Cross and the regiment won eight of them, more than any other regiment.
The Indian Mutiny (1857-59)
The Rifle Brigade were engaged at Cawnpore and the relief of Lucknow, as well as in many smaller actions, and earned four more VCs to add to its tally from the Crimea. A detachment marching to reinforce the Cawnpore force covered forty-nine miles in twenty-six hours and another seventy-five miles without rest after four months on a troop ship, so emulating their forebears at Talavera. In the fighting that followed the Riflemen captured two long fourteen-Pounder guns and dragged them with ropes to their own lines - a distance of more than three miles.
The South African War (1899-1902)
Like the 60th The Rifle Brigade had battalions in both the relief and defence of Ladysmith and distinguished itself in numerous actions. In several sorties the Rifles showed themselves a match for the Boers at fire and movement, and at Bergendal successfully attacked up 1500 yards of open hillside to seize the crestline. A further two VCs were won, one of the by Captain (later General Sir Walter) Congreve, whose son Major Billy Congreve was to be awarded a posthumous VC in 1916.
World War 1 (1914-18)
In action from 25th August 1914, during the retreat from Mons, the 1st Battalion held up three German Jaeger battalions and a cavalry brigade all that day, giving such a display of rapid fire that the enemy mistook it for machine guns. Then as operations ground to a halt and trench warfare took over, more and more infantry were needed until by 1916 eleven Rifle Brigade battalions were in France and Flanders and one in Salonika. A further ten battalions of affiliated Territorial Regiments served, mostly on the Western Front but also in Gallipoli, the Middle East and India. After four years of fighting in atrocious conditions, facing concentrated artillery and machine gun fire as well as poison gas and flame throwers, the war was won, but at tremendous cost. The regiment lost 11,575 dead. Ten VCs were won as well as 1743 decorations for bravery.
World War 11 (1939-45)
The Rifle Brigade joined the 60th in 1937 in forming the first motor battalions regaining a specialised roll fitting their traditions of speed and initiative. One of these was sacrificed at Calais in 1940, but not before the three Rifle battalions had significantly delayed the German panzer divisions advancing to interfere with the British Expeditionary Force's evacuation through Dunkirk. Thereafter battalions fought with distinction in North Africa, including the celebrated 'Snipe' action at El Alamein, where 2nd Rifle Brigade destroyed some fifty-one enemy tanks in sixteen hours and Lieutenant Colonel Turner was awarded the VC. Four battalions of the regiment fought in Italy, the 1st returning to England in December 1943 to prepare for the invasion of North West Europe. The other three (2nd, 7th and 10th Battalions) were formed into 61st Infantry Brigade, 6th Armoured Division, in May 1944, but continued their accustomed roll of co-operating with armour when conditions allowed. Their brilliant capture of the hills of Perugia involved four successive night attacks. The 1st and 8th Battalions landed in Normandy in June 1944 and fought their way through France, Belgium and Holland to end the war in the vicinity of Hamburg, with the 1st Battalion being with the 7th Armoured Division.
The Post War Years
In 1948, after nearly 150 years of service, the 2nd Battalion was disbanded. In 1953 the 1st Battalion reverted to a normal infantry role to serve in Kenya and Malaya and, having changed its title to 3rd Bn. Green Jackets (The Rifle Brigade) in 1958, in Borneo. In 2007 Royal Green Jackets became part of a new regiment called 'The Rifles' following the amalgamation of The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, The Light Infantry, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry, along with the Royal Green Jackets.
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(Note Battle Honours on Cap Badge)
2nd Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps (60th Rifles)
|9th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps (60th Rifles)|
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King's Royal Rifle Corps (60th)
Three different Battalions served as part of the Pivot (later Support) Group and then as part of 7th Motor Brigade with the Division. What follows is a brief report of what units each Battalion served in and when.
1st Battalion: When war was declared in September 1939 the 1st Bn. was part of Pivot Group, near Wadi el Nagamish, Egypt. The 1st Bn KRRC fought almost to the last at Sidi Rezegh, with only 55 men of all ranks escaping the battle where the regimentís 23rd VC was won. It served with 7th Armoured Division throughout the North African Campaign until 4th Armoured Brigade was detached from the Division after El Alamein. It left 4th Armoured Brigade in January 1943, being replaced by the 2nd Bn. KRRC. It then served in Italy as part of 2nd Armoured Brigade, 1st Armoured Division until 2nd Armoured Brigade became an independent Brigade in October 1944. It joined 61st Infantry Brigade, 6th Armoured Division with which it served until the end of the war, along side 2nd Bn. The Rifle Brigade, with which it had started the war with in 7th Armoured Division.
2nd Battalion: When war was declared in September 1939 the 1st Bn. was part of 1st Support Group, 1st Armoured Division, stationed at Tidworth, Wiltshire. During the Fall of France in 1940, it served as part of 30th Brigade in the defense of Calais, along with 1st Bn. Rifle Brigade and 1st Bn. Queen Victoria Rifles, having originally gone to France as part of the 1st Armoured Division. In the battle of Calais all three of these battalions were lost, but not before they have held up a large German armoured force trying to get to the BEF at Dunkirk, for three important days. The battalion was reformed with the rest of 1st Armoured Division and reached the Middle East in late 1941. Along with the rest of the 1st Armoured Division the battalion fought in the Gazala battle of May/June 1942, withdrawing to the El Alamein line with the rest of the Army. At El Alamein the battalion was part of 7th Motor Brigade (the old 7th Armoured Division Support Group) along with 2nd and 7th Bn. Rifle Brigade, still under command of 1st Armoured Division. It joined 4th Armoured Brigade in January 1943, replacing the 1st Bn. KRRC, and served with the Brigade during the rest of the North African Campaign. The battalion remained in North Africa during the Sicily campaign, but rejoined 4th Armoured Brigade in Italy, before returning with it to the UK to prepare for the invasion of Normandy. It continued to serve with it in North Europe until the end of the war.
9th Battalion: In September 1939 this unit was 1st Rangers, The King's Royal Rifle Corps stationed in London as part of 3rd London Infantry Brigade, 1st London Division. It was renamed 9th Bn. (The Rangers) KRRC in March 1941 and in the spring of that year it fought a desperate rearguard action in Greece, as part of 1st Armoured Brigade attached to 6th Australian Division. Its gallant stand in the Florina Cap inflicted heavy casualties on the Germans, before the battalion was evacuated to Crete. There it served in the Suda Bay area south of Canea attached to 1st Battalion, The Welch Regiment. What was left of the poorly equipped battalion was overwhelmed during the German invasion of the island with only 14 members escaping to Egypt. It briefly served with 7th Armoured Division during the Gazala battles in 1942, with 7th Motor Brigade, where as part of the Garrison of the Retma Box it was overrun. In August 1942 it briefly served with 2nd Armoured Brigade, 1st Armoured Division, before being taken out of the line. In August 1942 it was decided to disband the Battalion in order to reinforce the other KRRC Battalion in North Africa. By December 1942, the Battalion had been put into suspended animation and its personnel assigned to 1st Bn. and 2nd Bn. KRRC to make up for loses in them. The battalion was finally disbanded in 1947.
Formative Years in North America
On 8th July 1755 a column of British redcoats under General Braddock, advancing to take Fort Duquesne on the Ohio River were ambushed by the French and their Red Indian Allies firing from concealed positions. The dying General's last words "we shall learn better how to do it next time", sum up the reaction at home to this defeat, for within a few months a special Act of Parliament had provided for the raising of the 60th Royal American Regiment of four battalions of American colonists. Among the distinguished foreign officers given commissions was Henri Bouquet, a Swiss citizen, whose ideas on tactics, training and man-management (including the unofficial introduction of the rifle and `battle-dress`) were to become universal in the Army only after another 150 years. The new regiment fought at Louisborg in 1758 and Quebec in 1759 in the campaign which finally wrested Canada from France; at Quebec it won from Wolfe the motto 'Celer et Audax' (Swift and Bold). These were conventional battles on the European model, but the challenge of Pontiac's Red Indian rebellion in 1763 was of a very different character and threatened the British control of North America. The new regiment at first lost several outlying garrisons but finally proved its mastery of forest warfare under Bouquets leadership at the decisive victory of Bushey Run.
The West Indies
Meanwhile, battalions of the regiment were engaged in the capture of Martinique and Havana and, being confined top foreign service until 1824, began an association with the West Indies which was to last almost continuously for over fifty years and include the capture of another eight islands.
The American War of Independence (1774-82)
Two battalions fought in the war, formed a force of mounted infantry to increase their mobility and crowned a series successful actions by repulsing an assault by the French and Rebels in Savannah in Georgia and capturing the colour of their Carolina Regiment. Neither battalion was present at the surrender at Yorktown and they were withdrawn to Canada when hostilities ended.
The Fifth Battalion
In 1797 a 5th Battalion of the 60th was raised under Baron Francis de Rottenburg, whose treatise on Riflemen and Light Infantry formed the basis of Moore's training. This was the first British unit to be dressed in the green jacket and armed with the rifle in place of the smoothbore musket and it represented the first British attempt at developing specialised light infantry for the European battlefield.
The Peninsula War (1808-14)
When Wellesley landed in Portugal in 1808 5/60th was the first unit ashore at Montego Bay and at the start it was brigaded with the 95th to form a brigade of Riflemen. Wellesley's standing orders laid down that these two units should always form the vanguard when the army moved. The rifle battalions fought in this formation at the opening battles of Obidos and Rolicabut shortly afterwards the Light Brigade was re-formed and Wellesley ordered the 60th in the 3rd Division to provide a company to cover each of the other brigades of his force. It was in this role that they fought the remaining battles of the Peninsula campaign, sixteen of whose names appear on the 60th list of battle honours.
The defeat of Napoleon was followed by over thirty years of peace during which the regiment changed its title, first to The Duke of York's Own Rifle Corps, and finally in 1830, to The Kings Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC). However, throughout its life it was often known familiarly as the 60th Rifles. In 1858 the Rifle Depot was established at Winchester as a headquarters and training centre for the KRRC and the Rifle Brigade.
After 1848 the regiment was engaged in many of the Imperial campaigns which characterised the nineteenth century. The 1st Battalion at Mooltan Goojerat in the Sikh Wars and the 2nd in the Kaffir Wars in South Africa, where a detachment stood along side that of the 43rd at the sinking of the Birkenhead. In the next thirty year the regiment saw service in China, Canada, Afghanistan, India, Burma and South Africa and the period produced another great innovator in the shape of Robert Hawley, who developed Bouquets principles of self-reliance and initiative particularly by encouragement of hunting expeditions as basic training in good field craft, while commanding the 4th Battalion in Canada.
The Indian Mutiny (1857-59)
The outbreak of the Indian Mutiny in 1857 found the 1st Battalion at Meerut, where they narrowly escaped a plot to massacre them while unarmed at church parade. Having driven the mutineers from the town they marched under the command of Colonel `Jones the Avenger` to besiege Delhi. On the ridge outside the town they formed a lasting alliance with the Sirmoor Goorhas and in the final assault on the Kashmir Gate they gave covering fire to the 2nd as they stormed the breach before themselves taking the Royal Palace after six days of street fighting. Seven VCs were won in the campaign in which the rear party at Meerut maintained the tradition for innovation by forming an elephant corps for pacification of the surrounding countryside.
The Warren Hastings
In 1897 the troopship Warren Hastings carrying the 1st Battalion from Cape Town to Mauritius was wrecked on the island of Reunion. Discipline reminiscent of the Birkenhead was rewarded by the safe landing of the whole battalion over the rocks, and the ship's bell and wheel are preserved in the regiment today to commemorate the event.
The South African Wars (1899-1902)
Three battalions fought the Boers between 1899 and 1902, their many actions including both the defence and relief of Ladysmith. At Talans Hill and Twin Peaks the `modern` infantry skirmishing tactics which the regiment had been practising for 100 years were met with brilliant success while the constant quest for mobility led to the 60th taking a leading role in the development of mounted infantry. It formed a complete Mounted Infantry battalion and one of its officers founded the Mounted Infantry School at Aldershot.
World War 1 (1914-18)
In 1914-15 the regiment expanded to twenty-two battalions, not counting those with training and reserve rolls at home. Fighting in the early months still favoured the traditional Rifleman's skills of fire and movement and in 1914 at Hautesvesnes 1st KRRC used them to destroy a whole German battalion. The later stages were not conducive to tactical innovation, but marksmanship developed in peacetime was an invaluable asset at a time of ascendancy of fire over manoeuvre. The vast majority of the regiment's effort was devoted to the Western Front, where it gained eight VCs, 2128 other decorations and seventy- one Battle Honours at a cost 12,824 dead.
After 1918 the Service Battalions were disbanded and the Regulars returned to garrison duties and 'peacekeeping' in India, Palestine and Ireland. In 1926 the regiment was chosen for the first mechanised infantry trials, which were to lead to its reorganisation, with the Rifle Brigade, into motor battalions to operate with armoured brigades in time for World War II.
World War II
The war opened disastrously with the dispatch of the 2nd Battalion together with 1st Rifle Brigade and Queen Victoria's Rifles (an affiliated Territorial Battalion) to defend Calais and prevent German armour from interfering in the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk. For three vital days the force held on before being overwhelmed; the regiment had lost one of its two regular battalions as soon as the war started.
Thereafter matters improved; motor battalions played a central roll in the open warfare of the North African desert, where mobility and initiative could make their mark. At Sidi Rezegh Rifleman Beeley won a posthumous VC in a successful attack by 1st KRRC against great odds. Once the desert campaign was won battalion fought on through Italy and North West Europe to Austria and Germany and also saw desperate fighting in Greece and Crete. The origins of the regiment were recalled early in the war by the incorporation of sixteen American volunteers before their own nation had entered the war.
The Post-War Years
After service in Italy, Tripoli and Palestine the regiment was reduced to a single battalion in 1948 but the 2nd Bn. was reformed two years later, when both resumed their motor battalion roll in Germany. The 1st moved to North Africa in 1955 after celebrating the regiment's bi-centenary at Winchester, while the 2nd Bn. was again disbanded in 1957. Finally, in 1958, the battalion joined the new Green Jacket Brigade with the title 2nd Green Jackets (The Kings Royal Rifle Corps). It took part in the Borneo Campaign in 1965. In 2007 Royal Green Jackets became part of a new regiment called 'The Rifles' following the amalgamation of The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, The Light Infantry, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry, along with the Royal Green Jackets.
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1/5th Queen's Royal Regiment
1/6th Queen's Royal Regiment
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1/5th Battalion: When war was declared in September 1939 the 1/5th Bn. was part of 131st Infantry Brigade, 44th (Home Counties) Infantry Division stationed in Guildford, Surrey. It soon moved to Sussex to guard vulnerable points, before later serving with the rest of the Brigade and Division in the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). There the Battalion was in action in France on the Escaut Canal from 16th to 21st May and again in Strazeele on 27th to 28th May before withdrawing in good order to Dunkirk. While on the Escaut the first DCM of the war was won by Sergeant (later Major) Wynn. Here, too, the DSO was awarded to Major Lord Sysonby. After being evacuated at Dunkirk back to the UK, the Battalion reformed at Oxford on 6th June 1940 and was employed on coastal defence initially in the Wash area, and in 1941 in Kent where a number of casualties were sustained from enemy bombing. With the rest of the Brigade and Division it arrived in North Africa in July 1942 and took part in the Battle of Alam Halfa before joining 7th Armoured Division for the battle of El Alamein. It the remained with the Division throughout the North African Campaign, in Italy, Normandy and in Northern Europe until the end of the war. In November 1944 when the 1/6th and 1/7th Bn. were disbanded men from these battalions joined it to replace the casualties suffered in the Bocage and the break out into France and Belgium.
When 7th Armoured Division entered Hamburg on 3rd May 1943, the Battalion hoisted the Regimental Flag on the Town. Finally, the Battalion played a leading part in the Victory Parade in Berlin, marching past Churchill and Montgomery with bayonets fixed and colours flying to the rousing strains of the Regimental March 'Braganza'
1/6th Battalion: When war was declared in September 1939 the 1/6th Bn. was part of 131st Infantry Brigade, 44th (Home Counties) Infantry Division stationed in Jamaica Road, Bermondsey London. With the rest of the Brigade and Division it arrived in North Africa in mid 1942 and took part in the Battle of Alam Halfa before joining 7th Armoured Division for the battle of El Alamein. It the remained with the Division throughout the North African Campaign, in Italy, Normandy and in Northern Europe. During the battle for Livarot 21st August 1944, 'D' Company was over-run by the SS of the Langemarck Division, consisting mainly of renegade French, Belgians and Dutchman. When the Queen's counterattacked they found the SS were smashing the heads of the wounded and the prisoners with pick-axes. Effectively, 'D' Company had gone and it was never replaced. In November 1944 the battalion was disbanded with those of it not returning to the UK under the 'Python' and 'Lilop' orders joining the 1/5th Battalion to replace the casualties suffered in the Bocage and the break out into France and Belgium. The cadre of the battalion served out the remainder of the war as part of 231st Brigade, 50th (Northumberland) Division, as a training unit.
1/7th Battalion: When war was declared in September 1939 the 1/7th Bn. was part of 131st Infantry Brigade, 44th (Home Counties) Infantry Division stationed in New Street, Walworth, London. With the rest of the Brigade and Division it arrived in North Africa in mid 1942 and took part in the Battle of Alam Halfa before joining 7th Armoured Division for the battle of El Alamein. During the advance from El Alamein the enemy counter-attacked at Medenine. Here on 7th March 1943 the 1/7th Queen's put up an epic resistance to the German counter-attack, and succeeded in knocking out 27 German tanks with their 6-pounder anti-tank guns. It the remained with the Division throughout the North African Campaign, in Italy, Normandy and in Northern Europe. During the action at Villers-Bocage (13th June 1944) the battalion used its 6-pounder Anti-Tanks again to good effect, when it went 'Tiger Hunting' in the town using these guns and their PIATs to ambush any German tanks they could find. Although 7th Armoured Division was not engaged in Market Garden, 1/7th Queens were involved with Guards Armoured Division in keeping the Nijmegen road open from 24th September 1944. In November 1944 the battalion was disbanded with those of it not returning to the UK under the 'Python' and 'Lilop' orders joining the 1/5th Battalion to replace the casualties suffered in the Bocage and the break out into France and Belgium. Quite a few others were also transferred to the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry. The cadre of the battalion served out the remainder of the war as part of 151st Brigade, 50th (Northumberland) Division, as a training unit.
Note: The denoting of an infantry battalion as 1/5th, etc, was down to the way the Territorial Army (T.A.) was reorganised and expanded before the Second World War. In the late 1930's with the prospect of war looming again, Britain decided to reorganise its army reserves for the likely conflict ahead. In early 1939 the British Government decided to double the size of the Territorial Army, and on 31st March 1939 the War Office authorised the "duplication" of all units. The normal process was for a Regiment, which had only one T.A. battalion, say the 4th, to form a 5th Battalion as its duplicate, however, there was another less common form of notation used in these duplications, an example of which is that used for The Queen's Royal Regiment. In this case the duplicate of the 5th Bn, The Queen's Royal Regiment was the known as 2/5th Battalion, with the original battalion being 1/5th Battalion. [i.e. the 1st (1/5th) Battalion & 2nd (2/5th) Battalion formed out of 5th Battalion, The Queen's Royal Regiment]. The same applies to 1/6th and 1/7th Battalions Queen's Royal Regiment. (This nomenclature should note be confused with similar terms such as 4th/5th Bn. which denotes the merging of two actual battalions due to losses or reorganisations in the British Army, or 3rd/4th County Of London Yeomanry and 17th/21st Lancers, which is where two cavalry regiments have been merged. Neither does it apply to Australian infantry units which also used what appeared to be the same system, but was in fact used to represent, which war they were. The Australian system was such that a '1/2nd Bn.'. was raised in World War One as part of the 1st Australian Imperial Force and '2/2nd Bn.' was the same unit raised for the 2nd Australian Imperial Force).
For completion the three 'duplicate' battalions to those above (2/5th, 2/6th and 2/7th
Battalions, The Queen's Royal Regiment),
formed the 35th Infantry Brigade, 12th (Eastern) Infantry Division at the
outbreak of the Second World War.
The 35th Infantry Brigade was renamed 169th (London) Brigade on 28th
November 1940, joining 56th (London) Division, with which they then served in
Iraq, Palestine, Egypt and Libya (1942-43) and Italy (1943 - 45) until the end
of the war.
On 6th September 1661, King Charles appointed Henry Morduant, second Earl of Peterborough, as governor and captain-general of all the forces in Tangier, with orders to raise one regiment of foot and a troop of 100 horse.
The force set sail for Tangier on 15th January 1662 and later that yearThe Earl of Peterborough arrived in Tangier with a force of 500 horse and 2000 foot. Part of this force was the Earl of Peterborough's Regiment of Foot. It served as part of the Tangier Garrison until the whole garrison was recalled in 1684 and in this time it became known as the Tangier Regiment, with a second Tangier Regiment being raised on 13th July 1680. The original regiment or Governor's Regiment was known as the 'Old Tangier Regiment' and the other, the 'New Tangier Regiment'. During this time it came under the command Colonel Percy Kirke from which they got their nickname of 'Kirke's Lambs'. The regiment's first Battle Honours "Tangier 1662-80" are the oldest in the British Army, and shared with only one other Regiment, now the Blues and Royals, although this honour was not marked until 1909! On 5th February 1684 Tangier was officially evacuated, leaving the town in Ruins, and Kirke's Regiment returned to England.
From 1684 to 1686 the regiment was known as The Queen's Regiment (of Foot) and in July 1685 five companies of the Regiment were on the left flank of the Royalist forces during the defeat of the Duke of Monmouth and his rebels at the battle of Sedgemoor. Here their reputation for brutality was further enhanced when they started executing captured rebels. In Taunton. Kirke hanged 20 rebel prisoners, allowed his men to plunder and take spoils of war and he sold pardons to the richer rebels. (He was later rebuked by King James who preferred to see them hung!)
In 1686 and until 1703 the regiment was known as The Queen Dowager's Regiment of Foot In 1689 Kirke (now a Lieutenant-General) and his 'Lambs' were in Ireland, where he relieved the town of Londonderry after a 105 day siege by James's army. They were also involved in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 on 1st July and the assault on Athlone and fall of Limerick in 1691.
The Regiment returned to England in 1692, and then on to Flanders. The Regiment saw action in the 'War of the League of Augsburg' (1689-97), fighting with distinction at Landau in 1693, and being involved in the Siege of Namur in 1695. The Regiment then returned to England in 1696.
In 1701 an independent company of the Regiment went to Bermuda, where it served until 1763. In 1703 the regiment became known as The Queen's Regiment of Foot and went to Flanders in 1703 where it served in the Duke of Marlborough's Wars against Louis XIV of France.
The main body of the Army under Marlborough was deployed besieging Bonn on the Rhine, while the remainder was scattered in the Low Countries under Marshal Overkirk, the Dutch Commander. The Queen's, along with a Dutch battalion were in a forward position in the town of Tongres, near Liege, when the opposing French Marshals Boufflers and Villeroi decided to advance rapidly with 40,000 men to destroy the scattered Dutch units. Only the garrison of Tongres stood in the way, but in spite of being surrounded by overwhelming forces, The Queen's and the Dutch battalion stood fast for 28 hours, and gave time for Marshal Overkirk to concentrate his forces, and the French had to abandon their plans.
For this action the Queen's Regiment was given the title "Royal" and the mottoes Pristinae Virtutis Memor (Mindful of their former glory) and Vel Exuviae Triumphant (Victorious even in adversity). The men of both The Queen's and the Dutch battalion at Tongres became prisoners of war, but not for long as their release was negotiated three months later. On reforming, The Queen's were sent to join the Army in Spain in 1704, but were virtually destroyed at the Battle of Almanza in 1707. The regiment was reformed once more they took part in the Expedition to Canada in 1711, but this achieved little and when the War was ended by the Treaty of Utrecht the Regiment returned to England where it remained until 1730.
In 1747 it became known as The Queen's Own Royal Regiment, being ranked as 2nd Foot and therefore the second most senior infantry regiment in the British Army. As part of a re-organisation on 1st July 1751 it became 2nd (The Queen's Royal) Regiment of Foot.
On 1st July 1881 it was renamed The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) and on 1st January 1921 as The Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey).
In 1959 the Queen's were amalgamated with The East Surrey Regiment, to form The Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment at which time the Queen's Emblazoned Battle Honours were;
Defence of Tangier (1662-80); Tangier 1662-80. War of the League of Augsburg (1689-97); Namur 1695. Peninsula War (1808-14); Vimiera, Corunna, Salamanca, Vittoria, Pyrennes, Nivelle, Toulouse, Peninsula. First Afghan War (1839-42); Ghuznee 1839, Afghanistan 1839. Sixth Kaffir War (1835); South Africa 1851-1852-1853. Second China War (1857-60); Taku Forts, Pekin 1860. Third Burma War (1885-7); Burma 1885-7. Tirah Campaign (1897-8); Tirah. South African War (1899-1902) Relief of Ladysmith, South Africa 1899-1902.
Great War; Retreat from Mons, Ypres 1914, 1917, 1918; Somme 1916, 1918; Messines 1917, Vittorio Veneto, Macedonia 1916-17, Gallipoli 1915, Palestine 1917-18, Mesopotamia 1915-18, NW Frontier India 1916-17.
Second World War; Villers Bocage, Tobruk 1941, El Alamein, Medenine, Salerno, Monte Camino, Anzio, Gemmano Ridge, North Arakan, Kohima.
From 1959 to 1979 it was known as The Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment, becoming The Queen's Regiment in 1979 following further army reorganisations and in 1992 it became The Princess of Wale's Royal Regiment.
|The role of the a Lorried Infantry Battalion in an Armoured Division|
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Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish, and Welsh Guards.
Tel: (020) 7414 3271 /7414 3428
2nd Battalion: When war was declared in September 1939 the 2nd Bn. The Scots Guard was stationed in Mersa Matruh, Egypt and later became part of 22nd (Guards) Motor Brigade. It was attached to 4th Armoured Brigade as part of 7th Armoured Division in November 1941 and served with this unit during Operation Crusader. It then left the Division and returned to 201st Guards Motor Brigade, the renamed 2nd (Guards) Motor Brigade, with which it fought during the Gazala battles. This brigade then served as part of 1st Armoured Division and later as part of 56th London Division in Italy.
On 16th March 1642 King Charles I issued a Commission to the Marquess of Argyle, Chief of Clan Campbell, authorising him to raise in Scotland a regiment of 1,500 men, forming what was to become the Sovereign's 'Lyfe Guard of Foot' and ultimately the Scots Guards
The Scots Guards were formed in 1642. Archibald the Marquis of Argyle was sanctioned to raise 10 Scottish Regiments to act as a Royal Guard for King Charles 1st during his campaign against the Irish Rebels. In the end the King did not go to Ireland but the Regiment did and remained there for seven long and ill paid years.
In 1712 Queen Anne changed the name of the Regiment to the Third Regiment of Foot Guards and laid down the designs of the 16 badges that formed those of three battalions and of the first 13 companies. Over the centuries the Regiment has had many names from its original 'The Scotch Life Guard Of Foot' to its present restored by Queen Victoria in 1877. The Regiment has served in every major war and campaign throughout the world and has earned over 90 Battle Honours. The campaigns include, the Seven Year War, American Revolution, Napoleonic War, South African War (1861-1864), World War I and II, Malaya and most recently the Falklands in 1982 and the Gulf War in 1991. Today the Regiment is still involved in Public and Combat duties throughout the world.
In 1992 the 2nd Battalion amalgamated with the 1st Battalion.
|The role of the a Motorised Infantry Battalion in an Armoured Division|
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The Devonshire & Dorset Regiment Museum
(Devonshire Regiment), (Dorset Regiment)
Tel: 01305 264 066
2nd Battalion: When war was declared in September 1939 the 2nd Bn. The Devonshire Regiment was stationed in Malta in the 'Malta Brigade as part of the island's garrison, along with 1st Bn. Dorsetshire Regiment, with which it was to fight later on, in 231st Brigade. As part of 231st Brigade it landed on Gold Beach on D-Day. 6th June 1944, as the reserve battalion for the Brigade part of the first assault, with 50th (Northumberland) Division, fighting in Normandy and Northern Europe until the 50th (Northumberland) Division was withdraw back to the UK as a training Division. It joined 131st Lorried Infantry Brigade at the end of November 1944 when two of the Brigades Queen's Battalions were disbanded. It then fought with the division until the end of the war.
In June 1667 the original regiment was raised as The Marquess of Worcester's Regiment of Foot only to be disbanded later the same year. Again in January 1673 it was raised a second time and then disbanded in 1674.
On 20th June 1685 The Duke of Beaufort's Regiment of Foot was raised to quell the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion and was known as "The Duke of Beaufort's Musketeers". It continued to serve in the British army under the names of ten other colonels and in July 1751 it became the 11th Regiment of Foot. Later in 1782 it became 11th (the North Devonshire) Regiment of Foot. The second battalion of the regiment was raised in 1858.
On 1st July 1881 it was renamed as The Devonshire Regiment and reorganised as the county regiment of Devonshire, encompassing also its Militia and Volunteer infantry. During the First World War the regiment raised 35 Battalions which served both in the UK and overseas.
During the Second World War the 1st Battalion saw service in the Far East while the 2nd Battalion was part of the Malta Garrison from 1939 to 1942. In all 20 Battalions were raised during the war. The 8th & 9th Battalions were formed in 1939 and disbanded in 1947, a 10th (Home Defence) Battalion served from 1939 to 1941, the 11th Battalion served from 1940 to 1943, the 12th Battalion 1940 to 1946 and the 30th Battalion from 1941 to 1945. In 1948 the 2nd Battalion was disbanded and on 17th July 1958, The Devonshire Regiment was amalgamated with The Dorset Regiment, to form The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment.
From its first Battle Honour of Dettingen in 1743 the Regiment has seen action in all the main campaigns, and many smaller ones, fought by the British Army over the past 300 years. A selection of its 141 Battle Honours give an idea of these campaigns all over the world - Plassey, Salamanca, Pyrenees, Sebastopol, Afghanistan, South Africa, Mons, Ypres, Loos, Somme, Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, Normandy, Arnhem, Rhine, Sicily, Italy, Mandalay, Burma.
In 2007 the Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry became part of a new regiment called 'The Rifles' following the amalgamation of them, plus The Light Infantry, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry and the Royal Green Jackets.
|Army Web Page for 'The Rifles'|
|The role of the a Lorried Infantry Battalion in an Armoured Division|
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The Durham Light Infantry Museum
Tel: 0191 384 2214
9th Battalion: In September 1939 this unit started the war as part of 151st (Durham) Brigade of 50th (Northumberland) Division, stationed in Gateshead, along with 6th and 8th Battalions, DLI. With the rest of the division it fought in the BEF during the Fall of France in 1940, with the 6th and 8th Battalions taking part in the counter attack at Arras in May 1940, which nearly killed General Erwin Rommel, before being evacuated to the UK. With the rest of the Division arrived in North Africa in time to take part in actions at Gazala in 1942, having been stationed in Cyprus in later 1941. It helped to hold the northern end of the Gazala line along with the 1st South African Division before breaking though the Italian line to retreat to El Alamein line, albeit in need of much replacement equipment. Then in October 1942 took part in the battle of El Alamein, taking part in Operation 'Supercharge' and then fighting all the way to Tunisia. The Battalion and the rest of the Division took part in 'Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily and the main Italian campaign before returning to the UK along with 51st (Highland) Division and 7th Armoured Division to prepare for the Normandy invasion. The Battalion landed with the rest of 50th (Northumberland) Division, landed on Gold Beach on D-Day 6th June 1944 and then took part in the 'bloody' fighting among the hedgerows of Normandy and into Northern France. Here 50th (Northumberland) Division was taken out of the line due to the heavy casualties the British Infantry Divisions had suffered. When it returned to the UK as a training division, the battalion joined 131st Lorried Infantry Brigade at the end of November 1944 to replace one of the two Queens Battalions that were disbanded. It then fought with the division until the end of the war. It took part in the victory parade in Berlin with 'B' company forming an Honour Guard that was inspected by General Montgomery.
The story of The Durham Light Infantry
The story of the DLI begins in 1758, when General John Lambton of County Durham first raised the 68th Regiment of Foot as part of the British Army.
Fifty years later, the 68th was chosen to become a new light infantry regiment - with better trained and equipped soldiers - and was sent to fight in Wellington's Army in Portugal and Spain. There the Regiment won its first Battle Honours
Later the Regiment fought in the Crimean War and in New Zealand. During these campaigns, three Durham's were awarded the Victoria Cross - John Byrne, Thomas de Courcy Hamilton and John Murray.
In 1881, The Durham Light Infantry was formed and soon saw action in Egypt and against the Boers in South Africa.
During the First World War - the Great War - thousands of volunteers from the mines, shipyards, farms, shops, schools, offices and industries of County Durham joined the DLI. By 1918, the Durham's had raised 43 battalions - like the Durham Pals - with 22 seeing active service overseas - on the Western Front, in Italy, Egypt, Salonika and India. The DLI fought in every major battle of the Great War - at Ypres (or better known as "Wipers, where this trench snapshot was taken in 1915), Loos, Arras, Messines, Cambrai, on the Somme and in the mud of Passendale. Some 13,000 Durham's died on these battlefields, with thousands more wounded, gassed or taken prisoner. Six Durham's were awarded the Victoria Cross during the Great War - Thomas Kenny, Roland Bradford, Michael Heaviside, Frederick Youens, Arthur Lascelles and Thomas Young.
During the Second World War, 9 battalions of the DLI fought with distinction in every major theatre of the War - from Dunkirk in 1940, to North Africa, Malta, Sicily, Italy, Burma and, in Europe, from D-Day to the final defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945. Casualties during WW2 were far lower than in the Great War but in several fierce battles at Arras, Mareth, Primosole Bridge and Kohima, the Durhams suffered heavy losses.
In Belgium in May 1940, Richard Annand, 2nd Battalion DLI, became the very first soldier of the Second World War to gain the Victoria Cross. Whilst in June 1942 in North Africa, Adam Wakenshaw of Newcastle upon Tyne was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross fighting with the 9th Battalion DLI in North Africa. His Victoria Cross and 2-pdr anti-tank gun are on display in the DLI museum & gallery.
After 1945, The Durham Light Infantry was reduced in size until only the 1st Battalion DLI remained. Finally in 1968, whilst the battalion was serving in Cyprus, it was announced that The Durham Light Infantry would join with three other county light infantry regiments to form one large Regiment - The Light Infantry.
In Durham Cathedral on 12th December 1968, the Durham's paraded their Colours (flags) for the last time. After 200 years of history, County Durham's own Regiment was no more.
In 2007 the The Light Infantry became part of a new regiment called 'The Rifles' following the amalgamation of them, plus the Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry and the Royal Green Jackets.
|Army Web Page for 'The Rifles'|
|The role of the a Lorried Infantry Battalion in an Armoured Division|
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