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Unit History: North Staffordshire Regiment

North Staffordshire Regiment
The Prince of Wales's (North Staffordshire) Regiment was officially formed in 1881 as part of the Childers Reforms when the 64th and 98th Regiments of Foot were amalgamated but the Regiment can trace its history back a further 120 years prior to this date.
 
The 64th was initially formed in 1756 during the Seven Years War as the 2nd Battalion of the 11th Foot however, in 1758 it became independent and was named the 64th Regiment of Foot.  The Regiment was swiftly sent to the West Indies and fought at the unsuccessful attempt to take Martinique and then in the successful invasion of Guadeloupe.  As was typical of the time, the Regiment was severely affected by tropical diseases and upon return to Portsmouth in 1759 only 137 men of 790 were fit for duty.
 
In 1773, the 64th were sent to serve in the American War of Independence arriving at Boston which was a centre of discontent at the time.  At the outbreak of hostilities in 1775 the Regiment was stationed at Castle William, Boston therefore took part in the Siege of Boston for 11 months until the British abandoned the town.  The Regiment went on to fight at The Capture of New York (1776), The Battle of Ridgefield, The Battle of Brandywine, the Battle of Paoli, the Battle of Germantown, and fighting up until the surrender at Yorktown in 1781.  The Regiment then returned to the West Indies in 1801 during the Napoleonic Wars and helped to capture Martinique and Guadeloupe and then St. Croix, St. Lucia and Surinam.
 
The Regiment returned to England in 1843 aboard the ship HMT Alert which hit a reef 100 miles off Halifax, Nova Scotia.  The ship managed to beach on an uninhabited Island, mainly due to the gallantry of the two companies of the Regiment on board, who remained below deck in order to stabilise the ship despite the rising water; all on board were later rescued.  The Duke of Wellington directed that this account to be read out to every Regiment and Corps in the army as an example of the rewards of steadiness and discipline.  In 1857 The Regiment helped to put down the Indian Mutiny and were part of the first Relief of Lucknow, winning the first Victoria Cross at the second Battle of Cawnpore and remained in India until 1861.
 
In 1881 it was merged with the 98th (Prince of Wales's) Regiment of Foot to form the Prince of Wales's (North Staffordshire) Regiment as part of the Childers Reform.  The 98th was raised by Lieutenant Colonel Mildmay Fane in 1824 at Chichester.  The Regiment was swiftly posted to South Africa for 13 years and saw no active service.  In 1841 the Regiment served during the first Opium War taking part in the advance on Chinkiang and Nanking and then stationed in Hong Kong until 1846.  The Regiment suffered greatly from disease particularly cholera.  The Regiment then moved to India until 1854 suffering 1,100 deaths by 1851 mainly due to disease.  In 1876 the Regiment was awarded the title 'The Prince of Wales' and became the 98th (Prince of Wales's) Regiment of Foot.  After amalgamation the newly formed Prince of Wales's (North Staffordshire) Regiment served during the Second Boer War and during two World Wars.
In 1920 the Regiment was renamed The North Staffordshire (The Prince of Wales's) Regiment and amalgamated in 1959 with the South Staffordshire Regiment 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.

North Staffordshire Regiment during WW2

WW2 Battalions of the North Staffordshire Regiment

At the outbreak of the Second World War, the North Staffordshire Regiment was composed of four battalions. The 1st and 2nd, were regular army battalions and another another two, the 6th and 7th, were Territorial Army battalions.

1st (Regular) Battalion:
03 September 1939: The Battalion was stationed at Poona, India. It remained in India and Burma throughout the war. For the first three years was engaged in internal security duties.
1942: It was involved in the defence of the Andaman Islands during the Japanese invasion
May 1943: It became attached the 26th Indian Division and went into action in Burma. They defended Ngakeydauk Pass to ensure that the rest of the army could escape back towards India. The fighting went on for six days. Like most battalions, they suffered more from disease, particularly malaria, than they did from enemy actions. By the time they had returned to India the battalion was well below full strength and was posted to the Bihar province. Once again it took up internal security operations.

2nd (Regular) Battalion:
03 September 1939: The Battalion was in Aldershot and became part of the 2nd Infantry Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.
22 September 1939: Now part of the BEF, landed in Cherbourge Harbour, France. The Battalion took up training and building field fortifications.
11 May 1940: Crossed into Belgium and took up position along the River Dyle.
01 June 1940: Evacuated from Dunkirk beach. Once returned to the UK they were posted to Rotherham and Lincolnshire where it remained on anti-invasion duties.
February 1943: Set sail with the same Division for North Africa to take part in the Tunisian campaign.
20 March 1943: Engaged in patrol duties near Medjez-El-Bab. It then spent the rest of the year involved mopping up operations and securing the outlying Italian Islands, the most notable being the Pantellaria Island.
08 December 1943: Landed in Italy and was sent to Salerno to begin training for a new amphibious landing. It was later to be chosen to be one of the two leading units to land on the Anzio beachhead.
22 January 1944: Early hours of the morning along with same Division landed and took part in “Operation Shingle”, commonly known as the Battle of Anizo.
07 February 1944: After heavy fighting the Battalion became overrun at Buonriposo Ridge and were ordered to withdraw.
29 May 1944: After a stalemate situation a breakout was achieved and the Battalion along with the rest of the Division engaged in a quick push towards Rome.
June 1944: Had a period of rest during which time the Battalion were re-equipped with arms and men.
06 August 1944: Along with the same Division were involved in a slow and costly, push up through the hills of North East Florence, what was known as the Arrow Route
End of January 1945: The Battalion with the rest of the Division were withdrawn and moved to Palestine for peace keeping duties.

6th (Territorial Army) Battalion:
03 September 1939: The Battalion was stationed in Lichfield and became part of 176th Brigade, 59th Division. It remained in the UK training for the Normandy invasion
25 June 1944: The battalion, along with the rest of the 59th Division, arrived in Normandy via Juno Beach and assembled at Bayeux-Creully.
07-09 July 1944: It took part in “Operation Charnwood”.
16 – 18 July 1944: Battalion under control of 177th Brigade same Division, took part in “Operation Pomegranate”
06 – 08 August 1944: Battalion had returned to 176th Brigade involved in an assault across the Orne River. It was a hard fight but successful.
18 August 1944: The 59th (Staffordshire) Division was disbanded and its men were sent to other formations as replacements

7th (Territorial Army) Battalion:
1943: The Battalion was transferred to Orkney and Shetland Islands for garrison duty. (Before then it was originally used to compose 176th Brigade of the 59th Staffordshire Division.) It remained there for 2years.
1945: It was transferred to Italy to serve with the 183rd Brigade in the 61st South Midland Division.

North 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 52 battle honours and 4 Victoria Crosses losing 5,430 men during the course of the War.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Buttevant, Ireland as part of the 17th Brigade of the 6th Division and then move to Cambridge and then on to Newmarket.
12.09.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at St. Nazaire and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1914
The actions on the Aisne heights.
Dec 1914 This Battalion took part in the Christmas Truce of 1914.
During 1915
The action at Hooge
18.10.1915 Transferred to the 72nd Brigade of the 24th Division and continued to engage in various actions on the Western Front including;
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, Feignies west of Maubeuge.

2nd Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Rawal Pindi, India where it remained throughout the war.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Lichfield and then moved to Plymouth.
May 1915 Moved to Seaham, in County Durham and then Forest Hall, in North Tyneside.
Oct 1916 Moved to Wallsend, North Tyneside where it remained.

4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Lichfield and then moved to Guernsey.
Sept 1916 Moved to Marske.
Mar 1917 Moved to Saltburn and in June joined the 200th Brigade of the 67th Division moving to Westbere, Canterbury.
07.10.1917 Left the 67th and mobilised for war landing at Havre and transferred to the 167th Brigade of the 56th Division.
15.11.1917 Transferred to the 106th Brigade of the 35th Division near Ypres and engaged in various actions on the Western Front.
03.02.1918 Transferred to the 105th Brigade of the same Division and continued to fight on the Western Front including;
During 1918
The First Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Ypres, The Battle of Courtrai, The action of Tieghem.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium, Audenhove N.E. of Renaix.

1/5th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Hanley, as part of the Staffordshire Brigade of the North Midland Division and then moved to the Luton area, and then Bishops Stortford.
04.03.1915 Mobilised for war and landed in France where the formation became the 137th Brigade of the 46th Division.
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 the Division engaged in various actions on the Western Front including; 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.
30.01.1918 Transferred to the 176th Brigade of the 59th Division, absorbing the 2/5th Battalion and continued to fight on the Western Front;
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 16th Division.
17.06.1918 Transferred to the 34th Division.
27.06.1918 Transferred to the 117th Brigade of the 39th Division.
12.08.1918 Transferred to the 116th Brigade o f the 39th Division.
06.11.1918 Demobilised in France near Etaples.

1/6th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Burton-on-Trent as part of the Staffordshire Brigade of the North Midland Division and then moved to the Luton area, and then Bishops Stortford.
04.03.1915 Mobilised for war and landed in France where the formation became the 137th Brigade of the 46th Division.
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 the Division engaged in various actions on the Western Front including; 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
01.11.1914 Formed at Hamley.
Jan 1915 Moved to Luton area and joined the 176th Brigade of the 59th Division and the moved to St. Albans.
April 1916 Moved to Ireland; Dublin and then Curragh to quell the troubles there.
Jan 1917 Moved to Fovant, Salisbury Plain.
25.02.1917 Mobilised for war and landed in France and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1917
The pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The capture of Bourlon Wood.
06.02.1918 absorbed into the 1/5th Battalion.

2/6th Battalion Territorial Force
01.11.1914 Formed at Burton.
Jan 1915 Moved to Luton area and joined the 176th Brigade of the 59th Division and the moved to St. Albans.
April 1916 Moved to Ireland; Dublin and then Curragh to quell the troubles there.
Jan 1917 Moved to Fovant, Salisbury Plain.
25.02.1917 Mobilised for war and landed in France and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1917
The pursuit of 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 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 Absorbed into the 1/6th Battalion.

3/5th and 3/6th Battalion Territorial Force
May 1915 Formed at Hanley and Burton and then moved to Grantham.
08.04.1916 Became the 5th and 6th (Reserve) Battalions.
01.09.1916 the 5th absorbed the 6th and moved to Catterick as part of the North Midland Reserve Brigade Territorial Force.
Mar 1917 Moved to Lincoln and then Mablethorpe.

7th (Service) Battalion
29.08.1914 Formed at Lichfield as part of the First New Army (K1) and joined the 39th Brigade of the 13th Division and moved to Salisbury Plain.
Jan 1915 Moved to Basingstoke and then Blackdown, Aldershot.
June 1915 Embarked for Gallipoli form Avonmouth.
July 1915 Landed at Gallipoli and engaged in various actions against the Turkish forces including;
The Battle of Sari Bair, The Battle of Russell's Top, The Battle of Hill 60.
26.01.1916 Evacuated to Egypt due to heavy casualties from combat, disease and severe weather conditions.
29.02.1916 Moved to Mesopotamia and engaged in various actions including;
During 1917
The Battle of Kut al Amara, The capture of the Hai Salient, The capture of Dahra Bend, The passage of the Diyala, and the capture of Baghdad.
July 1918 Transferred to the 39th Brigade of the North Persia Force and moved to Baku to protect the oil fields.
31.10.1918 Ended the war in North Persia, Enzeli.

8th (Service) Battalion
18.09.1914 Formed at Lichfield as part of the Second New Army (K2) and joined the 57th Brigade of the 19th Division and moved to Salisbury Plain, and then Bristol.
Feb 1915 Moved to Weston-super-Mare and then Tidworth.
18.07.1915 Mobilised for war and then landed in France and engaged in various action on the Western Front including;
During 1915
The Action of Pietre.
During 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.
During 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.
07.02.1918 Transferred to the 56th Brigade of the 19th Division and continued to fight on the Western Front;
During 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.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Bry west of Bavai.

9th (Service) Battalion (Pioneers)
20.09.1914 Formed at Lichfield as part of the Third New Army (K3) and attached to the 22nd Division and moved to South Downs and then Hastings.
20.04.1915 Moved to Windmill Hill, Salisbury Plain and joined the 37th Division as a Pioneer Battalion.
29.07.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1916
The Battle of the Ancre.
During 1917
The First and Second Battles of the Scarpe, The Battle of Arleux, The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle, The First Battle of Passchendaele.
During 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.
11.11.1915 Ended the war in France, south of Le Quesnoy.

10th (Reserve) Battalion
Oct 1914 Formed as a service battalion of the Third New Army (K3) at Plymouth, but then transferred to the Fourth New Army (K4) as part of the 99th brigade of the 33rd Division, and then moved to Okehampton.
10.04.1915 Became a 2nd Reserve battalion and moved to Darlington, then Rugeley, Cannock Chase as part of the 1st Reserve Brigade.
01.09.1916 Became the 3rd Training Reserve Battalion.

11th (Reserve) Battalion
Oct 1914 Formed as a service battalion of the Fourth New Army (K4) at Guernsey.
Feb 1915 Moved to Alderney.
10.04.1915 Became a 2nd Reserve battalion and moved to Darlington, then Rugeley, Cannock Chase as part of the 1st Reserve Brigade.
01.09.1916 Became the 3rd Training Reserve Battalion.

12th (Service) Battalion
11.06.1918 Formed in France from the 11th Garrison Guard.
15.06.1918 Joined the 119th Brigade of the 40th Division and moved to St. Omer, and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including; The Final Advance in Flanders
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, south of Roubaix.

13th (Garrison) Battalion
31.07.1918 Formed in France from the 1st Garrison Guard.

1st (Garrison) Battalion
April 1916 Formed at South Dalton.
May 1916 went to France
31.07.1918 Became the 13th (Garrison) Battalion.

2nd (Home Service) Garrison Battalion
Nov 1916 Formed in Guernsey
Aug 1917 Became the 17th Battalion of the Royal Defence Corps.

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Battles / Campaigns

St Quentin Canal (1918) WW1

Please also refer to The battle of Cambrai

Cambrai (1918) WW1

The battle of Cambrai-St. Quentin, 27 September-9 October 1918, was the main British contribution to Marshal Foch’s all out attack on the Hindenburg line (the Hundred Days). It saw three British and one French army force the Germans out of their strong defensive line and back to the River Selle.

Foch’s plan involved a Franco-American attack between Reims and Verdun (Meuse-Argonne Offensive), a combined French, British and Belgian attack in Flanders, and a mainly British offensive between Cambrai and St. Quentin. Here four allied armies (three British and one French), under the overall attack of Douglas Haig, would attack the strongest part of the German line.

Haig’s four armies, from north to south, were the British First (Horne), Third (Byng) and Fourth (Rawlinson) and the French First (General Marie Eugene Debeney). On 25 September the British had 22 divisions in the front line, with twenty more in reserve. Amongst them were two divisions of the American II Corps, the equivalent of four normal divisions. Debeney had a further eight divisions in the line. The Germans had fifty seven divisions opposing the British. Rawlinson’s fourth army, which was to make the central attack, was faced by von der Marwitz’s Second Army.

The German defensive position had been carefully chosen towards the end of 1916. Long sections of it were based on the Canal du Nord and the St. Quentin Canal, which ran through steep sided 60ft deep cuttings. The British plan was to launch their main attack between Vendhuille and Bellicourt, where the canal ran through a tunnel. The elite Australian corps and the fresh US II Corps would carry out the attack. Elsewhere attacks would be made on the line of the canal, but less was expected of them.

The battle began on 27 September with an attack by the First and Third Armies on the Canal du Nord. They advanced four miles along a thirteen mile front, captured 10,000 prisoners and cleared the canal.

The southern attack began on 29 September. It did not go according to plan. A preliminary attack on 28 September had failed, leaving American troops in isolated advanced position close to German strong points. The artillery bombardment couldn’t fire on these strong points for fear of hitting the Americans, and nor could the first part of the advance be protected by a creeping barrage. The American attack was soon bogged down (although elements from the 30th Division were able to seize control of the southern end of the St. Quentin Canal), forcing the Australians to join in much sooner than expected. The attack on the St. Quentin Canal was in serious trouble.

Further south the canal itself was also under attack. IX Corps had prepared carefully for the water crossing, providing their men with collapsible boats, life jackets and even floating piers, in the expectation that the Germans would destroy every bridge over the canal. Instead, as the 46th (North Midland) Division advanced towards the canal they realised that the bridge at Riquaval was still intact. The 137th (Staffordshire) Brigade captured the western bank of the canal, and the 1/6th North Staffords rushed the bridge. By the end of the day two divisions were across the canal, and IX Corps had captured four miles of the main Hindenburg Line. The attack at Riquaval produced one of the most famous pictures of the war, taken on 2 October 1918 and showing the men of the 137th Brigade lining the steep banks of the cutting listening to a speech by Brigadier-General J V Campbell.

The following day the 3rd Army were in the western suburbs of Cambrai and by 2 October the line of the St. Quentin Canal had been captured. General Max von Boehm, commanding the local German army group, was forced to retreat to a new line running south from Cambrai.

This line only held for a few days. On 8 October the British Third and Fourth and French First Armies, launched a set-piece attack along a 17 mile front, forcing the Germans out of the new line. Cambrai was liberated on 9 October, and the Germans forced back to a new line on the River Selle, near Le Cateau. The BEF was returning to the battlefields of 1914.

The battle of Cambrai-St. Quentin is also know as the battle for the Hindenburg Line. Officially it was the battles for the Hindenburg Line, further broken down into the battle of the Canal du Nord, 27 September-1 October 1918 (the British First and Second Armies) and the battle of the St. Quentin Canal, 29 September-2 October 1918 (the Fourth and French First Armies), followed by the battle of Beaurevoir, 3-6 October 1918 and then the battle of Cambrai of 1918, 8-9 October 1918.

After 9 October the fighting died down for a few days while the British prepared to attack the line of the Selle. Having pushed the Germans out of their main defensive lines, Haig was determined not to give them the time to create strong new positions.
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Active From: 1881 - 1959

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