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Unit History: Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)

Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) The Regiment was first raised in 1755 during the tensions of the Seven Years’ War (1756-63), initially numbered as the 52nd Regiment of Foot but renumbered as the 50th in 1757 after the existing 50th and 51st Foot were disbanded. It saw little action in the early years; raiding the French coast, posted to Ireland and then Jamaica. Even though it was stationed in New York at the outbreak of the American War of Independence (1775-83) it initially saw no action, having suffered badly from disease, the remaining able men were posted to other Regiments and the officers returned to England to recruit. The Regiment did not see any official action until the Battle of Ushant (1778) during American War of Independence, serving as marines.

In 1782 Regiments without Royal titles were awarded county titles to aid recruitment from that area, therefore the 50th became 50th (West Kent) Regiment of Foot. The Regiment went on to serve during the French Revolutionary Wars (1792-1802), fighting at the battle of Corunna (1809) during the Peninsula War (1808) and then went on to serve as part of the unsuccessful Walcheren expedition (1809) which tried to open another front against the French during the Fifth Coalition War. In 1827 the Regiment was awarded the title of the Duke of Clarence’s and when he ascended to the throne in 1831 as William IV, the Regiment was renamed ‘the Queen’s Own’ after Queen Adelaide.

In 1834 the Regiment sailed to Australia guarding convicts and then served there for seven years. In 1841 the Regiment moved to India until 1848 fighting in the Gwalior campaign and the First Sikh War (1845-46), and then the Crimea War (1854) and then went on to served in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). In 1863 it returned to Australasia to serve in New Zealand fighting in the Maori Wars (1845–72) and then moving to Australia, returning to Britain in 1869.

In 1881 as part of the Childers Reforms the 50th was merged with the 97th (The Earl of Ulster’s) Regiment to form the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment). The Childers Reform restructured the British army infantry Regiments. The reorganization created a network of multi-battalion Regiments each having two regular and two militia battalions except in Ireland were two regular and three militia battalions became the standard. The Regiment went on to serve during the Second Boer War and two World Wars with further amalgamations following. In 1961 the Regiment was merged with East Kent Regiment, to form The Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment and then in 1992 it was amalgamated with The Royal Hampshire Regiment to form The Princesses of Wales's Royal Regiment. In the BBC TV series ‘Dad’s Army’ the Home Guard platoon wore the cap badge of the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

Queen's Own (Royal West Kent 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 during the First World War and was awarded 79 battle honours and 3 Victoria Crosses during the course of the war.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed in Dublin as part of the 13th Bridge of the 5th Division.
15.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1914
The Battle of Mons and subsequent retreat, The Battle of Le Cateau, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, The Battles of La Bassee and Messines 1914, The First Battle of Ypres.
During 1915
The Second Battle of Ypres, the Capture of Hill 60.
During 1916
The Attacks on High Wood, The Battle of Guillemont, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval, The Battle of Le Transloy.
During 1917
The Battle of Vimy, The Attack on La Coulotte, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle, The Second Battle of Passchendaele.
Dec 1917 Moved to Italy arriving at Fontivilla to strengthen the Italian resistance.
April 1918 Returned to France and once again engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1918
The Battle of Hazebrouck, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Drocourt-Queant, The Battle of the Epehy, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Pont sur Sambre S.W. of Maubeuge.

2nd Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Multan at the outbreak of war.
30.01.1915 Embarked for Mesopotamia from Bombay arriving at Basra to join the 12th Indian Brigade.
Nov 1915 Two companies were attached to the 30th Brigade of the 6th Indian Division which was besieged at Kut al Amara and then captured in 29.04.1915.
Jan 1916 The remaining companies transferred to the 34th Brigade o f the 15th Indian Division which engaged in various actions against the Turkish forces including;
Action of As Sahilan, Capture of Ramadi
Aug 1917 the 34th Brigade transferred to the 17th Indian Division which engaged in various actions against the Turkish forces including;
The Action at Fat-ha Gorge, The Battle of Sharqat.
31.10.1918 Ended the war in Mesopotamia, Fattah Gorge on Tirgis north of Tikrit.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Maidstone and then moved to Chatham.
Summer 1918 Moved to Leysdown on the Isle of Sheppey.

1/4th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Tonbridge as part of the Kent Brigade of the Home Counties Division and then moved to Dover, Canterbury and then Sandwich.
30.10.1914 Embarked for India from Southampton where the Division was broken up and remained in India throughout the war.

1/5th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Bromley as part of the Kent Brigade of the Home Counties Division and then moved to Dover, Canterbury and then Sandwich.
30.10.1914 Embarked for India from Southampton where the Division was broken up and remained in India throughout the war.
Dec 1917 Moved to Mesopotamia landing at Basra and joined the 54th Brigade of the 18th Indian Division which engaged in various actions against the Turkish forces including;
the Actions at the Fat-ha Gorge, the actions on Little Zab and the Battle of Sharqat
31.10.1918 Ended the war in Mesopotamia, near Sharqat on Tigris north of Tikrit.

2/4th Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Tonbridge and then moved to Ascot to join the 202nd Brigade of the 67th Division.
April 1915 The 202nd Brigade was renamed the 2/Kent Brigade and the Kent Composite Battalion was formed from the; H.Q. and 1 company of the 2/4th Royal West Kent, 1 company of the 2/4th East Kent, 1 company of the 2/5th East Kent and 1 of the 2/5th Royal West Kent battalions.
24.04.1915 The composite battalion joined the 160th Brigade of the 53rd Division and moved to Cambridge and then Bedford finally becoming the 2/4th Royal West Kent Battalion.
20.07.1915 Embarked for Alexandria from Southampton via Mudros.
10.08.1915 Landed at Suvla Bay
13.12.1915 Evacuated to Egypt due to heavy casualties from combat, disease and severe weather conditions with the Division at only 15% of its full strength. It now engaged in various actions as part of the Palestine Campaign including;
During 1916
The Battle of Romani.
During 1917
The First Battle of Gaza, The Second Battle of Gaza, The Third Battle of Gaza, the Capture of Tell Khuweilfe, The Capture of Jerusalem, The Defence of Jerusalem.
During 1918
The battle of Tell'Asur.
13.09.1918 Disbanded after leaving the Division.

2/5th Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Bromley and then moved to Ascot to join the 202nd Brigade of the 67th Division.
May 1915 Moved to Kent and then Tonbridge.
July 1916 Moved to Canterbury and then Ashford and back to Canterbury.
Nov 1917 Disbanded.

3/4th Battalion Territorial Force
July 1915 Formed at Bromley and then moved to Cambridge.
08.04.1916 Became 5th Reserve Battalion at Crowborough.
01.09.1916 Absorbed by the 4th (Reserve) Battalion.

4/4th Battalion Territorial Force
July 1915 Formed and then moved to Cambridge.
08.04.1916 Moved to Crowborough and became the 4th (Reserve) Battalion.
01.09.1916 Absorbed the 5th (Reserve) Battalion as part of the Home Counties Reserve Brigade.
Oct 1916 Moved to Tunbridge Wells where it remained.

6th (Service) Battalion
14.08.1914 Formed at Maidstone as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Colchester to join the 37th Brigade of the 12th Division and then moved to Purfleet.
Feb 1915 Moved to Aldershot.
01.06.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1915
The Battle of Loos.
During 1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Pozieres, The Battle of Le Transloy.
During 1917
The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Arleux, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Cambrai operations.
During 1918
The Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras 1918, The Battle of Amiens, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Epehy, The Battle of the St Quentin canal, The Final Advance in Artois.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Lecelles N.W. of St. Amand.

7th (Service) Battalion
05.09.1914 Formed at Maidstone as part of the Second New Army (K2) and then moved to Purfleet to join the 55th Brigade of the 18th Division.
April 1915 Moved to Colchester and then Codford, Salisbury Plain.
27.07.1915 Mobilise for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 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.
During 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.
09.02.1918 Transferred to the 53rd Brigade of the 18th Division which engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 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 in France, Le Cateau.

8th (Service) Battalion
12.09.1914 Formed at Maidstone as part of the Third New Army (K3) and moved to Shoreham to join the 72nd Brigade of the 24th Division and then moved to Worthing.
April 1915 Moved back to Shoreham and then to Blackdown.
30.08.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1915
The Battle of Loos.
During 1916
The German gas attack at Wulverghem, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Guillemont.
During 1917
The Battle of Vimy Ridge, The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, The Battle of Langemarck, The Cambrai Operations.
During 1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Actions at the Somme Crossings, The Battle of Rosieres, The First Battle of the Avre, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Sambre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, La Rolies east of Bavai.

9th (Service) Battalion
24.10.1914 Formed as a service battalion at Chatham as part of the Fourth New Army (K4) in the 93rd Brigade of the 31st Division.
10.04.1915 Became a 2nd Reserve Battalion of the 5th Reserve Brigade.
June 1915 Moved to Canterbury and then Colchester and then Shoreham.
01.09.1916 Absorbed into the Training Reserve Battalions of the 5th Reserve Brigade.

10th (Service) Battalion (Kent County)
03.05.1915 Formed by Lord Harris, Vice Lieutenant of Kent as requested by the Army Council at Maidstone.
July 1915 joined the 118th Brigade of the 39th Division
Oct 1915 Transferred to the 123rd Brigade of the 41st Division and taken over by the War Office.
Jan 1916 Moved to Aldershot.
04.05.1916 Mobilised for war and landed in France and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1916
The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of the Transloy Ridges.
During 1917
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, The Battle of the Menin Road, Operations on the Flanders coast.
Nov 1917 Moved to Italy to strengthen the Italian resistance.
Mar 1918 Returned to France arriving at Doullens and once again engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Arras, The Battles of the Lys, The Advance in Flanders, The Battle of Ypres, The Battle of Courtrai, The action of Ooteghem.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium, Rooverst west of Nederbrakel.

11th (Service) Battalion (Lewisham)
05.05.1915 Formed by The Mayor and local committee at Lewisham and then moved to Catford.
July 1915 joined the 118th Brigade of the 39th Division
Oct 1915 Transferred to the 122nd Brigade of the 41st Division and taken over by the War Office.
Jan 1916 Moved to Aldershot.
03.05.1916 Mobilised for war and landed in France and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1916
The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of the Transloy Ridges.
During 1917
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, The Battle of the Menin Road, Operations on the Flanders coast.
Nov 1917 Moved to Italy to strengthen the Italian resistance.
Mar 1918 Returned to France arriving at Doullens and once again engaged in various actions on the Western Front.
16.03.1918 Disbanded in France.

12th (Reserve) Battalion
Feb 1916 Formed as a Local Reserve battalion from the depot companies of the 10th and 11th Battalions and then moved to Northampton to join the 23rd Reserve Brigade.
May 1916 Moved to Aldershot.
01.09.1916 Became the 99th Training Reserve Battalion in the 23rd Reserve Brigade.

1st (Home Service) Garrison Battalion
Mar 1916 Formed at Rochester and remained there until it became the 15th Battalion of the Royal Defence Corps.

Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) during WW2

WW2 Battalions of the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment

1st Battalion:
September 1939: The Battalion was part of 132nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division.
1940: Battalion with the same Brigade transferred to the 44th (Home Counties) Division and was sent to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force.
June 1940: Evacuated from Dunkirk and returned to the UK.
Early November 1942: The Battalion and the 6th took part in ‘Operation Torch', the Anglo-American invasion of French Algeria.
March 1943: The 1st and 6th Bn took part in the Tunisia Campaign.
1943: Joined again with the 6th Battalion in the Italian campaigns.
January 1944: Battalion in the same division was now attached to the 12 Brigade and took part in the Italian Campaign.
15 December 1944: Took part in the Greek Civil War that broke out in Athens after the German withdrawal.

2nd Battalion:
September 1939: The 2nd Battalion was part of the garrison of Malta.
June 1940: Italians launched air-raids against the island of Malta.
Early in 1942: The Battalion was now defending Luqa Airfield, Malta and faced serve air-raids by the German's
09 May 1942: From an aircraft carrier reinforcements of Spitfires flew in and the Battalion helped them to refuel.
20 November 1942: Malta's siege ended.
June 1943: Were in North Africa and part of 234 Infantry Brigade.
20 September 1943: Still with 234 Infantry Brigade were sent to Samos as part of a force to occupy islands in the Aegean
12 November 1943: Was ordered to reinforce the island of Leros which was being invaded by the Germans.
16 November 1943: Most of the survivors were captured by the Germans after they were overwhelmed by air attack. Less than 100 managed to escape and sent back to the UK.
02 May 1944: They were amalgamated with the 7th Battalion to form a new 2nd Battalion and shortly after in the same month became part of 61 Infantry Division.
1945: Sent to Germany.

4th Battalion:
1940: The Battalion was part of the 132nd (Kent) Brigade. It was sent to France attached to the 44th (Home Counties) Division and was part of the British Expeditionary Force.
May/June 1940: A long with the same Division was evacuated from Dunkirk and returned to the UK where it remained for a couple years.
May 1942: Was shipped out to North Africa.
July 1942: Had arrived with the 5th Battalion in Egypt. They joined the 8th Army and fought at the Battles of Alam Halfa and Alamein
December 1942: Were sent to Burma. They became part of 161st Indian Infantry Brigade, 5th Indian Division. They stayed with the Brigade throughout the war.
April- May 1944: Became attached to the British 2nd (Infantry) Division.
05 April 1944: Set off to Kohima, North-East India to reinforce the Garrison against Japanese forces
May-June 1944: became attached to the 7th Indian (Infantry) Division.
March 1945: Returned to 5th Indian Division.

5th Battalion:
1939: The Battalion was part of 132nd Infantry Brigade
1940: It was sent to France attached to the 44th (Home Counties) Division and was part of the British Expeditionary Force.
May 1940: Evacuated from Dunkirk and returned to the UK
July 1942: Had arrived with the 4th Battalion in Egypt. They joined the 8th Army and fought at the Battles of Alam Halfa and Alamein.
1943: Joined the 6th Battalion in the Italian campaigns;
1944: In action at Casino and up the Peninsula to Florence, the Gothic Line and finally entering Austria

6th Battalion:
1939: The Battalion was attached to 36th Infantry Brigade.
19 April 1940: Still with the same Brigade, Battalion was sent to France became part of 12th (Eastern) Infantry Division and part of the BEF. where it underwent training and performed labour duties.
May 1940: They were overrun by the German's at Doullens and all survivors except 20 or so were taken prisoner.
09 June 1940: Back in the UK, it was reconstituted.
November 1942: Was now part of the 78th Infantry Division and played a major roll in ‘Operation Torch', the Anglo-American invasion of French Algeria.
1943: Joined by the 1st and 5th Battalions in the Italian campaigns;
1944: In action at Cassino and up the Peninsula to Florence, the Gothic Line and finally entering Austria.

7th Battalion:
03 September 1939: It became attached to the 44th Infantry Division.
07 October 1939: Became part of the 36th Infantry Brigade.
19 April 1940: Still with the same Brigade, Battalion was sent to France became part of 12th (Eastern) Infantry Division and part of the BEF. where it underwent training and performed labour duties.
May 1940: The Brigade was overrun by the German's at Albert. Only about 70 avoided capture and returned to the UK.
08 June 1940: It was reconstituted.
Battalion remained in the UK attached to different Brigades.
02 May 1944: Battalion was used to reform the 2nd Battalion.

9th Battalion:
1940–42: The Battalion became 6th Support Group (or sometimes known as Pivot Group) for the 6th Armoured Division.
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Active From: 1831 - 1961

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