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Unit History: Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment)

Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment) Britain and France were rarely ‘not at war’ for 126 years (1689-1815), and in 1702 another conflict arose when the Spanish throne fell vacant. The heir general was Louis le Grand Dauphin son of Louis XIV of France, which would unite the vast empires of France and Spain. This succession was generally opposed by the rest of Europe as it would tip the balance of power in France’s favour. There were also other claims to the throne; Louis XIV’s grandson Philip The Duke of Anjou, Leopold I Holy Roman Emperor, his son Archduke Charles of Austria and his half grand nephew, Joseph Leopold of Bavaria Prince of Asturias.

It was under these circumstances that George Hastings, 8th Earl of Huntingdon raised a Regiment in Gloucestershire, forming the origins of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. The Regiment was soon in action as part of the Duke of Marlborough’s army in Holland and then spent 6 years in Portugal fighting the Franco/Spanish Army at the Battles of Valenza (1705), Saragossa (1710) and Almanza until its surrender at Brigheura (1710).

The Regiment went on to serve during the War of the Austrian Succession fighting with distinction at the Battle of Dettingen and the Battle of Fontenoy, and then served during the Seven Years War, as well as garrison duties in Minorca and England. The Regiment then went on to serve in the American War of Independence fighting at the Battles of Brooklyn Heights, White Plains, Fort Washington, Brandywine, Germantown, Freehold, Verplants, Charleston, Camden, Guilford Court House until they were forced to surrender at Yorktown in 1781.

In 1782 all British Regiments without Royal titles were awarded county titles in order to aid recruitment from that area therefore the 33rd was renamed as the 33rd (Yorkshire West Riding) Regiment. In 1793 Arthur Wellesley 3rd son of the Earl of Mornington and the future 1st Duke of Wellington, transferred into the Regiment as a Major. He purchased the commission of Lieutenant-Colonel in 1794 and as promoted to Colonel of the Regiment in 1797. In that year the Regiment was deployed to India and in 1798 under the command of its new colonel served during the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War and fought at the Battle of Seringapatam. In 1805 Major-General Arthur Wellesley returned to England to receive the honour ‘Knight of Bath’ for his services in India and to pursue his political and military career, however the 33rd remained in India until 1812. The Regiment was back under the command of Arthur Wellesley now Field Marshal His Grace The Duke of Wellington in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo.

The Regiment was on garrison duties in various territories abroad and at home including the two tours in the West Indies were the Regiment suffered heavy losses from yellow fever. On the 38th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, nine months after the Duke of Wellington’s death, Queen Victoria awarded the 33rd to bear his name, motto and crest becoming the 33rd (Duke of Wellington’s) Regiment (making it the only Regiment to bear a non Royal name after 1782). The Regiment then went on to serve during the Crimean War fighting at the Battle of Sebastopol and returned to India during The Indian Mutiny: 1857 -1858 and stayed there until 1867.

In 1881 as part of the Childers Reforms the Regiment was amalgamated with The 76th Regiment which had been raised and disbanded four times from 1745 to 1787 when it was raised for service in India by the Honourable East India Company. The newly formed Regiment became The Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment) and went on to serve in the Boer War (1899-1902) fighting at Paardeberg and Kimberley and two World Wars.

In 1921 the Regiment was renamed to the Duke of Wellington's Regiment (West Riding) and in 2006 the British Infantry was once again re-organised resulting in the amalgamation of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment with the Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire and the Green Howards', to form the Yorkshire Regiment.

Duke of Wellington's (West Riding 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 23 Battalions, was awarded 63 Battle Honours and 5 Victoria Crosses, losing 7,870 men during the course of the First World War.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Lahore, India where it remained throughout the war.

2nd Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Dublin as part of the 13th Brigade of the 5th Division.
16.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1914
The Battle of Mons and subsequent retreat, The Battle of Le Cateau and the Affair of Crepy-en-Valois, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, The Battles of La Bassee and Messines 1914, The First Battle of Ypres.
1915
The Second Battle of Ypres and the Capture of Hill 60.
14.01.1916 Transferred to the 12th Brigade of the 4th Division.
1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Le Transloy.
1917
The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle, The First Battle of Passchendaele.
10.02.1918 Transferred to the 10th Brigade of the 4th Division;
1918
The First Battle of Arras 1918, The Battle of Hazebrouck, The Battle of Bethune, The Advance in Flanders, The Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Drocourt-Queant, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of Valenciennes.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Preseau S.E. of Valenciennes, France.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Halifax and then Earsdon near North Shields.
May 1915 Moved to North Shields where it remained.

1/4th 1/6th & 1/7th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 The 1/4th stationed at Halifax, the 1/6th stationed at Skipton-in-Craven and the 1/7th stationed at Milnsbridge all as part of the 2nd West Riding Brigade of the West Riding Division and then moved to Hull and Grimsby as part of coastal defences.
05.11.1914 Moved to Doncaster.
14.04.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne.
12.05.1915 The formation became the 147th Brigade of the 49th Division which engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
1915
The Battle of Aubers Ridge, The defence against the first Phosgene attack.
1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin Ridge, The Battle of Pozieres Ridge, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette.
1917
Operations on the Flanders Coast (Hush), The Battle of Poelcapelle.
1918
The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Bailleul, The First Battle of Kemmel Ridge, The Second Battle of Kemmel Ridge, The Battle of the Scherpenberg, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of Valenciennes.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Auby north of Douai, France.

1/5th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Huddersfield as part of the 2nd West Riding Brigade of the West Riding Division and then moved to Hull and Grimsby as part of coastal defences.
05.11.1914 Moved to Doncaster.
14.04.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne.
12.05.1915 The formation became the 147th Brigade of the 49th Division which engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1915
The Battle of Aubers Ridge, The defence against the first Phosgene attack.
1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin Ridge, The Battle of Pozieres Ridge, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette.
1917
Operations on the Flanders Coast (Hush), The Battle of Poelcapelle.
30.01.1918 Absorbed the 2/5th Battalion to become the 5th Battalion and transferred to the 186th Brigade of the 62nd Division.
1918
The Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras 1918, The Battle of the Tardenois (part of the Battles of the Marne 1918), The Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of the Drocourt-Queant Line, The Battle of Havrincourt, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The Battle of the Selle, The capture of Solesmes, The Battle of the Sambre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war east of Maubeuge, France.

2/4th 2/5th & 2/6th Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 The 2/4th Formed at Halifax and the 2/6th formed at Skipton.
Oct 1914 The 2/5th formed at Huddersfield.
Mar 1915 All moved to Derbyshire as part of the 186th Brigade of the 62nd Division and then moved to Thoresby Park, Ollerton and then Retford and then Newcastle.
Jan 1916 Moved to Salisbury Plain and then Halesworth, Suffolk and then Bedford.
Jan 1917 Mobilised for war and landed in France and engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
The Operations on the Ancre, The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The first attack on Bullecourt (part of the Arras offensive), The German attack on Lagnicourt (part of the Arras offensive), The Battle of Bullecourt (part of the flanking operations round Arras), The actions on the Hindenburg Line, The Cambrai Operations.
30.01.1918 The 2/5th absorbed by the 1/5th and the 2/6th disbanded in France;
The Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras 1918, The Battle of the Tardenois (part of the Battles of the Marne 1918), The Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of the Drocourt-Queant Line, The Battle of Havrincourt, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The Battle of the Selle, The capture of Solesmes, The Battle of the Sambre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war east of Maubeuge, France.

2/7th Battalion Territorial Force
Oct 1914 Formed at Milnsbridge, West Yorkshire.
Mar 1915 All moved to Derbyshire as part of the 186th Brigade of the 62nd Division and then moved to Thoresby Park, Ollerton and then Retford and then Newcastle.
Jan 1916 Moved to Salisbury Plain and then Halesworth, Suffolk and then Bedford.
Jan 1917 Mobilised for war and landed in France and engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
The Operations on the Ancre, The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The first attack on Bullecourt (part of the Arras offensive), The German attack on Lagnicourt (part of the Arras offensive), The Battle of Bullecourt (part of the flanking operations round Arras), The actions on the Hindenburg Line, The Cambrai Operations.
18.06.1918 Reduced to training cadre and returned to England with the 14th Division at Aldershot where the cadre was absorbed by the 29th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry.

3/4th 3/5th 3/6th & 3/7th Battalion Territorial Force
Mar 1915 Formed and then became the 4th 5th 6th 7 7th (Reserve) Battalions on 08.04.1916 at Clipstone.
01.09.1916 The 4th & 6th absorbed the 5th & 7th as part of the West Riding Reserve Brigade.
Oct 1917 Moved to Rugeley, Cannock Chase.
July 1918 Moved to Bromeswell near Woodbrigde.
Oct 1918 Moved to Southend.

8th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 Formed at Halifax as part of the First new Army (K1) and then moved to Belton Park, Grantham to join the 34th Brigade of the 11th Division.
18.01.1915 Transferred to the 32nd Brigade of the same Division and then moved to Witley.
July 1915 Embarked for the Mediterranean from Liverpool arriving at Mudros.
06.08.1915 Landed at Suvla Bay and engaged in various actions against the Turkish Army including;
The Battle of Sari Bair.
Dec 1915 Evacuated from Gallipoli to Mudros due to severe casualties from combat, disease and harsh weather.
07.02.1916 Deployed to Egypt to defend the Suez Canal.
July 1916 Deployed to France;
The capture of the Wundt-Werk, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Thiepval.
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.
13.02.1918 Disbanded in France.

9th (service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Halifax as part of the Second New Army (K2) and then moved to Wareham to join the 52nd Brigade of the 17th Division, and then moved to Bovington and later Wimborne.
June 1915 Moved to Hursley, Hampshire.
15.07.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
1915
Holding front lines in southern area of Ypres salient.
1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Delville Wood.
1917
The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Second Battle of the Scarpe, The Capture of Roeux, The First Battle of Passchendaele, The Second Battle of Passchendaele.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Amiens, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Havrincourt, The Battle of Epehy, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of the Sambre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war south of Maubeuge, France.

10th (Service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Halifax as part of the Third New Army (K3) and then moved to Frensham to join the 69th Brigade of the 23rd Division, and then moved to Aldershot.
Feb 1915 Moved to Folkestone and then to Bramshott.
Aug 1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1915
Trench familiarisation as part of the 20th (Light) and 27th Divisions and then took control of the front line at Ferme Grande Flamengrie to the Armentieres-Wez Macquart road and at Bois Grenier.
1916
Relieved the French 17th Division in the Carency sector between the Boyau de l'Ersatz and the Souchez River. 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, The capture of Le Sars.
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 Deployed to Italy to strengthen the Italian resistance after a recent disaster at the Battle of Caporetto and the Division positioned along the River Piave.;
The fighting on the Asiago Plateau, The Battle of Vittorio Veneto, including the passage of the Piave and the battle of Monticano.
04.11.1918 Ended the war west of Pordenone, Italy.

11th (Reserve) Battalion
Nov 1914 Formed at Halifax as a service battalion of the Fourth New Army (K4) and joined 89th Brigade of the 30th Division.
10.04.1915 became a 2nd Reserve Battalion and then moved to Lichfield.
Nov 1915 Moved to Brocton, Cannock Chase as part of the 3rd Reserve Brigade.
01.09.1916 Absorbed into the Training Reserve Battalions.

12th (Labour) Battalion
Mar 1916 Formed at Marton Hall near Middlesbrough and then deployed to France.
April 1917 became the 24th and 25th Companies of the Labour Corps.

13th (Service) Battalion
25.05.1918 Formed in France from the 3rd Garrison Guard as part of the 177th brigade of the 59th Division.
16.06.1918 Transferred to the 178th Brigade of the 59th Division.
16.07.1918 The title of ‘Garrison’ dropped and the Division engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The Battle of Albert, The general final advance in Artois and Flanders
11.11.1918 Ended the war north of Tournai, Belgium.

14th (Service) Battalion
07.07.1918 Formed at Clacton from the training cadre of the 8th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment.
03.11.1918 Disbanded.
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Active From: 1881 - 2006

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