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Unit History: South Staffordshire Regiment

South Staffordshire Regiment The Regiment was officially formed in 1881 when the 38th and 80th Foot were merged as part of the Childers Reforms but the Regiment can trace its history back over a hundred years earlier than this.

The 38th was first raised in1705 during the War of the Spanish Succession by Colonel Luke Lillingston at the Kings Head Tavern in Lichfield. As was the tradition at the time the Regiment was named after the current Colonel and became 'Lillingston's Regiment'. The Regiment was swiftly sent to serve in the West Indies in 1707. It was based in Antigua to defend The British Leeward Islands from the French as well as pirates and remained there until 1764, which is the longest overseas posting ever recorded for the British Army. The ‘Holland Patch’ worn behind the cap badge commemorates this period, when resupply was difficult and the men were forced to wear local sugar sacking. In 1751 the Regimental naming system was simplified with each Regiment assigned a rank number therefore, the Regiment became The 38th of Foot. It was soon engaged in action again at the battle of Gaudaloupe, and the capture of Martinique and then moved on to serve in The American War of Independence and fought at Lexington and Bunker Hill as well as in the New York Campaign of 1776. In 1772 county titles were added to Regimental names in order to aid recruitment from that area, so the 38th became the 38th (Staffordshire) of Foot. The Regiment went on to serve during the Napoleonic Wars, South Africa, in South America at Montevideo, the Peninsular War, The First Burmese War, The Crimea fighting at the Siege of Sevastopol and The final capture of Lucknow (1858).

In 1881 as part of the Childers Reforms the 38th was merged with the 80th Regiment of Foot (Staffordshire Volunteers) to become The South Staffordshire Regiment. The 80th was first raised in 1793 during the French Revolutionary War by Lord Henry Paget, the first Marques of Anglesey. The Regiment was swiftly put into action in Flanders and Holland (1794-95) and then participated in an expedition to the Cape of Good Hope and then it was part of a force to expel Napoleon from Egypt in 1801. In 1836 The 80th escorted convicts to Australia and remained in the region for 9 years, it then moved to India to serve the Honourable East India Company during the First Sikh War. It then went on to serve during the second Burmese war (1852-53), the Zulu Wars (1879) fighting at The Battle of Isandlwala.

After 1881 the Newly formed South Staffordshire Regiment went on to serve in Egypt in 1885 as part of an unsuccessful attempt to lift the Siege of Khartoum and went on to defeated Arab forces at Kirbekan. It also served during the Second Boer War, in southern India and Burma until 1907, and then a four-year posting in Pretoria, South Africa. The Regiment went through further amalgamations in 1959 the South Staffordshire was merged with the North Staffordshire Regiment (The Prince of Wales's) to form ‘The Staffordshire Regiment (The Prince of Wales's)’. In 2005 the Regiments of Cheshire, Worcestershire & Sherwood Foresters, Staffordshire and West Midlands & Kings Cheshire were amalgamated to become the Mercia Regiment.

South Staffordshire 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 a total of 18 battalions and was awarded 66 battle honours, 3 Victoria Crosses and lost 6,357 men during the course of the war.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa at the outbreak of war.
27.08.1914 Embarked for England from Capetown landing at Southampton 19.09.1914 and joining the 22nd Brigade of the 7th Division and moved to Lyndhurst.
07.10.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Zeebrugge and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1914
The First Battle of Ypres
During 1915
The Battle of Neuve Chapelle, The Battle of Aubers, The Battle of Festubert, The second action of Givenchy, The Battle of Loos.
20.12.1915 Transferred to the 91st Brigade of the 7th Division.
During 1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin and the attacks on High Wood, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Guillemont, Operations on the Ancre.
During 1917
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Arras offensive, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle, The Second Battle of Passchendaele.
18.11.1917 Moved to Italy to strengthen the Italian resistance against the Austria-Hungary forces and engaged in various actions including;
The crossing the Piave and the Battle of Vittoria Veneto.
14.11.1918 Ended the war in Italy, west of Udine.

2nd Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Aldershot as part of the 6th Brigade of the 2nd Division.
13.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
During 1914
The Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, First Battle of Ypres.
During 1915
Winter Operations 1914-15, The Battle of Festubert, The Battle of Loos.
During 1916
The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of the Ancre, Operations on the Ancre,
During 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.
During 1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras 1918, The Battle of Albert, The Second Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Havrincourt, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The Battle of the Selle.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Amfroipret north of Foret de Mormal.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Lichfield and then moved to Plymouth.
May 1915 Moved to Sunderland and then Forest Hall, Newcastle where it remained.

4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Lichfield and then moved to Jersey.
Sept 1916 Moved to Marske and then Redcar.
June 1917 Moved to Canterbury and joined the 67th Division.
10.10.1917 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre joining the 7th Brigade of the 25th Division which engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The First Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Bailleul, The First Battle of Kemmel, The Second Battle of Kemmel, The Battle of the Aisne.
22.06.1918 Transferred to the 25th Composite Brigade of the 50th Division
11.07.1918 Reduced to training cadre and joined the 116th Brigade of the 39th Division
06.11.1918 Disbanded in France.

1/5th and 1/6th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 The 1/5th stationed at Walsall and the 1/6th stationed at Wolverhampton, both as part of the Staffordshire Brigade of the North Midland Division and then moved to the Luton area and then to Bishops Stortford area.
03.03.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre where the formation became the 137th Brigade of the 46th Division and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1915
The German liquid fire attack at Hooge, The attack at the Hohenzollern Redoubt.
Jan 1916 Moved to Egypt
Feb 1916 Returned to France and once again engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1916
The diversionary attack at Gommecourt.
During 1917
Operations on the Ancre, Occupation of the Gommecourt defences, The attack on Rettemoy Graben, The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The attack on Lievin, The Battle of Hill 70.
During 1918
The Battle of the St Quentin canal, The Battle of the Beaurevoir Line, The Battle of Cambrai, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of Sambre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Sains du Nord S.E. of Avesnes.

2/5th Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Walsall and joined the 176th Brigade of the 59th Division and then moved to the Luton area.
July 1915 Moved to St. Albans.
April 1916 Moved to Ireland in Dublin and then Curragh to assist in quelling troubles.
Jan 1917 Moved to Fovant, Salisbury Plan.
25.02.1917 Mobilised for war and landed in Havre and the Division engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The capture of Bourlon Wood.
30.01.1918 Disbanded in France.

2/6th Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Wolverhampton and joined the 176th Brigade of the 59th Division and then moved to the Luton area.
July 1915 Moved to St. Albans.
April 1916 Moved to Ireland in Dublin and then Curragh to assist in quelling troubles.
Jan 1917 Moved to Fovant, Salisbury Plan.
25.02.1917 Mobilised for war and landed in Havre and the Division engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The capture of Bourlon Wood.
During 1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Bailleul, The First Battle of Kemmel Ridge.
09.05.1918 Reduced to Training cadre and transferred to the 66th Division
31.07.1918 Disbanded in France with remaining personnel to the 1/6th Battalion.

3/5th and 3/6th Battalion Territorial Force
1915 Formed
April 1916 Moved to Catterick and became the 5th and 6th Reserve Battalions.
01.09.1916 Amalgamated to form the 5th Reserve Battalion.
Mar 1917 Moved to Lincoln and then on to Mablethorpe.
1918 Moved back to Lincoln and then to Sutton-on-Sea and then back to Mablethorpe as part of the North Midland Reserve Brigade.

7th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 Formed at Lichfield as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Grantham to join the 33rd Brigade of the 11th Division.
April 1915 Moved to Frensham.
July 1915 Mobilised for war and embarked for Gallipoli from Liverpool.
07.08.1915 Landed at Gallipoli and engaged the Turkish forces in various actions.
Dec 1915 Evacuated to Imbros due to heavy losses from combat, disease and severe weather.
Feb 1916 Moved to Egypt to defend the Suez Canal.
July 1916 Moved to France and the Division engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1916
The capture of the Wundt-Werk (Wonder Work), The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Thiepval.
During 1917
Operations on the Ancre, The Battle of Messines, The Battle of the Langemarck, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle.
During 1918
The Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of the Drocourt-Quant Line, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Sambre including the passage of the Grand Honelle.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium, south of Mons.

8th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 Formed at Lichfield as part of the Second New Army (K2) and then moved to Wareham to join the 51st Brigade of the 17th Division and then moved to Lulworth and Wool.
June 1915 Moved to Winchester.
14.07.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and the Division engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Delville Wood.
During 1917
The First and Second Battles of the Scarpe, The Capture of Roeux, The First and Second Battles of Passchendaele.
23.02.1918 Disbanded in France and remaining personnel transferred to the 2/7th and 7th Battalions and the 7th Entrenching Battalion.

9th (Service) Battalion (Pioneers)
Sept 1914 Formed at Lichfield as part of the Third New Army (K3) attached to the 23rd Division and then moved to Aldershot.
Dec 1914 Became a Pioneer Battalion of the 23rd Division.
Mar 1915 Moved to Shorncliffe and then Oxney Park, Bordon.
24.08.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and the Division engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1916
The German Attack on Vimy Ridge, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin Ridge, The Battle of Pozieres, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval, The Battle of Le Transloy.
During 1917
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of the Menin Road, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The First Battle of Passchendaele, The Second Battle of Passchendaele.
Nov 1917 Moved to Italy to strengthen the to strengthen the Italian resistance against the Austria-Hungary forces and engaged in various actions including;
During 1918
The fighting on the Asiago Plateau, The Battle of Vittorio Veneto, The passage of the Piave and the passage of the Monticano.
04.11.1918 Ended the war in Italy, Rorai Grande west of Pardenone.

10th (Reserve) Battalion
Oct 1914 Formed at Plymouth as a service battalion of the Third New Army (K3)
Nov 1914 joined the 99th Brigade of the 33rd Division (part of the K4) and then moved to Tavistock.
10.04.1915 Became a 2nd Reserve Battalion.
May 1915 Moved to Harrogate and then Rugeley, Cannock Chase as part of the 2nd Reserve Brigade.
01.09.1916 Absorbed in into the Training Reserve Battalions of the 2nd Reserve Brigade.

11th (Reserve) Battalion
Oct 1914 Formed at Jersey as a service battalion of the Fourth New Army (K4).
10.04.1915 Became a 2nd Reserve Battalion.
May 1915 Moved to Harrogate and then Rugeley, Cannock Chase as part of the 2nd Reserve Brigade.
01.09.1916 Absorbed in into the Training Reserve Battalions of the 2nd Reserve Brigade.

12th (Labour) Battalion
June 1916 Formed at Brocklesby and then went to France.
July 1916 Part of the Fifth Army Troops.
April 1917 Transferred to the Labour Corps and became the 26th and 27th Labour Companies.

1st Garrison battalion
Jan 1917 Formed at Lichfield and then went to India.

South Staffordshire Regiment during WW2

WW2 Battalions of the South Staffordshire Regiment

1st (Regular) Battalion:
September 1939: The Battalion was sent to Egypt with General Wavell's 30,000
December 1940: Was involved in “Operation Compass”
June 1942: Involved with Field Marshal Montgomery's 8th Army in other major battles in the North African campaign such as Tobruk and El Alemein.
Early in 1944: Was sent to the Far East, to serve as an airlanding unit with the Chindits 2nd Expedition.
March 1944: Landed behind Japanese lines in Burma their objective was to delay Japanese reinforcements that were attempting to stem the British advance in Burma.

2nd (Regular) Battalion:
September 1939: The Battalion was stationed in India.
July 1940: Returned to the UK.
1941: Battalion was selected to convert to an Airlanding unit in the newly forming 1st Airlanding Brigade and started a short association with gliders.
Early 1943: Moved to North Africa.
July 1943: Took part in the invasion of Sicily by air and suffered heavy casualties.
September 1943: They then took part in the invasion of Italy.
Early 1944: Had returned to the UK.
September 1944: Landing in Holland they took part in action of battles ofArnhem and Oosterbeek "Operation Market Garden". They won two Victoria Crosses during the fighting.

1/6th Battalion:
January 1940: The Battalion moved to Aldershot for intensive training and was under Lt/Colonel W. E. (Billy) GIBBONS.
April 1940: Was then sent to France as part of the BEF. Battalion was attached to III Corps, constructing defensive positions and other work in the Bethune area.
May 1940: Battalion moved into Belgium as part of 44th Division.
17 May 1940: They were attacked at around Oudenarde and the River Scheldt line and retired to defences along the River Lys.
23 May 1940: In the area of Courtrai the Battalion was preparing bridges for demolition. That night unit was sent to Neuve Eglise to defend III Corps headquarters.
25 May 1940: The Battalion “C” Company was ordered to Ypres leaving "D" Company to defend III Corps HQ. "D" Company were involved in heavy fighting, one platoon was wiped out by German tanks, the remaining platoons made their way to Dunkirk beach. “C” Company of the Battalion were involved in heavy fighting around Ypres. After hearing Belgium had surrendered to the enemy the Battalion was withdrawn and also made its way towards Dunkirk.
30 May 1940: The Battalion was in reserve to 150 Brigade on the Dunkirk perimeter.
02 June 1940: They were evacuated during the evening.
03 June 1940: Arrived in Folkstone.

Forces Reunited Gallery Images Matching South Staffordshire Regiment

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Memories of South Staffordshire Regiment

(Memories written by members of Forces Reunited)

South Staffordshire Regiment in 2010

Written by William Charles Stanton

I hope somebody can help.My mothers uncle,who named her when she was born,died 6th August 1944.He was in the Battle of Caen we think.He was Warrant Officer Class II (C.S.M.) William Charles Stanton of the South Staffordshire Regiment Unit 2/6th Bn. Service number 2651297. We just wondered if anybody knew him,and if they did,what was he like etc,or of how he may of lost his life.We are planning a trip soon to his war grave in FONTENAY-LE-PESNEL WAR CEMETERY, TESSEL. We would be very interested to know if anyone has any information,thanks.

South Staffordshire Regiment, in 1943

Written by Morry Bassett

any one remember being aboard the ss dutchess of Bedford when we collided with another ship one day out of Gibralter while returning to England from North africa around dec 1943 then going to Woodhall spa camp in Lincolnshire

South Staffordshire Regiment, in 1941

I am looking for information about my Grandad "George Albert Nicholls" who was in the South Staffordshire Regiment/1st Worcestershire Regiment during the second world war. He fought in Africa (Palestine, Sudan, Libya) and was captured by Rommel in at Tubruk in June of 1942 and taken to a prison camp first in Italy and then to STALAG 4 DZ Germany until the end of the war.

South Staffordshire Regiment, in 2012

Written by Dick Stuckey

http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80017865 link to Imperial War Museum taped recording of Burma campaign

Forces Reunited Forum Posts Involving South Staffordshire Regiment

"Hi, I’m trying to find anyone who remembers my Great Uncle Arthur "Doug" Machin, who served in the South Staffordshire Regiment, 5th Bn and was killed in 1944 in France. I’d love to hear from anyone who knew Doug - it would make my Dad’s day as well! Thanks Claire "
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"Hi. I’m looking for information about a lance sergeant Cyril Howen of the South Staffordshire Regiment during the 2nd World War. If anyone has any information about him or if you served in this regiment, I’d be very grateful to hear from you. Thanks. "
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"Quoting: T Howen Hi. I’m looking for information about a lance sergeant Cyril Howen of the South Staffordshire Regiment during the 2nd World War. If anyone has any information about him or if you served in this regiment, I’d be very grateful to hear from you. Thanks. Alright T Howen (sorry to be formal but you didn’t give your christian name), First allow me to say welcome to our motly crew. As you can see I’m exRAF so have no personal knowlage of the South Staff’s, if you go to:- ..."
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"I am Thomas Murphy’s granddaughter and I am trying to find out more about him all I have is that he was a Colour Sargent in the 1st South Staffordshire regiment (on the motorbikes possibly a despatch rider?) in 1928 he was sent with his wife and children to India and was stationed there for 6 1/2 to 7 years. Does anyone have any information on how I can obtain more information on him FINGERS CROSSED SOMEONE OUT THERE CAN HELP. Lorraine Murphy "
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"...that the roof leaks. Ayli notices that Aynuk has put a wire netting roof on the pen, No wonder it leaks says Ayli yo ay put no slope on it. Dave Clark Shropshire (Ex Coseley) During the war, a British General visited an Army Hospital of the South Staffordshire Regiment. Sensing a doom and gloom atmosphere he tried to rally the men by asking "Now you men didn’t come here to die did you?" To which Aynuk and Ayli replied " Na sur, way booth coomd ere yesterdie." Grahame Newman What do..."
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Active From: 1881 - 1959

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