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The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment

The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment

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The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment was an infantry regiment of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 from 1881 to 1961. It was formed as The Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) as part of the Childers Reforms
Childers Reforms
The Childers Reforms restructured the infantry regiments of the British army. The reforms were undertaken by Secretary of State for War Hugh Childers in 1881, and were a continuation of the earlier Cardwell reforms....

 by the amalgamation of the 50th (Queen's Own) Regiment of Foot
50th (Queen's Own) Regiment of Foot
thumb|right|250px|soldier of 50th Regiment about 1740The 50th Regiment of Foot was an infantry regiment of the British Army from 1755 to 1881....

 and the 97th (Earl of Ulster's) Regiment of Foot. In January 1921, it was renamed The Royal West Kent Regiment (Queen's Own) and in April of the same year The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment. In 1961 it was amalgamated with The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)
The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)
The Buffs , formerly the 3rd Regiment of Foot was an infantry regiment of the British Army until 1961. It had a history dating back to 1572 and was one of the oldest regiments in the British Army being third in order of precedence...

 to form The Queen's Own Buffs, The Royal Kent Regiment
The Queen's Own Buffs, The Royal Kent Regiment
The Queen's Own Buffs, The Royal Kent Regiment was an infantry regiment of the British Army from 1961 to 1966. Its lineage is continued by the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment....

. It was popularly, and operationally, known as the "Royal West Kents."

From Formation to the Great War


The 1st Battalion took part in the Egypt Intervention in 1882, fighting in the second battle at Kassassin
Kassassin
Kassassin is a village of Lower Egypt by rail, west of Ismailia on the Suez Canal. At this place, on 28 August and again on 9 September 1882 the British force operating against Urabi Pasha was attacked by the Egyptians. Both attacks were repulsed....

 on 9 September and the Battle of Tel el-Kebir a few days later. It then spent two years on garrison duty in Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 before being shipped to the Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 and the Mahdist War
Mahdist War
The Mahdist War was a colonial war of the late 19th century. It was fought between the Mahdist Sudanese and the Egyptian and later British forces. It has also been called the Anglo-Sudan War or the Sudanese Mahdist Revolt. The British have called their part in the conflict the Sudan Campaign...

, in which it fought at the Battle of Ginnis
Battle of Ginnis
The Battle of Ginnis was a minor battle of the Mahdist War that was fought on December 30, 1885, between soldiers of the Anglo-Egyptian Army and Mahdist Sudanese warriors of the Dervish State. The battle was caused by the Mahdist blockade of the Ginnis-Kosha fort, which British commanders hoped...

, notable for being the last battle fought by British Redcoats
Red coat (British army)
Red coat or Redcoat is a historical term used to refer to soldiers of the British Army because of the red uniforms formerly worn by the majority of regiments. From the late 17th century to the early 20th century, the uniform of most British soldiers, , included a madder red coat or coatee...

. It spent the years up to the outbreak of the Great War on garrison duty, both at home and throughout the Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

.

The 2nd Battalion was shipped to South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 shortly after its formation, in the aftermath of the First Boer War
First Boer War
The First Boer War also known as the First Anglo-Boer War or the Transvaal War, was fought from 16 December 1880 until 23 March 1881-1877 annexation:...

. The following year, it was posted to Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 and spent the remaining years of the 19th Century in Britain, being sent back to South Africa for the Second Boer War
Second Boer War
The Second Boer War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State...

. Its only action was a skirmish at Biddulphsberg, in the company of the 2nd Battalions of the Grenadier
Grenadier Guards
The Grenadier Guards is an infantry regiment of the British Army. It is the most senior regiment of the Guards Division and, as such, is the most senior regiment of infantry. It is not, however, the most senior regiment of the Army, this position being attributed to the Life Guards...

 and Scots Guards
Scots Guards
The Scots Guards is a regiment of the Guards Division of the British Army, whose origins lie in the personal bodyguard of King Charles I of England and Scotland...

. It then moved to the East, being stationed in Ceylon, Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

, Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, Peshawar
Peshawar
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the administrative center and central economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan....

 and Multan
Multan
Multan , is a city in the Punjab Province of Pakistan and capital of Multan District. It is located in the southern part of the province on the east bank of the Chenab River, more or less in the geographic centre of the country and about from Islamabad, from Lahore and from Karachi...

 before the outbreak of the Great War.

The Great War


The outbreak of the Great War found the 1st Battalion in Dublin, whence it was moved to France as part of the 5th Infantry Division. It spent most of the war on the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

 apart from a brief period from December 1917 to April 1918, when it was moved, with the 5th Division, to Italy.

The 2nd Battalion was shipped from Multan to Mesopotamia
Mesopotamian Campaign
The Mesopotamian campaign was a campaign in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I fought between the Allies represented by the British Empire, mostly troops from the Indian Empire, and the Central Powers, mostly of the Ottoman Empire.- Background :...

, via Bombay, arriving in Basra
Basra
Basra is the capital of Basra Governorate, in southern Iraq near Kuwait and Iran. It had an estimated population of two million as of 2009...

 in February 1915, where it was attached to the 12th Indian Brigade. Two Companies were attached to the 30th Brigade (part of the 6th (Poona) Division
6th (Poona) Division
For the World War II formation see 6th Infantry Division The 6th Division was a division of the British Indian Army. It was formed in 1903, following the Kitchener reforms of the Indian Army.-World War I:...

) and were captured in the Siege of Kut
Siege of Kut
The siege of Kut Al Amara , was the besieging of 8,000 strong British-Indian garrison in the town of Kut, 100 miles south of Baghdad, by the Ottoman Army. Its known also as 1st Battle of Kut. In 1915, its population was around 6,500...

 in April 1916. The remaining Companies were attached to 34th Brigade (part of 15th Indian Division), and were transferred to 17th Indian Division
17th Indian Division
The 17th Indian Division was formed in 1917 from units of the British Indian Army for service in the Mesopotamia Campaign during World War I. The division was involved in the Action at Fat-ha Gorge on the Little Zab between October 23–26, 1918 and the Battle of Sharqat, October 28–30, 1918...

 in August 1917. The Battalion remained in Mesopotamia for the duration of the war.

Most of the Territorial battalions spent the war on garrison duty, particularly in India and Egypt, relieving the Regular battalions for front-line service. However, the 2/4th Battalion took part in the Gallipoli Campaign and the 3/4th Battalion served as a Pioneer battalion in France.

Several of the Service (sc. Hostilities-only) battalions of the New Army
Kitchener's Army
The New Army, often referred to as Kitchener's Army or, disparagingly, Kitchener's Mob, was an all-volunteer army formed in the United Kingdom following the outbreak of hostilities in the First World War...

 fought in France and Flanders and in the Italian Campaign.

Between the Wars


At the end of the war, the 1st Battalion was transferred back to India, where it took part (along with the Territorial 1/4th Battalion) in the Third Afghan War and the putting down of a Mahsud
Mahsud
Mahsud is a Pashtun tribe in South Waziristan, a tribal region in Pakistan. Mahsud are considered to be one of the bravest and toughest Pashtun Tribes. The Mahsud tribe lives in the centre of South Waziristan valley, surrounded on three sides by the Darwesh Waziris, and being shut off by the...

 tribal rebellion in the Northwest Frontier
Northwest Frontier
North West Frontier is a 1959 British adventure film starring Kenneth More and Lauren Bacall. The film was directed by J. Lee Thompson from a screenplay by Robin Estridge and also features Wilfrid Hyde-White, Herbert Lom and I. S...

 in 1920. It spent the next years in India, returning home to England in 1937.

The 2nd Battalion returned to India from Mesopotamia in 1919, and to England in 1921, briefly becoming part of the Army of Occupation in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 (the British Army of the Rhine
British Army of the Rhine
There have been two formations named British Army of the Rhine . Both were originally occupation forces in Germany, one after the First World War, and the other after the Second World War.-1919–1929:...

). It was stationed at various garrisons in Britain until 1937, when it moved to Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 to aid suppression of the Arab revolt. In 1939, it was transferred to Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

.

The Second World War


The 1st Battalion was part of the 4th Infantry Division
4th Infantry Division (United Kingdom)
The 4th Infantry Division is a regular British Army division with a long history having been present at the Peninsular War the Crimean War , the First World War , and during the Second World War.- Napoleonic Wars :...

 of the British Expeditionary Force
British Expeditionary Force (World War II)
The British Expeditionary Force was the British force in Europe from 1939–1940 during the Second World War. Commanded by General Lord Gort, the BEF constituted one-tenth of the defending Allied force....

 in France
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

 in 1940, returning to England via Dunkirk. It remained in Britain until 1943, leaving to take part in the Tunisia Campaign
Tunisia Campaign
The Tunisia Campaign was a series of battles that took place in Tunisia during the North African Campaign of the Second World War, between Axis and Allied forces. The Allies consisted of British Imperial Forces, including Polish and Greek contingents, with American and French corps...

, the Italian Campaign
Italian Campaign (World War II)
The Italian Campaign of World War II was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war in Europe. Joint Allied Forces Headquarters AFHQ was operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the Mediterranean theatre, and it planned and commanded the...

 and the Greek Civil War
Greek Civil War
The Greek Civil War was fought from 1946 to 1949 between the Greek governmental army, backed by the United Kingdom and United States, and the Democratic Army of Greece , the military branch of the Greek Communist Party , backed by Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Albania...

 that broke out after the German withdrawal in 1944.

The 2nd Battalion was part of the garrison of Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

 during its protracted siege. It then formed part of the 234th Infantry Brigade
234th Infantry Brigade (United Kingdom)
-History:The 234th Infantry Brigade was a British Army Infantry Brigade created on 1 April 1943 from the 4th Infantry Brigade, which had garrisoned the island during its siege by air and sea by the Axis powers. The unit was formed as the main British military force of the operation to capture the...

 in the abortive assault
Dodecanese Campaign
The Dodecanese Campaign of World War II was an attempt by Allied forces, mostly British, to capture the Italian-held Dodecanese islands in the Aegean Sea following the surrender of Italy in September 1943, and use them as bases against the German-controlled Balkans...

 on the Italian-held Dodecanese
Dodecanese
The Dodecanese are a group of 12 larger plus 150 smaller Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, of which 26 are inhabited. Τhis island group generally defines the eastern limit of the Sea of Crete. They belong to the Southern Sporades island group...

 islands in 1943, being captured by the Germans on the island of Leros
Leros
Leros is a Greek island and municipality in the Dodecanese in the southern Aegean Sea. It lies 317 km from Athens's port of Piraeus, from which it can be reached by an 11-hour ferry ride . Leros is part of the Kalymnos peripheral unit...

. It was reconstituted in 1944 by redesignation of the 7th Battalion.

Other hostilities-only battalions of the Regiment fought in North Africa, notably at El Alamein
Second Battle of El Alamein
The Second Battle of El Alamein marked a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. The battle took place over 20 days from 23 October – 11 November 1942. The First Battle of El Alamein had stalled the Axis advance. Thereafter, Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery...

 and Alam el Halfa, and in Burma
Burma Campaign
The Burma Campaign in the South-East Asian Theatre of World War II was fought primarily between British Commonwealth, Chinese and United States forces against the forces of the Empire of Japan, Thailand, and the Indian National Army. British Commonwealth land forces were drawn primarily from...

.

Post-war


The 2nd Battalion was disbanded in 1948 (nominally being amalgamated with the 1st Battalion).

From 1951-1954, the sole remaining Battalion contributed to the security forces that successfully contained the Communist guerrilla uprising
Malayan Emergency
The Malayan Emergency was a guerrilla war fought between Commonwealth armed forces and the Malayan National Liberation Army , the military arm of the Malayan Communist Party, from 1948 to 1960....

 in Malaya
Federation of Malaya
The Federation of Malaya is the name given to a federation of 11 states that existed from 31 January 1948 until 16 September 1963. The Federation became independent on 31 August 1957...

. Less happily, it was involved in the militarily successful, but politically disastrous, occupation of the Suez canal zone
Suez Crisis
The Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning on 29 October 1956. Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel,...

 in 1956. It then took part in the campaign in Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 against EOKA
EOKA
EOKA was an anticolonial, antiimperialist nationalist organisation with the ultimate goal of "The liberation of Cyprus from the British yoke". Although not stated in its initial declaration of existence which was printed and distributed on the 1st of April 1955, EOKA also had a target of achieving...

 guerrillas.

In 1959, it returned to Britain for the last time, being amalgamated in 1961 with the The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment), to form The Queen's Own Buffs, Royal Kent Regiment.

In Popular Culture


The Home Guard
British Home Guard
The Home Guard was a defence organisation of the British Army during the Second World War...

 platoon in the BBC series Dad's Army
Dad's Army
Dad's Army is a British sitcom about the Home Guard during the Second World War. It was written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft and broadcast on BBC television between 1968 and 1977. The series ran for 9 series and 80 episodes in total, plus a radio series, a feature film and a stage show...

wore the cap badge
Cap badge
A cap badge, also known as head badge or hat badge, is a badge worn on uniform headgear and distinguishes the wearer's nationality and/or organisation. The wearing of cap badges is a convention commonly found among military and police forces, as well as uniformed civilian groups such as the Boy...

of the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

Battle Honours


Combined battle honours of 50th Regiment and 97th Regiment, plus:
  • Egypt 1882, Nile 1884-85, South Africa 1900-02
  • The Great War (18 battalions): Mons, Le Cateau, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914, La Bassée, Messines 1914 '17, Ypres 1914 '15 '17 '18, Hill 60, Gravenstafel, St. Julien, Frezenberg, Loos, Somme 1916 '18, Albert 1916 '18, Bazentin, Delville Wood, Pozières, Guillemont, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, Thiepval, Le Transloy, Ancre Heights, Ancre 1916 '18, Arras 1917 '18, Vimy 1917, Scarpe 1917, Oppy, Pilckem, Langemarck 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917 '18, St. Quentin, Rosières, Avre, Villers Bretonneux, Lys, Hazebrouck, Kemmel, Amiens, Bapaume 1918, Hindenburg Line, Épéhy, Canal du Nord, St. Quentin Canal, Courtrai, Selle, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914-18, Italy 1917-18, Suvla, Landing at Suvla, Scimitar Hill, Gallipoli 1915, Rumani, Egypt 1915-16, Gaza, El Mughar, Jerusalem, Jericho, Tell 'Asur, Palestine 1917-18, Defence of Kut al Amara, Sharqat, Mesopotamia 1915-18
  • Afghanistan 1919
  • The Second World War: Defence of Escaut, Forêt de Nieppe, North-West Europe 1940, Alam el Halfa, El Alamein, Djebel Abiod, Djebel Azzag 1942, Oued Zarga, Djebel Ang, Medjez Plain, Longstop Hill 1943, Si Abdallah, North Africa 1942-43, Centuripe, Monte Rivoglia, Sicily 1943, Termoli, San Salvo, Sangro, Romagnoli, Impossible Bridge, Villa Grande, Cassino, Castle Hill, Liri Valley, Piedimonte Hill, Trasimene Line, Arezzo, Advance to Florence, Monte Scalari, Casa fortis, Rimini Line, Savio Bridgehead, Monte Pianoereno, Monte Spaduro, Senio, Argenta Gap, Italy 1943-45, Greece 1944-45, Leros, Malta 1940-42, North Arakan, Razabil, Mayu Tunnels, Defence of Kohima, Taungtha, Sittang 1945, Burma 1943-45

External links