36th Foot (2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment) - Short History
The 36th Regiment bore on the Regimental Colour and appointments The word "Firm" also the word "Hindoostan" in commemoration of its distinguished services in the several actions in which it was engaged in India from 1790 to 1798, and The words "ROLEIA," "VIMIERA," "CORUNNA," "SALAMANCA," "PYRENEES, "NIVELLE," "NIVE," "ORTHES," "TOULOUSE" and "PENINSULA" in testimony of its gallantry in the several actions fought during the war in Portugal, Spain and the South of France from 1808 to 1814.
Towards the end of his troubled reign William of Orange was forced to raise more regiments to support the cause of his Dutch subjects. War was brought nearer when on the death of James II in France, Louis immediately proclaimed his son, James III. War was on the eve of being declared when " the little gentleman in black velvet " brought about the accident that led to the death of William on 8th March, 1702.
In the previous year a Royal Warrant had been issued to William, Viscount Charlemont to raise a regiment in Ireland. Charlemont's original service was in The Earl of Kingston's Foot, a regiment raised in March, 1689, in Warwickshire though most of the officers were Irish. It served throughout the Irish Campaign and lost heavily at the Siege of Limerick, and was disbanded at the Peace of Ryswick. The only definite record we have of Charlemont's service is from a List of Infantry reviewed at Dundalk Camp, 18/28 October, 1689. Charlemont, Captain of the 13th Company, is shown as absent—no doubt with leave.
William, Viscount Charlemont
For his services on behalf of William, Charlemont was appointed Colonel of a newly raised regiment of foot in Ireland, 23rd April, 1694. The regiment was disbanded in 1697 and Charlemont and his officers were placed on half pay. When he was given a Royal Warrant to raise another regiment he soon gathered his officers from those who had been placed on half pay at the same time in his own regiment and others. The men mostly came from the Northern Irish counties of Armagh and Tyrone, in which counties he was well known and respected.
In 1702 the 36th, as they were later numbered, was one of six regiments appointed for sea service. An expedition was fitted out for a descent on Cadiz which the 36th joined. The expedition landed near Cadiz but was not in sufficient strength to take the City and withdrew. The 36th were then detached to the West Indies. All that really happened there was that a large number of officers and men died—as was usual in that climate. In 1704 the regiment returned to Ireland. All this must have been confusing for the rank and file and still more so in 1705 when they took ship again under the Earl of Peterborough and sailed to Lisbon and thence to Gibraltar. Eventually it was decided to attack Barcelona and it was here that the 36th first really smelt powder. It was quite a tough assignment and might well have been rewarded in later years with a battle honour. It was after this that Charlemont came unstuck and was removed from the command of the 36th by Peterborough. Charlemont protested to the Queen and was eventually cleared by a Council of General Officers and the Queen promoted him Major General. He was succeeded in command by Lieut. Colonel Thomas Alnutt. The expedition then marched round Spain and eventually came to fight the unfortunate battle of Almanza. The Portugues eallies retired early from the scene and left the British and Dutch to cope with vastly superior numbers. The 36th behaved with great gallantry but were nearly annihilated. The Colonel was wounded and taken prisoner with twelve other officers. Those of the men who survived were posted to other regiments. The officers were later exchanged and the Colonel was ordered to recruit again and fill up the companies which were to report at Chester and Nantwich.
In 1709 Colonel Archibald, Earl of Ilay, afterwards Duke of Argyll, succeeded Alnutt, who died. The Earl soon decided on a political rather than military career and he was prominent on the Government side both in the '15, and later in the '45. He was succeeded by Colonel Henry Disney. In the same year Philip Bragg was appointed Lieut. Colonel—a soldier later beloved of the Gloucesters whose Colonel he became in 1734 and after whom they called " The Old Braggs.
In 1711 the 36th was included in an expedition to make an attempt on Quebec. The fleet called at Boston—well known to the 29th later—and Rhode Island. Entering the St. Lawrence the expedition came to grief in foul weather. The 36th escaped shipwreck but the expedition was abandoned and returned to Portsmouth. The next year the 36th were sent to garrison Dunkirk until 1714 when they returned to England and then to Ireland. In 1715 Colonel Disney was succeeded by Colonel William Egerton from Captain and Lieut. Colonel First Guards. Disney subsequently became Colonel of the 29th.
While the 36th was in Ireland, the Earl of Mar proclaimed James III as King and summoned the Highlanders to arms. The 36th proceeded to Scotland and joined the troops at Stirling under the Duke of Argyle and his brother, their old Colonel, the Earl of Ilay. In the battle of Sheriffmuir the 36th were on the left wing. Unfortunately they were ordered to make a change of position just at the time as they received a charge of Highlanders—a fiercesome business. That was the finish of the left wing who retired to guard the passes leading to Stirling. The right wing of the British Army was successful so the battle was really a draw. The trouble fizzled out and James returned to France. The 36th were stationed in Dumbarton for some time.
CHANGES OF COLONELS
In 1718 the 36th were back again in Ireland but not for long. They crossed to England in 1719 as the King of Spain had taken up the Stewart cause. In the same year Brigadier General Sir Charles Hotham succeeded Colonel Egerton who was removed to the 20th Regiment. Sir Charles was succeeded the following year by Colonel John Pocock, who was himself succeeded in 1721 by Colonel Charles Lence of the Coldstream Guards. The private soldier must have found it hard to remember to whose regiment he belonged as at this time the regiment was still known by the name of the Colonel.
The next few years were spent in Ireland. In 1726 the Treasury gave permission for the free import into Ireland of 447 oz. 6 dwt. of silver lace, some silver thread, silver vellum, buff cloth and silver buttons for the officers. It looks as if the Colonel had expressed a desire that the officers should pay a little more attention to their dress ! In 1726 the garrison of Limerick was composed of Lence's (36th) and Disney's (29th). Perhaps there was some rivalry among the ladies.
In 1732 Colonel Lence was removed to the 8th Foot and succeeded by Brigadier General John Moyle. He also seems to have had views on dress for more superfine cloth and buttons were imported. In 1737 Moyle was removed to the 22nd and succeeded by Colonel Humphrey Bland from the Second Horse, now the K.D.G. Bland had a distinguished career later at Dettingen, Fontenoy and Culloden. He also wrote a treatise on - military discipline - and was at one time Governor of Edinburgh Castle.
THE WEST INDIES
Trouble now broke out again with Spain and the 36th crossed to England in 1739. War was declared on Spain and a large expedition was fitted out for the West Indies under Lord Cathcart which included the 36th. No sooner had the expedition arrived, with some difficulty, when Lord Cathcart died and General Wentworth took over. In 1741 Colonel James Fleming succeeded Humphrey Bland as Colonel of the 36th. Eventually it was decided to make a descent on Carthagena in South America. Nothing much came of it and the expedition sailed for Jamaica but the 36th returned home and were stationed in England. In 1744 war broke out with France and the 36th crossed to Flanders for the first—but not the last—time, to serve under the Duke of Cumberland. They were left in garrison at Ghent so were not present at the battle of Fontenoy. In the meantime there was trouble in Scotland and many regiments, including the 36th, were brought home again.
Prince Charles Edward Stuart had landed in Scotland and raised his Standard to which many of the clansmen flocked. The 36th joined the army assembled at Newcastle under Wade. When Prince Charles advanced down the west coast this army was used to protect. Yorkshire . and returned to Newcastle when the danger was withdrawn. From there the 36th marched to Edinburgh to come under the orders of General Hawley in January, 1746. To raise the siege of Stirling the army advanced to Falkirk. Here the army was attacked by the Highlanders in very bad weather. It was an indecisive battle and neither side gained much glory. Cumberland now arrived to take charge and the army advanced on Stirling. The Highlanders raised the siege and retired northwards to Inverness. The 36th arrived in Aberdeen on 25th February and for a time were quartered in the old Town. They marched out with Cumberland on April 8th and at the battle of Culloden were stationed in the second line which hardly felt the shock of the Highland charge. Six men were wounded. After the battle they encamped near Fort Augustus where they were probably employed seeing that the defeated Highlanders did not break back to the West and in collecting arms from the villagers. They then returned to Aberdeen where they remained in cantonment throughout the summer. Meantime no Highlander was found who would give away his Prince and he escaped back to France.
BACK TO FLANDERS 1747
The 36th sailed from Burntisland on the Forth for England and then from Gravesend they set sail again for Flanders. They took part in the battle of Laffeld, or Val, where despite the heroism of the British infantry, Cumberland was forced to retreat. The 36th lost fairly heavily. In August the regimental surgeon was drowned by falling from his horse while crossing a river and was " buried in front of the regiment with full military honours." They spent the winter in Williamstadt in quarters with Loudon's Highlanders. In 1748 there was a good deal of manoeuvre but no battles and after peace was signed in October the 36th returned to England when the establishment was reduced and the regiment sent to Gibraltar for the next five years.
General Fleming died in 1751 and was succeeded as Colonel by Colonel Lord Robert Manners from the First Guards. Life seems to have been uneventful in Gibraltar except for many changes in uniform. Colour and facings were standardised by a warrant in 1751. An inspection return of that year gives the facings as green. They returned home in 1754 and went to Scotland until the end of 1755 when they returned to England.
2ND BATTALION, 1756
France then broke the latest treaty and war broke out again. In consequence a number of regiments, including the 36th, were ordered to raise 2nd battalions. These were numbered separately in 1758 and the 2/36th became the 74th. An inspection return of 1756 shows the 36th had no swords—probably withdrawn at Gibraltar and no reissue made. Their uniform was described as "red, lapelled, faced, and lined green, looped and bound with white and green binding; red waistcoat and breeches." In 1757, Major Archibald Montgomerie, of the 36th, later 11th Earl of Eglinton, was ordered to raise the 77th Highlanders. He commanded this regiment with distinction in North America. He later rose to the rank of General and when he died in 1796 he was Colonel of the Royal North British Dragoons and Governor of Edinburgh Castle. He took with him the surgeon, James Grant. Meantime the 36th was encamped on Barham Downs under General Charles, Duke of Marlborough.
COMMANDO FIGHTING, 1758
Descents on the coast of France were now planned and the 36th proceeded to the Isle of Wight and were brigaded with the 5th, 25th and 74th (late 2/36th). A landing was made at St. Maloes. The attack on the town failed and the troops re-embarked. Other raids were planned but the weather was too bad and the fleet returned. In a second expedition Cherbourg was captured and the harbour and magazines destroyed. Yet another expedition was made to Brittany and the army marched into the interior before re-embarking. The regiment arrived back at Cowes towards the end of September and went into winter quarters at Newport. For the next two years the 36th were stationed in the South of England—presumably training for war. In 1769 a descent was planned on Belle Isle in the Bay of Biscay. The 36th were in the follow up reinforcements. The Island was captured with some difficulty but returned to France at the peace in 1763 in exchange for Minorca. 1762 and 1763 were spent in the south of England.
In March, 1764 the 36th embarked for Jamaica where it was to spend several years. Lieut. General Manners was removed to the 3rd D.G. and succeeded by Major General Richard Pierson. Nothing particular happened in Jamaica. The troops probably acquired a taste for rum and suffered from various sicknesses that were always prevalent in the West Indies. They were fortunate that they were brought home again in 1773 and not left to rot as so many regiments were.
In 1774 the Light Company attended a special camp of instruction at Salisbury under Sir William Howe. Among the other light companies was that of the 29th. The course " finished with a trip to London where they were all reviewed by King George III in Richmond Park and then ordered to rejoin their respective regiments.
The regiment then proceeded to Ireland until 1782 although the war with the American colonies had broken out. Ireland still needed watching. In those days regiments on the Irish establishment were paid less than on the English establishment. It was a useful form of economy for the Treasury after a war. General Pierson left for the 13th Dragoons and was succeeded by Colonel St. John who came from the 67th. In 1774 an inspection report stated that the officers saluted well and the Grenadiers according to the method of Irish Corps.
In 1776 the band apparently needed smartening up for the Treasury permitted the following tax free import to Ireland for the 36th. " 24th May. 12yds. silver and lace for the Music master. 1 Drum Major's hat, 5 music's hats ; for 9 music's coats-29 13/16 yds. white sergeant's cloth, 36 yds. scarlet Padua, 21 yds. green Sergeant's facing cloth, 13½ yds. gurlix linen. 9 pairs of leather pockets, 12 oz. green twist, 4 yds. buckram, 1 gross 4 doz. sergeant's coat buttons. 2 gross 10 dozen, Sergeant's breast buttons. For waistcoats 231 13/16 yds. white private's cloth, 9 3/16 yds scarlet sergeant's cloth. For the three Light Infantry Sergeants- 1 11/16 yds. scarlet sergeant's cloth, and 3 Light Infantry cap-hats ; for the two Light Infantry Drummers-1⅛ yds. green drummer's cloth, and for the Light Infantry, 23g yds, red private's cloth, 55 privates Light Infantry caps, 15 doz. yds. private's looping lace, 5yds. drummer's looping lace and 9 yds. sergeant's braid. They should have passed inspection after all that !
THE HEREFORDSHIRE COUNTY TITLE, 1782
In 1782 His Majesty was pleased to bestow county titles on regiments and the 36th were directed to assume the designation of Herefordshire. The idea was supposed to stimulate recruiting in the counties chosen. The 36th were then in Ireland, always a good recruiting centre but at the end of the year they crossed to England and occupied Hilsea Barracks near Portsmouth.
EAST INDIES. "MYSORE", "HINDOSTAN."
The 36th now had their first taste of service in India. Their first campaign was against Tippoo, the Muslim King of Mysore, who was put in order and made to stop imprisoning British subjects. From 1785 to 1788 the 36th occupied cantonments keeping the peace much as their descendants did in later years. In 1789 Tippoo again started to make trouble trying to expand his boundaries at the expense of his neighbours who were under British protection. In March, 1799 a large force, including the 36th, assembled at Trichinoply and in May proceeded to advance into enemy territory. The 36th had the privilege of serving under that great soldier Colonel Floyd of the 19th Light Dragoons. Several skirmishes took place between the opposing cavalry. The 36th came under fire at Sattimungulum and played a decisive part in breaking through Tippoo's forces. It is recorded that the 36th, which bore the brunt of the battle, were without food for two days "excepting a supply of tobacco found by one of the officers in a native tent." It was said that the enemy excused their defeat by saying that they could not stand up to a regiment wearing the colour of the Prophet, green, that being the facings of the 36th. No doubt it was a good excuse and saved them being dealt with harshly. The army chased the enemy who were a little too swift for them.
In March, 1791 the fortress of Bangalore was stormed. The 36th led the way and received a number of casualties. It was after the taking of the fort that Lord Cornwallis referred in a general order to the firmness of the 36th. Some people have thought this to be the origin of the regimental motto but from other evidence it seems to have been merely a reference to the motto already held. His Lordship spoke very highly of 36th and the troops who led the assault. Tippoo was now forced back on his fortress of Seringapatam. It was too near the rains in the year to start a siege so the Army returned to Bangalore. In August the army marched again. The flank companies of the 36th and 71st (H.L.I.) were detached for the siege of Nundydroog, which having been accomplished, not without loss, they rejoined the main body.
Officer of the 36th Foot (1792)
In January, 1792 the army commenced its advance against Setingapatam which was assaulted on February 6th and 7th. The 36th took a leading part in this rather bloody assault. The final victory did not come until February when peace was signed. Tippoo had to hand over his two young sons to Cornwallis as hostages for his good behaviour.
In 1793 the Revolutionary element in France had declared war on Great Britain, and so in June the 36th took part in the siege of the French possession of Pondicherry. The fort surrendered after the French troops had shown strong republican sentiments, rioting and threatening to hang the Governor, who sent for help to the British. From 1794 to 1798 the 36th were in cantonment in the neighbourhood of Trichinopoly. Towards the end of 1798 the fit men were drafted into the 74th and 76th regiments and the rest sailed for home from Madras. So the 36th missed the final, and more famous, assault on Seringapatam in 1799 when Tippoo was killed.
RECRUITING IN ENGLAND
There was some considerable delay at St. Helena for want of a convoy and the regiment did not arrive at Greenhithe—now the home of the T.S. Worcester—until July, 1799. They eventually arrived in Winchester to be brought up to strength with drafts from the Militia amounting to 769 all told. One complete company of The Worcestershire Militia with 3 officers volunteered to the 36th. They presumably also got some Volunteers from Hereford and Gloucester as recruiting officers of the 36th were noted as being in these districts in 1798.
DESCENTS ON THE COAST OF FRANCE
In 1800 the 36th returned to Ireland whence they eventually embarked at Cork in an expedition which first landed on the Isle de Houat, on the coast of France. The Light Company then landed at Quiberon and destroyed some batteries. Re-embarking the regiment then sailed for Minorca where they were stationed until peace was signed in 1802 and Minorca handed back to France, when they returned to Ireland and were stationed in Galway.
THE NAPOLEONIC WARS
War soon broke out again and the French were busy intriguing with the disaffected Irish. The regiment was employed on internal security—as they were again to be many years later In 1804 a second battalion was ordered to be raised in County Durham. This was a short lived battalion which saw no foreign service. The only existing relic of the battalion is a silver snuff box now in the regimental Museum. In 1809 this battalion was in Worcester and permission was granted to them to use the guardroom and black hole ("chokey") of the Militia. It was disbanded at Plymouth, in 1814. In 1805 the 36th was encamped on the Curragh as part of the Army under Lord Cathcart (late Colonel of the 29th).
GERMANY AND SOUTH AMERICA
In October, 1805 the regiment embarked for Germany arriving in January, 1806 and occupying cantonments until February when they returned to England. In September they embarked at Portsmouth on secret service. By this time the troops must have been pretty "browned off" and rumour must have been working overtime, especially as they were kept hanging about on board and did not sail from Falmouth until November. They arrived in Table Bay in March, 1807. Here the troops were allowed ashore for exercise and refreshment—no doubt they did a few route marches to stretch their legs which must have been pretty cramped by then. They sailed again in April for St. Helena where they took on food and water and continued to Monte Video where, in June, they joined the troops under Whitelocke. Buenos Ayres had already been captured and lost by the British under Beresford. The 36th were brigaded with the 88th (Connaught Rangers) for the attack on Buenos Ayres. A delightful coloured strip cartoon was exhibited at the Antique Dealer's Fair in 1949 of the “Capture of Buenos Ayres, 1807." The 36th are shown twice; once in a picture entitled "The streets are intersected by deep ditches." It shows the 36th and 88th scrambling up the sides of these ditches. The other is entitled "The 5th and 36th under Colonel Burne having to retreat, charged 800 of the enemy, taking and spiking two guns." The enemy appear to be a frightful rabble while the spiking of the guns seems to be quite a ceremony carried out by the Grenadiers while an officer is waving his hat in the air. It was house to house fighting, free for all, and despite great bravery on the part of our troops, Whitelocke agreed to the return of prisoners and a withdrawal. He was not exactly popular and was cashiered later by Court Martial. The 36th re-embarked for Monte Video and thence to Ireland where they disembarked at Cork in December.
THE PENINSULAR WAR
ROLEIA. VIMIERA. CORUNNA.
In July, 1808 the 36th embarked once again at Cork and landed in Portugal on August 1st to join the army under Lieut. General Sir Arthur Wellesley. Sixteen days later they won the first of their ten battle honours for the war, taking part in the battle of Roleia. This was also the first battle honour to be shared with the 29th. Five days later they were again engaged with the French at Vimiera, another honour shared with the 29th. It was after this battle that the 36th and Colonel Burne received a special mention in despatches from Wellesley. Also in a letter to the Secretary of State he said " The 36th Regiment is an example to the Army." Praise from Wellesley was praise indeed!
The 36th were now placed under command of Sir John Moore for his expedition into Spain. The story of this disastrous expedition and the subsequent retreat to Corunna is well known. Fortunately the transports arrived off Corunna in time, the French were defeated, and the army safely withdrawn. During the retreat the 36th lost 3 killed and 57 rank and file were taken prisoner —a very creditable record.
THE WALCHEREN EXPEDITION AND BACK TO THE PENINSULA
In July, 1809 the 36th took part in the expedition to Walcheren. A noisome fever decimated the troops and in December the 36th returned home and were stationed until January, 1811 at Battle in Sussex. They then embarked at Portsmouth on board " H.M.S. Victory," Nelson's famous flag ship of Trafalgar, for Portugal. As soon as they landed they started chasing the French. There were no general engagements to bring battle honours but solid campaigning. " The Military Panorama " records a G.C.M. held at Gallagos, 24th August, 1811, on Lieut. Colonel the Hon. Basil Cochrane, 36th Foot. Re was accused of writing improper letters to his Brigadier, found guilty and ordered to be severely reprimanded. Poor man, but he should have taken it out of the Adjutant and not put pen to paper ! In January, 1812 they set out for the capture of Ciudad Rodrigo but were ten miles short of the fortress when it was captured. They were also unfortunately too late for the siege and capture of Badajos. In July, 1812, the 36th played a considerable part in the battle of Salamanca. The 36th lost 4 officers and 16 rank and file killed while 6 officers and 74 rank and file were wounded. The 36th now encamped before Burgos from which the army retired in October. The retreat was harassing and Wellington had some rude remarks to make at the end of it, a good many of which were undeserved.
PYRENEES. NIVELLE. NIVE. ORTHES. TOULOUSE. PENINSULA
In May, 1813 the army advanced again. The 36th were halted to cover the stores and ammunition—very necessary with the Spanish banditti all over the countryside looking for unconsidered and unguarded trifles. Consequently they arrived the day after the battle of Vittoria had been fought. The 36th were engaged in a smart skirmish at Pampeluna following up the French who were on the way back to France—though they didn't know it yet. Other skirmishes and small battles followed for several days running. These were all recognised by the award of the honour "Pyrenees". The pursuit continued until it came up against a strong fortified position on the river Nivelle. In the assault the Sixth Division, which included the 36th, had the toughest job and earned special praise from Wellington. Among the wounded was Captain William Blakeney who had recently transferred from the 28th and afterwards wrote his experiences under the title of "A Boy in the Peninsula." In December the army came up against another strong position on the river Nive which was stormed with slight loss to the 36th. At the end of the month the army commenced the blockade of Bayonne—on French soil. In January, 1814 the 36th took part in the battle of Orthes, another river crossing. In March there were two further skirmishes and on March 26th the army came up with Marshal Soult in front of Toulouse. It was not an easy battle and the 36th suffered heavily when they led the attack by the 6th Division which bore the brunt of the fighting as was acknowledged by Wellington in his despatch. The 36th came in for special mention with the 42nd (Black Watch) 61st (Wiltshire) and 79th (Camerons). On April 12th news was received of Napoleon's abdication. For their services the 36th were also granted the battle honour " Peninsula."
On June 22nd, 1814 the 36th left France and sailed for Ireland, arriving back in Cork in July and proceeded to Kilkenny. The 2nd Battalion was now disbanded, and the men fit for service were drafted to the 1st Battalion. The 36th remained in Ireland until July, 1815, thus missing the Battle of Waterloo. They landed at Ostend from Cork on July 11th and marched to Paris where they remained as part of the army of occupation until December when they returned to Portsmouth. They remained there throughout 1816.
NEW COLOURS AND "FIRM."
New colours were now due to be presented and had been prepared but without the motto "Firm." After some correspondence the Inspector of Regimental Colours was persuaded that "Firm" should be on the colours and ordered the motto to be added. The new colours were presented in the garrison church at Portsmouth. The old colours were eventually laid up in Chelsea Hospital. In 1947, by command of His Majesty the King, they were returned to a regimental colour party at a ceremonial parade and their remnants now hang in the regimental Museum.
36th Belt Plate
In July, 1817 the 36th embarked at Portsmouth for Malta—a station they were tc know well in future generations. In 1818 General George Don was appointed Colonel in succession to General the Hon. Henry St. John who had been Colonel since 1778 and who had died in April. General Don's decorations and other personal relics are now preserved, and greatly treasured, in the Scottish United Services Museum in Edinburgh Castle. In 1820, headquarters and six companies left Malta for Zante in the Ionian Isles. The four companies left in Malta embarked for Cephalonia in June the following year where they were later joined by the companies from Zante. There was condiderable sickness due to the unhealthy situation and in November the regiment was moved to Corfu. A regimental hospital was established and some of the worst cases were sent to Malta where they happily recovered. In 1825 the regiment was augmented to six service companies and four depot companies. The regiment remained in the Ionian Isles until December, 1825 when it embarked for England.
After a year in England the regiment returned to Ireland early in 1827 from Liverpool. In 1829 Lieut. General Sir Roger Sheaffe, Bt., succeeded Sir George Don as Colonel.
THE WEST INDIES
In November, 1830 the six service companies embarked for Barbadoes and the depot companies remained in Ireland. Soon after their arrival 14 men were killed and several severely injured in a hurricane which struck the island. There still stands at Barbadoes a memorial to those who lost their lives, erected by their comrades. In 1833 they moved to Antigua where they remained until proceeding to St. Lucia in November, 1835. In 1837 they moved back to Barbadoes. Meantime the Depot Companies had a Cook's tour of Ireland with a trip to Devon-port in 1838 before returning again to Ireland. While in England they met the Depot Companies of the 29th at Pendennis Castle. The Limerick Chronicle of 25th June, 1834 throws an interesting light on the origin of "Firm." "When the new dress is adopted the 36th will wear embroidered on their forage caps their regimental motto " Firm which was given them in consequence of a despatch from Lord Cornwallis, who eulogised the gallantry of the brave 36th describing their resisting attacks on their part in India as being firm as the rock they stood upon.'
In November, 1835 the service companies embarked for Nova Scotia arriving at Halifax in December. Before they left the Commander in Chief published a very complimentary order bidding them farewell. The G.O.C. was Sir Samford Whittingham, K.C.B., who had served in the 36th under Colonel Burne. In 1839 they moved to New Brunswick until 1842 when the regiment returned to Ireland to be reunited at Cork with the depot companies.
IRELAND AND ENGLAND
The 36th remained in Ireland until April, 1845 when they crossed to Whitehaven and proceeded to Newcastle on Tyne. The following year the regiment moved to Weedon when they were divided into two battalions of six companies each. New Colours were presented by the officer commanding the Northern and Midland Districts of South Britain. These Colours now hang in Hereford Cathedral.
THE IONIAN ISLES
In January, 1847 both battalions embarked at Gosport for the Ionian Isles. The Depot was left behind in the Isle of Wight. Throughout this year and the next the battalions were scattered throughout the Islands. The inhabitants of the islands were in a state of unrest and there were frequent scraps. Sergeant Luke and 12 men, who were the Governor's guard one day, repulsed an attack by several hundred bandits on the town of Argostoli. Another larger detachment under Major Rothe and Captain Nugent prevented some insurgents from burning the public records at Lixuri. A party under Ensign Shaw captured Cappoletto, one of the head rebels for whose arrest a reward of 1,500 dollars had been offered. These duties continued throughout 1849. In April of the next year it was directed that the regiment be reduced to 1,000 rank and file. The reserve battalion was broken up and drafted to the 1st Battalion. In 1851 four companies were sent home to join the Depot in the Isle of Wight. The service companies then embarked for Barbadoes where they remained for the rest of the year. It is probable that during their stay in the Ionian Isles the band adopted their special badge which consisted of a brass Maltese cross with a white metal garter, inscribed 36th Herefordshire, and surrounded by a laurel wreath ; in the centre a Lyre; below, the motto "Firm" on a scroll. This badge was later worn as a pouch badge. In 1851 Lord Frederick FitzClarence succeeded to the Colonelcy of the 36th on the death of Sir Roger Sheaffe, Bt. Lord FitzClarence was then Commander in Chief in Bombay. It was he who presented the piece of the Peninsular Colour set in crystal on a silver plate which is still attached to the pike of the regimental colour.
THE WEST INDIES
In 1852 the service companies moved to Trinidad. At the same time a War Office letter reduced the establishment to 953. In May, 1854 the regiment was augmented to 12 Companies; in September the establishment was changed again, and yet again in November. The War Office has sound traditions ! The net result was an increase in the depot companies. In October the Colonel of the Regiment died and was succeeded by Lieut. General William Scott from the Scots Fusilier Guards. The regiment continued to travel round, sometimes having to move because cholera broke out. 1856 saw the end of the coatee, or tailed coat, which was replaced by a long loose fitting double breasted tunic, which was changed again two years later. The bayonet was no longer carried on a crossbelt but from a frog on a waist belt. Horse Guards orders continued to arrive and the outbreak of peace after the Crimea led to a reduction in Depot Companies. In October the Enfield rifle was issued and the old muskets returned to store. Most of the regiment's time was taken up with combatting Yellow fever and probably making out strength returns for Whitehall. Altogether the regiment lost 4 officers, 7 N.C.O.s and 58 Rank and File from fever. A monumental obelisk was erected by regimental subscription in the cemetery at Newcastle, Jamaica to their memory. Early in 1857 orders were received to return home. Before leaving the General Officer Commanding in Jamaica published an order congratulating the regiment on their steadiness under the difficulties of the climate and epidemics. Embarking in three parties the 36th arrived at Portsmouth in July.
The establishment continued to be changed in 1857 and 1858. The Flank Companies, Light and Grenadier, were abolished in December, 1857. Detachments of the regiment were at Weedon, Birmingham, Manchester and the Isle of Man, and it wasn't until June, 1858 that the regiment moved as a whole to Aldershot. En route the regiment was selected to form the guard of honour for Her Majesty when she opened the People's Park at Ashton Hall, Birmingham, on 15th June. The rest of the year was spent in Aldershot. In July, 1859 the regiment moved from North Camp to Devonport. Meantime the Depot was still moving round Ireland.
IRELAND AND NEW COLOURS
In August, 1860 the regiment embarked from Plymouth for Ireland and the Curragh. They moved to Dublin in October by march route and returned to the Curragh the following April. This must seem rather a dull period but no doubt the regiment was kept busy training, shooting and holding inspections. In June the troops on the Curragh were formed into brigades. The 36th formed the 1st Brigade with 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards and 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade. H.R.H. The Prince of Wales commenced his military career this year having been appointed as Colonel on the Staff of the Curragh Division. He honoured the regiment by presenting new colours to replace those presented at Weedon in 1846. The old colours were later taken by an escort under Captain W. C. Hill to Hereford where they were hung in the Cathderal. The camp at the Curragh broke up towards the end of September and the 36th wintered in Dublin. No doubt they had a very pleasant time. In June, 1863 orders were received for Bengal and another change in establishment. The regiment was made up to strength with volunteers from the 9th, 11th, 13th and 68th regiments.
The regiment embarked in three freight ships at Queenstown in August. Two ships arrived in Calcutta in November and the third a month later. The regiment was to relieve the 48th in Lucknow where they arrived, after several stops, in January, 1864. An epidemic of cholera attacked the regiment during the hot weather and 28 men died. The number would no doubt have been greater but for the care taken to isolate and move the companies as and when they were attacked. In consequence of this epidemic the regiment moved by wings to Moradabad and Shahjehanpore. In 1867 cholera again broke out in both places. The wings marched out into camp, frequently moving the sites and the epidemic subsided. When the 36th left Shahjehanpore for Peshawar in October some friends presented a silver cup to the Officers' Mess. In 1948 this cup was handed over on loan to the Herefordshire Regiment T.A. until such time as the 36th should be raised again.
Quartermaster John Bryant grave Rawalpindi (1st Dec. 1871)
The regiment arrived at Meean Meer on 22nd December where they were inspected by the Commander of the Lahore Division. He commented very favourably on the smart appearance of the regiment after nearly two months marching. Christmas was spent on the march and the regiment arrived at Peshawar on January 23rd, 1868. The regiment remained here throughout the year. During this year the Colonel, General Scott died and was succeeded by Major General Basil Brooke. General Brooke died after only one month as Colonel and was succeeded by Major General A. A. T. Cunynghame, C.B. who had been A.Q.M.G. to the 1st Division in the Crimea. He was now commanding a Brigade in Dublin. In 1896 a detachment of 200 men under Lt. Colonel Hunter took part in an expedition towards Kohat Pass to punish some troublesome tribes who disappeared into the hills and the expedition returned. However, the tribesmen were driven into the arms of another force advancing from Kohat and severely handled. In September cholera again broke out seriously. The regiment moved into camp but it was some time before the scourge abated. To the great sorrow of the regiment Surgeon Hill was among the victims, along with one sergeant and 115 rank and file. In November the 36th moved to Rawalpindi.
In 1870 a Regimental Dinner Club was established with Captain Carr, commanding the Depot, as honorary secretary. Sixty-four retired officers joined and at the first dinner held on the Wednesday of Ascot Week, twenty-four Officers attended. In December, 1872 the regiment left Rawalpindi for a camp of exercise at Hassan Abdul. After the manoeuvres the regiment returned to Rawalpindi until relieved in 1875, when they marched to Meean Meer. They left behind in the churchyard the graves of one officer, Quarter Master John Bryant, and 28 other ranks. The Q.M.'s tombstone and those of five other ranks were still standing and recognisable in 1938. In October, 1875 the regiment marched for Bombay where on November 13th they sailed for home in H.M.S. Euphrates. They landed at Devonport, after trans-shipping at Portsmouth, in December.
Back in England Snider rifles were exchanged for the more modern Martini Henry. Glengarries had recently been introduced for wear in undress and the first cap badge was introduced. It was a crowned garter, circumscribed with the title, surrounding the number 36 with Firm on a scroll above.
During July the 5th Army Corps was mobilised at Homington Camp, near Salisbury. The 36th formed part of the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division. Back in Raglan Barracks the regiment was inspected by the G.O.C. Western District and the Commander-in-Chief commented favourably in his report. The officers of the regiment in this year placed a mural brass in Hereford Cathedral to the memory of the 9 Officers, 20 Sergeants, 17 Corporals, 2 Drummers and 307 Privates who died in India during the regiment's service there from 1863 to 1875.
In November 1877, the regiment proceeded to Pembroke dock and was quartered in huts. Brevet Lieut. Colonel R. E. Carr now took command of the Regiment. I and K Companies were left at Devonport and proceeded shortly afterwards to form the combined depot with the 29th at the newly built Norton Barracks. At this time a number of men took advantage of the permission given for men of three years service to retire to the first-class reserve.
In April, 1878 the Army Reserve was mobilised because of a scare of war with Russia. The 36th received men from both the Hereford and Worcester Militia. These men were demobilised in July. In June whistles were authorised for Sergeants and Officers “when manoeuvering in extended order." Whistles had previously been worn by the officers of the Light Cavalry. Replicas of these Light Company whistles were presented to the battalion by Colonel Carr in 1882 for the Officers of the best shooting company. They are now in the Regimental Museum. Years later, in service dress, the officers of the 2nd battalion wore green lanyards with their whistles.
In December a draft of 126 volunteers embarked for South Africa to join the 99th and take part in the Zulu War. One of these men was still alive in 1938 living in Wolverhampton. In 1878 the 36th took second place in the regiments at home for immunity from crime.
The first sign of the " linking " of regiments for draft finding occured in January, 1879 when 128 men were transferred to the 29th which was embarking for Bombay. The strength of the regiment was made up by general recruiting. In March the regiment proceeded to Lancashire and companies were stationed in Liverpool and Fleetwood while one company proceeded to the Isle of Man. At the end of the year 35 privates were transferred to the 29th, and "The Times" reported that the 36th "appears to be about the best conducted regiment on home service, although composed almost entirely of recruits."
In February, 1880 a great sartorial change took place—helmets replaced the shaco which had been worn in varying forms since 1800. The helmet, made of blue cloth, lasted until 1914 as the full dress headdress. It was not revived after 1918 although it technically remained the full dress headdress until the introduction of No. 1 Dress quite recently. In July the Regiment returned again to Ireland and Cork.
In April a subscription was raised among the officers to erect a memorial to the Officers and men who fell at Toulouse. A tablet was erected in the porch of the Protestant Church at Bayonne.
General Order No. 41 of 1881 completely reorganised the Army. The Minister of War, Mr. Cardwell, is generally given the credit—or blame. The 36th now lost their old number and title and became the 2nd Battalion of The Worcestershire Regiment. The 29th formed the 1st Battalion. Looking back now it seems all right but it must have been very galling for such a senior regiment to become a second battalion. The next senior regiment to become such was the 46th who became the 2nd Battalion D.C.L.I. It may have been a consideration to be allied with a neigbouring county—some regiments were not so lucky.
2ND BATTALION THE WORCESTERSHIRE REGIMENT
These reforms meant that the 36th lost their green facings, and when new colours were needed they would be white, for white was the colour for the facings of all English non-royal regiments. The motto "Firm" was included in the new badges, which were designed by the Adjutant of the Militia and accordingly had the Castle of Worcester in the centre. This was soon discarded for the Lion of the 29th. The 36th also adopted the Valise Star from the 29th—a new pattern with "WR" in the centre. This was also later changed for the Lion of the 29th.
CHANNEL ISLANDS AND ENGLAND
The 36th remained in Ireland until 1883 when they crossed to Jersey in the Channel Islands. There they served for two years until moving to Portsmouth late in 1885. Also stationed in " Pompey " were the 1st Royal Sussex, the 1st Royal Irish Rifles and the 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers. While at Portsmouth part of the barracks was wrecked by an explosion of gas, fortunately with very few casualties. The next move was to Pembroke Dock at the end of 1887. Meantime recruits were arriving from the Depot at Norton Barracks and drafts of trained men were being sent to the 1st Battalion in India.
IRELAND AND ALDERSHOT
In 1889 the battalion returned yet again to Ireland and spent two years in Limerick and then moved to Curragh Camp in 1891. Other regiments there were 1st Royal Irish, 2nd Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 1st Wiltshire and 2nd Gordons. Ireland must have been a very pleasant place to soldier in then—plenty of sport off duty and plenty of room for serious soldiering. The army was still forming squares and advancing in columns as if they would never have to face anything more lethal than an assegain but that solid discipline which was to stand it in such good stead in South Africa and Flanders was being built up. In 1893 the 2nd battalion moved from Curragh Camp to Aldershot, they embarked in the troopship "Assistance" at Queenstown, and after a very stormy crossing landed at Portsmouth (24 hours overdue) they ten entrained for Aldershot — the centre of the army at home. The command of the battalion had changed from Lieut.-Col. de Berniere to Lieut.-Col. J. F. Egerton. Three infantry brigades were then stationed in Aldershot. That year H.R.H. the Prince of Wales again presented new colours to the regiment on June 13th. These colours were white and the last of the green colours were solemnly laid away—until restored again in 1930. Soldiering at Aldershot in those days was hard work. It was too near the Horse Guards. Generals were forever ordering field days on Lafflans plain and these field days were carried out in scarlet and blue cloth helmets and ended, generally, with a grand march past of friend and foe.
It was while in Aldershot, in July, 1895, that the famous forced march was carried out. It was led by that great character, Captain H. de B. Hovell, or "Mad Jack" as the troops called him. With him was a Corporal Thomas and four young soldiers. Some experiments were made with equipment and the party marched from Lyndhurst to Aldershot, a distance of 51 miles in 15 hours 35 minutes excluding halts. The full time was 20 hours 15 minutes. An account of the record march was printed in the "The Aldershot News" on the 15th Sept. 1895.
MALTA AND BERMUDA
It was now the turn of the 2nd battalion to go abroad and they sailed for Malta in 1895, and disembarked in November 1895. Again the command of the battalion changed from Lieut.-Col. J. F. Egerton to Lieut.-Col. F. S. Allen. Here they made a great reputation for soldiering and sport. There were eight regiments in the garrison and there was great competition on parade and at sport. It was in great part due to the untiring energy of the Adjutant, Captain R. M. Sanders, that the old 36th distinguished themselves on all occasions. The band and drums were the pride of Malta. The officers had a polo team and a rowing crew and the battalion football team won high honours. Captain Hovell (known as "Mad Jack") was commanding "A" Company in Malta. He was a very strong swimmer and once swam round the island Gozo. Every man of his company had to be able to swim a mile, play water polo, march well, be a marksman, do semaphore and know the morse code, and use a pick and shovel. No doubt the other companies followed suit but "Mad Jack" was a character and also a pioneer. When the battalion moved from Malta to Bermuda in 1897 the competition was lacking but the same high standard was maintained. The band and drums were in great demand, not only in Barracks but at Hamilton House and Government House. The officers had a dramatic club which gave frequent shows. It was in 1898 that the 2nd battalion officers entertained and dined Admiral Dewey and his officers of the United States Navy, in the 2nd battalion Officers' Mess at Prospect Camp-Bermuda, after the Americans had returned from their victory in the Philippines. Captain Sanders always drove round the island in his tandem and gig to the delight of the battalion and the many American visitors.
Late in 1899 the war in South Africa had broken out and the battalion was under orders for Halifax, N.S. A telegram was sent to the War Office requesting that the battalion be sent to South Africa. This was granted and the battalion sailed for England in November. They embarked in S.S. Tintagel Castle on December 17th and disembarked at Cape Town on January 12th, 1900. The battalion formed part of the 12th Infantry Brigade under General Clements, (late 24th Foot) and on January 25th came under fire during a reconnaissance in force, for the first time since the battle of Toulouse. On February 12th took place the engagement at Sligersfontein where Lieut. Colonel Coningham and Bt. Major A. K. Stubbs were killed and 16 other ranks. Brevet Lieut. Colonel G. Hacket Pain took over command of the battalion, a command he held throughout the war. The story of the battalion in the war is detailed in the diary of Captain E. C. F. Wodehouse, D.S.O., the Adjutant of the battalion. The war mainly consisted of long marches and short engagements. The Mounted Infantry company took part in the battle of Paardeberg and some were present at the Relief of Kimberley. Two Companies from the Volunteer Battalion served with the battalion for different periods and drafts were received from the Militia Reserve. When peace was signed at Pretoria on May 31st, 1901 the battalion had acquitted themselves well and proved the efficiency of the sound training they had received in Ireland, Aldershot, Malta and Bermuda. The battalion went from South Africa to Ceylon and there this story must leave them after 200 years of faithful and distinguished service to the Crown and with yet another battle honour " South Africa, 1900-1902."
THE YEARS BETWEEN 1902-1914.
BLOOMFONTEIN — COLOMBO — AHMEDNAGAR — JHANSI — ALDERSHOT.
After the signing of Peace the Battalion marched back to Kroonstad, where a considerable reorganisation took place. Many went home on leave and others took up posts in the Railways and Constabulary. The Band and Drums were re-formed.
1903 saw the Battalion in Bloomfontein, where it remained on garrison duties until 1904. Here Lt.-Colonel Ingouville-Williams took over command and here were presented the South African Campaign medals. In October, 1904, the Battalion embarked at Durban for Ceylon, where Headquarters were at Colombo, and detachments at Kandy and Trincomali. A grand station with plenty of sport and social life. Here we were able to build up our cricket and football teams which scored successes there and later on in India under the guiding hand of Lt. W. F. 0. Faviell. One of our jobs in Ceylon was to make a football ground, digging away the hills and filling in a great swamp.
Our two years in Ceylon passed only too quickly, and in 1906 we sailed for India, where we were to spend the next six years in Ahmednagar and Jhansi.
In 1907 the Viceroy, the Earl of Minto, presented new Colours to the Battalion, and in 1908 Lt.-Colonel H. de B. Hovell took over command.
After three happy years in Ahmednagar we moved to Jhansi. Our chief rivals in the football world were the 2nd Royal Scots, a formidable team.
While at Jhansi we met the 4th Battalion stationed in Bareilly, where we were royally entertained.
Kitchener's test was the climax of the training season. It was a really stiff, tough trial for all. We tied with the leading Battalion in India and Colonel Hovell received a special letter of praise from the Commander-in-Chief.
After 18 years abroad, in 1913, the Battalion embarked for home and arrived in Aldershot in March, where it remained until the outbreak of the first Great War.
June 3rd, 1913, was a memorable day—the last full-dress review on Laf fans Plain. The Battalion made a great impression as it was at full strength. Here we changed from the 8 to the 4 Company organisation, a revolution which was not popular to start with.
Much had happened in these twelve years “between” but the solid training in manoeuvre and skill at arms, and the general fitness fostered by sport and games of all kinds stood the test when, at 4.0 p.m. on August 4th, 1914, the signal for mobilisation was hoisted at Command Headquarters. It was war!
Major H. FitzMaurice Stacke
THE FIRST WORLD WAR 1914-1918
Mons, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914. Ypres 1914, 1917, Langemark 1914, Gheluvelt Nonne Bosschen, Festubert 1915, Loos, Somme 1916, Bagentin, Delville Wood, Le Transloy, Arras 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Passchendale, Cambrai 1918, Lys, Bailleul, Kemmel, Hindenburg Line, St. Quentin Canal, Selle,
France and Flanders 1914-18
Victoria Crosses 2
Distinguished Service Orders 6
Military Crosses 35 and 4 bars.
Distinguished Conduct Medals 45 and 2 bars, and a large number of Military Medals.
This record of battle honours and decorations for gallantry in the field speaks for itself.
The late Major H. FitzMaurice Stacke has recorded in his "History of the Regiment in the Great War" in great detail all the actions in which the 2nd Battalion took part. Space does not admit of their re-recording here. Suffice to say that the Battalion went out with the British Expeditionary Force—the Old Contemptibles—in 1914. From Mons in 1914 back to Alnoye in 1918 the Battalion had fought through France and Belgium, from Ypres to the Somme, through four hard and weary years, earning for the Regiment immortal battle honours and the particular praise of the Commander-in-Chief for its distinguished conduct at Gheluvelt in 1914.
AGAIN THE YEARS BETWEEN 1919-1939
NORTON — DUBLIN — DOVER — THE RHINE — PLYMOUTH — MALTA — SHANGHAI — TIENTSIN — SIALKOT.
In June, 1919, the cadre of the Battalion returned to Norton, where Lt.-Col. H. A. Carr took over command. In July the Battalion moved to Portobello Barracks, Dublin, where for the next two years they spent a period of considerable strain in the increasingly worsening political sit uation—guards, patrols, picquets and raids were the lot of officers and men. On the 5th anniversary of Gheluvelt the Battalion carried out a special parade in the presence of their old Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal Earl French, who was the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
By the Spring of 1922 the 2nd Battalion had handed over Portobello Barracks to the Irish Free State and had moved into Camp at Kilmainham, where they were shortly joined by Officers and men of the 4th Battalion disbanded in Belfast. An uncomfortable period, punctuated with alarms and excursions, the fighting between the Free State troops and the Republicans in the streets of Dublin, the burning of the Four Courts and at last, on 17th December, amidst remarkable and memorable scenes of affection and good-will, embarkation for England.
The next four years were spent at Dover under the command of Colonel Davidge where, for the first time since the war, the Battalion had opportunity to re-build. Inspired by John Abbott, Battalion Athletic and Cross-Country teams took leading places in Army competitions, while standards of cricket, hockey and football were high.
In 1926 Colonel Dunlop took the Battalion to join the Army of Occupation on the Rhine . Two pleasant years were spent at Biebrich and Bingen, with formation exercises a feature of training, and with shooting well on the upgrade. Teams made their journeys to Bisley and the Battalion came out joint winners of the Rhine Army Small Arms Meeting. In athletics and cross-country we were masters.
1928-1930 saw the battalion at Crownhill Barracks, Plymouth, where the seal was placed upon two years' good soldiering by the Presentation of New Colours by H.R.H. The Duke of Gloucester on the Glorious First of June, 1930, shortly after Colonel Clarke had assumed command.
The Battalion was, however, now due for its foreign service tour and soon sailed for Malta. Turn-out, ceremonial, esprit-de-corps, shooting, games and swimming were the order of the day. The soccer team carried all before it, and steadily increasing musketry skill brought its special reward in the shape of the Queen Victoria Trophy (abroad—India excepted). There was a very close liaison with the Royal Navy and the Battalion put to sea for Training in combined operations on more than one occasion. In 1931 the Navy put into special temporary commission the destroyer "Worcester” to take a large party of Officers, W.O.'s, N.C.O.'s and men to sea to escort the 1st Battalion, homeward bound after many years of foreign service, into Valetta harbour, where a most enjoyable time was had by all.
Colours of 2nd Battalion, presented at Plymouth 1st Jun 1930
Lieut.-Colonel John Henry Pelly
On leaving Malta for the Far East, Colonel Pelly took over the Battalion from Colonel Clarke. Our first Station was Shanghai where the 1st Battalion had been only two years previously. A bad Station from the soldier's point of view and only alleviated by sport, games and ceremonial. For the rest it was guards and duties—and cabarets and night clubs.
After a year in Shanghai the Battalion moved to Tientsin, in N. China, where duties included the finding of the Legation Guard at Peking. Extremes of climate entailed fur hats and special clothing in the winter while Companies went to Shanhaikqan, where the Great Wall met the sea in the summer months to get away from the heat and flesh-pots of the two Cities and to carry out training. Several foreign powers had their Concessions in Tientsin, and relations with Japanese troops and Italian sailors and Marines were, to say the least, difficult. The good discipline of the Battalion averted what might have been nasty affairs.
December, 1936, saw the Battalion at Sialkot in the Punjab, under the command of Colonel Deakin, and when Internal Security had been mastered there was a perceptible increase in the tempo of training of officers and men alike, both for the Frontier and for harder tasks to come. Solon and Jutogh were the hill stations and many will remember happy holidays in Kashmir.
Thus these " Years Between " when National economy and one-horse stations forbade continuous or even regular periods of Battalion and Formation training, but when discipline and esprit-de-corps was marked and when an over-riding loyalty to the Regiment was fostered in an atmosphere of good turn-out, good drill, good shooting and sportsmanship. A loyalty that was to ride the stress of alternating impatience and active service in a second Great War, and which stands to-day as high as ever it did.
SIAKLOT — N.W. FRONTIER — WELLINGTON — MADRAS.
On the outbreak of war the Battalion was stationed at Rawalpindi, under command of Lt.-Col. C. Deakin, O.B.E. Everyone hoped that the Battalion would be mobilized and sent to Europe, but this was not the case, and everything seemed to settle down to peace-time routine, even to the Thursday holiday. It took a year for India to call it a "war" instead of "a grave emergency."
During November and December the Battalion went into camp near Jhelum and carried out Frontier Warfare training. Christmas was spent in the usual peace-time fashion at Sialkot.
In February, 1940, the Battalion was ordered to the North-West Frontier, as a part of the 3rd (Jhelum) Brigade, where they took part in operations against tribesmen, north of Bannu. On completion of the operation in April, the Battalion remained in Waziristan and was on road protection duty on the road Bannu-Razmak. These duties continued until September, when the Battalion returned to Sialkot. During the six months on the North-West Frontier the Battalion had about 20 casualties.
In November, 1940, Lt.-Col. C. Deakin completed his tenure of command and Lt.-Col. P. W. Hargreaves, M.C., took over. Christmas was once again celebrated in Sialkot.
In February and March, 1941, the Battalion was in various camps near Jhelum doing Frontier and open Warfare Training.
In April, H.Q., H.Q. Company and "B" Company went to the cool of the Murree hills, the remainder of the Battalion remaining at Sialkot.
From July to September the Battalion was again on the North-West Frontier, this time in the Kurram valley, in camp at Manduri. Their job was to dig defences in preparation for a possible German attack through Afghanistan!
In August, orders arrived that the Battalion would move to Wellington in Southern India in September. The railway journey from Sialkot to Wellington took 7 days. On arrival at Wellington it was found that almost a full-scale establishment of M.T. had to be taken over from the out-going Battalion, The Inniskilling Fusiliers. The Battalion was hard put to it to find sufficient drivers.
In November the Battalion went into camp near Bangalore for Bn. and Bde. training, its first experience of training with M.T.
For the last time in its history, possibly, the Battalion spent a normal peace-time Christmas at Wellington.
On the fall of Singapore in February, 1942, the Battalion was ordered to Madras at short notice. The Colours were then deposited in the Imperial Bank of India, Ootacamond, where they remained until the war was over. The Battalion formed part of the Madras garrison and carried out many exercises repelling imaginary Jap landings. In April the Commanding Officer was told by the Garrison Commander on a Saturday afternoon to expect three Jap Divisions to land on the Madras coast at 4.0 a.m. next Wednesday! As there were only four Battalions, not all fully armed, to meet the invaders, the situation looked black. Fortunately, the laps thought better of it!
In August, 1942, the Battalion left Madras to join the 19th (Dagger) British-Indian Division in camp about 20 miles west of Madras. The Battalion area was a bare ridge, and instructions were received that tents were to be sited to look like Indian villages. owing to the possibility of Jap air attacks. Efforts to make army tents out in the open look like Indian villages were not very successful, which was soon made apparent when the Divisional Commander flew over the area in an American plane, the pilot's one remark being "Oh Boy, what a target." The Ridge was from that day known as "Oh Boy Ridge," from which the Battalion was soon moved into an orange plantation, which was much more pleasant. Intensive training was now carried out, all with the idea of repelling Jap landings.
In April, 1943, the Battalion moved to the Kolar Gold Fields near Bangalore, to start at long last, training in jungle warfare, and all hoped that before long the Battalion would be seeing some active service.
In May, 1943, Lieut.-Col. Hargreaves handed over command, and from then onwards it becomes the story of the Battalion in Burma after some further training in combined operation work.
In October, 1944, the Battalion left Nasik and concentrated with the rest of the Division at Mile 113 on the Kohima-Imphal road.
From the Chindwin to the Irrawaddy—the fight in the Irrawaddy Bridgehead—the long trek on the road to Mandalay—the operations in the Shan States—to the final evacuation of the Japanese, the story of which has been recorded in "Firm" and in Lieut.-Col. Lord Birdwood's history of the Regiment, leads on to V.J. Day in August, 1945. Thereafter the Battalion remained in Burma, hunting out dacoits and generally helping to keep the peace under the commands of Lieut.-Col. J. O. Knight and Lieut.-Col. F. S. Ramsay.
This narrative comes to a sad conclusion in the amalgamation of the Battalion with the 1st Battalion on the reduction policy consequent on the conclusion of hostilities. Only a small cadre returned to Norton Barracks in 1947 to lay up the Colours in the Regimental Mess.