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Unit History: Bedfordshire Regiment

Bedfordshire Regiment
The Regiment was first raised in 1688 as ‘Archibald Douglas' Regiment of Foot’ by Royal order of King James II, during heightened tensions as William of Orange posed a threat to the Throne of the unpopular King.  As was the tradition at the time the Regiment was named after its Colonel until 1751.  It was order to London to fight William’s forces (who had been invited to the throne by the English Lords) but the Regiment refused to fight and James II fled the country, paving the way for the Prince of Orange to become King William III.  Colonel Archibald Douglas refused to serve the new King and was replaced by Robert Hodges and the Regiment became ‘Robert Hodges' Regiment of Foot’.  The Regiment then went on to serve during the Nine Years War (1688–97) fighting at the battles of Walcourt (1689), Steenkirk (1692) and Neer Landen (1693) and took part in the siege and capture of Namur.  In 1715 the Regiment was stationed in Scotland in response to the Jacobite rebellion, when many Scottish Clans fought against King William III as James Stuart the son of the deposed James II attempted to retake the crown his father had lost.
 
In 1731 off the Florida coast the British brig ‘Rebecca’ was boarded by a Spanish patrol boat. The commander Julio Leon Fandino, proceeded to cut off the left ear of Captain Robert Jenkins who was accused of smuggling.  Captain Jenkins was ordered to testify to the incident before the House of Commons in 1738, which was perceived as a great insult and along with other ‘Spanish Depredations upon British Subjects’ and led to ‘The War of Jenkin’s Ear (1739-41) and the Regiment was deployed to the West Indies, where almost the entire detachment was devastated by disease.  The Regiment was once again on garrison duty in Scotland in 1745 following Bonnie Prince Charlie’s (the grandson of James II) attempt to regain the lost crown to the Stuart family by raising the Scottish clans into rebellion.  In 1747 the Regimental naming system was simplified to a numerical title according to seniority, therefore ‘Roger Handasyde's Regiment of Foot’ became the 16th Regiment of Foot.  The Regiment was then stationed in Ireland for 20 years.
 
In 1767 the 16th was stationed in Florida but saw no actions until 1779 when it withdrew to Baton Rouge during the American War of Independence (1775-82).  A detachment was captured by the Spanish Governor of Louisiana and the Regiment went on to engaged American forces at Savannah, repel a siege in Georgia and defend Pensacola against an overwhelming Spanish force.  In 1782 the 16th return to England to rebuild and all British Regiments without Royal titles were given county titles in order to aid recruitment, becoming 'The 16th (the Buckinghamshire) Regiment of Foot'.  In 1791 the Regiment returned to the West Indies aiding French Plantation owners on St. Domingue in suppressing the slave rebellions, in return the Plantation owners would place the territory under British rule.  All but 2 men of the detachment died from disease, returning to Jamaica where the remaining Regiment went on to fight in the Second Maroon War.
 
In 1809 the county title of Buckinghamshire was exchanged for Bedfordshire becoming the 16th (Bedfordshire) Regiment of Foot.  This was at the request of the colonel of the 14th (Bedfordshire) Regiment, as he held substantial lands in Buckinghamshire and wished to have links with that county.  In 1881 the Regiment avoided amalgamation under the Childers Reforms but the numerical titles of seniority were dropped and the Regiment became The Bedfordshire Regiment.  It went on to serve during the Burma Campaign, the Boer War and two World Wars.  In 1919 the regiment was renamed to The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, in recognition of the Hertfordshire men who served with the Regiment during the First World War.  In 1958 the British Army was reduced in size and the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment was merged with the Essex Regiment to form the 3rd East Anglian Regiment.  In 1964 it was further merged with The Royal Leicester Regiment, The Norfolk and Suffolk Regiments, The Duchess of Gloucester’s Own Lincolnshire Regiment and the Northampton Regiment to form the Royal Anglian Regiment.
 

Bedfordshire Regiment during WW1

The Regiment raised 21 Battalions and was awarded 74 Battle Honours and 7 Victoria Crosses, losing 6,500 men during the course of the First World War.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Mullingar as part of the 15th Brigade of the 5th Division.
16.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed in France 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.
1916
The Attacks on High Wood, The Battle of Guillemont, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval, The Battle of Le Transloy.
1917
The Battle of Vimy, The Attack on La Coulotte, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Capture of Oppy Wood, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle, The Second Battle of Passchendaele.
Dec 1917 Deployed to Italy to strengthen the Italian resistance after a recent disaster at the Battle of Caporetto and the Division was positioned along the River Piave.
April 1918 Returned to France and once again engaged in various actions;
1918
The Battle of Hazebrouck, Defence of Nieppe Forest, 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 at Louvignies, France.

2nd Battalion
04.08.1914 stationed at Pretoria, South Africa.
19.09.1914 Returned to England arriving at Southampton, moving 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 (the Division suffered huge losses and took the rest of the year to rebuild).
19.12.1915 Transferred to the 89th Brigade of the same Division;
1915
The Battle of Neuve Chapelle, The Battle of Aubers, The Battle of Festubert, The second action of Givenchy, The Battle of Loos.
1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Guillemont, Operations on the Ancre.
1917
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle, The Second Battle of Passchendaele.
11.02.1918 Transferred to the 90th Brigade of the 30th Division.
22.05.1918 Transferred to the 54th Brigade of the 18th Division;
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 at Louvignies, France.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Bedford then moved to Felixstowe where it remained throughout the war.

4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Bedford then moved to Felixstowe.
July 1916 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre joining the 190th Brigade of the 63rd Division which engaged in various action on the Western Front including;
The Battle of the Ancre, a phase of the Battles of the Somme 1916 (13-18 November 1916)
1917
The Operations on the Ancre, The Second Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Arleux, The Second Battle of Passchendaele, The action of Welsh Ridge, The Cambrai operations.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Drocourt-Queant, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The passage of the Grand Honelle, The Final Advance in Picardy.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Harmignies S.E. of Mons, France.

1/5th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Bedford as part of the East Midland Brigade of the East Anglian Division.
Aug 1914 Moved to Romford and then Bury St. Edmunds.
May 1915 Moved to St. Albans and the formation became the 162nd Brigade of the 54th Division.
26.05.1915 Mobilised for war and embarked for Gallipoli from Plymouth via Mudros.
11.08.1915 Landed at Suvla Bay and engaged in various actions against the Turkish Army.
04.12.1915 The remaining 240 Officers and 4480 men of the Division, evacuated from Gallipoli to Mudros due to severe casualties from combat, disease and harsh weather and then moved to Egypt to defend the Suez Canal.
1917
The First Battle of Gaza, The Second Battle of Gaza, The Third Battle of Gaza, The Capture of Gaza, The Battle of Jaffa.
1918
The fight at Ras el'Ain, The operations at Berukin, The Battle of Sharon.
31.10.1918 Ended the war in Beirut, Palestine.

2/5th Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Bedford and then moved to Newmarket.
Jan 1915 Joined the 207th Brigade of the 69th Division.
June 1916 Moved to Harrogate and then Darlington.
May 1917 Moved to Carburton Camp in The Dukeries and then moved to Clipstone.
18.03.1918 Disbanded.

3/5th Battalion Territorial force
June 1915 Formed at Bedford and then moved to Windsor Great Park and then Halton Park, Tring.
08.04.1916 Became the 5th (Reserve) Battalion as part of the East Anglian Reserve Brigade of the Territorial Force at Halton Park.
11.07.1917 Combined with the 1st (Reserve) Battalion of the Hertford Regiment and then moved to Crowborough and then to Hastings.

6th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 Formed at Bedford as part of the First New Army (K1) and moved to Aldershot attached to the 9th Division.
Mar 1915 Moved to Salisbury Plain and joined the 112th Brigade of the 37th Division.
30.07.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1916
The Battle of the Ancre.
1917
The First Battle of the Scarpe, The capture of Monchy-le-Preux, The Second Battle 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.
1918
The Battle of the Ancre.
20.05.1918 Reduced to cadre, 700 men of all ranks transferred to the 1/1st Hertford Regiment, remaining cadre transferred to the 39th Division.
04.08.1918 Disbanded in France

7th (Service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Bedford as part of the Second New Army (K2) and moved to Aldershot attached of the 9th Division.
25.02.1915 Transferred to the 54th Brigade of the 18th Division and moved to Colchester.
May 1915 Moved to Salisbury Plain.
July 1915 Mobilised for war and landed in France.
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.
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.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of the Avre, The actions of Villers-Brettoneux, The Battle of Amiens.
25.05.1918 Reduced to cadre, surplus personnel transferred to the 2nd Battalion and cadre transferred to the 89th Brigade of the 30th Division.
19.06.1918 Transferred to the 197th Brigade of the 66th Division.
31.07.1918 Cadre absorbed into the 2nd Battalion.

8th (Service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Bedford as part of the Third New Army (K3) and moved to South downs near Shoreham as part of the 71st Brigade of the 24th Division and then moved to Brighton.
June 1915 Moved to Blackdown.
Aug 1915 Mobilised for war and landed in France.
11.10.1915 Transferred to the 71st Brigade of the 6th Division.
17.11.1915 Transferred to the 16th Brigade of the 6th Division and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1916
The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval, The Battle of Le Transloy.
1917
The Battle of Hill 70, The Cambrai operations.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bailleul, The First Battle of Kemmel Ridge, The Second Battle of Kemmel Ridge, The Advance in Flanders, The Battle of Epehy, The Battle of the St Quentin Canal, The Battle of Beaurevoir, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle.
16.02.1918 Disbanded in France.

9th (Reserve) Battalion
Oct 1914 formed at Felixstowe as a service battalion of the Fourth New Army (K4) as part of the 94th Brigade of the 31st Division.
Feb 1915 Moved to Mill Hill.
10.04.1915 Became a 2nd Reserve Battalion and the 94th Brigade became the 6th Reserve Brigade.
May 1915 Moved to Colchester.
01.09.1916 Moved to Harwich and was absorbed into the Training Reserve Battalion of the 6th Reserve Brigade.

10th (Reserve) Battalion
Nov 1914 Formed at Dovercourt as a service battalion of the Fourth New Army (K4) as part of the 106th Brigade of the 35th Division.
Jan 1915 Moved to White City.
10.04.1915 Became a 2nd Reserve Battalion.
May 1915 Moved to Colchester as part of the 6th Reserve Brigade.
Mar 1916 Moved to Dovercourt.
01.09.1916 Became the 27th Training Reserve Battalion of the 6th Reserve Brigade.

11th Battalion Territorial Force
01.01.1917 Formed at Parkfield near Lowestoft from the 68th Provisional Battalion as part of the 225th Brigade and remained at Parkfield until the end of the war.

12th & 13th (Transport Workers) Battalion
Dec 1916 Formed and in Mar 1917 moved to Croydon where it remained sending working parties to ports as required.

1st 2nd & 3rd Garrison Battalion
Dec 1915 All Formed at Bedford the 1st & 2nd deployed to India in Feb. 1916 and the 3rd deployed to India and then Burma.

51st (Graduated) Battalion
27.10.1917 Formed at Colchester from the 219th Graduated Battalion (previously the 25th Training Reserve battalion) as part of the 212th Brigade of the 71st Division.
Feb 1918 Moved to Norwich and Transferred to the 193rd Brigade of the 64th Division.
May 1918 Moved to Taverham and then returned to Norwich.

52nd (Graduated) Battalion
27.10.1917 Formed at Colchester from the 252nd Graduated Battalion (previously the 26th Training Reserve battalion) as part of the 213th Brigade of the 71st Division.
Feb 1918 Moved to Norwich and Transferred to the 193rd Brigade of the 64th Division.
May 1918 Moved to Taverham and then returned to Norwich.

53rd (Young Soldier) Battalion
27.10.1917 Formed at Clipstone from the 27th Young Soldier Battalion of the Training Reserve (previously the 10th Bedfords) as part of the 2nd Reserve Brigade.
Jan 1918 Moved to Cannock Chase where it remained.
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Active From: 1881 - 1919

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