Cheshire Regiment

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Introduction

This is a brief history of the Cheshire Regiment. Even prior to the "official" raising of what was to become the Cheshire Regiment the men of Chester were prepared to sign-up to the hazards of war.

At the Battle of Lincoln (1141), Earl of Chester Ranulph De Gernon (famous for changing sides) was the victorious commander of the right wing or 'battle' of the rebel forces. Orderic Vitalis describes how he fought on foot:

  • In the opposing army Earl Ranulf dismounted with his troops and reinforced a brave contingent of foot-soldiers from Chester to give battle.

Henry of Huntingdon records the "slanging match" of ritual insults which took place as a prelude to the battle:

  • "..I have had to be silent on the subject of the fugitive William of Ypres. For words have not yet been invented which can properly describe the extent and ramifications of his treacheries, the filth and horror of his obscenities..". Aumale of York is described as "a man who is remarkably consistent in wrong‑doing, swift to enlarge it, intransigent over giving it up, because of whose intolerable filthiness his wife left him and became a fugitive.".

In the last years of Richard II's reign Chester Castle became a favoured royal base. In 1396 the office of master mason, which had lapsed in 1374, was reintroduced, and in 1397 the office of keeper of the king's artillery in Cheshire and Flintshire first appeared. Thomas le Wodeward, deputy constable of the castle, took delivery of the following new supplies in 1397: 11 iron collars and 2 gross of iron chain; 2 pairs of iron belts with shackles; 2 pairs of iron handcuffs with 4 iron shackles; 7 pairs of iron feet fetters with 3 shackles; 1 hasp for the stocks. Also in 1397, Richard II created the title "Prince of Cheshire", which he awarded to himself. His personal bodyguard was made up of Cheshire bowmen who were described as being intolerably arrogant, insolent ruffians who lived on far too intimate terms with king. This bodyguard was divided into watches commanded by: Ranulf of Davenport, John of Legh, Richard of Cholmondeley, Adam of Bostock, Thomas of Beeston, and Thomas Halford.

Thomas of Woodstock - Justicar of Chester gets his collar felt by Richard II's "Chester Guards".

On Saturday 22 September 1397 Sir Thomas Mortimer was summoned to stand trial as a traitor. Mortimer’s alleged crime was the slaying of Thomas Molineux, constable of Chester Castle, at the skirmish at Radcot Bridge. Unsurprisingly Mortimer chose flight to Scotland. Arundel, Warwick and Gloucester (Thomas of Woodstock - Justice of Chester) also arrested and charged with treason. The Earl of Arundel was executed and his estates in Shropshire and North Wales later become part of principality of Chester. Thomas Walsingham writes of the execution "before and after him in the procession went the wild roughs from Chester, armed with axes, swords, bows amd arrows" . Gloucester (Thomas of Woodstock) was murdered by Nicholas Colfox (Thomas of Woodstock's murder plays a prominent part in the opening scene of William Shakespeare's play Richard II). Warwick was imprisoned.

In 1415 John de Chester and Lyell de Chester fought at Agincourt as part of the retinue of Sir John Grey. Also present were "Archers of the erle Chester, that was of the Retenu oi our Soveraigne Lord the King CIIIJ".

Foundation

Henry Howard, who raised what was later to become the Cheshires.

In 1689, Henry Howard, 7th Duke of Norfolk raised a regiment on the little Roodee in Chester in an effort to resist any attempt by James II to re-take the English throne. For the early part of its formation, the regiment was known by the name of the current Colonel-in-Chief, later becoming known as the 22nd Regiment of Foot. In the same year that it was raised, the regiment saw its first action as part of a British force sent to Ireland under the command of General Frederick Schomberg (commander-in-chief of the Williamite War in Ireland expedition against the Jacobite supporters of James II), taking part in the siege and capture of Carrickfergus. In 1690, the 22nd fought in the Battle of Boyne, and in 1691 at the Battle of Aughrim. The regiment continued to serve as a garrison in Ireland from this point until 1695, when it was sent to the Low Countries for a short time before returning to its duties in Ireland.

The Cheshires badge commemorates the Battle of Dettingen.

In 1702, the Regiment sailed to Jamaica under the colonelcy of William Selwyn, spending the next twelve years in combat duties against the French and native population, both on land and at sea. In 1726 the Regiment was posted to Minorca where it remained for the next 22 years, although a detachment was present at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743, during the War of the Austrian Succession. George II’s horse "bolted" during the battle and ran away. George is said to have "sheltered" under an oak and to have presented an oak leaf to the soldiers who looked after him. The Cheshire Regiment claims this honour (they were in garrison in Minorca at the time - but a detachment was present). Dettingen was the last time that an English monarch was to personally lead his troops into battle.

The 22nd Foot

By 1751 the Regiment had become the 22nd Foot, having previously been called after its successive colonels. The 22nd first saw action in America during The French and Indian War. Briefly garrisoned in and around New York City in January 1757, the Regiment moved north to Halifax in July. In 1758 The 22nd formed part of Lord Amherst’s expedition against the fortress of Louisburg on Cape Breton Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The capture of this fortified French naval base paved the way to the conquest of Canada two years later. The following year the Regiment took part in General Wolfe's victory over the French at the Battle Of Quebec. Ensign Brown of the 22nd is reported to have been with Wolfe when he died.

Thomas Gage, Regimental Colonel of the Cheshires.

In 1760 while the Regiment was in Albany, New York, preparing to depart two companies were detached and sent to South Carolina to help in the Anglo-Cherokee War. The two detached companies joined the rest of the Regiment in Barbados for the British campaigns against the Spanish in the Caribbean. Next was the British expedition against Cuba during 1762. 1762 also saw Thomas Gage became the Regimental Colonel after the drowning of General Whitmore during the Siege of Havana. The Regiment took part in the capture of the island of Martinique, which together with the capture of the Spanish citadel of Havana, brought about the end of the Seven Year's War. Havana was returned to Spain under the 1763 Treaty of Paris that formally ended the war.

September of 1763 found the 22nd, and five other regiments, on garrison duty in Mobile, West Florida, (Alabama). Here they skirmished with Indians and took part in a brief and aborted foray up the Mississippi River. Their mission was to relieve the forts along the river as far north as Illinois but they were ambushed at the Louisiana state line and turned back. Finally, in August 1765, orders were received that the 22nd was to return to the British Isles once again. However, before leaving, the Regimental Commanding Officer discharged all the colonists that had transferred from their North American units, and also all those men who had reached the end of their terms with the Regiment and who wished to stay in America.

American Revolution

After home service the Regiment was sent back to America in 1775. Having embarked in advance of the rest of the Regiment at the request of Colonel Gage, Lt. Col. James Abercrombie arrived in Boston just before the Battle of Bunker Hill, where he was fatally wounded in action by Salem Poor.

On June 25, 1775, Thomas Gage wrote a dispatch to Britain, notifying Lord Dartmouth of the results of the June 17 battle. Three days after his report arrived in England, Dartmouth issued the order recalling Gage and replacing him with William Howe. The rapidity of this action is likely attributable to the fact that people within the government were already arguing for Gage's removal, and the battle was just the final straw. Gage received the order in Boston on September 26, and set sail for England on October 11. In March of 1776, Howe decided to evacuate Boston and on March 15th, 1776, the 22nd left for Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Battle of Long island

The Cheshires took part in the complicated series of battles fought around New York in 1776.

On June 11th, Howe's army, including the 22nd of Foot, left Halifax for New York. On July 8, 1776, the 9,000 strong army landed on Staten Island, near the mouth of the Hudson River. In August, reinforcements arrived swelling the British ranks to around 30,000 men. Howe, convinced that he now had enough men to support a major land action, decided to make his move against Putnam's American force encamped in Brooklyn. Three days of skirmishing ensued until, on the 27th, the British forces were able to drive the Americans back to their original lines and encampments. On the 29th and 30th, after an abortive peace negotiation, the American Army crossed the East River, under cover of darkness, and took up positions on Manhattan Island and New York City. Howe decided to cross his troops north of the city in a flanking move rather than risk a costly street by street battle in the city. Accordingly, the 22nd crossed over to Manhattan Island at Kips Bay unopposed, and marched to New York City which, upon word of the British advance, had been hastily abandoned by the American Army. The 22nd settled down to garrison New York City, while Howe continued on to push General Washington finally all the way out of New York and into New Jersey.

On September, 20th, around midnight, a large part of New York City was set on fire and the Regiment was hastily called from their camp outside the city and sent in to help battle the blaze. Unfortunately, the fire was out of control by that time so the 22nd, along with a Naval demolition crew set about tearing down wooden structures to try and contain the fire. The 22nd also assisted in saving the residents of the burning area and as many of their possessions as possible. After the fire the Regiment helped care for the refugees.

On December 6, 1776, a force of 6000 men, including the 22nd Regiment, Left Long Island under the command of General Henry Clinton and began to make it's way by sea transport to the Island of Newport in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. Much to the Regiment's surprise and delight they landed in the city of Newport with no opposition. The Rebel forces, on hearing that the British were coming, abandoned the city and all of it's batteries.

Battle of Rhode island

After the defeat of Burgoyne's Army at Saratoga, The French became fully involved in the war. On July 11, 1778, Admiral Comte d'Estaing arrived off Sandy Hook, New Jersey and blockaded New York City for awhile. He then sailed to Narragansett Bay where he made contact with General Sullivan to discuss operations against the British on Newport Island. A combined land and sea attack was planned with the hope of a complete victory and capture of the British Army like that at Saratoga. Toward the middle of August, General Sullivan, according to plan, landed a force of around 4000 men on the island and marched them on the British Garrison, which now concentrated all it's resources at the city of Newport. Meanwhile, d'Estaing sailed back out to sea and poised for battle with Admiral Howe's fleet. However, before the fleets could inflict any damage on each other, a hurricane severely damaged d'Estaing's fleet and he abandoned Sullivan's force in order to make repairs in the West Indies. Suddenly having the rug pulled out from under him by the French, and finding Newport defended with determination, Sullivan raised his siege of the city on the 28th and retreated up the Island, hoping to save his army (and his neck) from the now rapidly pursuing and somewhat angry British force. While pursuing the retreating Americans north towards Windmill Hill, The 22nd, unfortunately under the ever inept command of Brigadier General Francis Smith, (not of the 22nd), was sent, without a vanguard or flankers, right into an American ambush. The Regiment, while leading the Corps, was marched up to a "T" intersection which was bordered by a high stone wall. Upon reaching the intersection, a regiment of Americans sprang up and delivered a devastating volley into the foreword companies of the 22nd which resulted in the almost instantaneous death of 13 officers and men, and the wounding of 52 more. Despite these losses and continuing to take the brunt of the land offensive as it progressed, reports of the 22nd showed that they were still mainly responsible for driving the Rebels off Newport Island.

Springfield

In October of 1779, the British Command decided to concentrate their forces in and around New York to guard against possible French attack. As a result, the 22nd found itself part of the British force in New York again. It spent it's time rotating from camp to camp throughout Long Island, Staten Island and New Jersey; taking part in periodic forays and excursions against Rebel forces in the surrounding countryside. In late June,1780, the British, in a final attempt to rout George Washington's Army at Morristown, New Jersey, sent an expedition of 5000 troops from Staten Island. The 22nd formed the vanguard of this expedition. The British got as far as Springfield, only 10 miles from Morristown. At Springfield, New Jersey, they were met by thousands of local Militia, called to arms by Washington's excellent signal beacon system and were forced to retire back to Staten Island.

On October 12, 1781, the 22nd Embarked from Staten Island for Virginia to act as relief for the besieged force at Yorktown. However, on the 26th, while still at sea, word arrived that Cornwallis had surrendered, and the relief force returned to it's New York garrison duties. In 1782 Gage relinquished his Colonelcy of the 22nd, and Major General Charles O'Hara (previously of the Foot Guards who passed the sword of surrender at Yorktown) took up the post. This same year the 22nd took on the name of the Cheshire Regiment. The next year the Regiment spent in anticipation of a major attack on the Continental forces in Philadelphia. However, in the middle of 1783, it was learned that peace negotiations had finally been concluded, giving America it's independence. Thus, on November 25, 1783, the 22nd Regiment of Foot left New York with the rest of the British Army, officially ending the American Revolutionary War.

Off to the tropics

Although the County designation existed as early as 1772, the Regiment was retitled The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment of Foot in 1782, the Regiment served in the West Indies from 1793, taking part in expeditions against Martinique, St Lucia, Guadeloupe and St Domingo. Between 1800 and 1803 the 22nd was posted to South Africa, then moving to India where it suffered heavy losses during the assault on Bhurtpore (1805) for which the flank companies won "immortal renown". Sergeant John Shipp (1784-1834) distinguished himself by leading three 'forlorn hopes' at Bhurtpore and was rewarded with a commission (which he later sold to pay debts). Shipp later wrote about his adventures in "Memoirs of the extraordinary military career of John Shipp".

A "Pioneer" from the Cheshires c.1858. The pickaxe and beard are traditional (collection of the Chester Military Museum)

In 1810 the 22nd Regiment took part in the occupation of Mauritius (and were present at the capture of Port Louis) where it remained in garrison until 1819.

In 1843 Sir Charles James Napier led a small force (2,500) of native infantry and cavalry and one British regiment, the Cheshire Regiment, against the Baluchi Army of the Ameers of Scinde. The desert fortress of Emaun Ghur was destroyed, and then, on February l7th, 1843, the small British force defeated 30,000 Baluchis at Meeanee. A month later the Baluchis were defeated at Hyderabad. The province of Scinde fell into British hands, and The Regiment gained the honours of Meeanee, Hyderabad and Scinde. The honours of Meeanee and Hyderbad are shared with some Indian Regiments. That of Scinde is borne by the Cheshire Regiment alone.

There is the now known to be apocryphal tale that after Charles Napier defeated the Emirs of Scinde, he send a one word telegram to Lord Ellenborough – "Peccavī" (Latin for I have sinned) he is said to have recieved the response "Vovī" (I have Oudh)”. Unfortunately none of this is true. The Military Museum at the castle features an extensive display on Napier and explains how the urban myth about his signal "Peccave" came about. This was not said by Napier at all, but was a suggestion made by a female latin student to a vicar, who wrote to the newspapers about it. The quote was used in "Punch" magazine and after that was falsely attributed to Napier. Napier had however spent some time in Chester and some of his comments on the city are recorded in his biography. Writing in 1840, Napier (then stationed at Chester Castle as a precaution against Chartist riots) said of The Rows:

  • All the rogues, and fools and drunkards in the country seem collected, and the Row balconies are filled all day with idlers and well-dressed girls, young and old, looking into the streets from daybreak till dark. Such idleness I never witnessed as at Chester. My life has been long, it has but twelve years to run, and yet I never, in any country, witnessed such stupid idleness as in Chester. Those who go to the course have some fun, but those who hang over the Row balconies all day like old clothes, see nothing, hear nothing, do nothing.

Napier House at Chester Castle is named after him. Napier is famous for some of his other quotes in the tradition of British colonialism:

  • "The best way to quiet a country is a good thrashing, followed by great kindness afterwards. Even the wildest chaps are thus tamed"

Under the Cardwell reforms of 1872-3 the castle barracks became the headquarters depot of the 22nd Cheshire Regiment and, though the garrison rarely exceeded 300, Chester was the training centre for new recruits to the regiment. In 1881, under the Childer's Reforms the militia and volunteers were re-formed into battalions attached to the Cheshires' regimental district at Chester Castle, though some also had training depots elsewhere in the city. The reforms added the following units:

  • 1st Royal Cheshire Light Infantry Militia;
  • 2nd Royal Cheshire Militia;
  • 1st Cheshire RVC;
  • 2nd (Earl of Chester's) Cheshire RVC;
  • 3rd Cheshire RVC;
  • 4th Cheshire (Cheshire and Derbyshire) RVC;
  • 5th Cheshire RVC;

Its recruiting area was confirmed as being the County of Cheshire Both battalions of the Regiment served in Burma between 1887 and 1891, while the 2nd Battalion saw active service in South Africa in 1900 and was present at the engagements of Jacobsdal, Karree Siding, Brandfort, Vet, River, Sand River and the Capture of Johannesburg.

Modern Warfare

Dyer's charge at Audregnies. The flanking units (shown dashed) had been withdrawn and the Battle of Mons hung in the balance. German unit positions are shown in gray.

On 24 August 1914 the 1st Battalion suffered 771 casualties during the closing stages of the Battle of Mons. Lt Col D C Boger, the Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion The Cheshire Regiment, did not know that other British troops on his left and right had withdrawn, and the Battalion was left exposed to the attack of two German Army Corps at a village called Audregnies. To cover retreat, Captain Dyer drew his sword and ordered the men in his vicinity to advance toward the old mill to their left and enfilade the enemy. He did not know that the battalion was surrounded. Capt Massey (2ic A Coy), Capt Jolliffe and Lt Matterson joined Capt Dyer, and together with about 30 men of A and B Companies, they charged forward in short rushes, intent on meeting the enemy with the bayonet. It was a last despairing effort to avert the complete annihilation of their comrades. All but Lt Matterson and 10 men were shot down. Their heroic stand saved the British Expeditionary Force from disaster but sustained over 750 casualties. The reconstituted battalion served throughout World War I on the Western Front, winning 35 battle honours. Total losses to the Regiment during 1914-18 were 8,420 dead.

Chester Castle gates decorated with recruiting posters during WW1. These include the famous "Kitchener" poster, of which few were actually posted.

The Cheshire's are famed for one of the most remarkable feats of daring ever recorded during the First World War which started 25th September 1916, during the Battle of Morval, when Private Thomas Alfred ("Todger") Jones (1st Cheshire Regiment) saw Runner Kenworthy, a young friend of his, shot dead. Todger stormed off across no-man's-land and single-handedly captured over 100 German officers and men for which he was later awarded the Victoria Cross. Jones' Victoria Cross is displayed at the Military Museum in Chester. On 3 August 2014 a statue of Jones was unveiled in the War Memorial Garden at Runcorn. "Todger", whose nickname apparently comes from the number of children he fathered, told his own story in graphic detail.

Territorial and New Army Battalions of The Regiment fought on many fronts in France, especially at Ypres, in Gallipoli, in Sinai, in Palestine, in Salonika and in Mesopotamia. They worthily bore their full share of the fighting in which The Regiment won 96 Battle Honours. New Army Battalions were especially distinguished at Mont de Bligny, West Hoek and at Pip Ridge where the l2th Battalion won the French Croix de Guerre. At Pip Ridge the British 67th Brigade's 12th Cheshire Regiment followed by the 9th South Lancashire Regiment and 8th Kings Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI) advanced into Bulgarian artillery and machine-gun fire, leading to the 67th losing 65% of its soldiers.

Thomas Alfred ("Todger") Jones captures over a hundred Germans single-handed on 25th September 1916 (for which he got a VC). The German First and Second armies lost c. 135,000 casualties in September 1916. Post war commentary in the German Official History and by Crown Prince Rupprecht, dwelt on the loss of so many of the German army's remaining peace-trained officers, non-commissioned officers and infantry, particularly by an increased willingness to surrender.

13th Btn - unlucky for some

The 13th (Service) Battalion, Cheshire Regiment was raised at Port Sunlight on 1 September 1914 by Gershom Stewart, MP. They moved to Chester and joined 74th Brigade, 25th Division in Kitchener's Third New Army. 500 men volunteered to join up with what would become the 13th Cheshires at the first meeting at Gladstone Hall, PortSunlight. All being employees at Lever Brothers soap factory. By 7th September 1914 700 employees had joined ( All original members had W prefixes to their service number). The Division assembled in the area around Salisbury for training and the 13th Cheshires spent the winter in billets in Bournemouth. The division moved to Aldershot in May 1915 for final training.

The tragic combat history of this "pals" battalion was as follows:

  • 5th Jul 1916: 13th Battalion Cheshire Regiment march from Bouzincourt to La Boiselle on Wednesday 5th July.
  • 6th Jul 1916: Thursday 6th July the 13th Cheshires occupy trenches at La Boiselle which they consolidated and held. Several personnel injured, non killed.
  • 7th Jul 1916: At La Boiselle on 7th of July, 13th Cheshires went over the parapet at 8.05am. After suffering severe casualties they reached their objective and consolidated. A number of prisoners and war material fell into their hands. Casualties on the day are very heavy, 18 officers and 243 other ranks.
This lump of stone (in the Inner Bailey of Chester Castle) is all that remains of a statue of Britannia which, prior to 1914 was brought to the Castle from Birmingham, where it once adorned the main station. The statue bore the badge of the Norfolk Regiment, who were stationed here at that time. When the Norfolks left, the Cheshire Regiment used it to sharpen bayonets.

Ireland and WW2

Before normal peace stations were resumed after the First World War, both Regular Battalions were sent to Ireland owing to the unstable state of that country. Territorial Battalions - (4th, 5th, 6th & 7th). Post-war the Territorial Battalions were reduced to two - the 4th/5th and 7th. The 6th became Royal Artillery.

On October lst, 1913, St. George’s Chapel was dedicated in the South Transept of Chester Cathedral to The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment. It is a memorial to all ranks of The Regiment who have laid down their lives for their sovereign and country. It contains among other things, the Roll of Honour Book, and Anderson and Second World War Cenotaphs and some but not all of the Regiment’s old laid up Colours. On the main entrance to the Cathedral carved into the stone gate supports are the Regimental Cap badge and the Regimental Cypher. The Memorial Garden is situated on the South East side of the Cathedral and contains the Cenotaph for those members of The Regiment who fell in the Second World War It was dedicated and opened by the Colonel of the Regiment in 1952. To commemorate the Tercentenary in 1989, the County Boroughs each presented a bench seat and the Regiment commissioned new gates for the Garden.

The 1st Battalion was mostly in Central India between 1922 and 1939, when it went to Sudan. The 2nd Battalion was sent from Egypt to deal with the Arab rebellion in 1936. The Regimental Museum was initially housed in the ground floor of Agricola’s Tower at Chester Castle, opening in the early 1920s. It moved to its present location in “A Block” in 1968, opening to the public soon after as the Military Museum. The chapel of St Mary de Castro was reconverted and became the private chapel of the Cheshire Regiment in 1922 - it was re-consecrated by the Bishop of Chester in 1925.

Just prior to the Second World War all battalions were converted to the support machine gun role with the Vickers medium machine gun and the Regiment became a Support Regiment for the duration of the War. As of 30 September, 1939, the 1st Battalion was in The Sudan, under the command of Major-General Commanding Troops in the Sudan. As of 31 January, 1940, it was in Egypt, in the Delta, in the Suez Canal Area as Command Troops. From 30 June, 1940, it was in Egypt as part of the Mersa Matruh Garrison. The lst Battalion was in the force which drove the Italians back to Benghazi. From Benghazi the lst Battalion went to Malta where it remained till 1943, earning some distinction in the unloading and loading of stores and ammunition in the Grand Harbour under the heavy bombing of the second Great Siege of Malta. The 2nd Battalion went to France in the lst Division with the British Expeditionary Force, followed later by the 4th and 7th Battalions. After a period on the Maginot Line, they all took part in the gruelling withdrawal from the River Dyle to the coast and were brought off from the Dunkirk beaches by the Royal Navy.

The 2nd Battalion was part of the Garrison of the Gazala Line which was successfully defended till the German armour (under Erwin Rommel) attacked it in the rear. But by skilful and determined action, most of the troops fought their way back to the Alamein Line protecting Egypt. After Alamein, where the 6th Battalion was also engaged, the 2nd Battalion took part in the attacks of the successive positions held by the Germans in their withdrawal along the coast. The 2nd Battalion and 7th Battalion took part in the assault landings in Sicily in 1943. The British forces played the key role on the Eastern flank and had hard fighting in difficult and minestrewn country.

After Sicily, the 2nd Battalion, still in the 50th Division, came home and took part in the assault landing on D Day on the 6th June, 1944. They took part in the stubborn fighting in the Bocage to establish and extend the British bridgehead, followed by the pursuit of the Germans to the River Waal. At this point the 50th Division was disbanded and the 2nd Battalion came home. The 7th Battalion in the 5th Division from Sicily fought in Calabria and was moved to the west coast for the attack on the German Winter Line, the Garigliano Crossing, Anzio and fall of Rome. The 6th Battalion, in the 56th Division from Tripoli, took part in the assault landing at Salerno and in the difficult operations leading to the capture of Naples and the advance to the winter line. After a rest in Egypt, the 6th Battalion took part in the Gothic Line Battles followed by fighting in the River Lamone area and the final operations and capture of Venice. The lst Battalion from Malta was in action on the line of the River Maas and in the Rhine crossing. It then became a motor battalion and took part in the pursuit to the final round-up of the German High Command.

Post WW2

During the post-war years the Regiment served in Palestine, Egypt, Cyprus, Malaya, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bahrein, Belize, Berlin, West Germany, and Northern Ireland. It celebrated its Tercentenary in 1989, as one of only two English county infantry regiments never to have been amalgamated - retaining a distinct identity during 300 years of service.

Between 1986 and 1988, the 1st Battalion was posted to Caterham as a public duties battalion. This was the first time that a line infantry unit had been posted as such - before this, although line infantry battalions had performed public duties, this had only been for brief periods. Amongst the duties performed was the mounting of the Queen's Guard at Buckingham Palace. In 2004, as part of the restructuring of the infantry, it was announced that the Cheshire Regiment would be amalgamated with the Staffordshire Regiment and the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters to form the new Mercian Regiment. Its final independent postings were to Bosnia and Iraq. By 2007 it was the only remaining British line infantry regiment never to have previously been amalgamated with another. In August 2007, the regiment moved to Catterick, simultaneously being renamed as the 1st Battalion, Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), in a light infantry role.

The Mercian Regiment's cap badge is a double headed Mercian Eagle with Saxon crown. This has been chosen because it forms a link to the regiment's recruiting area, which encompass a number of divergent counties that do not have traditional links, except under the Kingdom of Mercia.

Snippets

Motto:

  • 'Ever Glorious'

Nicknames:

  • The "Old Two-Twos" (from their numeral 22), "The Two-twos", "Twos";
  • The "Young Buffs" (from their buff uniform facings and the regiment's relative youth compared to the 3rd Regiment of Foot, known as the Buffs and formed in 1665);
  • The "Peep o'Day Boys" (after a Protestant vigilante group in 19th-century Ireland);
  • The "Lightning Conductors" (after the regiment's 2nd Battalion was struck by lightning on 4th August 1899). The Battalion had left Limerick in Ireland and were marching towards Upperchurch at the time, in open country with fixed bayonets.

Titles to date:

  • Duke of Norfolk's Regiment of Foot;
  • 22nd Regiment of Foot;
  • 22nd (the Cheshire) Regiment of Foot;
  • The Cheshire Regiment;
  • 1st Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire);

Sources and Links