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Unit History: Wiltshire Regiment

Wiltshire Regiment The Regiment was officially formed in 1881 when the 62nd and the 99th Regiments of Foot were amalgamated as part of the Childers reforms but the Regiment can trace its history back 124 years prior to this date.

The 62nd was formed in 1758 when the 2nd Battalion of the 4th Regiment of Foot became independent. The Regiment was its first action as marines during the Seven Years War fighting at the Siege and Capture of the Louisburg Fortress and Quebec.

The Regiment garrisoned Castle Carrickfergus in Ireland in 1760 and four under-strength companies withstood three assaults by a French force of 600 men, having to melt down their own buttons to make bullets and used rocks to repel the third assault. The Regiment had to surrender the castle but the French force was destroyed by the Royal Navy and the men of the Regiment were hailed to have ‘behaved like Lyons’ and the officers were presented with silver cups. In 1763 the Regiment was deployed to the West Indies and remained there until 1776 and the outbreak of America War of Independence. The Regiment then moved to Canada and fought during the Battle of Trois-Rivières and Valcour Island. After the colonial forces were successfully expelled from Canada the 62nd joined Major-General John Borgoyne’s force at the Battle of Saratoga and were surrendered with the entire army following the battle, remaining imprisoned until 1781 when it returned to England.

In 1782 all British Regiments without Royal titles were awarded county titles in order to aid recruitment from that area, therefore the Regiment became the 62nd (Wiltshire) Regiment of Foot and was once again deployed to the West Indies. It spent the majority of the French Revolutionary Wars fighting the French on Haiti and suffered heavily from yellow fever, fit men were transferred to other units in 1797 and the cadre returned to England. During the Peninsular War the Regiment fought at the Battles of Nive and Peninsula. The Regiment returned to Canada and remained garrisoned in Nova Scotia until 1823 followed by 7 years of garrison duties in Ireland.

In 1830 the 62nd was deployed to India and after several quiet years garrisoned in Bangalore the Regiment was then involved in putting down the Bangalore Mutiny and then moved to Ferozepore to join the Honorable East India Company forces there as tensions rose between the Sikhs and the British. The Regiment fought at the Battle of Ferozeshah after which no officers remained to take charge of the Regiment so command fell to sergeants and non-commissioned officers. The diminished 62nd went on to fight at the Battle of Sobaron. The Regiment remained in India until 1847 and then garrisoned in Ireland until the Crimean War where it fought during the Battle of Sevastopol.

The 99th was first raised 1824 by Major-General John Hall and gained it county title 10 years later to become 99th (Lanarkshire) Regiment of Foot. From 1842 the Regiment transported convicts to Tasmania and then rotated through various colonial posts in the region until it was order to Sydney. Here it gained a very unsavory reputation and the 11th Regiment of Foot was principally employed to keep the men of the 99th under control.

The 99th went on to serve during the New Zealand land Wars fighting during the Hutt Valley Campaign and the Battle of Battle Hill. In 1846 the Regiment returned to Australia but detachments were sent to reinforce British forces in New Zealand for the next few years. The 99th finally returned to England in 1856 and garrisoned in Ireland and Aldershot. The Regiment was deployed to India in 1859 and then to China to serve during the Second Opium War fighting in the Third Battle of Taku Forts and the Battle of Palikao. The Regiment also took part in the sack of Peking. Among the loot carried off was a Pekinese dog named Lootie which belonged to the Chinese Empress which was presented to Queen Victoria. The Regiment was then returned to Hong Kong and remained there until 1865.

From 1865 to 1868 the 99th served in South Africa and were inspected by the Duke of Edinburgh who was so impressed by the Regiment that it was granted the title 99th (Duke of Edinburgh’s) Regiment in 1874 and went on to serve during the Anglo-Zulu War fighting at the Battle of Gingindlovu.

In 1881 these two Regiments were merged into the The Duke of Edinburgh's (Wiltshire Regiment) as part of the Childers Reforms. The Childers Reforms restructured the British army infantry Regiments into a network of multi-battalion Regiments each having two regular and two militia battalions as standard. The newly formed Regiment went on to serve during the Second Boer War and two World Wars.

In 1921, the Regiment was re-titled as The Wiltshire Regiment (Duke of Edinburgh's). In 1959 The Wiltshires were amalgamated with The Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) to form The Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire). In 1994 further amalgamation followed with the Gloucestershire Regiment to form the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment and in 2007 it joined the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, the Light Infantry and the Royal Green Jackets to form The Rifles.

Wiltshire 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 to rival that of Britain. These actions greatly concerned Germany’s neighbors, 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, 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 10 Battalions, gained 60 Battle Honours and 1 Victoria Cross losing 5,200 men during the course of the war.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Tidworth as part of the 7th Brigade of the 3rd Division.
14.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Rouen and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1914
The Battle of Mons and the 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, First Battle of Ypres.
1915
Winter Operations 1914-15, The First Attack on Bellewaarde, The Actions of Hooge, The Second Attack on Bellewaarde.
18.10.1815 Transferred to the 7th Brigade of the 25th Division;
1916
German attack on Vimy Ridge, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin, The Battle of Pozieres, The Battle of the Ancre Heights.
1917
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Pilkem.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The First Battle of Bapaume.
21.06.1918 Transferred to the 110th Brigade of the 21st Division;
The Battle of Albert, The Second Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Epehy, The Battle of the St Quentin Canal, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The Battle of the Selle.
11.11.1918 Ended the war N.W. of Avesnes, France.

2nd Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Gibraltar.
31.08.1914 Embarked for England arriving at Southampton and then moved to Lyndhurst to join the 21st Brigade of the 7th Division.
07.10.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Zeebrugge and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1914
The First Battle of Ypres.
19.12.1915 Transferred to the 21st Brigade of the 30th Division;
1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of the Transloy Ridges.
1917
The pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Second Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Pilkem Ridge.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The actions at the Somme Crossings, The Battle of Rosieres, The Battle of Kemmel Ridge, The Second Battle of Kemmel Ridge, The Battle of the Scherpenberg, The capture of Neuve Eglise, The capture of Wulverghem, The Battle of Ypres.
13.05.1918 Transferred to the 58th Brigade of the 19th Division;
The Battle of the Aisne, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of the Sambre and the passage of the Grand Honelle.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Eth N.W. of Bavai, France.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Devizes and then moved to Weymouth.
April 1915 Moved to Dorchester and then back to Weymouth.
Sept 1917 Moved to Sittingbourne, Kent as part of the Sittingbourne S.R. Brigade.

1/4th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Fore St, Trowbridge as part of the South Western Brigade of the Wessex Division and then moved to Salisbury Plain.
09.10.1914 Embarked for India from Southampton arriving at Bombay where the Division was broken up.
Sept 1917 Deployed to Egypt arriving at Suez.
25.09.1917 Transferred to the 233rd Brigade of the 75th Division and engaged in various action during the Palestine Campaign including;
1917
The Third Battle of Gaza, The Capture of Junction Station, The Battle of Nabi Samweil.
03.05.1918 Transferred to the 232nd Brigade of the 75th Division;
1918
The Battle of Tell'Asur, The Battle of Berukin, The Battle of Sharon.
31.10.1918 Ended the war near Haifa, Palestine.

2/4th Battalion Territorial Force
Oct 1914 Stationed at Trowbridge as part of the 2/South Western Brigade of the 2/Wessex Division.
12.12.1914 Embarked for India from Southampton arriving at Bombay where the Division was broken up. Battalion remained in India throughout the war.

3/4th Battalion Territorial Force
Mar 1915 Formed and then moved to Bournemouth.
08.04.1916 Became the 4th (Reserve) Battalion.
01.09.1916 Moved to Hursley Park, Winchester and joined the Wessex Reserve.
Oct 1916 Moved to Bournemouth.
Feb 1917 Moved to Sutton Veny, Salisbury Plain and then Larkhill.
May 1918 Moved to Ireland and stationed at Dublin.

5th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 Formed at Devizes as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Assaye Barracks, Tidworth as part of the 13th Division.
Oct 1914 Moved to Chisledon.
Dec 1914 Moved to Cirencester and joined the 40th Brigade of the 13th Division to replace the 7th Welsh Regiment.
Feb 1915 Moved to Woking and then Bisley.
01.07.1915 Embarked for Gallipoli from Avonmouth via the Mediterranean and Mudros.
30.07.1915 Landed at Helles.
04.08.1915 Landed at Anzac and engaged in various action against the Turkish Army including;
The Battle of Sari Bair, The Battle of Russell's Top, The Battle of Hill 60.
Jan 1916 Evacuated from Gallipoli to Egypt due to severe casualties from combat, disease and harsh weather.
Feb 1916 Deployed to Mesopotamia and engaged in various actions against the Turkish Army;
1917
The Battle of Kut al Amara, The capture of the Hai Salient, The capture of Dahra Bend, The passage of the Diyala, The pursuit of the enemy towards Baghdad, Capture of Baghdad, Battles of Delli 'Abbas, Duqma, Nahr Kalis, crossed the 'Adhaim and at Shatt al 'Adhaim, The Second and Third Actions of Jabal Hamrin and at Tuz Khurmatli (29 April 1917).
1918
Part of operations as part of "Lewin's Column", pushing north towards Turkey.
31.10.1918 Ended the war at Altun Kupri north of Kirkuk, Mesopotamia.

6th (Service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Devizes as part of the Second New Army (K2) and then moved to Salisbury Plain to join the 19th Division.
Dec 1914 Moved to Basingstoke and joined the 58th Brigade of the 19th Division.
Mar 1915 Moved to Perham Down.
July 1915 Mobilised for war and landed in France and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1915
The Action of Pietre; diversionary action during the Battle of Loos
1916
The Battle of Albert, The attacks on High Wood, The Battle of Pozieres Ridge, The Battle of the Ancre Heights, The Battle of the Ancre.
1917
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle, First Battle of Passchendaele, The Second Battle of Passchendaele.
20.09.1917 Amalgamated with 14 Officers and 232 mean of the Wiltshire Yeomanry (now dismounted) to become the 6th (Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry) Battalion.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Bailleul, The First Battle of Kemmel Ridge, The Battle of the Aisne, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of the Sambre and the passage of the Grand Honelle.
13.05.1918 Reduced to training cadre with the surplus transferred to the 2nd Battalion of the 30th Division
16.06.1918 Returned to England as part of the 42nd Brigade of the 14th Division from Boulogne.
18.06.1918 Moved to Brookwood and reconstituted with the 9th Dorset’s
04.07.1918 Returned to France landing at Boulogne and once again engaged in various action on the Western Front;
The Battle of Ypres 1918 and the final advance in Flanders.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Dottignies N.E. of Roubaix, Belgium.

7th (Service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Devizes as part of the Third New Army and then moved to Codford, Salisbury Plain to join the 79th Brigade of the 26th Division.
Nov 1914 Moved to Marlborough.
April 1915 Moved to Sutton Veny.
Sept 1915 Mobilised for war and landed in France.
Nov 1915 Deployed to Salonika and engaged in various actions against the Bulgarian Army including;
1916
The Battle of Horseshoe Hill.
1917
The Battles of Doiran.
June 1918 Returned to France leaving the 26th Division arriving at Serqueux.
16.07.1918 Joined the 150th Brigade of the 50th Division at Martin Eglise and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The Battle of the St Quentin Canal, The Battle of the Beaurevoir Line, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of Valenciennes.
11.11.1918 Ended the war near Dourlers north of Avesnes, France.

8th (Reserve) Battalion
Nov 1914 Formed at Weymouth as a service battalion of the Fourth New Army (K4) and joined the 102nd Brigade of the 34th Division.
Feb 1915 Moved to Trowbridge.
10.04.1915 Became a 2nd Reserve Battalions.
May 1915 Moved to Wareham as part of the 8th Reserve Brigade.
01.09.1916 Absorbed into the Training Reserve Battalions.

Forces Reunited Gallery Images Matching Wiltshire Regiment

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Memories of Wiltshire Regiment

(Memories written by members of Forces Reunited)

Wiltshire regiment in 1930

Written by Sandy Skilton

I have been trying to trace details of my Grandfather William John Nock I know nothing about him neither did my father who has now sadly passed.
William John Nock was a private in Wiltshire regiment 1930 living in Plymouth at 80 Grenville Road Plymouth in 1930. These details were taken from Sons birth certificate
Army no 101997 Taken from Marriage cert. address at time of marriage given as crownhill Hutments Crownhill plymouth
I am assuming he would have been recalled to serve in World War 2. Any help you are able to give would be much appreciated.

Forces Reunited Forum Posts Involving Wiltshire Regiment

"...insignia? I was utterly digusted to see pictures of that ’man’wearing my Regimental cap badge around his neck ’The Sun 14 march 05’he is also shown wearing the blazer badges of the Royal Engineers,Sherwood Forresters,The Welch regiment,The RCT,Wiltshire Regiment,and the Royal Warwicks. Who or what possesed that ’man’to have the cheek to wear something that is so dear to us! He was never a memeber of any military organisation.This creature for want of better words is a disgrace and should be..."
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"...Berkshire regiments to create the RGBW. Just 11 years later, the RGBW is to merge with the 1st Battalion of the Devon and Dorset Regiment to create the 1st Battalion of the Light Infantry in 2006. Now they are to become part of The Rifles. The Wiltshire Regiment dates back to 1756. Local Conservative MP Mr Gray said: "The title ’Rifles’ means nothing to the people of this area, it will sever the link completely." Lt Gen Brimms has played a key role in Iraq and in April, 2003, he briefed US..."
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"...conditions were like in the Battle of The Somme. There was a mock up trench there which the kids went in and it was all explained to them, also a talk about how horses and mules were used to transport everything and a tent detailing life in the Wiltshire Regiment. It was a living history lesson and the boys enjoyed it. [SOMME (Custom) (2).jpg]"
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"...Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment of Yorkshire 23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers 27th Foot, the Inniskilling Fusiliers subsequently the Royal Irish Regiment 28th Foot later the Gloucestershire Regiment subsequently the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment 30th Foot later the East Lancashire Regiment subsequently the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment 32nd Foot later the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry subsequently the Light Infantry 33rd Foot the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment 40th Foot..."
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"Pte Alfred Stevens died of wounds on 21.10.1914 in Bournemouth. Which battles would he have fought in as a soldier of the 1st Battalion Wiltshire Regiment. "
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Battles / Campaigns

Marne (1914) WW1

1st Wiltshire (Duke of Edinburgh’s) were attached to 7th Infantry Brigade 3rd Division and was part of the British Expeditionary Force (John French, serving as the first Commander-in-Chief of the BEF)

The First Battle of the Marne fought between 5 and 12 September 1914 marked the end of the German sweep into France and the beginning of the trench warfare that was to characterise World War One.
It was also one of the first major battles in which reconnaissance planes played a decisive role, by discovering weak points in the German lines and allowing the allies to take advantage of them.

Germany's grand Schlieffen Plan to conquer France entailed a wheeling movement of the northern wing of its armies through central Belgium to enter France near Lille. It would turn west near the English Channel and then south to cut off the French retreat. If the plan succeeded, Germany's armies would simultaneously encircle the French Army from the north and capture Paris.

A French offensive in Lorraine prompted German counter-attacks that threw the French back onto a fortified barrier. Their defence strengthened, they could send troops to reinforce their left flank - a redistribution of strength that would prove vital in the Battle of the Marne. The German northern wing was weakened further by the removal of 11 divisions to fight in Belgium and East Prussia. The German 1st Army, under Kluck, then swung north of Paris, rather than south west, as intended. This required them to pass into the valley of the River Marne across the Paris defences, exposing them to a flank attack and a possible counter-envelopment.

On 3 September, Joffre ordered a halt to the French retreat and three days later his reinforced left flank began a general offensive. Kluck was forced to halt his advance prematurely in order to support his flank: he was still no further up the Marne Valley than Meaux.

On 9 September Bülow learned that the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was advancing into the gap between his 2nd Army and Kluck. He ordered a retreat, obliging Kluck to do the same. The counterattack of the French 5th and 6th Armies and the BEF developed into the First Battle of the Marne, a general counter-attack by the French Army. By 11 September the Germans were in full retreat.

This remarkable change in fortunes was caused partially by the exhaustion of many of the German forces: some had marched more than 240km (150 miles), fighting frequently. The German advance was also hampered by demolished bridges and railways, constricting their supply lines, and they had underestimated the resilience of the French.

The Germans withdrew northward from the Marne and made a firm defensive stand along the Lower Aisne River. Here the benefits of defence over attack became clear as the Germans repelled successive Allied attacks from the shelter of trenches: the First Battle of the Aisne marked the real beginning of trench warfare on the Western Front.

In saving Paris from capture by pushing the Germans back some 72km (45 miles), the First Battle of the Marne was a great strategic victory, as it enabled the French to continue the war. However, the Germans succeeded in capturing a large part of the industrial north east of France, a serious blow. Furthermore, the rest of 1914 bred the geographic and tactical deadlock that would take another three years and countless lives to break.

The Battle of Marne was also one of the first major battles in which reconnaissance planes played a decisive role, by discovering weak points in the German lines and allowing the allies to take advantage of them. The mobility and destructive power of the numerous French 75 batteries engaged in the Battle of the Marne played a key role in slowing down and then halting German progress everywhere.

Over two million men fought in the First Battle of the Marne, of whom more than 500,000 were killed or wounded. French casualties totalled 250,000, 80,000 of them dead, while British casualties were 13,000, 1,700 of them dead. The Germans suffered 220,000 casualties.

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Active From: 1881 - 1959

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