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Unit History: Essex Regiment

Essex Regiment The Regiment was officially formed in 1881 when the 44th and 56th Regiments of Foot were merged as part of the Childers Reforms but it can trace its history back over 100 years prior to this date.

The 44th was first formed in 1741 by Colonel James Long of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards (later the Grenadier Guards) initially as Long’s Regiment of Foot. It was its first action in 1745 when Bonnie Prince Charlie (the grandson of James II) landed in Scotland, attempting to regain the crown to the Stuart family and the Regiment fought at the Battle of Prestonpans. In 1751 the Regimental naming system was simplified to the ranked order of precedence and the Regiment was ranked as the 44th Regiment of Foot. The 44th went on to serve in North America during American War of Independence (1775-1783) fighting at the Battles of Brooklyn, Brandywine and Monmouth.

In 1782 all British Regiments without Royal titles were awarded county titles in order to aid recruitment from that region and the Regiment became the 44th (East Essex) Regiment of Foot. The Regiment served in the War of 1812 (1812–1815) which was a 32-month military conflict between Britain and the United States resolving many issues which remained from the American War of Independence. During the Napoleonic Wars (1792-1815) the Regiment fought at the Battles of Fuentes de Onoro, Salamanca, Quatre Bras, the Siege of Badajoz and the Battle of Waterloo (1815). The 44th also served during the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824-1826) as part of the Honourable East India Company Regiments fighting at Arakan. There were very few casualties incurred through fighting but during the rainy season barely a single man was fit for duty due to illness. The Regiment also served during the disastrous First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-1842), famously fighting down at the village of Gandamak with very few survivors. During the Crimean War (1853-1855) the 44th fought at the Battles of Alma; Inkermann: Sevastopol. It then went on to serve in China during the Second Opium War (1857-1862) fighting at the capture of Taku Forts and remained on garrison duties in Shanghai and Hong Kong until 1861 when it embarked for India.

The 56th was first formed in 1755 by Lord Charles Manners initially as the 58th Regiment of Foot but re-titled as the 56th a year later. After seven years on garrison duties on the home front the Regiment finally saw its first action in 1762 during the Seven Wars War (1754–1763) when it was deployed to the West Indies to capture the Spanish fortress of Moro in Havana and the city surrendered shortly afterwards and remained garrisoned there until 1763. The Regiment was garrisoned at Gibraltar in 1779 when Spain declared war on Britain and laid siege to Gibraltar. In 1783 the Regiment was awarded a county title and became the 56th (West Essex) Regiment of Foot and remained on garrison duties in Scotland and Ireland until 1793.

The Regiment returned to the West Indies during the French Revolutionary Wars (1792–1802) fighting at the capture of Martinique, St. Lucia, Guadeloupe and remained garrisoned there for a year, suffering greatly from disease, all fit men were transferred to other Regiments and a small cadre of officers returned to England in 1795. In 1799 the Regiment was part of the Helder Campaign during the War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802) and took part in the Battle of Schoorl-Oudkarspel, Bergen and Egmont-op-Zee. The campaign had two objectives: to neutralize the Batavian fleet and to promote an uprising against the Batavian government. The Anglo-Russian forces brokered a deal in order to be able to evacuate from the peninsula after defeat at the Battle of Castricum (1799). During the Napoleonic Wars the Regiment was in stationed in India and harassed French trading ships as well as capturing Mauritius in 1810 (the last remaining French territory in the Indian Ocean) where it remained on garrison duties there until 1826. The Regiment went also served during the Crimean War fighting at Sevastopol.

In 1881 the 44th and 56th were amalgamated as part of the Childers Reforms restructured the British army infantry Regiments into a network of multi-battalion Regiments of two regular and two militia battalions, to become the Essex Regiment The Regiment went on to serve during the Boer War (1899-1902) fighting at the Relief of Ladysmith. The Regiment also served during the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) and were stationed in County Cork engaged in suppressing the IRA which put a bounty of £1000 (a significant amount at the time) on the Colonel of the Regiment Lieutenant General Arthur Ernest Percival. The Regiment also served during two World Wars. In 1958 the Regiment was merged with the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment to form the 3rd East Anglian Regiment. In 1964 it was further merged with The Royal Leicester Regiment, The Norfolk and Suffolk Regiments, The Duchess of Gloucester’s Own Lincolnshire Regiment and the Northampton Regiment to form the Royal Anglian Regiment.

Essex Regiment during WW2

WW2 Battalions of The Essex Regiment
1st Battalion:
It served in the Sudan, Iraz, Syria, at Tobruk and in Assam and Burma.
November 1941 & 1944: The most striking episodes being the epic struggle for Ed Duda during the successful break-out from Tobruk and the expeditions as "Chindits" behind the Japanese lines in Assam and Burma

2nd Battalion:
September 1939: Battalion moved to France.
May 1940: They took part in the retreat and withdrawal from Dunkirk.
June 1944: They again landed on D Day and fought through without respite.
May, 1945: To the final surrender of Germany

1/4th (TA) Battalion:
The Battalion gave distinguished service in North Africa, Italy and Greece. They took part in the Battle of El Alamein and in the final battles which led to the surrender of the Axis forces in Africa. In Italy the Battalion played a crucial role in the Battle of Monte Cassino.

1/5th Essex (TA) Battalion:
1943-44: The Battalion was involved in some of the worse fighting in the Italian Campaign at the crossing of the Trigno and Sangro Rivers. It was involved in the final stages of the fighting in North-West Germany.

The 2/5th Essex (TA) Battalion:
July 1942: The Battalion was overwhelmed at Deir-El-Shein but all ranks have the satisfaction of knowing that the delay their resistance caused Rommel's Africa Korps was an essential factor in gaining time for the withdrawing Eight Army to reorganize and stand on the Alamein Line.

8th, 9th and 10th Essex Battalions:
They were raised during wartime were converted to armoured, artillery and parachute troops respectively.
1944-45: They took part in the campaign in North-West Europe

Essex Regiment during WW1

Since 1815 the balance of power in Europe had been maintained by a series of treaties. In 1888 Wilhelm II was crowned ‘German Emperor and King of Prussia’ and moved from a policy of maintaining the status quo to a more aggressive position. He did not renew a treaty with Russia, aligned Germany with the declining Austro-Hungarian Empire and started to build a Navy rivalling that of Britain. These actions greatly concerned Germany’s neighbours, who quickly forged new treaties and alliances in the event of war. On 28th June 1914 Franz Ferdinand the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was assassinated by the Bosnian-Serb nationalist group Young Bosnia who wanted pan-Serbian independence. Franz Joseph's the Austro-Hungarian Emperor (with the backing of Germany) responded aggressively, presenting Serbia with an intentionally unacceptable ultimatum, to provoke Serbia into war. Serbia agreed to 8 of the 10 terms and on the 28th July 1914 the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, producing a cascade effect across Europe. Russia bound by treaty to Serbia declared war with Austro-Hungary, Germany declared war with Russia and France declared war with Germany. Germany’s army crossed into neutral Belgium in order to reach Paris, forcing Britain to declare war with Germany (due to the Treaty of London (1839) whereby Britain agreed to defend Belgium in the event of invasion). By the 4th August 1914 Britain and much of Europe were pulled into a war which would last 1,566 days, cost 8,528,831 lives and 28,938,073 casualties or missing on both sides.

The Regiment raised 30 Battalions and was awarded 62 Battle Honours and 1 Victoria Crosse, losing 8,860 men during the course of the war.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Mauritius.
Dec 1914 Returned to England and moved to Harwich, Essex.
18.01.1915 Moved to Banbury to join the 88th Brigade of the 29th Division.
05.03.1915 Moved to Warwick.
21.03.1915 Embarked at for Gallipoli from Avonmouth via Alexandria and Mudros.
25.04.1915 Landed at Gallipoli and engaged in various actions against the Turkish Army including;
1915
First Battle of Krithia, the Second Battle of Krithia, the Third Battle of Krithia, the Battle of Gully Ravine, the Battle of Krithia Vineyard, the Battle of Scimitar Hill.
08.01.1916 Evacuated from Gallipoli to Egypt due to severe casualties from combat, disease and harsh weather.
16.03.1916 Embarked for France from Alexandria arriving at Marseilles and the Division engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of the Transloy Ridges,
1917
The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Second Battle of the Scarpe, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Langemarck, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle, The Battle of Cambrai.
04.02.1918 Transferred to the 112th Brigade of the 37th Division;
1918
The Battle of the Ancre, The Battle of the Albert, The Battle of Havrincourt, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The Battle of Cambrai, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of the Sambre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Bethencourt N.W. of Le Cateau, France.

2nd Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Chatham as part of the 12th Brigade of the 4th Division and then moved to Cromer, Norwich and Harrow.
24.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre, transferring to the 12th Brigade of the 36th Division.
05.11.1915 – 03.02.1916 attached to the 109th Brigade of the same Division, initially concentrated around Flesselles and attached to the 4th Division for trench familiarisation and training.
03.02.1916 Returned to the 12th Brigade, Division took over the front line section between the River Ancre and the Mailly-Maillet to Serre road and engaged in various actions including;
The Battle of Albert.
1917
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Langemarck, The Cambrai Operations, The capture of Bourlon Wood.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Actions at the Somme Crossings, The Battle of Rosieres, The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Bailleul, The First Battle of Kemmel Ridge, The Battle of Ypres, The Battle of Courtrai, The action of Ooteghem.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Artres south of Valenciennes, France.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Warley and then moved to Harwich.
Mar 1916 Moved to Felixstowe.

1/4th & 1/5th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 The 1/4th stationed at Brentwood and the 1/5th stationed at Chelmsford both as part of the Essex Brigade of the East Anglian Division and then moved to Norwich.
April 1915 Moved to Colchester and the formation became the 161st Brigade of the 54th Division and then moved to At Albans.
21.07.1915 Embarked for the Mediterranean from Devonport via Lemnos.
12.08.1915 Landed at Suvla Bay and engaged in various actions against the Turkish Army.
04.12.1915 Evacuated from Gallipoli to Mudros due to severe casualties from combat, disease and harsh weather.
17.12.1915 Deployed to Alexandria;
1916
Suez Canal Defence
1917
The First Battle of Gaza, The Second Battle of Gaza, The Third Battle of Gaza, The Capture of Gaza, The Battle of Jaffa.
1918
The fight at Ras el'Ain, The operations at Berukin, The Battle of Sharon.

31.10.1918 Ended the war near Beirut, Palestine.

1/6th & 1/7th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 The 1/6th stationed at West Ham and the 1/7th stationed at Walthamstow both as part of the Essex Brigade of the East Anglian Division and then moved to Norwich.
April 1915 Moved to Colchester and the formation became the 161st Brigade of the 54th Division and then moved to At Albans.
21.07.1915 Embarked for the Mediterranean from Devonport, Plymouth via Lemnos.
12.08.1915 Landed at Suvla Bay and engaged in various actions against the Turkish Army.
04.12.1915 Evacuated from Gallipoli to Mudros due to severe casualties from combat, disease and harsh weather.
17.12.1915 Deployed to Alexandria
1916
Suez Canal Defence
1917
The First Battle of Gaza, The Second Battle of Gaza, The Third Battle of Gaza, The Capture of Gaza, The Battle of Jaffa.
1918
The fight at Ras el'Ain, The operations at Berukin, The Battle of Sharon.
31.10.1918 Ended the war near Beirut, Palestine.

1/8th (Cyclist) Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Colchester and then moved to Essex and stationed at H.Q. at Wivenhoe.
Jan 1917 Moved to Southminster attached to the 73rd Division.
Oct 1917 Moved to Margate.
Feb 1918 Moved to Ireland at Enniskillen.
Mar 1918 Moved to Curragh then Tulla Co. Clare.
Oct 1918 Moved to Naas Co. Kildare.

2/4th Battalion Territorial Force
Oct 1914 Formed at Brentwood and then moved to Stamford as part of the 206th Brigade of the 69th Division.
Jan 1915 Moved to Yarmouth and then Thetford.
Dec 1915 Disbanded.

2/5th & 2/6th Battalion Territorial Force
Oct 1914 The 2/5th formed at Chelmsford.
Nov 1914 The 2/6th formed at West Ham and then both moved to Peterborough as part of the 206th Brigade of the 69th Division and then Thetford.
July 1916 Moved to Harrogate.
April 1917 Moved to Welbeck and then Middlesbrough.
Mar 1918 Disbanded.

2/7th Battalion Territorial Force
Nov 1914 Formed at Walthamstow and then moved to Peterborough as part of the 206th Brigade of the 69th Division and then Thetford.
July 1916 Moved to Harrogate.
April 1917 Moved to Welbeck.
10.10.1917 Moved to Ramsgate and transferred to the 201st brigade of the 67th Division
Mar 1918 Disbanded.

2/8th (Cyclist) Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Colchester.
Mar 1915 Moved to Great Clacton and then moved to Mistley & Manningtree.
Aug 1916 Moved to Foxhall Heath, Ipswich and then Faversham.
April 1917 Moved to Little Clacton and then Hollesley Bay, Suffolk.
April 1918 Moved to Bawdsey attached to the 67th Division.

3/4th 3/5th 3/6th & 3/7th Battalion Territorial Force
May 1915 Formed at Brentwood, Chelmsford, West Ham & Walthamstow and then moved to Windsor Great Park.
Oct 1915 Moved to Halton Park.
08.04.1916 Became the 4th 5th 6th & 7th Reserve Battalions.
01.09.1916 The 4th absorbed the rest as part of the East Anglian Reserve Battalion.
Aug 1917 Moved to Crowborough.
Aug 1918 Moved to Hastings.

3/8th (Cyclist) Battalion Territorial Force
April 1915 Formed at Colchester.
April 1916 Disbanded.

9th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 Formed at Warley and then moved to Shorncliffe as part of the 35th Brigade of the 12th Division.
Mar 1915 Moved to Blenheim Barracks, Aldershot.
31.05.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1915
The Battle of Loos.
1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Pozieres, The Battle of Le Transloy.
1917
The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Arleux, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Cambrai operations.
1918
The Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras 1918, The Battle of Amiens, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Epehy, The Final Advance in Artois.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Hergnies east of Orchies, France.

10th (Service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Warley and then moved to Shorncliffe as part of the 53rd Brigade of the 18th Division and then moved to Colchester.
Mar 1915 Moved to Codford St. Mary.
26.07.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin Ridge, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Thiepval Ridge, The Battle of the Ancre Heights, The Battle of the Ancre.
1917
Operations on the Ancre, The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, The Battle of Langemarck, First Battle of Passchendaele, The Second Battle of Passchendaele.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of the Avre, The actions of Villers-Brettoneux, The Battle of Amiens, The Battle of Albert, The Second Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Epehy, The Battle of the St Quentin Canal, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of the Sambre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Le Cateau, France.

11th (Service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Warley as part of the Third New Army (K3) and then moved to Shoreham to join the 71st Brigade of the 24th Division.
Jan 1915 Moved to Brighton and then back to Shoreham and then Blackdown.
30.08.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne.
11.10.1915 Transferred to the 71st Brigade of the 6th Division.
27.10.1915 Transferred to the 18th Brigade of the 6th Division and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1916
The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval, The Battle of Le Transloy.
1917
The Battle of Hill 70, The Cambrai operations
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bailleul, The First Battle of Kemmel Ridge, The Second Battle of Kemmel Ridge, The Advance in Flanders, The Battle of Epehy, The Battle of the St Quentin Canal, The Battle of Beaurevoir, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle.
11.11.1918 ended the war at Becquigny north of Bohain, France.

12th (Reserve) Battalion
26.10.1914 Formed at Harwich as a service battalion of the Fourth New Army (K4) as part of the 106th Brigade of the 35th Division.
Jan 1915 Moved to White City, London.
10.04.1915 Became the 2nd Reserve Battalion and then moved to Colchester.
Mar 1916 Moved back to Harwich as part of the 6th Reserve Brigade.
01.09.1916 Absorbed into the Training Reserve Battalion.

13th (Service) Battalion (West Ham)
27.12.1914 Formed by the Mayor and the Borough at West Ham and then moved to Brentwood.
01.07.1915 Taken over by the War Office and the then moved to Clipstone as part of the 100th Brigade of the 33rd Division and then moved to Perham Down, Salisbury Plain.
17.11.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne
22.12.1915 Transferred to the 6th Brigade of the 2nd Division and moved to Bethune and engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
1916
The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of the Ancre, Operations on the Ancre.
1917
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Arleux, The Second Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Cambrai.
10.02.1918 Disbanded in France.

14th (Reserve) Battalion
Sept 1915 Formed as a local Reserve Battalion from the depot companies of the 13th Battalion at Brentwood.
July 1915 Moved to Cambridge and then to Colchester as part of the 23rd Reserve Brigade.
Jan 1916 Moved to Northampton and then Tweseldown, Aldershot.
01.09.1916 became the 98th Training Reserve Battalion of the 23rd Reserve Brigade.

15th Battalion Territorial Force
01.01.1917 Formed at Yarmouth from the 65th Provisional Battalion as part of the 225th Brigade.
27.04.1918 Became a Garrison Guard Battalion.
May 1918 Mobilised for war and landed in France.
12.05.1918 Transferred to the 177th Brigade of the 59th Division
16.07.1918 The title of ‘Garrison’ dropped and engaged in various actions including;
The general final advance in Artois and Flanders
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Grand Rejet north of Tournai, Belgium.

16th Battalion Territorial Force
01.01.1917 Formed at Fleet from the 66th Provisional Battalion as part of the 213th Brigade of the 77th Division.
Mar 1917 Moved to Colchester.
Dec 1917 Disbanded.

17th Battalion Territorial Force
01.01.1917 Formed at Sheringham from the 67th Provisional Battalion as part of the 223rd Brigade.
July 1917 Moved to Weybourne where it remained.

18th (Home service) Battalion
27.04.1918 formed at Yarmouth to replace the 15th Battalion of the 225th Brigade.

1st Garrison Battalion
21.07.1915 Formed at Denham, Buckingham
24.08.1915 Embarked for Gallipoli from Devonport via Mudros arriving 03.09.1915
Feb 1916 Evacuated from Gallipoli to Egypt due to severe casualties from combat, disease and harsh weather.
Remained in Egypt until the end of the war.

2nd Garrison Battalion
Jan 1916 Formed at Halton Park and then deployed to India where it remained.

Forces Reunited Gallery Images Matching Essex Regiment

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Memories of Essex Regiment

(Memories written by members of Forces Reunited)

Essex Regiment, Korea Support comp: in 1954

Irecieved a letter from my wife saying she asked th BBC to send a request record over to Korea.I went to the signals tent and he found the channel and I heard it. Thank you who ever it was. Ron

Essex Regiment, in 2012

Written by keith bolter [brummie]

MY MEMORY IS BEING DECLARED UNFIT DUE TO EAR INFECTION AND GOING TO SEE THE M O AND HAVING MY EAR SYRINGED , AND IT RESULTED MY EAR DRUM BEING BURST .I WAS JUST COMING UP TO PASSING OUT PARADE. AND I MISSED MY FRIEND. MY FRIENDS NAME WAS RICHARD [DICK] CANT RECALL HIS SURNAME ,BUT I KNOW HE LIVED IN STRATFORD LONDONJ BECAUSE HE USED TO GO WITH HIM AT WEEKENDS, BECAUSE I COULD NOT AFFORD MY RAIL FARE HOME I CAME FROM BIRMINGHAM [BRUMMIE] IF ANYONE CAN RECALL ME AND RICHARDS SURNAME ID BE MUCH OBLIGED .THANK YOU KEITH BOLTER [BRUMMIE]

Forces Reunited Forum Posts Involving Essex Regiment

"Not sure if anyone can help me, but I have a small dilema... My so called father served 1952-1955 Essex Regiment Germany, Korea, Hongkong.. What I am trying to do is to find out if he really was my father, I have his service records which states his "leave" dates etc. However, I am not sure if he came back to England during the time I was conceived, as there is no record of this in his service record book... Could it have been possible for him to have done so and it not been inserted as the..."
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"...George was a man well known to me A mild and gentle man He was my brother in law you see And when WW2 began He like most young men enlisted In the Army to fight the foe Not ever knowing for sure To which part of the world he would go He joined the Essex Regiment But wasn’t there for long He was transferred to the Suffolk’s And on a large troopship ‘fore long However before he bad his Wife goodbye He was told he was going to be a Dad And this was to stand him in good stead When his future..."
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"Hello there. Any of you guys out there serve in the 2nd Battalion the Essex regiment in Holland during WW2? "
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"...Light Infantry 33rd Foot the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment 40th Foot later the South Lancashire Regiment subsequently the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment 42nd Highlanders subsequently the Black Watch (the Royal Highland Regiment) 44th Foot later the Essex Regiment subsequently the Royal Anglian Regiment 51st Light Infantry later the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry subsequently the Light Infantry 52nd Light Infantry later the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry subsequently the Royal..."
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"...Posted to 19th Battilion 24.07.40 Posted to 17th Battilion 04.08.41 Attached to 6th Battilion Black Watch 27.11.41 Ceased to be attached 29.05.41 Posted to 12th Battilion 09.05.42 Posted to Headquaters Company 29.01.43 Permantly attached to 2/4th Essex Regiment 18.11.44 Posted to 8th Battilion 27.04.45 Release to the Army Reserve 23.08.46 Although it says my father enlisted in the Royal Fusiliers and I can see he was in many different battilions, it’s the "permantly attached to the Essex..."
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Active From: 1881 - 1958

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